Yet another great day of riding. Once again it was tacky with some great and some brutal inside ruts, along with mid corner fluff to flat-track if needed.
Brought 2 grandsons Preston (10) and Sean (8) for some pit bike riding on the pit bike track. They rode all day non-stop. Preston, has a free/loose style and sings while he rides. Sean is focused, intense and charges. They both are too funny after they ride; the smack talking begins. Preston will not likely ride big bikes one day due to 2 open heart surgeries, unless he chooses to when he's older. Sean is exceptional at football and baseball, and only wants to ride bikes. I told both them they could have great pit bike careers well into their golden years .
My first moto out, I rode about 1.5 hours, then took about a 10 minute grandkids break to feed and water the pit bikes. Went back out with John Berryman #811 and had a good run for a bit. Then Riley Tidwell #851 on a YZ250F eased up in between me and John, and wanted to play. Me and Riley took off and had a loooong play battle. He was fun because he would not give up. I could get a few bikes on him in a few places, and he could make it up in others. I finally over jumped a small table and went wide and off the track. He took advantage and took off. Went over later and high fived him.
Had a great time, and the boys slept for about 45 minutes on the way home. As soon as they woke up in front of their house, the bench racing was on again .
Thank you Kelly and crew for a great place to ride.
Baby Shark, do do do do do , Baby Shark
One of my riding buddies John Berryman, called me and said he was taking an AX training class from Larry Hughes at a private facility, and that there was one spot left. I told him I would think about it and let him know. The only other time I had been on an AX track was in 03, and I had just bought my first ever dirt bike and was riding 40/45 Vet beginner and 125 beginner. I did ride the track, but was not yet jumping any jumps on any type of track. It was neat, but had no interest after that.
Well, I dwelled on it for a bit, and thought of that quote that I have tossed at people before: "20 years from now, you'll regret more things you didn't do, than things you did do." So I called John and asked him what to do. He said call Larry Hughes and toss your name in the hat, so I did.
The track is in Caldwell Tx near Brenham, and belongs to the Dickey family, Mike, the Mrs, and thier son Luke. It's a 4+ hour drive for me. I didn't want to try and make the drive that morning, so I decided to drive up Satruday, and spend the night at a motel nearby, but didn't want leave all my things in the back of the truck. I called the Dickey family, and they said I could leave my things at their place, so I loaded up Saturday, and made a casual drive there.
I got there Saturday evening as the sun was getting low in the sky, and the cattle were gathering. I met their son Luke in the driveway. I had never met him before, but was aware of him in the MX community, and knew of his speed and skills. He's fairly tall (i reckon everybody's taller that me), about 17, and very polite. He could not answer me without a yes sir or no sir. It certainly brought forth my respect for him and his family, but darn, it made me feel old. He helped me unload, and then asked if I wanted to hop on their mule, and go see the tracks. Since I didn't have a roast in the oven, or clothes on the clothes line, I said let me check my schedule......It's clear, let's go lol.
So me, Luke and their Heeler, and I can't recall his name, loaded up and headed out to the pasture. As we approached the AX track, I was already saying to myself that it doesn't look that hard, but as we got closer, I was just staring and taking it all in with some reservations. The catapult/finish line was intimidating to even look at. We rolled around and cut across the track for a bit, then headed farther out to look at the MX track. It wasn't near as scary, because it was something I could relate to, other than the much larger catapult/finish line. After cruising the tracks for a bit, we headed back to the shop, talked bikes for a bit, then I headed to the motel.
My evening went as I expected. I went into town for fast food, and then a Brookshire grocery store for the next days training snacks. I also planned on being asleep by 9:00 p.m. but knew I was kidding myself. Within a few minutes of laying in dead silence, and listening to the tenants talk show in the next room, I turned on the tv. I fell asleep immediately, but performed my ritual of waking up and looking around every hour or so, until around 5:00 a.m. and watched local tv, and eventually arose and hit the shower.
