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Old 02-10-2011, 07:44 AM   #16
kaosrider
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Great write up. All great points. I come from a different racing back ground. Raced sailboats/carbon fiber catamarans and such for 30 years. Decided to get into something else. Motorcycles, first the harley types, then got bored real fast. Moved into dualsport and dirt.
Ned, spot on with regard to any type of racing. In racing cats, same thing balls to the wall. Had many friends crash out, break necks...the whole nine yards just like motorcycles. As I aged my desire to win was offset more by a desire to enjoy the event. Consistantly winning took an effort that I would describe as making it no fun. By that I mean the battle with one's self. Placing your own goals at such a point that you beat yourself with self imposed pressure to win. Once I backed off on the winning side of the equation, I found I actually performed better. I would win, the more I relaxed and went to just enter and enjoy the event. That for me was one of the great personal discoveries of racing. You are really battling yourself. First or last is nothing compared to the battle within yourself. Pushing yourself while keeping yourself in control. Emotions and adrenaline are powerful things, much more powerful than any drug. Taming your own dragons is what racing challenges you with, and what you must over come.
So I tried this experiment with my dualsport bike. I entered a local MX event with my Dualsport bike a DRZ 400. Big heavy cluncker going around an MX course. What a blast. No, I had no intention of winning or even impressing anyone. Just wanted to beat my dragon. So in my mid 50's a new bike racer is born. My real target is to try the rallys. They look like so much fun and dynamic. Getting to the start line is the real victory in my book and that goes for type of racing. I encourage everyone to race as the experience is much, much more than just the competition.
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:07 AM   #17
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I’d like to echo many of the same thoughts/experiences of others. Last year was my first race and it was a desert race in So. Utah. I had only been back on a bike for about 6 months after a 15 year break and was turning 35 later that year so I ran Novice and had mostly realistic goals of finishing and not getting hurt. I have to admit though that in the back of my head I saw myself running up front and people wondering who the new guy was. I read all the past race reports that I could find as I prepared for the race. I had read about the silent and eerie dead engine start, the insanity of the bomb run, the pounding of the whoops, the choking dust, the blistered hands, and the exhaustion felt at the end of the race. I thought it can't really be as bad or difficult as people make it out to be or no one in their right mind would do it. I WAS WRONG on all counts. Reality set in within a few miles and the rest of the 45 mile loop just laughed at me while it kicked my butt. I no longer have dreams of challenging for the lead but I do have a personal goal to improve and advance to amateur. That first race will always be special as I didn't realize how much I would enjoy the beating I took and motivation to get better that would result from it. Maybe I'm not in my right mind after all.
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Old 02-10-2011, 09:19 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by neduro View Post
Iím not a racer...
One skill of an advanced racer is knowing how to play mind games. A sign of a real professional is when he can play mind games against his competition and they don't even know it. Ned, you've done a great job of convincing everyone you're not a racer, while quietly advancing your riding skills to a very high level. The moment one makes any effort at all to get ahead of someone, they become a racer. Ned, you are a racer of the highest order!
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Old 02-10-2011, 01:10 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by truckjunky87 View Post
That first race will always be special as I didn't realize how much I would enjoy the beating I took and motivation to get better that would result from it.
That's a great synopsis.
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:41 PM   #20
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Words of wisdom

Great words Ned. One of the reasons I chose to try racing was reading some of your posts from years ago. This write up confirms and in my opinion validates why many choose to race. I can enter a dozen races but will never be a racer. I am doing it to challenge myself and learn, not to beat the other riders. It is me against the course. The comments you make can only come from a great deal of experience. Thank you.

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Old 02-11-2011, 06:17 AM   #21
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Awesome write up Ned. You captured what it means to suit up on Sunday and go out an play in the dirt. I just recently found this message board and have become addicted. I spend a few hrs each day trying to play catch up on all the new information (new to me) here. I am sure a lot of you other noobs agree. Yesterday I spent almost all day catching up on DC950's two race threads. Awesome work DC. I am in the same place in my life currently. Last year I had a 4 wheeler which I hardly rode. My wife suprised me and took me to a 4wheeler campground in MO last year where I promptly smoked my transmission trying to rock it out of the mud. With my 4wheeler being broken, we had nothing to do but sit around a campfire and stare at each other for two days. Instead I decided to call a budy who races hare scrambles who was camping about an hour away. My wife and I packed our stuff and headed over to watch him race. HOLY SH!* it was awesome. I couldn't believe they let anyone who wants to race pull up to the starting line and give it a shot. I had never seen anything like that. I thought you had to have some sort of license. Well that was it for me. I got on the local cycle club website and bought a CRF250x on Wed, stopped at the Cycle Gear on the way home and bought all my gear since I didn't have anything but a helmet from my 4wheeler. I was racing on that Sunday.

