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Old 10-19-2012, 06:18 PM   #1
amcross OP
Career Rookie/Novice
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Joined: Jul 2012
Location: near Danville IL
Oddometer: 203
Talking Saturday at the fabulous Wildwood Lake Raceway, Ohio!

Little Hocking OH
It was a chilly but spectacularly beautiful morning when Mike and I wove our way into the Wildwood Raceway Saturday 10/13/12. The camping was on a small ridge, and provided beautiful sunrise views just an hour later. The facility is nothing short of gorgeous, with a well used motocross track, and hectares of natural terrain, heavily ridden for enduro and hare scrambles and other off road enjoyment. Everything is so obviously well cared for, and the land owners were a joy to spend time with throughout the weekend.

At rider’s meeting, we were excited to hear that an enduro class had been added, and also to meet a couple who were both competing in their first event. I LOVE seeing new people take a try at trials. Toni, a 40-year AMA member(!), would be riding novice, like me!

Section 8 was a stadium style log section attached to the pits, and Mike and I chose to start there. The novice entrance was a little challenging because, as happens with many sections, not a lot of straight line run-in was able to be provided. Novices rode up a small dirt ledge, across a right-sized-for-rookies log, wove through some obstacles, and out. It was undoubtedly the least complex of the day, so long as your rookie can regain control to steer through tight spaces just after the log. I was proud of riding this section clean all day, particularly knowing my personal nemesis – lifting the front end consistently to clear well, anything. The sportsman class entered through the same line, but soon found themselves working through a maze that looked rather like someone had dumped a bucket of Lincoln logs and stapled yellow flags all over them instead of cleaning up! They had to lift over and across several off angle mid-sized logs, tackle very tight spaces and turns, and clear 2 large, serious hunks of what were once tall, proud trees.

Section 1 was a joy for me. “A joy?” you ask? Yep. A joy. “Ok, AM, I’ll bite. What would make a section ‘joyous’,” you say? Well, since you’ve asked I’ll tell you. I’ve been spending a LOT of time working on fairly narrow spaces in trees, and specifically on mild off cambers. Entering section 1 for a novice meant a relatively straight line, then a sweeping right down, then back across a mild off camber; across a fairly easy small climb through some debris, and then a sweeping fall off left -- down an off camber that required rear brake control, leading to a right sweeper into the creek and the checker. With a beaming smile, I will share that I rode the left hand fall off and the right hand sweep clean all 3 loops without so much as a strong URGE to dab!

Section 2 was perhaps 100 yards down the rough rocky creekbed, and I was worried. We neither have rock like that nor creekbed to practice. I’m a small thing – in case you didn’t know – and ‘manhandling’ a motorcycle 1.5 times my body weight through rough terrain is not one of my strong suits. Well, ok, it’s a skill I have no hope of ever gaining. I walked the section 2 or 3 times, looking for lines that I could feel comfortable with, gaps that were wide enough for me to stay focused and not tunnel vision. One small segment in particular was intimidating – we had to carry the front end off a rock step to avoid a nasty front-tire-eating-pothole within the rocks. But, I’m still beaming a bit remembering it, this too was something I’ve been practicing in our stadium section at home, and I was able to lighten and carry the front end off the step without falling into the quagmire. This section was definitely a lesson in line selection and playing to your own strengths. For those riders around me who have motocross or hare scramble roots, there were lines for the novice that would allow them to ‘motox’ the section; for novices with less testosterone (i.e. ME), there were smooth lines with small risks to be found, if a rider was able to see them.

I really enjoyed watching the champs ride this section. It seemed like every 5 feet they were barreling from one bank of the creek to the other; finessing intricate lines here; slamming against the rev limiters and straining their clutches to vault up seemingly-impossible climbs and steps there. The advanced and above riders were required to hop to get through their lines here, and I watched several struggle with bike positioning in such tricky positions on slippery, mossy rock. A great challenge!

