After the results in Kamloops, I must admit it didn’t bother me one bit to leave that city in the rear-view mirror. Thank goodness for the amazing drive between Whispering Pines Raceway to Wild Rose MX Park in Calgary. The drive through the Rockies was a bit sketchy at times, but the scenery was exactly what it took to help me shake off the Kamloops results, change my mindset, and get ready for the next round. I must admit that I didn’t get to play tourist as much as I hoped to between the races. But in addition to my tour of the FOX headquarters while I was in Calgary, I got to visit the winter Olympic facilities. It was pretty cool to ride down the luge track in what I can only describe as mini go-karts. As for the MX track in Calgary, it was a pretty sick layout. It was hard-packed earlier in the week, but was tilled and groomed so that it got rutted out pretty good by the end of the race day. That worked for me since I like a rough track. It had a cool roller section where I was able to make up some pretty good time on most laps. I’m so happy I managed to keep my bike rubber side down for both motos so that I could finally get into the top 5. I was pretty excited to find myself with a 5th place overall after I earned a 9th place finish in moto 1 and a 5th place finish in moto 2. My goal now is to bridge the gap that existed between me and the leaders of the pack. I want to be running with them, not trailing behind them. I’ve been training hard and believe I have the potential and the speed to hang with them. Speaking of distance between things, I always thought Sand Del Lee was pretty close to Ottawa’s downtown core until I arrived at Wild Rose MX Park and only had to walk a couple of minutes to get from my hotel to the track. I don’t think it will ever get any more convenient than that again … except maybe for Sand Del Lee which is only about a 5-minute drive from the comfort of my own home. Speaking of home, I really enjoyed having some familiar faces at the races in Calgary. It was great to have my girlfriend Krista Casselman with me for a few days. I’m really lucky that she shares my passion for motocross. (Thanks for making the trip and for being so supportive!) Another friendly face at the fences was MX101’s Johnny Grant. (Thanks for believing in me and for all your encouragement!) And finally, I have to thank Allan Brown for being there in Calgary and for building me motors that make my YZ250F fly on the track. But it’s the race in Regina that really put the rider, the bike, the motor, the clutch, the brakes, … (you get the idea) to the test! Looking back on last week’s race, I can safely say that I have never ridden muddy conditions the likes of what we did at the Moto Valley Raceway. While the organizers did the best they could with the insane amount of rain they got over the week and especially on Friday, the track delivered some of the most challenging racing conditions I’ve ever had to overcome. Under the thick layer of deep, heavy, sticky mud, was dirt as hard as cement. No matter how you looked at it, you were going to be dealing with slippery, unpredictable conditions. In qualifying practice, I took off second, behind Kaven Benoit, and thought things weren’t too bad as we seemed to be moving well through the slop. That is … until I went over a jump … slid down the hill … went sideways … and fell before the first of a series of rollers on an uphill section of the track. In my defence, the face of the jump looked pretty good. What I obviously didn’t think ahead to were the conditions on the other side of the jump. Needless to say … things went bad. Not only did I fall once, but twice, trying to get going again. When I finally did, I proceeded to finish the lap and pulled into the mechanic’s area to straighten my bars and get a fresh pair of gloves. Well … the motocross Gods were not smiling down on me during practice. When we pulled out the extra gloves I had packed in Cale’s bag, I only had two gloves for the same hand. So … I pulled a Michael Jackson and went back out on the track wearing just one glove. As if things weren’t already challenging enough, I then slid off the track … down this cliff … and realized I had a rear flat tire. (So much for getting any traction in practice!) It was a struggle to get up and out. I tried going back up the jump (yep … going the wrong way on the track) with the hope that I could get enough momentum to get up the next hill. After three failed attempts, I had to find an alternate route that eventually got me back to the finish line and to our pit area. The good news was, I managed to finish a lap so I could at least line up for the moto. The bad news was, I was going to have one of the last gate picks for moto 1. None of us were in a hurry to line up for the motos. I couldn’t have been more grateful to FOX Head Canada for providing me with lots of clean, dry gear and to EKS brand for giving me goggles and an ample supply of tear-offs. (You just couldn’t have too many of those in Regina. Ha! Ha!) Despite the lousy qualifying practice time, I actually ended up with a pretty decent gate, lining up on the inside next to Kyle Swanson, and shot out of the gate in around 5th place. It took all the energy I had to try to keep the bike moving on the track and maintain my position. I was so frustrated when I fell … at least twice … losing three precious positions to some of my rivals. With mud that seemed to find every possible place to stick and wedge itself into, I’m sure my YZ250F weighed 40 pounds more each time I laid it down. So … how did I adjust my riding to deal with conditions like that? First, I sat way back on the rear tire to get as much traction as possible and to try and keep the front end light. Then, I used my legs for balance, to help keep the bike on 2 wheels as much as possible. Last but not least, I twisted the throttle and hoped for the best. The race may have been shortened by 5 minutes and a lap, but I was pretty exhausted when I crossed the finish line. The checkered flag was a welcomed sight. What a relief to realize that, unlike a number of my opponents, I had successfully completed the moto. No DNF and a top 10 finish to boot!!!! I have to say that regardless of some of the issues I had, I really enjoyed racing in western Canada. The people were great. The scenery was spectacular. Getting to ride some new tracks was awesome. To complete rounds 1 to 4 of the pro nationals, I was on the road for about one month before I boarded a plane from Winnipeg to Ottawa on Sunday, June 22nd. I have to admit that so far … it’s been a great experience, but I’m happy to be home. Now that I’ve achieved a top 5 finish in the West, I’m hoping that being on my own stomping grounds will help me get to that top 5 every week. If I’m lucky, I hope to be on the podium before the season comes to an end. Hope to see you in the bleachers and along the fences in the East!