Damn was that an eye opener. I figured I had been riding road motorcycles for years and I had been riding bmx and mountain bikes since I took my training wheels off, this was just a combination of them both. I also figured I was in really good shape. My wife and I own a CrossFit gym and I workout daily. That race tore me down more than I can remember having been tore down before. There was one hill which became my nemesis. It took me no less than 20 minutes each time to get up that thing. My brand new (to me) bike was almost perfect before I brought it out there, but now it was thrashed. I still remember doing two laps, coming in to quit and my wife pushing me back out there. Damn glad she did now. When I finished that 3rd lap the 2hrs was up, thank God. It was all I could do to sit on my trailer and not puke all over myself. I couldn't even think for about 10 minutes.

Now I am hooked. Raced 3 races in that series last year (forward motion hare scramble) and another 2 in the Hillbilly GP in MO this winter. Had to take some time off to nurse 5 broken ribs from car accident. I have the calendar all marked up for the entire race series for Forward Motion this year.

Thanks for all the great info and storytelling on this site. It make our midwestern winter a little more bearable. Especially all the Noobs go racing threads. I can totally relate to those. Especially the part where the 34 (or older) noobie shows up to a starting line and pulls up next to a 16 year old who has been racing since he was 8.

P.S. Don't trust your buddies when they tell you that you will be good in C class. Especially when it is your first time on a dirtbike.

Mike #619 FMHSC. Hope to see you our there!
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Old 02-12-2011, 06:22 PM   #22
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Shrineclown mentioned Blackwater, and it made me think of the first Wilseyville, CA. events. They called them 'The Blackwater of the West' those first few years.

I rode year one, and was maybe over my head but I was too young to realize it. I rode well in the 'B' class, but on my 4th lap I was gassed. Just nothing left. As I entered the big water crossing I hit a small rock under water and made a 5' detour left of the main line. Just as I was about to exit the water, the bike dropped out from under me and in a second we were both under water. I took me and 2 others to pull the bike up to dry(ish) ground. I turned the bike over, pulled the plug, and started pumping the water out of the top end. Once I had the bike back on its' wheels, I just had no energy left to kick the bike. I sat there with my head on the cross bar, just trying to catch my breath.

Finally a spectator pushed me off my bike, told me to get my gear back on while he got the bike running because as he said "You haven't finished this journey yet. It doesn't end out here in the woods. Put your helmet on and finish this thing."

So I did. As I was getting ready to ride away, I tried to ask him who he was because he had seemed so familiar. He told me not to worry about it, I just needed to ride. As I clicked the bike into gear, he turned his back to walk away and I saw that he was wearing a jersey that said 'Carr' on the back.

As I rode away I realized that a then 3 or 4 time GNC champ had spent the last 5 minutes kicking my bike back to life. Just for the love of the sport. Just to see me continue my journey.

I rode the rest of the lap, and finished it 5 minutes before the time limit of the event. It was ride a lap 5, or quit. With the inspiration and renewed energy provided by Chris, I had to ride the lap. As I crossed the big river crossing again (using the right line!) I saw him again and was invigorated. I rode with all I had that lap, with a sense of pride, with a goal of finishing the journey. It ended about 5 miles later when I ran out of fuel (which I apparently lost while the bike was upside down!), but for that lap I was a champion in my own world and no one could take that away from me.

I didn't win a trophy, but I won the sensation of accomplishing what so many would never have dared try. I never rode Wilseyville again, but I'll always have the memory. Chris Carr kicked my bike and got me back in the race. For the love of the sport.

Brent
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Old 02-13-2011, 03:19 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brents347 View Post
Chris Carr kicked my bike and got me back in the race. For the love of the sport.
That's an awesome story.

Having had Chris Carr yell at me for my various bad habits on an XR100, I can just about hear him saying it, he really is as cool as anything written about him, I think.

Quote:
Originally Posted by octane27
P.S. Don't trust your buddies when they tell you that you will be good in C class.
Truer words never spoken!

