After attending the Wolfs Den 2 round of ATV Motion and talking to people, I finally decided I needed to get off the bench. I talked with more than a few riders as well as spectators about racing and decided that next round I wouldn’t be sitting in a corner taking pictures(although I did end up doing that a bit, more on that later), I would be in the race. No more talking about it, time to do it.
Quick backstory on myself; my extent of dirt bike riding prior to this year has been riding a dirt bike around in a field when I was 13 or so. A solid little Honda 80. After hanging out during x-mas time at my friend’s house I played around a lot on a TTR110 just doing little pop up wheelies and spinning the tires through turns. Something clicked. I always figured I would get a dual sport someday, do the TAT or something. After that day on the TTR I NEEDED a dirt bike. So roughly a month later I find my current bike affectionately named “Hope” in my garage. Thus starts my dirt bike journey in which I’ve written other bits on being a newb and even started a youtube channel called dirtnewb. So far it’s been absolutely amazing.
OK, back to the race. First and foremost I have to thank Jon, for helping me with my bike the day before. Kevin, for putting on a race series that is newbie friendly. As well as a shout out to Jeremy who brings a bunch of parts and now food to the races. All these bros are awesome!
For me, if you had asked me a year ago what I’d be doing around this time there’s no way I would say “Gonna be racing dirt bikes” but here we are. To start, I first have to talk about the camaraderie of the racers at ATV Motion. Take Jon for instance, we had never met in real life before, just talked via facebook. Jon tells me to come out to his house the day before the race so he can basically put on a clinic for newbies on maintenance as well as look over my bike for me and help me get it sorted. No payment, just bring yer bike and I’ll show you what to do. I did give him some americonda stickers which are going to be worth bucks because I’ll be retiring that brand now. So yep, day before the race I bring out my bike, Jon goes over suspension, bar settings, basic maintenance stuff that a newb might not know about, as well as volleying all my newb questions. Absolutely awesome stuff and even though I think I already thanked him 5 times or so, again Thank you Jon, you rock.
Also along those lines, I inquired about a brake master cyclinder rebuild kit as HoT didn’t have one, Brady came out of the woodworks to offer one up but on such short notice on my end I wasn’t able to pick it up, still again, that camaraderie of “Let’s get you racing” is there. Also on the way there I stop at QT to grab ice and a sandwich and whatnot and see another racer(KTM Red #5 plate) who was going as well. His parents were following him out too and asked me if I was going racing, “Yes sir!” I reply and gave them a big thumbs up. Haha they passed me later on the turn pike and I got a couple of honks a smile and a wave as well, that was awesome.
OK, sorry that’s a lot of filler in there, let’s get to the race. Nerves. Anxiety. Excitement. Everything was hitting me that morning while loading up and driving there. I think too much. Also I think at a really really fast pace, so the drive there consisted of me thinking about everything I’ve already ridden at Stillwater, making sure to stay out of the way, doing math on lap times and miles traveled and wondering what kind of course they were going to lay out and how many hills(I’m not a huge fan of hills, but I’m getting better) they would have and hopefully were ones that I’ve already ridden before with a few spats of “Oh shiny thing off on the side of the road what is that?” because I have ADHD.
I arrive and park with my buddies that I know from Tulsa, unload and get somewhat geared up and go sign up for the race. Honestly I don’t know which was worse, standing in line thinking about the race signing up, or the starting line wait. Both in terms of my overthinking self were pretty hard core on my nerves, yes I’m high strung. Signed up and back at the truck I start gearing up. I figured I still had time because my buddy Kit hadn’t gone off and done the mini race yet, little did I know he wasn’t doing the mini race and yeah, people were lining up already, so as I’m half geared up, zero warm up, I’m tossing the rest of my gear on and packing things into my camel back. Hah, lock the door shut the door, DAMNIT MY GOGGLES AND GLOVES, dig through camel back for key, unlock the truck and dig those out.
Totally legit super awesome racer bro now with a sticker and a number. No one still has figured out what I am after when I want the #42 so bad.
I get geared up and head to the starting line. Great I’m literally almost the last one there, luckily trail riders starts from the back so I didn’t have to go find some place to fit in the middle. As I make it to the back “Sweet! I’m on the grid, I’ll sit here and rev the bike to keep it warm” I then notice roughly 10-15 riders giving me the evil eye and telling me to turn it off as Kevin was talking, whoops, newb level factor +2 at this point. Things get underway and the first line leaves.
This was it. The next few lines leave. I go over what I’ve been telling myself all day “You’re in trail riders, just ride the trail, if you had gone to the MX track today you would have paid 20 bucks just to ride the track, this is the same thing, you paid 25 bucks to ride on a race track” as well as “Slow and steady, you’re going to expend more energy trying to go fast and crashing and picking up your bike than you will keeping it upright and going your own pace”. It’s time. My line is up. This is my only goal for today, make the start, anything after the start is a bonus. 10 seconds, tick tick tick tick tick… green flag.
