Welcome to Weekly Dirt, the best place on the Internet for off-road news from around the world. This week we’ve got news about this past weekend’s Last Dog Standing, the US ISDE squads being announced, this weekend’s Mountaineer GNCC, the new Sherco 250F MXer, a new product from Leatt, the Ruta 40 Rally and a trials rant for good measure! Hey, we got a full plate, so let’s get rippin’.
Last Dog Standing
As hard enduro racing continues to take root in the United States, races like Last Dog Standing are growing in both popularity and participation. This past weekend, the third running of the annual event—made possible by the Prairie Dogs MC—made a successful showing at San Bernardino’s Glen Helen Raceway, with nearly 150 racers signing up for the fun. The event follows a four round qualification/ elimination format that first has all racers complete a 25-minute timed GP that determines starting order for LDS 1. Set up around a fairly difficult course, LDS 1 featured a mix of natural and manmade obstacles, with a sketchy balance beam across a deep water section claiming enough riders that the Prairie Dogs eventually cut it from the course completely. Racers within one hour of adjusted time from the leader’s pace qualified for LDS two, which eventually saw only 22 racers complete the increasingly-difficult course. High temperatures and a nasty waterfall section of repeated 15′ drops contributed to the high attrition rate, and only eight racers finished within 25 minutes of the leader to qualify for LDS 3.
When the dust finally settled on the 90-minute long final, Monster Energy Kawasaki’s Taylor Robert emerged the victor, beating out early favorite Cory Graffunder by nearly nine minutes. Trials talent Ryan Sandoval finished third and commented that he had never been so happy to see the finish line of a race. Only two other riders—Max Gerston and Justin Morgan—would reach the finish line, with Justin Jones, Colton Haaker, and David Broderick pulling off before the checkers. Dirt Rider test rider Michael Allen rode a YZ250 two-stroke test bike to a strong 10th overall behind Ty Tremaine, with DR Editor Chris Denison trailing Brad Goolsby and JCR’s Johnny Campbell for 14th overall. In the end, the event was a tough one yet the racers on hand certainly enjoyed the challenging course and arduous format of the race. Stay tuned to www.prairiedogsmc.com for more info on this event, and check out the video below for a look at the course through the lens of Denison’s GoPro Hero3 camera: http://youtu.be/TMDkb7sdxgc —Chris Denison
US ISDE Squad Announced
You might think it’s a little early to start thinking about Six Days right now, but the American Motorcyclist Association just announced the riders who will represent the Stars and Stripes at this year’s International Six Days Enduro in Sardinia, Italy, on September 30-Oct. 5.
The US World Trophy Team will consist of Mike Brown, Kurt Caselli, Thad Duvall, Charlie Mullins, Zach Osborne and Taylor Robert. Meanwhile, the Junior Trophy Team will be Grant Baylor, Steward Baylor; Andrew DeLong and Jesse Groemm.
The U.S. Women’s Cup Team will include Rachel Gutish; Mandi Mastin; and Brooke Hodges.
Interestingly, a pair of motocross racers will be getting their first taste of Six Days competition, with Zach Osborne competing on the US World Trophy Team, while Ryan Sipes will compete on one of the club teams, joining Nick Fahringer and Jimmy Jarrett on the Wellard Club Team.
Like last year, Antti Kallonen, who guides KTM’s off-road racing teams in North American competition, will manage the U.S. ISDE team.
“It’s fulfilling that our efforts have caught motocross riders’ and teams’ attention,” Kallonen says. “There are a bunch of great off-road riders in the motocross world, and I’m glad to have Zach Osborne teaming up in the Trophy Team alongside our solid off-road riders.”
“We made great progress last year with our ISDE program, and I’m happy to see that we have been able to build an even better team and program for this year,” Kallonen adds. “Our Trophy team is as good as it can be, and all team riders are already hard at work to make sure we are 100 percent prepared.”
Caselli will captain the World Trophy Team.
“It’s great to be on the AMA’s World Trophy Team again for this years’ ISDE in Sardinia,” says Caselli. “We’re bringing the best off-road riders that the United States has to offer with a great chance of winning the World Trophy.”
Like ISDE veteran Brown, who won the 2001 125cc AMA National Motocross Championship before his career shifted to off-road racing, Osborne’s roots are in motocross. However, the 23-year-old — a newcomer to the ISDE — has been branching into off-road recently and says he is ready for the competition at the ISDE.
“I’m very excited about this opportunity,” Osborne said. “I know it will be a challenge for me, but I’m working hard to be prepared and do my best for the team. I have to give a big thanks to everyone involved in picking me, and also my team for supporting me and giving me a bike to race.”
America’s motorcyclists can help support the U.S. ISDE team, and look good while doing it, by purchasing an official U.S. ISDE T-Shirt. All proceeds support the effort to transport the riders, bikes and crew to and from Italy. To buy a shirt, and to get more information about the U.S. ISDE effort, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com/racing/internationalcompetition/isde.
