I had heard that the Brooksville race was really fun. The property it is on was once used for some type of mining, so there is some elevation changes. The area also has some natural hills. They are small hills, but hey, it's Florida.
Another cool thing about this race was that my friend Ivor was racing. He rides in the Evo class so we race at the same time and also get to run the practice lap at the same time.
The practice lap went really well and I immediately like this course better than the first one. The woods were tight but there was not much soft sand and I was able to flow through it much better. I enjoyed the off-camber up and downs and there was also some large fields with high speed turns. The last part of the course was motocross track with a couple of big hill climbs and descents.
I liked the new bike right away. It felt like a better fit for me with more linear power and not so hyper like the 2 stroke. The hydraulic clutch is super easy and I didn't miss the Rekluse at all. I would also later find out that the bike doesn't stall easy when dropped or crashed. (no e-start on this one either).
Ivor on his XR, airing it out in the mx section. Mike Belle photo:
The race was really fun for me. I did so much better in the woods and the fields. I passed people, stalking them and waiting for an opportunity in the woods. I passed in the open fields by choosing better lines and using the great traction and acceleration of the new bike. I was having a blast and feeling good.
My confidence would cost me in the mx track however. There was a step-up jump on a steep uphill that I had hit perfectly in the practice lap, catching some air and landing nicely halfway up the hill and continued up over the top.
As I approached it in the race I wanted to do the same, but my adrenaline must have caused a little extra twist of the throttle as I hit the jump. My front end went straight up, but I thought I might be able to land it as the landing was very steep uphill. Wrong. When my back wheel hit the bike looped out from under me and flew uphill while I went back down. There was a huge groan from the spectators gathered in the area, as apparently it looked real bad.
I was fine and jumped up to grab my bike to keep it running, but was too late. I had to walk it back down the hill to re-start it, with help from course workers who are great and on the spot.
I said I was fine, and someone said "your bike's not". I looked at my bars and they were turning right while my front wheel was straight ahead.
My friends Brent and Greg tried their best to straighten them but the best they could do was get them to within about 6 inches of straight.
The bike didn't want to kick start, as I had not yet learned about the hot start lever. After many attempts we decided to push me over to the hill and i was able to bump-start it.
It felt really strange as I re-climbed the hill and continued on with the bars tweaked to the right, but soon wasn't so bad as I got used to it.
About a mile later was the start/finish and I didn't hesitate. I was going for another lap.
I soon was not even noticing the bars as I made my way through the woods.
I had a good second lap and ended up finishing 9th out of 15. I was exhausted but very happy. It is such a great feeling to see that checkered flag and know you have completed a race.
Post race, exhausted but satisfied.
Some shots from the race. Photos are a mix of Mike Belle, Glenn Gardner, and my friend Greg Needham.