April 11 – GNCC Round 4 – VP Racing Fuels Big Buck – Union, SC
This used to be one of my favorite tracks, but it seems like I can’t put a decent ride in here anymore. I got off to a mid-pack start, but very early, my camelbak strap broke which became a bit of distraction for the first couple of miles before I could throw it to one of my pit crew to have it fixed. The minor distraction had cost me some time and I quickly put my head down and set off to make it back up. Unfortunately, a crash towards the middle of lap one rattled me a bit, and then another rider stalling his quad in front of me on a long uphill cost me a lot of time as I had to back down to the bottom of it to take another run at it. By the end of lap 1, the damage was done and 10th was as high as I could manage. I left South Carolina disappointed, but determined to do better at Round 5.
April 25 – GNCC Round 5 – Limestone 100 – Springville, IN
This race proved to have the highest high and the lowest low of my season thus far. Driving rains made for an absolute mud fest and I was not looking forward it. I had a lower mid-pack start, but in these conditions, that was probably for the best, and quickly began working my way forward. It seemed like every line I took was the right one. At the start of Lap 2, I checked in with a career best overall of 35th place. Unfortunately, 2 miles from the end of lap 3 where I would have taken the white flag, another rider was stuck and I took a line trying to get around that had me stuck until a sweeper came to find me over 20 minutes later. This disaster still netted me a solid 5th place finish with a 54th overall, but I couldn’t help but be extremely upset when I left the track, knowing what could have been, and how much time I had lost as a result of what felt like the only mistake I had made all day. Fortunately, the bike was not hurt and neither was I, and I headed home to begin prepping for the next round.
May 9 – GNCC Round 6 – Dunlop Tomahawk – Odessa, NY
I’ve never been good in the dust, and Odessa, NY was no exception. I fell back to 15th by the end of the first lap as I struggled to see where I was going. Halfway through the second lap, a rider in front of me kicked up a log which wedged itself into my left front A-arm and stopped me dead on the steepest downhill on the track. Fortunately, the rider behind me realized that the only way he was going anywhere was to help me free my quad, but the incident cost me some serious time and put me even further back into 16th. I worked my way up to 12th by the end and was glad to put the day behind me and focus on the next round.
May 23 – GNCC Round 7 – Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Mountaineer Run – Masontown, WV
This has historically been one of my least favorite venues on the tour, but in the strange mess that has been my 2015 season, I suppose it only makes sense that it proved to be the most fun I’d had all year. The 2015 KTM 525 XC race quad performed flawlessly in the rocks and the rough and rooted out woods. A few minor mistakes cost me some time throughout the day, but I avoided any big ones in the rocks to finish a much better 6th in Vet A and 79th overall. As I left Masontown, I felt like my season was finally getting back on track.
June 6 – GNCC Round 8 – Wiseco John Penton – Millfield, OH
The John Penton race was another dusty mess of a race and as ever, I struggled to find the pace I needed to run to get towards the front. Fortunately, there were enough sections of fast and rough woods on the track for me to find a groove and work my way up to 4th for my best class finish of the year. I left the Penton certain that we were on the right track and excited for Snowshoe and to head into the Summer break on a high note.
June 20 – GNCC Round 9 – AMSOIL Snowshoe – Snowshoe, WV
Snowshoe is traditionally one of my favorite tracks on the circuit. It seems like the really nasty terrain there is a great match for my technical riding style and the KTM 525 XC that I ride. Interestingly, I found the course layout at Snowshoe much less technical than it had been in years past and my results reflected a track that was much less suited to my riding style. A large bottleneck on the second lap cost me some serious time and my goggles, and then a driving rain storm hit the mountain. Being without goggles in the pouring rain when much of the track was 4th and 5th gear fire-roads was not a good combination as I struggled to keep my eyes open as the speeds increased in the adverse conditions. By the end, I was just glad the race was over. I finished a disappointing 9th in class and 86th overall at what has traditionally been one of my best tracks on the circuit.
Frankly speaking, the season has been a roller coaster ride. It seems like when I’m riding well it’s really well, but it also seems like any time I make a mistake it proves very costly. I need to continue to train and drive towards improving my consistency and will be focusing on that throughout the Summer Break. Somehow, I’ve found my way into 3rd place in the Vet A class despite the issues I’ve had and will be fighting to hold on to that coming into the last 4 rounds of the year!
As always, I need to thank all the people who make all of this possible. Despite the issues I have had this year, I have not had a single equipment problem and that is a testament to the great brands that support me and the incredible products that they proved! A HUGE thanks goes out 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, KLIM Technical riding gear for making the only gear I’ve found that holds up to XC racing use, Twin Air High Performance Airfilter Products for protecting the engine, Hinson Clutch Components for the AMAZING BTL slipper clutch, Fasst Company 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.