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Old 02-15-2011, 09:49 AM   #16
DolphinJohn OP
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Okeechobee photos










This weekend I will head to Ona, Florida, west of Sarasota. Weather forecast: sunny, 80 degrees.



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Old 02-16-2011, 10:52 AM   #17
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Great reports John !!! I won't lie i like our races on Sunday starting at 10:30. We'll be down there this weekend so see you there.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:10 PM   #18
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Nice write up! Thanks for posting and good luck in your upcoming races.
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Old 02-23-2011, 07:40 AM   #19
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This past weekend I went up to Ona, Florida near Sarasota for Hare Scramble #11 of the Florida Trail Riders 2010-2011 season. This was my 5th race.

My friend Ivor and I made the 7 hour drive on Friday and got a hotel room rather than camp because of our late arrival. Early Saturday morning we headed over to the property and met up with our new FTR friends.

One of the guys has two young boys who race in the 65cc class. These kids do their practice lap at the same time as all of the saturday bike riders. Young Mathew's brother was sick and could not make it to this race so Ivor and I rode behind him to keep an eye on him.

This turned out to be a great way to take a nice easy practice lap to see the course but conserve energy. Why didn't I think of that sooner? I tend to ride the practice like I would in the race and burn energy.

I was feeling great and used the 3 hours before the race start to rest, hydrate, check out the bike, etc.

As race time approaches, I always get a nervous anticipation. I try to lessen it by kidding with Ivor that this is the race where I will pass him.

At the start, with a little advice from Tbone I fired the bike up on the first kick. I took off and was flying down the first field among the first few riders. A couple of other riders had a better angle to the first turn and I entered the first trees in fourth. Right away one of the guys in front of me missed a turn so now I was third as we flew down an open field past the spectator area.
As we approached the next wooded area, the rider in front low-sided as he braked for the 90 degree left so now I was second.

I was ecstatic, I was telling myself to stay calm and be smooth and I would catch the leader who was nowhere in sight. I made my way through the tight trees and numerous palmetto stumps and roots. I felt like I was flowing really well and trying to relax my grip when I could to avoid fatigue.

About a mile later my bike started to feel like it was losing power. I accelerated out of a turn and the bike was bogging. WTF? this never happened before, what could be wrong? It got worse and going into a real tight section it stalled. I pulled the hot start and kicked and it started right up.
It seemed to be running fine so I let out the clutch and it bogged again. I tried to go but soon realized my rear wheel was locking up.

I got off to the side of the trail and some course workers rushed over to help. we looked for something jammed somewhere but found nothing. My rotor was red hot and my brake pedal was stiff. As I banged on the pedal to try to free it, the brake line blew, squirting boiling brake fluid.

"Well, you can ride it now at least" said the course volunteer as he radioed in to cancel the tow vehicle he had called for. They said I could finish the lap so I could at least avoid a DNF and get my money's worth. "just go slow and remember you have no rear brake".

So that is what I did. I was crushed. I had gotten off to such a good start and I was feeling so good I knew I could chase down the leader eventually. I took off and wheelied all the way across the open field. Hey, I want to get my money's worth.

I soon learned how much you depend on your rear brake to ride in the woods. I really had to be careful.

So my race was over. The theory in camp is that I must have been resting my foot on the pedal, and there was no play in the pedal so the fluid heated up and locked the brakes. Me? I would NEVER drag the rear brake.

When I told one of the veteran riders what happened, the first thing he said was "take your foot off the brake". D'oh!!
He also said I should lower the pedal a bit and that would help.

Parts have been ordered, lessons have been learned. I had fun and didn't get hurt so I can't be too upset.

Ivor took second in his Evo class. I totally would have passed him this time......



Next up is another Okeechobee race, only a couple of miles from the last one a few weeks ago. It's not until March 26th so I have plenty of time to fix the bike and maybe even try to work out a little and improve my endurance.

Right after this nap.....



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Old 02-28-2011, 06:27 PM   #20
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Ona, off to a good start.....






