Tuesday, April 15, 2014

NETRA Spring Challenge 2014: Suspension Upgrades and Moto Ladies to the Rescue!

MAYDAY! MAYDAY! Enemy conifers at 12:00!

So the NETRA Spring Challenge happened and I lived to tell about it, despite what this screencap from my GoPro footage might suggest. (I think my skidplate took the brunt of the impact with that tree for me.) My performance was markedly better than last year, although the course was less of a nightmare. I am extremely grateful to the folks at Enduro Spec for my recent suspension revalve, the details of which are recorded in this month's issue of Trail Rider (I also have a little write-up on the Challenge in there on the back page). Having suspension that doesn't try to jolt me off the bike every time I hit a rock is pretty life-changing!

The water crossings went well for me this year.
Photo credit: Lynn Hollis

The downside of all this improvement and professionalism is of course that now I have much less to bench race about on this blog. Unlike last year, I didn't get stranded in a boulder field filled with waist-deep mud for half an hour, I didn't get my foot sucked into my own rear spokes and have to be pried loose by a team of spectators, I didn't crash while being passed by somebody and get dragged down the track for 25 yards with my elbow guard caught on the guy's footpeg... I mean, thank God. There's something to be said for not rewriting Homer's Odyssey every time I get on the bike, even if it does occasionally leave me at a loss for stories. One of these days I'll post the six-page account of my boyfriend's knee injury from last year, just to drive home the point that sometimes no news is good news. (This was Lovey's first NETRA race since the incident, by the way. His knee still hurts and he's still 33% faster than me lap by lap.)

As you might expect, then, the GoPro footage from my race is really boring (and slow) except for that one crash. It does, however, reveal that I talk to myself while I'm riding--a LOT. It is vaguely interesting from a psychological standpoint to listen to the deterioration of what comes out of my mouth. On lap one, it is upbeat self-help stuff--keep your elbows up, stand up going over these rocks, etc. By lap two, it is mostly swears; by lap three, even four-letter words have become too much for my brain to handle and my commentary is mostly screams of rage. This is what Helmet Head syndrome does to me, and why everyone should be grateful that I am slow. If I were fast, I'd probably run people off the track left and right, not out of malice but just out of brainless competitive instinct. Thus, I am always amazed when I bin it 80 minutes into the race and someone still has the humanity to stop and help me. Or even eight minutes into the race, as in the example below:



As usual, I walked away from this year's Challenge with was a renewed appreciation for the awesomeness of moto people, and moto women in particular. There were probably 100 dudes to every lady in the Novice race, so what are the odds that the person who eventually lifted my bike off my legs was a girl? Pretty good, actually, if experience goes for anything. Motorcycle racing is a man's man's man's man's world, as James Brown observed, so moto gals tend to look out for each other. I really need to curb the Helmet Head and get on board with this--it's only right. Let that be my New Season's Resolution. If any women out there are undecided about whether to race, seriously, you should do it. It's a blast, and I promise, we've got your back!

6 comments:

  1. Keep up the great work and blogs! I know here in the Southwest you don't see many girls racing hare scrambles. But... I sometimes go to my local motocross track and there are quite a few girls out there and they are fast! They get right in there and bang elbows with the guys and I'm certain I've been passed my most if not all of them!

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, there are usually 3-5 women in the women's class at NETRA events and 2-3 women who are essentially too fast for the women's class who race in their engine displacement classes. Some of the fast women are REALLY fast, it's pretty cool.

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  2. Never seen dirt biker girl

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  3. not seen a real dirt biker girl though my sis loves dirt bike flash games :D I always wanted to try but i'm physically not fit for that :S

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  4. My kid has been following your blog for a while and now she wants to ride as well :) what do you think of electric dirt bikes for kids? Would you recommend it for a 8yr old?

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    1. Hmm, not sure! I think those are probably for younger kids--best to find a dealership and let her sit on one to see if the size is right.

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