The days training was to began at 10:00 a.m. I rolled in at 9:00 a.m. and got suited up for the days activities. Larry Hughes (trainer) and the other riders came shortly there after. Most of you know of Larry's riding ability, and also of his training regiment. Larry is very methodical, consistent and fair; but he keeps it fun. Oh, and he got jokes too. We started out just free riding the entire track for a bit as Larry observed. The finish, rhythm, and whoops were real, and intimidating especially from the cockpit. If that wasn't bad enough, the track was actually pretty tacky considering all the rain they had, but there were a few spots that were still just a little too slick for me; mostly because they were at the beginning of each sections.
After a bit, Larry gathered his herd at the rhythm section for instructions. We all formed a line, and rode just that section. This rhythm section is steep. The distance wasn't too bad, but you had to get the bike up and drop in just right, then roll on the throttle enough to time the next two, and the next two. It took me a bit, but I finally bailed off into them. It is not about speed, but timing; and it doesn't take much to get out of time. At one point, I doubled in, and my front tire slipped in the bottom of them, and I instinctually let of the throttle. All that did was short me for the next two. I absolutely cased them as bad as possible. It was the hardest hit I can recall. I seen it coming, and clamped the bike, and collapsed on top when I hit. Although I saved it, it shot me straight up, and out of time for the next one. I rolled on through, and immediately went back through again before it got in my head.
The next section Larry lined us up for was the catapult/finish line. It also had a slight slick spot right were I was going to attempt it, so I just rolled it over and over again. The distance isn't that far, maybe about 60 ft, but the face of the jump is straight up and tall, so you have to have enough speed to go up, then forward to clear it. And yes, there is a gap in the middle, no forgiving table to bounce off of if you short it. Since this was the first session for the finish, I left it alone for the next session.
Then we moved on to the whoops section. These whoops were not Sx whoops, but they were still bigger than anything I've ridden. they were maybe about 8ft apart, and 2ft deep. The bottom of them were rounded out instead of v'd, so there's that lol. I know in general, the faster you go, the easier they are. The hardest part is obligating to the speed to get, and stay on top. Larry gave us some body position and entry speed instructions, and let's go at it. The left side of the whoops had a pre whoop to get you started into them. The right side, was just the first whoop. I started out on the left, and just went medium speed into them. Of course going slow is brutal on the arms, shoulders and upper body. It's a very vicious boat rowing motion. I skipped, swapped, and bounced my way through them for a bit. I then moved over to the right side, to see if I could double my way through them. I could double the first two, but absolutely could not get my bike to drop into the next two. Best I could do was skip, double, bounce and swap my way through them for this session. It wasn't pretty, and surprisingly, I never went down.
We then took and lunch break, greased our chains, and tooted out horns.
When Larry gathered the herd back together, we went to the Mx track for a little practice. We headed for the finish/catapult. This thing looked to be about 80ft, but also very steep and a gap in the middle. Larry gave us instructions, and a pep talk, and we rode just that obstacle. I pulled off to the side and watched a couple of riders that were getting over it. As I'm watching, I'm doing the math on how fast I need to go, because this is also steep and a long distance. After I rolled it a few times, I eased up to it in 3rd gear, and as I rolled on the throttle.....
To Be Continued
and was approaching the face at speed, I knew I was obligated. If I let off now, there is a gap and wall waiting on me and my skeleton. As I left the face of the jump, the first thing I did was look for the landing, and see if I'm coming up short, or going to flat land. I immediately knew I was going to be a few inches short, but doable. My back tire caught the lip, but I blipped the throttle to try and stop a freestyle front flip, and it just shot me out a few more feet for a lower down side landing. I knew I had to do it again immediately as not to not think about it too much. So I excitedly made a u-turn and hit it again, and again, and a again. What I didn't notice was, Larry was trying to flag me down for a group consultation. He finally got my attention, and I joined the group. I was still reeling in the moment, and somewhat listening to Larry talking. He was saying something about following protocol, breaking the rules, and following instructions, or something like that, when I realized it was directed at me. He then ordered me to dismount my steed, and give him 10 full pushups for the infraction. At this point, I'm still amped up from getting over this jump. I can do pushups all day, it's just a matter how much Rice Crispy's vocalizing I want to hear from my shoulders. But I started counting them out with Larry in unison, when at number 8, he repeats number 8 again. I stop mid push and voice my disapproval. He told me to stop whining and to make sure my chin touches the ground. After my humiliation, I mounted up and tried to fit in lol. We then did a free ride on the Mx track for a bit, then moved back to the Ax track for more training and riding.
