The Yadkinville GNCC had a little something for everyone at the Welborn ranch, including a whooping for myself…but more on that later… my Pops rode his sweet ’84 Kawasaki Turbo over from his western NC mountain layer just for the big race…She cleans up nice let me tell ya, my dad’s tender fine-tuning made our shared 22-years that much special every time I see ‘er. My dad on the other hand; Hooper said he’s cool. I introduced my Pops to everyone that I could; he fit right in with our traveling “carnival.”
Despite talks of an Industry race, the plan to race together fell through, so I just signed up to race Women’s class by myself. Super Dave was injured, so we would just compare overall lap times. Besides, the Sportsman class was packed with thirty entries, so at least Hooper would have the first row all to himself. [Though looking back after the race at what the first section would bring, I should have just bucked up…knowing what I know now.]
Us women started on the fourth row. We heard that the first three miles was tight – I had no barkbusters and I love tight woods – Buren said during his description, ‘For those of you without barkbusters, you’re going to be mad at me.’ I laughed it off, I just wanted to ride and after my dad reminded me ‘smooth is fast,’ – I would chant that mantra for the next two and a half hours. He counted my class at ten, plus we would be sharing our row with the Master class.
I was the lucky one on a steep incline at the end, in hopes of squaring off the first corner and avoiding the carnage. I waited for my nerves to settle; those who told me good luck meant it, because they wouldn’t walk by and say it if they didn’t. The ol’ Honda started on the first kick as I figured, we’ve always had good starts…
I popped up the hill with the lead pack, getting to the corner in a rush. I could sense some Master old-guy class joining the herd into the woods, so I figured only a few ladies got out front. I saw two pink stickers directly in front of me, stuck behind one of the Master guys. Here we go. I noticed the girls’ style, feet positioning, rear tires. I scoped their speed and handling, then made room for error. The tight woods hit and I would die to relax with the pace, but with one guy yelling behind me, I wanted to scream! Where would you like for me to go? We were held up behind the Master guy who was no where near hanging it out. I was jonesin’ for the pass-the trail begged to be bested; it was just tight enough so my bars fit just right. I watched her feet off the pegs in front of me, and I would get off the rhythm just worried about making room for a pass. Then I’d be right back up to her rear tire, sometimes too close; I wondered why the hell we were waiting…the guy behind me died off eventually, and then we came to the culvert. Bottleneck.
Water flowed through the culvert like a creek and it was up to our footpegs—some didn’t know what to do! There were riders and bikes at a standstill with the engines still running. GO! I found my way through miraculously, passing probably twenty people in one shot. It was almost unbelievable; I saw pink stickers getting stuck all over the place. The girls who were in front me got caught behind a freight train, then I saw the champion kicking her bike amidst the water! This was unbelieveable!
I rode for miles after that smooth as silk. I even managed to seat-bounce the whoop-dee-doos for the crowd by the creek, and they cheered me on baby. I was stoked, and even let a few assholes by; geez, why don’t you get ON my ass before you start yelling so I can move the F over IMMEDIATELY, instead of losing my concentration, moving over on the trail which wasn’t big enough for the two of us, then PATIENTLY WAITING for you to catch up, before watching you stall in the next corner or wad up into the next tree. The passing etiquette just aint what it used to be…
So I was running smooth until…I hooked some slick clay and tucked the front end around a right-hand sweeper. It was siiick before I fell; I felt like a badass flat tracker with my handlebars counter-steering the bike sideways, before I freaked out and it came out from under me. I believe I kept the bike running that time, which is honorable because I got! %$^ed up. On my right, a huge knot on elbow from landing, a ring on my shoulder from the impact of chest protector hitting ground, one huge bruise on the inside of my right leg from the bike, marks from brush, a swollen knot on my left knee from bike, a scrape on left arm from sticker bush…
I got up and trucked on – I vowed to make no more mistakes! Yeah right! A few miles later, I came around a corner upon a GIANT hole filled with mud. It was no more than four feet around and looked endlessly deep—scared shitless—I was pointed straight to it. Quick! I jumped off the bike as riders whizzed passed me; me being the guinea pig for the off-guard. I “braaaped” my front tire over the hole, and jumped back on just in time for someone to land their front tire smack dab in the center of the hole. I laughed to myself when I saw who it was…and told myself I had to stay more alert. I came around in fifth, stopping for my dad to yank my bars back. I took off again, just wanting to survive and put in some smooth laps.
Smooth didn’t stop me from trying, though. “You have to slow down to go fast.” I stayed on the defense, but I had no desire to do battle. I was so comfortable on the bike; the CRF motor really suited my style. I even forgot I was racing without bark busters until my brake lever hooked a branch and I went down again; fast. Ouch…I tried kicking the bike, and grabbed the compression release for some assistance. It started right up. Sweet!
The rest of the race went slowly but surely. I think it was the fourth lap when the leaders lapped me—it was the classic pass me like I was tied to a tree maneuver. They were gone in the blink of an eye, and all I had time to think about was their dust. I found myself getting tired of holding on; my dad had said the suspension was waaay too stiff for the woods, and the rough track wore me out. Without underwear gloves, I was just running some tape for the blisters, but I knew it was lose and of no use anymore. My left hand was burning, so I tried riding without the clutch, but I was so afraid to stall that didn’t last long. Meanwhile, riders were using me for traction and vocal lessons. The passing grew out of line. At one point, I moved over to let four or five guys by, as it seemed like they were battling each other for a multi-million dollar prize. So, imagine the joy I felt when I came upon the same group of guys on the ground a mile later. It was AWESOME!
All in all, it was a very fun race, even though everyone in the office beat me; my lap times were fairly consistent, and I wasn’t too badly bruised after the race. I did earn a sweet blister on my left palm. I was glad my dad was there to be pumped with me. The last time I rode two hours plus would have been YEARS…I finished all five laps for 6th place out of 11, which is decent. I figured I could pull fourth, so maybe I should ride more…Thanks to my dad for prepping the bike and trackside support, DC for letting me use his bike and the Tundra, and a huge added thanks to my traveling partners Matt and JW for the manpower…ahaha