Well ladies and gentlemen, this episode of "In over his head" racing finds our pudgy wanna-be racer traveling to the land of Gators and good weed, aka Gainesville ,Fl. This is the home of the Gatorback cycle park. What makes this particular HS so unique is that it uses the MX track, limestone quarry, and woods as part of the race course. There are several elevation chages of over 60 feet or more. Some are on the MX track, and some incorporate the quarry area. Here are a few shots of the mx track.
This makes for a popular event. So my dad and I show up and the place is already hopping. Get signed up (40$) and get ready for my practice lap.
at this point a race official is walking around with a handheld sound meter checking for bikes that might be over 96db's. He was pretty much targeting the 4 strokes, and sending them over for a more official measurement...Smokers rule !!
Off we go into the woods..typical soft sand but not too wooped out. Soon we are heading up a trail next to the limestone pits. This is dry/dusty and hard packed, so traction seems at a premium. We weave both up hill and down hill. There are some pretty tight downhill/single file switchbacks that I honestly wasn't sure how to attack. I tried braking with the rear, but I stalled the motor.Then I tried pulling the ctuch in and working the brakes, but it stalled again. I bump started it several times after stalling it at the start of the downhills (I turned up the idle when I got back to the pits).... more woods, then we get dumped out on a straight that leads to the MX track. The drop off is intimidating, especially when i'm slowing down from a wide open 5th gear straight
. Funny, I'm not sure if the bike has 4 or 5 gears...I just kept pinning it and shifting until I was going way faster than I was comfortable with...
you can see the first drop off here (the rear one racing right to left)
you drop down, shifting up 2 gears, nailing it across the flat bottom and then come up the first jump. Athis point you are looking straightup, and climbing. i have never jumped my bike, but damn if wasn't intoxicating coming off the top and catch a foot or two of air. Now I know that seems small, but the feeling of weightless ness makes it a heart pounder all the same. We weave around and I get to a double..
Now as a side note the track is pretty wet at this point. They have water tankers placed throughout the corse to wet down the corners during a race, and when it's wet it's sticky. So I go shooting off, not that fast I thought, but enough to make me realize I'm going to land on the face of the second jump..
..crap, well here we go as I prepare for the worse...wham..wait...I'm still alive. The suspension soaked it off and i was on my merry way...amazing !@ The downhill jumps are easier because you can see past them, but you can end up going faster since you're carrying momentum. I work on getting my elbows up (see DC950 I read your reports
) which moved my weight forward and over the front tire more on the corners. There are 2 lines to the corners. The slow, inside tight one or the outside slingshot berm one. I tend to take the inside tight one as it is slower (read that "more comfortable") and the 300 pulls out of there just fine..
This is the last corner down at the bottom before you come up to the mx start finish line and my favorite jump..
It's my favorite because as you come over the top, it dumps onto a straight away and back into the woods.
I would carry the front tire for a while as I waited for it to drop and start digging through the gears...
So, get back to the pits make a few adjustments..
and we are ready for the race. Watching some of the little ones in the early race clearing doubles makes me feel old...but that tends to happen alot when I do this "racing" thing..
Get to the start line and I notice...boy, there are a bunch of people in my class..find a spot on the far right and wait...more people...more people...48 to be exact !!!
to my right
guys on either side of me..this was their first race. So you can just imagine 48 of us all trying to get stuffed into the same hole in the woods..
It's fun to talk to people while you're waiting and see how they are thinking about handling a race like this. I also try and remember #'s so I can check later and see how they did. There is a group of 5 or 6 latin guys that were pitted next to me. They are all racing beginner, and their hot , well endowed, tank-top wearing girlfriends are all bouncing around them at the starting line. Just what a man needs to take his mind off the nervousness..
(sorry, no pics so you know I must have had my race face on...ha!)
Here is a pic of the man who I owe for the wonderful gift of motorcycling, and lessons on how to be a good man..
Rows start blasting off..One vintage class had 41 bikes! They had to push one off that wouldn't fire, and we're next..
Kick...nothing...kick.."backfire"...kick....she starts and we are off. At this point I'm disappointed because a good portion of the field has beat me to the woods. I think I turned the bike over too many times looking for the compression stroke before the race. I assume it sucked in raw fuel, and caused the backfire as once it cleared up it fired off on the next kick..lesson learned.
We are single file for the most part. I start looking for the alternate lines and I'm able to pass a few people. It's fun to take the new line, and pull back on trail just in front of the guy you passed. I've had it done enough to me to appreciate the timing of it..
Sometimes it doesn't buy you anything and you end up back behind them..but you have to try. At this point you notice the woops are bigger than during practice. There has been another race on them, and they show it. We start to climb up the limestone part of the course and that's where you begin to start feeling the edges of traction. I keep flashing back to watching Jay Springsteen throw his bike over into a corner all crossedup and on the gas..
as I play with how much gas is too much a on a big hard sweeper that is littered with rocks...dusty...here come the big downhill..I stick it in 2nd and motor down off the gas as I work both ends of the brakes and get ready for the woods that are the very bottom..
More woods..get dumped out on the straight that leads to the MX course...wide open sand. Little woops but still fun..dive down into the track..few corners later I come up on a tabletop jump and I see a bike laying there with the rear subframe bent at a funny angle, exhaust silencer tore from the bike, and a rider in obvious pain. Nothing I can do as course workers will be there soon, so I hope that doesn't end up being me and off I go.
I see a guy in front of me...start swing wide into corners and crossing back underneath as we hit the apex and gas it out up the start finish hilllldamn this is fun !!!
..lap one..try and read the LED display to see my lap time..can't read it but screw it, I'll keep making laps until they stop me. Ended up being 5.5 miles and around 15-20 minutes a lap.
DC950 asked me how I beat 30 other guys..to be honest I don't know. I just always keep the wheels rolling. I know that sounds kinda silly, but no matter how tired i get , how hard my arms are pumped, I always just keep on rolling. I nail the straights, survive in areas that I know will bite me, and just deal with one section of trail at a time. It's fustrating to not be faster, but i guess I could always be slower..
I ended up 20th out of 48 doing 4 laps (it was 18th until they found 2 guys in front of me had bad transponders...
Lots of room to do better, but I didn't hurt myself and I got to spend a day with my dad sharing the sport we love..to me that beats any trophies.