Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The Big "Dust Bowl" Springs Report

The calendar read May 4th, 2014.  Earlier this year the plan for this weekend was to head over to Wilson Lake and participate in the Kansas Fat Tire Festival.  For 10 years I have said I was going to this event and something always comes up.  Well this year an event date change (rain last weekend) in the Hare Scrambles series caused me to miss the event.  In hind site I should have went to race my mountain bike as my mind and heart was just not focused on motorcycle racing. 

The past couple of times Christopher has ridden his bike it has been hard to start.  Of course he never told me this and I only find out on Thursday when I went to service the motorcycles and get them ready for this weekend.  The motor would only start up if you got it top dead center and really put a leg into it.  Above Jason offers advice and his little starting stand which helped.  I think the valves have gone south again.  We will take it to Doug later in the week to check everything out.  I am still not ready to tackle 4 stroke engine rebuilds. 

Nearly 200 riders were on hand today.  All the classes had full rows of riders ready to take on the dusty super speedway known has Big Springs.

Perry got all the classes going with a rifle.  I am more of a visual person and have quicker reaction times with sight.  I think my hearing is going bad because I was really slow off the line.

Old school front fender straddle was the starting requirement today.  How I wish we would just line up and start with a live engine.  I hear the MORE series does this.  Maybe it is time to head there way.  They also have a 50+ class that I can ride in two years :-)
I got on my bike rather quickly and got her started no problem.  I go to release the clutch and I go no where.  Dang it, I forgot to put her in gear.  Time to eat some dust I guess.  The first section of trail was so dusty that I could not see anything at all.  What really surprised me was that some of the guys behind me were actually trying to pass me. They either had special goggles that allowed them to see are were just plan stupid. This eating dust and not being able to see through it got to me early on and I started getting sick to my stomach.  I tend to get motion sickness especially when I can not see.

Poor Christopher could not get his bike started.  This was kind of expected.  He was DFL off the start and ate a ton of dust trying to work his way up through the field.  He kept going and worked his way up to 14th (out of 25).

Andy Lucas got the start in the 40+ Vet class and checked out the first lap.  Another fellow cyclist coming over to the dark side of hare scrambles racing.   Andy had a great day and finished up 2nd at his home course.  That KTM was a rocket ship out there.
I do not know what Jason thought of the starting procedure, but not having an E start might have something to do with a poor start.  He did well on the day and worked his way up to 6th place.

Dave Johnson moved up to the Vet Advanced class and properly kicked everyone's butt.  Heck, the top 7 guys in the Vet Advanced class all had times/percentages that qualify for the 300 class. Great ride by Dave and well deserved win. 
Not the greatest fan of the Endurocross section, but I am getting better.  Picking the correct line is the most important and keeping up your momentum. 

Follow the leader.  Not very many passing lanes out there.  It was follow the leader unless you got really aggressive and stuffed passed the rider again of you.  That is basically the name of the game.  You have to be very aggressive and make the pass.  That is the biggest problem I have with hare scrambles racing.  No really safe places to pass unless you basically try to take someone out.  I guess this is part of racing, but I do not want to hurt someone.  One reason I am seriously thinking of giving up hare scrambles and moving back to motocross  where line selection and passing is an art.

Ride too fast on the Endurocross section and you would on the ground.  The juniors had a hard day especially.

Jason is fast improving and looking good over the technical rocks.  Jason moved into 4th place in the points for Trail Rider.

The log section got riders all day long. I tried several techniques over this log turn.  I really could not find one that worked well.   I never went down and passed riders each time I navigated it, but I came very close especially on the last two laps when I was really sick and dizzy.

Christopher goes down again on the tricky log corner. This was the most active section for spectators.

At Big Springs  the majority of the course is like the Kansas Speed Way you are either WFO or you are getting passed.   Not so bad when you are out front or alone, but if you were behind riders it got really hard to see.  At times I could not see at all and just backed off completely.  I saw a couple of downed riders who did not back off and ended up hitting trees and going down hard.  To me it was just not worth it. On lap 3 I was just about to pull off after the scoring area.  I was sick and was not able to focus.  I had to talk myself into continuing which a person really should not have to do if their main goal is "just to ride and have fun racing with his son". 

Last year I was at the top of my division - Vet 45+.   This year I was moved up to a more advanced class, but really do not think I should have been.  I do not think I belong in the Vet Advanced 35+ division. I am 2 years away from 50 and those guys take a lot more chances than I care to take at this point in my life. Heck, I am getting passed by the top riders in the 600, 700 and 800 classes.  Basically I feel like I am in everyone way.  The trouble is what class do I enter? 

My short view on the state of sport in Hare Scrambles......Either I am getting really slow or there are a lot of riders who are in the wrong class and should really think about moving up.  I double checked the class speeds for Vet Advanced and I am actually in the prescribed speed percentage which have a max of 84%, but the top 7 guys are well outside at 87% or higher.  Same problem with my old class which is now Vet 40.  The Vet 40 is designed for riders at 74% or lower.  Heck the top 12 in the Vet 40 class where 75% or higher.  The top 3 riders were at 83%, 82% and 81% which puts them in the Vet Advanced class.  A quick look at Christopher class and it is the same thing.  The winner was at 87% and killed everyone.  This happens in all sports that have ability levels.  The one reason I like triathlons is that it has no ability level.  Just age.  I think I would be happier (and safer) racing with riders in my age-group.  Do I have an answer for this problem?  No.  Maybe it is not really an issue and rules are just "guidelines" that are never going to be straight and true.

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