Quote:
Originally Posted by truckjunky87
I thought it can't really be as bad or difficult as people make it out to be or no one in their right mind would do it. I WAS WRONG on all counts.
This made me laugh out loud also.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drif10
Just remember: You're doing this for fun. Don't forget to have some.
Best advice in the thread, bar none.
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Old 02-15-2011, 09:40 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HogWild View Post
One skill of an advanced racer is knowing how to play mind games. A sign of a real professional is when he can play mind games against his competition and they don't even know it. Ned, you've done a great job of convincing everyone you're not a racer, while quietly advancing your riding skills to a very high level. The moment one makes any effort at all to get ahead of someone, they become a racer. Ned, you are a racer of the highest order!
I was waiting for someone to call him out



Great article Ned!
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Old 02-17-2011, 08:38 AM   #25
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The moment one makes any effort at all to get ahead of someone, they become a racer.
I've been thinking about this and feeling it wasn't quite right, and I think the reason why is right in your words. I do put a lot of effort into my riding, because I love the feeling of riding well, of riding with grace, of getting through tough situations efficiently. But I don't put a lot of energy into beating someone else. I enjoy a good result in competition when it happens, but the reason I train is for me and the feeling I get, not for someone else.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GSNorcal
I was waiting for someone to call him out
Yeah, yeah.
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Old 04-10-2011, 03:38 AM   #26
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Great sentiments on this thread. Mirrors my sig quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve McQueen
All racers I know aren't in it for the money. They race because it's something inside of them... They're not courting death. They're courting being alive.
Quote:
Originally Posted by neduro View Post
I do put a lot of effort into my riding, because I love the feeling of riding well, of riding with grace, of getting through tough situations efficiently. But I don't put a lot of energy into beating someone else. I enjoy a good result in competition when it happens, but the reason I train is for me and the feeling I get, not for someone else.
Yep, that's me.

To me, racing is a 'pure' form of riding. You & the bike against the terrain, no excuses, no 'artificial shortages' as it were. That is rather liberating.

My race bike (200EXC) died a couple of years ago, and I haven't been able to afford to fix it. So for the last year I've been racing the 640 Adventure in the local cross-country series, had a crack at endurocross and got back out at the annual beach races. The 640 is not exactly competitive but at least I'm out there doin' it. Heck, the other year NordieBoy and myself raced his '79 XR250 in the 6 Hour Cross Country, some brakes would've been nice but it was a great day's riding regardless. We're not quick, we don't spend a lot of money, but we sure have a lot of fun!
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Old 04-10-2011, 05:50 AM   #27
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Our People

Over 50 years I've noticed it's the same people in the paddock.

As we were loading up after my second son's first race weekend a few years ago, he was surrounded by new friends. They were animated and joshing as racers do: "Those are your people now, Zach..."

And they are.
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Old 04-10-2011, 01:25 PM   #28
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Quote:
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I wrote this a few weeks ago for Outrider Journal to use online, and got their permission to repost here, thinking we might get an interesting discussion started while many of us suffer from inhospitable weather.

----------------------------------------------------

The Dakar rally is here, and for me, itís the best event of the year. I like it for an odd reason- itís so long, and so arduous, that it does not favor merely the quick, but also the smart and the tough. Itís a full human experience, embodying both the highest highs and the lowest lows for everyone who chooses to participate. No one has an uneventful Dakar, it simply cannot be. In other words, I like it because itís not simply a race.

So, the people who participate in the Dakar transcend the word racer to me. In my mind, a racer is someone who thrives so much on competition that they would stuff an old lady in the grocery store if they could get their shopping cart on an inside line, who never smile except on the top step of a podium and who pump iron and eat spinach.

That description almost perfectly fails to match me, and I bet it fails to describe you too. Most people I know who are enthusiastic about riding adventure bikes, are not racers. Iím not a racer, but I do race from time to time, and I think everyone who cares deeply about riding should give it a try if they are able. Hereís why:

1) Itís a hell of a good time: itís a closed course, and youíre actually allowed, even encouraged, to go as fast as you want. This is magical, because no matter what anyone says, fast is better than slow and this is a fine way to prove it to yourself. Add to that the emotional cycle that starts with excitement, builds to nervous anticipation, and finally becomes euphoria out on the course, and you have a really fine way to break free from the shackles of the inane.

2) It helps you know your place: Often, when Iím on a particularly fun stretch, I imagine that I could be one of the fast guys. No one, I imagine, could possibly go any faster. Racing will tell you whether youíre right or not. Finding out Iím wrong, and seeing what fast really is, is one of the most enjoyable experiences I ever have, it seems like it should be depressing but instead it lets you realize what a wide and wonderful world we live in, and how much quicker someone else can get across it.

3) This leads to my third point: You will be a part of something with people who share your passion. If you wake up in the morning thinking about motorcycles, you need to go try a race, because the entire event will be filled with people just like you, and being among them will make you realize that the world is a pretty good place. And getting to share an experience with all those people, and especially the ones who are really good at what you share, is a wonderful experience.

