Mammoth Motocross 2013 

Cool story bro

Finally the moto gods decided I had paid my dues long enough to let me win a Mammoth Motocross Wooden Bear.  It only took me 11 years, 15 years after I started riding again and 31 years to the year after I broke my neck.  Mammoth is the kind of race where it takes more than just being faster and/or in better shape than the rest to succeed.  You have to pay your dues.  In addition to the shape you have to get in to race motocross at altitude successfully you also have to have the logistics down, the qualifying months in advance; you have to watch your sleep through the 3 day weekend.  You have to stay hydrated and fueled up weeks in advance.  You have to load and unload your entire rig no less than 14 times during the week, including practice day.  That’s if you even wash your bikes after practice and race days - many don't even have it in them.

I've spectated at this race numerous times throughout the years thinking what a shame I never got to race the track before I got injured.  Prior to getting hurt when this race would come up I was always either injured again or there was a series points race somewhere else.  Spectating at this race is the primary reason I started racing motorcycles again.  At first I just wanted the opportunity to ride this track before I got too old, but then after a couple near misses my goal was to win!

This year I was more lucky than denying it was my year, check out this list of events. It started a couple three weeks prior when I was practicing at Milestone and noticed my shock was at the stiffest compression setting even after just getting it re-built.  Something was weird and I didn't have a lot of time to chase solutions - They did tell me though that my shock body may be getting worn when I picked it up after getting rebuilt.  Then the next weekend I was racing at REM getting some seat time and my motor started dying in the air and not wanting to idle in the corners. I wasn't really sure what was up with that, but took an educated guess and ordered a new piston; problem was it wouldn't be in for another week and I wanted to race REM again the upcoming weekend.  I decided I'd either put my stock barrel and piston on or race my bros bike.

In the mean time I discovered my "shock body" was indeed worn out which is a hard to find part without buying a whole new shock which would take a while to get delivered and dialed in anyway.  This is where I start cashing in my moto karma points I've built up.  First I get a call from Champion MC that they can get my piston sooner, it still won't be in until Friday but I can still get it after work and have it running for Sat REM race.......Lucky break #1.   I get my piston in and the bike fired up a little after midnight on Friday, it seemed to idle OK the limited amount I could let it run in the closed garage.  It sure seemed to run good while breaking it in during practice, it idled perfect.  I was now a little more confident I diagnosed the worn piston correctly or at least worn rings since the piston actually looked perfect.....Another lucky break.

I've also located a shock on eBay that is listed as "New" taken off at purchase and replaced with aftermarket - I get it in like a day or two.  It wasn't actually "New" which I was OK with since it obviously only had a couple hours on it and the guy got it to me right away.  Unfortunately it was actually from a 250F not a 450F, which I was still OK with since I could just replace a non-wear item (clevis) from my old shock and the guy refunded me 50%!!  Not only that, once I got it back from Enzo with my stiffer valving I could tell it was better just riding from the truck to the track before I even touched any clickers, or bumps!........A couple lucky breaks there I think.

The bike finished the day running perfect, so I guess it WAS a bad piston last week, and the shock was awesome and I hadn't even had a chance to go through hardly any clicker settings yet; I guess that'll have to wait until next week; our last testing day before Mammoth.

Unfortunately we choose Milestone for our last testing session and they were on an abbreviated Saturday practice schedule.  We got kicked off the track before I could really go through as many clicker settings on my new shock as I wanted to.  The bike ran good and I was jonsing to ride again since we got booted off Milestone before I was ready to quit.

Both Ian and I had survived all the races and practice sessions leading up to Mammoth this year as well as all of our late evening MTB training sessions the last couple months, which are almost as knarly as racing - This means we will BOTH get to at least ride Mammoth practice and if we survive that; we'll get to both race Mammoth 2013 which is easier said than done and has sometimes been an elusive goal.

