My First EnduroCross

Failing and Flailing

At the end of 2013 I was provided an opportunity to race EnduroCross for the first time. The Dirt Rider crew loaned me a Husaberg 300 two-stroke with a very soft and sticky rear tire, the perfect weapon to show off my skills. Or so I thought.

Early Saturday morning I got to walk the track. After eyeing it up and down, I figured it would be a piece of cake, nothing looked too hard and as an avid desert racer I’ve encountered plenty in the way of technical riding. I’m not cocky, but fairly confident in my abilities on a motorcycle. I figured qualifying wouldn’t be a huge issue.

When first practice came, we were let out one by one and I took off with Dirt Rider’s Boothy in tow using his GoPro to document the mayhem. First came the Matrix, and I attacked it about as aggressively as a vegan at a hog dog eating contest. I went way too slow, tried to wheelie all of the logs, and stalled in the process. I got it started and hobbled my way to the next obstacle. The wood pit looked seemingly harmless and I thought I’d just cruise right through it. Wrong again! I got bounced off of my line immediately, almost going down in the process. I turned the corner and popped up two large logs and entered the rock garden, which was the only part of the track I rode well. Just before the finish, there was about a 50-foot section of big rig tires that I was supposed to blitz across; my version of a blitz looked more like a sloth crossing the 405. I turned the last rocky corner without an issue and rolled over the finish line jump before taking two more pathetic laps. When I was done and headed back to the truck, my hands had seized to the grips and my arms felt like I had just finished a 20-mile whoop section in Lucerne.

There was one more practice session before qualifying started, which went a little better, but it still left me feeling unsure about how qualifying would go. As luck would have it, just before qualifying for gate picks, we realized my transponder wasn’t working so I would have to be hand scored. This made me even more nervous, knowing they would be watching me flail over the obstacles. When the qualifier for the night show started, I lined up at the gate and watched the 30 second board turn sideways, then turned my attention to the starting gate. At the first movement of the gate I dropped the clutch and grabbed a handful of throttle. Unfortunately, I didn’t go anywhere; since I ran into the gate and got to watch everyone else fly into the first corner with me trying to play catch up. The next four laps consisted of my flailing around the course trying not to die, while at the same time getting out of the leaders' way when they passed. Once it was over, I knew that I clearly didn’t make the main and would have to go to the LCQ for any hope of being part of the night show.

My group was called for the LCQ and I headed to the gate trying to think of a way that I could pull off a win, but I was drawing a blank. The gate dropped and to my surprise, I came out of turn one in second place. I held onto that spot and didn’t push too hard in hopes that the leader would make a mistake and I'd be able to capitalize on it. Unfortunately, in the process third place had been making ground on me and when I bobbled in the wood pile, he pounced, leaving me in third all the way to the finish. They only take the winner from the LCQ to the night show, so at that point I figured my hopes (and fears) of riding in front of a packed arena were over.

Because I went to the EnduroCross with Dirt Rider Magazine, and was riding the event for a story, the kind people at EnduroCross granted me a wildcard spot into the main event of the evening. I wasn’t sure whether to be honored or terrified. I went with the latter after I was told the only stipulation was no matter what happened I could not finish in the top three. Once the Monster girl put the 30 second board sideways I was ready to go, thinking this was my chance to show off the skills I had learned throughout the day. When the gate dropped, I spun the rear tire as the rest of the pack thundered toward the first turn.  By the time I got there, everyone was piled up on the inside of the turn so I found a clear outside line to go over the first log. Only problem was I didn’t make it over the first log and found myself high centered. I rolled back and took a second run at it, clearing it with ease. What ensued over the next four laps (the leaders did 5 but I got lapped) was a complete how-to on what not to do in front of thousands of people. I proceeded to get stuck not once, but twice in the Matrix, locked up the front wheel on the dusty concrete and almost low sided, stalled in the split logs, went careening through the tires almost taking out a flagger, and whisky throttled off the finish line jump landing on flat ground just in time to slam into the next log.

Now that it is all said and done, I have a huge respect for the sport of EnduroCross. I will fully admit that when I showed up that morning I figured I would easily be able to make the main, but after the first practice I felt like a rookie who was fresh off training wheels who was sent to line up at Anaheim 1. A big thanks to Dirt Rider Magazine for giving me the chance to make a fool out of myself in front of a packed arena. Like I said before, I wasn’t cocky by any means, but that weekend truly humbled me and showed that I have a lot to learn if I want to try and compete at another EnduroCross!