2010 XDL Sportbike Freestyle Insider Report

March 16, 2010
By Luke "Duke" Emmons
It was Déjà vu all over again as I left cold and nasty New England weather to rip it up in sunny Florida. I had been building a new bike to ride at Daytona XDL 2010. However, due to time constraints, I was advised to take my Stunt Wars bike. Thanks to Dave Bolognese, after two days of prep my F4i was tight and ready to get the ever-loving Shift beat out of it.
Only two and a half points separated Luke Emmons from the winner. Considering his style in this picture  its hard to imagine how tight the competition was.
Luke Emmons shows off his skills during Round 1 of the XDL Sportbike Freestyle Championship Series.

Tuesday was the beginning of my first six hour practice session with Andrew Griffy. Thanks to him I was able to really push due to the natural competitor that lies within. I spent the week working on style. I want to be able to do my tricks better than anyone else 11 out of 10 times.

Friday morning I woke up ready to ride. I was the first one at the track that morning aside from the handful of riders who stayed there the night before. I remember walking around feeling proud to ride at the same place that so many other great riders had graced.

XDL has stepped up for the riders tremendously. There is a reality TV show to be aired on the Versus network October 12th. I wasn’t sure if the added pressure would affect my riding so I did my best to put it out of my mind. The day started out with the usual riders meeting and Thomas Evans sternly laying down ground rules for the event. Practice has changed since last year. Instead of four top riders in a confined area at once, which is a recipe for tumbleweed stew, each person gets a 90-second window to practice by themselves. It is highly organized and a lot safer.

Immediately following practice, qualifying began. I put in a solid qualifying run but held back just enough to guarantee me a spot to ride Sunday. With so many good riders it is important to me personally and to all the sponsors to ride on that second day. I qualified in the ninth spot out of almost 50riders. The competition is so tight at XDL that any top ten rider can win.

Saturday brought rain and cold. I was accustomed to this but 40s and raining is never fun. I competed in the circle competition but was defeated in the first round by a half-a-circle and Lin Savage. Sickest trick crossed my mind but the wet ground was slippery and the trick that I have planned for the next round requires a lot of traction.

Luke Emmons performs a one-handed wheelie for the crowd.
Competition was fierce, but Emmons took second overall.

Sunday began the first round of competition. Aaron from Racing 905 has turned into an excellent riding coach. He gives advice on how I should ride and what runs to use. I am privileged to have this type of support. Now at XDL there are three two minute runs and your lowest is dropped. This takes off so much pressure and allows you to rip the top off of a run. I rode hard and fast during my first run and finished fourth. I liked being in this position so early in the day. I was at the front of the pack but still had room to improve.

My second run was a good follow-up from the morning. I rode aggressive and threw caution to the wind. The average of my two runs moved me into third place right behind Shift rider Rick Hart. My third run was faster and cleaner than the prior two and mved me into second. Bill D ended up with a win that day but I am working hard to take the XDL National Championship title and the number one plate. I was a point-and-a-half (out of 100) per run behind him. I may have taken second but I took first in appearance because I looked so damn good in my Shift gear. Victory is within reach and I hope to be writing about just that after the next round from Lake Havasu, Arizona.

I couldn’t have come closer to being XDL Daytona runner-up without the help from SHIFT, Racing 905, Dave Bolognese, Hindle Exhaust, Sparx Helmets, HEL brake lines, GPR Dampers, Enso Guitars, Amsoil, Shinko Tires, ASV levers, Thrust Co, Bike Styles, Stuntride.com, and Hohey Designs. Thank you all.

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