Monday, April 16, 2007


Sierra OTHG presented Round 1 of the 2007 Nationals at The Oatfield in Turlock, California

Race Report:
This event was off-the-hook in everything imaginable that the promoters and Mother Nature could throw at us. The event was very well represented by the number of pre-entrants (well over 200) from Sierra, Bay, Reno and South Chapters and the gate makeup in almost every class was filled to the brim. This made for some great overall racing for all the riders and the spectators got to see a lot of things going on from their awesome vantage point as well. I got an opportunity to watch a lot of the races in between my motos too. It was very exciting.

First of all it was my very first time out at The Oatfield and I had heard many stories, good and bad, easy and dangerous!... but it all came to pass after experiencing it first hand. The track soil makeup is mostly sandy loam with filtered dirt, it’s not clumpy and it breaks up and moves around very easily. The track design includes a 24 bike starting gate with a wide uphill right hand sweeper that goes from about 100’ wide to about 20’ wide in about 20 yards… and then drops you into the main course on a hard right hand banked turn. This definitely sorts out the leaders from the followers and it turns into almost single file racing immediately when the ruts start to appear. There are five double/triple jumps that you can choose to either clear the double or clear the triple. There is a whoop section that is pretty smooth and manageable at speed without too much trouble and then a huge step-up platform jump right in the middle of the track that is very daunting to look at, but easily do-able from my experience with it as a first timer. The double/triple jumps were harder because they weren’t table tops and you had to either choose to make the jump or roll over it, which was so much slower and more dangerous too with traffic jumping from behind.

Saturday Races: The track was prepped beautiful for Saturdays beginning events and with cloud cover and no wind at the time it was perfect conditions to keep it moist and very pliable. AMP didn’t do any watering at all during the first half of the day. My first moto was good, I got off the line very well and ran the outside of the sweeper all the way around the riders that chose the inside and had to slow down to make the turns. I ended up in about 7th or 8th and then just worked my way up through other riders. The course was already rutted but very easy to lay the bike into the turns and throttle out with lots of traction everywhere. Most of the beginner riders were rolling over all the double/triple jumps and I was too, I flat landed a few times into the bowls below and that was beating me and the bike up like crazy, I had to try something else. I tried jumping one of them and cased it bad and almost went over the bars from the recoil of my rear suspension, but saved it and kept on going. The big step-up was great; I made up a lot of time on it and all the banked turns. I got up to about 5th place and that’s where I finished out Moto #1 in Race #3, 45+ Beginner Class. There were 3 guys from South Chapter that were ‘ringers’ because they had half the track on the rest of the field. They were definitely not beginner riders and I’m not sure exactly how that Chapter defines a beginner, but it’s not the same as ours.

Scott raced in the Under 100cc Support Class in Moto #14 and it was after the rains started coming down. There was an accident in Moto#13 where an Old Timers MX rider tried completing a triple jump on the uphill back side and did a face plant into the ground instead. I understand he has a broken femur and not much memory of what exactly happened at all. He was life-flighted out and that took up a great amount of time. When Scott's race finally got started I told him to just survive and do the best he can and he’ll make it through. He was soaking wet when the starting gate dropped from the rains coming down and the track was already turning to mud and getting slippery in some sections. The kid did a great job out there, he got off to a decent start and I think he finished 6th out of 10 kids in that group.

MUCKFEST: We were all waiting for the call by the "Higher-ups" to end the day before the second round of motos started and I do believe that NO ONE really wanted to go out in that muck and try to race. I think if I were making the decisions I would have played it safer and actually competitively better for everyone’s advantage and called the races for the remainder of the afternoon. Let the Moto #1 standings be the total for the day and save the track for the next days events. We could have ran Moto 2 for fun if people really wanted to go out and get muddy, but please… nothing that occurred during any of the second motos could be remotely considered any type of “competition” under the definition of the word! It was only survival of who could stay on the track and find there way through all the muck and mire to the finish line.

