That is how it goes. One day it is snowing, and freezing cold, and the next day it feels like spring in Wisconsin. Last week we had a snowstorm, and then Sunday it was 59, and the leaves started popping out. Wow. But, way more important as a sign of Spring was that Sunday was the 1st D16 HS race.
The 1st race is always a glorious thing. Everyone comes out of hibernation. People you have not heard from in 5 months are all of a sudden high on your radar again. What never ceases to amaze me is that it all can seem so normal. I mean, think about it, we have all been cooped up inside for months dreaming about racing our motorcycles. We watch Supercross (which is a best a poor substitute for riding in the woods). We go to the gym. We ride our bicycles on the trainer. We load up and go south to do a race (normally you do that and suffer, as it is the 1st time you have ridden a motorcycle in months). We go out to the garage and watch last years enduro races on DVD while riding the trainer or working on our motorcycles. All the while, ticking down the days till the 1st local race. Sometimes it seems like it will never get here.
Bam. Just like that it is here and we are back at it.
This week we all figured the 1st race was going to be a mudder. It has been raining forever, it seemed. Last year, Aztalan was pouring down rain all morning of the race and the race was the most horrible mudder ever. The dirt there is mostly clay mixed with rocks. The combination is devastating on a motorcycle. After last years race, it seemed that the whole motorcycle was throwaway. Plastic, grips, tires, bearings, chain, sprockets, brake pads… ugh it all had to be replaced.
As I said, we all figured it was going to be another mudder. But, it turned up dry. I am talking dusty dry. Wow. What a difference a year makes.
The crowd was huge on the line. There were about 15 on our line for the +40 class. A lot of guys who I did not know. But, as the story unfolds, you will see that as it has seemed the past years – the race comes down to John and I.
On the line, I could not get my bike to start in gear. I tried on the practice starts, but it would not crankup in gear. So, I was forced to start the bike in neutral. A neutral start normally does not mean good things. With my Rekluse Core EXP auto clutch, I would suggest that the clutch plates need replacing. I kinda knew that before the race, but opted not to replace them as I did not want to have the 1st ride be in a race. I also stalled once during the race, so I am certain the plates need to be replaced. But, in spite of my hampered starting technique, I got an excellent start. 3rd in the 1st turn and 2nd before we left the MX track. The guy in front of me was clearly a Motocrosser as he was great on the track but not as good in the woods. I did manage to pass him in the 1st lap and I started to put down my head. But, he was not giving up and followed me hard for about 4 laps.
Aztalan is not a long lap, so you get to know the lap very very well. A couple of laps in, John was suddenly with us. I found out later, that he got a poor start and struggled to get through the rest of the field. I also learned later, that we had completely gapped the rest of the group. The race went on that way for about an hour. The 3 of us together, me leading, but unable to break those guys.
Aztalan is a great little race course. Rollie always does a great job with the course. He understands that a HS is not a 2 hour MX race. Generally we hit the jumps backwards and join and leave the course multiple times. Great fun. There was only one little section that was just too tight for a few people to make it up, and had to be removed about 15 minutes into the race.
About an hour in, I made a mistake and gave up both 1st and 2nd. John put his head down right then and then put a gap into the MX’er and I.
Eventually I got passed the MX’er and put a gap into him, but John was really going fast. Really fast. I did not have anything for him this weekend. My hat is off to him.
In the end, John put about 30-40 seconds on me, and that was it. The season is young though. I will have my chances, and it will be a great season for John and I to race each other hard.
My fitness was super. I have to say that Mary Grinacker has devised a fantastic program for me that has my fitness at a super level.
Thanks a ton to all of our sponsors.