oh boy! here it goes, my “experience” of the Draper Moto Challenge.
This was the second annual running of the event and after watching all the videos of the 2017 running I was all in. Now as some of you know I currently ride a 2012 Yamaha YZ450F, needless to say it is setup for sand dunes or moto riding, but nonetheless I said screw it and signed up.
Getting close to the weekend of the event I was at work checking the weather which was not looking good by any means, unless you were a mud/enduro expert. The rest of us mere mortals saw this as a struggle as we stood on the side of the track during practice as they scoops about a foot of water from the start straight.
The event was postponed an hour as the rain continued to fall, the pits looked oddly quiet as everyone sat inside their vehicles and motorhomes and just watched the rain fall.
As we sat in my truck watching the clouds come over the mountains, trying to pick out all the lighter areas in the sky trying to predict when the rain would end, all I could do was think about my bike and how I wish I would have setup my bike differently for this event.
I am currently running a 13/48 gear ratio with a stock 19″ rear tire. not bad if you are in the dunes or on the moto track. I also had my sag set at 98mm and stiffened up my suspension a tiny bit from stock as I like it stiffer.
Finally here it comes first riders hit the track, as EVERYONE stood around to watch the handful of pros hit the track I realized “wait, my practice is next”. We took off running to the pits to get ready and unfortunately the “practice” was more of a 3 lap sight lap so we missed practice, That was not a good start to the day.
Fast foreword to Qualifying races and I am struggling just to start my bike. I finally get it running and head out just putting that to the back of my mind thinking I don’t stall my bike much” hahaha so much for that idea! Sitting at the gate event promotor Bryan Green gives us an amazing vote of confidence, “ok you guys, you are our worst injury class, you are all obstacles to each other, so BE CAREFUL”. Now lets drop the gate for all 24 of us to hit the track..
I decided to take it a little slow and relax, but by the time I hit the first turn I realized I could pick off about 8 guys and I rounded it top 10. coming over the first water main jump I got cutoff like I was driving down I-15 in rush hour traffic. I locked up the brakes and ended up stuck in the groove along the base of the pipe. As I tried to crest it using my feet on the top of the pipe for leverage another guy did a sick looking burnout on the top of my boot. There goes my week old pants and boots as it rips my pants and rips a buckle off. Finally I get over that obstacle and get through a few tire jumps no problem, but here comes the wood bowl turn. as I ride up to it I hear my girlfriend and my sister yelling and cheering for me, no pressure, I got into the last rut I wanted to be in riding straight at a downed rider in the bowl. Last second I try to get out of the rut and in the spirit of being awesome I went straight up, completely out of position and washed out into the wood smashing my hand in-between my bars and the wood. I jump up unhook our bikes and go to take off through the whoop section and as I see a guy waving the red flag I had to head back to the truck.
Now I am no quitter but I could feel something was not right. Once I got to the truck, completely deflated and embarrassed from my first performance everyone there to watch me witnessed, I realize after punching my crossbar pad that my hand hurt pretty damn bad. When I looked down at my hand I noticed my buckle hanging off, “awesome, going to be a good day”. Luckily my sister and her boyfriend offered to run to Home Depot to get a new bolt for my buckle while I focused on figuring out my hand and my bike.
I examined my hand and yup my pinky is most likely broken. I am so stubborn or stupid, depending on your outlook, but I was not going to get it checked out. I paid to ride and ill be damned if I didn’t give it my best effort. Me and my good friend Patrick figure out the issue with my bike, which rookie mistake, my oil filter was so full of oil it was not allowing air to the motor. after filling a few paper towels with excess oil we throw it back in and wouldn’t you know it, first kick it fires up no problem.
Here comes the Main Event, with family and friends watching I felt all the pressure to line up and at least do my best. My buddy comes up to staging with me but not riding all day and having a rough Friday practice he turned back and decided to watch from the stands. All the pressure was on me now to represent for our group.
I pick my gate and after talking to the dude lined up next to me “good luck man” “you too bro!”, I was ready, and by ready I mean I was literally shaking after what qualifying had in store. But hell, here we go, forget the past and focus. Gate drops and we take off, I get through the front section like I was in the pro class, as I clear the last tire section my bike stalls and here I am kicking the crap out of it with no luck. finally it starts and I hear my little cheering squad go nuts I take off and get through my favorite section (the whoops) no problem. Now comes the log/tire section and yes you guessed I got stuck and with a little help I got out and moved on.
Track workers are an essential part of any race but when a guy goes down after a log ramp on the right hand side of the course why would you try to stop a guy on the left side. last second he realized “wait go ahead to the left” but too little too late I got stuck. I backed down a log or two and dumped the clutch to get over and took off.
Now the best part is I was so far behind that when I came through the finish area I was the last guy out so I got the grand finale finish I heard the announcer call my name and number so I showed off over a little jump a bit.
With a huge grin on my face, and exhaled finally, I crossed the checkered flag and felt so great. My group cheering for me felt so good that even though I finished 23 out of 24 I did it, I finished this race, through all the adversity, pain, and mental struggles.
I learned alot about myself during this event
I am not a quitter, i didnt give up through bike issues, a broken finger, or a broken boot buckle. I tried my hardest to put all that aside and have some fun in some gnarly conditions.
Determination is a crazy thing. As i sat on the side of the track listening to my girlfriend and my sister yelling for me i had to prove that i am not a quitter. as ambarrassing as it is to sit on the side and keep kicking i wanted to make them proud of me.
Now this is a very loose definition of the word fun, lol, but minus all the craziness i had so much fun. when i finally crossed the finish line i was so pumped on myself that i actually finished the race. Proving to myself that no matter what I can do anything I set my mind to. I couldn’t do it without the support of the ones I care so much about, my family and friends all there cheering for me, mostly laughing at me, but I’ll take it. Thank you to all those who stand behind me.