Thief River Falls Race Adventure (June 30th)

Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
657
Likes
0
#1
Thief River Falls Race Adventure (June 30th)

Today’s (okay this is actually a week late…I know, just bear with me!) adventure takes place at the 7 Clans Casino near Thief River Falls, Minnesota. Eager to please one of the main sponsors for the DMC Motorsports motocross series, our hero, Tolle’, began the day bright and early with her cabana boy loading up the faithful little CR 80.

As the hour long trip began, Tolle’s faithful little Ford Escort took a turn for the worse, and developed a fever that was only eased by turning the heater on full blast. Even though the morning weather was cool, the Escort continued to progress in a very sickly manner.

With the radio blaring 80’s rock and roll to keep her awake and alert, the announcers inform our hero that the day will be extremely hot and sunny, without any type of breeze. She is somewhat disheartened by the fact, as her lacking pit crew has also failed to get her an “EZ Up” tent. Without shade, the hapless Tolle’ could quickly fall victim to the power of the dangerously powerful sun.

Strangely enough, the road had been some sort of shrine for dead skunks, as their bodies literally littered the edges of the highway. Luckily Tolle’ made it without dedicating any additional skunks to the pavement. To be sure, it would have upset the sickly Escort even more than it already was. Luckily, our youthful hero made it to the casino without too much additional trouble other than a mild headache from the stench of the everlasting skunk shrine.

(I didn’t count the entire way, but a short stretch of 3 miles produced over 13 dead skunks…it was really bad to say the least.)

Once her armband was paid for, Tolle’ went to find a parking spot that would hopefully alleviate some of the fatigue and trouble that comes with having to push the faithful little CR long distances to the starting gate. Luck was with our traveler. Within 50 feet of the gate was a perfect niche for the Escort and trailer. After settling in a little, Tolle traversed the long grassy field to the registration trailer, staring in amazement at the vast size of the motocross track.

Let’s check in with our little hero shall we?

“Tolle’, this is your narrator. How are things going so far? How do you feel? What do you think of the track?”

“What? Who said my name? Where are you?!”

“I’m the narrator, retelling the Casino race story at DRN. What do you think of the Casino track? Have you seen anyone you know yet? Is your motorcycle in good condition?”

“What? Who? Narrator?!?! I must be hearing voices again…stupid figment of my imagination!”

“No Tolle’, I’m real.”

“Yes. A real figment of my imagination. Now go away! I’m busy! And let me tell the story. You talk weird and you’ll screw it all up anyways.”

