Skyler Howes // N10 Vegas to Reno 2017 (With Video)

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Overwhelming is an understatement. Vegas to Reno is a big-time effort and heading into this year, I was totally behind the game. I decided to race the National Hare and Hound in Caliente, NV the Saturday before V2R (Vegas to Reno). It was a good time but totally put me behind schedule. My V2R race bike was nothing but a frame on Monday and the race started at 6 AM on Friday... A lot of the product that I needed didn't even show up until Tuesday, so that meant I had about two days to build a complete bike. Did I make it? Barely, only with the help of the Lake Powell Off-Road Association. They showed up on Thursday ready to load up and head to contingency and I hadn't even started the bike. 6 am to 1 am, every day from Sunday to Friday to make it to the starting line, it was hectic that's for sure.

I was the 8th bike off of the line, which sucks, for some reason my luck runs out on the draw for the start, V2R has some of the gnarliest dust, if you start behind, all you can pray for is some good wind so you can at least see where you are going at 100mph. Right away I was able to make a pass in the dust, just hanging it out a little more than the other guy. By pit two I was closing in on more riders but had to pee soooo bad, so I stopped there, drained the main vein and then headed on. This actually worked out perfectly since Diamond J scheduled the heli to fly over and film me. So this gave me some clean air to really hang it out (which by the video you can see I even decided to work on my freestyle skills with a nac nac hahaha)

I worked my way around a few more riders and eventually made my way into 3rd overall by pit six. By this time I had already fallen far enough behind the top 2 that it would have taken a major issue to get in front of them, but I did keep pace with them. The rest of the race was mostly uneventful, just a lot of roads and bumps. By RM 300 my hands and wrists had taken a serious beating and I was wishing for the finish line that was still 250 miles away, lol. I was thanking my Flexx Handlebars though, without those I might not even have hands and wrists left. At pit eight, my crew radioed to me and told me to get off the bike. I have this issue that if I spend longer than five seconds at a pit, I'm taking too long so I tend to short myself of food and water. I got off the bike, the crew made sure my oil was full, we swapped in a fresh Funnel Web air filter, I got a banana and a Gatorade down and started on my way again.

I really didn't have any intentions of swapping tires. At every pit, we were feeling the NitroMousse to see if it started to break down but it held together amazingly well. At the next pit, there was a little pavement and when I was heading up it I could feel the rear tire hop just a tiny bit so I made the decision to swap out the rear tire. Turns out somewhere along the way, I caught a sharp rock and sliced the sidewall of the tire (that's what the hop was) and had nothing to do with the NitroMousse. (I'm actually still running it in my practice bike!)

Anyways, a fresh Kenda tire and some more water and I was on my way again to the alternate pit, where we decided it was better to just stop quickly for a splash of fuel then to chance running out, thank you to Baja pits for taking care of me there.

After these longer pit stops I had let the 4th place team get within a five minute gap of me so I had to start turning it up just a bit because I knew the last 20 miles was more technical and very rocky and I knew I didn't have the energy left to really push it through there. I plucked my way through the rocks and made it through clean. I was close enough to taste the finish line. Cruising down a not-so-rocky two-track road, my front tire must have just flipped up a rock and clipped the chain guide. It broke the welds, the chain guide broke and derailed my chain. "No way!" is all I could say, there was no way we all just worked this hard for this great result to have it end that close to the finish line. What a huge bummer. I hopped off, got the chain back on and dug in my tool pack so I could take the chain guide apart and get it off the chain. What do you know, all I needed was a #4 Allen and I didn't have one. I tried jamming any tool in there to get it loose, tried to get the chain off, tried duct taping the guide back on with no luck. Tuffy Pearson was the next rider by, he stopped to make sure I was good, I had no water left and he's such a good dude he took his water pack off and gave it to me then went on to take the 3rd place spot.

So after the 5th place rider went by, there was about a two-hour gap with not a single rider, so I took a nap, nothing more that I could do plus I was spent. Another hour passed and Garrett Poucher stopped, took his tool pack off, gave me a #4 Allen and even hung out for a quick convo. I got the chain guide off, Garrett took off and I started cruising, luckily I had a DDC sprocket on or I think I would have been really screwed because it was bent just a tiny bit. If I went any faster than 1st gear and hit a bump, the chain would hop and derail which happened twice. So I took it nice and easy for the last 15 miles and cruised my way in for a finish. What a gnarly day, I was pretty dang tired and bummed, but that's racing.

2017 has been a very trying year for me, I was looking for support, got involved with people that ended up burning me in a huge way. I was left with just about nothing in my bank account and decided the best thing for me was to just focus on me and my program. It's been tough but so far this year has been littered with a lot of ups as well as some serious downs. 2017 is a serious building year for me and I really gotta give it up to my sponsors for sticking with me. Thank you all

Lake Powell Off-Road Association, Diamond J Racing, Fastheads, Fly Racing, Ride Life Ind, Fasst Co, Dicks Racing, Pro Moto Billet, Kenda, DDC, Nore Worx, Nitro Mousse, IMS, Hinson, Funnel Web, Vertex, Seat Concepts, Dragon, AME, Works Connection, Yoshimura, TM Designworks, Official Strength, Tunex Racing, Bland Recycling, BRP, Baja Designs.

[Check out Skyler's Vegas to Reno experience in this video:]