Another Ride Report (longish)
- From: Tim H <tntharrell@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Tue, 5 Jun 2012 14:59:37 -0700 (PDT)
Like Sturd, I just can't bring myself to call Facebook home.
This past weekend I tried something new to me. Scott finally talked me into racing the Golden Spike Hare Scrambles, an annual event put on by the Stump Jumpers M/C on the property of a closed logging mill in Packwood, Washington. If you’re one of the 3 or 4 people that read my ride reports you might remember me writing about Scott riding in this race for the past few years. After about the 20th time that Scott reminded me that every year after the race I’ve whined about how much fun it looked like and that I should race it next year, I decided to just do it. First order of business is finding the least roached set of used tires in the garage and swapping them out (not going to destroy my new Bridgestone M403/M404 tires on a 1 ½ hour race on and off asphalt). I also bumped my mainjet up one size since the bike has seemed just a bit too crisp the last couple of rides and this race has a ¼-mile-plus long straight that will test the top end jetting every lap.
Race day was Saturday (Sunday they hold a Supermoto race on the asphalt portion of the course). Scott was racing his first NMA Offroad Series race in the AA class (he moved to AA in the enduro series last year, but was still racing Open A in the Offroad Series). This is right in line with his normal class progression; as soon as he gets comfortably competitive in one class he moves himself up to push himself to get faster, and the system is working very, very well for him. Being his first start with the AA wave, he didn’t have really high expectations, he just wants to race with them and learn the feel for their speed. He didn’t make things any easier on himself when he totally blew his first shift off the start and went from top 3 to bottom 3 in about 20 feet. He rode a good smart race, turned solid and consistent lap times, and only managed to eke out an 11th place finish. In a 2 ½ hour race, he stayed within about 10 minutes of the overall winner. Not a storybook finish, but not a bad starting point for him to build on.
My race ran after Scott’s. The Super Senior A class (50-60 years old, and, well, A class riders) starts on the second wave, and as we were staging at the start Ricky Russell, the overall winner of the first race, rolled up to the Sportsman class on the first wave on his sister’s CRF150R Honda. I didn’t recognize him at first, and though it was just a brave kid trying the race, Then Ricky turned around and I knew in my heart that I was going to be totally smoked by a mini bike. From what I hear, he won with about a 2 minute lead over second place. Crazy.
Anyway, I lined up with the other old guys on the second row. There were 12 of us, mostly on 450F’s, one YZ250, and me on my ’04 EC300 Gasser. Dead engine hands on helmet start. Left the GasGas in second gear, and started kicking as soon as the horn sounded so that by the time my hands reached the grips the bike was already lurching forward, I grabbed a handful of throttle that lifted the front wheel about 6 inches off the ground and started grabbing gears. I absolutely killed the start; never saw another bike for the entire length of the long, long straight, through the first left hand sweeper, or through the following decreasing radius right hander. So much for the superiority of FI 4 strokes, because my 8 Y.O. carbureted 2 stroke schooled them. The course then ducked through an equipment barn, out the back door and into the woods, over a pretty gnarly little log crossing that I passed groups of people on every other lap (it was clear on the first lap), popped out on the asphalt for another short section, then back into the woods for some nice damp tacky sandy loam action in the woods. While back in these woods the first lap I felt a few raindrops hitting me, but nothing too bad. This section lead back to the asphalt again, and when I got there I found that there had been quite a bit more rain along the front straight than there was back in the woods (the family told me later that it poured down rain for a couple of minutes right after we started). Wet asphalt on worn knobbies under race conditions is a little sketchy. The first paved turn scared me cautious, and I tiptoed back to the dirt. Fortunately, that was the only rain we saw during the race, and the pavement dried out by the next time we came back to it. After running around in the woods some more, we passed through the remains of some of the torn down buildings on the site, including through a strange all concrete doorway from nothing to nothing, up a few concrete steps, through a maze of elevated concrete foundation pads just waiting to smash pipes and/or feet, a nice drop down onto and jump off of an old loading dock. and then back into the woods for a while longer, pounding through multitudes of half buried wet rocks. The next time back on the asphalt lead to the longest stretch of pavement racing on the lap, which culminated with the course ducking into another old building, snaking around inside for a bit, then busting out of the door onto the start straight looking down that long paved front straight. At the rider’s meeting they claimed the course was about 8 miles long, but after I finished with 4 laps I was showing 28.5 miles on the odometer, so I’m calling it a little over 7 miles, not about 8.
My arms started pumping up about ½ way through the first lap, and I was passed by 2 guys in my class. The first one, Dana Johnson, pretty much just motored away, although I did manage to keep him in sight for a lap or two until lappers spread us too far apart. The second one that squeezed by wasn’t really any faster than me at that point, he just capitalized on a small error when we caught up to some lappers (on lap 2!) to push his way past me, so I latched onto his wheel and dogged him hard for about 1-1/2 laps until I managed to get past him on the outside going through the high speed sweeper on the start straight. It was slightly hairy, as his line was naturally drifting wide through the turn as I blew past him, but the pass stuck. Once back past him I pretty much dropped him like a rock and rode the rest of the race alone in second place as far as my class was concerned, but I was constantly racing with guys I was catching from the Sportsman class that started ahead of us, a couple of faster guys from the wave behind us that caught up to me. It was just absolutely giggly good fun. I had much, MUCH more fun than I expected on the paved parts (and I thought it was going to be fun), the dirt was pretty nice, and other odd obstacles were a refreshing change of pace.
The best part for me was that I was able to keep racing hard to the finish, and I was very uncertain that I’d be able to do that. Previous Hare Scrambles experience has been a couple of good laps, then survival mode after I pumped up. This time I made a conscious effort to breathe correctly when I realized that I was pumping, and it seems to have actually worked, because the pump got much better and I was able to keep on racing.
This weekend is the Black Bear Enduro, always a great race, then the two weekends after that there are 2 more Hare Scrambles. Looks like this will be a busy month.