April 27 – Loretta’s

The sun poked it’s head up for a few minutes this morning.  From about 6:30 to about 8.  After 8 it was all clouds.  That is ok, because it is much nicer to race when it is cloudy than when it is stinking hot.

I am in a hotel in Marion Illinois.  I am sitting here after a shower, hurting body and all, chewing on advil and trying to type this note.  My whole body hurts.  Even my hands are cramping trying to type this.

At 47 years old, I finally got to race at Loretta’s.  When you grow up motorcycle, there are a few things that are held up on a pedestal.  Driving a bike down through the corkscrew at Laguna Seca (I have not done that), riding Baja (I have not done that), racing a national enduro (I have not done that yet, but I will next year), racing at Undadilla (I have not done that yet, but I will this year), jracing at Loretta’s (I have done that now) and a few others.  But, Loretta’s is certainly on the list and now I have raced there.  And OMG, was it tough.

I already mentioned that the sun was shining a bit this morning, and then it got cloudy.  If you have read my earlier posts, then you know that it rained cats and dogs on Friday night and Saturday morning.  The ground was saturated and overflowing.  The forecast called for more rain today on Sunday.  It was looking like we might have the super saturated raining on us at the start race that I have feared.  I am not much of a mud rider, and the thought of the huge hills at Loretta’s in the rain, was not thrilling me.  But, I was here to ride the course for my one time in my life.  Nothing was going to stop me.

During the morning race, I got to watch Rodney Smith take on the course.  Rodney is basically my age, and has retired from racing, but I guess that Loretta’s is a special course for him and he decided to ride the sportsman class in the morning.  Not really fair, as he is a national MX champ, and a multi time GNCC champion.  But, I did not care because I was going to get to watch him ride.

Right away, when the flag flew you could see that he was going to be something special.  He was riding one of the new RMZ450 Suzuki’s, and he looked a lot like Ricky Carmichael, only able to ride at that pace also in the woods.  I watched Rodney come down one of the super steep hills that I would struggle with later in the day, at a pace that was incredible.  I mentioned that he is my age, but he has more talent in his pinky than I do in my whole body.

On the MX track, Rodney cleared all doubles and the huge tabletop with ease.  I know he was on a 4stroke, and that makes it easier, but I think he could have cleared them all on an RM85.

Rodney shredding the morning race.  He was absolutely hauling the mail at that point.  Impressive.

I just have to show this picture.  THAT IS LORETTA LYNN’S STARTING AREA!

Ok.  How was the trail at Loretta’s.

- fast

- rough

- rocky

- HUGE hills

- crazy steep downhills

- braking bumps with holes bigger than your front wheel

- did I say rough?

I had an ok race.  I started well and left the MX track in probably 5th.  But, I went downhill from there.  I crashed on one of the steep downhills on the first lap, and broke the end off my camelbak hose.  The liquid just came pouring out.  I drank as much as I could, but I was gagging trying to drink it all.  So, I was halfway around the first lap and my camelbak was dry.  It was going to be a long day.

Did I mention that the course was rough?  My hands are toast.  There were so many rocks it was not even funny.  The trail is mostly rock, actually.  Imagine rocks from the size of a marble to the size of a bowling ball, mix in about 40% dirt and that is the trail at Loretta’s.  Rock.  Lots of rock.  There were a couple of super long sections that were non stop whoops 3 feet deep where the whoops were made of loose rock.  I am not kidding!   Loose rock whoop sections.  OMG!  The downhills were scary steep, with lots of holes and braking bumps the size of automobiles.  My suspension was not set up for that.

In the end, the sign at the finish said that I was in 9th.  Not bad, but as I said I went backwards in that first lap.

Now for the big drive home.

over and out…

Joe

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