First Hare Scramble...a little painful.

So, I've been debating about whether or not to start this thread for the last 48 hours. I decided it would be a good way to collect criticism and to learn something about how best to move forward.

First a little about me…I have a competitive streak a

Mile wide. I'll race you at anything and I'm a shitty loser. I’m don’t mean that to say I am unrealistic or a poor sport about it, just that I expect to do well when I am capable of it. I used to shoot competitively (USPSA and IDPA) and did well. Well enough to win at a national level and have sponsors paying for some of my expenses. I won when I put in the work, simple as that. Work, family, etc have changed my focus and while I still shoot a fair amount, I don't shoot competitively anymore.

I ride street bikes and have recently taken an interest in riding dirt. I bought a well used 2003 WR450f because I don’t have any better sense than to start with a big bike and have been practicing on 90 acres I have at home and a local riding spot. I have more or less rebuilt this bike from the ground up, bearings, top end, controls, carb,suspension, everything. It runs like a raped ape just look at it hard and it starts, no bog, lots of power. Scary as &%$#@! for a new dirt rider but it has been a good –if unforgiving- teacher. . I have a 2 mile course laid out at home with Woods and flat grass track. I have gotten to feeling pretty good riding it at a good clip ( 20 mph) average.

On the strength of the above foolishness, I entered my first hair scramble race last weekend. It was a VXCS race in North Carolina. The short version is it did not go all that well. I had practiced starts, but managed a nice wheelie at the start followed by stalling the bike. That led to a rush to the first turn, which led to overshooting the first turn and a pretty nasty crash in front of God and everybody else in attendance. I banged up an already bad right knee in the process but I wasn't about to say uncle on the first turn of my first race.

From there the race gradually improved, I had some falls but nothing major and I was getting much more comfortable with the terrain. It was not at all what I had hoped for in my first race though. I had no expectations of finishing well, really all I hoped for was finishing the race. It turns out that “tweaking” my knee on the first turn crash was a little more than I thought and I could not stand on the pegs and stay stable on the bike. The knee quit hurting after a mile or so but I just could not shift weight back and forth like I needed to in tight turns in the woods. By 6 or so miles I couldn't really stand on the pegs effectively at all so I was getting beat up pretty good sitting and crawling my way through.

By 8 miles in I was beat, and the bike Was 250*+ due to me moving slow. I hated to do it but at the end of lap 1 I called it quits. Damn that hurt to do!

So Monday I spent watching the GoPro video and nursing a well swollen knee. I'm pretty convinced that I could have run a few more laps if I could have just stood normally on the pegs and supported my weight.

So what's next? Heal up a bit and practice practice practice. I have a nice course laid out at home But I need to make some changes and make more of it tight woods as opposed to ATV trails. I also am joining a local motorcycle only club with a good number of trail miles to ride.

One thing I could use some help on, I was having trouble with my front wheel washing out in all kinds of conditions. Soft dirt and rough ground. I'm thinking a little more preload on the rear and maybe setting the forks down 5mm or so in the clamps would be a start at shifting weight forward?

All in all, I had a fun if somewhat disappointing first race. I've got a Lot to work on and I'm planning to try another one next month. The only way to learn is to do right?

FWIW- the bike:

2003 WR450

Fresh top end

Hot cams

Renthal sprockets (13/50) and chain

CR style front brake cable

Trail tech vapor

Racetech springs for my weight & rebuild front and rear suspension

Fluidyne radiators

Clarke fuel tank

Cycra hand guards

JD jet kit in a refurbished carb

FMF power bomb head pipe

FMF power core pipe

Perrelli scorpion XC tires

Tusk handlebar risers (I'm 6’2”)

Ricochet skid plate

Pictures to come. The video has a bit too much colorful language with the way I was hurting and mad at myself for me to post it.

Sorry to hear that you had such a bad first race. Seeing that you are pretty new to riding offroad, your front end traction issue is likely might be a result of improper body position(too far back). Bike wise you could raise the rear by adding preload, lower the front by raising the forks in the clamps or speeding up the fork rebound. Too much air pressure or worn tires could also be the problem

Sorry to hear that you had such a bad first race. Seeing that you are pretty new to riding offroad, your front end traction issue is likely might be a result of improper body position(too far back). Bike wise you could raise the rear by adding preload, lower the front by raising the forks in the clamps or speeding up the fork rebound. Too much air pressure or worn tires could also be the problem

I wouldn't be surprised if body position was a big part of it especially as I got tired/sloppy. Tires were new-had about 15 miles on them after replacing a set of Kendas I had worn pretty well practicing. Running 12psi.

I'll play with suspension some and most of all focus on technique.