This session was starts training. Larry lined us up two at a time on the straight, and went through the pointing process, then would drop a rock. He had me and John Berryman paired up. We would take off down the straight, then around a fast right hand into the whoops, then cut the track back to the start for another round. John was killing me on the starts. He as so consistent with the clutch and throttle, that I would of sworn he had a Rekluse Clutch. His Kawi 450 is a beast down the straight. Although we were working on starts, we were going through the whoops to get back to the straight for a practice start. Each time I came around to the whoops, there was plenty of speed, but I would check up to keep from getting on top of them (yes I'm scared). At one point, I didn't slow down enough, and for about for about 4 whoops, I was on top, and it was surprisingly smooth. But I wasn't expecting it, and about whoop number 5 was spaced out just a bit, and it put the bars hard into my sternum. That was the only time I managed to get on top of them all day. It felt really cool for just a few seconds, and I would like to have a set of them to practice on.
After the start session, we did a free ride on the Ax track, and I still had not jumped the finish. By this time, the face was dried up considerably, and I still felt pretty good after jumping the even larger finish line on the Mx track. So during the free ride session, I came around the berm, squared up just a bit, looked at the steep face, and casually rolled on 3rd gear. As I left the face, I could see I was going to get it perfect. I went on through the rhythm section, down the straight, wobbled my way through the whoops and over the finish again, and again. Although I never fully conquered the whoops, it was still a fun track to ride. If I ever get the intestinal fortitude to obligate the them, it would really make for a smoother ride.
Well, the days training finally came to an end. We all begin to peel off our layers of riding gear, and back into our street clothes. We talked about our accomplishments of the day, and even said we were never really scared haha. I want to thank Larry Hughes for accepting me into his training session. If anyone ever wants to take any type of moto training, give Larry a call. He has a wealth of experience, and knows what to look for to improve a riders safety and riding skills. He's methodical, procedural, and observant, and will make it fun too. I also want to thank the Dickey family for offering their facility to ride on. I certainly could have wrote a very short version of this adventure, but I still get excited about riding, and tend to stretch it out a bit.
Baby Shark, do do do do do , Baby Shark
I think it was about 2 weeks ago, but I finally got to ride the new night track layout. It is a jumpier, busier track, but this in anticipation of the upcoming amateur day after Houston Sx. The rhythm section is easy if you choose so, but it has larger options is you so choose too. As of right now for me, It's a double, double, then double over the table. Double, double, triple is very doable too, but to triple into that section is going to stay on hold for now; maybe permanently.
The finish line is not very long, but it will toss you up a bit, and is easy to over jump. It's the height/distance thingy. The table after the finish is also easy, just a matter of slowing down, timing, and not over jumping it. The rest of the track is mostly unchanged. An easy track is, well, easy to ride, but to go fast on an easy track or just coasting, it mentally/skillfully tough. Thanks Freedom for a great place to ride.
Baby Shark, do do do do do , Baby Shark
Have not been to 3 Palms since the Main Track and the GP track have been changed. Me and Ronnie made the 2 hour trek to check out all the hype. Well the hype lived up to the rumors; and as usual, 3 Palms did not disappoint.
We arrived late morning, and parked next to the pavilion near the SX and GP track. We geared up and headed to the GP for our first ride, but they were flagging off the big bikes for small bike practice, so we headed for the main. The new design of the Main for me is better. It has better flow, faster, and some varied options on some of the obstacles/sections. My favorite is the gully thing after the big camel by I-45. If I cleared the whole gully, it took me outside to the berm. But if I shorted it just a bit, I could sneak inside. I'm sure there are some with the skills to clear it and take the inside, but don't think I'm one of them without more practice. Another section I really like, was the rhythm section. You had a few option there, but it is pretty easy to double, triple. Shorting it is an easy landing.
