Red Bull Knocks Me Out - Dirt Rider Magazine

The Red Bull Knock Out Beach Race was unbelievable; Scheveningen beach in The Hague, Netherlands was taken over by Red Bull and the entire European motorcycle industry where 650 racers entered ready to destroy their bikes and bodies, for three hours, on about a 5km beach course.This course consisted of; 1.5km of what they called washboard--actually more like big sand rollers just far enough apart to be un-jumpable (except for maybe a few), several drop-offs and even a little wooden step-up on to the street. And, oh yeah, don't forget about the rising tide threatening to flood the course! This was, by far, the gnarliest event that I had ever witnessed let alone raced.Coming into The Hague as competing magazine journalists, our little group quickly became what was to be known as Team USA. After walking the track with my new USA teammates, we found out that the bikes we were to be enduring the three hours of Scheveningen Beach hell on were KTM 400EXCs. That's not exactly my choice of bikes for a deep, sandy motocross-like race, but you know what: I can't complain. KTM was kind enough to supply the bike and support and also, being such a solid bike, it was pretty much guaranteed to finish the race.Soon, the bikes were prepped and taken to the staging area. And with no excuses, except general American style, we were late to staging--not the greatest idea considering that 650 riders were already lining up at the gate. Our first pick of row four turned into a mad scramble for the last spot on row eight or nine. I mean with that mass of riders, it's not like we could just squeeze our way through to our designated row. None of us seemed too worried about it though, we had 90 minutes to play catch up.As we started lining up for the start of the first 90 minute moto I believe half the guys thought the race had already started because as soon as they hit the sand they pinned it and I had to pull two tear-offs before we even got to the starting gate. That was really nice, especially since I only had seven tear-offs for the first 90 minutes.It became clear that once on the line for the start, if you weren't on the first two rows you didn't see the flag being dropped or whatever they used to start the race. I just waited to see the guys in front of me take off and then I went for it. Actually, now that I think of it, I'm pretty sure there was a motocross starting gate. Either that or I had already ran somebody over 20 yards into the race.Anyways, this start was like no other start I had ever seen. It was a complete chaos, bikes and bodies were everywhere! There were people swapping out in front of me, taking each other out, bikes facing the wrong way and riders sitting on the side of the track already giving up. It was crazy! And after making it around the first turn I realized that showing up late to the gate was a huge mistake.Problem number one: Being buried deep in the pack in a beach race is never a place to be, especially with 650 riders. It was everything I could do to keep from getting tangled up with the other riders. Problem number two hit me pretty quickly when I realized that the bike I was riding couldn't pull sixth gear down the long sandy beach straightaway. I would pass guys through the rollers and they would pass me back down the straights. As long as I stuck to my plan though, I would be fine. Just ride smooth, save the bike and my body, keep from crashing and don't get stuck in the sand. Simple enough, so I thought.I rode horrible that first 90 minute moto, probably the worst I had ever ridden. On the first lap I found myself on the ground twice due to a couple of minor swaps and I am still amazed I didn't get run over by the moto-crazed pack of riders behind me. So, I kept riding trying to loosen up and I figured that after a couple of laps the track would clear out a little and I would be able to smooth out some. Not in this race. With this many riders, it was like the first turn at an AMA National for 90 minutes straight. Bumping and rubbing, riders (including myself) would catch a rut and swerve all the way across the track only to catch another one and shoot right back across. I had never seen so much carnage. It was awesome!By the time I came around on the second lap riders were already getting backed up in certain sections of the track. They would get stuck and then guys would crash into them, and then more would pile on in causing a huge roadblock. Probably one of the greatest things about this race is that when this happened, guys would just cut over the berms lining the track and make a new line around the block. This now became the alternate line. If the track was open, stay on the track, if it was blocked, then you were allowed to take the short cut. Just make sure the track was blocked before taking the short cut other wise I'm pretty sure you would get disqualified.Just as I began to figure out how to ride the beach sand I fell again and this time my gas cap popped off, dumping out most of my gas. This caused me to run out of gas on my next lap, but luckily, the 400EXC did have a reserve and that left me enough fuel to make it back to the pits. So when I got back to the pits and found my crew for the day, they filled her up, asked if everything was ok and got me right back in the racing action. Well, then I proceed to crash a few more times and ride like I have never ridden a dirt bike before. My gas cap popped off again, this time while I was still riding, and it splashed all over my goggles, chest and arms. So, I put the cap back on and even though my better judgment said, "don't take off your goggles in the sand no matter what." I took my goggles off. It shouldn't have been that bad though because I only had about half a lap to the pits where I could grab an extra pair of goggles. Well that didn't end up happening because as I was making one of those alternate lines around a pile up, I tangled with another rider