Yeah, that first race is always an eye opener! :thumbsup:

 

Personally, I recommend working on your technique first. You can't ever get faster if your technique doesn't improve. I mean, anyone can grab a handful of throttle and fly. However, not everyone can turn correctly. I see it at every race. Guys on big 450's fly by me in the wide open sections only to have me pass them back (on my little KDX220 no less!) in the tight stuff. Hell, most of the time I don't have to pass them because they wad it up or go off course! :lol: Anyway, clutch, brake, throttle, and body positioning all affect how efficiently you turn. The better you get at each one the more you can cut your lap times down and you'll reduce your chances for injury.

 

Next would be conditioning. A good diet does make a difference. I admit, though, I'm horrible at eating "healthy"! A cardio based workout works really well to keep you going in long races. Cycling, running, etc. Weight training is also useful if done right. I don't go for bulk when weight training. I go for building strength. More reps, less weight.

Honestly, I bet your problem was mostly in your head. Were you nervous and anxious before the race? I get that way when trying something new like a first race or whatever. I bet on your second race you will do much better. The first day jitters will be gone and you have a much better idea of what to expect. From the sounds of it you did a good bit of prep to your bike and your riding before the race, so I don't think that is an issue. As always when getting into something new, learn from your past experience and you will improve as you move forward.

Fwiw. To second the nervous anxious thing... Try and control yourself better that first lap. Let the other riders make the early mistakes. I think you just learned one of the first rules of racing.."you simply can't win the race on the first lap, but you damn sure can lose it".. You get the idea. That in actuality is what happened to you. A cascading of events took place. Starting with the blown start. 

I truly believe most people are way more physically capable than they are mentally.  Humans are endurance animals, and the body will keep going if you have the will to tell it to.  Now, with that being said we are also intelligent creatures, and should be able to look ahead of the moment make educated decisions for what truly matters.

 

Push yourself... yes, but don't be stupid.  If you potentially hurt your knee and it is giving you more than just dull ache, then the smart thing to do is say, "hey, this pointless races doesn't mean squat... i'm a hard ass and i know i could finish this BUT, i am not a moron and don't want to risk giving myself a life long debilitating injury over a pointless races.  Gonna call it quits, heal up and come back and give it my all again" 

 

This very physically active girl i know once posted what was supposed to be a motivational story about how she over came her desire to give up and call it quits during a work out,  how she instead toughed it out and pushed through till the very end.  Her story was about how she was doing a 6 mile run and it was 90 degrees outside, with very high humidity and she didn't have enough water with her ect...   What i got from this story was not that she is mentally tough for not calling the run off after she clearly started to show signs of heat exhaustion but that she is stupid and her insecurities could have cost her her life.  

 

If the time comes when you need to keep pushing yourself on the busted leg, in the scorching heat, and your life depends on it, do it other wise weigh the risk and be smart. 

 

It's ok to call off the charge, just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, pride is the crutch of the insecure.  

 

in short, be smart not an idiot.  

Edited by subxero

I truly believe most people are way more physically capable than they are mentally. Humans are endurance animals, and the body will keep going if you have the will to tell it to. Now, with that being said we are also intelligent creatures, and should be able to look ahead of the moment make educated decisions for what truly matters.

Push yourself... yes, but don't be stupid. If you potentially hurt your knee and it is giving you more than just dull ache, then the smart thing to do is say, "hey, this pointless races doesn't mean squat... i'm a hard ass and i know i could finish this BUT, i am not a moron and don't want to risk giving myself a life long debilitating injury over a pointless races. Gonna call it quits, heal up and come back and give it my all again"

This very physically active girl i know once posted what was supposed to be a motivational story about how she over came her desire to give up and call it quits during a work out, how she instead toughed it out and pushed through till the very end. Her story was about how she was doing a 6 mile run and it was 90 degrees outside, with very high humidity and she didn't have enough water with her ect... What i got from this story was not that she is mentally tough for not calling the run off after she clearly started to show signs of heat exhaustion but that she is stupid and her insecurities could have cost her her life.

If the time comes when you need to keep pushing yourself on the busted leg, in the scorching heat, and your life depends on it, do it other wise weigh the risk and be smart.

It's ok to call off the charge, just make sure you are doing it for the right reasons, pride is the crutch of the insecure.

in short, be smart not an idiot.

Good points about the mental aspect. I was nervous and I think I frankly quit thinking after I re-started the bike following the stall. Came way too hot into that first turn and paid for it for the rest of the race. Next race I'll ease into the start and find a good pace.

I won't say I'm in perfect shape but but I'm not too bad. The prior weekend we did 30 miles backpacking in the VA mountains over 3 days. One thing I learned a long time ago backpacking in New Mexico is that it is entirely possible to go to a place in your head where pain doesn't register and you just keep moving forward. That ability has paid off several times over the years but it can be a danger too. Point well taken!

I appreciate the advice and suggestions. Pictures tomorrow.

Meh, I'm good at almost nothing naturally. But I can learn. Almost everything like that I've tried I suck at horribly at first. But I stick with it and slowly get better.