The track deteriorated very quickly and the rains were coming down pretty steady now. The ruts filled with water and there were lakes of water crossing the track by Moto #3 of which I had to contend in since I was defending a 5th place finish in my first moto. I had to line up. We made it around the start sweeper just fine and then onto the main track into mud that was the consistency of freshly poured ankle deep concrete… and the slipping and sliding started… I was in a group in the front 5-6 guys and made it over the first jump and into the front grandstand straight and then ran into the main rut that was filled to the rim with water and muck and my bike came to a fleeting halt, Just Stopped! Back wheel spinning, my pegs must have landed on hard pack and lifted the back off the ground and then I just fell over sideways in the rut and was pasted with mud. I got the bike back up and moved on, still more people piling up everywhere in all the mire. The bike just would not track, the front wheel was going one direction and the back wheel was going another… I cross rutted again and again everywhere I went and almost lost control a few more times. I was done, 1 lap was enough for me to say “Sorry this just isn’t worth my injury or destroying my bike over” I had a DNF (Did Not Finish) for Moto #2, Race #3 45+ Beginner. This was gonna hurt my overall really bad. I think there were only 16 people that either showed up to race in my class of 24 or that is all that finished because there were quite a few of us that had DNF’s or DNS’s.

Sierra OTHG puts on a huge raffle at these events and they give out some pretty nice prizes. There was no exception here; many great sponsors supplied some truly awesome prizes that anybody would be proud to take home. I was not lucky enough to be one of those people enjoying their new winnings... They gave away a Pit bike, a helmet and some new boots as grand prizes and an all expense paid trip to Moto des Nations.

Sunday Races: Waking up to wind and clouds on Sunday morning, we didn’t have great expectations of anything being very good on this day. In fact we were getting ready to pack it up and go home if things looked as bad as we were imagining. We went trackside and the Azevedo guys had performed a near miracle already; the muck had been scraped off and the track was flat and the jump faces were prepped and it was as if God himself had taken mercy upon us all!... Practice even got started on time, albeit not many people were out there for the first practice but we were all trying to see what it was gonna be like before trying to ‘perform’ out there ourselves. As it was, there were many slippery areas and many covered up ruts that were simply filled with slop but if you didn’t hit those then you could pretty easily make it around the track decently. The first 5 races were pretty tricky but those were the Pros and the Experts because the race schedule for today got flipped around. I was to be in Moto #11 and Scott was in Moto #14. So it was looking good for us. The wind was blowing pretty steady and the Sun was out in force. The clouds had moved on and it was shaping up to be a good day. We stayed.

We got to watch a lot of great racing and as the time approached for our Motos it was a game of deciding how to prepare the bike. Tire pressures for the mud, half mud, half dirt, some hard pack, some muck…. What to do? Oh well, just go out and do the best you can with what you got. That was it.

Moto #3, I lined up in the gate next to Christina Ellis #38 from Reno Chapter that I was chasing after in the first moto on Saturday but never got past her. I met her in the pits Saturday afternoon and she was funny and nice, enjoyed racing with her and told her I’d be after her again. So anyway the gate drops, she gets the jump on me, so I follow in close behind because she has a good line with the front 4-5 guys and I’m right behind her. We come out onto the main track again and the prep is nice, lots of ruts to contend with and then all of sudden she checks up and I’m right on her back wheel, I have to hit the brakes to keep from running her over… my bike stalls right in the turn and then she keeps on going with the pac while I begin getting pummeled by all the guys coming around and and stacking up behind me. Sorry Guys!

I get started after about 3 kicks and get going again, now I’m in about next to last… and I had a lot of catching up to do. I’m running and running as fast as I can and now I decide I need to do some jumping. So I jump #1 double/triple and clear the double, YEA!... and then I get to #2 double/triple right in front of the grandstands and clear that double just fine YEA! and then I get around the whoops up and over the step-up and down to #3 double/triple and go for it… well this one is a bit bigger and it’s a downhill jump and I landed on the crest of the double and it launched me almost over the bars, but I hang on, my feet were off the pegs and only my knees were holding me onto the bike wrapped tightly to the tank… I get up to #4 double/triple and go for it again and landed it perfectly smooth. The #5 double/triple is the one on the back straight and that is the only one that I never tried to jump. The launch was just too steep and I didn’t want to get that much air…. Not today anyway. So by lap three, I was in sight of Christina again and I saw that she wasn’t jumping many of the double/triples, I caught up to her at Jump # 2 on lap four and was ready to pass her there but she jumped it and kept on going… so I just stayed in check and we were coming up to the big turn before the tabletop jump and came to the inside after drag racing her down the straight and slid into the apex underneath her and was ready to take the position, I locked up the rear and didn’t let it go in time and it stalled the bike right there... 3 mores kicks and I was going again, but now she was gone… and I had to just protect my position and ended up 6th place in Moto 3, Race #11 45+ Beginner.

