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Old 12-03-2012, 01:45 PM   #1
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TORCS Walnut Creek Ranch race report

The last and final TORCS round of the 2012 season took place in Cedar Creek, TX at Rusty's Walnut Creek Ranch.

My first Open A and 40+A race of the year, coming off of 2 wins the previous weekend I was looking forward to this one in a way, I was excited to race again but as for being an A rider, not so much. The weekend proved to be a tough one, a very humbling weekend to say the least.

Curt and I set out Saturday morning right on time at 7 AM headed to Cedar Creek, 2 minutes into the trip, I realized I had just took off without my cell phone, it's sitting in the garage, not a good start, pulling a toy hauler, I had to turn around, go back to retrieve my communication, turn around again and get back on the road. Not such a good start but it could have been worse.

Once we arrived to the race property, we found the starting line and parked close, unfortunately, we parked too close as the dust throughout the weekend would end up being horrible from all of the kids running around on dirt bikes playing, kicking up dust and from the race starts too. Our course this time was about half and half hard pack and sand, we did have some great elevation with the ups and downs on the property. As we're unloading the trailer, getting set up for the weekend, the kids open practice begins and it's like a small dust storm (great, this is what I didn't want). As we're all set up, we head over for registration, I'm signed up, payed and talking with someone, I over hear Curt asking to enter into the Open C class for Saturday and then the 50+B class for Sunday, nope, you can't do that. You have to chose a class and stick with it, you can move up but, once you move up, you can't move back down so Curt decides to stick with the B class races for both days (I guess me talking him into the Open B class pushed that even farther) I think Curt was a bit worried about the pace, he's a 2 hr racer, TORCS races are only 70 minutes long, more of a sprint race in Curt's eyes but I knew he would do well, he's doesn't seem to be a big crasher, he's fast, and he's consistent, both of these are key to winning and placing in the top of your class.

As practice comes around for the A/B riders, we set out, Curt decides to do only 1 lap, I on the other hand decide to ride the full hour, (afterall, there's no replacement for seat time) the course is very sandy, silty, powdery sand, not something that favors me and my style of riding b/c I've never ridden that much at all. The hard pack sections were great, the ups and downs, the creek runs were all fairly easy, there is lots of sandy berms, I hate these and later on they would end up being my worst enemy aside from the dust that the sand produced.

At the race start, I'm not anymore nervous than usual, wearing my heart rate monitor, It's about average for a race start, I am a bit intimidated by the fast guys, I would say at least half of the Open A guys are probably half my age, more stamina, and better conditioned for going super fast. I chose my starting position on the far right hand side (the outside) as T1 was a left hand turn, not so deep but, a very sandy, dusty berm, the 3 fastest guys (in my mind) are on the left, or the inside of the start, I know I'm not going to get the holeshot but, I'm going to do my best to get in the mix as quickly as possible, the further back you are, the slower you're going to be b/c of the dusty conditions. The flag drops and we're off (a dead engine start) I get through T1 in maybe 4th or 5th place and I'm hard on the gas, It's dusty, I can't see much at all but I'm doing my best and hanging on the guys in front of me the best I can (the guys are fast, they're so fast that I'm pushing myself beyond my limit just to keep them in sight and we haven't even entered the woods yet) after 6 or so turns (I don't really remember exactly) we're headed down a short straight away, I tip my toe up to grab an up shift, NOTHING, the shifter moves up but doesn't shift, I lift it again and nothing, I'm stuck in 2nd gear, pinned wide open, the 2T engine just screaming it's head off, engine is cycling like crazy, as we approach a right hand turn, It's time to slow down so I tap the shifter to go down a gear, again, it's so dusty, as I look down I can barely see my boot through the dust, nothing happens, so I tap again and I can feel that the shifter has gone, disappeared, nothing there for me to tap (the shifter is off the bike) the bolt vibrated out, and the shifter has fallen off. I can't continue on in 2nd, I need to shift gears, I pull over and I'm the last on my line (GREAT, my first race and I'm out, a DNF???? NOWAY) Luckily I was able to locate my shift lever laying in the sand about 20 yards behind me in the sand, I run over to grab it, stuck in my pants and hauled back to the trailer to fix it.

