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Florahome Fall Kickoff  HS#1, 9/16/2007


Round #1 at Florahome was one hot weekend. I started off on Sunday with the practice lap to check out the course, it was nasty. Most of the course had already been raced on Saturday and wasn’t looking too good. Due to the dry conditions the ground just wasn’t holding its form at all and just by looking at it during practice I could tell we were in for one rough ride. To make things worse if you were following another rider you wouldn’t be able to see through the cloud of dust kicked up by their tires. A hole shot was going to be very valuable here. During the morning race I stood next to fellow racer Kyle Parsons at the scoring chicane waiting for the leaders to come around to get an idea of how many laps we were going to be doing. We were both hoping for a short three lap race but based on the lap time ridden by the Vet-A riders we would be doing four. This course was nasty with many exposed roots, big braking bumps, and some huge whoops that were nearly impossible to flow over smoothly.

            On the starting line tension filled the air while we all waited for the race to start. Unfortunately our race was pushed back ten minutes to clear injured riders off the course. Everyone knew how rough it was going to be especially after the morning race. Finally the horn blew for the “AA” class to go and as usual, Travis Hullfish took the hole shot. When it came time for my line to take off I walked out, shook Brian McCall’s hand and wished him luck, he did the same and we turned to our bikes to wait for the horn. When the horn blew everybody ran to their bikes. Brian and I got going about the same time and everyone was is in a drag race to the 180 sweeping left turn to get us going in the right direction. With the power of KTM, I got to the corner first and took off trying to be very careful not to make any mistakes that would cost me the lead.

            It didn’t take any time at all before I started getting dust from the A-Open riders ahead of me. I couldn’t believe how rough the course had gotten between practice and our race, the course was going fast. I was happy to get into the tight woods because it wasn’t as rough and I felt comfortable there, but right when I started to hit my groove disaster struck and I started to get some arm pump. I thought no big deal it will go away in a little while once I get comfortable. Well, I never got comfortable and my hands started to get worse and worse, then I realized what I did. I wrapped my hands way too tight with duct tape before the race. My hands were not able to swell like they should and get circulation. I couldn’t stop because I would lose way too much time so I had to just deal with it as best I could.

            Right about the middle of the second lap it was no surprise to hear a two-stroke coming up behind me. I knew that with the problem with my hands I wasn’t riding well enough to be able to hold the lead the entire race. I fended him off the best I could but when a berm blew out on me and I almost fell, that was all it took for Shane Barry to go right on by and take the lead. This didn’t bother me, after all it was all I could do to just keep moving as best as I could. I finished the second lap and fought the urge to pull off right there, but if I did that, I would have never forgiven myself. I decided to stick it out as best I could for at least one more lap and see what happened. I went around much slower now than before but still trying to go fast. I would try to move my weight around on the bike to keep from having to grip the handlebars tightly. Every root and bump shot pain through my hands and all I could think about is how glad I would be for it to be over with. I started hearing sounds that I thought were bikes coming up behind me and I thought that I might not even finish in second place. Somehow I pulled it off and I was able to come through the chicane in second with just a half hour left on the clock. At that point I made the decision to pull off the track because neither I nor anyone else in my class would be able to go around for another lap and stay inside the time limit. I pulled into the gas area where my pit crew was and told them we were done racing for the day and had them cut the tape off my hands. After removing the tape I walked back to our trailer and sat down to rest. Unable to move my hands I had to wait awhile to do anything like take off my gear or open a bottle of water. After awhile I was able to use my hands enough to load up all the bikes and gear to go home. I learned a valuable lesson that day, “Don’t wrap duck tape around your hands too tight”. I’m just glad I was able to learn that lesson and still get second.