Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Legendary Weekend.

Over the weekend I had a British Championship at Farleigh Castle, one of the oldest motocross tracks in England (and the world for that matter). I was so nervous going into this race because after my crash at Foxhill I had a slim lead of only 7 points in the championship. I knew I needed a good day to extend my lead over my competition, but I had no clue if I could do that considering that I have no experience on a proper old school scrambling track like Farleigh.

My only knowledge of the track at Farleigh came from watching the GP where Dave Thorpe crashed in the first turn and came back to win the moto from dead last over the best 500cc riders in the world. Having seen that moto I knew that there was some sort of secret to this place and obviously Thorpe had it dialed.

Practice went well. The track was really slick and I had to be ever so careful in the grass sections just to stay upright. The woods section was already getting gnarly only after 10 minutes of riding. I came out of the time practice with pole going into the all-important Superpole lap. I knew I needed a good lap to get that inside gate which is so important at Farleigh. I rode super cautious and was only able to get 2nd to Martin Barr who put in a killer lap and took the pole spot.

At the start of the first moto I was surprised to see him not choose the inside gate which left it wide open for me. I pulled the holeshot and got a comfortable lead straight away! I took the opening moto win by a few seconds over 2nd place and was happy to get a solid moto in to start the day off.

In race 2 pole sitter Barr decided it was time he took the inside gate. So I lined up just beside him. We came together a bit and I found myself about 15th on the first lap. I started to work my way up through the pack but after only two laps the race was red flagged because the Maxxis arch had fallen in the track. It seemed as if luck was on my side, so I took full advatage of my second chance and pulled the holeshot. I got a comfortable lead and took another moto win.

In race 3 I pulled another holeshot and rode smart to my 3rd win of the day. Farleigh was my second triple win of the year. I can't say enough about how awesome the track was prepared and what an awesome experience I had. The track is a legend-- it's one of a kind and there will never be another like it. I really hope it's on the schedule again next year. I must say that on Sunday my bike was pretty amazing. It was such a horsepower kind of track and I never felt short on power that's for sure. Everyone on the team and all the guys at Cosworth have worked so hard to get to this point and I cant say enough how much I appreciate it.
I quickly left after the podium ceremony because I had some laundry to do before leaving for Brazil. What a reality check! LOL! I got it all done, finished packed, and got to bed at a decent hour. 5 o'clock came early though and the next thing I knew was on a free First Class upgrade thanks to Delta! I arrived in Atlanta at 1:30 EST and my flight to Brazil didnt leave for 8 hours. Being the star that my girlfriend Brittney is, she drove all the way to Atlanta and picked me up and we spent the day together.

Once I got back to the airport I met up with my friend Russell. We had dinner then boarded the plane to Brazil. Russell comes with me to some of the GP and it's always good to have someone with military experience with you when you're going to crazy places! We arrived in Campo Grande (where the race is going to be held) on Tuesday at around noon.

Wow! That's all I can say about this place so far. It's so different from what I had pictured, but it's going to be a good experience I'm sure. On Thursday I'm going on a Youthstream media trip to a Brazilian Ranch for some fun. Pictures soon!

Thanks so much for reading!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

After spending the week in Belgium after the GP in Lommel, Mel and I traveled to Loket, Czech in his camper on Thursday. We had agreed to take turns driving, but when my friend Jason Dougan and I got Mel sucked into a good prank using Blackberry Messenger, I did most of the driving. It was worth every mile though! We got him so good! When we arrived in Loket, it was raining. It actually rained for most of the day on Friday, too. The decision to continue on with the program was made early on Saturday morning and they ended up having to alter the schedule for the weekend's events.

On Saturday morning in the free practice session I actually had the fastest time. In the timed practice session, which was used to replaced the qualifying race, I had the 4th best lap time giving me 4th gate pick for Sunday.