Scott did pretty well in his moto he held out for 4th Place and finished with a big grin on his face, so I think that pretty much said it all to me. He said he was slopping through some of the double/triple bottoms that were really still just full of muck, but other than that he was handling the ruts pretty well and keeping his arms up and his foot up and in front of him in the turns nicely. Great training for him. Hoss from FactoryPhoto got a great shot of him and we bought an 8X10 copy for his memory book of the Oatfield.

My moto #4 went the best of all, I got a great start and didn’t behind anyone this time, just followed the openings in the packs as they adjusted and got a clean start in about 5th position. I started deliberately right between 2 of the South chapter guys because they were cleaning our clocks out there and I wanted to find out where they were doing it.

So I figured I would follow and learn or pass them wherever I could. About halfway through the second lap I passed the one “Southy” that was in front of me the other one was already gone and there was one other rider I could see in the distant ahead of me. I just kept on jumping and trying to get through the turns as fast as possible and was doing everything right it seemed.

I was going through the whoops when I looked down and saw a kick starter lying in the dirt. I laughed and thought “bummer”… then I figured I’d better look down and check to see if mine was missing ya know just in case… and sure enough it was MINE!!!! OH NO!!!!... I better not stall it now… So I had to yell for the turn workers to point out where the part was laying and they got to it as I was racing by…. and trying to direct all that too. By this time the front runners were way ahead of me and I settled in for third place. I caught up to the next rider at the finish gate and it was Christina Ellis again…! I gave her a big thumbs up and said I’d try again next time….

So the one South Chapter “Sandbagger” got first places in 3 of 4 motos and obviously got First Place overall, while the rest of us were left to quibble over the remaining 5 trophy spots. I ended up in 9th overall due mostly to my DNF in "MOTOMUCKFEST #2" which should have never even been scored at all. Half of the time the scorers couldnt even see the number plates! Oh well. All in all it was a good event and it was fun, The Oatfield is definitely a place that I want to visit again and again and learn more from riding on its demanding and changing terrain. The turns are never the same from moto to moto.

Big Thanks to all the supporters and sponsors of this event, AMP, The Azevedo's, the catering crew and of course the track workers... without them all this couldnt have happened.

Thanks to Mike Subocz for some of the pics!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Yamaha Teardown

Well now that the motor went, it was time to tear everything down and do it all over again. Got the motor out of it and sent it over to the motor guy to do his magic... and I got all the rest of it to do. the bike needs an overall clean up of every part hidden within. It needs a new rear fender, Im changing the rear sprocket to a 50 tooth, and I am replacing all the bearings in the rear swingarm, wheels and triple tree just to make it all fresh.

As you can see the motor aint much but it makes this little frame of a bike fly! The engine had to have the kickstarter assembly replaced and both cases. I replaced the piston and ring set, but the entire valve train was perfect.

I'll post some pics of the new engine when I get it all back and together.

All assembly will be with new parts and nuts and bolts and she'll be good as new again...

A 2003 -07 version, less the new frame of course!

Monday, April 02, 2007

CMA Round #4 LaGrange

This last event at LaGrange SVRA Park was the final round of the CMA Pacific Coast Pro-Am Championship Series and it was a very good day. Scott got his first podium finish in racing and I got my first holeshot off the startline. I was running on a graciously loaned 2007 Yamaha YZ450F by Rob Dresser, Thanks Rob! It is a beautiful bike!.

It was a nice day but got somewhat warm by the time our races started in the early afternoon. I had a holeshot off the start in Moto#1 and lead for the entire first 4 laps, and then I just ran out of physical energy and I started faiding fast. The last lap I was just exhausted (not enough water and gatorade in me) and with one guy still directly behind me and the rest of the group within striking distance, I had to muster up just enough to get to the end. I got passed by the second place guy and then went down in the next to last turn and that brought the second place guy past me and I ended up in third place.

My moto#2 was 180 degrees of my first... I stalled the bike off the starting gate and had to play catch up through the whole field of 11 guys to try and have any chance at getting in the top 3. I got all the way to 4th place and was on the rear wheel of the third place guy right at the finish line but couldnt get past. Got a 4th Place overall finish for the day.
Scott on the other hand had a second place finish in his Moto#1 and a third place in Moto#2. He had a tough field of 85cc expert riders he was running against, but kept on the going. He also had to do 6 laps around a very long course. He endured and it payed off for him. That got him a Third Place Finish overall for the day!... Great job Scott!!!