And we were off on the loop, back across the open meadow, past the fantastic land owners’ home, through a segment of motocross track, and back downhill into the woods to section 3. The loop coming up to section 3 was unnervingly steep for this novice, especially given I had to park on it, go walk the section, then maintain control of my bike on it as I prepared to enter the line -- all the while allowing others to maneuver down the same segment of loop, because the exit of section 3 was behind the entry on the trail.

This section’s novice line was challenging. How do I know? Because the intermediates rode the same line as the novices. I think it’s a great transition step for the novices when we get to ride a not-dangerous intermediate line! Likewise, the intermediates riding our same line helps wear in the best course and makes life a tad easier on the novices. Thanks, CD!
We entered off the steep loop, made a right turn through a relatively tight gap, and climbed up over a small step and climbed on out of the section. The entry dip and turn gave the section challenge for many of us. I took a 10-ish-step version of a 3 on my first loop, but I managed to keep the right momentum and not get stuck or stopped on the hill. At least one of my fellow novices was not so lucky and 5’d the section all day.

The champ line, again, was a joy to watch. They wove their way farther down the bank, made a deceivingly complex off camber tight turn, then blasted up a massive rock step, as just one portion of the segment. When several of us watched Ryan Young have to take great care and focus to get through the turn, we all knew just how genuinely tough it had to be!

And we were on to section 4. Ah, section 4. Have I ever mentioned that I really struggle with big hunks of rock in my path? It’s a great challenge for me, and one I am determined to find a way to conquer going forward in my never ending career as a rookie. Section 4 reminded me I have a very long way yet to go. The entry to section 4 was either from in the water or off a slippery step down the bank to step back up into the section. On my first loop, I wanted to try to minimize the # of dabs that earned me a 3 and attempted the slippery step without a dab. I promptly spun the rear wheel off the rock, sideways, and dropped the bike with the front axle not 2’ into the section. DARN. Guess I should’ve taken that starting dab. Well, the checker was kind enough to let me ride the section anyway for the experience. I got up the step, bobbled through the jutting rocky edges for a dozen or two bike lengths, and attempted the turn into yet more hunks of rocks pointing every which way. Well, darn again. I got Trixie (my Gasgas) wedged into a spot I couldn’t resolve, and had to ask a Champ rider, of all people, to give me a pull. I paddled through the last of the section, thanked the checker, and gladly stood back on my pegs to go on. This was a GREAT rookie section – nothing dangerous or intimidating, just technically difficult and a skill I’ve yet to master. I wish I could tell you about the upper class lines in this section, but well, to be honest, I was a bit defeated by it and didn’t watch them. Sorry.

The creek areas of the loop were magnificent, breathtaking. We were riding through walls of rock that had obviously been carved by centuries of water. Some areas the rock were so steeply undercut as to provide an overhang under which you could’ve had a picnic, pitched a tent, perhaps parked your toy hauler trailers! The riding surface was easy through most of this area – flat shale type rock in a wide creek, easy banks to climb when needed. And so, on we went.

On, to section 5. This was the one section I chose not to ride on Saturday. I have a pretty good feel for my limits with my bike, and I don’t like to ride things that scare me. Section 5 began with a tough step over a root, then climbed up a rocky dry creek bed at a relatively steep angle; it had a narrow shoulder about a foot wide to climb out at a given point, then a sweeping right hand off camber turn. Mike nearly had me convinced I could manage the creek bed, until we walked to the top of the section. Rather than a simple exit, the novices then had to either ride over a significant log pile (which did have reasonable kickers but was still above my skill set) or weave around one segment of the logs and a huge stump but still cross a smaller block of the logs. I could’ve handled any one of the segments, and could have strung most of them together, but the combination was beyond what I was willing to try today. Once loop or section rattle my confidence, I don’t ride well, and I made the safe decision not to ride this one. The sportsman line in this section was challenging and intricate and great fun to watch while happily resting, stretched out on my back on an angled tree, waiting for the checker to punch my 5 and let me go on. The sportsman riders had to step into the section, make a tight right, sweep up a steep off camber section of bank to go between two trees (gate), then crest a challenging left turn over a really large natural rock formation, up the bank and out.