The track in Loket is usually really slippery and hard-pack, but when it began drying out on Sunday it became rutted and really one-lined. The start is a very difficult one as it is uphill and the first corner is a left-hander, but the track conditions made the start even more important than usual. In the first moto I didn't get the best of starts, but I ran within the top 10 for most of the race. I ended up finishing the moto in 11th position. I finished the second moto in 8th position which was an improvement but definitely not what I had expected going into the weekend.

To be honest, I am still struggling quite a bit with the effects of my concussion which happened at the British Championship round at Foxhill almost 3 weeks ago. I have been told by a doctor that the side effects of a concussion like mine can take up to two weeks to really emerge. During the motos this weekend I felt that after about 15 minutes I lost the mental capacity to really focus and concentrate which really hindered my performance. But after some much-needed rest this week, I feel that I am now on the up and up after three consecutive weekends of battling these side effects.

I have now made my way back to England for this weekend's British Championship at Farleigh Castle. Mel and I went riding today which was a lot of fun and the first time I've really felt like myself on the bike in a couple of weeks now. Having that feeling on the bike again was a huge confidence booster for me and I'm now really excited about this weekend's race.

I will let you all know how it goes. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

After taking the week off from riding to recover from the events of the race at Foxhills, Brittney, my mechanic, and I traveled over to Belgium on Thursday evening to prepare for the GP in Lommel a.k.a. Hell on Earth. My friend, Dr. Johnathan Edwards, arrived in Brussels on Friday morning and immediately began keeping track of my hydration levels and my food intake as the deep sand is especially draining.

After missing some valuable testing time in the sand through the week, it took some time to find the right gearing set-up and tire choice on Saturday. In the free practice session, I had the 9th fastest time, which was not too bad. In the pre-qualifying session, I had some clutch problems and came in after a couple of laps to grab my spare bike. The track was much rougher in that session and I struggled to find my rhythm on the track.

In the qualifying race, I had 17th gate pick. I got a so-so start but I got caught up in a pile-up in the third corner. I worked my way into 19th position by the end of the race. The first moto on Saturday was a nightmare. My 17th place finish was not the result of a lack of effort by any means. In fact, I think I was trying too hard. After getting a bad start I seemed to revert from the sand technique back to my traditional style which uses a lot of energy and just doesn't work.

In the second moto, I started in about 16th position. This time I acquired a rhythm with the track which allowed me to carry my speed through the turns and over the millions of bumps a bit better than before. I kept my head down and slowly but surely found my way into 10th position. On the last lap I battled with Arnaud Tonus until the last possible second to defend my position and finished the race in 10th place. I was pretty pleased with the result as I scored some valuable points and finished the day much better than it began. It's safe to say that I am happy to have that race out of the way as it is definitely the hardest one of the season for me.

On Monday morning I dropped Brittney off at the airport for her return to America after staying abroad with me for the past 9 weeks. As I was driving back towards Lommel, the tooth pain I had been experiencing since my crash at Foxhills became increasingly worse. When I reached Mel & Holly (my teammate and his girlfriend) and asked if there looked like something may be wrong with my tooth, they agreed it looked black. I remembered hearing about a dentist not too far away who had done some work for a friend of mine so I called him and arranged to see him later that evening. Next thing you know, I'm having a full-on root canal in Belgium! Apparently, when I crashed and displaced the tooth a bit, the blood was not flowing to the tooth properly causing the blood within the tooth to dry up, hence the black color. Fortunately, the tooth was saved and all is good. So, if you're ever in Belgium and need a root canal, I've got the guy for you to go to.

Today Mel and I did some cycling and then met up with my friend Jimmy Albertson to see a film, Knight and Day. Tomorrow we are riding here in Belgium and then on Thursday we begin making our way in the camper to Czech for the GP of Loket. I really enjoy the track there, so I'm hoping this weekend will go better for me.

As always, thanks for reading. Have a great week!


Monday, July 26, 2010

Dazed but Amazed.

