Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Grinding It Out At The Grove (Spring Grove Recap)

10:45 AM, Sunday, June 12, 2016

Spring Grove, VA

Round 7 Virginia Championship Hare Scrambles Series (VCHSS)

It's freakin' hot.  I've been trying to stay up on hydration all week.  Minutes before the race I am cramming down watermelon and drinking even more, knowing I will have to piss on the starting line.  The heat is my big concern today.  Two hours banging off of trees in full riot gear with 150 other morons in this tropical sewer might prove the death of me.

My goal is no crashes for this race.  I an effort to ride fast I keep getting into these dumb get-offs that cost far more time than just going at a steady pace.  I am also not going to try for the hole shot.  Too many guys get tangled up the first 30 seconds of a race when there are 119 minutes 30 seconds remaining.  I've swapped fork springs in the 49mm Showas that have been grafted onto the KDX and mounted a new rear tire.  The bike is as good as it can be.  Is the rider?

I'm fourth off the line and into the woods.  Relax, breathe, don't blow it all on the first lap.  Things are going well.  Until we catch riders from the previous wave.  This initial section is so tight there appears to be only one line and there is a bike stuck up against two trees.  The rider is so pumped on adrenaline he can't figure out how to turn his handlebars to get between them, so he is trying to mow them down.  I give him a little "shove" with my front wheel and he finally gets it done.  Suddenly a rider comes up on my left.  39p.  It's Juan.  And he's gone.  Dammit.

I find myself behind a KX250 that is obviously a little squirrely for tight woods work, spinning and kicking all over the place.  I wait for his inevitable mistake and make the pass.  Into third.  The course is great, grass track sections, super tight technical woods, log jumps, off camber stuff and almost no mud or dust.  Really perfect conditions, and it's obvious Juan is taking advantage of it.  I never see him for the rest of the race.  I make my way up into second place on the second lap, but third and fourth place are dogging me the whole way, just waiting for me to screw up.

Knowing that I can't make any mistakes, I intentionally slow down in the tight, single track sections to conserve my energy.  If these bozos want to pass they will have to earn it.  I slide around as fast as I dare on the slippery grass track sections.  I think my roadracing experience helps here with corner entry speed and use of the front brake.  It's all about momentum.

I can still hear the angry KTM two-strokes behind me, taunting and bullying me into an error.  I make a million, but they are all small, not enough for my competitors to capitalize on.  I finish second, 1 minute behind Juan.  A decent effort, but I can assure you I spent a lot of time that night tossing and turning, trying to figure out where to find that one minute one second I needed.

Fourth out of the first turn, trying hard not to screw up.

It ain't easy bein' green in a sea of orange!

Look through the corner dummy, and try not to look like you are humping the gas tank!

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