Now I'm in a hurry to get my shifter back on and operational again, the race is in full swing, I'm losing time, and will def be 1 lap down at least, but I get my shifter back on and hit the course at the starting line. I decided that this race was over for me, I'm just going out to circulate and get in some extra practice laps for Sundays race. It wasn't too far into the course and I hear someone coming up from behind, since i'm out of the race at this point, I decided that when I hear someone coming up, I'll just pull off the course and let them by, as I'm looking behind me to see a Pro rider closing in fast, I turn around to look for a safe place to stop and let him by, but before I could turn my head all of the way and focus in front of me, BAM, I hit a tree with my left hand bar and down I go, (no big deal really other than the fact that I just did this in front of some spectators, I'm even laughing at myself here) I continue to do this throughout my next 3 laps, just cruising the course, staying out of peoples way, trying to practice my sand berms as I approach them. With 2 minutes left in the race I decide to call it the end, I head to the trailer and that's the end of my day.

Not the best start I've ever had to a race weekend.

Sunday rolls around and I am eager to get out for some more practice time in the sand, I head out and take 2 easy, slow laps and then head back, Curt, Scott and Dave are all riding the AM race so I hang out with them prior to there race and we just do our normal race preparations for the day. I make sure that my shifter isn't going to come off again, change my filter, lube my chain and wait for my race to come around again.

The AM guys did well, they all finished the race without too many issues, Curt did come in a bit early with a broken throttle cable, he was having a fairly good race up until that broke, I gave him some useful tips that made his race a little easier and better but it was still dusty and a bit tough to navigate the trails if you weren't out front leading.

As the PM race comes around, I decided to line up on the inside this time, hoping for a better race, and a better shot at T1 before the dust started flying. I'm lined up next to 6 other riders in the 40+A class, we're all pretty much equal, I've gotten in more practice laps than they did so I have a small advantage. As the flag drops, I get through T1 in 3rd or 4th position again, a couple turns later and I'm down (I think my front tire clipped the rear tire of the rider in front of me) I get picked back up and going again, not I'm in last position but, the 3 riders directly in front of me are close, I can read the number plates on the side of their bikes, I was not letting them get too far away that I couldn't catch them. My pace was just as strong as theirs until the dreaded happened again, BAM, another tree steps out in front of me, as I hit this tree, I'm slung off and away from the bike, across the trail I go, bike falls behind me but I'm ok, I get back up and run to the bike, picking it up and off again I go. Something sure seems weird at this point, I look down and see that my front end is about 2" out of alignment, (this is a mind f*k at this point) I lost focus on the race, and everything else I needed to be thinking about, it sure feels weird with things up front not being straight. I decided that I had to push through this, I have to try to catch up to those guys. Coming into some more sand, I am dreading it, I am not having fun, I am doing horrible and the dust is just ridiculous, I finally come through scoring, finishing my first lap and started my 2nd lap, I'm doing well to stay up, feeling good considering my front end isn't straight, navigating the sand as best I can and then it happens again, I fell down in a dusty area, my head pipe comes completely out of my motor, (this is not good at all) IF I get any sand inside my engine, I'll be rebuilding the top and bottom end at who knows what expense, I decided at that point my race was over, I kicked the pipe back into place the best I could and then headed for the trailer to call it quits.

It was a great weekend of racing (for most) I got to hang out with my friends again, met a few new people and even found a nice free place to stay in Austin when I go up for the MOTO GP races.

As my season ends this year, I know I have my work cut out for me during the off season, I am very serious about this racing stuff, I want to train, I want to take some lessons from the pro's, I bought some DVD's offered by some big time pro's from the past and will be taking as many courses as I can in order to be ready for next year. If next year is as good to me as this year has been, I will have no regrets and very few disappointments.
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Old 12-03-2012, 07:15 PM   #2
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Great write up James......some are races, some are learning curves!....But there all fun.
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