Yesterday was the 5th round of 8 of the Maxxis British Championship at Foxhills. My day got off to a "rocky" start literally as I believe I hit a rock on the face of one of the jumps causing me to lose control of the bike in the timed practice session. I took a hard crash and sustained a bang to the head, a stiff neck, and a badly jammed thumb.

After regaining consciousness, I was completely distraught and had no short-term memory whatsoever. I was lucky to have qualified for the mains as I had not even made a fast lap and the practice session was ending. Even in such a clouded state of mind, the only thing I could think about was the championship standings and keeping my grip on the red plate.

Before the first race, I had recovered some of my memory and, with some physiotherapy by Dave Dougan, my neck loosened up a bit. With last gate choice, I was on the far outside. I got a great start and soon found my way into 4th place. I was able to build a bit of a gap, a safe zone, between myself and the rest of the pack. On the last few laps, I was not at my best as I felt really dizzy after my head injury. I finished the race in 4th place.

In the second moto I got a nearly perfect start from the outside and came around the first turn in 2nd position. But in the third turn I was cleaned out and got up in dead last position. In the short 20 minute + 2 lap time span, I was able to come back to 10th place. I was a bit disappointed to have such a great start taken away from me, but overall I was satisfied with the end result.

I got another brilliant start in the third moto and soon made the pass on Alex Erikkson for the lead. Bryan Mackenzie didn't give up easily as he kept me in check for the first 3-4 laps. By about halfway through the race I had established a comfortable lead. The race was rather uneventful for me, but a last lap crash by Neville Bradshaw put me on the podium in third place with a 4-10-1. I couldn't believe it! And, even better than that, I still have the championship points lead by 7 points. To be able to turn such a bad start to the morning into a podium result was really amazing to me. I proved to myself that you can always do more than you give yourself credit for.

This week I am focusing on my recovery with some physiotherapy in prepartation for the upcoming GP in Lommel-- one of the gnarliest of the whole season.

Until next time, thanks for reading.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Blistered Hands and Bald Tires.

I used my last week in Are for some pretty intense training including a 7.5 km climb from the bottom to the top of a mountain, downhill mountain biking, and quite a lot of seat time on the motorcycle. After spending two weeks in beautiful Are, Saturday it was time for us to leave.

Kenneth, Brittney, and I drove to Sveg where I raced the final of 3 rounds of a local series. I raced the MX2 class and the MX Open class both on my 250F. The second round of motos I raced the MX Open class immediately after racing the MX2 class. I had just enough time to put some more fuel in the bike!

I won all 4 motos and really enjoyed the sandy circuit. We left Sveg and drove to Sala where I rode Monday and Tuesday. After riding many hours for 3 days straight, I had blistered hands and almost no rear tire. Tuesday evening we left Sala and drove to another track in nearby Arsunda.

Wednesday was a day of rest, so Kenneth, me, and several of the kids from Kenneth's riding school went for a swim in a nearby lake and then we scoped out a big pool. We had fun jumping off the diving boards. When we got back to the track, we had an awesome game of football (soccer). My team lost by 1 goal, but we made a good effort!

Yesterday I did some riding before having to pack my things to head back to England. We arrived last night and have been preparing for this weekends British Championship at Foxhills, one of my favorite tracks. I'm really looking forward to it.

I apologize for the late update this week as the hills of Sweden don't have much to offer in the internet department. I'll do better next week. Promise.

Thanks for reading.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Back to Work.

I caught up on some much-needed downtime last week as I took the entire week off. We traveled to Are on Wednesday. On Thursday Brittney and I rented a paddle boat and some fishing poles and went fishing... for all of about an hour and a half.

It's not fishing that I like-- I like catching fish. There were literally fish jumping out of the water all around us, but we didn't catch a thing. We retired the fishing poles and rented bowling shoes. That was more like it!

On Friday, I went downhill mountain biking at the ski resort with one of Kenneth's friends, Stian. We took the bikes on the ski lifts with us and there were several really cool trails. I had a blast! Me, Kenneth, and all the other guys went out for pizza to celebrate his last night of freedom.

