Monday, November 10, 2008

2nd Hare Scramble

(This is a truly bad post. Not written that well, and not all that interesting. It's one of those "you had to be there" stories. I havent written much in a long time though, and need to get some practice in.)

Raced my second hare scramble yesterday. I mainly ride offroad, but have been riding more track lately. This particular harescramble is raced on a 7 mile course that includes two separate motocross tracks and a whole lot of dirt track out back. You get two hours, and ride as many laps as you can in that time.

Compared to 15 minute motos that MX guys do, it's a lot more difficult to keep up a race pace for that long. On the other hand, compared to the 4 hour Enduro races that I'm used to, it's pretty easy.

Unlike a lot of harescrambles, this one doesnt really have an offroad portion. It's all dirt track, only part of it doesnt have the big jumps.

Getting used to track riding has been kind of hard. At first I just tried not to die or bust myself up too bad. The big jumps, when you first try them, have different consequences for different mistakes. If you really sally a jump, you will lose some speed, and not look too cool as your back tire comes about 6 inches off the ground.

If you are a little bit braver and get a little more speed up the takeoff, you fly farther, and look cool until you land, but when you come up a little bit short you have a lot more momentum to slam into the ground, and depending on your skill and suspension, have a chance of flying off the bike and eating dirt.

It's best to just commit to the jump and give it a little more than you think you need so that you hit the landing. The smoothest way to land is to hit the downhill landing, but sometimes it's hard for a new track guy to think about that when you're accelerating into what looks like a wall and thinking about death and destruction instead of what you should be thinking about.

Anyway, I ddint have any bad wrecks yesterday, although i did case a few... ok a lot of jumps.

I mainly though about my cornering, which is a little different on a MX track, and passing people. Last race I would ride bhind guys for too long, even if I was faster than them, because I've never had to pass people in corners or on short straights like that. It just feels different in the woods, and most of the time in a 4 hour race I just wait for them to make a mistake. If theyre slower than me, theyre guaranteed to make a mistake soon.

Also, you start an enduro with only 4-5 riders on your "minute" so it stays pretty spread out. Rarely are you bunched up with 3-4 riders, much less 40 riders like the first few turns on a track.

I got some good advice before the race, and stopped thinking about them as riders, adn started looking at someone I wanted to pass as an OBSTACLE. Believe it or not this helped a lot. Instead of worrying about what they were going to do, this helped me focus on what i was going to do. Once i figured out where their line was, I just passed them like I would a big rock or tree worrying about my line more than theirs.

I'm not all that competitive, obviously, but I had a blast. For the whole two hours I would just pick one guy ahead of me and try to catch up to him and pass him. Then I would move on to someone else. It all felt like an individual race, and kept me focused on going fast. If there was nobody around me, that was when I caught myself being lazy a few times and not pushing hard enough.

Overall, I have to say I improved my cornering the most, although I still need to work on my consistency. There were a lot of corners that I was able to carry a lot of momentum through, keeping more speed up for longer, and then quickly braking and transitioning to loads of throttle as I came through the halfway point. I did a much better job of staying in the right gear, which is critical on a 2 stroke closely geared bike like mine.

My weak point is still the "whoops" which kicked my ass again. Last race I had a pretty ugly wreck in a big long set of whoops. This time I didnt wreck, but thats because I wussed out and just took them slower letting my bike buck me like a mule. Often I would get passed in the whoops or on the big MX jumps, and then pass the same guy once we got into the straights and corners. If I could just get decent, instead of pathetic, in that type of stuff I might be a little more competitive in the novice class. Right now though, I'm just racing for fun and to compare my own lap times after each race to see how much I've improved.