Very well, we’ll let our little hero tell th-

“I’m not a freaking hero, and stop calling me little!! Go away! It’s *MY* adventure!”

~~~
Seriously, I hate narrators who talk like that. Anyways, it was a long walk to the trailer with swarms of mosquitos attacking from every direction (judging by the number of bites I received in that brief walk, they were attacking from directions and dimensions that we haven’t yet discovered). I received a good dosing of the really heavy duty bug-spray and a warm greeting from the organizers.

Their first words were to tell me that I was really going to like the track. Not much technical stuff, and a lot of long straight sections. It was definitely set up to be a fast track. On my way over I noticed the two sections of whoops. One had larger whoops that were set up a little farther apart. The other looked like a serrated knife, smaller, sharp, pointy and probably quite dangerous to my health. Once I had registered, I walked back to untie the little CR and set up my gear.

Another small trailer had parked beside me, and the crew was already unloaded and set up by the time I had walked back. I noted the KTM 85 in pristine condition, and went back to unloading. Thirty seconds later, I was noticed by the racer’s dad, and I went through my usual speech: “Yep, I’m here alone. Nope, no fans. I race in the women’s class. Yep, this is my first time racing. No, I’ve been riding motorcycles for about seven years. Wouldn’t give it up for the world.”

Instead of the polite smile, good luck, and walk away, the guy offered to help me unload without my asking. In fact, I hardly had to touch my bike! Soon came the comments about my well rounded rear tire. But the next suggestion was actually helpful and would be a cheap fix. He said just to sharpen the lugs by using a grinder on the front to square up the edges. Hardly anything gets taken off, and you get back the bite without having to take the tire off the rim to turn it around.

After he showed off his kid’s bike, he also offered to push the bike to the starts and fill in the ruts at the starting gate for each of my motos. With a grateful thanks, I went to walk the track. It was pretty sticky, and I knew by the end of the day, it would be as dusty as it is…in a really dusty place…like…under…my car.

The starting gate went into a fairly long straight section, then a hairpin turn with a low berm. After a short run-up was an easy looking rhythm section. A short straightaway was after that, which led to another hairpin corner into the first (bigger sized) set of whoops. I picked my line through the corner, trying to find the easiest path through them.

“Aieyah, Aieyah, Aieyah, Aieyah…”

I figured that giving each whoop a good muttered Aieyah would throw it into submission before I even rode across it. At that point one of the mini quad riders rolled by on his bike, staring at me with bugged out eyes as if I had lime green skin and polka dotted hair. Apparently he heard me trying to “scare” the whoops and thought I was crazy. I tried a weak retribution to my dignity with a somewhat stuttered:

“Ah..Heya…”

There was no change in his expression. We stared at each other for a few more seconds, just standing there on top of the last whoop, then he rode off, throwing the same bug-eyed glances back over his shoulder like I was contagious. I myself was a little miffed, being put off by some little seven or eight year-old kid. Nuts! There goes my ego. With a foolish giggle I went to traverse the rest of the track.

The big whoops led into a small lip that was supposed to carry you over a small and blessedly empty ditch. It looked easy enough, so I planned to flick the bike over it like a cake crumb off my shirt. This made me think of eating cake, which of course, made me hungry at once. “Good job Tolle’, now you want cake. There is no cake for miles. Think of beef jerky or old peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Those are in your car.”

Sure enough the little quad rider was just over my shoulder and staring at me again.

“I had cake yesterday.”

It was my turn to stare and blink. Then he disappeared again.

“Not fair that he gets cake…ah well. At least you have a sandwich.”

I was still trying to distract myself as I walked the short straight section to encounter a turn that went straight into the serrated knife whoops. They looked bad, but I picked a line anyways, trying to find where they appeared to be the gentlest. This was the outer corner, so I planned to try holding an outside line in an attempt to maintain a semblance of speed through the race. Straight out of the smaller and sharper whoops was a tabletop straight in the middle of a hairpin turn.

If there were a place for me to go down, I was sure it would have been on that tabletop. The track doubled up on itself there, making an “S curve” that led into a straightaway with a low tabletop near the end. Another hairpin turn and it was a rather choppy (not in a bad way) set of doubles that were meant to be rolled, with a tabletop at the end. It looked a little intimidating, but another rider came up to let me know that it would be very beaten down by the time the little CR and I came around. Another hairpin turn, a small single to slow people down, the finishline tabletop, another table top, and a wide sweeping turn to the last tabletop, and it was back to the starting/straight section.