The views on the loop to section 6, again, were magnificent. Huge rock outcroppings and overhangs, beautiful creek covered in falling leaves off the changing trees. The loop approaching section 6, however, was steep & rutted, involved a hard banked right hand climb to a tight short left turn, and intimidated me every time. The loop at section 6 was awkward – requiring us to all but ride through the edge of the section to go past the entry, turn around, and wait to ride while being careful not to get in the way of riders exiting the section to the left of the entry. The exit of 6 had potential to be dangerous and we heard of at least one rider rolling off the steep step as he tried to leave the section and t-boning a rider who was stopped and waiting to enter the section.

What a section! What a view. I wish I had a panoramic photo to share; I can’t possibly get my meager prose to give you this visual image. Immediately in front of the in gate was a massive jutting rock easily 15’ into the air; to it’s left perhaps a 5-6’ gap and then an even larger rock ledge. Continuing farther to the left and toward the exit, the rock outcroppings exploded out of the moss and leaves at every angle – up the bank beyond the section, the rock face had to be 50’.

The entry to section 6 was a challenge for the novices, with a roll-into-a-dip-roll-up-out-over-some-hidden-rocks-and-did-I-mention-you-are-now-through-the-gate-and-being-scored? Followed by a relatively tight right hander very close to the tall massive rock I first mentioned above; go behind the big boulder in a long sweeping left, weave your way through the loose rock debris, and then a nice path forward, up a left hand sweeper on a mild off camber with a nice float to a fairly large space to the exit gate. I didn’t have a chance of getting through the initial rocks to the first ride hander without paddling; however, I was ecstatic to ride the other segments of the section clean at least once!

The champs and experts actually catapulted their steeds up onto that massive bike eating rock monster as just a first step into this playground. Mike’s sportsman line gave him a really fun jump from one nicely ramped rock to another. I wanted desperately to try the line he was using instead of the safe line clearly being ridden by every other novice – but I never quite found the nerve.

The loop toward section 7 struggled with the same inadequate marking problems as other areas of the loop, and rewarded the rider with some of the same striking scenery.

I really had fun with section 7, even if I did earn a 5 on my first loop. The entry involved climbing a fairly gentle bank through some debris, across some roots, and then a left sweeper fall off around a tree that required some brake control as the next gate was narrow and to the right of the natural line coming off the bank. Immediately after the roots, we had to go around a particularly nasty rock that sucked in a lot of dabs from the upper class riders who had to go OVER rather than around. In my first loop, I tried to go too close to the rock, took an oversized dab much too late (I’d been trying desperately to stay clean!), and dropped my bike, taking that dreaded 5. On loops 2 and 3, though, I took a better line, wobbled the rest of the way around the rock ledge without a dab(!), managed to stay upright through the small loose slippery rocks, succeeded through another sweeping left fall off turn and rolled through the exit. Have I mentioned yet that I’m really glad I’ve been practicing off camber banks and particularly fall off turns???

Boy was I glad it hadn’t rained Friday night when I saw the loop after section 7. It is a dirt road – yes, a ROAD, wide enough for the largest of ATVs and side by sides. But it is long and steep and absolutely at the limits of what I’d like to see a CD ask of a novice rider. I could not imagine a successful climb by some of the youth riders I’ve seen trying to make the move to novice this year.

Soon after, we were back in the pits – time to fuel up, pick up another loop card, and let’s go do it again! As my fitness has improved all season, I find myself wishing I could ride 4 loops with the upper classmen. I strongly believe the 3 loops approach is RIGHT for our rookies! I just, well, what can I say? Particularly on such magnificiently beautiful grounds on a perfect fall weekend ... well... To quote the best known motorcycle slogan ever, “I WANNA RIDE”.
AnnMarie Cross, permanent Noob! & proud wife of "macattack"
Join us in 2014 at the 2nd annual Tilton Trials, Illinois!
Novice owner of "GheeGhee", '01 GG 80big & also '01 GG280 "TriXTer"
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