If not evident from my previous comments, the 2019 riding season has been very “dynamic”, to say the least. As usual, over the winter I spoke in great detail about my riding goals for this year. While the bike maintenance struggles have, thus far, not put up any major roadblocks to riding, in recent months I’ve shifted priorities with more focus on family.
That said, “On Any Sunday”, there’s a race going on somewhere. With limited time and wanting to stay a little closer to home, I’ve still been anxious to raise the bar. Working toward the goal of hitting the Northeast 24-Hour Endurance Race, I signed up to race in the local IXCR series. Indiana Cross Country Racing (IXCR) holds races across Indiana from March until November, but after crashing back in February, my shoulder wasn’t ready to ride hard until at least May. Finally back to full range of motion, I spooned a set of non-DOT knobbies on the CRF250L and headed to a brand new IXCR track in Milton, Kentucky for my first ever motorcycle race.
Having wrestled the 250L over a number of trees earlier this spring, I knew this race was going to be the most demanding thing I’ve ever done on two wheels. Not two minutes into the woods, I remembered “Zomebieland Rule #1: Cardio”. Temperatures were cresting 90°F very rapidly, and I’m a far cry from my former Army fighting weight. Having never navigated hare scramble traffic and sadly in a poor state of cardiovascular fitness, I took a serious whipping. That said, my goal was to finish, and ideally not finish last. Somehow, just barely, I managed to reach those goals, and I’m already looking at the remaining race dates for this season.
The CRF250L was heavily outclassed by virtually every other bike on the starting line; the extra 75 pounds of heft makes picking the bike up a real drag. That said, that street engine has the low-end torque and the extra el-bees do contribute to better rear-wheel traction. While I too was stuck in the mud, the 250L had grip when a lot of other novice riders were holding the throttle open and just spinning the wheel (and subsequently polishing the clay for me). I put a really good beating on the clutch to finish that last hill climb; so much so that I suspect I will, at a minimum, replace the friction plates before getting back on the grid. I ran the bike 1-tooth down on the front sprocket, and before racing again, I suspect I will add 2 teeth to the back sprocket. With better fitness, I suspect I have the skills to hit the hills standing on the pegs, assuming I can get around traffic, but as a backup plan, I’m hoping that having the extra teeth on back sprocket will mean for less stress on the engine and clutch if things don’t go “as planned”.
I also want to thank the boys on the Lemmy and the boys on the Highside/Lowside Podcast, Jensen & Shahin of Brap Talk, and Steve Kamrad for encouraging folks to race. When people picture motorcycle racing, I assume they picture the speed and crashes of MotoGP or the high flying action of Pro Arena-cross. The truth is, you’d be surprised by how low-key and family-oriented the local off-road racing scene is. Before heading out to the starting line, I watched the kids from the youth and pee-wee divisions run around the course. Furthermore, while not shown in the video, spectators lined the course near the hardest obstacles. Those folks would point you in the right direction, and even help you pick your bike up after a crash. Some of the competitors may be in a big hurry to finish first, but for the most part, the riders to your left and right are trying to beat Mother Nature, just like you are. In the end, it was $50 well spent to compete in my first IXCR event, and I can’t wait until I can do it again.