Looking back on another Adventure – the Hangover Hare Scramble race that Southern Maryland Dirt Riders organized at Wicomico Motorsports Park was one that I won’t soon forget. I have never laughed so much during a race!
The HHS had been postponed the prior weekend due to some rain earlier that week – however there was some discussion from many – myself included if that had been the right call. The hosting facility really felt it was in the best interest of the property that they reschedule, unfortunately when race day had approached there was just a sprinkle and the temps were nearing 70 degrees – we ended up riding on property near by and had a great Indian Summer Day…
During the next week we were all looking at the weather reports – all week we were dealing with the Polar Vortex and temps and wind-chills were bone chilling. We all expected that Sundays race would be miserable as the deep freeze set in – yet Sunday the temps were yes a chilly 35 however the Sun provided warmth and the previously saturated ground was frozen and dusty.
I’m not sure as I write this what the racer count was yet I believe it was one of the smaller HHS events there had been – pretty much due to the cold weather – nobody likes to race on ice and everyone that raced the previous year remembers how miserable that race was. I have pictures of ice an inch think on the trail last year and it was a grey cold day – but hey that’s xc, you just ride!
As we drove up I was happily surprised to see WXC Racer Sarah Baldwin – that was pretty cool – I know she is from nearby Virginia so this race would make sense for her, especially since its hard to have much seat time in the North East/Mid Atlantic this time of year. Sarah ended up racing in the A class – and finished fifth in her class – you never know who will show up to a race in the winter!… Everyone is looking to keep moving forward and improving and there is no practice for racing like racing!
I came race ready – gear on (I didn’t want to change in the freezing cold) so while my man unloaded I hiked over to sign up. Everyone was very pleasant and when I was signing up for the women’s class I was disappointed to learn that I was the only entrant at the time. I had a few friends that would have been there lining up along side me – however some injuries, broken bikes and bad weather had prevented them this year. I figured someone would sign up – I wouldn’t be alone.
Not long after I headed to find my line at the start and yup – it was just me out there at the end of the rows with the Vintage class behind me. The lines of racers took off one by one and left an unexpected lingering cloud of dust. As my turn approached I actually thought to myself how I didn’t feel like I was in a race – as the start flag waved and I went to start my bike – it wouldn’t start! I was thinking O-geeez this is ridiculous – finally about ten seconds later my bike started – in too low of a gear it crept off the line – the good news is I still ripped the hole-shot! (LOL)
The ground was frozen – the start was on the moto-track and the ruts that had been formed from previous rides were like solid berms – no give at all – it felt super sketchy to me – but even tho the ground was frozen it didn’t feel icy – you could avoid the iced over puddles on the track pretty easily.
Once I made it into the woods I found it to be not as bad as I had anticipated. The fresh trails were fun and flowy – challenging but not over the top. The rider club did a great job with using the property – it was way better than the previous races that had been basically run on the facilities four wheeler trails. There were steep gully drop-ins and off camber slopes that had me worried – slick rooty hills, a creek crossing and a gorged out section that had a crowd of people sitting and cheering!
Making my way through the course it felt good to get past some fellas – these are my little victories. Sometimes I would actually find a better line around a group that got tangled – and that gives me encouragement to keep moving forward. There were plenty of times that I found myself second guessing what I was about to drop into but this why I race – because I know I have to finish – it’s not just a trail ride where I can simply turn around.
I did have an episode in one of those gorges, on my second lap I dropped in and my foot peg caught a sapling and stopped my momentum that was much needed to get up the rooted embankment on the other side. I moved my bike out of the way and sat and watched others go through without trouble and some with minor issues. At one point a friend of mine that had entered this first woods race – found his way in the very same sapling filled line – he also got a little stuck. We chatted for a half minute and then I watched him power his 450 up and out without further issue – then surprisingly – I see him parking his bike and starting to walk my way – he was going to rescue me! – I yelled at him to get
back in the race – I will be fine! and Thanks! and thankfully he did – I appreciated his thought of helping me but I really wanted to make it out on my own. I knew I could manage – I just needed to pick a better line and power out… Then came “Bolivia” – he went right through and I got on my pink pony and powered up that hill over the roots I went…the race was still on!
A couple times I found myself in a small battle with a man that had a flag pinned to his jersey – I thought it might have been a Bolivian flag – so I affectionately called him “BOLIVIA!” (apologies and no disrespect if it wasn’t a Bolivian flag – it wasn’t easy to make out) He would pass me and then a little while later I would pass him and this seemed to go on quite a few times. Sometimes it was quite comical – We would both watch one another struggle here and there not really saying anything – I don’t know about him but I was laughing inside – well I had a huge smile – I thought it was hilarious and I was happy that he seemed to be a good sport – he was just trying to survive the course like me! By the end of my second lap I pulled over when my man told me “you have to go another lap – the race is still on…” I wanted nothing to do with a third lap because the second lap got ridiculously slick – icy and treacherous. I had a bad feeling about tackling another lap but told him that if “Bolivia” goes for it that I guess I will. I sat there chatting about the fun battles and struggles
of my race for about 5 minutes when “Bolivia” pulls up behind me – I quickly strapped on my helmet and yelled back at him “BOLIVIA – YOU GO AGAIN?!” and he slapped his right arm wincing that he had arm pump. By the looks of his body slumping over the bars I had a pretty sure feeling that a third lap was not in his cards. A few minutes later the checkered flag was waving for the leaders and I decided there was no need now to go out and make everyone wait on me. So I headed to the truck for a drink and some comfort and that concluded my race day – it was long, cold and challenging but oh-so fun!
So while there was no one in my class the race was still my race – for myself. I wanted to just do my best and enjoy the ride – I wanted to be sure to not get into anybodies way since there were several other classes with real competition going on. I did my best pulling over when I could and staying in my line when I couldn’t (this is what made my laps so long – I stopped and pulled over more than you could imagine).
I hope that when I’m on the line at the next Hangover Hare Scramble I can look to either side of me and see some other Dirt Bike Girls out there ready for the Adventure!