Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Pine Ridge Enduro

After a couple "not so good" races, I was hoping my luck would turn around for Round 5 of the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit. I got lost on course at the National Enduro in Texas, and then a week later I had a decent ride in Bennett, CO, only to have it all wasted by a scoring mistake. The Pine Ridge Enduro is always the type of race where you can only expect the unexpected. so we made the drive up north with our fingers crossed.

Chadron, Nebraska is home to some of the best trails I've ever ridden. It's also prone to some of the nastiest weather I've suffered through! Some years it's pouring rain, sometimes we're looking for the trail that's buried under 6 inches of snow, and some years it's beautiful, perfect springtime weather. Aside from some strong, cold wind, this year offered some of the best trail conditions we've had.

This event is one of only two timekeeping races left on our schedule, which means I had to dust off my ICO enduro computer and try to remember the little rules, tricks, and risks associated with the format. It's always a relief to finally hit the trail and see your nice display telling you to speed up or slow down. After an extended road ride out to the trails, we were finally able twist some throttle and enjoy the awesome mountain trails.

Unfortunately, I think my mind was too focused on how much fun I was having, and not enough on how to ride a timekeeping enduro. I dropped points on every check before the first gas, either by not riding "hot" enough leading into the trail sections, or by riding too early and entering checks before I was supposed to. Luckily, the section between first and second gas went very well, and I didn't drop any points for the next three checks.

The last loop was for A and B riders only, and was super technical and fun. I started the section right on time and was hoping to finish off the day strong. I rode smart and consistent, and at the next check I came through with a score of 8 mins and 0 seconds. I was frustrated, because had I been 1 second faster, my score would be a full point lower. There was one remaining check, so I couldn't dwell on my bad luck too long. Aside from a couple small mistakes, the last section was really fun and I felt pretty good on the bike.

When we left, I think I was sitting in 9th overall for the day. I was happy to get a good overall finish after the bad luck at the previous two races, but I'm still waiting for a race where everything clicks and I finish where I think I'm truly capable of finishing. Stay tuned... I have a good feeling that day will be coming soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Caprock Canyon Enduro

Last weekend was round three of the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit, held in the small town of Quitaque, Texas. Erin, Ron, and I loaded the van on Friday afternoon and got most of the 9 hour drive out of the way. The promoting club holds a fun GP style race on Saturday, so our goal was to get to the race site before Erin's 9:30 AM start.

Erin rode a great race, and despite a mediocre start, finished 3rd out of 11 girls. The only downside was that I could tell we were in for a really dusty weekend. I decided I didn't want to fight the dust on Saturday, and just saved my energy for the enduro on Sunday. We spent the rest of the day finishing up bike preparations and visiting with friends. We checked into our room at the local Bed and Breakfast, and it was definitely an experience to remember.

With the time change on Saturday night, our night's sleep felt a little short. Luckily our hilarious hotel owner gave us a nice personal wake up call (there weren't any phones, haha). He made us some eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toast, and we were off to the race.

The day was broken into 6 special tests. The first section was the same course used for Saturday's GP race. I got a decent jump off the line, but blew a sharp corner after a fast straight. Don Moen was on my row, and apparently he raced the GP on Saturday and knew that was coming! He got around me and I followed his dust to the finish of the section. He was laughing at the checkout and said "You didn't ride the GP, did you?!".

The next 5 tests were all a little outside town in the Caprock Canyon State Park. I had a great time in test 2, probably a result of some frustration in test 1. The 3rd section didn't go quite as well... I stalled my bike, had a collision with a slower rider that pulled over right into me, missed a turn, and struggled in the dust. I didn't want to continue the day in that fashion, so I settled in a little bit and tried to ride smart for the last 3 tests. I felt really good at the start of each section, but when I caught some dust I had to back off and wait for a mistake or good passing opportunity.

When the scores were finalized I was 19th overall for the day. This race always has a big group of fast riders, so I was really happy to be in the top 20. I felt really good on the bike, and had some great test times. Hopefully I can continue to improve by eliminating some mistakes. Erin took another 3rd place and most of my RMEC comrades also had really good results! I'll be traveling back down to Texas on the first weekend in April for the Lonestar National Enduro and ISDE qualifier. Check back soon for more updates!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dual Duel-Phoenix 2011

Sorry for the lack of updates! As most of you know, 2010 was a very busy year for me. There was a lot of good that came with it, but I really want to put an emphasis on racing this year! Though it seems way too early, this year's racing has already started. The first two rounds of the RMEC are co-sanctioned with Arizona's AMRA, so I get the opportunity to travel to warm weather every February. It's hard to properly prepare during the winter in Colorado, so Justin Petty and I decided to travel down few days early to get some riding in and dial in our bikes. It's always a harsh awakening when you first twist the throttle on the Arizona terrain. The traction is mediocre, the ground is rough, the rocks are sharp, and if you make a mistake, you will end up covered in poisonous, barbed cactus needles. Smooth and precise riding is the ticket down here.

