Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Return To Dillwyn

I'm back at Actiontown MX park in Dillwyn, VA, for my second hare scrambles with the VCHSS and my third off-road race overall.  I've driven my ailing van down here despite the risk of it not starting (read story here), because the thought of missing a race stings more than a tow bill.

The wind was so bad Saturday night the EZ-up had to come down to prevent it becoming a hang glider, but I was able to walk about half of the six mile loop.  Coming to a fork in the trail, two distinct lines, one through a terribly rough looking whoop section on the left, the other on the right appears to be a narrow, but deep, 200 foot long water hazard.  The whoops look treacherous, but something in my brain tells me to check the swamp line.  I grab a long stick and start testing depth and bottom condition.  To my surprise and elation the water is only 3-4 inches deep the whole way across and the bottom is hard, really hard.  I feel like I've got an ace up my sleeve now, and if this the only thing I remember from my track walk, it was worth it.  I fall asleep with the howling gusts rocking the van back and forth, still grinning about my secret path.

After a restless night, morning comes cold, like 38 degrees and the generator ran out of gas three hours ago, too lazy and freezing to refill so hide under the blanket until the sun comes up cold.  My plan is a nice hot bowl of oatmeal, but somehow I managed to forget the lighter for the camp stove.  I could probably borrow one, but it's a little early to be knocking on camper doors.  Then I remember the cigarette lighter.  One of the pluses of driving a 21 year old vehicle I guess, they still made them with these devices.  Holding it in my hand a few months ago, thinking I ought to just throw it away, but put it in the glove box instead.  Without burning my fingers too terribly, breakfast is cooking and soon I'm enjoying a hot meal in the van with the refueled generator powering my electric heater.

The idyllic scene doesn't last too long.  There is gear to be donned, a bike to be warmed up, preparations to be made.  The race starts at 10:45, approaching rapidly.

After downing some sickeningly sweet energy gels my 1989 KDX200 and I head to the starting line.  The KDX is the oldest bike and it draws stares from the other 40+ riders as I take my place in our row.  There are several shiny KTMs, both two and four stroke, a smattering of Hondas and Suzukis and even a Christini two-wheel drive!  I can smell new rubber and race fuel, the gleam off new gear is almost blinding, all of it a forced reminder for me that had I made smarter decisions as a younger man, I too would be resplendent in my armor with a ferocious steed and comfortable Toy-hauler, instead of holed up in an ancient van running on it's last legs, riding a 27 year old play-bike.  Fuck it, at least I'm here.

The ground shakes from thundering four-strokes as row after row is waved off for the start.  My leg is visibly trembling, but I tell myself it's just from the vibrations.  Green flag flies, bike lights first kick and I'm off with a big wheelie, bang second with a clutchless upshift, head down the hill towards the 90 degree right hander that will send us into the first single-track section.  I've vowed to be aggressive on the start, and it pays off.  I am second heading into the woods.  The race is on.

That's the old KDX in second place at the first turn.  You can just see the tip of the leading Suzuki's yellow rear fender above. 

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