This all started with me me marrying my lovely wife Lori...she likes bikes, I like bikes, so we both need to have bikes. Being as she's a new rider, I though that learning in the dirt was the way to go. I bought her a ttr 125 and myself a 98' RM125. Now those that have seen me are probably wondering. why would that "fireplug" of a gentlemen (5'9" and 250lbs) buy a little bitty 125...bottom line is a didn't want to die..:eek1 . I haven't riden dirt since I was a small boy, so the thought of launching myself off a hill (this is Florida, so any mound of dirt taller than a 5 gallon bucket qualifies as a "hill) didn't thrill any part of me. My wife and I spent some time at out local riding area, http://www.dep.state.fl.us/gwt/guide/regions/westcentral/trails/with_croom_motor.htm 2,600 joyous acres of sand and trees. Now the more we ride the more I'm thinking "This dirt stuff is the shizit !!!" After a few sessions spent riding circles around my wife, I start to yearn for an adventure like most (38 years "young".. ) men do..:huh. After looking around for local off-road clubs, I find Florida Trail Riders http://floridatrailriders.org/and a race series they like to call a "Hare Scramble"...mmmm...this looks like fun, as they typically are 9-12 miles long, and you make as many laps as you can within the alloted time. At this point as I tell people what I am thinking of doing, I get the standard "how many miles ???:huh ".. my mind soon starts to make excuses up why I will have to bail....In hindsight the reason why I told so many people was I needed the pressure to show up... After a reveiw of my pre-race training regime, I discovered that owning a gym membership and actually "using" it are two very different things...so the decision was made to mutter "suck it up and ride you pussy" as a substitute for any physical preperation ..oh, how wrong that was.... Saturday dawns , so off we go to Myakka City,Fl for the FTR Benefit Hare Scramble. Now this is held on a 600 acre track right smack in the middle of "old" Florida. 2 lane roads and pickups galore is the standard. Pull up, and realize there are alot of people here..campers and trailers everywhere. So I proceed to unload, sign-up, and take the #11T as my own. Eleven was chosen as that only requires two strips of electrical tape to apply and then un-ceremonially remove once I decide this race is my last... I'll be racing in the 0-200cc Beginner class.. AA Red AA A 200 Black A A 250 Green A A Open Yellow A B 200 Black B B. 250 Green B B Open Yellow B C 200 Black C C 250 Green C C Open Yellow C Vet A (age 35+) Red A Vet B (age 35+) Red B Vet C (age 35+) Red C SR A (age 40+) Green A SR B (age 40+) Green B SR C (age 40+) Green C SSR A (age 45+) White A SSR B (age 45+) White B SSR C (age 45+) White C Master A (age 50+) Blue A Master B (age 50+) Blue B Master C (age 50+) Blue C Golden Master (age 58+) Blue G JR A (86-125cc age13-16) Black A JR B (86-125cc age 13-16) Black B Women A Yellow A Women B Yellow B Super Mini (0-85cc 19” age 9-14) White A Mini 85 B (0-85cc 17” age 9-14) White B Mini 85 C (0-85cc 17” age 9-14) White C 65 A (51-65cc age 8-12) Green A 65 B (51-65cc age 8-12) Green B Quad AA (age 16+) White AA Quad Open A (age 16+) White A Quad 0-400A (age 16+) Yellow A Quad Open B (age 16+) White B Quad 0-400 B (age 16+) Yellow B Quad Open C (age 16+) White C Quad 0-400 C (age 16+) Yellow C Veterans Quad (age 35+) Red Senior Quad (age 40+) Black Super Senior Quad (age 45+) Black X Women Quad (age 16+) Blue Golden Girls Quad (age 40+) Blue G Vintage White V Super Vintage A Yellow A Super Vintage B Yellow B Peewee A (50cc auto thru age 8) any A Peewee B (50cc auto thru age 8) any B Peewee C (50cc auto thru age 8) any C Beginner 1 (0-200cc) White T Beginner 2 (201- Open) White X The practice lap was at 10:30. Now at this point I have a decision to make. Do I not run the practice lap, save my energy, and latch onto the first rider faster than me and try to follow them around the course,or...do I run the lap, realize that I'm in over my head, and complain about about my "sciatica nerve" is acting up and beat a retreat back home. We'll I'm here, I plan on passing someone, so I might as well find out what I'm up against. so I head out on the practice lap and 2 turns into the woods, we hit