I thought about walking it twice, but decided against it when they announced the driver’s meeting. All (well almost all) of the riders walked slowly back towards the registration trailer, staring daggers at those who were lucky enough to catch rides with buddies who had brought four wheelers for pit transportation. If I had to describe it, we looked like a herd of grumpy and somewhat tired ants.

Again, sorry for the delay but part two will be coming soon.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
657
Likes
0
#3
Might have to nickname him that because I encounter him so many times at each race...
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
657
Likes
0
#5
Wrote it last night! So sorry for the delays! I'm 4 or 5 races behind now!!!

Part Two:

The driver’s meeting was pretty uneventful. There was a large amount of sponsor thanking, then some more sponsor thanking, followed by more sponsor thanking. Being that the casino was one of our biggest sponsors for the series, we thanked them quite a few times. After that, they played the national anthems and sent us to practice.

I used to be a swimmer when I was in high-school. No, not the dancing style with legs flipping around in the air; I used to race in the pool. Because of the way the races were set up, I was always in the first race, which happened only moments after the national anthem. To this day, the song always serves to flip my mental throttle from idle to wide open. I get restless and a little edgy, but most of all, the song puts me into my flow.

According to Dr. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (yep that’s pronounced “chick sent me high” for those of you who don’t know Polish phonetics…) “Flow” is a state of happiness or satisfaction that one gains by doing something appropriately challenging. Some even describe it as a state of focus that is much like meditation. Doing something easy, like sorting colored marbles into boxes, won’t get you into this state. However, for me, racing is no box of marbles.

When I realized that I was psychoanalyzing myself, I gave a quick scolding and began focusing on what I had planned for each turn and obstacle. If I think too hard about all the different disorders I qualify for, it gets to be a little depressive or frightening! Although never diagnosed, I match enough of the symptoms to qualify for...okay…I admit it. I very well may be schizophrenic. GASP! Maybe that’s where the narrator came from!

As a side note…I forgot to add the pics: http://www.steeleracingphotos.com/bikes/7cc/index.htm

1103, 1108, 1113, and B187.

Big thanks to Maureen for getting these!

We walked back again, now grumbling like grumpy and sleepy ants, slapping mosquitoes as we went. I talked with the family who had parked beside me for a little while again, explaining my educational plans, and defending the science of my future profession (of course, to no avail…these guys thought I was a wacko…which I probably am! :) ).

When practice came around, I pushed the bike up to the lane set up to keep us from rutting up the starting gate area. The whole time, the 85 racer’s dad gave a good lecture of how to do a start “the right way.” I simply smiled and nodded to keep him happy. At this point my nervousness kicked in and I started focusing on the scary looking serrated knife whoops, and the bigger bikes in front of me. There were at least two 250s, one 125, and one 150 there. The other two, not including myself, were on 85s, one Kawasaki, and one Yamaha.

That makes seven riders, which was quite a crowd compared to the normal 3-4 we usually get!

I started the little CR, suddenly realizing that the dad was not talking to me anymore. In fact, I couldn’t find him despite the triple takes I threw in every direction. “What the heck? Where’d he go!?” I looked ahead again just in time to have the first 250 roost my face as it took off.

“FEH!! BLEH! FOOEY!”

I caught the official laughing at my attempts to remove dirt from my nose and mouth by shaking my helmet while it was still on my head. A second later he gave the nod and set the little CR and I loose with pointing thumb.

The dirt was absolutely perfect! However, my corners were not so complimentary of the track conditions. I was lucky to have the berms, or I would have done even worse. All the jumps seemed to be quite a bit easier than I had even expected, and I felt good holding a little faster pace through the first set of jumps (small low rhythm section). I, again, screwed up the turn, and nearly killed the engine coming into the larger set of whoops. They were at least large enough for me to jump a set, then let the next set buck, and jump the following set again. I had a feeling that they wouldn’t be too much of a problem for me at all.

I cleared the ditch without trouble, and found the outside line I had planned to take into the serrated evil knife whoops. They looked quite a bit smaller now that I was on the bike. I took them in 2nd gear as well, hoping to stay at a manageable speed without losing power to the point of having to try shift while going through them. They were so small, that the first ten had the same effect on my “Aieyah” that a gravel road full of washboard bumps would do. In fact, I sounded so funny that I nearly went off the track from laughing so hard.

That little episode threw me off for the rest of practice, and all I could think of was how funny I sounded.