Set reasonable goals for you next race. Winning is not a reasonable goal. Reasonable goals are things like:

Stay calm and relaxed

Have a good smooth start even if that means being last to the corner

Pace yourself to finish the race

Don't crash

Those are reasonable goals.

Doc

A couple of pictures grabbed off the GoPro.

 

All ready to race...or so I thought...

GOPR0034_zpstqzhheeh.jpg

 

Hey...How did my bike get over there...

Snapshot%203%206-27-2016%2012-20%20PM_zp

 

I guess I can see why my knee hurts, this is not an ideal angle for it :banghead:

Snapshot%201%206-27-2016%2011-22%20AM_zp

 

 

 

 

Anyway, the knee is healing up well and I hope to race again next weekend.  I think I'll make it my goal to just not crash in the first turn, that seems achievable :lol:

Hare Scrambles are a marathon not a sprint.  I usually get a bad start due to riding a CRF450 and dead engine starts.  By the end of the first lap I have usually passed most of the guys that started ahead of me.  Most of them are on the ground when I pass them.  Don't be that guy.  The biggest time killers for you will be crashes, stalling the bike and taking a wrong turn on the course.  Avoid those things and that is half the battle or more.  I've done a lot of these races and only once have I finished a race with no stalls and no crashes and that race I rode like a wussy.  Just wasn't feeling it.  It's tough to have a perfect race when you are going at it for one, two or three hours and fatigue sets in.  Enjoy the challenge of getting better.  It is really satisfying to do well because it is so tough.

Good points about the start. Being at the front is very nerve racking for a newbie. And after many many years I still like to have a target to set my sights on. A rider in front of you gives you a lot of good info on what you are about to encounter, use that info to your advantage. It is like having another set of eyes up ahead.

Ride at your pace and keep both wheels on the ground. Finishing the race without a crash is a win in itself. As you ride and race more your skill will improve. You will also learn if you're bike is handling good or not. Suspension setup makes a huge difference. What works good for a casual trail ride can put you in the hospital at race pace.

Take it slow enough to be in control but yet push yourself some. Most of all keep a good positive attitude and have fun. If it becomes work or worse torture your doing something wrong.

Lose the handlebar risers. They screw up your riding position and shift your weight back on the bike. This takes weight off the front wheel and can cause the front to wash as you said and generally handle like crap. Doesn't matter how tall you are that's not the best way to make yourself comfortable on the bike.

Ahh, the classic ego check!

Ego over intelligence never wins.

Your first race, you should of tried to ride it clean. Just finish upright. No mistakes, adjust your speed down if need be. A reality is, you are never racing against any of the other people there, you are racing against yourself. Each time you ride, whether it is a race or by yourself, you should be trying to improve your skills. Depending on luck never pays off. The only difference between practicing by yourself and being in a race is that in a race, you have to pass people, if you can.

I been in tons of races where 25% never make it through a single lap. I could be pushing my bike, engine off and I'd of passed 25%. The next 25% you can take your time and pick off. The remaining 50% then becomes real skill. Starts, consistency, calculated riding. If you 'go for it' you will lose.

Ego over intelligence never wins.

Your first race, you should of tried to ride it clean. Just finish upright. No mistakes, adjust your speed down if need be. A reality is, you are never racing against any of the other people there, you are racing against yourself. Each time you ride, whether it is a race or by yourself, you should be trying to improve your skills. Depending on luck never pays off. The only difference between practicing by yourself and being in a race is that in a race, you have to pass people, if you can.

I been in tons of races where 25% never make it through a single lap. I could be pushing my bike, engine off and I'd of passed 25%. The next 25% you can take your time and pick off. The remaining 50% then becomes real skill. Starts, consistency, calculated riding. If you 'go for it' you will lose.

 

Certainly wasn't my intention or belief that I would do well in my first race, I didn't go into it with ego.  What I did do however was let a rush to catch up/make up for my early mistake cause me to further screw the pooch.  Lesson learned there!  Riding as clean as possible regardless of the end result is my goal this weekend.  I suspect looking at my lap time/speed that I would have been more than satisfied with the result if I hadn't tried to make it all up in the first turn :banghead:  

Get some knee pads

Sounds like you've received some good advice so far and have some good plans by joining a club. I've only run a few VXCS events but run most of the VCHSS events every year. My advice is to ride your own race.

I'm going to guess that you're running a C class being your first year. The races are relatively long so just riding consistent will put you in a good spot usually. You can't win if you're on the ground so just riding clean will take you a long way even if you don't get to the first turn first. It took me a few races to figure that out. I'd go all out at the beginning and either completely wear myself out or crash my brains out. More seat time and work on the setup. It could be as simple as adjusting some clickers, tire pressure, body position, where you're looking or speed. 

Every time you ride you should learn something, and most importantly.... have fun!

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