March 7th – GNCC Round 1 – Moose Racing Wild Boar – Palatka, FL
The first round of the 2015 Grand National Cross Country race was a good one for me. I rode the practice bike in the FL sand to save the race bike for GA. The track was particularly rough but at least dry. With as little seat time as I was able to get in during the cold and snowy Ohio winter, I knew from the beginning that I wouldn’t be able to charge the sand woops as hard as I would have liked. I started the day looking for smooth lines and conserving energy. While that hurt me at first, as the day wore on, the race came back to me as others who had pushed too hard too early started to fade. I finished the day 5th out of 10 in the Vet A class, and 60th Overall. I was happy to get out of FL with good points. The bike was great, and while I was a bit banged up, I was happy to have the first race out of the way and be on my way to getting back into the swing of things!
March 14th – GNCC Round 2 – The Maxxis General –Washington, GA
Round 2 in Washington, GA is typically one of the rounds I really enjoy. Unfortunately, heavy rains soaked the track and I really didn’t anticipate the soil getting quite as deep, loose, and muddy as it did. I took the new race bike to the line as I had originally intended as I genuinely didn’t think the track would be any worse than a bit slick. I started the day well with a 4th place spot into the woods and managed to hold onto it for the entire first lap. The new bike was working very well, but the conditions were getting the better of me. I could generally maintain a decent grip for the first 8 miles of each lap, but the last 2 or so, I would start to struggle to maintain my speed without being able to hold on. I pitted for new gloves each lap, and each time came charging out of the pits to make up for lost time. On the last lap, I took my first properly bad line of the day and it was a costly one. With racers stuck in the 2 preferred lines, I opted for a 3rd line that looked like a decent option. Unfortunately, I mis-judged it and buried the bike. I tried to free it for a while but ultimately had to wait for 2 spectators to come over and help get the bike free. From there, I pushed as hard as I could to try to salvage some positions, but I had lost too much time. I certainly wasn’t happy finishing 7th out of 10 in Vet A, but my 67th overall wasn’t as bad as I expected and the new bike certainly survived a trial by fire and seemed to work very well. Overall, I was excited to get it home, clean it up, and get ready for the next round.
March 21st – OXCR Round 1 – Bear Run – Greenfield, OH
In the off-week between GA and NC, I headed to round one of the OXCR series in southern Ohio. I raced my KTM 250XC in the Novice class and while I’m certainly still learning a lot, I was very happy to come away 16th out of 36! I’m definitely getting better on it! Having raced the bike for an hour and forty minutes, I returned to the truck, drank an electrolyte solution to help deal with some cramping I was fighting at the end of the bike race, drank a protein shake, and headed straight back to the line to race the ATV race in the pro class aboard my practice quad, the 2009 KTM 525 XC. The ATV race went surprisingly well for as fatigued as I already felt. Once I found a groove, the track came to me and I had an absolute blast! I finished 7th in the Pro class and 9th overall having been beaten by 6 Pro riders and 2 EXTREMELY fast Vet guys. The part that I was super excited to see was that my lap times were incredibly consistent. I got 12 laps in, with the fastest being an 8:13, and the slowest being an 8:29. Clearly, training is paying off and I’m starting to get back into race shape!
March 28th – GNCC Round 3 – FMF Steele Creek – Morganton, NC
Morganton, NC has never been a track I enjoyed. It always gets crazy rough, and I never seem to have a lot of luck there. This year however, I actually enjoyed the track a lot. It was my first chance to ride the new race bike in dry conditions and I was amazed at how well the Walsh Racecraft front and rear ends worked! Coupling those parts with the already amazing suspension that Rocket Ron Racing and I have been dialing for years seems to have been a very good decision for this season! We had a few more ex-pro riders show up to run the Vet A class, so my 7th out of 12 finish wasn’t as bad as it looks on paper. The bike was fantastic and I actually felt really good for as rough as the track was! South Carolina is usually a track I enjoy, so I’m excited to get out of North Carolina sitting tied for 4th in Vet A and only 1 point out of 3rd! Going to work hard over the next few weeks to see what we can do to improve on that!
As always, I need to thank all the people who make it possible for me to chase this crazy dream! HUGE thanks to: Rocket Ron Racing for the amazing suspension work, Walsh Race Craft for the top notch suspension components, FMF Racing for the gorgeous blue Ti pipe, Rath Racing for the sweet and durable nerf bars and bumper, Motorex USA for every fluid I use in my shop, GBC Motorsports for the awesome tires that hook like nothing else I’ve ridden, IMS Products for the quick-fill tank that gets me in and out of the pits in a hurry, Twin Air High Performance Airfilter Products for protecting the engine, Hinson Clutch Components for the AMAZING BTL slipper clutch, FasstCompany Flexx Handlebars for saving my wrists, ktm-parts.com for getting me parts cheap and in a hurry since 2008, Powersport Grafx for making everything I own look amazing, Streamline Brakes for the awesome colored stainless steel braided lines to complete the look, Works Connection for levers and the hour meters, Leatt Protectives for keeping me safe, Towne and Country Real Estate for the backing, and Schumacher Race Works LLC for the engine work and wiring harnesses.
AND, I’m happy to announce that I’ve recently signed with KLIM Technical Riding Gear! I’ve been wearing their F4 Helmet for years and have been amazed with the quality and attention to detail they put into their products!