at the top of the berm and pulled a huge amateur move by burying my bike up to the exhaust. I then spent the next 20 minutes digging my bike out of the sand, and in the process burnt a hole in my jersey and melted my glove to my finger. Just grand!The time I was going to use getting a pair of goggles, was now just wasted digging my bike out of a life sized sand castle. So now, believing that I am out of qualifying, I decided to ride the last laps without my goggles. I crash a few more times, I think, coming out to a grand total of about eight or nine times, and after riding another five laps or so without goggles, I can't take it anymore and decided to pull into the pits to get a fresh pair (First rule of a sand race: don't ever take your goggles off. I am still getting sand out of my eyes to this day). As I am getting ready to pull out of the pits, I look over to see that they have just ended the first moto. That was great; I just wasted another lap, so now I didn't even think I qualified for the final moto. Well I did, I ended up 150-something and that put me into the final with ease, considering they were taking 325. So now I had about 45 minutes to eat a sandwich, a couple of goo packs and down a couple Red Bulls for the final moto.The start of the second 90 minute moto was a lot like the first. Close your eyes and pin it down the beach! The only thing different; as if the track wasn't hard enough after having 650 riders ride around it for 90 minutes, was a new element: The tide was coming in and slowly shrinking down the once-extra-wide start straightaway.Each lap the tide would get higher and the track would get skinnier. I felt great though, picking guys off and finding better lines around the track. I felt 100% better this moto. I was riding smooth and due to half the riders on the track, it was a lot easier to get around the pile-ups. This feeling didn't last for too long though. Only a few laps into the final moto, my bike started smoking like a locomotive. This was definitely a bad sign. The bike was getting slower and slower as I nursed it back to the pits. When I pulled into the pits the guys told me that my race was over because they didn't want to blow the bike up, which is understandable. I figured my race was over; I wasn't going to fight them on it because it wasn't my bike. The funny thing was though, that right after they said that they started looking over the bike to find the problem. And it's a good thing they did too, because as it turns out, it was only a radiator hose that came loose. A simple problem that should have been catastrophic for the bike, but luckily, the KTM was sturdy enough to go half a lap in the deep sand with no coolant. They tightened up all the hoses, put water in the bike and topped it off with gas. They asked if I still wanted to ride and of course I said, "Hell, yeah!" I mean after all, I didn't come all the way to Netherlands to DNF.However, they did tell me that if the bike started smoking again to come in because they still wanted the bike back in one piece.So, after losing about 15 to 20 minutes (which is probably about two laps) in the pits, I was able to get back on the track and continue racing. By this time though, the tide had made up a lot of ground and riders already started making alternate lines around the flooded start straight. Every lap I came around, there would be a new alternate line around the track. The riders would make the line and then eventually the track workers would put up stakes and ribbon to line the new course. Eventually, heading back down the start straight we were all just wide open down the center of the infield, dodging tractors and photographers. It was so bitchen! They even built a berm during the race to keep a section of the course from flooding completely. I had never seen a track change so many times throughout a race. I still felt great for the rest of this race and I only crashed once in the final 90 minute moto. This was a major improvement over my first moto mayhem. I finally passed the checkers and was pumped for finishing the race after all that I went through, I didn't even care what place I had finished, sort of.Red Bull had once again pulled off a stand alone event. It was amazing how they could be so organized with that amount of riders and spectators in a public location. Everyone involved kept the event running smoothly. I had never seen a track being changed that drastically, with no hold-ups, in the middle of a race, to compensate for the elements. I don't know how they did it. My hat is off to them.As for my finish, the results right after the race had me finishing in 103rd place, which made me the first rider not to finish the race. I was so bummed out. It was almost as if I wasn't even there. However, now that the official results are in, it turns out that I ended up finishing 97th. This made me a little happier; at least I had finished the race. I still wonder how I would have finished if I didn't lose those two laps. I don't know, maybe next year. Thank you Red Bull, KTM and everyone involved for putting together this outstanding and memorable event. I can't wait to see what Red Bull pulls off next.

Rounding turn one. Two hours and 59 minutes remaining.
Where\'s Waldo?
Back down the beach, racing the tide!
A little pre-race warm up, stuffing the banner!
All this and I still can\'t find the restroom.
Anyone see where the bikes were delivered?
No peel and stick here, only Netherlands finest brush strokes.
I dedicate this statue to all the riders who didn\'t finish.
Threat or Promise?
Rounding turn one. Two hours and 59 minutes remaining.
Where\'s Waldo?
Back down the beach, racing the tide!
Factory KTM clogs, order yours today!
No place to eat? Phuket, who doesn\'t like Thai?
We didn\'t stay here, but I\'m sure it was overrated anyway
A little pre-race warm up, stuffing the banner!
All this and I still can\'t find the restroom.
Anyone see where the bikes were delivered?