Kick start and fires on the first kick, you can see in the video that I look over before dropping into first to make sure everyone else is getting away, I’m not going for a hole shot and don’t want to be in anyone’s way that is trying to go really fast. All those nerves and anxiety blow out the window as I hit the gas because there’s no time for that crap now, you’re riding, you’re in a race, and this is pretty much the best you have ever seen Stillwater ever. Let’s get it on!
The first part of the course is AWSOME love how they incorporated jumps into it, and I actually got that part on video before my batteries died. I pass a few guys with bikes that died, I let a few guys by who got their bikes going again and were faster than me, after a bit, I’m all alone. Which honestly is totally fine by me. I started the race, I might be last but I’m out riding, having fun, and my goal has been met. One thing which is a note to self type of thing is get there earlier next time. I need about 15-20 minutes of riding around in a circle or something to loosen up. The first probably 3 miles of the race I’m deathlocking the bars and not loose at all. So next time, get there earlier and get some warm up riding in.
As with street bikes, anyone can go fast in a straight line, I really need to work on turning and form in turns as I know I wimped more than a few of the tight ones I should have been on the gas through, but again, go your pace. I get to the red trail sections, the ROLLER COASTER portion as well. Last time I rode the roller coaster part it ended with me cussing at Skubic about how I’m never listening to him again and that this was a bunch of crap. Oh yeah, there’s video.
This was my last time I was on the roller coaster red trail portion in Stillwater. Yes I’m a newb. *some cussing, warning*
I cruise the roller coaster section. NO balking at hills just hit the hammer and go for it. Only thing I stopped to look at was a super steep downhill in which I went down it much like I did in the video with me stopping at the top and just kind of walking it down basically. But everything else I was like “WHOOOO GO FOR IT!!!” and actually had a pretty good time going up the hills vs. dreading them this time around, I’m learning. It was actually a really fun section!
After the roller coaster I’m on a different portion of the red trail and coming through a turn I dump the front. At this point it’s only 5 miles in but death gripping the bars, on top of nerves, on top of sitting behind a computer the past 10 years meaning my upper body strength is weak sauce, I’m starting to get spent. I pick up the bike and get going again and notice things are feeling funny, the back tire feels like it’s completely clogged with mud or something, there’s no oomph. I stop on the side of the trail and notice that the back brake has zero travel what so ever and is basically locked. Well crap. I’m sitting on the exit of a turn in a bad spot so I have to drag it across the trail with the rear locked up to the other side in order to trouble shoot the problem.
Brake lock up pit stop #1.
This is my everytrail link that shows my progress up till my brakes lock up.
At this time I basically figure this is the end of my race, I’m not worried or stressed though, actually I needed the break and I already achieved my goal and then some by starting the race so no worries. I start trouble shooting and find out that somehow the bolt/nut that you adjust your brake travel with has worked its way completely up so the rear brake is locked and there is no travel in the lever. Luckily I did ride with my tail bag that had my tools in it(I wasn’t going to) so break out the 10mm wrenches and get this readjusted.
Directly to the left of the wrench is the part I’m talking about, the little ball joint bit.
I’m fixed back up, rear moves, I’m back on the trail with full intentions of finding the blue trail and then heading back to the truck. In the time it has taken me to diagnose the problem and get it taken care of, the WHOLE pack catches me. I’m in a tight section, I’m slow, ALL THE FAST GUYS are now on my tail. I pull over for one. 15 seconds later I pull over for another. 15 seconds, another. I finally find a good spot and I’m waiting and they just keep coming. I decide I’m already in dead last, not worried about time, I am going to be pulling over every 15 seconds or so, already had a break issue, so I go ahead and drop the kick stand and let everyone go. Another props about the camaraderie, as I was sitting it out letting all the faster guys pass me, a ton of people as they were going by were asking if I was ok. After a bit I dug out my camera and just started taking pictures/video so they wouldn’t slow down at all asking if I was ok and just see me taking pictures. Pictures sucked, I took some video though.
Pit stop #2, let everyone else by your slow self.
This is my video for the start/some riding/pit stop #1/Pit stop#2. *some cussing*
NEW EMOTION TIME. Determination. After being lapped by everyone, determination sets in. Tire is rolling. You’re burnt out. You’ve had to work on stuff. You’re in last place. DON’T CARE. I want to finish!!!! So I’m back on the trail, riding slowly like normal, but I’m riding. I’m having fun. Things are going. Pit stop # 3 comes up. I come around a corner and see a girl with her bike on the side of the trail. As others have done when I was on pit stop #2 including this girl as she rode by, I ask if she’s ok. She tells me the motor seized or something else was wrong.
