The Vikings MC National has historically been a great race for me. In the past two years I have finished 6th and 5th overall, and this year I knew that I could do better! The race is usually very rocky, and has lots of trails that are virtually non-existent, and that is exactly the place where I can ride my best!Earlier in the week I came out to get some riding in and ran into David Kamo and the KTM guys. They were busy testing, and my friend AJ Madrid and I just wanted to get some good mileage in, so we went our own direction and had a fun, stress free day of riding before the rain began to fall in Lucerne.Wednesday night as we were leaving, it looked like the Lucerne Area was about to get a good dumping, but unfortunately the storm wouldn’t live up to what it was supposed to be. We did get a little bit of rain, but it wasn’t enough to keep the desert wet, and when we arrived early Friday morning it was just another weekend in the dusty California desert.Friday was a fun day. Ed (my mechanic) was celebrating his birthday, so his sister came out to camp with us for the weekend. During the day she was a big help in getting everything set up around camp, but I could tell that she was a little bit nervous, having never really been out here to stay. We had our favorite local restaurant, Adelitas in Lucerne Valley, cater for Ed’s big day, and the entire 100’s camp as well as Destry and his group from Kawi had tacos and enchiladas as the sun was setting.Chris and Patty Blais had planned a night ride for the evening, and being that we only had so many vehicles out with lights (only the T-Rex and a KLX450) Ed, his sister, and I decided to go along. Ed got to ride along with Chris Blais in the raced out Polaris Ranger, and I took Ed’s sister in my mom’s T-Rex. The ride was actually a lot of fun, and we had about 12 vehicles come along.Justin Schultz, my friend from So Cal MC, came along and we rode all the way out to Cougar Buttes and Back. It was about 30 miles round trip, and took us the better half of 2 hours. At one point, we were up on this fire access road for the power lines, and Chris took a sharp left. I couldn’t turn in time in the dust (any my underpowered lights) so I just held on and we launched down the hillside! Justin followed thinking that we had died, but all was well and we made it back in one piece!Saturday
Saturday morning we got up early, and Ryan and I went for a little ride out to a shelter/hut thing that we had found earlier in the week. It was literally a cement slab with a wooded roof over it out in the middle of nowhere! It was pretty cool! From there we just sort of screwed around until Ryan had to return to help with signups.I ate some lunch, and put my boots back on, and then Kyle and I went to work on our bomb run. Right away we found a perfect line strait down the middle of the trail. The thing was wide open and nearly 2 feet wide the whole way. It worked out pretty good, and we both decided on using the trail for our start. The best part to this was that everyone else was either on the right or the left, so Kyle and I were all alone in the middle!After draining a tank of gas working on my start, it was time to call it a night and get to bed early. Ed started working on the bike, on his birthday… Happy Birthday Ed! And I went inside for some dinner and a movie. Jerry Jones cooked for us like he always does on race nights, and we went to bed excited about the morning to come!Race Day
Sunday morning I woke up early and was ready to ride! I took a few trips down the bomb run, and I really felt good. After my finish in Utah, I sort of felt like I needed to redeem myself. Truthfully I was a little bit nervous, but also equally excited because this was Lucerne Valley, my home turf!After a delay on the start time, the race time was pushed back to 10:40 and we all were forced to just sit and wait. Ed went back to get me some water and shade, and I just tried to keep myself fresh and avoid the possibility of cramping. While I was sitting there, my trainer Jason Johnson showed up to surprise me and watch a race. That added some pressure, but really showed me that he cared! It made me want to push that much harder!When the banner finally went up, I was in total race mode. I got a one kick start and forgot about everything else going on in my life. At the end of the bomb we had a big road crossing, and as I looked to my right I could see Destry Abbott, and on the other side there was David Pearson. Two of the best starters in this desert racing series, and I was right there with them!The course really tightened up right away, and I was happy to be ahead of everyone that I was! At this point the start was really crucial, and for my friend Gary Sutherlin a bad start meant big trouble. Gary was wayyy back, and he said the dust was incredible this weekend. He really had to fight, and was luckily able to work his way back into 5th by the end of the race.
