Monday, June 10, 2013

Walters Ranch Hare Scrambles Race Report

The wet Spring weather continued here in Kansas City over the weekend and as I expected the Warrensburg rounds of the Forward Motion series were canceled due to the soggy conditions.  Well, I should say flooded conditions.  If you can not get the racers to the venue and have a place for them to park then you can not have a race. Luckily Dan from Forward Motion moved the event to Walters Ranch.

Walters Ranch is a very challenging course in the dry.  Add in an over night rain that did not stop falling until late race morning and you have a very challenging course.  The dirt and terrain and Lincoln, Missouri is very hilly and rocky. This is just the type of course that can handle the rain we got and still be able to hold an event.  "The property will separate the skilled from the fast!"  This quote is from the event description page.  I could not agree more. 

How was the course from the riders view?  Trust me, it was a lot harder than the video shows.

Brian Trigg who raced the Trail Rider class with Christopher recorded his first lap.  Brain did well and finished right ahead of Christopher.  He passes Christopher at the 1:47 point in this clip  - FMHSC Walters Ranch #1 Video

FMHSC 2013 Walter's Ranch 1 from Brian Trigg on Vimeo.

Race morning we arrive to the site only to find a very wet parking lot.  I have a front wheel drive SUV and was very concerned about being able to park.  Luckily with the help of our fellow racers we were able to park in the one space left that was on high ground.  Still we had to push the trailer because all my Chevy would do is spin the tires. 

Not enough time to recon the course this morning (damn I do need to get a pickup truck with 4x4) After we got settled in we headed to the race meeting and the awards ceremony for the Junior classes which were run earlier in the morning.  It was nice seeing these kids race and for the few that earned an award the look on their faces was priceless.
Despite the wet conditions a great turnout for round #3.  The exact opposite occurs with mountain bike races.  Funny how that works.  I think if it was possible to have more rain course built into events and did not cancel them it would help with building back up MTB races or better yet do like Dan did this weekend and just move the event to a new location that is able to run in these conditions. 

 Starts have been getting better for the Locke family.  I nabbed another holeshot and Christopher got in a great start from the outside to rocket into 2nd place heading into the single track.

Video of start

It sucked not being able to pre-ride the course, especially with the muddy/slick conditions.  I got the holeshot but was riding a little slow until I got used to the course and conditions.  Or else you end up like the rider below. 

While still leading the first lap I started to settle in and get more confidence.  Duane Rambo and Wade Hall were right on my tail applying pressure so I decided to up the pace some. Things were going well until I clicked her up to 4th gear on this one straight section.  Traction appeared good and I was flowing well until I hit a slick rock/root that kicked my bike sideways and I started to slide in full superman position on the bike.  Not really what you want in conditions like we had on Sunday nor when there is a huge tree that you are now heading toward.  I somehow pulled myself back up and narrowly avoided hitting the tree by grabbing a handful of throttle.  This shot me off the trail but allowed me to miss the tree.  I can tell you now I would not be here if I would have it that tree at the speed.  I had enough of a gap on Duane and Wade to reenter the course in 1st, but I could not keep that pace any longer.  I started to make all kinds of mistakes, slow down and got some real serious arm pump up. I said good-bye to those guys and took the remaining two laps trying prevent my goggles/glasses from fogging up. 
 The "mile long ruts" did not help things.  Try to ride outside the rut and you ended up sliding all over the place - it was that slick.  The sections deep in the woods were awful and I dreaded every time I would get into one of these long ruts. The straight ruts were not that hard but the turns and ruts in the woods gave everyone hell.  There was one part of the course that was really bad and had a nasty rut.  I came up on about 7 riders in various stages of crashing or recovering from crashes.  I thought it was strange until I went to cut under the two riders who had fallen over in the rutty turn.  I got up out of the rut (no easy task mind you with the super slick mud) and proceeded to pass everyone and I just started to do a 180 completely out of control.  It took me a few minutes to get going again and regain momentum (and vision).
Christopher got a nice start like I mentioned above and was riding great until the slick rocks/roots got the best of him.  This course was very hard and it was his first experience riding terrain this tough.  He did a great job and handled himself well and was able to finish strong.
I had a hell of a first lap and a worse second lap.  Vision was one of my main problems.  I used a new "No Fog Cloth" that was for a lack of a better word "Sucked ASS".  I soon broke one of my cardinal rules which is to take off my goggles.  I do my prescription eyeglasses which without I have no depth perception and barely see to ride the trails with any speed.  I rode the second lap without them after getting a new pair of goggles.  Line selection is very hard when you can not see and I did not make good choices.  Once I got free glasses/goggles on my third lap I was able to ride a lot better.  Actually passed 17 riders for position (not counting lappers).
In the end it was a good day.  We survived the challenging Walters Ranch trails and Christopher even earned his first trophy on a motorcycle earning 6th place on the day.  The best I could do on the day was a 3rd place but still maintained the points lead in the series.  
In two weeks we head back to Lincoln, Missouri for Walters Ranch #2.  Hopefully the trails will be a little dryer. 

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