Next we headed to the ole reliable River Track. As best I recall, it is still the same layout as last time I rode it. My favorite section is the 2 sandy switch backs. Even on you worst day of riding you can feel like a pro who just sprayed 2 180 sand fans in the air. After that is the 2 doubles, followed by the fast left sweeper. The big table into the roller is still a blast too.
We then proceeded to the GP. The new layout is still fun as ever. The wall jump into the rollers after the start is a double for me, although I seen a few triple into it, but maybe some other time. After the wall jump into the rollers, is a table, then the ski jump onto a table/stepdown thing. After I tested the distance a few times, I decided to try and make the downside. I wasn't too worried about coming up short, because it is basically a flat landing. I made another lap and came back around to it, and rolled on what I thought was enough throttle. I came up a bit short, and what I didn't realize was how soft and deep it was at the very end. When I landed short, it felt like a grabbed a handful of KTM Brembo front brakes. Although I didn't go over the bars, I got a real good look at my front fender . Another obstacle I like was the sharp left turn roller by the river. I kept charging too hard and too much brake. I finally calmed down and eased up the face leaning with a steady throttle, and popped right over.
Then we proceeded to one of my favorites, the Woods track. It had a couple of changes, but is still fast, sandy, and very easy. There were 2 spots that were loose/muddy with standing water. Which was good practice for keeping the front end light, and speed up. It was also good practice for not looking down. I can fixate and panic as good as anybody lol.
Although the Futures Sx track was not complete when we were there, when we were done, we went over an put an eye on it. We plan on riding it before Houston Sx, but to what level, I'm not sure. Most all riders know, a track looks completely different from the saddle, versus the bleachers, or YouTube.
3 Palms is always a good choice, thanks Emil and crew.
Baby Shark, do do do do do , Baby Shark
EMX/Main Event Double Header Series Rd. 1 Murphy's Mx 2-9-19:
If there ever was a race weekend that I would have sworn would have been rained out, it would have been this one. It was raining when we left Beaumont, and rained most of the way there. We rolled into the track about 10:00 P.M. Friday night, unloaded, and headed to the motel in Bastrop. Although threatening rain all around, and the forecast gloomy, I had high hopes. This would not be the first time that it was raining all around, and even at the track, and it still turned out to be a good. Twice last year at Cycle Ranch, and Murphy's, had a bleak lookout, but ended up being the best track conditions.
The Main Event race was going to be on Murphy's Night track Saturday night, and the EMX race on Murphy's day track Sunday. The plan was to practice on both tracks Saturday for both races, but management decided to close the night track for practice to get it ready from the previous rains they received. So day track practice it was. It was still early Saturday morning, and the day track was not open as of yet. So I decided to walk over there and see what condition it was in. I stepped on the race surface, and it was 2 inches of mush. Not my favorite condition, but I can ride mud well. But I got to looking at the track surface, and it was smooth like asphalt. I then realized they had sealed (packed) the track in anticipation of rain. Well about that time, here comes Willian the track owner, and another fellow on 2 big John Deer tractors, and they commenced to plowing up the day track. I reckon they were done around 9, so I geared up with my 'BRAAAP' leggings/long johns/tights, and a long sleeve shirt under my chest protector. Did I mention it was cold the entire weekend; real cold?
As I headed to the track entrance, and onto the track, it was deeeep, thick, and fluffy. It was one of the rare times I miss riding a 450 with big block grunt. As I took my site lap, my throttle hand was twitching, I had to talk to it, and keep it under control for the one lap. After I made my site lap, I started easing up to speed. It was so moist and heavy. You could carve a rut anywhere you like, or flat-track it. The first 20 minutes, I was riding a gear lower, and staying in the 350's lovable rpm range, and then for the next hour and ten minutes, I shifted up a gear and kept my speed up and had a good fast cruise going. The layout is mostly unchanged except for the dual lane option section. My favorite was the lane with the narrow ski jump to the right where you can step on top of the table. I finally got to where I could hit the ski jump, and clear the entire step-up/table altogether. It took 4th gear hard, and a seat bounce, but it is very doable
After the 1.5 hour practice session, I headed to my camp because I was close to running out of fuel; and just my luck, it would be on the face of a jump too. I still had to change my chain, slider/guard/guide, and front sprocket. Plus I had to drive back to Bastrop and pick up Teresa for her to get ready in the scoring tower for the Main Event night race. I got all my maintenance and adjustments done, and delivered my wife Teresa to night track scoring tower, for an enjoyable evening with Clement .