Erin had to work back home, so we brought her bike down and she flew in on Friday afternoon…. VIP STYLE!!! Saturday morning came sooner than I expected, and the first day of racing was under way. There were four tests on each day. The first was a fast seven mile section that provided a good wake up call to the high speed terrain we’d be racing on. The second and third were around 17 miles each, and had a good variety of high speed roads, whoops, winding trail, and sand washes. The last test was also just under twenty miles, but had a very technical, steep and rocky side-hill trail in the middle.

I felt good on the bike all day, and accomplished my main goal of staying off the ground and out of the cactus. My test times improved all day as I got used to the desert terrain. I knew that there were a lot of fast riders racing (including Destry Abbott on the row behind me), so I was happy to finish day one inside the top 20 overall. I usually do better the second day of a two day race, so I was anxious to get some food and rest and see what I could do on Sunday.

Sunday’s course was the same as Saturday’s, but each test was run in reverse direction. The course was getting rougher on each lap, and it took me a while to get used to the different lines. I struggled with the dust and speed again in the first test. Luckily I was able to put my head down and put in some better times for the remaining three loops. I stayed off the ground again, and only got a few cactus needles in my hand on the last loop! My times were good enough for a 14th overall finish. I was really happy to finish the first two races safely, and in the points on both days.

I have some new sponsors this year that I would like to mention. I’m really excited to be racing for the Stillwell Performance/Carbon Raptor team again this year. My suspension is incredible, and I truly believe that regardless of the motor you have, it’s worthless if you can’t ride the bike in control and put the power to the ground. Fay Myers Motorcycle World helped me get a new fuel-injected 250 SXF, and it rocks! Between my new Moose gear and PG graphics, nobody can deny how good I look out there, haha :) . I would also like to congratulate my teammate Ray Barnard on some of his best results to date, and my girlfriend Erin who took a 3rd and 1st in the Women’s class!!! Wooooohooooo, looks like 2011 is going to be an awesome season!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Untitled from Erin Kummer on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

I have the best girlfriend in the world!

Last Tuesday felt like any regular Tuesday, little did I know it was gonna be one of the best days ever! When I got home from work, Erin asked me to grab something out of my van while she took out the trash. I went to unlock it, and to my surprise, it was left unlocked. I was a little bit nervous, but Erin re-assured me that she had been in there just a short while earlier and didn't lock it. I casually opened the back door and my eyes went directly to the floor where I was looking for the Leatt brace that Erin wanted me to grab. A few seconds later I noticed my bike had a new tire. It took another few seconds to realize that the whole bike was new, and that my brother and our friend Allen were sitting in the back with a video camera to catch my reaction.... IN HD!!! Maybe I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, but what Erin had done didn't hit me until what must have been 30 seconds after I opened the door! I was in complete shock. As if she doesn't do enough for me on a daily basis and treat me better than I deserve, she bought be the bike I've been drooling over for months. Apparently all of our friends knew this was coming, and for the first time EVER(!) they actually kept a secret! Thanks so much to the guys at Fay Myers for helping her out with this, but mostly, I have to thank the coolest girl in the world for making a little dream come true! I'm the luckiest guy in the world!!!

PS: I rode it this weekend and it rrrrrrriiiiiiippppppppsss!!!! Braap!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Caprock Canyon Preview

March has arrived, and that usually means the RMEC season is about to kick off in Texas. However, this year we were all given the chance to get a warm-up race under our belts down in Phoenix. Last year, I wasn't quite ready to race when Caprock approached, and I got my butt kicked! Hopefully we all got the bugs worked out and are ready to smoke some of those Texans!!! I want to see the Colorado guys show up ready to race so I thought I'd put together a list of things I've learned about this fun race :)

(Caprock 2007)

1. When I think of this race, I think of motocross without the jumps. The traction is usually epic, and I don't expect this year to be any different. I look forward to slamming some berms!!!

