Saturday, September 12, 2009

GRAND National.

My first season of racing BMX seriously is over and culminated at a race called the GRAND national in Louisville KY. Christine and I camped from early Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon in between two awesome white pines which were about 100 yards from the track. Waking up to the announcer on the mic every morning was a real treat as I would rub my eyes of excess sleepy dust and start the camp stove rolling in order to make my morning coffee.
Practice Thursday was a very good idea because I got 22 runs on the track on my cruiser (24 inch BMX bike) and my PK Ripper which definitely gave me an edge on the competition all weekend long.
This year's track was awesome. The first and second straight were the same as last year's track but the third and fourth straight got totally changed around. The third straight was a step with a deep landing into three large doubles. The fourth straight was a rhythm section that was pretty deep but was still very fast and very flowy. All in all, it was a great track to race on.
My novice motos went as expected and I breezed through them. However, my cruiser motos were a complete confidence booster because I won my first one and got seconds in the next two. Cruiser is basically an open class that is set only by your age, not your skill level so I was racing some very fast people, and beating them. S-T-O-K-E-D!
On Sunday my family (Mom,Dad, Nux, Isa, and Angus) came to watch me race which always helps me to step it up. In the semis, I took it from line to line in my novice race and in my cruiser semi I was the "bubble boy" and made it to the main.
You can check out the semi videos at GO211. videos are below.
cruiser semi
novice semi

As the mains rolled around, nerves set in a little more. However, once I was out of staging and walking out of the tent and up the hill to the starting gate I got my focus back. That is one of the many things i love about BMX racing; it teaches you to really put everything out of your heard and focus on one thing at a time... getting a good snap and pedaling as hard as you can to the first turn.
A couple of months ago I was practicing my gate starts out at the Weaverville track and I realized that my snap was way better when the wait for the beeps was longer. I had real problems getting a good consistent snap when the beeps started right after the recorded voice. It was at this point that I knew that my gate in the main of my novice race at GRANDS was going to be immediately after the voice recording. And was I ready. Sitting in the gate as the voice was working its way through the cadence... "Alright riders, random start... riders ready, watch the gate..." and immediately the beeps go off and I snap... the rest can be seen on GO211.
Novice main

My cruiser main was shortly after my novice main. I was in gate 1 which got cut off about 25 yards down the first straight. I had a good snap but couldn't elbow my way into a good line in the first turn and took it super slow. Well, you can see it at GO211. I finished 7th which I am happy with cause it isn't last.
Cruiser main

All in all, it was a very fun exciting, nerve wrecking, family and friend filled weekend. Many nights were spent at the hotel pool that Christine and I would sneak into every night. Many a meal was multiple burritos from Qudoba. And many a dream was had in which I missed a moto, semi or main. Thanks Subconscious for making it so easy to sleep at night.

2010 looks to be a tough year in BMX racing as I am now an expert and the bar has been raised, very high. These guys are fast... but with a lot of determination and plenty of support from awesome people like you, I am sure that I will be able to reach some goals by this time next year. Thank you.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Summer is in full swing

HEy yall, Sorry it has been so long since any of us (aka I) have written on here. If you are still reading it, awesome! thanks for coming out and checking out what we are up to.
Things in the house have been all over the place.
Mitch has just spent a week following Phish and having the time of his life. There was a show in Asheville in which they closed off four major city streets in order to accommodate to those that don't wear shoes and always look like they have been swimming in a pool with too much chlorine. After the Asheville show Mitch was off to Knoxville and then off to Bonnaroo where he got super dehydrated and super super tan. I thought he was just covered in dirt when he got home but his actual skin turned a deeper shade of Caucasian. The sun did him wonders until he came down with something awful that wiped him out for a whole week. Thank god the PGA Tour was going on that week or else I don't think that he would have survived.
Sarah's family is town and even though they haven't stopped by the house yet I am sure that we are going to be having an awesome time together this weekend. A big family dinner party on Saturday night to celebrate Sarah's family and Christine's 24th birthday party. Stayed tuned for pictures and hopefully some stories if we can remember what happens that night. Sarah has recently got into App State for a Master program in counseling. She starts in late August and will be moving to Boone sometime around then. And since it is only an hour and a half away I am sure that the boys will be heading there in the fall to crash some football games and sleep on Sarah's floor.
Lateef is "shadowing" a lot these days which makes him sound like a ninja, but in nice dress clothes. On top of spending a lot of time at hospitals seeing blood all over the place and people screaming in agony, Lateef has also been studying his rear end off for his MCATs which just got scheduled for the middle of August. Good luck Teefer! He is also soon to be off on an adventure out to Colorado where he is going to be working as a camp nurse at a summer camp that he has been apart of for the past few years. And I am certain that there will be a large spike in the number of young girls needing band aids when Teef shows up to camp and puts on his nurses smock. Go get em Teef!
As for me, I have been working with trees as much as possible and also spending a lot of time at the track helping Jamie Bravo keep the place running as smooth as possible. I have got a national in two weeks out in Nashville TN. It looks like it should be a lot of fun.

