As reported to KDX Rider
Well, I'm back from my first hare scramble,
my first race since 1979, and certainly my first race on the KDX200. We drove up
to Berthoud CO on Sat, hoping to make it early enough to check out the track.
About CO springs, it was obvious we weren't going to make it, so we went to the
Apex shop instead. I checked out KTM's and looked at stuff. We drove by the
track right at sunset and just had a quick look.
Sunday, we got there and I did some quick jetting. Since I was dropping from 6,000' to 5,000 and it was pretty cool (50-60) and it was a 2-hr race, I decided to move up from a 148 main to a 150. The 148 felt a little weak on 3/4 throttle and up. Switched jet and then rider's meeting! All I had time to do was rev the bike in the pits with the 150, but I was able to snap it from idle to wide open and hold it there and it sounded great, so I felt good about the jetting.
The start was uphill and we faced the rear of the bike with the flagger downhill from us. We had to turn, get on the bike, and go. I clicked the bike in gear, and held the clutch while facing the starter. When he dropped the flag, I swung 1 foot on the left peg, gassed it, slipped the clutch, got my right leg over the bike in mid-flight. I got a good start and hit the gate about 8th/40 (against 250f, 450f, KTM300, etc.). First lap, there was a lot of traffic and I made a LOT of passes by going wide around the "freight train" and clutching thru the soft outside line. My KX125 riding was really paying off, and several times, I passed 2-4 riders at a shot in the turns. I was also able to take a tight inside line if necessary and dive inside of them. This worked really well on switchbacks when I'd go wide on 1 turn and then tight on the next and keep my position. At the end of the first lap, I was running 15th/40 according to my "pit crew". Second lap was more of the same- passing a lot of riders and starting to settle in.
And then...then... :? I was clear of traffic for a little bit and saw an opportunity to pass a guy over a low jump. I took the pass and uh-oh, this was the whoop section!!! I didn't think I was there already! I hit the first whoop face on, and managed to swap and bounce my way thru the whoops. Around a left hand corner and then the second whoop section. Due to the sudden twisting and pulling effort, I was feeling a little arm pump. We hit the MX section of the track and I cleared a little tabletop with an end kicker that dropped into a deep dip. The kicker knocked me off balance a little and when I hit the bottom of the dip, I was up on the gas tank. I pushed back to get ready for the next jump and thought "Which jump is this?? Too fast! Too fast! Slow down!". At Berthoud, a lot of the little tabletops drop off into some steep dips and you don't want to over jump those, or it was a 20' drop down. Well, when I went to pull the front brake to slow down, I discovered that arm pump had my arm locked solid!! I couldn't let go of the right grip to get the brake and worse, I couldn't shut off. And all this is on the face of the jump- you know how fast these things happen!!! All I could do was try to ride it out, but I was a little too far to the right and the landing twisted to the left. I ended up jumping off into a soft wet pit and WHAM!!!! I don't have a clue how I hit, but I have this vague memory of going face-first into the dirt, with the bike upside down.
When I got up, and thank God I could get up!!, my glasses were smashed and it took me a second to figure that out. Eventually, I got my helmet off, my glasses sort of straightened, and checked myself out. The medic was there by then, and asked me some questions to make sure I was okay. The KDX started on the 2nd kick and the only problems I could find were than my number plate was totally destroyed (I'd removed the headlight for the race) and my TrailTech computer mount was busted. I needed to get the NM license plate back to the pit area, so I had to coddle all this stuff around to the pit area and drop it off. My camelback was busted and draining red gatorade all over my leg, so I dropped that off, too. I took a little time to get my breath, clear my head, adjust my levers, and get a good drink. Anyway, I got going again and finished 6 more laps for a total of 8. The crash dropped me from about 10th to dead last and I could only catch 5 guys in my class before the end. The MX track had me spooked, of course, and I was going really slow over the jumps there.
Lessons learned- it's REALLY important to practice the MX track. I didn't have any problems on the back stretch, but the MX track was full of drop-offs, step-downs, table tops with landing kickers, whoops, etc. and during the race was NOT the time to be figuring out what I could or couldn't jump. I'm positive I could jump 75% of the stuff there, but a lot of the jumps are coming out of a dip and all you can see is a jump face, no landing, thus you really need to know WHICH jump this is. I just didn't have the track wired and couldn't jump confidently and that really hurt my overall speed.
As for the KDX, it was great. The KTM300's and 450fs pulled me on the straights (and 450f roost HURTS!!!). 250f and 250 mx'ers pulled me, but I got a lot of them back on the twisty sections of the track, esp. the 250f- a lot of those guys would pass me on a straight and then stall in the corner, and I'd pass them right back again. Overall, if I was serious about this, I think I'd have a 250 MX'er or maybe a KTM300, but the KDX was certainly adequate. If I hadn't crashed, I'm pretty confident I could have made a top 10 in my class.
So, today, I have a black eye and cut over my eyebrow from glasses, my right leg hurts a little (I busted a strap on the patella cup on my brand new Asterisks!), my right elbow is sore, my left thumb is sore, but overall, I'm amazed that I was able to walk away from that crash. And I'm equally amazed that I didn't even dent my FMF Rev pipe! The crash bent a barkbuster, twisted the forks a little, busted the TrailTech mount, blew my camelbak open, and destroyed my number plate.
That's the hare scramble! I think my racing Jones is satisfied for awhile!
Above: The next day...