Volcom Exits Motocross
Volcom announced yesterday it will intensify its focus on the foundational core sports upon which the brand was founded over 20 years ago and exit motocross. The company officially launched its motocross program in 2009 and amassed an impressive riding team of world-class athletes, including superstar Ryan Villopoto, the 2011, 2012 and 2013 AMA Supercross Champion. As the first company to formally blend the 3 primary board sports together from day one, Volcom will remain devoted to skate, snow and surf, along with music and art.
“In an increasingly competitive and specialized global market it is imperative that we continue to simplify the Volcom brand message so that we can achieve maximum differentiation and voice amplification,” said Jason Steris, Volcom’s CEO. “We have been extremely proud to have been a part of the motocross family for several years. However, pressing forward with all of our emphasis on board sports is the right direction for Volcom for the long term.”
“I am very proud to have been part of the Volcom motocross program from the beginning and am grateful for the warm reception and regular acceptance from a world-class community of athletes, teams, media, agents and promoters,” said Troy Powell, Volcom’s MX Marketing Senior Manger. “I understand this was a difficult decision for Volcom but I support the company’s vision and the need to retain its focus on its core boarding sports. Combined with my earlier years in the Volcom surf program, it has been a tremendous experience being part of an amazing company and I now look forward to new ventures.” Powell joined Volcom in 1996 and will always be a part of the Volcom family.
“The motocross team has done an exceptional job helping our company gain an admirable standing in this sport,” said Ryan Immegart, Volcom’s Senior Vice President of Marketing. “With Troy at the helm, our accomplishments are many and I am thankful for his stewardship and relentless passion toward making an indelible mark in motocross. As well, we could not have achieved so much without Ryan Villopoto and the rest of our team riders.”
The Virtues of Trials
Pat Smage drops from a set of logs at the AirES AMA NATC MotoTrials US National Championship Series in New York. Photo by Shan Moore.
The AirES AMA NATC MotoTrials US Championships kicked off this past weekend in New York with Sherco rider Pat Smage taking the win on both days. Trials (now called MotoTrials) is one of the most misunderstood and under appreciated forms of motorcycle competition in America. And yet, it provides more benefit than most can imagine. Learning to ride a trials bike is the best way to properly learn all of the basic functions of operating a dirt bike – techniques that can otherwise be overlooked when speed is substituted for balance. When you are navigating a section of trail under the relatively slow speeds of a trials competition, then you are forced to use proper balance, throttle control, clutch control and foot peg weighting in order to just stay on two wheels. Trials teaches you to look for traction with the throttle and to use your body to get the bike over an obstacle, rather than just relying on power. You might be surprised at some of the top riders of our time who got their start on a trials bike at a young age before moving on to another discipline of the sport. For instance, Roger DeCoster was the Belgian national trials champ before he got into motocross. World Road Race champ Kevin Schwantz learned to ride on a TY80 on his father’s farm in Texas. Guy Cooper and Jean Michel Bayle were both excellent trials riders as kids before getting into Supercross. And of course, Taddy Blazusiak was ranked seventh in the World Trials Series before he won his first extreme off-road race in Erzberg. If you really want to improve your dirt bike skills, think about cross training on a trials bike!
Kailub Russell Gaining Ground In GNCC Series
Factory FMF/KTM rider Kailub Russell took his third win of the season at the eighth round of the GNCC Series while his teammate and current points leader, Charlie Mullins, joined him on the podium with a third place result.
Russell and Mullins both got caught in a first corner pile up at the start of the race. Mullins was able to go around the outside of it avoiding a crash but still found himself at the tail end of the pack while Russell collided with another rider and was further back once he recovered.
Despite the tough start, the two teammates quickly charged forward making multiple passes in the first few miles to move into the five. By the end of the first loop, Russell had moved into the lead while Mullins was sitting in fourth.
It wasn’t long before the teammates were in the top two positions and began to pull away from the pack. On the fourth lap of the race, Mullins suffered a hard crash down a hill, twisting his knee in the process. He collected himself and reentered the race still in second position, but was now dealing with quite a bit of pain in his knee. He pushed as hard as he could to try and hold his position. With a lap to go, he lost one position to Josh Strang. Out front, Russell crossed the checkered flag to take his third victory of the season. Strang followed in second place roughly three minutes back while Mullins was just seconds behind him to round out the podium. Heading to the ninth round, Mullins still holds the championship points lead by five points over his teammate.
Sherco 250 MX Spy Photos
Here are a couple of early photos of the newly released Sherco 250F Motocross bike, which is currently being released. According to factory specs, the bike is 250cc (78mm x 52.2mm) DOHC, four-valve, and features WP closed-cartridge 300mm forks, WP 320mm travel rear shock, a Synerject fuel-injection system, electric start, a hydraulic clutch with six-speed tranny, and it comes stock with Goldentyres. —Shan Moore
Leatt New Product
We recently visited Leatt in Valencia, CA to check out new product, meet Dr. Chris Leatt and learn more about the importance of CE certification. If you haven’t had a chance, read Dirt Rider’s article on neck braces in the May 2013 issue. It is worth the time and may change how you think about next braces.
