Rhino Rally 2010 Report

Rating: 4 votes, 4.75 average.
I was super pumped about this race- knowing we would have pits in a different spot meant we would be running a lot of my favorite trails down there, and not the same stuff as the last two years. Always nice to run new stuff.

Though I haven't been able to get much time on the bike, I have been training really hard to get ready, and I was excited to see if my efforts would pay off. I had a number of goals set for this race, but one of my main priorities was to not get tired and keep up my energy and endurance for the duration of the race.

I arrived in St. George Friday afternoon and had a nice time just hanging out at the hotel pool with the family. Had to do a few things to the bike (put in a spark arrestor to replace my damaged one, new brake pads), and went to bed early.

Saturday morning I headed out with Chris Mast early, and the conditions were looking perfect. The dirt appeared to have just the right amount of moisture in it for excellent traction and no dust without being slick.

Race time came around and I got my spot on the line. Warmed up the bike, killed it, started it, killed it, started it... just to try and get a feel for how well it was going to start for me. It wasn't firing as fast as I'd like but it was pretty good. Banner went up and I was ready to go.

When the banner dropped, the bike fired pretty quick and I let it rip. Unfortunately I dropped the clutch way too fast and almost looped out, second race in a row I've done that. In trying to save myself from a crash or taking anyone else out, I stalled the bike. Took me a few seconds to get it fired again, and it felt like I was dead last off the line though I think there were probably a few more guys less fortunate than myself.

I caught up to the wave before we even rounded the hill and went straight to work making passes. I was pretty upset that I killed any chance of a good finish with a terrible start, but honestly it was pretty cool to be the one making passes instead of getting passed for once. I was flying and passing lots of people right off the bat.

The course immediately hit some trails I was very familiar with. After awhile we hit some sand whoops and I made a stupid mistake and got off balance and hit the ground. This drove my helmet visor down to the point that I had no visibility. I tried to just break it off clean but I was only able to free it from the down position. All I really did was break the center mount off, so the visor would fall down and inhibit my visibility, or it would catch the wind and pull my head back.

I got up quick after the crash and went back to work making passes and man it was great. I was having so much fun because normally I'm racing with guys that are as fast as me and I don't get to make many passes.

We hit a tight wash that is one of my favorites down there, and I got stuck behind Jeff Gordon and another guy. Jeff was leading through the wash and I knew it was tight and was going to be really tough to get around. The guy in front of me was right on Jeff's tail and struggling to get around him. As we hit a short straight section, I closed in on the guy in front of me. There was a tight left hander and he went wide, and I pulled a block pass on him just like you see in Supercross. I b-lined right in front of him and then powerslid in the left hander, totally cutting off his line but totally clean at the same time. I'm sure he was a little upset but it was clean and I had a lot of time to make up. As we exited the wash I got around Jeff and then we hit some high speed road.

I love the high speed roads and was gaining quickly on the guys in front of me. I had to chase Josh Goimarac for awhile and his bike just killed me with roost. I have huge bruises all over my biceps from all the rocks I got hit with. I got around him and few other people in this section and the fast washes that followed.

Later on I caught up to one of the Pearson clan, not sure who it was but it looked like he was wearing some of Russ' old gear. He was really good at sensing where I wanted to pass and was doing a great job of holding me off. We were in a wash that had only one really good line and the rest was really rough terrain. I finally got him when he stayed in the good line and I just pinned it over some softball-sized rocks, it was sketchy but a sweet pass.

Immediately after that I caught up to Sean Wharton. I was right on him but every time I tried to put a move on to pass he would kick it up a notch and hold me off. I almost had him several times but had to back off at the last second. I eventually got around him on a fast turn and then I caught up to another Pearson kid, who was dressed very similar to the first one I thought maybe I was going crazy. He was also really good at sensing the lines I wanted to use and it took some work to get by. We hit some pretty slick off-timed whoops in the clay and I finally got him here, but I just about ate it hard when my bike slid sideways off a whoop as I was over taking him. He probably thought I was a maniac or something.

