Christopher wanted to go riding his dirt bike this weekend, so we headed down to round #3 of the Forward Motion Hare Scrambles series on Sunday. I needed an easy day after yesterdays triathlon and looked forward to riding some new trails.
You know what I found out? Hare Scrambles are some very tough events. Especially in the muddy conditions that Sunday's race was held. Most of the course was o.k., but there were some parts of the course that got so bad that if you took the wrong line you were up to your seat. One poor rider was stuck until the sweepers came by at the end of the race and helped him out.
After we signed up, Christopher and I headed out on a practice lap to check out the course. We had a little over an hour before the race started so figured we had plenty of time. First part of the course was dry and we both were having fun. As we worked our way to the back part of the course things took a quick change for the worse. We were soon in conditions that reminded me of the Blackwater 100. I still can't believe Christopher's bike made it thru some of those sections. He did great, but close to the end of the lap his bike stopped shifting due to all the mud and a few crashes which bent the shift lever mechanism. After a minor repair we finally made it back and finished getting ready for the event.
I only have a CRF230F, which is just a entry level trail bike. Not designed to be racing any events for sure, so as I lined up for the start my mind set was just to have fun and finish. I came to recover from yesterday and have fun.
Hare Scrambles classes start in waves every minute with a dead engine start. There were at least 150+ riders lined and my class was near last. Good part of this was I didn't have to worry about someone passing me. The bad part was I had to sit there breathing in exhaust fumes for 15 minutes. When I came time for my class to start I kind of got a little worried. The last (and first) Hare Scrambles event I ever raced in was over 18 years ago and I broke the Tibia bone in my right leg and posted a DNF on the day. The plan was to just roll off the start and have a good time. I don't know what came over me, but when the starter turned the 30 second board sideways all worries were gone. Like I said before, my CRF230F is a dog with no power so I did the best I could to keep from getting run over heading to the first turn. But then I got this strange feeling and just never let off. I kept her pinned around the first 5 corners of the course and before I knew it I as in the lead "Checking Out".
I was really surprised how fast I was actually able to go, especially in the back muddy sections. While the top section actually became dusty by race end, the back woody section was a muddy mess for most of the day. I actually think my under powered bike helped me with traction has I was able to just motor past other riders who were spinning like crazy in the mud. During the race, course workers had to re-route the course due to deteriorating conditions. It was really comical seeing all those riders getting stuck for the first 2 hours of the race. Once oneself becomes stuck in the mud it is not so funny. On my 5th and final lap of the race I approached one of the more rutted out sections of the course. The main rut was getting really deep, so deep that it swallowed my poor little CRF up past the crank case. As I approached this section I knew that I might have to look for an alternate line because on the previous lap I was dragging my foot pegs. I made the first error of the day when I decided to just go for it and tried to blast my way past. Because of the electronic timing system that they used, I knew I was in 1st place but I didn't know by how much. It took me a good 5 minutes to work my way out. I used every muscle that I had (and some that I didn't, but later that night found out I did have) to drag that 250 pound mud drenched beast of a bike out.
In the end I won by a huge margin and did very well in the overall despite being on an underpowered dog of a motorcycle. I found out that I just can not show up to motorcycle race and just ride. I guess you can not take the racer out of an on motocross er'. This may have been my last Hare Scrambles. At least for awhile. I need to get back focused on preparing for the Ironman Kansas 70.3.