After a brief hiatus I’m back with maximum bloggage about Team USA
I’m splitting this blog into two parts. First, we’ll talk about yesterday. Then we’ll talk about today. And maybe I’ll talk about tomorrow but who knows…
The ISDE in Greece works like this:
Riders leave the pits at specific start times and go waaaaaaay up into the mountains to tackle their special timed test sections. Directly before or after these sections is a service area where riders do basic maintenance to their bike to make sure it gets to the next service area. Everything is timed, in case you didn’t know, and you have to stay on your minute or you lose time and losing time is completely uncool. So, you only have a few minutes at each service stop, depending on a lot of things, and you need to take advantage of it.
Team managers, mechanics and annoying journalists like to get to all of these service checks. Ensuring the rider is having a trouble free ride, swapping a pair of goggles or just blinding them with a carefully timed camera flash is important to ensure their next special timed test is as fast as possible.
For some reason, I thought it’d be cool to jump into the Kawasaki rental/rally car yesterday to ride the first lap of day three with the green crew as they chased the first Americans out of town. I was to embed myself with Team Green just like those reporters do in Iraq….yahoo.
Let me tell you a little bit about Jason Smigel. Apparently, he has aspirations to become the next Travis Pastrana because he had his rental wagon pitched sideways through s-turns all the way up the mountain. It’s about an hour drive, for a normal person, but Super Smigel does it in about three minutes. I’d have gotten carsick, but I didn’t want to look weak among my fellow foot soldiers. Plus, the huge pile of riding paraphernalia I was wedged between was like a warm, comforting hug. So, I sat back and watched the goats, ambulances and stray dogs go whizzing by in the right lane. Aren’t we supposed to be in the right lane?
Once we got to the first check I realized the importance of his speed and apparent disregard for traffic laws. Luckily, Grecian traffic laws are more like guidelines, really. And if you would obey some, you’d likely be smacked upside the head by a freshly-built Gyro.
We arrived at the first service stop just in time to meet Ricky Dietrich, Kurt Caselli and Nathan Kanney as they cruised in from their first test. Day three was all new to the racers and, as racers do, the trio immediately started to bench-race about what they’d just gone through.
Keep in mind, this is pretty much an hour or two before Caselli would go down and end his ISDE run. How quickly things can change… for now, we’re going back to the past.
It doesn’t take long for these riders to swap an air filter, grab a quick drink and top of their fuel tank. Whatever free time they do have is spent laughing, smiling and comparing times they glanced at as they exited the previous test(s). It’s really cool watching the team from the sidelines. I feel this sort of team attitude is only possible in off-road motorcycle racing. Apart from traditional Olympic team sports, I suppose. Egos aside? Egos are absent.
Whoosh! Like that we were to the next service stop. As I unwound my head from the twisty mountain roads I noticed we were at a ski lodge atop Lailias Mountain. This nifty ski lodge would be the site of my second encounter with the world’s largest donut. The previous day, when I was stuck in the woods shooting photos of dust-covered riders, Jonty “The English Lad” Edmunds bought a huge donut and I thought it could never be matched. I was wrong. And I ate my own huge donut on day three as I waited for the guys to show up.
This stop was pretty much the same as the previous. No drama to speak of and just a little more dust on the lenses. Of course, I noticed the good attitude of our Trophy Team once again. Then, like that, they were off and we wouldn’t see them again until we met at the main paddock for the service stop after the first lap.
Of course, everyone has heard by now that Kurt Caselli didn’t get through the next Special Test very well. You can read that in my previous blog. What you might not have known was that he wasn’t the only rider in the World Trophy standings forced to retire after a hard fall.
Spain’s Cristobal Guererro, who was leading Finland’s Juha Salminen in the E2 classification dabbed his foot hard and broke a bone in his lower leg.
It seems this is the point in ISDE competition where the event begins to take a serious toll on the riders. It’s beginning to be a grueling event now, not just a motorcycle race in another country.
More on the next blog…
America #$%* Yeah!