Palmetto roots. Now for those of you unfamiliar with this vile bush, here is a picture The local club who set up the course, cut these off at the ground, the only problem is they have a root system that is as big around as a man's arm, and can grow several feet away from the main bush, so this creates the effect of tring to ride over the stumps of 4x4's sticking out of the ground at every angle:huh and, as bikes ride over the roots and displace the dirt around them, they get nastier...So, there is a back-up 3 turns in. Great. I now have to politely figure out how to get around someone who is trying to get around the guy infront of him, who is doing the same to the guy infront of him...screw it, lotsa clutch and around we go...:eek1 ..play follow the leader through the woods...over a creek on a homemade bridge covered with chain link fence for traction..bhasically I'm just trying to get the lay of the land, and keep it upright as this is "practice"... so we go in and out of woods, through a few creeks, and i make it 8.5 miles...only one problem, i have arm pump so bad i feel like Popeye...I have to do 3 laps of this !!!! How am I going to grip the bars.... After discusiing various ways of staying loose while riding ( "just flap your arms like a chicken" was my favorite) it 's time to race. I will be racing with the vintage, super vintage, JR A (86-125cc age13-16) Black A JR B (86-125cc age 13-16) Black B, and 200-400cc beginners. My class is the the last row of bikes, so I have no pressure from behind for at least the first lap. Here I am at the starting line.. I'm looking around, checking out the competition. I have a ttr125 on my right ( my 9 year old rides the same bike) and a pimply faced 15 year old on my left...I see girls infront and in my class...great...why do they wear pink, just to rub it in. I mean one even has a beanie baby zipped tied to her camelbak for chrisake !!! so they start sending the rows off in front of me...30 second intervals if I remember right. It's a dead engine/running start. You are about 10 feet in front of it, with someone/thing holding your bike for you. The ref comes up "15 seconds"......."10 seconds"...I try and stay relaxed. My heart is beating a mile a minute, just keep reminding myself that this isn't a race to the first corner...."WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" Get on bike "kick"...."kick"....and I'm off !!!...I'm mid pack, but I am super cautious making the first right hander so i lose some spots. I set up behind the rider in front and we head off into the woods. I know what to expect, sorta. They thing I noticed the most right away, is how each lap the course changes. Since a race had taken place before mine there were alternate ways to go around a corner, or other hazards that weren't there before. Fast people want to go fast, so each lap they find a quicker/more efficent way to pass people or avoid the spots where people back-up. Sooooo I'm towards the back of the pack I figure, just biding my time until an oppurtunity presents itself. I'm flapping my arms, talking to my self, and just really trying to get in the groove. First mudhole there is a backup . 2 riders stuck in single file, and I'm lucky enough to slow down prior to getting there and see another way around. You are allowed to ride , per the rules, 20 feet on either side of an orange marker. You only have to pass between the double green ones that are placed in various parts of the course. I manage to make it through both creeks, and we get to the straight in front of the pit area. This is a popular spot to spectate as passes can happen there along with wrecks as it comes to a 1st gear corner at the end. I pull upside a rider, but man I just don't want to risk a crash on the first lap.. and of course, 3 corner's later I'm turning a 180 next to a fence post. It has quite an angle due to the dirt being tossed out and I drop the bike. Anytime to have to do something other than ride, it just saps your strength. Either picking the bike up, or fighting through rutted up mud holes, adrenaline is your friend and your enemy as when it leaves you really feel drained. But it's back again soon enough as you almost lowside into a tree two corners later, so all is well... I'm learning at this point just to