Great write up! those bracket thru the skin things that guy has on his leg in the chair always give me the willies!! hope I never crash hard enough to need one of those wrenched on anything!
The Road to KROC
A PM? I was surprised as I rarely get PMs on Advrider. Did I forget to take down an illegal Pine Barrens pic? Was it some hottie from ADVdating? No, it was from Pvangel letting me know about an upcoming ride, The Holeshot Radio Ride Day at Rocky Hill; awesome!! But it was on Monday. There s no WAY I can go. I started to type my apologies when I stopped myself. You have KROC next weekend and can sure use another day on the bike. But I took Wednesday off to ride too. Mmmm. If there’s one thng I learned from Unadilla it’s that I needed to riide more tracks. Sleep on it I thought. I did and Saturday day morning I moved stuff around, rode at 10th MX and loaded the bike in the Paint Van Sunday night for an early ride Monday morning to Rocky Hill CT.
It was a stunning day with bright sunshine in the 70s. Cleo and I got there a bit early while we waited for the gates to open at 11am. The tracks looked amazing. There was at least 3, an MX track, a Supercross track and a pee wee track. Everything looked impeccably groomed. Right on time, the gates opened up and we drove into the pit area.
One guy asked me if Benjamin Moore gave me rider assistance as he looked at the paint van. No, I laughed; "Especially If they ever saw me race."
Before I even had a chance to unload, Pvangel (Phil) came over and introduced himself and invited me to park next to him and his crew. It was the first time I was meeting him in the flesh. Phil, a very friendly fellow who hails from the Mlford Rders Club, a motocross club in CT that has some very talented riders. I was impressed at how well some club members dd at the Unadilla amateur nationals when I was there in August.
Phil brought 2 Yamahas, a late model YZ-125 and a 2013 YZ250F both wearing the number 3. Even though my RM-Z250 was power washed and cleaned yesterday, it looked dingy compared to the 2 shiny blue and white bikes. Layton had a mint vintage Kx 125 and Tom brought a spotless Vintage CR125. These guys are bonafide connoisseurs of the motocross bikes of yesteryear.
I got geared up and walked around a bit. There was a guy selling 3 or 4 different kinds of Sunoco race gas. It was a great deal at $10 a gallon and the refillable can was awesome, but I didn't have an extra $50 for gas, especially since it took $100 to fill up the van and I had a full 5gal jug of high-test for the bike in the back. But the guy was super friendly and couldn't care if I bought anything or not.
At 11:45 everybody gravitated toward the main tent as the raffle got underway. I was feeling optimistic as there are usually a lot of items to be raffled off at these kind of events. Sure enough, I was the 3rd number they called, ("YES!" )but there were only 6 or 7 prizes given away. I was really lucky!
I had my forks sent out to FTi to be re-valved for my weight and ability last winter. Despite LOSING 20lbs, they came back a bit too soft. I had them about three clicks from all-the-way tight when my left fork seal started to leak. To make a long story shorter, now the right one leaks too, they are all-the-way tight and they bottom way too often on flat jumps and mistakes. So the motogods sent me ths!
Think It'll pay for shipping? Hey 50 bucks is 50 bucks! :clap
BRAAAAP! BRAAAAAP! RNG-A-DING DING! The sound of motocross filled the air. 12pm came quickly as everybody got ready to hit the track. The crowd was a mix of all abilities and I was definitely on the lower end of the spectrum. As I was getting my neck brace on Phil came riding up and told me to wait a bit before heading out as the track had just been tilled and was a little messy. But I just jumped right in for a parade lap.
The surface of the track was covered with fresh fist-sized hard dirt clods that magically broke down into traction everywhere in just a few laps as lines were laid down. It is a mile-ish track with many doubles, tables (some I did) and triples (none I did), all fun with no, do or die jumps. One challenging (for me) double had routes around it right and left so I knew it must be fun, I took it on the second lap. I perfectly cased it bouncng 10 feet in the air as I ended up just off the track barely keeping it on two wheels. Yeah, I wouldn't take that one again.