Pit stop #3. I’ve already been lapped by everyone, not like I care about making time or anything. I go ahead and drop the kick stand and look the bike over a bit, check the kick start and for an 85 it does feel kind of funky. I decide to leave that alone as I’ll probably just mess something up if I try to fix anything on it and we hang out and talk for a bit, we’re right in front of a hill which has 2 sides, one which is newbie friendly and the other side which is NUUTTSSS and full on rocks with pretty much a jump at the top. She’s all talking about well you can just go up the right, and I’m like “what? Do you know how new I am?” and she tells me she’s been riding XC events since she was 5 and that hill is easy. Great. Now I’m getting ragged on by kids about balking at certain hills. ARG!!!
She’s really cool though and asks me to help her push her bike(Black Betty I believe) up the hill so she can start pushing it back to the start finish. “It’s light, if you can help me push it up the hill I can push it the rest of the way back”. The fast guys are coming back through again so we wait for a gap and get it pushed up the hill and tucked out of the way of the 2 various lines up the hill. Haha at this point after pushing it up the hill I’m huffing and puffing and just whoa, I state “I’m so out of shape” but kid makes me feel better about my out of shapeness because she tells me “You’re not out of shape, that was just tough” lol. So bike is out of the way, I know that it’s just a bit further to the exit to get to the 80 that puts you out on the road. I was going to run ahead and see how far it was till the exit and if needed we would run two up back to the start finish so she could find her dad and get the truck. As I was gearing up her pops came through the woods so all was well.
I bail ahead and find the 80 exit and run it back up the road and was going to yell at them about that it wasn’t far at all to the exit to road, but I found Kevin in the SxS who tells me that he’s on it and they were looking for her. Good deal. I ask Kevin if the rest of the course is the blue trail and he tells me it is I let out a whoop of “WHOOOOOOOO” and get back on the trail. Determination has set it. It’s the blue trail. I know where I’m at. I’m close. I need to complete a lap.
Honestly, this is the fastest I have ever gone on this portion of the blue trail. I’m tired, I’m mentally spent, and I’m twisting the grip because I’M FINISHING THIS! I did get out of the way for a few people too as I heard them come up behind me, but I’m still hauling it when on the trial for what I’m normally used too. Then the brakes seize again. It’s worked itself back up and I’m draggin the rear hard core. DAMNIT. Fine whatever. I pull my goggles and camel back and grab my 10’s and go to work on what I know the issue is. Pit stop #4.
I get it lined out. Things are back in order. If I thought I was going fast before, that was nothing. This is the last section of the blue trail, I’m in a mode of just whoa, go fast(for me). Things that would normally spook me and make me death grip the bars I roll through with no cares, literally this very last section of the race for me was the best. One of those times where everything is just clicking. You’re too tired to death grip the bars because of an almost, you just squirrel it out and then hit the hammer again. The adrenaline of knowing how close you are to finishing is coursing through you, you’re going faster on this section than you have ever gone before and it’s amazing. I do stop once in this though to ask if a rider is ok, it sucks because he ran out of coolant and didn’t know it and basically fried his motor. Nothing I could do so I keep on. I yell at a photographer “WHOOO” and get a “WHOOO” back, I’m still just cracking the throttle. I get to the finish. I see the checkered flag. I hear the beep of my helmet being scanned. All of which are firsts for me. I think I even yelled a “WHOOO I FINISHED” or something along those lines at the finish line workers.
I’m done. Multiple issues, stops, whatever. Don’t care. Finished. Last place? Yep! Don’t care. I get back to the truck and Tim is there and asks me how I did. “LAST PLACE, BUT I FINISHED WHOOOOOO” and he gives me a pat on the back and “WAY TO GO MAN!” it was awesome. Haha I made him take a picture of me too. I’m normally the one behind the camera and like it that way but I was “Tim, take a picture of this for me please”.
1 lap. 11ish miles. Time was 1:52:44. WHOOOOO!!!
Lastly, the americonda brand is being retired and removed, except for probably one of the small stickers I’m sure I’ll put on the bike somewhere. Americonda is the big stars and stripes penis looking thing on the side of my bike that my buddy put on there when I left it at his house. When I talked about removing it Jon said “Noway! Own it!!” and I had some small stickers made up. Anyhow, I decided to retire it because if I’m doing races in a family oriented atmosphere it’s not an appropriate sticker to have on the bike. Some have said “Whatever if anyone gets offended just tell them not to look at it” but I’m way too nice a guy for that and figure I’m going to pull them off and go with my next round of stickers which will be Kangaroos on the side # plates and an Australian flag on the front # plate. I mean I have an Australian bike, might as well represent ya know.