Winnemucca National Hare & Hound

angry jim

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#1
Our usual group decided to make the trek to north central Nevada for the national H&H. We all got to Winnemucca saturday afternoon and settled in to our rooms/trailers. It was obviously going to be a dusty race. The terrain was a combination of rock and dust and sand. The race started at 10am sunday morning, so we got to the pit area by 8 and began preparing.
The start was short by desert standards. We sprinted off a dry lakebead into a two track silt bed. The A row went off 1st and I was right behind Destry Abbot watching from the row 2. He got a great start, but when everyone hit the silt they disappeared. They waited 5 minutes to sent off the B row which had about 80 riders. My bike started fine, but so did everyone elses. I got smoked off the lake bed and immediately was blinded by the thickest wall of dust I've ever seen. Shortly after, I hit a bush and went down, cringing in fear about getting run into. I got up and waited to where I could see a few feet in front of me and continued on very carefully. The conga line had formed up a wash and I was near the end of it. I started to look way ahead to see if I could make some progress. After several miles, things began to spread out. I knew all my buddies were well out in front of me, way out of sight. I went into survival pace for the 100+ mile event. The dust was brutal at times, but I plugged away and finally began to catch some of the slower A riders about 30 miles in. The 1st pit was back where we had started, as we did a 40+ mile loop. I pulled in to refuel and asked how far behind my buddies I was. I didn't get the answer I wanted and I figured I was burried to far back. I left the pit feeling pretty good. The next loop of 40+ miles would be brutal. It started with a wide open run through a dry lake bed, followed by a deep silt bed. Luckily everyone was so far ahead of me that I didn't have to eat their dust. I made it through without crashing, but I got sideways several times in 5th&6th gears at up to 70 miles per hour. I was scared. We then shot right up a mountain gaining over 1000' in a short period. My 200 exc was running great and I began making up lots of time. I spotted my friend Kelly 2 bikes ahead and charged. I caught up and we were just starting to battle when he stopped suddenly. I sueezed by and stopped to see what happened. Broken chain! The 520 ate the Oring chain. I couldn't help, so I continued. I was in a good groove and was catching and passing a few at a time. Then it happened. Out of nowhere we were sent into a long, long sand bed. Deep sand, with drop offs and mounds and bushes everywhere. I thought it was the end for the 200. Amazingly, I was passing many tired and broken riders. I made up huge amounts of ground in the spot where I thought my bike would explode. I had it pinned just to get through. We finally got out of the dunes and onto a FAST 2 track. I got up into 6th and began picking off riders. I pulled up next to a friend, an A rider who usually beats me handilly, and waved as I went by. The next rider I came upon was Kelly Yancy who is the #1 woman desert rider in the US. I was very happy and surprised to catch her. I soon caught up to another friend who was riding in my class and who had gotten a great start. For the previous 2 weeks, we had battled hard, and here we were again. He never herd me coming, so I took a different line through the sand and worked my way by. We next headed up and down a series of washes that were very fun, but I was starting to feel the effects of the pounding I was taking. My kidney belt was too tight and making me feel sick to my stomach. I backed down my pace and rode smart to pit #2. I stayed just in front of my friend, as he rolled up with a front flat just behind me. I was beat and in no big hurry. The last leg was 20 miles. The first 9 was flat out over a rough whooped out trail. I through off my belt at the pits and off I went. My back was stiff and weak and I couldn't sit to rest it. I kept a good pace but I wa no longer passing many riders. The last 11 miles was through the Humbolt River bed. We crossed the shallow river many times. It was fun, but I overshot several turns in my attempt to catch the rider in front of me. I then decided to tone it down and make sure I finished, which I did. With about 2 miles to go, an A rider passed me. I had no energy left to fight him off. He was the first guy to pass me, except for when I crashed a few times, in over 90 miles of racing. I got the the finish, which was my only real goal, and the announcer was patting me on the back and handing me a plaque for 2nd place in the 30+ B class. When he saw that I was on a 200 he just laughed. A few minutes later, my friend crossed for 3rd on a front flat!!! We ended up going 8th and 9th overall for the B class. Next, I had to wait for my brother to come in, as he was in the C class. I was worried after he didn't show for over a half hour. As it turned out, he had run out of gas a few miles from check #2 and had to wait 1.75 hours for some gas to arrive. He got to the pit and refilled his tank and soldiered on to the finish as the sun was getting low. Sadly, he was over 15 minutes ahead of the next C rider when his tank went dry.
We all gathered back at the race start 30 miles away and shared our stories. Russ Pearson won the race and the National championship. All in all it was the hardest race I've every done. Normally I don't think it's that big a deal to finish a race, but this race was different. I was so happy just to finish, that anything else was a bonus. I was worried for weeks beforehand because I'd never done a Hare & Hound before. We all survived with no injuries and made the long trip home monday morning.
Now it's time to rest up for Honey Lake this weekend.
aj
 

dirt bike dave

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#2
Great report, Jim!

Congrats on a fine finish.  Way to represent for the 200cc crowd.  :aj:  
 

KiwiBird

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#6
Great report Jim, sounds like a beater.