After that I had clean air for once and really turned it on to try and put some distance between me and all the people I had passed. After awhile we went through a technical little wash and a kid on a 2-stroke 125 had caught up to me, #118a I think. I made a mistake on a corner and he got by and we had a great battle for the next few miles. We hit a really high speed flat out wash and his 125 just couldn't match the power of my bike and I was gaining on him fast. Just as I was about to over take him the wind caught my screwed up visor and suddenly I was looking at the sky instead of the ground. I had to back way off to get my helmet back down and so he stayed in front of me. When the wash opened back up again I got by him finally for good, he gave me room to get by which was nice, I gave him the hang-loose as I went by.

I came across a downed rider, #415 Cody Idle, and Chris Mast and another guy were already helping him so I just went by slow. Cody's bike was 50 feet away from him so he must have been flying. He hit his head pretty good and had a concussion, and was life-flighted out. Fortunately its nothing more than that and he's gonna be ok.

Made a few more passes coming to the end of loop and hit the pit. I gassed and left pretty quick, unfortunately forgetting to get rid of my broken visor so I rode the rest of the race with it causing me visibility problems now and then. While cruising down pit row, a guy in the over-30 class decides to overtake me in the pits for some reason. This is against the rules and I even looked at him and said wtf and he didn't even acknowledge me.

Hit the start of the 2nd loop and I'm right on this guy pressuring him. I had to eat a bunch of his roost which wasn't pleasant. We dropped in to a fast wash and we both gunned it. We approached a hard right corner and he let of the gas way early for some reason and I just flew by him like he was standing still. I almost over shot the corner but I still made it through and I never saw him again after that. Why on earth he felt the need to pass me in the pits I have no idea.

From here on I had a pretty lonely race. The 2nd loop was a lot of sand whoops, hard-packed whoops, and some pretty technical slick rock sections. Through a section called the back-breakers (8 straight miles of deep sand whoops) I got passed by Travis Turner who was making it look too easy.

After that we climbed up out of the valley on to the big red cliffs you can see East of town. Just as I was getting to the top I got passed by Bill Phelps, a local fast guy. I was pissed because I had passed him early on in the race and was riding pretty well so I couldn't believe he had caught up to me. I latched on and stayed with him all through the top. He gapped me a little bit in some technical stuff and then I lost the course markings somehow. Suddenly I was over at the sand mountain where all the quads like to play and I couldn't see any ribbon. I looked to the South and could see some racers quite a ways away so I took off in their direction and finally found the trail again. Unfortunately by now Bill was long gone and I couldn't ever catch up.

As we came off the top and back down in to the valley, I made 4 more passes, mostly on guys that looked like they were pretty tired and ready to be done. I kept pushing hard all the way to the finish just in case.

In the end I finished 9th out of 17 finishers in the Open Expert class. I don't know where I ended up overall but hopefully I made the top 20. It seems I did pretty well even with a crappy start, a dumb wreck, and a wrong turn on top. One of my primary goals was a top ten overall, and I'd like to think that if I had gotten my normal good start I would have had it.

All the training and proper nutrition certainly helped. I was strong and had energy throughout the whole race. I plan to keep it up throughout the year as I am determined to get better at this and make continuous improvement.

It started raining just as I finished and by the time I left it was really muddy. I was glad the weather cooperated throughout the race, and I feel bad if any body broke down out there and had to sit it out in the rain, it got cold in a hurry.

Thanks to the Wizards M/C for a great event. Even though my finish was not what I had hoped for, this was one of the most fun races I've done in awhile.
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  1. Fb.Nathan's Avatar
    Haha, man I wish I was there to see you loop out. Two races in a row and I wasn't there for either of them! Sucks you probably could have had a great finish, but still must have felt good to be putting the moves on people!