Written By: Samantha Kilgore
It’s the first race of my 3rd racing season, and the first time where my moto girls are going to be competing against one another, instead of on the same team. Nervous doesn’t really describe the range of emotions I felt in the days and weeks leading up to this race, but it was definitely the most prominent. First, it was snowed out. Weather was unbearably cold, and conditions would have made even the toughest of tough cringe. Postponing 1 week in Maryland is the difference of literally 40 degrees. Crazy Maryland weather. I found myself checking the weather obsessively, and even with the rain leading up to the event, the temperatures were staying in the “unseasonably nice” category, and for that, I am extremely grateful.
Now, this location is known for its epic mud. I had raced there twice before, once in the extreme mud, and once in the extreme dry dust. Neither of which I would consider “fun”.
Fast forward to the night before- I felt myself getting race day jitters starting around 8pm. By mid-night, sleep was not really an option. My wheels were turning, my mind was in race mode, and nothing seemed to ease it. I got about 3.5 hours of sleep that night; coincidentally around the same amount that I would spend racing, ha!
The day of, I was tired. Really tired. We arrived at the track early to help Nancy and Billy with whatever they needed. I think Nancy and I both needed a NAP! The parking lot was a small glimpse in to the conditions for the day; a soupy, nasty, muddy mess. I saw full size dually trucks getting stuck!
Drop of the flag seemed to sneak up on me as I was one of the last riders to arrive at the line; funny because I was probably one of the last ones to take the checkered, too. And the weather, OMG! It was like someone hit a light switch and the temperature was perfectly comfortable. No cold fingers or toes, not too hot, not too cold. Just right! Against my better judgment and past experiences, I popped my bike into gear, and turned it off waiting for the start. Big mistake. This bike is only temperamental with one thing: starting in gear when it’s not fully warm. Flag drops, bike won’t start. Fabulous. I know better. Ugh. Get it started after my girls have left and forgotten me behind. The motocross track is a thick, muddy mess with bodies and bikes everywhere. People are stopped waiting for others to pick up their yard sales on the track, and I think to myself “there’s no WAITING in racing!” Bye, Felicia! I motor on by all these yahoos who are standing around like a bunch of patient little lambs waiting their turn. Not today, suckers! I must have passed nearly 30 people who were stopped, contemplating their life as racers. I get up to the over under bridge and again, people are stopped waiting in line. Ha! I’ll just go around these weirdos, too! In the first few miles, I saw many crushed souls. Bodies, bikes, helmets off, defeat in their eyes. Whatever. I’m a bad ass dirt bike chick. Can’t scare me away with a little mud and ruts! I continue on, doing surprisingly well through some treacherous conditions that literally have grown men giving up.
I complete the first lap pretty much unscathed. It was tough, no doubt, but nothing I couldn’t handle so long as I continued to pick smart, smooth lines. I avoided the mud puddles that were swallowing riders and blowing up bikes. If you look around, you’ll see a better line. Take it! Given my short stature, in sketchy situations I sometimes teeter on the bike, and it falls over. Whatever. Pick it up and soldier on. I complete the second lap, and I’m a bit more tired, but I know that there are now less riders out on the track. I’ll just ride my own ride and take that last lap at my leisurely pace. The tiredness didn’t hit me til about mile 2 or 3. I started noticing myself getting lazy, dropping the bike more, and riding slower. I was starting to have to dig deep for the endurance to commit to the final lap. I was coming up a hill when I saw a rider who had given up, and was standing around, waiting for sweep riders. In that moment of distraction, I dropped the bike on top of myself. The guy starts chatting with me about his experience. Hmm, not the best moment to strike up random conversation. Do you NOT see the bike that outweighs me by double laying on top of me, and you want to chat about your race defeat?? I replied “I’m sorry you’re having a tough time. Would you mind helping me get my bike off of me, now?” LOL! Poor guy was so delusional and tired, he didn’t notice my situation. He helps me, I give him some words of encouragement, and off I go. I get to about mile 5 and I’m starting to give up. Will this lap EVER be done? I come up on the sweep rider, who happens to be one of my moto girl’s hubby. He gives me some encouraging words, and follows behind me, despite my tired whining. Eventually, after a few more drops, and some rest stops, I take the checkered. 3 hours and 4 minutes. What the hell? 3 hours?
I ended up with a hard earned 2nd place that day. I can honestly say I gave it my everything. Ultimately, I am most proud of how I performed emotionally. In every race to date, I was fighting some major demons. This race was different. I went into it and completed it in a positive state of mind. It was a major turning point in my riding adventures where I have become comfortable in my abilities, and can kick those demons in the throat, and actually enjoy my ride. Looking forward to this year and the adventures it holds.