~~~
In fact ladies and gentlemen, our hero actually thought that she sounded quite like a “vibrated ninja chipmunk with cotton balls in its nose.”

HEY! This is MY story! You’re spoiling all the good parts!

As the hero, I am sure you would have failed to include that very important detail, as it might further prove your having disorganized schizophrenia.

Thanks. Go away now.

~~~

I accidentally jumped the mid-turn tabletop, and managed to nearly go off the track again. The “S-curve” turn also went quite poorly, and I struggled to even hold my line through the set of corners. No berms were there to help me. The next section was straight, with a low tabletop that I hit in 3rd gear and didn’t even get any air at all to my disappointment. That corner, too, was extremely difficult to get around and I actually went off the track by a foot. It was easy enough to get over the choppy doubles; the quads and big bikes had chewed them down quite thoroughly. There wouldn’t be much of them left by the end of the first moto, let alone my class.

The next corner was set up very well, and the little CR flung itself around it with what could almost be called “ease.” With another straightaway, and set of doubles, I was facing the tabletop finish. It was a little intimidating as I approached, but it was easily navigated. The next tabletop had a little bit of a kicker to its lip that I wasn’t expecting. The last sweeping corner was actually quite fun to lean the bike down a little.

The next lap went even easier as I picked up a little better pace and had better corners the second time around. However, just as I reached the finishline tabletop, a random guy lapped me. Apparently they had let him practice with us because of time issues or something. This put an end to my practice though, as I watched the checkered flag wave in front of me. “Grr…frustrating.”

I rode through the exit lane, and pushed the little CR back to my trailer. Here began the wait. The women’s class was set about two-thirds of the way through the first moto. With the extra time, I decided to ask the photographer to video my races in order to give my grandparents the opportunity to see me ride for once. Somehow I got the feeling that having a video of my first time at a new track wouldn’t be the greatest of ideas, but I shoved it quickly aside and went to check over the little CR one last time.
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
657
Likes
0
#7
Yep there's more...I just have to finish writing it :whoa:

My boss borrowed me to his dad. Now I drive tractor ALL day with no time to write my reports...

I must add that I broke third gear during my most recent race. I finished, but did poorly because I couldn't get past second. It was a tight track, and I thought I was missing shifts...not missing a gear...

I'm in first place for points as of now...but the little CR is now laying in a thousand pieces on the workbench. Crankcase split and everything...I have one week to get the broken pieces and get it back together.

There's four races left! Hopefully I'll be able to update soon if my workload slows down.
 
Joined
Apr 18, 2006
Messages
1,534
Likes
8
#8
justalonewolf007 said:
I must add that I broke third gear during my most recent race. I finished, but did poorly because I couldn't get past second. It was a tight track, and I thought I was missing shifts...not missing a gear
Dang! This is worse than being several weeks worth of your favorite show backlogged on TiVo and then seeing a teaser for the latest show!

How many episodes before we get to the race where you blow the tranny? :-)

Rod
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
657
Likes
0
#9
rmc_olderthandirt said:
Dang! This is worse than being several weeks worth of your favorite show backlogged on TiVo and then seeing a teaser for the latest show!

How many episodes before we get to the race where you blow the tranny? :-)

Rod
Ah...

Six.

:whoa:
 
Joined
Apr 30, 2007
Messages
657
Likes
0
#10
Part Three:

At the time, the minutes and motos seemed to drag by, but now that I look back on it, they went quite quickly. With a start I realized that all the other women were in staging, and I had to scramble for my gear. The little CR was probably a little grumpy at my lateness, and balked slightly starting up. Essentially, this means I had to kick it five times instead of the normal two.

As I handed back my clothespin, picked my spot and started heading for it, the guy who helped me unload appeared to prep my gate for me. He was explaining exactly how I should start as he packed a small pile in front, and some loose dirt in behind, but I was too nervous to put it to use. Even so, I got a better start than I thought I would, and pulled into the first corner just behind the big bikes.

“AIEYAH!!!”

