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!