1/23/13

Tony Read



Hey FTW,
I finally got around to doing one race this past year.  A hare scramble with some badasses on new bikes.  Here's some words on it.
On Sunday, the 30th of December, the North Alabama Trail Riders Assoc. had a "buddy race" down at a place called Westpoint.  This is a leased land with about 17,000(?think that's what they said) acres of dirt bike heaven.  The scramble was a 5 mile loop, do a lap, tag your buddy, then he does a lap...and so on.  It's been raining like shit the last week or so off and on in TN so it was muddy as all get out.  Being used to roadracing, but dirt biking whenever possible, I thought it would be fun.  So me and my buddy, Jonas, went down to scope it out.  We rode my '95 XR250 and we were the oldest bike there.  Everyone else was on either a new KTM, Honda, Yamaha, etc. 
I really had no idea what to expect because I've never done any dirt racing.  Getting to the starting line in the C group, you had to straddle the front wheel facing the bike, jump on and start it when the flag dropped and away you go.  I started, and got a decent one, about half pack going into the woods.  Got past a few people on a run from one woods section near the pits into the main woods area.  Some people got stuck at the first hill climb and I was able to get around them and up to the top of the first descent.  Somehow stalled the bike on the way down that first hill and it took forever to restart the thing.  Usually it's only like that if I drop it. 

Got back in the groove and was keeping up with dudes on bikes that probably weigh 50lbs less than mine and probably have years more experience racing in this situation.  Got to another tricky hill climb 2.5 miles in that wasn't real steep, but about 7-8 bikes were stuck there so I had to wait for some to clear out.  Then I got stuck.  Spent the next 20-30 minutes trying to get up the thing in various ways.  Helped a few up, then I said the hell with it and found an alternate route because I'd already been lapped by the A and B groups.
Got going again and was making up some loss of time and having a great ride through the woods although it was a constant struggle keeping the thing upright due to the slick mud.  Fell a few times in the slick and bent the shifter and my left hand guard.  At one point I couldn't even get the thing out of 1st gear from bending it.  Stopped and pulled it out with my hand and was able to at least put it in 2nd and continue. 

Got to the finish of my first lap, embarrassingly about an hour after the start.  The fastest guys were doing the lap in 20 minutes.  Told Jonas to meet me at the van, we had some fixing to do.  I tried getting the hand guard back to normal as well as the shifter.  Told him about the awful hill I was stuck at forever.  Told him my alternate route in case he couldn't make it up it either, tagged him and sent him on his way.
After we both had only completed one lap, we were done.  Wore the hell out.  It's a lot different from when we just go ride together and we can stop every now and then.  We both didn't think we would make it through another lap without hurting ourselves so we called it a race.  Still didn't come in last though!