I do not race. I’ve lined up on an actual racecourse three times in my life and have been ill equipped each time. My first experience was in 2006 aboard a nearly stock LT250R. I was home on summer break from college and my dad suggested I give racing a try. The fellow running practice must have sensed my inexperience as he approached me and kindly suggested that I practice with the “old farts and women.” You can imagine how that experience went.
Fast forward to 2010 and I’ve got Wes Miller, world renown producer and desert champion calling me out to join him at some of the WORCS events. While my skills have increased a great deal since those days on the old LT, my equipment is still sub par. For the two WORCS events I’ve participated in I rode my trusty (and stock) TRX 450 the entire grueling 45 minutes.
Wes most recently talked me into joining him for the fourth round in Adelanto and I had declined his offer until I spied the guys loading their quads early Friday morning for practice. We loaded mine into the rig and it was off to Adelanto to see what the day would bring.
Upon arrival I was slightly intimidated by the track. There was a rather large 120ft step up and a semi-challenging double into a whoop section. As I began making laps on the course each time I came around to that step up I told myself “you’re a freestyle rider, you have nothing to gain and everything to lose.” I managed to talk myself out of going for it the first few laps but on lap four or five while I was again conversing with myself, I ended up pinning it and to my surprise cleared it with ease. I didn’t quite down side it to the 120 foot mark but I managed to land on top and not crash which was all I cared about. My newfound confidence lead me to attempt the double which proved to be not quite as challenging as I had thought. The only problem really came if you were to get squirly off the double and then lose control going into the whoops. One rider did just that resulting in the first of three air lifts for the day.
Race day dawned and Wes and I drove back to Adelanto eager for our perspective races. To our surprise the “desert” section of the course looked more like a 4.2 mile long motocross track. Be it we opted to only run the Friday practice we hadn’t even seen the majority of the course when we lined up to race.
I entered the Sport 15-29 B class hoping to improve upon my 6th place finish from Havasu. As I took my place on the unusually saturated starting line, I found a semi dry spot to the far left of the start. This would give me the shortest line to the first turn.
Moments before the race I met a fellow named Charley who, upon discovering that I ride for the Bomb Squad, suggested I do a little freestyle on the mx track. I told him if I managed to holeshot I’d give it my best.
The green flag dropped and I gave my little TRX everything it had. I was pleased to find myself in third place as I exited turn one. While I hadn’t managed to holeshot I did a little heel clicker over the first tabletop to appease Charly. Come to find out later he missed it.
As we left the motocross track I was able to sneak past 2nd place and put pressure on the leader. Deep ruts in every turn mad passing in the corners almost impossible but I found my opportunity down one of the straights just before reentering the motocross track. I snuck by and used the motocross track to put some distance on second place.
Again I was faced with the dilemma of attempting the step up or opting to play it safe as my arms were already burning from only one lap on the course. Windy conditions during practice had been sending me sideways in midair and I was afraid if that happened during the race I wouldn’t have the strength to muscle the quad around. I opted to try it anyway and was pleased to jump it cleanly as there was no wind to deal with.
I talk to myself when I ride. Sometime I pray. Sometimes I sing. On this particular day I was running though conversations I could have that might enable me to score some contingency money should I maintain my lead. Unfortunately fatigue began to set in and I was passed partway through lap three.
By this point we were starting to catch riders from the class in front of us and I somehow lost track of what position I was in. As I neared the motocross section for what would be the final lap a KTM mounted rider maneuvered his way around me. I recognized the name on his jersey as one who flipped me off during the race at Havasu and decided that I was not going to let him beat me here.
As we approached the ever-exciting step up I noticed that he chose not to jump it. I used this as an opportunity to close the gap and managed to almost land on him in the process. Realizing that I was in hot pursuit, he picked up his pace but I caught him again as we approached the double into the whoops. Though most of my body was aching, my competitive spirit won out and I opted to jump the double in hopes of making a pass. I lucked out and my counterpart chose to single it. Though it was ugly, I cleared the double, bounced through the whoop section and to my delight received the checkered flag a few turns later. Unsure of where I had placed I was ecstatic to find myself in third after viewing the results board.
The whole experience came as a personal victory to me. While I would consider myself an expert level rider I’ve spent very little time on a motocross track and next to no time banging bars in a live race. To have actually lead for a portion of the race was completely unexpected and finishing on the podium was the icing on the cake.
I’m not sure when I’ll be lining up behind the gate again but you can be sure that I’ve caught the racing bug. I am tremendously blessed to be at a place in my life where I’m able to pursue my passion and equally blessed to have friends that share my love for this sport.