Cracking down

Along with Yamaha’s Barry Hawk, I raced the Fire Cracker XC in Wellsville, Ohio on Sunday and WON, entered in the Women’s class. It was either that or the C class, and that I’m not. My #69 YZ 250 started on the first kick and I took second to the corner with the Plus Senior Old Guy class on my row.


The start snaked through a dry, grassy field before hitting the worn-out woods, where I found multiple lines to my choosing. Saturday’s quad race really widened the trails and I wondered if and when I’d hit the single track. I managed the first miles by telling myself to slow down and take it easy for the next few hours. Between the spandex, Camelback and my electrical-tape-d hands, I was geared up and ready for battle!
Well…the bike won the war, that much is true. I’d gotten used to my 250F back home, and riding this 250 two-smoke was no joke. The jetting was off; nothing like my dad’s fine-tuning! My rear brake died after the first big downhill, leaving the front brake in charge, which I tried grabbing with two hands to slow down. I babied first gear for fear of stalling when second gear proved too high anyway. One thing that did save my life was the brand new set of tires, thanks TB, and the bark-busters that I installed the day before.

Still, I locked it up once going down a hill, ditching the bike that was headed for a tree, and seriously face-planted in front of some spectators, breaking my helmet visor off in the meantime.

“Are you okay?” they asked of my soil sample.

“Oh yea,” I replied, laughing. “Wonderful.”

Never had my mother named me Grace, and for that I am thankful. I re-grouped while the women watched in astonishment; I must have looked a little different with my helmet off.

They asked if I was okay again, and I assured them with a nod, leaning my bike up against the tree to get started. I followed another rider to the bottom of the hill; as I passed, he said, “Be careful.”

Gee…did I have CRASH written all over my face?

My best moment came about halfway up the hardest hill in the race. One small mistake, gravity took over, and my luck had run out. The bike landed backwards on a hill in front of another group of spectators. Sweet.

I welcomed these two guys to their help, so they picked up my bike for me. How sweet. I told the one, “Go ‘head, ride it up for me.” I was already embarrassed and tired, milking it for all its worth. The dude made me look like a damn sissy, riding straight up the hill no problem. I forged ahead thinking he was an asshole; walking up the hill was even harder! Once I reached the top, he still had the bike running though. I was stoked!

“Thank you!” I breathed. “Thanks for keeping my bike running.”

“What’s your name?” he smiled, handing me the bars.

“Jenn,” I said shyly, dirt mustache and all. He’s hitting on me? Now?

“I’m Jonny,” he said. “I live here. This is my house.”

“Cool—I gotta go.”

With that, I smiled and took off, having never before been picked up during a race.


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