Hope all is well in yall's worlds. Thanks for checking this out.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Morristown Spring National

Every fall and spring Morristown holds a BMX national. It is an indoor venue and the track gets built within a few days before the race and then disassembled that Sunday and Monday after the races. It is traditionally known by the Blue Chip Racing team as a must-go event because the track is always fun and it is also the closest national all year. This spring was no exception. The team was there in full force and everyone was pumped on this year's track layout.
Coming out of the gate was a small roller, a short table top, and then a double into the first turn. The first turn was a tall bowled out piece of work, however it was damp during the first 100 motos on Saturday and people kept on washing out in it while trying to make passing moves. The second straight went double, double, step up right into turn two. It was really inspiring to see the pros and experts land sideways on this step up and immediately rail the second turn. Talk about fast! The third straight was one of the best rhythm sections I have ever hit because it had a ton of flow and it all linked up very well. Roller, camel hump into a roller and then another camel hump. Turn three lacked any definition and was also wash boarded out which made it the weak point in the track. The fourth straight was a step up step down and then two rollers... about a hundred feet pedal space and then the finish line.
Practice started at 2 on Friday and since there was only a couple hundred riders it was an open practice which meant that you could do laps on the track and not have to wait fifteen minutes between runs. Jamie, Josie and I rode like banshees until 6 trying all of the different lines there were and then packed up the car with Jack "I don't need to practice" Ritchie and went back to the hotel for a meal of runny alfredo that ended up more on my chin and shirt than in my mouth. Josie and Jamie wouldn't let me live it down.
Saturday started with an amazing breakfast at the hotel. Real biscuits and gravy, fresh fruit, real eggs, bacon, and more bacon. It was time to rock out. We got to the track at 8 which gave the grommits a chance to practice before the old guy practice started at 8:30. A few laps and a couple hours later racing commenced with the Elites going at it and taking each other out in the first turn. If the Elites are wrecking in the first turn you know that it is a tough turn to pick and hold a line through.
My class this weekend consisted of 9 guys which meant that we were split up into two motos; one moto of four and the other of five. On Saturday I was in the moto which had the fast riders in it which meant that I had a chance to check these guys out before it came down to the showdown throwdown in the main. However, it is hard to see how people ride when they are behind you. Oh SNAP!
The first moto started off as a disaster because I came unclipped out of my left pedal on my second pedal stroke. However, instead of sitting up and accepting defeat I clipped back in as fast as I could and went into the first turn in the back of the pack. Picking lines through turns around 200 pound guys is quite a lot of fun when you have confidence in you bike handling skills. By the third straight I was back in first and took it to the line. The second moto was a lot smoother and faster in that I didn't come unclipped and took first from the gate to the finish line. It was shortly after this second moto that my room mates Sarah and Mitch showed up to check out the scene and see what BMXing was a lot about. I have been talking their ears off for months about my bike and it was wonderful to have them there and finally see what I am so excited about all of the time. My second moto started off with a poor gate snap which put my in the middle of the pack. I held my line through the first turn and chased down the race leader down the second straight. I knew that if I didn't make my move in the second turn that this guy would take the moto win and I couldn't handle having Mitch and Sarah show up and watch me lose... and also the embarrassment and brow beating I would get from Mitch and Sarah for the next few weeks would be unbearable. Heading into the second turn I am on the outside and start railing high as the leader takes the inside line and holds it. At the apex of the turn I dive down into the bottom of the turn and start cranking my rear end off. I edge up next to him and from there it is all about trying to be smooth and consistent through the rhythm section. As we head over the first roller to camel I see him backing out of my peripheral. Manual up, manual down, pump, pump and into the third turn. I don't feel him underneath me and I come out of the third turn in the lead and take it to the line. Dang, that was a close one. Can't let that happen again.

So in the main instead of messing around, the gate drops and I am gone all of the way to the line. A "perfect" Saturday. I pick up my trophy and Sarah immediately wants photos of me and "Coach" Ritchie because "your mom isn't here and she needs to see this!"

