So … what happens during the pro nationals break? Well … most guys do take some down time and enjoy some rest. As for me, I fit in a day at the Calypso water park and enjoyed some R & R at my girlfriend’s cottage. But … as a racer, you just don’t shut down for that long. I got to see my trainer and we made some adjustments to my regimen and I got to get some practice in.
It was nice to get back home after four races in western Canada. There’s nothing quite like home cooked meals. While I was happy to get a break after the mud fest that was Regina, three weeks seemed like a long time to wait before we lined up again to race. Fortunately, MX101 was hosting a local race and I had a great time on and off the track. It was great that Dylan Kaelin showed up and that I got to line up against him, something that just doesn’t happen on pro day because he races the MX1 class.
As Gopher Dunes approached, I wasn’t sure how to feel about it. One year ago … racing at Gopher Dunes was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. Fast forward to one year later … racing at Gopher Dunes in 2014 will not bring back very fond memories for me. I was really hoping to do well at that track again this year. I wanted to prove to myself and to everyone that last year’s podium finish was not just a fluke or a lucky break. I wanted to repeat or better the results I got in 2013. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.
While the heat and humidity were nowhere near what we had last year, the deep sand and nasty ruts were exactly as I remembered. I trained as hard as I could during our three-week break and felt ready to tackle the track. Instead, this year felt like the track tackled me.
It wasn’t a question of fitness or endurance … I felt great out on the track. I guess you could say that I lived with the consequences of my actions. By that I mean that I made a few decisions out there that didn’t pan out.
Picking lines is key on a track like Gopher Dunes. It was so frustrating to try one line and get through it successfully, only to come back and try it again in the next lap only to find that the conditions had changed … again … and would leave me with the rubber side up rather than down. While in one instance my decision helped improve my lap time, I sometimes found myself losing precious time making the same decision later on.
Picking your gate is also key … regardless of the track you’re racing. In moto 2, I picked a gate on the inside, between my teammate Jesse Wentland and Vince Friese. Now there’s a decision I would quickly learn to regret. While there were many good reasons to pick that gate, I appear to have overlooked some of the bad reasons for picking that gate. Truth be known … I think I got my best start of the pro series ever in moto 2 at Gopher Dunes. I got a great jump on the gate and honestly believe I was heading for a holeshot! My start was that good … until I got a lesson from veteran rider Vince Friese who proceeded to do what he felt was necessary to earn the holeshot for himself, leaving me and a bunch of other guys in a pile up in turn one. To make matters worse … as my front end washed out … I took out my teammate Jesse Wentland who had an epic moto 1 win. (I’m really sorry Jesse!)
As I made my way back onto the track in last place, I almost ran over a bunch of people who were making their way to the mechanic’s area because they hadn’t realized that there was still another bike to come. I proudly went to work and made my way through the pack moving from last place to about 18th place when I would be pulling off to the side of the track … dejected … because of a mechanical failure that would prevent me from finishing the race. The walk from the middle of the track to the pit area seemed like one of the longest walks ever. I could feel the eyes of many spectators on me as I made my way back to rig without my bike. I had so many emotions going through me as I stared at the ground and avoided making eye contact with anyone on my way to the MX101 Yamaha pit area.
In moto 1, I fell once and charged on, despite the bike problems I was having. I just missed reaching that top 10 and had to settle for an 11th position. In moto 2, I would have to settle for a DNF. I left the dunes with a 15th place overall.
Some might say that my results at Gopher Dunes were the result of rookie mistakes. They just might be right. Some might say that it just wasn’t my lucky day. It would be hard to argue with that. Still others might say that I was a victim of circumstance and aggressive riding. That too may be true. Finally, some might think that I was trying too hard and wasn’t riding as relaxed and smooth as I should have. You could probably add that to the mix. No one puts more pressure on me than … me.
But as I reviewed the results, I found that I was one of a number of riders who felt the sting of Gopher Dunes. I also realize that I can’t change what happened. I have drawn from it whatever lessons and experience I can to help me succeed in the next race. You can be sure that I will make every effort not to repeat the mistakes I made last week. We are still only half-way through the series with 5 more races to go. I am hoping for redemption at Sand Del Lee.