My First Race at Age 47 - Feature Review - Dirt Rider Magazine

My son Caleb and I both went riding at the Ballance MotoX track in Bowling Green last weekend. Here's the big news though, both of us raced Saturday! Yep, Caleb finally talked me (or nagged me) into it. It's a great track, very soft (too soft in some sections) and mushy (but I'm told that's the way the "big boys" do it). I thought, "what the heck, he's improved and is really wanting to race," and the track is soft enough so that when I do fall (probably 6 or 8 times last weekend), it doesn't hurt (too much).PracticeI immediately learned a lot, especially about tracks, water and practice laps. We walked the track before practice and commented on how muddy and rough it was. They had disked it up and watered it pretty heavily. The big bikes were the first ones to practice, so Caleb and I headed out.There were about a dozen riders raring to go, so we let all of them on the track and then pulled on last. Man, they hit the track and immediately cranked it full throttle! I somehow got the idea that since we had such a limited practice time (10 minutes total) that I needed to go 100% to start with, too. Bad idea. I made it through the first two turns and a very short and shaky double. Then there's a small series of whoops that we take as a mini-rhythm section. Or at least we usually do. I gassed it into the first one and the rear end slid. I hit the face of the second one and was off-balance, but was committed at that point, so I gassed it again and ended up bouncing off the side of whoop #4. I landed on my right elbow and got a road rash boo-boo. At about the 3/4 lap point, I went around one of the higher bank turns that we had been taking pretty well when dry, but I didn't account for the wet track. I lost the front wheel and came down on my right side. It didn't hurt at all, but had a heck of a time trying pick that 450 up on that high banked turn. It was laying almost upside down! I finally got it righted and down to the bottom of the turn, just before all the fast guys came whizzing by and roosted me as they came out of the turn.I pushed it off the track (by this time I am totally pooped) and started kicking it. Must have kicked it 50 times over the course of the next five minutes and finally it started. I was dripping with sweat, couldn't catch my breath, near having a panic attack and my heart rate was about 200. I pulled off the track at my first opportunity, and headed back to the pit. When I arrived, I saw Caleb sitting in the lawn chair, bike parked, drinking a Gatorade! KIDS!!! His concern was overwhelming. As I pulled up and cut the bike off, he said, "What happened? Did you crash?"NO, I stopped to pick up CHICKS! If I'd had the energy, I'd have punched his lights out. Instead, I just screamed, "Give me my stand!" I peeled myself from the bike, pulled my helmet off and collapsed into the chair—a quivering mound of fast-breathing, heart-pounding jello. I checked my brand new pro-quality SoCal race jersey, and I had managed to initiate it by putting several pin-holes in it. Hmmm, good thing the jello didn't leak out...The RaceThey combined classes, so as it turned out, we raced together. Caleb raced 125D and I raced 250D. The 125C class started first gate drop, then all the D riders started second drop. There was a really nice kid beside me and he was kind enough to explain to me how to engage my holeshot device. Of course, if he had been really nice, he would have done it for me. No such luck. I had to hold my breath, bend over my handlebars and I finally got it engaged shortly before passing out. I'm sure the blue in my lips was a welcome sight to the YZ125 rider beside me. After all, it matched his bike...He was also kind enough to explain what, "587, you go on the second drop," meant. I thought it was just the "honor system" that you had to wait a certain amount of time after the first guys left. Nope, these guys had it together. They actually put the gate back up and we started just like the other guys. Oh well, at least the red in my face now matched my bike...I gathered it was time to go, since everyone else started their bikes. I grabbed the kick starter and my CRF started on the first kick. Whew! That was one of the previous night's nightmares gone... I looked down and kicked the muck from my boots and pegs and kicked off what I could from the bike. When I looked back up, the Starter was pointing at me. Oh no, what have I done now? I revved it to make sure it was running. Yep, it's running. Yep, got my goggles on. Maybe my fly is unzipped? Naw, surely not. But he was still pointing at me! My daddy taught me it wasn't polite to point. Now he's kinda shaking it at me. Oh boy, I've really done something wrong. I thought about getting off the bike and going over to him to see what he wanted, but it really didn't seem like now was the time. So I did the only thing I could think of: I pointed back. That must have satisfied him, because he turned