Shortly into my second (4 lap) moto I ran into a chunky guy on a CRF250R that was as slow as me! Oh joy, that's what it's about! It was on! I was a giant pain in his ass for about three laps; his head swiveling like mad trying to figure out where I was as the RM-Z stayed a bike length or so behind him. He would block every move I would make until finally I made a pass on him in the whoops. He must have been enraged as he came careening past me barely in control a few turns later. We fought it out for another lap or so before I pulled off with arm pump. God that was great! And I suddenly remembered why I love this sport so much
Between motos I struck up a conversation with a real nice guy called "Taco", the gentleman in the wheelchair. They call him Taco because his last name is Bell. We talked all things moto and it turns out it was a damn car that took out his road bike. He's been down for a year so far. I'm not sure who the young lady is.
“You must know AJ, he’s a pro” said Taco. “What’s his last name?” I asked. “Catanzaro” Holy crap! “Hey AJ, You got a fan” shouted Taco. “Who the dog?” joked AJ referring to Cleo as he came over and shook my hand. AJ Catanzaro would talk moto with me for so long that I was the one who had to break the conversation. I was very impressed at his maturity and professionalism. Even when he was whipping over my head on a triple that I was doubling.
Spy was letting people demo goggles. While I was talking to the rep about the demo program, Cleo ran under his pop-up and peed on the grass at his feet. "Don't worry" he said as I apologized, "I peed there earlier" :rofl
Here Tom and Phil relax between motos. Phil is on the right; don't let his looks fool you, he's fast! In fact he roosted me more times on that YZ-125 than I've ever been roosted by one person in a single day. I would cringe when I would see that white JT racing gear pass me in clould of blue smoke. Tom got me few times too. It turns out Phil and I knew and did business with some of the same people.
I was shocked when I looked at my phone and saw it was nearly 4pm. Time had flew by. After a final moto, Cleo and I sad our goodbyes and packed up. We made good time getting home but I was too tired to clean the bike and would save it for tomorrow (Tuesday) Thank you Phil for a perfect day of Motocross!
To Be Continued.........
Great write up! those bracket thru the skin things that guy has on his leg in the chair always give me the willies!! hope I never crash hard enough to need one of those wrenched on anything!
Tuesday went by in a flash and before I knew it I was loading the van for a Wednesday morning ride to Englishtown. I figured I’d leave around 11am to get there around 1pm. They go until at least 6pm so 4 hours of riding and I leave by 5, good plan. But I’d never been to E-town practice with 400 guys and girls before. And I forgot about going out in groups and this was the first time I’ve EVER been to a practice where A & B riders were in separate sessions. It went A then B then Minis & Girls and finally C. So t was 45 minutes between sessions and I would only get 3 sessions in before the shadows got too sketchy which is my cue to pack it in.
The contrast between the Rocky Hill and E-town MX tracks was vast. My first lap was rough; the track was rutted out something awful. I hadn’t seen anything like this since Unadilla. But that’s why I was here. I needed to ride the track before the race plain and simple. I wasn’t going to suck like I did at unadilla, not if I could help it. And I had something else that I didn’t have at Unadilla. A Rekluse clutch. As soon as I realized that, I immediately got 150% better in the ruts, ..but by the end of my first practice session I was spent. I managed to keep it on two wheels, but coasted the last 100 yards or so into the pits.
“Hey Tod!” Greg, one of my 10th Street MX track buds said as he walked up to the truck. “I saw you out there!” I’m glad he didn’t add how much I sucked. “Rough track huh?” “Yeah, I’m on the fence about racing Saturday” I told him, feeling a little disappointed. Although this is Greg’s first race ever, and we are about the same age, he’s quite a bit faster than me.. And he was really pumped and very prepared. Last Saturday I watched him take every inside rut at the 10th street track for HOURS. I wish I could focus like that. He was at the 10th street track Sat, Monday, Tuesday, E-town Today (Wednesday) and would be at practice here all day Friday. We talked a bit and watched the A riders tackle the track and tried to pick up some pointers.
The second practice session was a completely different story. I came out swinging and got right in the groove. I even made some passes and saw that there were a couple guys here that I could probably beat. The 15 minute session went by quickly and I hardly had any arm pump as I passed the checkered flag. The 3rd practice was right about 5:45pm and shadows started to obscure parts of the track. It would be my last one but that was all I needed. I packed the van and rode home very confident in my ability to race on Saturday in one of the senior citizen classes.
To be Continued......
Here's a Lap at Rocky Hill
Here's a Lap at E-town
Both are last motos of the day when the shadows start to make things sketchy
Last edited by 5chord; 10-10-2013 at 08:33 AM.