Well, the Main Event night race sign ups finally opened. Since it's a double header series, I only signed up for 2 classes. Normally I would sign up for 4, but it will be 2 at the night race, and 2 at the day race at each round for a total of 4. I went out for the Vet practice, and the track was as fun as ever. The long straights with switch backs is very fast with good flow. I was struggling with the sharp left turn corner by the starting gates, but figured I would eventually get it down consistently.
First moto was the 50 open. The gate dropped, and I was second to the first corner. Marco Perkins #426 on a Kawi got the hole-shot. At first, I thought I was going to be able to get around him. I could get close, and even show him a wheel, but could not make it stick. He begin to put a few bike lengths on me, but I was still having a blast. I guessed he settled down, and put his head down for a mistake free moto. In our second moto, I got the hole-shot in front of him. I thought, "I got this because I can mostly pace him, but now I'm out front, and he probably won't be able to pass me. I had a good run going, but I'm guessing around lap 2, he showed me a wheel, and I could not keep him at bay. He rolled on that big block Kawi, and got out front. I gave chase, and stayed close, but just could not charge any harder. At one point I was really flying through the roller section, on the back wheel. I thought to my self, "I can make some time on him here". I tried to enter them faster with the front tire a bit higher, when suddenly the front end came up higher without my permission. I eased up off of the throttle, and took it down a notch so as to finish with the shinny side up.
The 2 motos of the 55 Open were really fun. I was the only rider in my class, so I play raced with some other riders in other classes gated with us. I don't recall 2 of the riders name, or what classes they were in, but they both had # 11 on their bikes. One of them was on a 2-stroke, the other on a 4-stroke. We had so much fun pulling off clean slide jobs and block passes on each other.
After the night race, we headed to the motel with rain and mist threatening all around. Woke up Sunday morning with the motel parking lot standing in water. As we headed to the track 13 miles away, we got the text that is was rained out. We eased on down to the track, and loaded up for the long drive home. I do want to thank one of my riding buddies Ronnie Prado for the warmth and hospitality of his RV. The warmth and social setting was nice, but the coffee ranked right up the with it lol.
Normally I write in a little more detail about the actual moto's, and I do carry and note book with now, but this time I didn't take any notes. I'm doing it all on recall .
Baby Shark, do do do do do , Baby Shark
Racing at any track is always much anticipated fun, but this being a new track built by McKiddie/McMillan, and not having had the pleasure of laying down any tire tracks at this new facility, it was doubly exciting. This series I'm racing is normally a double header event at the same facility. The Main Event is a night race, and the EMX is the day race the next morning. Although there are several tracks there, they have no light as of yet.
My wife and I anticipated leaving Friday and heading up through beautiful East Texas to a B&B, but her sister (1 of 7) had never been to, or even watched a baseball game. So my wife loaded her up Friday evening, and off to an Astro's game they went. She is now a huge Astro's fan. She had no idea what went on for the pre-game show, along with all the drama. She said it's not quite as dramatic as NASCAR, but still pretty juicy.
We arose early Saturday morning with an anticipated 4 hour drive through the deep piney woods of East Texas. After a stop to fill up the gas tank, and load up on road trip junk, we headed out. About an hour into our drive, we met fog, heavy dense fog, and my fog lights were offering no help. We had to slow it down quite a bit, and finally stopped at a convenient store and killed some time, and drink really bad coffee. After boring the locals with inflated close call Mx wins and achievements, we were back on the road when it begin to lift.
After yet another different route through beautiful deep East Texas, we arrived at the Marriott. I performed a drive by dumping on Teresa at the motel, and headed out for the final leg of the journey. I finally rolled into the South Central around noonish. This place is huge and is located at 40 and Plum; (40 miles down the road and plum back in the woods.) I parked next to Ronnie Prado and Bruce Smith. I said hi to them, then ignored them as politely as I could and got suited up. It was organized practice, and as usual it seems, I got suited up just in time for my group to be flagged off the track lol. I went ahead and set there at the track entrance and observed the layout and obstacles. The track is nestled in a valley of sorts. The track entrance is on a hillside, with a very large group of shady trees and some benches to set on. From this viewing point, you can see most of the track.
