Welcome to the Weekly Dirt, your one-stop source for all things off-road. It’s now officially the off-season for every major off-road series except for Endurocross, which wraps up with its series finale this coming weekend in Las Vegas. Now is the time when teams are nailing down sponsorship deals for the coming year, and riders are starting to gear up for 2012. Let’s take a look…
Dirt Rider paid a visit to Joe Gibbs Racing MX this week to see how things were going since signing James Stewart to a three-year deal. Throughout the 2011 season, Stewart was very vocal about the fact that he wasn’t happy with the handling of his L&M Yamaha, and there was some speculation that JGR (and Stewart, if they were able to sign him) would be riding Suzuki’s for 2012. However, according to team manager Jeremy Albrecht, after he rode the JGR Yamaha at his home track in Florida, Stewart was pleased with the set-up they came up with and pleased to be back on the blue bikes. This coming week the team, which has been running Pirelli tires for the last two seasons, will be testing with both Dunlop and Pirelli.
Josh Strang suffered a broken leg at the GNCC series finale at Loretta Lynn’s, capping off a second half of the season that was fraught with bad luck for the FMF/Makita Suzuki rider. Strang still had an outside chance at the 2012 title when he went down hard in the woods, coming away with a broken femur. According to Strang, the doctor’s in Tennessee are talking two months off the bike, but the Aussie off-roader was planning on getting a second opinion.
Not only is newly crowned GNCC champ Charlie Mullins fast as stink on a dirt bike, he’s pretty fast on a mountain bike, too. If riding two three-hour races over a three-day period wasn’t enough, Hot Rod raced a local Cyclecross on the Tuesday after clinching his GNCC title, and ended up winning his class. Rather than checking out, like he did at the Loretta Lynn GNCC, Mullins waited until the final lap of the Cyclecross and then sprinted past first place to take the “W”. Perhaps KTM should think about building a mountain bike.
A big surprise at the final GNCC rounds was the performance of Andrew DeLong, who is newly signed with the FAR Husqvarna team. In just his third race on a four-stroke (DeLong was riding the TXC250), the Pennsylvania rider claimed his first-ever XC2-class win after a race long duel with teammate and fellow Husky rider Jason Thomas. Both DeLong and Thomas will return with FAR Husqvarna for the 2012 season where they will split their time between GNCC and the AMA National Enduro Series. -Shan MooreWith rain hitting So Cal it was a great time to be testing off-road bikes. Look for some web tests on KTM’s EXCs, a few 350cc four-strokes (Husky, Beta and KTM) and maybe a few other bikes if I can sit still enough to write the tests. Plus we’ll be out in Utah for the Fasst Company industry ride before heading back to Las Vegas for the final round of the Endurocross series.I hope everyone is still paying attention to this:
The U.S. Senate will vote on a bill that would end the dedicated funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP), which is considered to be one of the most important and beneficial laws for off-highway vehicle (OHV) riders ever passed by Congress, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports. The RTP, which provides money to states to develop and maintain trails, would lose dedicated funding under provisions in a transportation funding authorization bill — S. 1813, “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP-21) — which was approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee by an 18-0 vote on Nov. 9.
Looks like progress means screwing OHV users all over the country unless you sign up to take action when voting time is near. Check in with the AMA (AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights > Issues & Legislation) and The Blue Ribbon Coalition (www.sharetrails.org) to keep on top of this. A bidder donates $10 to Legal Defense Fund. $5 goes to fund and $5 goes in pool. The final money pot is dependent on how many people donate plus bidders could vote often and improve odds.
George Chamarro had a really great idea. To raise money for a legal defense fund he set up a 50/50 contest where friends could bet on his final mileage while competing in the Ironman class at the Starvation Ridge 24-Hour. Aboard his trusty 1983 Honda XR500 and supporting MTVRA (Montana Trail Vehicle Riders Association) Legal Defense Fund George rode 367.9.George placed 4th out of 33 riders and Darrell Swanson from Bozeman, MT guessed 366.4 miles, only 1.5 miles off that actual total via George’s trusty odometer. Total donation to MTVRA was $215.00 because George’s friends at Sprocketlist.com donated $100 directly to the Legal Defense Fund. “I hope that this will get other people fired up to do something to raise awareness in the motorcycle community that grass-roots type of shenanigans like my 24 hour ride will raise attention to trail use issues and keep riding areas open and show people that a run-on sentence sometimes makes sense.” Good work George, we hope you inspire riders everywhere to think outside the box.And finally Shane Watts and his Dirt Wise School look to be busy this year. Want to find out of they will be in your area? Check out www.shanewatts.com to find out. -Jimmy Lewis
Kook Fight! – in the middle of a 250F Shootout test day out at Glen Helen last Thursday I got into an epic 3-lap battle with a guy on a… blue bike. I swear it was a YZF450, but Jimmy Lewis witnessed the display of novice-rider battling and swears it was a Husky make to look like a Yamaha. The funny part was that I was dressed head to toe in fresh, new, perfect gear, on a 2012 bike, and my competitor was wearing Sinisalo gear that looked like it would have come with a mullet comb. The rider and I had a fun battle with clean passes and even a mutual ‘WhooHooo!’ at our throttle shut-off point going around the Talledega first turn. We were both having a blast, just proving you don’t have to have the newest stuff to have fun riding, just a couple of riders close in speed. Whoever that was – that was fun!And thanks too to Jimmy Lewis for giving me a quick riding tip – to slow before the corner and slowly roll on the throttle around it. A concept I know, but wasn’t applying with Glen’s Helen’s inconsistent berms that day. It was a real case of slowing down to go faster, and Jimmy would witness me catching up to the Sinisalo guy coming out of turns where I did it right. Not sure if Jimmy’s new role of Editor At Large means now he’ll be sharing more riding tips since he has more time, or because he thinks I’m dumb enough to plug his jlroffroad.com riding schools. Wait! Doh! -Pete PetersonThe 44th Annual TECATE SCORE Baja 1000 race will kickoff in Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico this week with pre-race festivities starting on Wednesday. The 2011 course is a 692.82-mile loop. There are over 275 entries from 16 different countries. Each race vehicle is granted 32 hours to make it through all 6 check points to the finish line. Starting the pack of race vehicles will be the motorcycle and atv classes at 6:30am on Friday, November 18th. At about 11:30am, the car and truck classes will begin to depart from the starting line. Riders and drivers will experience harsh desert terrain in a real wild-west setting. They will need to conquer the wide variety of cautions that meet the course all while keeping their vehicle up-right and running. Another factor that participants will need to beware of are altered race markers and booby traps. A small group of spectators in a remote location can be a sign of danger ahead. I can’t wait to hear everyone’s race stories and I wish them the best on their trek to the finish line.Listen to all the chaos unfold on weatherman’s frequency, which should be hosted at http://www.race-dezert.com/wm/wm.html. Live tracking via race vehicle transponders at www.racetheworld.net.Who is racing? Check out the expanded entry list at http://www.score-international.com/641/press/Expanded_Entry_List_44th_Tecate_SCORE_Baja_1000.aspx.Last year on my drive to Vegas EnduroCross, I was able to listen to weatherman via cell phone plugged into my radio and keep tabs on all my family and friends racing the 1000 – pretty cool when you’re not even in the same country! -Lindsey LovellSee you next week!