Difference in tracks is quite noticeable. E-Town track looks like it could wear you out in short order. Lots of jumps. Your video's here reminds me of Rainman on his TW at the Hare Scramble races in the spring in central Washinton. If you think you're in the senior citizen class, boy, I'd be joining the guy in the wheel chair before I even attempted something like this. I'd try it if no one else was around!
Thursday and Friday flew by in a Blur and before I knew it, Cleo and I were packing the truck for our 2nd and last ride to down to Englishtown NJ. We got on the road around 3:15pm and the traffic was brutal. It didn’t let up until we hit exit 9 (The exit for Englishtown) on the NJ Turnpike 3 hours later. We stopped at the Wawa a couple miles from the track where I filled the Cooler with assorted gatorades, iced teas and energy drinks. I also got dog food and and a not-so-delicious dinner for myself which consisted of a hotdog, jalapeno-bites and a cheese-filled pretzel.
I was a little bummed that we couldn’t park in the regular pit area. It seems like it filled up just before we got in and now we would have to pit in the gated, asphalt covered lot a few hundred yards away. I pulled away from the pack and parked near some trees. If the lot filled up, I wanted to make sure I could easily find the truck. We unpacked and set up the pop up, tying it to the van to safeguard against unpredicted wind gusts. It was $50 a class plus $15 for overnight parking and a $20 transponder fee.
“Ronkonkoma!” one guy from the 10th Street track yelled to me and Cleo as we walked through the pit rows. We were very well represented here at KROC as I ran into many of us. . Signup was from 8-9pm and there was no line. In fact, it didn’t seem very crowded at all and I saw several places that I could have put the van. “So how are you doing?” Rich Schmidt the track manager asked me as he handed me a clipboard at signup.. He had been my first instructor back in 2010 and is directly responsible for the moto-addiction I’m afflicted with. We chit chatted about our sport for awhile and how you couldn’t please everybody. Apparently I wasn’t the only one not-too-thrilled about pitting on the asphalt.
I chose to race the Plus 45 (all abilities) class for a couple reasons. The first was that I felt it wouldn’t be a very competitive group. I figured there would be 2 or 3 really fast guys and the rest was pot luck. The really competitive racers would be in the money classes or divisions that would qualify them for Sunday’s Iron Man races. The second reason was that it was scheduled to be the 3rd moto of the day so the track wouldn’t be too rutted up yet.
I ran into Greg who was as pumped as I’d ever seen him. Usually laid back, Greg was talking a mile a minute. He’d been at the track since 6am and put in another 3 practice sessions. He was now doing most of the doubles and he was clearing the Devils Staircase, and the massive table in the back; both of which he was not doing on Wednesday. He must have been pounding Red Bulls by the way he was talking. He also said he was with a friend who was also his mechanic/coach. Nice! I was really pumped for him; he worked hard. I wished him well and went back to the van.
It was just after 9pm and I was shot. It was perfect sleeping weather with the temps in the 60s. Cleo and I went to sleep on the bed of the van with the back doors open. It made for a nicer outdoors experience….. and if someone decided to take the R-MZ they would have a German Shepherd attached to their ass. I slept surprisingly well and was shocked to see that I made it all the way to 7:30am before opening my eyes.
I had loudspeaker on a pole just a few yards from the truck broadcasting practice and race info so there was no need to venture into the pits for anything but Coffee. They were putting all the vet classes in the 6th practice session. Perfect, I’d have plenty of time to get ready and observe. I downed a Monster Java energy drink and a giant meal-replacement protein bar.
I geared up and headed over to the main pit area. “606!” Ronnie Stewart said when he saw me. Ronnie, a national pro was an instructor of mine whom I adopted the 606 from when I bought his 2008 outdoors bike (Which I’m riding today). “I have a 450 for sale” he said. “It’s a 2012 worth about $20k and I’ll part with it for $6k” “When I move up to the bigger bike, you will be the first one I call!” I told him. Pros have to race a bike that is less than 2 years old in order to win contingency money. Anybody looking for a ridiculously tricked out RM-Z450 for $6k let me know.