Saturday went well for the Blue Chippers and we ended up third in the team rankings. So to celebrate (after a pinball tournament back at the hotel in which Josie slaughtered Jamie, Jack and I) the Blue Chippers all met up at a Mexican restaurant for cervezas and some good food. I won't go into detail about how long it took us to find this restaurant but let me say that by the time we got there we were very very very hungry, and very thirsty. "Food will be down!!"

Sunday started early with another delicious breakfast of bacon, biscuits and eggs. Also, since the team got third the day before the Blue Chippers got a free lap around the track in the parade lap that occurs during the singing of the National Anthem; just another chance to check out lines and feel the track out before the motos started at 8.
The way my class was set up on Sunday was two racks of us and this time I was in the slow moto. Sweet! I took first in all of the motos and when it came time to the main I was awake and ready to rock. I was in gate four and the two fast guys were in gate 1 and 2. All I had to do was beat them to the first turn and I would be able to smoke them through the rest of the track. The gate drops and we are off. However, by the table in the first straight I see some shaky riding to my right and two people tumbling off the track. I hold my line through the first straight but the guy in gate three is right next to me. He has the inside line and pushes me high in turn one. We make contact with our elbows, but since my elbow is in front I can get on the gas faster and come out of the turn spinning and take the lead. Manual, manual, jump through the second straight and by now I have a substantial lead and take it all of the way to the line.
Dang! A "perfect" weekend.
Once again, the Blue Chippers take a third in the team points due to some outstanding finishes. Antonio "The Rocket" got his first ever win in his 11 Expert class. And Josie "The Pinball Princess" got a solid second again behind her arch nemesi. All around a good weekend of racing.
And now as the points are standing I am leading my national class which is a good feeling even though this makes me a marked man for the rest of the year.
So it is back to the training room (aka my basement) to get ready for the Freedom Nationals (I think Braveheart with be there to hand out the trophies) in Woodbridge VA in late April. The timing is perfect because I can now take a week off of the bike and rest up a little bit. It also just so happens that I have a case of the "Crud Lung" which is supposedly a rite of passage for those whom race in Morristown due to the dusty indoor conditions. What a great time to curl up on the couch with a good book and hack away the day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Spring Nationals, McDonough Georgia

Two weekends ago I went to McDonough Georgia which is just outside of Hot-lanta and raced in the Southern Charm National BMX race. The weather both days was pretty much perfect in that it was brisk enough for a hoodie in the morning but come 10 am you could be in your race jersey and feeling fine.

The track was a lot of fun. It had a lot of jumps on it which was fairly disappointing because that doesn't leave a lot of room for imagination and different lines.

The way a national races works is that it is a two day, two race venue. Each day is a separate race, so if you crash and do terrible on Saturday you have a chance to redeem yourself on Sunday... and vice versa. Each class, which depends on your ranking (rookie, novice, expert, and all of the variations of pro) and age (my class being 19-25) has three motos which are three qualifying runs to see who moves on to the "main event" which is known as the main. Depending on the class size there can be quarter qualifiers and semi qualifiers in between the motos and the main which weeds out the slower racers (generally). For example, my class which is 19-25 novice, only had five racers this weekend which means that we didn't have quarter or semi qualifiers and everybody moved into the main.

Alright, sorry for the boring rules and regulations part of the story, but it helps to know how it all works or else the jargon through the rest of this story is going to be a lot like a different language.

So Saturday started off bright and sunny with a three hour practice before the racing actually commenced at 11. The track was perfectly groomed and everyone was looking fast. prior to the races my class all found each other and talked about who the fast ones were and who to look out for and all of that jazz. Since we didn't have more than 8 people, we would all move onto the main which meant that the motos were going to "just for fun" (or so I thought). Saturday's finishes in the motos for me were a 3rd, a 4th, and a 2nd. Not really too good considering I was way faster than the guys I was in the gate with. When it came time for the main though I was ready and completely gameface. I had talked to my coach a lot before the race and figured out a strategy that could work... don't give up first place. Sounded simple enough. Also, the fastest guy out of the other riders was in the far outside lane and I was in the inside lane which gave me a better line down the first straight and into the first turn... if I could just hold my speed and control the lead into the first turn.

