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Mammoth Motocross 2007 

 

Instead of retuning everyone’s calls and repeating myself here's the update - NO HOSPITAL VISITS!!

Of note but not an excuse because all competitors deal with the same conditions, I wrenched my back in Thursdays practice debilitating bad without even crashing, and was considering spectating or at the very least going a lot slower than I wanted to.  On top of that both Ian and I were fighting colds Sat. that kicked in for real right after Sat races. Race days would go like this: Track opens at 5:00AM, so up at 4:50AM, drive 5 mins to the track and wait in line for 45 mins. to get in and get parked.  The entire track crew are the same recognizable Mammoth Mountain employees and locals from the years before that we also see on the ski hill during the winter months.  They are always very chipper and awake, only having to park cars and such for the day which is in stark and noticeable contrast to the people they are dealing with and parking.  We make small talk with the track crew laugh at the people fighting over parking spots and unload the rig and set up our pits with tarps, outdoor carpets, chairs, bicycle trainers, tool boxes, tables, coolers etc. which all has to get loaded back up after the race then repeated at the condo to clean bikes then reloaded again for the next day, only to be unloaded and reloaded again at the track.  Hopefully after washing bikes and gear we still have an hour to eat so we can get to bed by 9 (it always ends up being 10) of course this all takes place on Sat and Sun race days and Thurs practice day as well.  Winning Mammoth takes A LOT more than just riding well and being in shape.

First practice 7:00AM, too dam early to ride MX!! – imho.  With both our qualifiers being races 2 and 3 (when the track is still smooth and NOT indicative of how rough the Finals will be) and our finals being 22, 23 on the day our race times were 8:30 and 9:00 AM respectively (too dam early to RACE MX!! - imho) and 3:30 - 4:00 for the finals.  We were both sick as dogs and flat on our backs all day between our qualifier and final in our friends rig so our sinus' wouldn't drain.  We would only get up to eat, rehydrate, and watch one or two of our friends races.  We wouldn't have even gotten out of the rig to watch the pros except that we could just climb up on top of it and that Ryan Hughs was there and despite 2 week old broken ribs and getting 2nd the day before behind Jeremy McGrath had publicly said it WAS ON!! for day 2.  Unfortunately Rynos ribs got the best of him just like the day before and the only person ON at Mammoth was the King himself….and some Kong (That’s another story I'll get to) so we only watched the first half of the Pros race – we would of watched the whole thing but we both would only get about 20 mins before our sinus' would blow up in unison and we both had to retreat back into the trailer…..weird?.

Both Ian and I had the same Event Format: 80 riders split up into 2 divisions. Each rider picks a number out of a hat for qualifier 1 gate "assignment", gate "pick" in race 2, the final is determined by qualifier finishing position.  Each division has a qualifier in which the top 12 go to the final, the rest go to another qualifier for each division from which the top 8 go to the final.  The rest go to the bleachers - and that makes a 40 rider final in which your score for the day is derived from.

Day1
Qualifier:
I got 3rd after I was leading for most of the race after a 2nd place start.  After a couple mid-pack starts the weeks prior I was starting to lose a little confidence in my normal starting abilities but I always seem to come through at Mammoth…..there’s NOTHING like leading a 40 rider pack around Mammoth Motocross  with everyone cheering around the entire track.  I let 2 guys by since the 3 of us had left the rest of the pack so I could both conserve energy for the final and see if the other 2 guys had any lines I needed to know about.  The only thing this moto is good for is gate pick for the final and the first ten spots are OK so I let them go by – I didn't learn much except one guy seemed awfully fast and still fresh at the end.
Final:
In the final I spun my rear wheel and got off the gate bad and could only work my way to 10th….it was a very chaotic, hectic, well earned and humbling 10th I will add.

Day2
Qualifier:
HUGE perfectly timed holeshot from way outside gate 31 (almost unheard of)…...I mean TEN bike lengths at the top of the uphill - after one lap the ENTIRE Mammoth Freeway.  I was gone and trying to check out before my sinus' kicked in and that guy from yesterday came knocking.  I again led for most of the race until I didn't really let anybody by today so much as someone just decided it was his turn to lead before the checkered flag…..same guy - man was he smooth, and starting to piss me off!!  I got 2nd.
Final:
I was spent, and so was the track but all my competitors had to deal with the same track as me and I had 3rd gate pick so I had to man up and dig deep.  I had to decide do I line up inside or outside of K. Safford who had gate pick 2 because if I don't get holeshot, sure as shit he will and he could push me off the track if he gets a better jump on the inside.  But I can control the first turn if I get a better jump from the outside - the last time we lined up together I beat him and I noticed his timing was a little off on the gate in his qualifier (even though he still pulled holeshot) so I chose outside and asked "Can I trust you?",  he said "Of course" I did get the jump so he knew where I was but there wasn't enough time/room to control the turn before he pulled me a bit to the first turn, he did leave me room though…..about 10 inches thank god, cause I was there and not backing off.  I got a 2nd place start and the stage was set at Mammoth once again for 2 old rivals; (I used to race Kenny 27 years ago, and lost to him last year after getting a flat while leading the final with only 3 laps to go)  We went back and forth with about 2 other guys and I ended up in 3rd after "Mister Smooth Ironman" came marching through all of us yet again for another win (but not by much), I have to respect and give props to him, cause I trained my ASS off for this. (just not quite enough, apparently)

Even though I didn't win I did accomplish most of my goals and that was to stay on 2 wheels - pull at least one holeshot - lead some solid laps and finish top 5.  I also said that if I didn't win whoever did was going to have to deal with me and indeed my division was the fastest and the eventual winner did have to go through me every time he hit the track……at 40+ years old he also raced the 30+ class and I know he won his qualifiers both days for the 30+ as well as 40+ and was told he won the finals in 30+so but haven’t confirmed.  The guy was pitted next to me out of a fricken mini-truck with a cooler, a little umbrella and a beach chair, his name is Robert Kong and he earned it.

OVERALL
Somehow 2 day final scores of 10, 3 gave me a 4th overall which is better than the 6th I got 2 years ago, or the 24th I got last year. Under the circumstances I have to be happy with 4th overall, since on this weekend I was a little off my game and was probably only the 3rd fastest guy anyway; K. Safford from division 2 had 3 holeshots on the weekend and pretty much had my number as well. I'm not sure who got 3rd overall but I can tell you he was lucky….even though there is no such thing in motocross.  BTW I weighed in at 151 lbs before I left and I just got off the scale at 142….scary.

Ian got 9th overall out of 80 guys in the 30+ class (no more entries were available in the 40+ which was a drag cause guys he's beaten won the class he should have been in)

I didn't see much of his races cause I was on the line for mine but I can tell you he rode like a hero.

His best finish was a 3rd in a 40 rider qualifier, he also got a 4th in the day 2 final - funny we both did our best when we felt the worst?  Not one guy who beat him was even close to his age.

Just wait till next year Robert Kong it will BE ON like Donkey Kong!!

~PFitzG38

 


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