Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Championship Battles

Last weekend we visited Camp Galilee down in El Dorado Springs, MO.  A cool little place that is used for retreats and has a Summer Camp .  One other thing they have is some very rocky and technical off-road trails.  Several events are held there annually including this past weekends Forward Motion round.

This past year Christopher seemed to do better on trails with rocks and that are technical.  He was looking forward to round #13 of the series as it headed to the renowned Camp Galilee rocks.  I do not know what was in his head on Sunday, but it sure was not riding.  Maybe he was still in the ACT mindset (Saturday he took another ACT to try and improve his score).  I went out on a recon lap with him and it was like he had never ridden before. Poor kid was getting arm pump up, could not make it up any of the rocky climbs nor ride a rut and ended up crashing 4 times - see video below.

I almost suggested to him that he just sit out this race.  Sometimes it is just not your day. When it is not it is best to take it easy or you just might get yourself hurt.  We finished up the recon lap and I gave him some suggestions and told him to just treat this event like a personal challenge and be glad to just finish the event safely. I think the close points battle he is in is getting to him.  Some people can not take the added pressure and perform badly.  I have seen and been in many championship battles.  I remember back in 1984 when my brothers were racing.  Joey was in the Open B class and was in a tight battle all year long.  Sometimes pressure would get to him, but he ended up fighting hard and won the 1984 Florida State Championship. 
With a six point lead going into today's race Christopher needed a top finish to keep his lead.  The start is critical for him because he just has not gained the speed and confidence to pass well.  We practiced starts and tried to improve his reaction time.  He did improve and got his bike started very quickly. Only problem was his right foot was not working as fast.  A very slow shift resulted in him having to fight for position in the first turn.  I do not think he as come to terms with the fact that motorcycle racing can be a contact sport.  Christopher never did like contact sports and chose not to participate in them.  The truth is unless you are really faster than another rider you sometimes will have to come in contact with them when you are out racing in the woods.  It's all just part of racing.
I was really worried about how Christopher would get through the first rocky climb.  Riders were going down there a lot.  Luckily some volunteers were out on the trail to help.  After working his way into 6th place at the start Christopher had problem on this climb along with several other riders and fell way back in the pack.  He was outside the top 10 by the time he came around to the finish.
If you are on a good day starts are really not that important.  Take the Sunday's Trail rider winner for example. Tom Youngquist started behind Christopher and steadily worked his way up to race leader Tony Toman. The two had a great battle.  By the 4th lap he was in the lead and pulled out an impressive win.  Now Tom and Tony sit in a three way tie for first place with Christopher.

The Hare Scrambles racing season comes to a close this weekend.  It has been a fun year of racing.  Christopher has enjoyed it and I have also.  I was fortunate this year, stayed healthy and had consistent results which results in a top finish in the Senior division.  Speaking of ties, there is a nice battle in the Senior division.  Joe Lederhouse and Dennis Tschirhart are in a tie for 2nd with 179 pts.  Randy Wade is only 3 pts back.  Carbondale will decide the final championship standings.

Win or lose it has been a great year of racing with my son. He will need a little luck to take home the championship on Sunday.  Both Tom and Tony are faster than Christopher and both have taken home wins in the last two rounds.  Momentum is on their side for sure.  I hope he appreciates what is happening right now.  Some of my best memories in my life have been these points battles that take place when you get a chance to compete in championship events like the Forward Motion Hare Scrambles Championship. I have been fortunate to win more than my share of championships.  Some were won with true grit and some I just got lucky.  I remember them all however and feel very lucky to have won them.

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