Site: Bonita, TX
Current Standing: 9th place, 388 points
May 28th turned out to be a great day for me. Arriving in the mail was the flyer for the June 13th TCCRA race at Bonita. At the bottom was the description of the Bonita course. It claimed that there would be lots of open terrain and plenty of opportunity "to test those neglected higher gears". Perfect. I am among those who are tired of the first-gear, follow-the-leader, enduro-style crap. In fact, I'm probably the biggest whiner among that group. Give me a chance to go fast; if I wanted to ride enduros, I'd ride enduros.
We arrived at the race site at approximately noon Saturday. The soil looked good, too. Sandy, just the way I like it. However, approximately 30 minutes later, things started to deteriorate. A very dark, very large wall of clouds appeared to the northwest. The wind began to pick up and clouds quickly rolled in. Then in absolutely UNLOADED. A turd-floater that lasted approximately 45 minutes and turned the camping area into a combination river/lake. Marvelous, the first course of the year that there's a chance I'll REALLY like, and it's going to be mud. The rain finally stopped, and I spent the next few hours consumed by two activities: feeling sorry for myself and watching people get stuck in the muck.
Four o'clock arrived and I decided to give it a try. I was amazed. There was NO mud whatsoever. The course itself, while not exactly as great as I had hoped, was very good nonetheless, the best one of the year so far. Something strange did present itself, however. At the 12.5 mile mark of the 13.5-mile course, the soil went from perfection to completely slippery muck. The transformation was striking and very sudden. Not a problem, though, as long as it did not rain again.
Sunday morning arrived with no more rain in sight! After performing my usual hand-taping ritual, I headed for the starting area and took the inside line. I got my usual lousy jump off the line, but recovered OK and was in the midst of the pack at the first corner. There was someone very close to my left, but I had almost gotten past the tree on the inside of the corner when it felt as though someone had grabbed my rear wheel and wouldn't let go. Down I went, for the second race in a row. At least this time, I was the first of the two fallen riders to get going and wasn't dead last. I caught up to the pack in fairly short order and began to look for opportunities to pass. I dropped in behind Jason Flowers (J88) and tailed him for a couple of miles, until he dumped it in a corner and I got by. I then got by Chris Horton (J79) when he made a slight bobble. Next I passed Steve Miller (J10) when I held the gas on just a little longer down a straightaway. I can't distinctly remember passing any other riders in my class, but I must have at some point, because I was in sixth at the end of the first 13.5-mile loop.
About two miles or so into the second lap, I encountered a backup of five or so bikes at a tight left-hand turn in a woods section. I spotted an opportunity to the right and decided to go on a safari. I was either going to find a way through these trees, or get stuck worse than if I'd waited for the backup to clear. Fortunately, there was a clearing at the end of the maze, and I got by several bikes in the process. Chris Horton had really been pushing me hard the entire first lap, and I had gotten the feeling that I wouldn't be able to hold him off much longer. This proved true as he zipped by me shortly thereafter, and proceeded to slowly distance himself. He was going faster than I wanted to, so I didn't chase him super-aggressively. I had evidently gotten by as many as THREE riders in my class at that backup, as I was in fourth at the end of lap two.
Roughly halfway into lap three, I glanced down and saw that I had used A LOT of gas, and began to ease off a bit on the throttle. I had assumed that a 3.7 gallon tank would make 54 miles, so I hadn't made any plans to pit. At this point I heard the distinct scream of a 125 behind me, and saw that it was John Powers (J5). I wasn't going to just stop and let him by, but I know he's faster than I am, and I wasn't going to ride over my head to try and stay ahead of him. I kept him behind me for a few miles, but he eventually got by me. Toward the end of lap three, here came another 125, Steve Miller. I blew a 90-degree left turn shortly after entering the muddy section, and past me HE went. This put me in 6th at the end of lap three.
Miller stopped for gas just after clearing the barrels, putting me into fifth place. I was really sucking wind at this point and was just trying to concentrate as hard as I could on every corner, hoping to avoid falling. I wasn't sure if I'd have the energy to pick up the bike if I were to dump it. A couple miles into the last lap I came around a corner and there was Powers stalled. I slipped by just as he was getting going, and he chased me for a couple of miles before getting by me again. About this time I heard a 125 behind me and knew it was Miller. It was time to give it whatever I had left in order to stay in front of him. I managed to keep him a reasonable distance behind me, while surprisingly keeping Powers within sight to make 4th a possibility if he were to make a mistake of any magnitude. He didn't and eventually pulled out of sight. Around the 9-mile mark I realized I no longer heard anyone behind me. At each clearing, I took a glance behind me to check if anyone was within striking distance, but never saw anyone, so I concentrated on keeping the bike upright, which I managed to do until the checkered flag. It turns out that in spite of stopping for gas at the start of lap four, Miller still ran out of gas, dropping him from sixth to ninth and costing him the overall points lead in the class.
The course was fun but rough, and I am really feeling the effects of the 54 miles today. I don't think I've ever been more sore the Monday following a race. I guess that's what happens when you're old and out-of-shape...
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