It’s not every day that I swing my leg over a dirt bike. Actually, it’s not every day, week or month; I haven’t ridden anything with a motor since November, but this past weekend I chanced the infamous Gatorback harescramble, and with all the pedaling that I’ve been doing, I was more than ready to handle the CR250R that I’d loaned from a fast guy named Frank Carillo.
I arrived to the track on Saturday in hopes of catching a glimpse of my race bike and that’s when I saw the Borich Racing rig parked in the field. It caught me off-guard and I thought, hello! Those northern boys need seat time, too, with the first round of the GNCC series coming up at River Ranch. I got there just in time to see the who’s who in the Quad AA class! Wow! Everyone from Chris Bithell to Borich, Brandon Sommers and Adam McGill lined up, with Taylor Kiser and Chuck Piper in there, too.
The best thing about the Gatorback harescramble is always the charting of unfamiliar territory; it’s amazing how many people don’t know about the limestone quarry in the back! The first section of woods was fast and sandy with some choppy sections thrown in, along with the wide open rips around the quarry. Then, there was almost the entire motocross track waiting at the end of the woods, and if there’s one thing that’s true about harescramblers, it’s that we don’t jump! Yet, with all of my time spent walking around the motocross track and covering the races, I knew every inch, and even though I didn’t jump anything, I felt a lot more comfortable rolling around than I thought I would!
Adam McGill was the man on a mission and managed to come from behind, passed Sommers, Borich and Kiser on the first lap and he never looked back! McGill rode an incredible race and finished his six laps in just under an hour and a half. He also posted his fastest lap of 14:31, but Kiser had the fastest at 14:13. (There was one very off lap time from Sommers at 11:13.) Kiser held the second spot for two laps and then he was nowhere to be found. Borich went from third to fifth and back to third while Bithell also ran a great race to finish second by putting down the most consistent lap times; Bithell had the second fastest time at 14:23. Sommers was fourth and Chuck Piper finished fifth.
In other news, the bike race on Sunday added even more fancy names to the entry list as Charlie Mullins and Paul Whibley lined up on the front row with the rest of the AA class, along with Michael Pugrab and Ryan Rodgers – who? – and the hometown Florida boys of Joey Baker, Eric McCann and Ricky Skaggs tried keeping up. Whibley and Mullins were merely seconds apart for most of the race, and both turned their fastest lap just under 20 minutes on the last lap! Plus, they were the only two under the 20 minute mark. Pugrab stuck third while Baker and McCann switched it up inside the top five.
The other side of the news was that my left barkbuster broke off right before the morning race, and instead of removing it like a normal person, I raced the whole two hours with that thing flapping and jangling around like a true goon, and it actually swung around my steering and would surprise me when I would go to turn left and run off the trail, bounce off a tree or blow over a berm. Looking back, I don’t know why I didn’t just stop after the first lap and have my factory mechanic remove the darn thing, but hindsight is 20/20. The bike ripped though, and I managed to turn my fastest time on the third lap, which according to the results was my last lap, but I actually completed four laps and finished 48 seconds over the 2-hour limit, so I only got counted for three!