Finally my practice group came back around, so I eased on out on the track. As per protocol, and took a sight lap to check out the obstacles, not that it will help me remember any of them. The dirt was a good sandyish mix, with some heavier sections mixed in. Like any new track I've gone to, it took me a few minutes and laps to remember the obstacles without thinking about it. The track is a average/easy design and fast, with one big camel jump, but with a forgiving landing. I was trying to compare to other tracks I've ridden, but it's unique/different. One of my favorite sections is the ski jump after the chicane start. You can launch it as far as your suspension and skills will let you; and when you land, you have a right hand off camber u-turn, with elevation change that is fast and fun, and then a quick left into a hip jump with not much of a lip, and it is real fun too. Most of the corners were wall to wall with ruts, just pick one and go, and don't look down at them ha-ha. I did several practice session into the end of the day, then set up camp for the mornings race.
That evening, after I set up camp, me and some gathered around and bragged ourselves into better riders than we are. It was a cool evening, and the kids, pit bikes, strider bikes, and a plethora of hand built Mx tracks at every campsites with toy dirt bikes laying in piles, were everywhere. It was a time of relaxation and reflection with the late evening sounds of my country living childhood. After we all stopped bragging and got down off of our pedestals, me and Clement headed into Canton for fine dining at the Jalapenos'. After the dining experience, I headed to our motel in Van Tx. After a shower and nap, me and Teresa walked across the street from our motel to the Farmhouse restaurant. It was decorated in a farmhouse setting. There was an ole tractor at the entrance, an Alis-Chalmers with just enough rust to give that elegant look. While were waiting on our food, we, as usual filled up on bread and butter, but we also enjoyed watching the electric train run its course around the ceilings crown molding. We loaded up on much of the entree as possible, then got our to go box for the late night motel snack. We watched Sx, the finally faded off to sleep.
I had my alarm set just in case I actually stayed asleep for more than 30 minutes at a time, but as usual, it wasn't needed. After waking up well before departure time, I finally rolled out of bed and begin to pack all the goodies from home, mostly the noise making fans. We found a little country eatery about 1/2 mile form the motel called the Dinner Bell. This place was country. All the old timers that rolled in, never put in an order. The waitress brought them their coffee, then later their "usual" without speaking a word. Some of the ole timers would hold a saucer under their coffee cups, spill out a bit into the saucer, then sip it out of the saucer. I remember my grandpa doing that when I was wee lad, but he also had the nicotine stained fingers from smoking unfiltered cigarettes. Some of those ole times at the Dinner Bell may have had that too if I had of looked. We finished up our grits, over easy's, and man card coffee. I gave everyone a nod and tip of the hat, and out the door for a day of racing.
I was pretty excited about pre-race practice, because the track was going to be freshly plowed and deep. After sign ups, and riders meeting, they called us up to the gate for our perspective practice order. I always have the choice to go out with bike size practice, or Vet practice. I usually do both, and I want to get the first set of tire prints on the track. As I rolled out for first practice, immediately the thickness and depth of the dirt got my 350's attention. I've ridden some deep, fresh plowed tracks before, and this one rates right up their near the top. This is one of those occasions I really miss the 450's, but I got up to speed and keep it lit. I figured it was going to be a struggle for the little bikes, and it was. Those poor 50's and 65's and even some of the 85's were struggling to stay on to wheels.
My first moto was moto 7.
Too Be Continued:
Baby Shark, do do do do do , Baby Shark
Track and crowd was awesome, and fast. Me and Ronnie had some fun motos together, as well as some other play battles. I rode the turning track, but it wasn't pretty. I rode it standing for a bit, but the urge to sit coming into corner is overwhelming. I will continue to ride it when I'm there. Those long arching ruts are mental. Thanks for a great night of practice Kelly and crew.
Baby Shark, do do do do do , Baby Shark