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Old 04-05-2011, 08:54 AM   #21
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March 26th brought another race in the Okeechobee area. After 3 weeks of not racing I was ready to get back out there.

The weather in south Florida is starting to heat up, with afternoon highs in the high 80's.

My practice lap revealed a very, very tight course through the trees and palmettos. It was all soft sand with some large palmetto roots the size of railroad ties to get over. They wouldn't be so bad if there were just one across the trail every once in a while, but they come in bunches. It's the kind of thing a sadistic enduro-cross designer dreams about.

I took it nice and easy during the practice lap which was at 10 am before it got too hot. I knew with the sand, roots, endless tight turns, and the afternoon heat, the 2:15 race would be a real challenge. Oh, yeah.... I almost forgot about the dust.

My start went very well. The bike started on the first kick and I was off with nobody in my sight line. I blasted towards the first double green arrows and just before I reached them a rider passed me on my left, stealing what would have been my first hole shot.

I was riding well, trying to keep up with the very fast leader and passing slower riders from the other classes. My skills have really improved since my first race a few months ago, and I felt that if I didn't make any big mistakes I could possibly get a win today.

That excitement was short-lived, however, as I came around a blind corner in the woods and nearly rear ended another rider stopped in the trail. There was a rider down up ahead and a backup of riders who couldn't get by.

I avoided the rider ahead, but had to go off the trail to the left, hit some stumps, and went down. It would have been a non-event, but another rider came up from behind and hit the bike I nearly hit. He went down right on top of my bike. It took him a minute or so to get up from the awkward position he was in, then he finally picked his bike up off of mine.

By this time my bike had stalled in spite of my holding in the clutch, and I could see a puddle of gas forming on the ground. I picked it up and got on and started to kick.... and kick.... and kick. It would not start. I kicked until I thought I might pass out.

I rested and tried to drink from my Camelbak. I was so hot and my mouth was so dry and dusty it was hard to swallow. I resorted to getting a big mouth full of water then letting it flow out of my mouth down my neck to try to cool down. I kicked again for a while as much as I could but still nothing. Riders were now passing me in bunches and my heart was sinking as well as pounding in my chest. A volunteer course worker stopped to check on me and I told him I was ok, just couldn't get the bike started. I actually asked him if he could kick it for me.

He said he would come back in a few minutes and if I was still there he would call for someone to tow me out. I was now thinking my day was over. After such a good start and feeling so good, I was now completely exhausted, overheated, and thinking I would DNF.

I drank some more, caught my breath, and gave another kick. Finally it started!! I took off, went around a thick bunch of trees and immediately had to cross a gauntlet of palmetto roots, criss-crossing the trail at a variety of angles.

I rode easy for a minute or two to cool off a little, then I decided to try to make up some lost ground and finish strong. I began to really charge and was riding with a real purpose. I was angry at having to watch everyone pass me as I sat there helpless, and I wanted to catch as many of them as I could.

As I came to the finish chicane at the end of lap one, I could see my friend in the pits holding up a jug of water and a pair of spare goggles but I rode right by, determined to make up time.

The second lap went well even though I was really tired and hot. I think I probably used a whole race worth of energy trying to start the bike, and I was feeling it more as the race went on.

After lap two I pulled in to the pits and drank from my camelbak while Brent poured some water down my front and back. This helped a lot, cooling me down considerably and letting me hydrate a little. I felt much better as I took off for my last lap.

I had a couple of the normal low speed drops in the deep sand but kept the bike running. I was passing riders in my class and some of the Evo bikes, and a couple of the faster Junior riders were lapping me. Damn whipper-snappers!!

I did 3 laps and managed to finish 9th out of 18 (I think). Considering the amount of time wasted and the energy spent trying to kick the bike, I felt pretty good about it.

I have definitely improved. I think if I can manage a whole race without the bike stalling I can do well. I am much smoother and faster in the turns, charging right through the sand and deep ruts, and my endurance is improving. I may do one more race in the beginner class. The next couple of races are too far for me to get to, so my next race will be the last one of the season.

