Monday, March 10, 2014

The Collins Report - A Real Ass Kicker

Another season of off-road racing began yesterday with round #1 of the 2014 Forward Motion Hare Scrambles Series.  Location was Eagle Ranch in Collins, MO.  This course is tough.  Rocky as hell with several very steep climbs.  Rain/sleet the day before did not help conditions.  Crashes were common place. A quote from another rider describing the course "Did someone dynamite the first 4 miles of track, or was that just a sick gift from Mother Nature?"
This winter just never seems to end.  It was no different on Sunday.  Temps in the morning were in the 20's.  Poor Carolynn and Karry froze their butts off.  At least Jason, Christopher and I got to get our heart rates up and stayed warm while pre-riding the course.
For 2014 I moved up to the Vet Advanced 35+ class.  This class might be a little bit of a stretch for me but time will tell.  I might be a little old for the class and the pace is a lot faster than I might want to go.  In any event,  things got off to a great start with me grabbing my first holeshot of 2014.  I led for the first 2 miles including all the really rocky stuff.   The rocky slick sections gave me fits, but I tried to focus on taking good lines.  Sometimes taking the good line was not possible.  On the first lap at one of the steep rocky/rooty climbs the good line was taken by a fallen rider.  I took what I thought was the next best option - it was not.  Ended up going down hard.  It sucks crashing out, but doing it while leading hurts the worst.
Christopher moved up to the Sportsman class for 2014.   I actually was not going to let him race this year.  I told him at the beginning of the year that if he did not train and apply himself I was not going to let him race.  Racing is just too dangerous to not be at the top of your game.  He got a late start on training, but has done very well the past couple of weeks.  It showed on Sunday with a great start.

Jason will continue to ride in the Trail Rider class for 2014.  He used the power of the KX450 to his advantage at the start.  The big bore bike may have been a little disadvantage on such a rocky technical course.  Good thing he got the Recluse clutch like I suggested. 

After my little mishap I started to chase the pack down.  I was not really making much progress and any that I was making came to a stop at a steep rocky.  I think this hill is called Hank Hill.  It was a real bastard of a climb. Riders were crashed everywhere  Only a couple of good lines with large slick  covered rocks everywhere. I decided to follow another rider up the left hand side.  That turned out to be a very costly mistake.  He crashed and ended up sliding out into me as I tried to ride by.  I tried to get going again but all I did was spin my rear wheel in a foot deep crevices.  I tried everything I could think and even pulled my bike back and tried to ghost ride the bike up the hill.  After several minutes of trying to pull my 250 pound mud covered bike up the hill I resolved to give up. It was totally depressing watching rider after rider go by.   I was totally whipped and my arms were dead. I pulled my bike back down the hill a few feet with a plan of riding back down the hill.  I decided to try one last time to make it up.  This time I picked a new line to the far left.  Thank God for electric start.  I would have still been there if I would have had to use a kick starter.  I mustered up enough strentgh to make it to the top and proceed on. At this point my race was over. 
Christopher was having a much better race than I.  Above he is leading eventual 2nd place finisher Shawn Chappell.   I guess my little talk I had with him a couple of weeks ago really lit a fire under his ass.  He was riding very well during the first lap. 

Jason working his way through one of the creek crossings.  Most of the crossings had a rocky base, and two of them got really bad.  Some foot peg deep sections. Jason ended up doing very well and earned 5th place which is his best finish yet.  Looks like riding at Chadwick has paid off.

During the 2nd lap Christopher continued to ride well and actually caught and passed me.  That is correct.  I got beat by my son. Sure I had some mishaps, but most everyone did. When he passed me I was actually in shock.  Was he riding that well or was I just riding like a candy ass?  I picked up the pace and caught back up to him and sure enough he was passing other riders.  I followed him by a few of the riders, but then when we reached the start of lap 3 and returned to the really slick rocky sections of the course, he left me.  Straight up left me.
I finally found a good line up Hank Hill and when I reached it on lap 3 I saw that Christopher
had gotten stuck in about the same place that I did.  He was lucky because by then there were course workers helping everyone get up. Where the heck were those guys when I got stuck????  I was going to stop and help him, but decide to let him get up by himself.  I set off and actually started passing riders on the last lap.  The last 5 miles I rode well and it ended up being my fasted lap of the day. 
 Christopher tried hard to catch back up to me after his mishap on Hank Hill, but time ran out. He still beat me on overall adjusted time.  He finished in 1:59:49 and I came in 2:02:11.  I knew this time would come eventually, but not for several more years.  Basically I got my ass kicked by a kid that could hardly ride just two years ago.  What I would give to be 18 again....
After Christopher's crash his bike was down on power.  Turns out he bent his header pipe in 3 places. 

Last year Christopher started off the season with bloody blisters.  This year only a couple of small ones.
Karry Schupp make us all some post event snacks.  I needed something to console me after a horrible event and those peanut butter cream cupcakes did the trick.
Christopher took home 3rd place on the day.  A very good result in his first race as a Sportsman, especially on such a tough course.