3 days before raceday........ get home from my "away from home" job, I've already decided to race this weekend and as crazy as it sounds it has been something I've wanted to do all my life but have never done. Can't stop thinking about it, will I have my bike setup allright? do I have the fitness level? will I be too slow?
2 days before raceday........ go for a trail ride with a buddy who rides fast and drops me like a rock, and get stuck on a hill so my confidence takes a major hit. Get home, throw on a new back tire and my handguards that have been sitting on the workbench for over a month. Stress about racing all day. Think about racing at night when I should be sleeping.
day before raceday........ Do a super-short ride just to make sure everything's working right. Stress even more about the race tomorrow. Sleep never really seems to come. By now my girlfriend thinks something's wrong. I, of course tell her it's not her....its me. She's having trouble believing me.
Raceday........ Its only a 45 min drive to the track but I'm up at 5am, take my time, load and arrive at 8, all under a massive cloud of pre-race jitters. Takes a bit to figure out where I belong (senior amateur) but after registration track pres Paul tells me I should be rippin a practice lap, what he doesn't say is how long it takes to actually DO a lap! About 20 min in to my practice lap I'm feeling good, so good I end up misjudging a couple trees, bounce off them and crash. When I get up my handguard has pushed against the throttle which now has friction so it has to be worked hard both ways. By the time I get back to the pits and fixed, its time for the riders meeting and the old stress-o-meter is bouncing off the rev limiter!
Go-time......... My plan was to get off to a slow start and pace myself,the great thing is, as soon as we were underway, the jitters went away. I was last going into the first set of single track but was able to pass a few riders who slipped or bobbled. I knew I was doing not too bad after my first trip through the mud, I remember seeing riders on both sides as my line choice was working out pretty good. On lap two, I stopped for a piss, and concentrated on making sure I had good line choices. Lap 3 was probably the best, I was following a rider on a KTM who seemed to be pretty fast so I was pinning it to keep up, I was there for about 15 min before he lost me in the technical section before the mud. I waved another guy by on the 2 track whoop section, he pinned it past me till he was about 100M in front of me and then lost it. The cool thing was.... he was losing it for another at least 100M before he went down(had to stop and make sure he was OK).
In the end I finished 3rd in my class. Thirsty, hungry, exhausted, but still smiling. Having never raced before, overall this was a great experience and I can't wait to do it again. I found the course to be tight and technical in some areas, and snaky and flowy in others. Many of the logs were a challenge and I had to concentrate to keep the 2stroke pipe off of them. Many thanks to Paul, Todd, Legend, and the rest of the Campbell River crew as well as VIHSS for putting on a great event!!!!
Nice write up!
Its been about a year since I wrote this little excerpt after riding the General Hill HS and I can’t help but laugh when I read it because the same pre-race scenario seems to repeat itself over and over again! Really there’s no reason to get worked up but when I think about the guys I’m lining up beside........ I can’t help it. Guys like PeeDee, with his quiet confidence, who’s put together an impressive string of victories already this year. D-dub, who’s boundless enthusiasm manifests itself with aggressive throttle applications to his Yammie thumper. Larry-Tee, last years sr am champ and my “move up to Sr-X” buddy, who’s flat tire took him out of contention for the win at The Kirk. MIDR pres Bill, who seems to ride so solid its like him and his bike are one. Guys like Stewart, who is as good natured as they come but wouldn’t hesitate to feed a knuckle sandwich to some idiot who desperately needs it(you know who I’m talking about). These are just a few of the guys I am lining up beside in a field of fast and aggressive riders. So when its go time you gotta have something!
A year since the General Hill.......now....... I try not to hang back as much, which sometimes means inadvertently parking it in the bush for a few precious seconds or bouncing wildly off the trees. I know that mistakes are my worst enemy but that doesn’t stop me from making them.
Yes, a year later I still get pretty worked up over an upcoming race. Sometimes I think I have OCD-D (Obsessive Compulsive Dirtbike Disorder)so thank God my wife agreed to marry me before she found out! But what has changed when I pull into the pits is that I am no longer among strangers! Seeing a big group of people who love to ride and race is awesome! Too much fun and I am loving that!
Good write up Adrian.
I kinda felt like General Hill this year was my first race as well, in 15 years, after a swim in the creek at the Kirk killed the chance at any decent finish...yep, that was me with my bike torn apart on the trail pumping the water out.
My raceday was similar being second last off the holeshot after the damn fourstroke took three kicks to get rolling. I caught one guy in the first corner with an agressive move and a couple more on the giant tractor tires. Still well back in the field into the tight trails I new I had to push it or I'd be left in the dust, but of course the first hill with a big root had a guy straddling it blocking all but a narrow section where my grab strap came in handy. Down the next hill into some two track I cut off another at the turn with a clash of the handlebars, sorry bud! Managed to pass Ray in the pits when he stopped for fuel but he caught me half way through the next lap. Caught him again at the next pit stop when he stopped for a cool beverage...I knew I couldn't stop...and managed to stay ahead of him for a satisfying finish in third.
Good to see you and your new family at the track.
Here's a link to the pics.
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