Saturday was wedding day for Kenneth & Amelie, my first wedding experience ever. It was a really good day. Because Kenneth is Norwegian and Amelie is Swedish, they placed flags on each of the chairs in the reception. Of course, Brittney and I were the only two Americans.

Because we couldn't participate in singing any of their traditional songs, they made us sing our national anthem on the spot!

We pulled it off, and I think they were pretty impressed ;) After the dinner came the party. We enjoyed ourselves dancing and visiting with everyone until about 2 a.m. when we went on to sleep. The party went on til 6:30... so of course Sunday was for recovery.

But yesterday, my work week began again. Kenneth and I went to a race not far from here. You won't believe it, but I get more nervous for local races than I do for GP's. I was mostly worried about Mats Nilsson, Vet World Champion. I raced my 250F in the MX1 class and won both motos. It was good practice for me especially after taking a week off.

I am training hard and riding the rest of the week and then doing another small race this weekend.

That's all for now. Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Top Ten After Being Tackled by Tank.

On Friday we left Halmstad and traveled a couple of hours to Uddevalla for the GP of Sweden. After parking the camper, the go carts were calling my name! We enjoyed a nice barbecue for dinner and then called it a night. We are still getting used to falling asleep in almost total daylight in Sweden.

On Saturday morning I felt really good and I liked the looks of the track although it was really dry. I was 4th in both the free practice and the pre-qualifying practice which gave me 4th gate pick for the qualifying heat. I was late off the gate only to be held up in the first turn as Roczen and Frossard had a crash. I think I came out in about 15th place but I began moving forward right away. On the third lap I made a clean pass in a corner just before the big finish line tabletop jump. As I had passed on the inside of the corner I didn't have the drive to make it over the jump. I stayed as far to one side as I possibly could and rolled it only to be landed on by the sketchy Russian rider Alexandr Tonkov (who goes by the well deserved title "Tank"). He landed straight on my back pushing my weight forward and over the bars. The aftermath: 36th gate pick, tire marks on my back, and sprocket burn.

I woke up feeling pretty sore on Sunday. As I had missed the majority of the previous day's race, I used the warm-up session to get the feel of the pace. By the end of the warm-up I had the fastest lap time and most of my soreness was gone. For the first moto, I chose the very outside gate hoping to be able to make several passes around the outside of the first corner. I got a good initial jump off the gate but being so far on the outside was a huge disadvantage for me. I came around the first corner in 20th position and by the end of the first lap I had moved to 14th. On lap 5 I had to throw off my goggles as they were fogged from the humidity. At this point I was in 11th position and had a couple of riders in sight. I kept pushing on and putting in good laptimes. As I approached Christophe Charlier I knew that I had to make a pass quickly because I had no goggles. I was also able to pass Joel Roelants and Shaun Simpson. When Ken Roczen's bike quit with a few laps to go I moved into 7th position and finished the race there.

In the second moto I was able to take 32nd gate pick. I got a nearly perfect jump off the gate but again being so far on the outside was detrimental. I came around the first turn in around 15th, but after a small crash in a corner on the first lap I found myself in 25th with a lot of work to do! I moved forward slowly but surely until lap 14 when I came upon a group of 5-6 riders including Christophe Charlier, Jake Nicholls, and Shaun Simpson. I finished the race in 9th position. Although I was somewhat disappointed with my result, I was pleased with my laptimes and my ability to pass on a track with very limited lines.

This week I am thoroughly enjoying complete relaxation and rest. After the GP we traveled through complete wilderness to Kenneth Gundersen's wife-to-be's home in Sweden. Today we went for some shopping and just hung out. Tomorrow we are traveling to Are, Sweden where Kenneth and Amelie will be getting married this weekend. It is also the place where I do a lot of my winter training on cross country skis. Next week I begin training again. We will be staying in Sweden and Norway until the next round of the British Championship at the end of the month.

That's all I know until next time. Thanks for reading!