Not ANOTHER middle-aged n00b racing thread?!?

Discussion in 'Racing' started by DolphinJohn, Feb 12, 2011.

  1. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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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. :lol3

    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. :D

    Here's Ivor mixing it up.
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    Here I am chasing the leader
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    Thanks to Glenn Gardner at G2 Photography for the shots!!


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    #21
  2. Kamala

    Kamala Long timer

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    Way to go DJ! :clap
    #22
  3. Tbone

    Tbone off-ramp slayer

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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 !
    #23
  4. eatpasta

    eatpasta Lawnmower Target

    Joined:
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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.
    #24
  5. brent tex

    brent tex Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2008
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    Southernmost City. Flatistan
    Hey John,
    Cannot wait to have you race with us on Sundays, its going to be a blast.
    #25
  6. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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    Yeah, we need to get Ivor on a newer bike so we are all racing on Sunday.

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    #26
  7. XC Rider

    XC Rider Motorcycle Vagabond

    Joined:
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    Right where I need to be
    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. :deal

    Ivor taking off from the line on his race.

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    John, during his race.

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    Ivor, during his race.

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

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    John, coming around a tree.

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    Ivor (in the background).

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    Ivor, soon after finishing his race.

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    John, near the end of his race.

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    Seconds after removing his helmet.

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    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.

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

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    Brent, Ivor, and John following.

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    Brent.

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    Kickin' up a little sand.

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    Ivor up front, John following.

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    Steve coming around.

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

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    Tha, tha, that's all folks!
    #27
  8. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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    Awesome, Dennis!!!

    Thanks a lot for posting those.



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    #28
  9. brent tex

    brent tex Been here awhile

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    Hey Dennis,
    Thanks for the awsome pics. It was great having you along that weekend.
    #29
  10. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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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!! :D

    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


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    Thanks for reading, see ya next season!!



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    #30
  11. Tbone

    Tbone off-ramp slayer

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    Great report John and you got wood too boot!

    Here's a shot of you making it through that corner at least once.

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    #31
  12. Wyobrew

    Wyobrew Missed it by that mu

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    +1 :clap Great way to finish the season and get motivated for next season. Congrats!
    #32
  13. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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    Thanks guys!

    I'm having a lot of fun.

    Here's a couple of shots courtesy of Glenn Gardner Photography.

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    #33
  14. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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    Well, after a long down time and missing the first few races because I was out riding in Colorado, I'm back at it.

    My first race was October 23rd in Bostwick, FL. This was my first race in the Super Senior C class on the longer, tougher Sunday course.

    My practice lap went terribly. The course was very difficult with endless roots, mud holes, and tight trees with roots and mud holes. I was actually considering not racing. I had not ridden the 250 since the last race of last season, and I felt like it was my first time on a dirt bike. It didn't help that the first thing I saw when entering the woods was a rider down, obviously very seriously injured, being helped\held down with what turned out to be a broken femur. Seeing and hearing the pain and trauma really shook me up and affected my riding for the rest of the practice lap.

    I was persuaded to race by my friends who said I would be ok and get the feel after a while. I'm glad I took their advice because I really did feel much better when the race started. It was still very challenging getting through those foot-high roots and knee-deep mud ruts but I was doing ok.

    Unfortunately I had yet another bike issue that caused me to have to quit early. In the off season I installed a Scotts stabilizer and like an idiot I forgot to use Loctite on the mount. Halfway in to the second lap I started feeling a little play in the bars. It soon turned in to a lot of play and I realized the bolts were backing out. In danger of having the bars come off completely, I finished the second lap carefully and called it a day.

    I was at least glad to have gotten a couple of laps in and done my first Sunday race.

    Only one pic from Bostwick.

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    #34
  15. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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    Next up on the FTR schedule was Bartow, FL on 11/6

    I had heard that this property was very nice and the course would be a lot of fun and one of the best of the season. I was not disappointed as the course was tough but beautiful. The area was actually a little bit hilly (by Florida standards) and there were not many roots, not much soft sand, and only one real muddy section. The Sunrunners Club did a great job of laying out a challenging route with some steep up and downs, lots of tight trees, some jumps here and there, and even a small motocross section. It finishes with a big step-up jump nicknamed the Escalator.

    Here is a video taken by a rider in another class, but shows the course. The trees start at around 2:30 and get tighter further in to the race.

    <iframe width="480" height="360" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/_8Bx_OXEZTU" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>


    I think I did pretty well. I did three laps and finished in the middle of the pack, 16th out of 27. Fitness is definitely an issue with the longer course and racing 2 hours instead of the 1 1/2 hours in the beginner class. My legs were starting to cramp and I was sitting way more than I should have been on the last lap.

    I had a couple of drops and stalled the bike once in a sandy uphill section that took quite a few kicks to get started, but no crashes and I had my first Sunday race completed. It was the best feeling to see that checkered flag!!

    I'm looking forward to the next race, especially after the soreness is gone and I can walk normally.

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    Thanks for reading! See ya in December.

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    #35
  16. Tbone

    Tbone off-ramp slayer

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    Beating almost half the field on your 2nd Sunday race !!! Nice job John.
    #36
  17. gun 4 hire

    gun 4 hire FTR SSR #90b

    Joined:
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    Key West
    Thanks for helping me calm my nerves at the Bartow
    Race John. Really appreciated your support. Looking forward
    To racing with you in Myakka in 2 weeks.

    Steve
    #37
  18. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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    I've done a couple more races, I just have not had time to update the thread.

    Racing on Sunday in the Super Senior Class is definitely a lot of fun. I feel like I am improving even though the results don't really show it.

    In one recent race in Brooksville, Fl. I managed to break the plug off the bottom of my CDI ending what was a very fun race on a really cool course.

    Last week I had my first real crash, high-siding and going over the bars in spectacular, Superman style. I bounced right up and finished the race. The course in Okeechobee was very difficult and I was happy just to finish. My ribs and wrist are still pretty sore. The old body doesn't heal like it used to apparently.

    Here are some photos from the last two races. Thanks again to Glen Gardner at G2 Photos, Mike Belle, and some other FTR members for taking and sharing the photos.

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    #38
  19. DolphinJohn

    DolphinJohn Caveman

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    Forgot these from Myakka

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    #39
  20. DC950

    DC950 Microadventurer

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    better watch it - you look quite competent in the one of you in the rut with your foot out!
    #40