My trip to Utah started off pretty much just like any other Utah National Hare and Hound trip has. Ryan, My dad, and I piled in the motorhome and took turns driving while Ed drove the big truck the whole way and followed us up to Jericho.On the way, we had to stop at Chris and Patty Blais’s to drop off some equipment that my dad had built for the NHHA trailer. While we were there, Morgan Crawford was working in the garage, and we surprised them with lunch while Chris and Morgan continued to work in the Garage. They had about 5 different bikes torn apart, and were working to get them finished before they left for Jericho.After we had left, we stopped in Vegas to pick up Jerry Jones and continued on to Beaver where we stayed the night. Friday morning we woke up early and finished the drive into the staging area where we were overwhelmed by the organization that the Sageriders had incorporated into their event. We were greeted and immediately informed on the schedule of events for the weekend, and where I could ride to warm up. Hospitality like that is a big thing when you have traveled as far as we did.Around 11 am Ryan Smith, Josh Smith, and I went riding and found what was probably the biggest jump in Utah! It was pretty cool, and fun to sow off in front of the locals for a bit, but the day before was really about the business and we spent some time playing up in the Juniper Trees. These things are unlike anything else where ever we ride, and it was important for me to get some seat time in them, including a couple crashes to get used to the feel of the dirt.Race Day – Utah
Having the race time at 11 am is a good thing as it let us really get a good night’s rest. Ryan had to get up at 6 to help with signups, but I got to sleep in till about 7 o clock. When I got outside Ed had the bike ready, and at 8 Destry, Gary Sutherlin and I went and pre-ran the bomb. It seemed like all of the faster guys had a good line off to the Right of the start, but I was happy with a line on the far left. After about 8 runs and more sand then I was really hoping for it was time for the riders meeting.They told us a bit about what to expect, and what not to do, and that was about it. As soon as it was over, we all rushed to the start line, and luckily no one had taken my line. It seemed like out of nowhere that the banner was up and then they were off! I say they because literally everyone but me was off. My bike didn’t light and It was three kicks before I too was following behind. It took me literally about a ¼ mile and I had taken my first soil sample. AND IT WAS A BIG ONE.
I guess I was just trying to get ahead of as many as possible before we hit the trail head, and I swapped on something. Im really not too sure what it was, but I went down hard and fast. Ryan Kudla stopped for me, and once I was up and moving he went on. The bike started right up, and I just started picking people off one at a time. The big problem at that point was that I had no front brake. I must have clipped something with it because I could feel the rotor pulsing as I rode. At the alternate gas I told Jerry that I needed a new front wheel. He said I had worked my way into 7th, and I as I handed back the dry break (we had to fuel our own bikes) I clicked it into gear and took off.It was pretty uneventful throughout the remainder of the first loop. With a few miles to go before the pits we had a checkpoint and they told us that we needed to get off and walk our bikes across a road crossing. I thought it was funny, but I complied and just got off and ran. Apparently Kendall didn’t get the memo to walk across and was actually penalized for a whole minute before he started his second loop.Into the pits Ed, Ryan, and Johnny had a tire ready for me, and I saw the NHHA announcer George was ready for the play by play. I couldn’t get my bike into neutral and ended up fumbling across the pit in front of about 100 people! Pretty funny but I was just excited that I was going to have breaks again. While they were doing the change Morgan got past me and I moved back into 8th place.About a mile out I went down again, but it was just because I grabbed too much break and ended up breaking off a Fastway hand guard. I wasn’t hurt and the bike kept running, so it really wasn’t too big of a deal. Loop two was pretty much just that. I could always see Morgan’s dust, but just couldn’t really make up any time. He rode well, and I did everything I could. I settled for 8th overall, but was happy considering that I had a few guys come up after the race to check and see if I was alright.After the race, it was a marathon as Ed and Jerry scrambled to get my bike ready for the Rovers race the next morning, 12-hours away from where we were! Unfortunately we had to wait for the race to complete so that Ryan could finish the results and we actually didn’t leave Jericho until about 6 pm.I slept pretty much the whole way into Lucerne Valley, and not until we honestly parked the motorhome (3 AM) did I really start to wake up! Go figure, right?
Race Day – ROVERS
The rovers are one of my favorite clubs as they really put a lot of effort into their events, and this year actually had another two day event. I had heard that Colton Udall had followed Ricky all day on Saturday and only passed him with a mile to go, and I knew that I would not allow that to happen. Truthfully that this point I was pretty tired from the day before. I got a good amount of sleep, but it really isn’t good when you are bouncing down the road.I ended up only running the bomb one time, and figured I was just going to play it easy. This race counted for Overall and Open class points, so I really needed to have a good finish. When the banner dropped my bike finally started first kick! I was off, and there was no one around! IT FELT GOOD TO BE HOME!!! By the time we reached the bomb, which was a REAL SMOKE BOMB, it was Kendal and then myself and Colton Udall.Ryan said we were way out front already by mile number 2, and ironically as soon as I saw Kendall, I felt good again and was ready to race! I followed him through the first couple checks, and as we came into the third I could see the Hare was just in front. It was a 90 degree turn down by soggy dry lake, and the wide open desert allowed me to try and make up some time.This time I could really tell that I was making up some time on Kendall. As we came into the home check, I dropped down a hill and could physically see Kendal stopping in his pit, but for some reason I didn’t understand how to enter the pit. I ended up going into the finish, and Kendal was out before I had even reached my pit! Ed made sure to give me a hard time, but I was over it because I knew where we were and that I was going to get him.About 3 miles into loop two we went up a trail that my dad and I had actually built years ago for a 100’s race. It was good for me because I knew that I could push it on the trail, there was only one option once we got to the top of the hill, and I was going to be first to that turn.Half way up the hill I got past Kendall and I was leading the race. It was nice to be out front again! I led down the hill and thought a tight canyon for a couple miles, but when it opened back up, I missed a turn and Kendal cut back to the inside of me and back into the lead. I followed him for the last 15 miles or so, and finished just seconds behind him at the finish.
This was a big weekend for me. I got a lot of racing in, and the guys (Ryan, Ed, my Dad, and Jerry) all worked really hard. They basically rebuilt my entire bike while I took a shower after the Saturday race. Then Ed and Jerry both drove for hours to get me back in time to the second race! I really can’t thank them enough for the time that they put in this weekend.Both clubs did a great job with their courses. The Sageriders went above and beyond to really represent USRA and its first event of the year with the NHHA. Every aspect of the course and event was well planned out, and they were very welcoming and excited to host the event. It was an awesome feeling to be around that they whole first half of the weekend.The Rovers were again awesome hosts as well. They had a great course that was well marked and a lot of fun. Lucerne Valley was a bit dry this weekend, but the course was still fun while we were out front and out of the dust. Chance Wyllie had a great ride and held Kendall and I off for most of the first loop as the hare!I was given the opportunity to test some NEW OAKLEY GOGGLES this weekend and they were awesome! My dad and I have always work Oakley as long as I can remember, and this weekend I got one of the first few pairs of a model called the Mayhem MX and they are really awesome. They fit well, and actually fill the opening in my Shoei helmet a little bit better than the regular O Frames do. They are a really cool color, and have a nose piece that gives a little bit extra protection from the roost, something that I don’t believe Oakley has had before. I have attached a photo of them for you to check out, and I think that they are available on the Website right now!The next two weeks are big for me, as I will be at Racetown for my first WORCS race and then the next NHHA event in Johnson Valley with the Vikings.See you in the Desert!