4) Losing isnít a bad thing: Our culture is very focused on winning, and itís easy to fall prey to the ďsecond place = first loserĒ T-shirt slogans. These make sense to us because the public image of racing is the battle for first place, as it should be, and the guy who got second is often crushed. The guy who got second is also, most likely, a lot faster than either of us. The guy who got tenth was thrilled to achieve it, which leads to my rule of racing- satisfaction comes from exceeding expectations. As a non-racer, our expectations can afford to be set pretty low, so itís likely we can leave the event satisfied. After all, if it were about winning, only a few people would have any legitimate reason to show up.

There are a hundred reasons not to race, and in some cases they are pretty good ones. But many people overestimate the difficulty of taking part in an event- you arenít trying to win your first time out, so itís OK not to have the latest and greatest. If you have a small bike, try an Enduro. If you have a larger one, try a rallymoto. Donít worry about buying stuff to be competitive, just get to the start line and take a swing at it. You are guaranteed to place ahead of all the folks who didnít try it, and you might just find something that changes how you view fellow shoppers at the grocery store.
Thx Ned,

I agree wholeheartedly. I've never been fast and never will be in terms of top club level/amateur racers but I appreciate the sport of racing a bit more than those who have never tried because I tried it, because I realize for a brief moment when my suspension was working the way it should and I am having that perfect moment that passes oh too quickly how it must feel, for a brief instant, to get that perfection in and out, lap after lap, berm after berm.

Racing doesn't have to be expensive but the benefits are worth more than their weight in gold.
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Old 04-11-2011, 11:45 PM   #29
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Lots of wisdom here. The biggest difference for me between participating in a sport and racing is the level of focus racing brings. I've ridden motorcycles many years but never raced (yet) but I ski race and have entered mountain bike races and distance running competitions. I signed up for my first motorcycle race this last Sunday, the Desert 100, but a family medical emergency intervened. Like Rosanne Rosannadanna said "It's always something. If it's not one thing it's another." Riding and skiing fast are great fun and wonderful ways to take your mind off the day to day worries of life.

Racing is the same but the intensity level is raised from 60% to 100%. When not in a race, life's little issues can slip into your consciousness. Problems with your lover or job can sneak into your thoughts. When racing, all your senses are turned up high, focused on the race, and the rest of the world is blocked out. It is refreshing.

You feel every little nuance of the experience. Every little slip or loss of grip. You analyze each and every turn for how you could have improved in some small way to go faster and at the same time you are looking towards the next to set up properly. Managing risk so you are at top speed but don't DNF. Is your body position correct? Are you following the right line? Are you maintaining control? Are you set up for that jump up ahead? One instant you are kicking yourself for some small mistake and the next you are thinking "Oooo, that felt good!" All this thought and concentration happens at warp speed and as you speed up the world slows down. It is magic.

With longer events the whole mind game with endurance adds to the picture. Pacing yourself for the best overall time, not just the early sprint. Working through the pain. Pushing yourself to the limit. Fine tuning your technique so you don't tire yourself with sloppy motions. Constantly monitoring your body to see if there is any more speed available. It is an extraordinary mind game .

With amateur dual slalom ski race courses you are skiing next to another racer but focusing on beating them is a distraction from focusing on your own run and performance. If you are 100% into your own race you are more likely to finish first than if you try to beat the other racer.

Finishing well in the standings is a good measure that helps you keep track of your long term performance gains or loss but knowing that you ran your race well is the source of real satisfaction.

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Old 04-14-2011, 07:23 AM   #30
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Fantastic

Wonderful article, Ned! And some really good responses here, too. Is it too early to say "sticky"?

I did a couple years of motorcycle road racing about 10 years ago, and it really transformed my riding skills and attitude on the street. As mentioned by others, I found a lot of camaraderie between competitors and new friends there. Now, my first ever off-road race is coming up next weekend (China Hat ISDE in Oregon). My approach has been a little bit similar: start with a fairly inexpensive (used) smaller-CC bike. But I may be doing the road vs. off-road thing in the wrong order: road racing is physically intense, but those races only lasted 20 or 30 minutes. Now I'm 10 years older, and the XC and ISDE races last for hours -- oof!

For any of you more road-oriented adventure riders, I strongly suggest finding and doing a couple of local Track Day events. You can find them at almost any race track. You can take your GS or whatever you are riding on the track, just get fresh 'road' tires. You'll be surprised how far you can lean over almost any street bike.
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