I did my best to pull around the outside of the pack using the berm, as they had piled into the middle. I noticed that one had gone down, but wasn’t sure who it was. All I really cared about was that I was in front of the two smaller bikes. 223, Shea, was close on my heels through the first set of jumps. Then she took me in the corner.

I plowed into the big whoops in an attempt to pass her back, and with the help of an almighty Aieyah, it worked. I barely held on, but my goon riding was getting me places (or so it seemed)! Third gear flung me over (rather into) the ditch, and I ended up landing with my rear wheel in the bottom. The chick behind me was pretty hot on my heels, so I held the little CR pinned into the corner and nearly went off the track trying to stay ahead of her.

The nasty little knife whoops had been beaten down so much now that I almost felt fast going through them! I felt so fast that I even forgot to give the almighty Aieyah. As usually happens when I clear a challenging section that I previously thought I wouldn’t, I tend to focus on it and not the rapidly approaching things in front of me. The corner tabletop caught me by surprise, and I nearly wiped out coming over it. This left me rattled trying to negotiate the s-curve, and it was a terrible fight trying to negotiate the deeper ruts left by the bigger bikes.

Although we flopped around like a dying chicken, but somehow, the little CR and I stayed rubber side down. “Cmaaaaan baby let’s do this thing!!!”

The next ditch was hardly a dip, and we flew over it and the low tabletop in very good style. However, the turn that followed did not suit. In fact, both Shea and I went wide and went off the track. It wasn’t really a big deal, but getting back on through all the ruts was more difficult. By the time the little CR and I made it back on, it was time to turn again. Normally I don’t take the inside line, but this was an exception because the outside looked like Frankenstein’s scarred up face. There were so many ruts that it wasn’t even close to funny.

She nearly had me on the straightaway, but not quite. Yet again we both went off the track because of the tough corner. I singled the low doubles, and flung myself over the tabletop. The turn before the single and the finishline tabletops had a very tall berm, so I picked the outside line hoping to hold speed. It didn’t go too badly, but I made the mistake of peeking over the high edge. I never realized how high that corner was, but it was bad.

I didn’t go far over the tabletops, and practically coasted over them because I was so nervous. I held my inside line as best as I could, then went to the outside to try make it around turn one without losing so much speed. Shea made the smarter decision of passing me by taking the inside. I stuck to her tail hoping to make it past her, but soon we were both pressured into riding above our skill levels.

Through the bigger whoops she lost a little control, and started the deadly side-to-side bike flop. My hopes rose a little, thinking she would slow enough or crash so I could pass her (please note that I DIDN’T want her to hurt herself, despite my evil wishings for her to crash). However, she made the coolest and most amazing recovery that I had ever seen a rider make!

The next two laps were exactly the same, us riding completely out of control in the attempt to get each other. When I saw the last corners coming, I decided to try “goon it up a notch.” When I saw my opportunity, I tried to fling myself into the corner faster than her. Coming out of the corner, the muscles in my throttle arm froze with the poor little CR in WOT position.

“AIEY -- *THUD* -- OOMPH”

It took me a good five seconds to figure out why the dirt had all suddenly turned a beautiful shade of sky blue. Some of the dirt had even turned into fluffy…clouds? “What the heck? Ohh now I get it….OH! CRAP I CRASHED!!!”

Then it took me another three seconds to figure out that I should stand up and pick my bike and start it again. Two more bikes blew by me as I hefted the rather upset little CR back onto its feet and kicked it to life again. “C’maan C’maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan start y’lil bugger!!!”

Just like the faithful race companion it is, the little CR started, and with an anxious “BRAAAAAAAAAAAAP!” we were off to finish the last two jumps, corner, and finishline tabletop. What I hadn’t noticed is that the CR had sprained a handlebar, and going over the first jump, we nearly crashed again because my wheel was crooked as I landed.

With that, we were groundbound for the last few moments of our first moto. We rode through the exit ruts, and headed for the trailer.

Shea stopped by, and we congratulated each other on a good race. Really, both the little CR and I had pretty sore egos, as we had decided to crash in the LAST corner of the LAST lap. Shea said I would have still beaten two of the other riders if I had stayed up.

After a short chat, they left and I began working on straightening out the tweaked handlebar. It actually untweaked without much problem, and the little CR began cheering up some (or so it appeared…).

