Round 4 | March 27, 2016 | Lake Havasu, AZ
Having had a less-than-stellar result at the Glen Helen BIG 6 Grand Prix a couple weeks earlier while coming off a nasty virus, I definitely wanted to turn things around at Havasu. I’d finally started to feel pretty good, physically, the week leading into the race, and my bike felt absolutely dialed-in during practice—I didn’t change a thing, not even a single suspension clicker, which is saying something because of how rough and challenging the course can be—so I was pretty optimistic about the pro main event on Sunday afternoon.
When it came to the main, I got off to a good start, but was leaning to the right and nearly took myself out as I ran my front wheel into Justin Bonita’s rear tire. I straightened myself out and exited the first turn around seventh. The roost up on the Havasu motocross track is absolutely brutal, as it’s littered with golf ball- and soft ball-sized rocks, so I was quick to push forward on the first lap to keep from getting beat up by too much roost, passing my way into third place. To be honest, it felt like a lot of the riders were really pacing themselves—a strategy I perhaps should have considered further—as racing for two hours on such a slow-speed, rough course in nearly ninety degree temperatures was definitely going to be demanding.
On the second lap I was able to make the pass by Colton Udall, who was recovering from an ankle injury, and move into third place. From there I quickly caught up to the back of Eric Yorba, who was hot on the heels of the leader, Gary Sutherlin (it was great to see Gary back at the races by the way). I swept around the outside of Eric through a left-handed corner, drawing up alongside him, and my line-choice gave me the inside as we headed into the following right turn, allowing me to take him a little high and move into second.
Just two turns later I had closed the distance to Gary, and through a left-handed corner I was able to maintain more speed down the inside line, making the move into the lead. I opened up a gap pretty quickly over the next few laps, and by the midway point of the race I had actually pulled out nearly a minute on the field. I didn’t feel like I was pushing incredibly hard, but after what happened next, perhaps I would have been smarter to focus on pacing myself quite a bit more.
The first red flag popped up on the lap after I pitted when I made a slight mistake, pushed the front tire through a berm, and fell down. The fall wasn’t that big of a deal, but in trying to save the crash, my right calf cramped up to the point that I had to take a few seconds to stretch it back out; that wasn’t a good sign with still about fifty minutes to go in the race.
From there, my body slowly continued to let me know that it wasn’t able to answer the physical challenge the race was demanding. I was losing strength and energy with each passing lap, and it wasn’t long before Justin Wallis had caught up to my back wheel. It didn’t take him any time at all to make the pass as I just didn’t have it in me to put up any kind of a fight.
A lap later I made the decision to pull in to the pits to get some water dumped on me in the hopes of cooling down some, or maybe getting a shock of energy, but in doing so Travis Coy relegated me to third. I came in to the pits on each of the next two laps as well, losing one more position to Justin Jones, but for as horribly slow as I felt I was riding (or more aptly, surviving), I was actually a little surprised I had only dropped to fourth with just a couple laps to go.
In the distance behind me I could see Gary Sutherlin reeling me in, but thankfully the white flag finally came out to signal the last lap. I used every bit of energy I had left, determined to hold on to fourth, and had just enough to keep a few second gap over Gary at the checkers. I hauled straight to the pits and my wife packed me with ice to cool me down as the muscles in my arms and legs cramped worse and worse. I hadn’t felt this bad after a race in a long time.
Fortunately, as I write this, I’m not feeling too bad. Don’t get me wrong, my body’s not the happiest it’s ever been with me, but I’m not as broken down as I thought I might be. I’m definitely not used to throwing the anchor out that hard in a race (in recent years at least), which has me thinking (hoping!) that this is left over from that nasty virus I had back at Glen Helen, and that my body is just not yet back to one hundred percent. All things considered though, if I had to pick a weekend to have an off race, this was it, as the riders around me in the point standings didn’t have the best of weekends either.
I want to congratulate Justin Wallis, Justin Jones, and Travis Coy for holding up as well as they did on such a brutal racecourse; I haven’t seen it that gnarly in quite a few years. Now my main focus is to recover this week and get back as close to full strength as possible for the fourth round of the BIG 6 GP championship in Twenty-nine Palms this weekend.
Thank you to my mechanic Phil, suspension tech John, my wife (and our little bean), family, all of my personal supporters—Precision Concepts, MSR, Shoei, Sidi, 100%, EVS, USWE, Focus apparel, BRP, RAD custom graphics, GoPro, A’ME grips, IWC motorsports, ATP mechanix, Rekluse, CryoHeat, and the MotoXerciser—and all of our race team sponsors for all of the continued support!
Thank you to each of our team sponsors: Rocky Mountain ATV/MC, Precision Concepts, Maxxis tires, FMF exhaust, Maxima USA, Renthal, Dubya USA, Acerbis, Matrix Concepts, GPR stabilizer, CryoHeat, Rekluse, VP Race Fuels, IMS, BRP, LA Piston Co., A’ME grips, Braking, RK/Excel America, ARC levers, DT1 filters, RAD custom graphics, Zip-Ty, Boyesen, Seal Savers, MotoSeat, MotoHose, Next Components, Rigid Industries.