his disdain to the rider next to me. I quickly glanced over, and he just nodded. Hmmm. At least he knows what he did...Believe or not, I almost got the holeshot! I was in the lead until I let off... a bit too early in retrospect. The guy on the inside gate whizzed about five feet past me before jamming the brakes. We had to make an S-turn to enter the track, and as I was just about to the inside hay bale, that kid that had seemed so nice before stuck his front wheel between me and the bale. I screamed "Hay!" but I don't think he heard me. Heck, I didn't even hear myself. My ears were ringing from the sound of my own 400-beat-per-minute heart rate.I was third as we entered the track and man, was I proud! My first race, first start and I was third. By the time we reached turn one I was about 6th. Oh well, at least it's still early. Right after turn one is a series of three small jumps, then turn two, then the big finish line jump. I made it up and over, just in time to see most of the field leaving the 100-yard rhythm section that followed. And they were doubling them! "Hey, I thought this was the Beginner Class!" I rolled all six jumps and made it through the turn that had taken me out before. Just before entering the whoops, I looked back and saw Caleb just coming out of turn one. "Oh no, he's not gonna be happy!" I thought, "Should I stop and let him catch up? Heck no! This is a race!"I made it through the whole race without a single crash! Or a single pass. I wasn't so obnoxious to the rest of the field though. Most of them lapped me and were kind enough to roost me with the muddy muck as they went by. But I accomplished my first goals: don't kill it on the gate, and don't wreck. I didn't accomplish the "don't embarass yourself" part, but two out of three isn't bad. I finished second in the 250D class. Not bad for my first moto. I found out that Rider #19 had placed first in the 250D class, so I told myself, "Just keep him in sight, and you can take him on the white flag." Yup, I had established a game plan...Moto 2After plenty of time to rest up, Caleb and I headed back to the staging area for Moto 2. They staged all the Cs and then I was staged second in the Ds. I took my place and proudly waited while they finished staging. Then I noticed all the guys looking at me. Oh, it must be the fact that I'm the only bike who still has half the track caked on his front number plate and jersey. Not to mention the aroma from the 80 pounds of muck still baked to the motor and frame. Who knew you were supposed to take your own pressure washer? I didn't read that in on-line rules. Finally, that not-so-nice kid next to me leaned over and screamed, "Turn your motor off!" Ohhhhhhhhh. I didn't realize that...I got to the gate, made sure no one was looking, and quickly engaged my holeshot device. As I leaned over the handlebars to grab the wheel, I laid on the kill switch. Oh yeah, you're supposed to turn it off. Thanks, Lord. I took my goggles off and slid them up my arm, just like I'd seen the best riders do. You know, those 50's and 65's riders... That same nice kid parked beside me again. Oh joy. He looked over at me and smiled. You know, that kind of "Man, how do you get to be your age and still be so stupid" kind of smile. The same one I get from Caleb. Oh well. I thought, "Go ahead with your bad self. I am not gonna let off the gas so soon this time, and I'm not gonna let you sneak that front tire in at the S-turn."I surveyed the entire field at the gate, looking for #19 but I never found him. I'm sure I'm just not able to see everyone. He's around here somewhere. Or, maybe he chickened out. Maybe he'd found out my game plan to play with him until the last lap and then roost him in the final turn. Maybe he'd seen my Carmichael-style rolling kick start in the staging area and knew he was done for. Or maybe he was that kid sitting beside me, going incognito and changing bikes just to throw me off. Yeah, that's probably it. Okay, fine, big guy. The proof will show when the rubber meets the road... I mean dirt. Either way, my brain was screaming, "You're going down! Let's see how you'll look with my tire tracks on the back of your jersey! Look out, Bubba!"Off went the C riders, and it was our turn. The Starter held up the board, but it wasn't a 30-second board like I was used to; it had a "2" on one side and a "1" on the other. "I'm a 2," I thought, but then he turned it to 1. Now that's confusing... I revved it high and stared at the gate. It dropped. "GO!" I heard myself scream. I dumped the clutch and took off. I could already see the kid next to me pulling ahead, so I twisted the throttle harder to make sure it was pinned. I hit a rock, the holeshot device released and up came the front end. No problem, just ease off the throttle. As I did so, somewhat surprisingly, everyone pulled ahead. KIDS!! I got to the S-turn and it looked like turn one at Anaheim, only about five feet wide it seemed. I made it through without