Round two of the National Hare and Hound Series was this last weekend, and after a great start to the 2011 season, I was eager to have another shot at the podium. Things aren’t going to be easy this year in the NHHA series, as we have about 6 guys who could easily run up front on any day, and as I would learn at Round Two, I was going to have to be on top of my game to be up there with them.
The start was a little bit overgrown, and I really couldn’t pick a good line on Saturday. We decided to just get the morning come, and select a line that was as far from the rest of the fast guys as possible- I won’t be doing that again!
My line ended up being pretty good, but the overgrowth of bushes really made my overall speed suffer. I worked it in pretty good pre race, and packed my line down hoping to get a good solid start, and from there it was just up to me and the bike to get to the front before the banners.
My start was way right, and I settled in behind Destry about half way down the bomb. I did get a 1st kick, so my jump off the line was good, but I just had to go further than he did and ultimately got stuck in his dust. Kendall and David Pearson led off the start, but they were way left and didn’t go through the banners like Destry and I did, I felt like that too might have been a huge advantage for them.
Des and I settled into a sandwash about 4 miles in, and as I looked up to my right we were being passed by about 10 guys, who were NOT in the wash but up on a trail. When I looked forward Des was trying to find a way out and he literally launched a branch right at my face.
I ended up swallowing part of the branch and actually choking in the middle of the race. It was really scarey, but I just went with it and rinsed my mouth out after what seemed like 2-miles of barely breathing. It was a total bust, but in the scheme of things my day could have needed in that wash, so I guess I am happy that I was able to keep going.
From there I just settled into a grove and followed Carl Massberg for about 10 miles. I got around him into the alternate pits, and he quickly passed me back as he didn’t need to stop. Ed and my dad could tell something was wrong, but I wasn’t going to let him get ahead so I didn’t even talk at the alt gas. With 30 miles of wide open trails to go, I needed to get around him as quickly as possible. I did so and sort of settled into 5th overall before the end of loop one.
Into the pits I was able to eat a couple energy blocks, and that really made the sick feeling from the bush go away, unfortunately after throwing up early on loop one I literally had no energy at that point. Loop two was a great mix. I knew I was in 5th, and could see dust ahead across the valley but really had no idea who was in front of me. Right off the bat we had a big Uphill and from the back side I would barely see the Red bike off in the distance.
Unfortunately Kendall was on his game, so I just couldn’t reel him in after my loop one mishap. They said that Kurt rode really well and gapped second by about 7 minutes, he is really going to be the one to watch this year. I know that I can keep up with him and the rest of the guys, because I have beaten each of them at different races last year, even Kurt one time at a Euro Scramble, so I just need to keep myself in the best shape possible.
I ended the day in 5th, which although disappointing, is actually pretty good considering that we have some of the fastest racers in the county here each and every weekend. My game plan will be a little bit different in El Centro. It will be a lot faster, so I am sure we will be doing some high speed testing. Jason Johnson and I are going to continue to work on cardio and strength training. It was a fluke to ingest the branch this past weekend, but it just goes to show you that any minor deviation from the regular routine is enough to allow the front runners to slip away.
My bike ran great, and everyone in the pits worked hard to make sure that I had everything I needed to finish at the front of the pack. I am grateful for all of the support we have this year, and look forward to the rest of the season. I am 4th in points right now, but I know that I can make up some ground as this season wears on.
As always, thanks to all of my awesome sponsors: Kawasaki of Simi Valley, Off Road Support, Answer Racing, UFO Plastics, Jett Boots, Omega, BRP, TBT Racing, Kal-Gard, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway Performance, IMS, FMF, and Brian Elliot at Allianceoffroad.com