I wasn't exactly sure where I wanted my jetting to be for the 9500' altitude. Yeah I know, I'm old school like that; ever since VP changed their formula for the 4.4 race gas though I've had jetting issues at Mammoth (see last year’s first moto). I took another educated guess at sea level on a different needle this year.  My bike fired first kick when I got up to Mammoth which was......ANOTHER lucky break.  After being able to make a few low gear jetting runs in front of the Corchevel condos I actually ended up with an altogether different needle and clip setting with a certain blend of race gas which nobody else really needs to know about.

Friday practice at least ended well.  As soon as I started warming up my bike Ian noticed my water pump seal was leaking, I don't have an extra water pump seal!  I immediately start walking through the pits looking for one and start envisioning an afternoon of wrenching (if I'm lucky) instead of riding and maxing and relaxing.  I'm not able to find one and figure I'll have to hope Bishop Motorsports has one in stock and make the 90 min drive to go get it as soon as they open at 9:00AM.  In the mean time I decide if I have to I'll ride it into the ground during the race.  I decide to ride practice and see how much coolant comes out, after 5-6 laps I pull in and the damn thing seems to have FIXED ITSELF!!  How does that even happen??  I mean nothing is even coming out and it was leaking like a sieve.  Was it so cold in the AM that after it warmed up a bit it sealed?  I still have no clue and don't really care, it was just my year - Why did I get a front flat while leading my main a few years ago? Who knows it just wasn't my year yet........Another lucky break.

During practice the bike pulled good on the uphill so I didn't have to do anymore jetting changes or hocus pocus with my fuel for the weekend.  The suspension felt perfect, so I uncharacteristically just left it alone and focused on my riding it.  I was feeling it and told Ian I never felt better on this track, other than my friends/competitors/(Rod) trying to play with me in practice when I was either ready to pull off or slowing down to check some line out. HA, Good fun!!

Race days went well, you can watch the footie.  I finally got rid of my two year holeshot slump, led lots of laps and most important brought home the Bear.  This year was more about the mechanical though, I put a lot of effort into not only wrenching on my bike but also Ian’s when I helped him change his crank and all his bearings.  I feel I've paid my Mammoth dues by all the 2nd place moto finishes, the flat while in the lead, getting passed for the lead in the last corner, getting taken out in the last corner, even holeshotting the wrong moto one year back in the day when they had multiple gates.

The final thing that tells me my result was destiny happened one turn before the white flag in the first moto of Day 2.  I finally hunted down the leader and went for a pass over the last jump on the Mammoth Freeway, I blew by him and everything looked good for the last lap - except I overcooked it into the big berm and stalled it. DAMMN!! I was ready for this and just calmly pulled in the clutch rolled down the berm across the soft track toward the infield all while searching for neutral.  While searching for N I must have been slowly letting the clutch out each time to see if I had it, I know the first try was unsuccessful because the bike slowed a little when I started to engage the clutch and I was worried I wouldn't have enough momentum to roll to the infield.  If I thought I had ANY chance of bumping it that would have been my first choice.  I reached for the kickstarter and was just hoping to get one or two good kicks in before I stopped rolling in the soft sand and with both feet on the pegs, it was then I noticed my bike was now RUNNING!!  I didn't kick it; I didn't even bump it - at least on purpose.  It was like the hand of Dave McCoy himself reached down from wherever it was he was chilln that day and just said.....Not this time - Bruuup!!! Try bump starting a hot 490 big bore starting on an imperceptible incline and waddling with both feet in sand!  How does that even happen??  I didn't even lose a spot and almost got the guy at the end again........Another unbelievably freakish lucky break!!

But not the last lucky break.  I left my $150 flannel at the track on the start line, My bro Ian went back the next day and I wasn't even the least bit surprised to hear it was right where I left it.  Do you think that would happen at Milestone, or ANY other track in SoCal? Ha.  Thanks to all the competitors and congrats to all the winners this year and........

~Long Live Mammoth Motocross!!

GoPro Helmet Cam Footie:

Saturday Moto 1 with interview

Saturday Moto 2 with interview

Sunday Moto 1

Sunday Moto 2

2013 Photos








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