2. We usually start and end on the 3 mile grass track in the town of Qutiquae that was used for Saturday's GP race. If you don't race Saturday, at least walk part of the track to get a general idea of what Sunday will bring, and stretch out those road legs! The test will likely be run backwards from Saturday's race for either the first, or last special test.

3. After the test in town, you will probably have some time on the road heading out to the area where the next few tests will be held. The next three or four tests will all be held in close proximity, and generally consist of fun trail that winds through the cedar trees. Let me know if you see any rocks out there, I don't think I've found any in years past....

4. Bike set-up is pretty important for this one, because there is nothing too technical and all of the scores will be really close to each other. You should be fighting for every second! This is a race with a lot of turns, so make sure you have your sag set right and your suspension set to settle into the corners. If you need help with this, stop by our pit area and look for Alan Stillwell. He drives a big KTM box van and I don't think he ever leaves home without a sag-o-meter.... ever!!! I would make sure your brakes have fresh fluid so they don't boil too easily, your clutch is good, and that your bike is jetted right. You're gonna be on the pipe :) :) :). I wouldn't worry about a skid plate, pipe or disk guard, or a steering damper unless you feel naked without it.

5. If you see David Klein, or any other Texans doing weird things, turn and walk the other way.

6. Have fun and don't ride over your head, it's still winter here and you have a good excuse if you don't ride as well as you would like!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Phoenix Double Header

The first round of the RMEC was held early this year near Wickenburg, AZ. This race is a double-edged sword because it's awesome to go down and enjoy some warm weather and fun trail in the middle of Colorado's winter, but it's hard to prepare for the race with so little seat time. Erin and I decided we'd make the trip down and look at it as a nice vacation and good training.

Luckily, my parents also had plans to go down to Phoenix and visit some friends. It took a little bit of convincing, but they agreed to bring my van down with my bike and Erin's bicycle's so that we could fly to the race... VIP style, YEAH!!! We arrived Friday morning, spent some time with my parents, and went to the race site for registration and some last minute set-up. It was awesome to see all the people that I don't get to see very often away from the races. It was also cool to see some moto guys out there that are looking to make the switch to off-road this year!!

Ray, Clint, Rex, Erin, and I headed back to Phoenix to get some food and spend some time making fun of each other. Clint got us a sweet deal on an awesome hotel room, with a hot tub :). We crashed early and got some rest for Saturday's early start.

After getting our continental breakfast (and lunch, haha) I left for the race site and Erin got on her bike to meet me there. I'm not sure if I actually woke up until the flag dropped for the start of the first test. My plan to take it easy kind of went out the window when the local guy on my row got the start over me!!! I was a little fired up, and was riding a fast section in the dust right on his wheel. Apparently there was a big natural jump that he knew about a mile or so into the first section. When I saw the ground fall away, I kinda freaked out and let off where he kept it pinned. I ended up casing the landing and hit hard enough to turn myself into a lawn dart. By the time got my self up, nerves intact, and bike straightened out, I decided that I probably shouldn't start the season like that. I was a little bit bummed and banged up, but happy to not have major injuries. I had lost enough time to justify riding easy the rest of the day and save some energy for Sunday.

We woke up Sunday morning to wet conditions, a rare event in the desert!! I was happy because I knew the moisture would make the traction ideal, and more familiar than the typical baked AZ terrain. The advantages of my 2-stroke also shine when there is a little more grip. Although I wanted hit it hard from the start, I didn't want a repeat of Saturday, and just wanted a solid result to start the season with. I rode consistent, and stayed off the ground. The terrain was super fun on Sunday, and when combined with the awesome dirt, made for a great day of racing.

Although there are some errors in the results that are still being fixed, I ended up 7th in the Pro class and 12th overall. I'm happy with the way I rode, but am ready to get some more solid training in and improve on that throughout the season.

As usual, I have to thank everybody that helped me this weekend. First, I can't thank my parents enough for bringing my van down. It was awesome having some extra time to relax and recover instead of being on the road. I'm sure Erin would have preferred to be racing herself, but I appreciate everything she helped me with throughout the weekend. It was cool to see Steve Hatch at the race offering some advice, lending a hand, and saying hi to everybody. Clint and Denise Chew hooked us up with an awesome hotel room. Alan Stillwell helped us with some suspension settings that worked awesome down in the desert. I also have to say thanks to Fay Myers, FMF, Race Tech, Carbon Raptor Coatings, and KTM for their continued support. Now it's time for some TLC on the bike and getting myself ready for the Caprock Canyon Enduro in Texas. See you all there!!!