I am considering making the move to Sunday and racing the longer course in my age group for the last race so that when I start next season I will have already experienced the different race. Sunday courses are usually around 12 miles and the race is 2 hours compared to around 6-7 miles and 1 1/2 hours on Saturday.

Thanks to all of my new friends at FTR for making me feel welcome and for all of the tips and advice. Thanks also to my Key West friends for making it fun and reminding me that I'm not the only one suffering out there.

Here's Ivor mixing it up.




Here I am chasing the leader


Thanks to Glenn Gardner at G2 Photography for the shots!!


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Old 04-05-2011, 09:12 AM   #22
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Way to go DJ!
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:00 PM   #23
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Great report John!. Sorry you had such an issue getting it started. Weird circumstance with another riders bike on top of yours, but sounds like you salvaged a bit of fun in the end and that's what it's all about.Missed you guys last weekend !
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Old 04-05-2011, 05:37 PM   #24
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right on man. good to hear that you are getting out there and mixing it up!!

looks like you are definitely on your way to some good finishes just as long as you get blessed with some good luck.
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Old 04-06-2011, 09:21 AM   #25
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Sunday racing.

Hey John,
Cannot wait to have you race with us on Sundays, its going to be a blast.
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Old 04-06-2011, 06:54 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by brent tex View Post
Hey John,
Cannot wait to have you race with us on Sundays, its going to be a blast.
Yeah, we need to get Ivor on a newer bike so we are all racing on Sunday.

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Old 04-10-2011, 01:21 PM   #27
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More pictures

I met up with the guys and snapped a few pictures of them, and so here they are.

Be aware that I am NOT a professional photographer and I came only to spectate, have a good time, and do a little experimenting with my new camera.

Ivor taking off from the line on his race.



John, during his race.



Ivor, during his race.



Ivor, popping up the front wheel just a little past the turn above.



John, coming around a tree.



Ivor (in the background).



Ivor, soon after finishing his race.



John, near the end of his race.



Seconds after removing his helmet.



The group assembled, pre fun-run time. Man I wish I'd had my DRZ down here so as to be able to join them.



Steve, passing thru the first gate at the start of the fun-run.



Brent, Ivor, and John following.



Brent.



Kickin' up a little sand.



Ivor up front, John following.



Steve coming around.



Here's the last one. Brent coming thru the first gate on the start of his race on Sunday.



Tha, tha, that's all folks!
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:18 PM   #28
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Awesome, Dennis!!!

Thanks a lot for posting those.



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Old 04-28-2011, 07:43 AM   #29
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Thanks

Hey Dennis,
Thanks for the awsome pics. It was great having you along that weekend.
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Old 05-19-2011, 08:57 PM   #30
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Well, it's been a while since my last report. I didn't make it up to a few of the races in northern Florida, just too far for me and too busy at work.

I did get to go up to Highland Park in Georgia the weekend of May 6,7,8 with friends. The rest of the guys rented bikes but I took my bike up. It was a great opportunity to get some real seat time in much different conditions.

This past weekend was the last FTR race of the season, held at Dirty Foot riding park in Bowling Green, Fl.

The rainy season seems to have started in south/central Florida, and there were some showers during the week leading up to the race. In fact, as I was driving up the night before I could see the black sky to my north as I got near the area. I was hoping for a cloudy day on Saturday to keep the temps and dust down, and boy did I get my wish.

This would be my last race in the beginner class (My plan to race in the age group class on Sunday was not to be as I had to go to a wedding in Ft. Lauderdale). I wanted to finish strong.

My practice lap was pretty uneventful. I took it easy and just tried to get a feel for the course without using too much energy.

As race time approached, the sky started to darken and as I rode up to the start line the monsoon started. The start was delayed an hour because of lightning.

It stopped raining for a while and the race began with my bike starting on the first kick, but me stalling somehow as I tried to get going. Another kick and I was off, but half of my line got out in front of me. I set my mind on catching and passing them.