Greg was hanging on the fence talking to someone about changing his class. He was signed up for the plus 30 C and wanted to change to the plus 40 C. “Good move” I told him over his shoulder. “Tod!” We watched the first (Open C) practice together and talked about the upcoming race and different divisions. I also saw Carl and Steve Mickelson, a talented A rider from 10th Street MX who was kind enough to invite me out to dinner with the crew after the race. It was getting close to our practice time so Cleo and I ambled over to the truck to collect my bike and secure Cleo in the Van.
I was allowed to ride over to the main pit area, but had to be walking the bike with a dead engine when off the asphalt. It apparently is a NJ law that you can’t ride in the pits. Not a bad law if you ask me. Soon I was in staging with a million old guys. This was the + 25, +30, +40 and +45 all mixed together. There were so many of us we could apparently start our own country. They stopped letting us out right about when they got to me. It looks like I’m only getting a half-practice I thought.
FINALLY I get out there and ripped up to the first turn, leg out with a run up to the Devils Staircase…The track was 10 times smoother than it was on Wednesday and the ruts were mostly just in the corners. I was loving it! .The faster guys were passing me like usual, but not too far into the first lap I saw there were many guys having trouble as I went by. Most were stalled in the ruts, kicking their bikes like mad trying to restart their machines but some riders were just overwhelmed with the technical track. I witnessed more than one old guy throw his bike away in exhaustion & frustration. My confidence soared.
As I feared, I was only getting a half-practice as the checkered flag waved me off the track after just 2 laps. But that was plenty and I was going out in race number 3; so I’d be right back here to after short check on Cleo...Or so I thought.
This is when the strangest thing happened. Once I left the asphalt, I threw a leg over the 606 machine tried to start it. I kicked it 15 or 20 times before I decided to find some higher ground. As I walked to the side of the road, a tall thin guy in regular clothes and a camera around his neck (I still have no idea who he was) came up to me yelling “Tod!” “Hey, Tod you must have blown a gasket, I saw you smoking out on the track and wanted to let you know”. Huh? I was right in the middle of a daydream involving Dianna Dahlgren. Who is this guy? How does he know me?
“Look!” he said pointing at the black gasket on the left side of cylinder head. “It’s punched in!” he said. “Did you crash?” “No nothing” I said. It had been awhile since the bike had been on the ground or in any altercation actually. I looked down and while my right boot was brown, dusty and dirty, my left was slick black and covered with oil. And that slick shine covered the entire left side of the bike. I stood slack jawed as Camera-Dude, explained that it wasn’t a hard repair, …...And it sunk in that my day of racing was over.
So what happened? Any ideas? Could I have powerwashed it too much? Sometimes I use chain cleaner on a greasy engine, could that have helped?
I wish I could say I had my 2-stroke 125 Husky with me, but I didn’t. I left it home because it would be a lot of work on the technical track in the off chance that I needed it and I wanted to save space in the van. For what, I don’t know; it was a miscalculation. Oh well it looks like I’ll be blowing blue smoke anyway on the Yellow and blue CR-125 for the next few weeks. I said Thank you and goodbye to Camera-Dude who really may have saved my engine. I only hope there is no other damage. It’s at the shop awaiting a diagnosis as I write this.
I watched the next several motos including my own. That is when I felt bad for the first time. I would have been solid mid-pack and I’ve never been mid-pack in my life. There were just a few fast guys like I thought, but there were even more slow guys than I could have dreamed of. There were 2 or 3 I could have beaten on a PW-50 coming here cold. I ran into Steve as he was getting ready for his moto and told him my story of woe. I said I was sorry to miss dinner and tell everybody good luck. “At least it’s just parts” Steve said. Indeed.
With the exception of spending about $160 (not including destination charges) for the privilege of seeing 2 DNS’ after my name and another repair on the RM-Z it was not a bad run. I packed up and got on the turnpike and quickly got home without incident or traffic. I washed the RM-Z and strapped her back in the van for transit to the shop Tuesday. …..Then loaded the Husky in behind her for an early ride to 10th Street MX Sunday (tomorrow) morning……. It was glorious!
Sorry for the hard luck! You need to make it a practice of taking the TW along as the backup bike. If you could've beat those guys with a PW50, just think how many you could've taken with the TW! I enjoyed the report and the videos. Thanks for taking us along.
My handle is B-dub, I ride a T-dub, and drive a V-dub.
Man, that suck's. I've felt the same way when I got to my riding destination to only discover I can't find my key...ain't going nowhwere! Great story, though inspired, I'll live my moto-cross ambition through you and Rainman!