USRA Round 4 - Firebirds HS race report

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March 27th was Round 4 of the USRA Desert Series, presented by the Firebirds M/C.

Saturday morning I headed out with Russ Webster. It was very cold when we got there, felt like about 20 degrees with the wind blowing and I was not looking forward to racing in cold weather. Even though there was a storm in the area two days before race day the dirt was looking very dry and dusty.

By the time race time rolled around it had warmed up enough to be just about perfect temps.

I picked my spot on the line but I made the mistake of lining up too far to the right. We knew there was a hard left at the end of the bomb and I should have tried to get more to the inside of the corner.

The banner dropped and I got a pretty good start. Russ was on my right and Carlo on my left, we all took off about the same and Russ pulled ahead by about 20 ft. When we hit the left turn chaos ensued. I was hit by a couple of riders, banging bars, but managed to keep it upright. From there on I couldn't see a thing due to the dust. I just tried to keep it safe and get out of the dust when I could and hope to make up time out on the course.

Somehow I managed to get in front of Russ as he got by me around 5-7 miles in. Shortly after that I came across Chris Mast who had got tangled up with a couple of guys. From there I was in a pretty big conga line but we were moving pretty fast and I could not get around anybody.

After awhile I settled behind Clint Unsworth and we were both stuck behind a KTM (I think #34, Brady Elton). I got tired of waiting for Clint to get around so I pressured him a bit, then he kicked it up and we both ended up getting around the KTM. From there he would gap me and then I'd close it up, but never enough to get around him. He had gapped me a bit and when I came around a corner suddenly there he was, struggling to get momentum up. Looked like he had spun out or gone down in the corner, but he was getting moving again before I could get around. Then he stopped to check something on his bike, I guess his brake pedal got messed up and was giving him problems. I got around him there and never saw him again, too bad because I think we would have battled the whole race.

From there on I was by myself for almost the rest of the loop. I kept feeling like someone was behind me but every time I looked back no one was there. I was hoping just to maintain this position and maybe catch a few more before the end of the race. Suddenly about 5 miles before the end of the 1st loop, Chris Mast over takes me on the right side of a sweeping left hand turn. It was a pretty sweet pass, his bars were right next to mine and then the corner got sharper, and he flat-tracked it with the rear wheel fishtailing out as he straddled a big sagebrush with is left leg, keeping on the gas the whole way through the corner.

I thought I would just match his pace but I couldn't do it, I just couldn't read the terrain that fast and I started making some mistakes. I backed off a bit and just tried to maintain my own pace, and actually kept him in sight all the way into the pits and for the first mile or two of the second loop.

Again I was pretty much on my own on the second loop. Jayson Densley had reeled me in and went by, and I was surprised to be in front of him as he is a very fast rider. Spent the rest of the loop by myself until the last two miles when I got passed by Tyson Bailey. Kicked myself for this one since I saw him coming and I knew we were close to the finish but for some reason I just didn't have anything for him. I followed him in to the finish.

The start was super dusty and one of the most dangerous I think I've done. There were a lot of hidden dangers and there was so much dust you could even find the trail. I saw a Honda cart-wheeling out of the corner of my eye that looked like an ugly crash. A few miles into the loop I was off the trail trying to stay out of the dust and couldn't see a marked danger. I was in 4th gear and hit this wash about 2 ft deep and 4 ft across with sqaure edges on both sides. I made a last ditch effort to heave the front end up after missing a shift-down and luckily made it through.

Other than the start and first few miles, the trail was in excellent shape. Really good berms formed, no dust, even hit some mud and snow which is a blast. I had another close call and nearly impaled my neck on a dead tree branch sticking out at me. It hit my helmet hard and I thought that was it until the end of the race, when I noticed the scrape and large goose-egg on the side of my neck. An inch more and it could have been really bad.

The club did an excellent job on the course, pretty much a perfect mix of tight trails and short wide-open spots. Very well marked and just the right amount of distance to get you tired but not kill you.

I heard I finished 17th overall which is not bad but I was hoping for a top ten. I wasn't really feeling it, mainly due to being dehydrated I think. I started feeling really sick on the way home and slept a lot before I finally felt better on Sunday.

Next up is the SageRiders National on April 10th, its gonna be tough as always. Hopefully I can step it up and continue to improve.
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  1. Fb.Nathan's Avatar
    The videos look pretty dusty on the start...that's always crazy! 17th O/A isn't bad, especially when you consider you were racing a little under par.

    Nice job!
  2. Fb.Paul's Avatar
    So it turns out I finished 16th overall, and the last guy that passed me was Rick Young not Tyson Bailey (Rick is a fast mxer guy). Actually ended up 4th in my class, that's my best class finish I think I've had in Open Expert USRA.
  3. Fb.Nathan's Avatar
    Nice. I expect a top ten at Sage Riders then.