I was racing really well, everything felt good and I began to make my way around some slower riders. This course was very fast, with plenty of places to pass if you were patient. The rain had soaked in and the traction was good and there was no dust at all.

The last part of the course was a wide packed sand motocross track without the jumps. It was a little tricky to get through as it was getting a lot of deep ruts. I managed to stay upright my first lap, and came through in fourth.

During the second lap I got to do some great racing with another rider. I passed him on a corner in a tight section, then he passed me as we entered a bumpy field. I got him again, then he passed me, and it went on like that for a while until I finally got in front and put some space between us.

I was also making my way around some of the slower riders from classes in front of me, so it was very exciting waiting for the right time and place to get by.

Sometime during the second lap it started to rain very heavily. Very quickly the course started to change. It started getting slick and muddy, and the many palmetto stumps and roots were getting even more treacherous. As I entered the flat track at the end of the lap, the sand was soft and deep like quicksand. Some of the ruts were two feet deep. I was trying to catch someone in front of me and I went down in one of the last corners.
I popped up quickly, kept the bike running and got going again. Coming through the chicane at the end of lap 2 I was still in fourth.

The entire third lap was in a torrential south Florida downpour. I threw my goggles off somewhere as I couldn't see through them and it was getting very dark in the woods. Lightning started to flash not far away as I battled my way around. I was passing people but not really too sure if they were fellow beginners or what my place was. About halfway through I passed someone and then didn't see another rider in front of me at all. I thought I was in first and was telling myself to not make any mistakes and I would have the win. (I would later find out that the first beginner was quite a ways ahead).

At the end of what would be the last lap (they shortened the race due to the lightning), was the dreaded deep sand flat track. One section had a left turn through a narrow gate that had become a deep mud hole. I nearly got stuck in the only available rut that had gotten very deep and soft. I felt the bike losing momentum and saw the mud flying over my head so I quickly jumped off the bike and without my weight made it out to firmer ground where I jumped back on without stopping. (I was pretty proud of myself for that move). I could now hear another bike behind me and I twisted the throttle and tried to get through the last section without getting passed.

Sure enough, I fixated on a deep rut in the same corner I went down on earlier, and went down again in a deep puddle. My heart sank as I saw the rider in my class go by as I picked up my bike and took off.

I finished in third, just missing getting second. It was my best finish, and by far my best ride to date. I even got a plaque!! I can't wait for next season. Those super senior c class riders better watch out!!

Beginners
Place # Name AMA # Brand City, State Point Adv Laps Elapsed
Promo 80 Krzysztof Hila Honda Cape Coral, FL 50 0 3 0:55:57
2 730 Mike Wilsey Honda Loxahatchee, FL 47 0 3 0:59:36
3 101 John Baltzell KTM Key West, FL 45 0 3 0:59:41
4 6 Scott White Yamaha Lakeland, FL 43 0 3 1:00:04
5 55 Matthew Ketchum Suzuki , FL 41 0 3 1:00:31
6 61 Jorge A Rios Kawasaki Orlando, FL 40 0 3 1:02:06
7 21 Jimmy Connours Honda Sarasota, FL 39 0 3 1:03:48
8 68 Stan Blahacek Yamaha Sarasota, FL 38 0 3 1:05:56
9 912 Timothy Whiteman Yamaha Vero Beach, FL 37 0 3 1:06:35
10 997 Joel Labash Honda Daytona Beach, FL 36 0 2 0:40:18
11 69 Jaroslan Komprda Honda , FL 35 0 2 0:44:59
12 22 Austin Crumm Kawasaki Royal Palm Beach, FL 34 0 2 0:46:38
13 32 Jeremy Wilson Yamaha , FL 33 0 2 0:50:35
14 26 Hannah Sacco Honda Clearwater, FL 32 0 2 0:52:43
15 913 Katrina Klucinec Yamaha Vero Beach, FL 31 0 2 0:58:36
DNF 811 Antonio Coma Honda Cape Coral, FL 0 0 0 0:00:00






Thanks for reading, see ya next season!!



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