Today is Monday. I am worked. I am sporting a super sore body, including a back that is wrenched, sore knees, sore arms and shoulders. Damn this getting old thing is tough. I am reasonably fit, not as fit as I was at the start of the season, but not that bad. The whole hurting my knee and focusing on that as well as the break in the race season has killed my fitness. Oh well, you didn’t tune in to hear about my lack of fitness.
This past weekend was an important local race. In fact, it was a double race. Both days, Saturday and Sunday.
Hixton is one of our usual old stomping grounds. I have been doing races here for about 6 years. I have usually gone well here. Not always wining my class, but normally feeling like I had a pretty good race. Normally in the top 4.
Since it was a double race, it was an opportunity for Scott and I to pull out the full GNCC race set up. The trailer, the Suzuki tents, our identically logo’ed bikes etc… It was fun. I know we are a couple of dorks, but I was looking forward to camping in the trailer at a race site, as it has been a while.
Our race site before everyone else arrived.
We will get to the race report in a minute, but first I have to call out some of the color of the race environment. Hixton is a great piece of property. It is actually called CMJ raceway. It is about 400 acres. It is a super hilly piece of property. Covered in woods. It boasts a huge hill for a hill climb competition, a great outdoor MX track with enormous hills and tons of woods riding. On Saturday, there was a hillclimb and a vintage MX race going on at the same time as our HS race. As a result, our HS course for Saturday was 100% woods. On Sunday, day 2 of the hillclimb was taking place at the same time as our HS race, that allowed the MX track to be added for that day.
The lineup of perfectly good MX bikes, shredded and turned into hillclimbers. Oh Well!
It seems that hillclimbers and ATV riders come from the same family tree. I don’t know what it is about those 2 groups, but somehow you have to like really loud motors to be fans of those things. I think when people are in their formative years, if they lean towards loud things and making things louder, then that is a future quad racer or hillclimber. Hillclimbers take a perfectly good MX bike, weld on a ridiculously long swingarm, get rid of the radiators, get rid of the front fender, get rid of the airbox and then bolt on the loudest exhaust pipe they can find. Then, of course, you are required to start those bikes every hour and rev the piss out of them for 5 minutes. 2 stroke or 4 stroke, it doesn’t matter – same routine for each. Wow.
The other interesting phenomenon is to take an MX chassis, lengthen it all out and do all the other things listed abovev, but then fabricate all the mounting plates etc… to put in a huge motor. A Harley twin will work, a 1000cc inline 4 cylinder, even a 6 or so cylinder car motor. I guess there must be an open class in hillclimbs. All of that for 10seconds of flame throwing, mud spewing eardrum splitting abuse.
Scott picked me, the trailer and my bike up at my house at about 4:45. We had originally planned to head up on Friday eve, but that has become increasingly difficult for Scott with his young family. On both Thursday and Friday nights, the skies served up the 2 largest thunderstorms I have ever experienced. It was spectacular. But, they also dropped about 4 inches of rain on us during the 2 nights. For an area already saturated with water, it spelled a mud race. I am ok with that these days, in fact I kind of like mud.
So Saturday’s race started out fantastic. The gun went off, my bike started on the first kick and I was first in my wave to the first turn. I charged through the course for the first lap and even with a couple of wrong turns (I had not seen the course as we drove up that morning), I still had a comfortable lead. Rob did not get his bike started easily and it took him that first lap to catch up to me. I stalled on the 2nd lap trying to brake too hard for a turn that came up on me faster than I remembered, and he got by me. Later in that lap, I got back by him when we were blocked by a few C class riders struggling with a big hill.
Unknown to me, he went down chasing me afterward and I did not see him for more than an hour. Finally at an hour I started to see him when the course looped back on itself. At an 1’ 40” I was pushing too hard to stay ahead of him and I crashed really hard on a slick turn. I slammed to the ground on my shoulder, my head, my hip and my knee. The bad knee. I tweeked my knee and shoulder and put a huge bruise on my hip. But, the worst of it was that I was completely dazed and it took me too long to get up and get to my bike. Rob went by me as I was trying to get back on my bike. With only 15 or so minutes to catch him I just could not make it up. 2nd place is how I came in. I was actually ok with that, as I felt that I had raced hard and came close to winning. But, I had gone hard and was really knackered after the race.
One big long 5 mile rut.
With the mud, the race became super rough and rutted. It was like riding one long rut, with rocks and tree roots exposed. It beat you to death. I set up the helmet camera for the race, but apparently failed to push the start button, so you don’t get to see the race. Oh well.
Scott and I loaded up the bikes after the race to go and find a car wash. It had been really muddy and the bikes had a good 30 pounds of mud on them. I also needed some Ibuprofen and a compression sleeve on my knee to keep the swelling down.
Home sweet Home.
We prepped the bikes and then had dinner and it was lights out at dark. I love sleeping in the camper, as that is usually where I sleep the best. It was not the greatest night of sleep though. I could not sleep as there were people setting off fireworks, and my knee and hip were throbbing. I have a huge bruise and swelling on my hip. Apparently I sat up in my sleeping bag at some point during the night and yelled something out at Scott. He says it was sort of incoherent and angry. Creepy. He was probably farting.
Sunday came around, and it was the same course in reverse with the MX track added. That was going to make the ruts bad as well. The course had dried out a lot and was not nearly as muddy. Muddy, just not as bad as the day before. Again I got a decent start. 3rd in the first turn. (I am using a starting block now. It helps me heaps, as it gets me up higher and I have more leverage on the lever. Good for guys with bad knees.) My friend John Buechner was first in the turn and super fast (at least these days) Jim Blau was second. Jim used to be a good starter that would slow down a lot later in the race. Not any more, he is fast from the start and still fast at the end of the race.
Jim and I both got past John and I immediately smacked into a tree trying to go Jim’s pace at the start. I hit the tree so hard that it knocked my breath out and my back was in real pain for a long time. I became a tourist just taking up space in the race after that. First Rob caught me and left me behind like a slug. I battled with John Buechner for a while – passing back and forth – but was in too much pain to keep up that pace. I settled in to 4th and that is where we finished. Rob 1st (damn he is tough to beat), Jim 2nd, John 3rd, me 4th. We were spread about 6 minutes apart at the end. We were on 10 laps together and 5th place was 2 laps down. It is fun to race at the front again.
Next race is not until early Sept. The schedule is a local race at the beginning of Sept, then 4 GNCC races during sept/oct, and a national HS race tossed in there as well. There is 1 other local race I could add in there if it works out also. In between now and then there is a mountain bike trip to Whistler, and a 12 hour mountain bike race. I may also try to do the Dairyland Dare bike ride in the hills of western Wisconsin.
Tune back in for some helmet cam footage from Whistler, if I can make the camera work.