follow people if there is no where to pass. If you get right behind them, sooner or later they will make a mistake. I get to the fnal creek crossing for lap one.. and blast on through . They score you with a transponder that looks like one of those glow sticks only black. I zip tied it to the front of my chest protector, so as I roll through what look like those scanner's at Walmart that go off when somebody steals something, I get the glorious "'woop" sound signaling one lap down. I also look up and see my time ...30 minutes...okay...not bad, and off into lap 2 we go. I'm really feeling better now. I'm keeping my grip light when I can, and focusing ahead on the trail to look for problems. At this point. ruts are getting deeper. There are more of them. The tree roots are getting exsposed. so the rain we had 2 days ago makes them slipppppppppppppery in the shadows. The track is also getting wider, as people search for firmer ground and escape from the dreaed woops that start to appear. I haven't been passed by anyone in my class, but now I'm coming up on a few vintage guys. I heard about the vintage guys riding dirty and being generally "crusty old coots" when it came to pasing and being passed....not so. I looked forward to the woops as one thing that power can't make up for is suspension. "Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa" is the tone from my little 125 as I ride by watching (2) shocks older than me try and absorb the worsening trail. Get behind a girl on a 4 stroke, she's riding well, but come on, I'm a guy so I HAVE to pass her... I get her on a mud section, but by now the real good riders are starting to lap me. You can hear them coming. I just pull to the side, stick my foot out letting them know which side to go on, and try to learn something before they disappear.. Through some big fields wide open, kinda. I'm a little nervous riding through these sections wide open...that is until someone blows by then it's to the throttle stop she goes. Make it through to lap 2...58 minutes...that's better. I just need to make sure I can do 3 laps under 1:30 or the 3rd lap doesn't count and I get scored on just the first 2. At this point I am just conserving energy. I'm not standing through sections I should, sucking on my camelbak like new born to a fresh tit, and basically trying not to fall down. By now, the field is spread way out . I don't have anyone in front of me, the fast guys ocassionally blow past, but it's kind of relaxing to realize I'm still in the race. Last few corners...fewer people at the water crossing than before..."oh crap"...did I not make it in time then I hear...."woop"...1 hour and 24 minutes.....I made it ! Words can't describe "that" feeling. The sense of accompishing something that when you started you didn't even know if you could finish. I peeled of my goggles, threw my arms up on the bars and just soaked it all in...A photographer came by and seeing my look made the comment "There is nothing like the first one"...how right he was... I waited for the results to be posted why exclaiming to my wife over and over again " I actually finished !!!!!" then the results came in... Beginner 1 Place Name Brand # Laps Elapsed Point Adv Promo Chris Fernandez Yamaha 68T 3 1:12:55 50 10 2 Nick Cuppy Yamaha 228T 3 1:13:10 47 5 3 Justin Duthie KTM 31T 3 1:15:50 45 4 4 Jeremy Fuller Kawasaki 19T 3 1:19:09 43 3 5 Jordan Farmer Kawasaki 29T 3 1:23:07 41 2 6 Troy Stainbrook Suzuki 11T 3 1:24:10 40 0 7 Steven Rumplik Yamaha 20T 2 0:58:58 39 0 8 James Morris Yamaha 3T 2 0:59:04 38 0 9 Danielle Burton Honda 4T 2 0:59:49 37 0 10 Ramon Zuniga Yamaha 38T 2 0:59:54 36 0 11 David Prescott Yamaha 41T 2 1:01:23 35 0 12 Kenra Barrett Kawasaki 13T 2 1:05:21 34 0 13 Sebastian Howell KTM 121T 2 1:09:30 33 0 14 Ethan Koehler Suzuki 114T 2 1:14:46 32 0 DQ Matt Baker Suzuki 7T 0 0:00:00 0 0 Work Andrea Wilder Un- 24T 0 0:00:00 0 0 Work Shelbi Wilder Un- 182T 0 0:00:00 0 0 DQ Michael Moran Yamaha 420T 0 0:00:00 0 0 DNF Ted Pelak Suzuki 199T 0 0:00:00 0 0 6th !!!!! wow...not last...last one to do 3 laps....I actually wasn't last....I need a drink !!! epilogue:...I was so sore I had my wife drive home and I grunted when getting out of my office chair for the next week...but it was worth it !!! now when is the next one???