crashing... and without anyone behind me. Well, at least I don't have to worry about anyone taking me out in turn one...As I rolled over the finish line jump, I looked back to see Caleb about five feet in front of the start gate, kicking away. "Oh no, he killed it on the start gate!" He's got a bad habit of that, but he's only raced one other race, and never wants to practice his starts. The one time he did race, he got an okay start both motos. Of course that was before he crashed on last lap of the second moto resulting in a concussion, which erased all memory of the start, and the race.He got it re-fired as I was rolling the last of the rhythm section and off he went, shaking his head. The rest of field was still very much in sight, with the last of the pack only about ten yards ahead. We went around the turn that took me out, and came out of it well. There's a small double, then an immediate hard right turn, then the whoops. I had been doubling this one, so I hit it again. Must have been an ounce of adrenaline with that ounce of gas, as the front end came straight up. I stabbed the rear brake and gather it back just as I was leaving the track."You've got got be kidding me," I muttered as I realized I'd killed it. "Okay, don't panic, just get it refired and get back in the race." It started on about the 4th or 5th kick, I dropped it in gear and roosted toward the whoops. Or in this case, the oops. I went in hard and too far forward and got bounced all over the place. I came out about 2/3 of the way through them just off the edge of the track. I pinned it and managed to catch the last two whoops about the time the tire caught traction. By this time the pack was 1/4 lap ahead. "Oh well," I thought, "Just ride your race and keep it on two wheels." I could feel and hear my heart pounding, but I managed to regain composure in a few hundred yards, and ride the rest of the race without incident. Unless you consider getting lapped an "incident."Whatever the reason, I didn't get lapped by as many riders this Moto as I did in Moto 1. Or I don't think I did. I know I saw the checkered flag come out for the riders ahead of me, so as soon as I rolled the finish line jump, I headed to the exit. But in the second moto I noticed there were a lot of riders still on the track. The first moto it was just Caleb and me, puttering around and finally finishing while the next racers sat glaring at us from the starting gate. KIDS!!! They need to learn some patience. Maybe they, too, will look on things differently 30 years from now.I never did find #19. And Caleb never did catch me, even with my two miscues. I guess I had too much of head start. Or at least I don't think he caught me. I was passed by so many; who's to know? But I think I would have noticed him.After the Race

After Moto 2 I hurried back to the pits and parked my bike, grabbed a drink and flung myself down in the chair as Caleb was pulling in. "Did you kill it on the start gate?" I thought, but decided not to say anything. He wasn't a very happy camper! But after talking through it a while, he was okay.That mean YZ kid who was always giving me advice stopped by on his way to pick up his trophy. "How'd you do?" he asked.I thought, "Hey kid, stick it up your Yoshimura pipe! You know where we finished." Caleb was nice enough to respond kindly, and I followed suit. "You looked really good out there" I told him."I finished last." Caleb said."Well at least you were out there" Mean Kid said. Gee, that was a nice thing to say."I finished second," I piped in, beaming broadly. He really had no response to that."Well, I'm gonna go get my trophy," he said as he pulled away on his pit bike."You wanna go get our trophies, Dad?" Caleb asked."Sure" I said.We walked to the concessions area, found the trophy girl and she handed Caleb the trophy. Trophy Girl turned to me and pointed to the results sheet. "What is your number and race?""587, 250D."She walked over and looked. "You finished second," she said. Wow, was I ever proud. She handed me an even bigger trophy than Caleb's."Wow, now that's a nice trophy, Dad." Caleb said. We walked to the sheet and looked. Sure enough, I was second. Unfortunately, there were only two riders in the 250D Class. Me and invisible #19. But, who's to know? All that needs to be said is the truth. I finished second in my first motocross, at age 47, racing against kids 30 years younger. My son finished fourth out of 4 riders, but he was content under the circumstances. Exhausted but happy, we walked back to our trailer together to pack up.He commented as we were leaving the parking lot "Hey Dad, at least I remember the whole race!" I high-fived him, and then he said "And we're not on our way to the hospital." I high fived him twice for that one, once for each of us.Thank God for Kids.

Do you have a good Weekend Warrior story? Let's hear it! Send it to us complete with photos for a chance to be published on Click here for more info on how to submit your story.