The only thing that made turning one year older “happy” was my birthday falling on a Sunday this year, which meant hitting up the Croom Motorcycle Area for a day of follow the leader with some of the fastest trail blazers around.
In practice, I prefer to follow: it’s good training trying to find faster lines at a clip – just riding the rear tire in front of me, pretending I’m about to make a pass. Come race day, I jockey more for the lead, but during practice, it’s nice not having to lead, especially since they like to ride off the beaten trail.
Our first time out, I was last in the group of about six and quickly found myself stuck behind a slower rider who eventually made a mistake. I stopped to wait for him and by the time we got going again, everyone and their dust was gone. So, I moseyed on back to the truck for a minute to adjust my tire pressure – it felt like I had 30 pounds in the rear! I dropped it to about 12 and took off again, trying to find my buddies. I pushed myself, carrying speed through the trees, pretending like I was being chased, but I never found them. I circled back to the truck again, but they were nowhere to be found. I went out again almost in tears that I was riding alone on my birthday. I broke a sweat and returned to the pits where, alas, I found them. “Were we too slow for you?” They teased me. “You took off on us!”
When we took off again, I made sure I was near the front and ended up second or third behind the leader for most of the ride. We stopped in the front at the sugar sand pit for a few minutes to scope the scene and so a few could practice their motocross skills. I watched them loop around the small circle practicing berms and whooped out straightaways and thought, “That doesn’t look like any fun,” so I stayed on the sidelines and avoided eating more dust. Before we took off, I noticed people without helmets riding double – that is, grown men riding two up on a motorcycle. “Time to go!” We took off back into the woods.
At one of our breaks, someone commented on the incredible dust – it’s been over 45 days with no rain, according to Days Since It Rained.
“It’s good training,” I reminded everyone.
“What are we training for?” The line leader asked.
I laughed. “The win!”
I’m still blowing dirt out of my nose.