Final Rd. EMX @ Cycle Ranch 9-30-18
If there was ever a weekend of racing that I was sure would have never happened, it was this one. It has been raining for 2 months with a lot of rain outs, and this weekend was looking like it was going to be another victim of S.E. Texas weather.
The weekend forecast was calling for 40-100 % rain all along the Gulf Coast, and even then those numbers were constantly changing, and changed with different weather agency's. Saturday morning loading up, it was light but steady rain, but I reluctantly kept loading the wagon. It rained all the way from Beaumont, to the West side of Houston. There was a patch of this shinny thing in the sky for a bit, but the rains came back, and never let up all the way to Floresville.
Me and my wife went straight to the motel on the main drag, and unloaded half her stuff from home, for a one night stay 😵 . I made a drifting e-brake u-turn, and headed to the track. When I rolled in, there were bikes on the track as well as several large lakes to navigate through, and or around. As I went up the hill to set up camp near the moto shack, I noticed that my truck had some pretty good traction. That gave me a glimmer of hope.
I set up camp, and got suited up. Performed a final check of fuel, tire pressure, fork pressure, and a final slathering of the chain. As I eased onto the track, I immediately noticed it wasn't as slick as I anticipated. There was quite a bit of traction, as there was a lot of sand on the track. There areas that were heavily ridden was where most of the slick spots were. The areas with less tire tracks, had the best traction. So as I'm cruising around staying in pristine areas, I decided to ski my way across on of the lakes just for a change of scenery. As I went through one, it turns out it was very heavy, dense, and absolutely smooth underneath the surface. So I started hitting everyone I came upon. Then I noticed each time I came around to them again, the sand underneath was smooth and dense with no ruts from the previous pass. It was like when the surf rolls in and your foot print is gone. That gave me some ideas on line choices for race day. I drifted and pounded out some long motos that day, then me and the bike hit the showers.
Back at the motel, I watched the weather forecast, and it was changing constantly. I figured this was still going to be a wash, or even if it did happen, it would be a low turn out. Me and Teresa hit a few eateries along the main drag, and then went to H.E.B. for race day goodies. Race day the weather was threating all around, but it wasn't raining. We eased on down to the track and I dropped her off at the scoring tower for a calm, relaxing, and enjoyable day with Clement [:))] .
I went out for practice with the 250's/450's, and then a Vet practice. The track was actually pretty darn good. There was a lot of traction to be found. During my first practice out, I was able to get a run at the big leaning/turning double while the face was still firm and fresh. After a couple of laps I came around with the caution waving, and the was a kid laid out on the downside with a broken femur and out cold. Of course I let that get it my head and didn't not clear it for the remainder of the my practices.
I think I was first moto of the day which was the 50 Open. We were gated I think with the 25+ and another class that I don't recall. I lined up like I usually do on the far outside so I can flat-track. I never bother with gate prep, because even with a perfect gate prep, If you're not careful, you'll still leave the gate sideways. When the gate dropped, I eased off the clutch for a good jump, and when the back tire hit the dirt, I absolutely stretch the throttle cable, and let the excessively high revving 350 breathe. I think I was 3rd overall on the start, and 2nd in my class. I fell in behind Todd Hewitt and stayed close. I think I passed him at the bottom of the first drop off, or at the top of the first catchers mitt. Regardless of where the transaction took place, I though to myself, "I got this". But he stayed close and waited for a mistake, and yes, the mistake came. I stalled, in a corner, but don't recall where. Regardless, he made his move back to first. I got started and came charging back to him, and made the exchange for position again, and once again he stayed close, and I stalled again. He went on for the W.
Next was the 1st moto of the 55 Open. We were gated with others, but don't recall who. Again I lined up on the outside. Gate dropped, and I had a great start again. I let the 350 squeal, and squeal it does. I believe I was 2nd on the start behind Mike Maley #322. I did managed to get around him, but he was jumping the big double and I was not. Some jumps you don't loose too much time if you don't clear them completely. But this is a high speed forward jump, and you loose a lot of time. When he came to the double I rolled it, and he launched it and got back in front. It took a lap to catch back up, just to loose it again on that double. I caught back up at the finish with the checker waving, I headed for the lake at the base of the finish, and skid my way for a close W.
Next was the 2nd moto of the 50 Open. Found my outside gate, and waited on the starter guy to point us down, and drop the gate. Gate dropped and I had a decent start, but there were 2 of the 25+ riders, that wanted their hole-shots too. I let the 350 breather a little longer than normal, and barely eeked into a 2nd overall on the start, and 2nd behind Todd Hewitt. I caught up to Todd, and I think I crowded him on the drop off ledge after the second catchers mitt for the lead. But I knew to keep him at bay, I was going to have to clear the big double. I have cleared it plenty of times before, and by this time of the day with it been sunny and clear, the face of it was drying up nicely. So I landed the table before it, rolled on throttle, and compressed on the face. It's a jump that's not to bad if you over jump, but you don't want to come up short. By clearing that jump, I was able to get 1st for a 1st overall.
My last moto for the day: 2nd moto 55 Open. I took my lucky outside gate, and pondered while waiting for the gate drop. The suns been out all day, and the track was drying up nicely, and I was recalling all the good lines out there. The gate drop finally came, and I had an epic start. I was 2nd overall behind one of the 40+ riders, but 1st in my class.....or so I thought. Just as I though I had the hole-shot, here comes Mike Maley on the inside for the hole-shot. I fell in behind and it was on. He was riding good, but I did what I always do when I'm not quite focused and charging hard without thinking. I took a 5 minute drool in my lawn chair, and it made all the difference. I was right on him, just waiting for a mistake or a clean pass. As we came to the big double, a rider checked up in front of Mike, and he had to check up too. That's all it took, I rolled it on, moved over to the left and made the pass. I knew I had the focus and speed to keep him in check. With the checker waving and one corner to go, I remember I started talking to myself about staying calm and cool, and not making a mistake. That never goes or ends well. As I was going around the last corner, my front tire decided to slide out without my permission. I hit the deck pretty hard, but immediately jumped up. As I'm hitting the magic e-button, he's close enough to motor on by for the W. But he was kind enough to look over at me and make sure I was vertical lol. I garnered a 2nd for a 2nd overall. Afterwards I went over a chatted with him. We both were pleased with our rides, but both enjoyed the battle even more.
For a race that I figured would have never materialized, it ended up being clear, sunny and a fairly cool day, and the track was as good as its ever been. I found myself mostly just riding fast because it was fun. I camped all day with Mark Snapp. He is never boring, and has stories to tell. He took a hit to one of his knees, and it looked like a beehive. He had a good and fun day too. I also took 1st place in both of my classes for the championship year. ☕