AMA National Harescrambles – Rhinelander

Once a year, we get to race on what is the best course in the state. Rhinelander – Sugar Camp. The only bad thing about Rhinelander is that it is just on the edge of being too far to drive for the day. We can do it, but just barely. It is 4ish hours away, and if it was 30 minutes farther, I would say that it is too far to drive for the day. It requires that we get out of my driveway at about 5am.

Candi making the first of her many mistakes on the day.

Candi making the first of her many mistakes on the day.

If you have read my blog before, then you know that I own the one and only navigation unit with a voice stolen from a stripper named Candi. Candi normally speaks with you in a voice that makes you think you are the best driver in the world. She speaks slowly, precisely and accurately. She can direct you to things that are close and things that are many days drive away. She just needs to know where you need to go, and a few seconds to calculate a route and presto. She also can be told up front if you want to stick to main highways, avoid main highways, avoid tollways, avoid ferries etc…

But lately, I have been noticing more and more attitude from Candi. She seems to get upset when you make detours or wrong turns. She does not like it when you stop to go to the bathroom. She does not like it if you get hungry and have to get off the route she has chosen. I have also noticed that she has decided to try different routes to the same places we have been together. I don’t always need the navigation to get somewhere, especially if I have been there before. But, I like to use her even still, because she can tell me what time I will most probably arrive. But is it possible that she is bored with our relationship and needs to spice it up a bit with different routes? Think about it.

So you are probably wanting to hear a bit about the race. The race was good. I was 4th in the +40A class and 19th overall. If that was all you wanted to know, you would stop now and go back to reading about Swine Flu, or following Lance Armstrong’s Twitter or seeing what goofy photos your friends have put up on Facebook. But of course if you decide to stay, there is much more to this story than that.

It is a weird spring. The weather patterns have been interesting this year. The spring started off with a bunch of rain. We looked to be on par with one of the wettest springs in memory. But, crazy patterns have emerged. It seems that spring has let up for a few days in advance of a race and then started up again the day after the race. In other words, races have been dry and even cool. Then it either warms up in between races or it rains for 4 days straight in between.

Rhinelander was dusty. Can you believe it? Dusty! Not just the little bit of dust that you get on a windy day. I am talking black air filter after the race, cannot see the trail dusty.

Dust during the morning race!  Nothing campared to the afternoon dust fest!

Dust during the morning race! Nothing campared to the afternoon dust fest!

We parked along the course, just before the start finish area. Nice little stretch of straight trail that allowed us to set up our pit area and take on gas etc… without worry about wasting time that you did not have before the finish of the race.

I had what turned out to be the perfect bike set up for the race.

– 06 RM250, super soft suspension from my Enduro bike, big tank etc…

I think that is going to be my set up for the year on the race bike.

Last year I discovered some stuff called Brave Soldier. You put it on your hands before you put them into your gloves. It is magic. I used to get huge blisters on my hands, and now nothing. Even at at super rough race like this, it works wonders. Try it.

Applying the magic stuff.

Applying the magic stuff.

That will do it.

That will do it.

There were 13 people on my line. I got a good start in the race, 4th off the MX track. But, even that proved to be too far back – the dust was so bad. You could not see a thing going down the open straights. It was much better in the woods, but even there it was tough. Especially tough were the transitions from the open areas to the woods. It took a couple of seconds for your eyes to adjust when you made that transition. But during those seconds when your eyes were adjusting, you just hoped that it was not too rough.

Decent start.

Decent start.

Speaking of rough. We have had a race on this course for a few years now. The course is getting pretty beat. It has huge holes in it and square edge bumps and rocks and tons of roots. Good thing I had the soft suspension on the bike.

Rick Anschutz came by me right away, going much faster than I was comfortable going in that limited visibility. He was pretty fearless in the dust. There was also some AA guy from Minnesota there, racing in our class. He checked out right away, and we never saw him again. Rob and I battled for the first 2/3 of the race. He had me at the first half of that, and I caught him and passed him for the 2nd half of that. But, then he managed to get ahead of me for the last 2 laps and put 2 minutes into me. Damn.

It was fun to do a 3 hour race again. My fitness is much better than last year, as I am writing this the next morning and do not have any of the fatigue that I experienced from the GNCC races last year. This course was just as hard as those, I am just not nearly as beat up feeling.

I learned I cannot do a 2 hour race on a stock size tank. At the rate that I burned fuel at this race, I can only make 114 minutes on a small tank. That ends that debate.

Next weekend, Hixton D16 race.


Our pits, right by the start finish.

Our pits, right by the start finish.

Artsy photo!

Artsy photo!

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