So we are sitting in the gate and the cadence starts... "Alright riders let's set em up... riders ready, watch the gate... ... " and we all take off. I got a pretty good snap out of the gate and took off. Out of my peripherals I saw the riders next to me falling away out of my sight. As we come down the backside of one of the first obstacles I just barely see Josh (the fast guy) moving closer to me. But I pump super hard down the backside and he disappears. So now all I have to do is step it up a bit and make sure that he stays behind me into the first turn. Up and over another obstacle and we all fly into the first turn trying to pick and hold our lines for position. Josh is still on the outside of me and I try to hug this really nice bowled out asphalt turn as low as I can. The philosophy is, the lower you stay in the turn the less distance you have to travel. We shoot out of the first turn and head down the second straight which is a lot like a drag race because there is a lot of open space to get pedals until the first obstacle. I take and hold the inside line through this straight as well and pump everything as hard as i can. It is at this point in the race that a song pops into my head... a song which has never failed me and only makes me go faster and ride more aggressively. "Jack of All Trades" by Hot Water Music. It is super melodic and very fast which makes it perfect for an all out 30 second sprint. Thanks to this song I take off through the second straight and hold my lead all of the way through the last turn. The last straight in a BMX track is often a rhythm section which means that you have to stay consistent and smooth or else you are going to get passed. So I am going through the last straight as smooth as I can and I see Josh start moving into my vision as we are coming over the last couple of rollers. We drag race for the finish line and both do a bike throw, but it was way too close to call. I immediately congratulate him and tell him that was an awesome move he made coming for the pass at the finish line. But still neither of us knows who won.
I go back to Jamie, my "coach" and he tells me that they announced me as the winner of the main. i was stoked and went to go pick up my trophy. As I am heading over to the tent I see Josh standing in line to challenge the call made by the officials. The NBL (National Bicycle League, which is the race league I race in) has video cameras placed at the finish line so that when discrepancies like this arise they have video footage from several different angles to figure it out. I stand in line with Josh waiting to see what the outcome is. Our main was main #29. The guy in the booth has the finishes from main #28 and main #30, but the video cameras shut off or stopped taping for main #29. "Ruling on the field stands" and I go to pick up my trophy (which is huge by the way, 3 ft. tall). I was really excited and went back to Jamie with a huge shit-eating grin on my face.
It turns out that most of our team (Team Bluechip Racing) did really well and scored a third for day.
We go back to the hotel and go swimming to celebrate. And then go out for an amazing pasta dinner. Can you say "good healthy food"?

So the next day, after spending the night on a fold out cot that was seriously two feet too short for me, we head to the race track at 7 in the morning to start racing at 8. My class on Sunday was only 3 riders because two of them went home, Josh being one of the two who left. Sunday's racing went by very quickly because there were a number of racers who left after Saturday's racing. My motos were pretty easy due to really good snaps out of the gate. However, in the second moto I jumped the last obstacle into the first turn and did a stylish little tuck, which enabled this guy Dan to shoot to the inside and take the lead for the rest of the moto. I finished 2nd. Upon seeing Jamie after this moto he asked me if I was trying to give away points. I looked at him blankly. I didn't realize that motos were worth points that would affect my end of the year placing. I immediately felt like a "jackass", a word that Jamie is not scared to use for situations like these, and in the next moto powered through the entire course to a 1st place finish. So my moto finishes were 1st, 2nd, and a 1st. Everyone in my class on Sunday transferred to the main and it worked out that we were all right next to each other in the gate. As we are sitting in the gate at the top of the hill, the cadence starts. "Alright riders, let's set em up... riders ready, watch the gate...... ". Two pedals out of the gate and I can't see either of the two riders next to me. I take it all of the way to the finish line. This time no discrepancies and I go to pick up my first place plaque which is now sitting on the air conditioner for all to see in my local bike shop, Pro Bikes.

The race is over by 11 am which is pretty darn quick for a national. Everyone packs up and hits the road to get to wherever home is. About fifteen miles down the high way Jamie sees Mex Mex Frontera. Jamie is a sucker for mexican food. He can also eat a horse if it would sit still long enough. We roll into the restaurant and start looking through the menus. I notice a 16 inch burrito called "El Gigante" and if you eat it in one sitting you get a T-shirt. Jamie puts down his menu and when the waitress shows up, he orders "El Gigante" and a large t-shirt. The huge plate of food shows up and Jamie asks "Is this it?" He throws it down the hatch and is done with the entire thing before I am done with my four fluetas and before Josie (Jamie's daughter) can finish her nachos. Neither Josie or I hear the end of it the entire ride home as he is sporting a shirt that says "I survived El Gigante" with a huge shark on it coming out of the water and looking menacing. The significance of the shark, I still don't understand. But the shirt is destined for the walls of the Bluechip Hall of Fame.


Sunday, November 9, 2008

a kick ass weekend

Sunday, November 2, 2008

sometimes we rock out

a few photos from the Weaverville track. it is more than fun...

sometimes we rock out

a few photos from the Weaverville track. it is more than fun...