Between random talking and rummaging for foodstuffs, the heats flew, and it was again time for us to get to the gate again. With many wishes of “keep it rubber side down this time!” we went to get our place. I picked near the center, on the right side of the gate, as the first turn goes left 180 degrees. My logic was that I should point myself directly into the line I planned to take around the corner.

The red light came on, and the little CR balked starting again. “C’man! This is no time to worry about your ego! We’ve gotta go soon!!” I’m a little glad no one heard the comment, as I have already been stared at enough for the day. Finally, the bike started, and I held a steady throttle to warm it up some. When the engine felt quite warm through my glove, I rapped the throttle a couple times, checking that the engine wasn’t bogging out in the mid or high rpms.

I saw the last few vet riders approaching the last stretches, and shook out my neck, shoulders, and wrists in preparation for ride. The yellow light came on, and I tapped the gearshift into first, then found my clutch release point, holding it just past in preparation for the green light and gate drop.

I was a little slower on the get-go, but still made it into the first corner just behind the bigger bikes. There was a small pile-up and crash on the inside, so the little CR and I kept to the outside, taking second place behind one of the bigger bikes for a short stretch. Then a 250 and 125 came up and passed me, shortly followed by Shea on her 85 catching me in the little whoops.

The little CR and I tried hard to keep on her tail, but she was doing far better this time around. She pulled away until I barely saw her taking corners at the far ends of the straight sections in front of me. Two more laps went like this, and then I saw the yellow flag! She had gone down in one of the corners and was just climbing back on her bike. I pinned it, and she and I basically took off at the same time, her getting just slightly ahead of me. I rode harder and harder, staying just on her tail. Around each corner and over each jump we were all but neck in neck. Half way through the lap she pulled ahead a little, but I caught up again.

Down the last straight section I held the poor little CR pinned as hard as I could. I started catching up, but failed to notice her taking the outside line around the corner just in front of the finishline tabletop. If I had seen sooner, I’d have chosen the inside line and would have gotten her, but instead I paused and rode through the middle line. I was dead on her tail, but Shea took the place ahead of me.

I was a little disappointed, but still had a very good race, after a quick “good race!” to the other riders, I pushed the little CR to the trailer. Being tired and hot, I put most of my gear away, leaving the bike for last because I was too worn out to push the little CR back up on to the trailer. I considered riding it up, but my left hand was so numb that I couldn’t even pull the clutch lever in, let alone feather it to keep the bike under control going up the small ramp I had with.

Just like the first race, everyone suddenly disappeared when I could’ve used them most.

“Nuts.”

I put the ramp in place, then went to look one last time. There were a few riders and pit crew standing looking a little busy over a mini quad, but I figured that I didn’t have much to lose. I was pretty sure that they could 1) ignore, 2) help, or 3) beat the tar out of me.

Being that I’m small and cute, I figured that the chances of number 3 happening would be pretty slim. The first option wouldn’t really hurt me that much, so my odds looked okay.

“Ah…(Here I put on my cutest helpless little female face)…I don’t suppose that one of you guys would be willing to help me get my bike on the trailer would you? (Here I stop and put a couple of those innocent blinks in while I wait for them to decide what they want to do)”

They all basically stared at me for a solid ten seconds without saying anything. I’m thinking that I should’ve skipped the innocent blinks, and may have played the cute card too far (when the need arises, I am completely shameless when it comes to using cuteness to get something done). I was also covered with dirt, which probably spoiled the effect I was after.

I was actually shocked when one of the quad riders AND one of the pit guys came to help. Then they saw the little CR and started giggling at me. “This is smaller than my kid’s bicycle!” It ends up that his kid was the mini quad rider that stared at me.

They didn’t even use the ramp that I had all in place.

The little CR was lifted over the side like a bicycle and tied down so tight I couldn’t even loosen the straps! I hadn’t realized how big they really were…

After telling them how thankful I was for their assistance, I packed up the rest of my gear and drove off with a smile. Even though I crashed, it was still a great adventure.