One of the cool new products out from Leatt is the C-Frame knee brace. It features 3-point force distribution and uses a super stiff C-arm mono hinge construction. Adjustable soft lockout helps to prevent hyperextension while X-straps on the thigh and calf help hold the brace in place. The low profile shin bone plate with load distribution pad fits inside all boots. The LEATT InteliLink hinge with double pivot points runs on sealed bearings to boost durability. The C-Frame doesn’t use a traditional patella cup, it uses a leg sock, integrating a molded CE impact approved soft shell visco-elastic patella cup. We aren’t sure how we feel about carrying yet another item to add to gear bag but we will be testing a pair soon to find out. Retail price is $599 a pair and they will be sold in pairs only. —Adam Booth
The Legendary SVRA Ocotillo Wells Is Threatened By PEER
The group known as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) seeks to end “open riding” at Ocotillo Wells State Vehicular Recreation Area in the Anza Borrego desert, California, which is one of the last beacons of hope for off-road freedom.
The SVRA was set aside in the 1980s specifically for off-road vehicles and at 85,000 acres, it is a small sliver compared to the 600,000-acre Anza Borrego State Park where off-roading is prohibited.
PEER claims that letting off-roaders run “amok” is damaging the environment and archeological sites. But, there are already protected areas within the park, fenced-off to preserve their importance, whether that be environmental, natural or archeological, and these areas are very well respected and observed by off-road enthusiasts.
There are also areas that were previously open, but are now closed and fenced off because of overuse, but are scheduled to be reopened after a natural habitat renewal process. These protections and procedures are already in place in Ocotillo Wells and are understandable by reasonable off-road riders. Yet more restrictions and closures would not only be excessive regulation but change the entire feel of the renowned riding area.
Please show your support and sign this petition that would keep Ocotillo Wells open. It only takes a moment of your day and costs nothing, yet every signature is extremely valuable to off-road enthusiast all over the country. —Sean Klinger
Kurt Caselli Off To Good Start In Ruta 40 Rally
Kurt Caselli’s competition debut as a full-time member of the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing rally team was delayed by a day after heavy fog Monday forced cancellation of the first day in the Desafio Ruto 40 Rally in Argentina.
The limited visibility meant no helicopters could fly so, in order to ensure safe passage for the competitors, the organizers of the race–round four of the FIM Cross-country Rallies World Championship–opted to cancel the stage.
So, instead of racing the approximately 330 miles, everyone simply cruised to San Miguel de Tucumán, the start of the mountainous second stage and its nearly 414 miles, about 215 of which were a timed stage.
“I think it was a good decision due to safety considerations,” Caselli said afterward.
Since it’s winter in the Southern Hemisphere, it should be no surprise that cold and fog also delayed the start of the second day by about an hour and a half, but it finally did start, marking the official beginning of racing.
Team HRC’s Helder Rodrigues emerged the day’s winner, completing the timed portion in just under five hours (4:57:29, to be exact). Red Bull KTM’s Marc Coma, who’s won all three rounds of the series thus far, was 2:40 behind followed by Paolo Concalves on his Speedbrain Honda (3:40 behind Rodrigues), “Chaleco” Lopez (4:38 behind) and Caselli (4:46 behind). Caselli is therefore in good position to challenge for a podium.
Everyone knows how difficult it can be to find good places to ride. A lucky few have private riding compounds/areas and one of those has to be the Los Ancianos Motorcycle Club’s zone just south of the border and outside of Tecate, Baja California, Mexico. Tecate isn’t what you might think of in Baja; it’s mostly single-track and rarely ridden compared to trails north of the border.
So when the club sent an open invitation to ride on its secret network of trails, it was an opportunity not to be missed. The reason the Los Ancianos (it means ancient or old ones in Spanish; prospective members must be at least 30 years old) invited the public was to raise funds for La Cruz Roja or the Tecate-area Red Cross plus the 800-acre Rancho Santana where the club has its fun zone.
When asked how many people they expected to host, Los Ancianos club member Scott Penwarden replied, “We weren’t sure because this is the first time and we thought if we got 40 or 50 it’d be great, but I think we had close to 100 people. It’s really positive.” (Actually, 108 bikes started out on the 60-mile ride that had cut-offs at 25 and 40 miles. The club allowed women and children to ride for free, more than making up the difference by paying the $60 donation for its members who wanted to ride.)
Tim Morton has spent a lot of time in Baja and knows many miles of Tecate trails as the owner and lead guide of the Baja Bound Adventures tour company, but even he was surprised at how many trails were new to him–and that includes the trails off the ranch itself.
The Los Ancianos spent several months laying out trail for the event and provided plenty of variety. In keeping with area tradition, you spent most time in the bottom three gears picking your way through narrow boulders, winding through never-ending miles of iron-tough manzanita, up on the pegs in flowing sand washes and occasionally popping out onto two-track where you could catch a breather.
To top it off, upon returning to the start, the Santana family hosted a fish taco feast complete with pretty much all the Tecate cerveza (or sodas) one wanted. It was the perfect ending to a great day of riding, meeting new riding buddies and enjoying a bit of Mexican riding heaven. —Mark Kariya
That’s all for this week, be sure to check in next week for more news from the off-road world.