Disclaimer: These race reports are solely my recollection and recounting of race events. Any mention of fellow racers by name should in no way be construed as being derogatory, demeaning, or constitute an obsession with said rider. Nor should my recounting of race events be construed as egotism. As any who know me even casually can attest, my assessment of my riding abilities falls FAR closer to the polar opposite of that which an egomaniac's does. I COULD refer to other racers as "a rider in my class", but I believe that would make for rather dry reading. With that out of the way, on to my Bulcher race report...
Blood Feud Erupts in 125 Expert class
Several factors contributed to my being less-than confident about my chances of placing well in TCCRA race #2707, held near Bulcher, TX. One, the 9-mile course laid out by promoter Doug Richard was very technical and tight, not exactly my forte as a rider. Two, the skies unloaded late Saturday night, presenting the possibility of another nemesis of mine: mud. Three, I had been sick Wednesday through Friday.
The start of the race was probably comical for the massed spectators. I got a decent jump, but at the apex of the left-hand sweeping first turn, Matt Grubb (J50) and I bumped a little sending me to the ground. Now, what's the first thing you do after falling in the first turn (other than try not to get run over)? Look for your bike! I jumped up to do just that, but it was nowhere near me. I then saw Grubb about 10 feet away dragging my bike along behind him. He told me later that he thought his bike felt a little under-powered and heavy all of a sudden. My handguard had gotten locked up in his kickstand. After a few seconds of twisting and wrestling, we managed to separate the bikes and were on our way. A last-place start; swell, just what I needed. I took off, knowing that there was hope: there were several hills which held the potential for backup.
At the first major uphill, that possibility presented itself. I caught glance of at least two riders in my class stuck on various parts of the hill. I spotted a clear line and hoped for the best. My momentum carried me all the way up and over, and I was on my way. Toward the end of lap one, I learned that I'd underestimated how many places I'd gained. I pulled through the barrels in 7th place. The backup scenario reoccurred shortly afterward at the short uphill exit from the mucky, slot car creek we were forced to navigate near the start of the loop. A nice line to the left of the main exit line appeared, and I gassed it and made it out, picking up three more places in the process. I picked up another place on a downhill, putting me into third. This set the stage for THE INCIDENT.
For two reasons, I will not disclose the identity of the other rider involved in this unfortunate incident. First, he doesn't have an equal forum to describe his version of the events. Second, it is not my intention to further the bad feelings caused by the incident. Toward the end of lap two, I was being chased by another rider in my class. He was very close behind me as we rounded a left-hand turn and headed for a straightaway that forced the rider to get on the brakes very hard at the end, as the course dropped into a dangerous ravine with only one safe line. The riders were faced with danger markings as they approached the end of the straightaway. When I reached the small drop-off, the rider behind me came up on my right and forced me out of the only safe line, very nearly taking me out in the process. At this point I lost my temper and did something extremely regrettable. The other rider was approaching the left-hand turn approx. 10 yards ahead a little hot, and in a fit of stupidity I made the idiotic move of gassing it and completely broadsiding him. After several angry words were exchanged we went on our way. At the next turn, I realized I'd done some physical damage. I reached for the front brake and my right ring finger felt as though it had been shut in a car door. "No problem", I thought, "I just crushed it a little." As it turned out, in the process of trying to pay someone back for something I thought they had done wrong, I was instantly paid back for my misdeed.
When I reached the exit of the slot car track, there was another backup. This time, my luck in trying to navigate past it was not so good. I got stuck and lost no less than three places in the process, as Matt Grubb, Chris Horton (J79), and Josh Harrison (J56) all made it through the backup. The main line out was blocked, so I looked left and gassed it, launching my bike up over the bank of the creek, Blackwater 100-style. I was now in 6th and had blown what was developing into my best race yet in the Expert class. It would soon degenerate further.
I reached the first uphill at mile 3 and saw someone stuck halfway up the hill. He wasn't blocking the entire path so I went for it. Bad move. I hit a rock wrong trying to avoid his bike and lost all momentum. One attempt at restarting and climbing failed. Just then a kid and Steve Channell came over and helped me get the bike turned around, as I was exhausted at this point. The kid asked me if I was bleeding, and I told him "No, it's probably just the red grease I use on my axles". We got the bike back to the bottom of the hill after several minutes, and I knew my race was over. After taking several minutes to catch my breath, I noticed blood and took off my glove and my under glove was soaked with blood. I removed it and revealed a gruesome sight: there was a huge bloody chunk of something sticking up. "I sure hope that's just my fingernail", I thought. Luckily, there were EMTs nearby videotaping riders trying to climb the hill. We called them over to look at my finger, and they told me it looked like just the fingernail that was sticking up. They cleaned and wrapped it for me, we customized my glove to accommodate the wrapping, I gathered myself and made another run at the hill. With it clear, I made it easily, and was now left with nothing but putting the remaining six miles and trying to stay out of everyone's way in order to salvage some finishing points.
I was greeted at the finish line by the father of the rider involved in the earlier incident, who gave me an admittedly partially-deserved tongue lashing. I had the EMTs at the finish look at the finger and re-wrap it. They instructed me that if any blood soaked through the bandaging, I was to head for the hospital in Muenster for stitches. Well, the blood soaked through and I headed for Muenster. X-rays revealed a broken finger, and two stitches followed a REALLY painful numbing shot. I had indeed been paid back instantly for doing something I shouldn't have. I am normally an ardent believer in turning the other cheek, and I'm now paying the price for not using good judgment. Another lesson learned on Sunday at the races...
Look for my next report following the Bonita race one month from now...