I settled into a good pace, and wasn’t really making up much ground on the rider in front of me. It took till after check 2 for me to see that it was David Pearson, and that just made me want to push harder. He is a good friend of mine out in the desert, and I feel good knowing that he would look out for me just like I would for him if something happened. As we dropped down a downhill into a sandwash, I tried to bonzai past him. I figured if I could get ahead of him, I would have a shot to hold him off with my dust. Well the plan didn’t work and I was on the ground in the sand while he was pulling away.About a mile out of the pits I saw my dad and he told me I was in 5th and that there was no one anywhere close behind! This was good as I made the decision to play with my suspension a bit. Tuner has done such a great job with the stuff, it has taught me to know what I like and dislike. Unfortunately with all of the rocks on loop one, it just felt a little bit too harsh, so I took the clickers out our turn on both the compression and rebound and it allowed my bike to feel a bit softer over the harsh terrain.I’m sure that everyone though it was funny that I got off the bike and on the ground in the pits, but it was seriously the difference in having a good second loop.Loop two was pretty uneventful except for just before the second check. I was basically in David Pearson’s dust the whole time, and every time I would get close he would dust me out and pull away. Coming across a valley I saw him slow for something then keep going. It was Destry! He was stopped and I couldn’t tell what was wrong. I thought maybe he needed a part or something, and since he was in the championship chase I figured I would offer it if needed. Before I could ask, he pointed to his shoulder and told me to keep going. So I did and I could tell that we was in some pain.I knew that at this point I was in fourth, and that Pearson was somewhere ahead that I could maybe catch. I need to get a podium this year, and I wanted it at the Vikings. With only about 20 miles left I made another charge for David Pearson. Again I got close but just couldn’t find my way around. I was physically going as fast as my bike could go, and he was doing the same thing! It was frustrating, but fun at the same time! Did I mention that I really like racing???I wasn’t able to make the pass but as we came over one of the last hills I saw my dad again! He told me to go and not stop so I really tried to get him. We have a new NHHA format with a Grass Track style obstacle at the end of the course for some spectator friendly viewing, and I thought maybe I could get him there. Dave knew what he was doing, however, and he just barely beat me across the line by about 3 seconds. After 80 miles of racing, it was amazing that we were so close. I had to settle for 4th, but that was a hard earned 4th and it is better than I have done at Vikings before so I will take it!As always the sponsors played a big role this weekend! Everyone worked really hard to get my bike ready to go for this National race, and I cant thank everyone enough! Kawasaki of Simi Valley, Kawasaki Team Green, Monster Energy, TBT Racing, BRP, FMF, IMS, Fastway, Pro Moto Billet, Rekluse, and Off Road Support all have helped out this year and I am proud to keep giving them good results!Results:
1. Kendal Norman (Hon); 2. David Kamo (KTM); 3. David Pearson (KTM); 4. Jacob Argubright (Kaw); 5. Gary Sutherlin (Kaw); 6. Justin Imhof (KTM); 7. Nick Burson (Husq); 8. Quinn Cody (Hon); 9. Brett Saunders (Kaw); 10. Colton Sanders (KTM)Other Notes
Like I said earlier, Happy Birthday to my Mechanic Ed! He is a big part of my success, and I just will never be able to thank him enough for everything that he does. He is more then just a mechanic, but also a mentor that keeps me positive and happy when it comes to racing, and that is a big importance!KTM brought our Sarah Whitmore from the WMA to try this race! It was pretty cool to see her out there, and I think she even won her class! That is pretty cool considering she had never done a bomb run or desert race before!I found out after the race that Destry broke his collar bone and possibly separated his shoulder. We are still waiting to hear the prognosis, but it doesn’t sound good. He will deffinately miss the round here in two weeks, and hopefully will be back for the October races. We will deffinately miss seeing him up in Utah.Finally, I am very sad to announce that we lost a member of our desert racing family this weekend. Wes Finkle of Desert MC passed away in his sleep on Saturday night as a result of carbon monoxide poisoning. Another member of the club, and close friend of my dad, Chris Kallen was taken to the hospital and is expected to recover. I don’t know really what to say to the family of Mr. Finkle, but I would like to dedicate this race to his memory and hope that somewhere up there he was watching me ride for all of District 37 and give the factory guys a run for their money.God Speed Mr. Finkle!