I love watching EnduroCross. It is awesome how the pros could make something look easy one lap and then the same highly skilled rider could be stuck in it on the next lap. With the EnduroCross series having support classes racing, I had it on my bucket list of races I wanted to try sometime, but I didn’t have a burning desire to punish myself and my bike that bad.I do like riding technical and challenging terrain, but I don’t like breaking my bike or my body. I have ridden some EnduroCross style obstacles in GP and Hare Scramble races, but I never search them out. However, when I was asked if I would be interested in riding the Ontario EnduroCross for this Dirt Rider report, I jumped at the opportunity to give it a shot and test my riding abilities.
The days prior to the event I was very excited, yet extremely nervous. I kept asking myself, “Did I get in over my head?” I talked to a few of my riding buddies that had raced it before and they gave me helpful advice: “breathe, trust your skills and trust your bike.” I was still nervous.On Friday night I participated in the KTM EnduroCross Rider Experience. This really helped ease my nerves as I got a chance to ride the course and learn from the best riders in the business (watch for my web report on that soon). I was feeling much better about my chances of surviving the race. However, my goal was still to just finish.
On Saturday morning we ran through our first practice session. I had my lines picked out and my plan to get through the matrix without expending too much energy. We started the first practice lap: Fire wood pit- good, matrix-just as planned, boulders-nailed the line I wanted. The second lap went about the same. I also realized that our group of vet riders was really two groups. 4 really fast guys (Kurt Nicoll and Johnny Campbell were two of them) and 4 not so fast guys, one of which was me.
The second practice session was timed for the gate pick in our qualifying heat. I rode well and made a few mistakes but qualified 6th. Because we only had one group, we all got to transfer to the night vet main, so the qualifier was a race for gate pick for the night show. I had a few struggles and ended up 7th.After all of the last chances qualifiers for the other classes were done, the EnduroCross team did some course work to set up the course for the night show. They filled up the water pit, which had been dry for the earlier part of the day and took some dirt from the front of a few of the logs. We had a chance to walk the course and do a couple of practice laps. I could still make the obstacles with the changes so I was happy. I knew if I got a good start in the main, that I had a shot at 5th, maybe better if one of the fast guys DNF’d.
In the main event, my heart was pumping. People cheering, your name over the speakers, what a cool feeling. The gate dropped and I got the start I wanted. I was through the firewood and headed to the matrix. As I approached it, I could see that due to the splashes from the water pit, my line through the matrix was wet and muddy. Wet and slippery were new elements we hadn’t practiced. I hit the first set of logs just like I practiced, then the matrix got me and sent me to the ground. I was down, but not out. I got up, regrouped and got going again. My clutch lever was messed up, but still worked. I worked my way through the rest of the course, made a few mistakes, had to muscle my bike around a bit and finally got the checkered flag. My heart was going crazy, my body fatigued and I was exhausted.
I never wanted to quit, because despite the suffering, it was extremely fun and I loved the challenge. I ended up with a 5th place finish which exceeded my goal. I was asked if I would do it again. ABSOLUTELY! I got to line up on the starting line with some motorcycle legends, race in a stadium full of cheering enthusiasts, ride an extreme course and test my skills. WOW. All I can say is I had a blast!
Then to top it off, I had time to find a seat and watch the Pro Main Event. I was cheering for my local guys Destry Abbott and Gary Sutherland as well as the KTM guys, Mike Brown and Taddy Blazusiak, that helped me to ride better at the KTM EnduroCross Rider Experience. The start was a mad rush with everyone staying on the gas over the small log, hitting the larger log that launched them into the air higher than I ever care to jump and then they all tried to fit into the firewood section together. Taddy was out in front and Colton Haaker pushing in second. Third through tenth had lots of passing and crashing, with the EnduroCross course leaving its mark on many riders. In the end it was Taddy Blazusiak taking the top spot, with Colton Haaker taking second and Cody Webb in third. After having ridden the course, I am even more amazed at how fast the pros ride those obstacles. They guys have some amazing skills and put on a great show. Watching it live is the way to go.I have to give a special thanks to Dirt Rider for making this experience happen, KTM for putting on the KTM EnduroCross Riders Experience, MotoCity in Avondale Arizona for helping get my bike ready. Without the help and support from Dirt Rider, KTM and MotoCity, I would not have been here and had such a great and memorable time.