After getting some speed work in during an intense set of motos the previous day at REM MX, the Gary Jones Grand Prix offered the perfect opportunity to get a little endurance training as the format called for a two-hour long pro race. With Gary seemingly familiar with every spec of dirt the Glen Helen property has to offer, it was no surprise this race course was incredibly entertaining as it provided an all encompassing mix of the national and REM motocross tracks, the high-speed truck track, the sweeping roads of the upper hills and the tight, technical single-track canyons. Justin Seeds and Justin Jones turned out, among a few others, to add some quality competition and as we lined up for the pro race I was anxious to get out and enjoy the course.
We would use the concrete start gate for the race and since I had the feeling of getting off the REM gate fresh in my mind, I got a flyer of a start. I found perfect traction off the cement, started shifting through to fifth gear, hanging off the back of the bike with the throttle wide open and commanded the first turn as we rounded the high-speed Talladega corner. I instantly found my groove and as there was a little bit of dust in the back sections, I completed the first lap with a pretty comfortable gap already.
Justin Jones had moved into second-place and, being one of the few riders that could rival my familiarity with Glen Helen, he started to find his pace and held the gap constant for the next half a lap. Then I gave him a little more incentive. It’s ironic how neutral can be so hard to find when you’re searching for it, but come the most inconvenient time, your transmission seems overjoyed to find it. While I was rounding a corner of the REM motocross section, my big foot bounced into the shifter and managed to find neutral. I instantly lost my balance, fell to the dirt, and had a “turtle on its back” moment, as it seemed to take me forever to get back to my feet. In that time, my bike stalled and I rushed to re-fire the beast before Justin could overtake me.
My machine sparked to life just in time and I took off, grabbing gears, with just a couple of seconds over Jones. His riding was inspired and he held me right within his sights as we made our way to the tighter canyons, but after navigating the technical sections, I had regained a more comfortable cushion. I planned on that crash being my one and only, but apparently I was full of mistakes this day (specifically in the REM section) and as I was exiting the motocross track, my front tire caught a hidden edge and sent me to the earth yet again. This time I was able to keep the bike running, kept from losing too much of my lead over Justin, and started pushing hard yet again.
It wasn’t even a lap later that I started getting the “you have a big lead” signals from people around the track as, sadly for Jones, his race took a turn for the worse when something happened to his rear brake system, forcing him to come into the pits for a lengthy spell. From this moment on I used the race as a training session, continuing to push the pace and my fitness, all while having a blast with the race course. My race wouldn’t be complete without a little more drama, though, and with a couple laps to go I stuck the front tire into a silty berm, which brought the bike to an abrupt stop. Unfortunately for me the laws of physics dictated that I must continue my momentum and I flew into the bushes as I high-sided off the bike, polishing off my third crash of the day in exciting fashion. I was able to brush myself off and, aside from a few grains of sand in my gloves, wasn’t too worse for wear as I finished out the race and took the checkered flag.
I had such a fun time at the Gary Jones GP and can’t wait for Round 2 when it hits The Ranch as that has to be one of my favorite places to race; that facility is purpose built to produce smiles. I was impressed with Justin’s speed on Sunday and he’s really improved since turning professional; it was quite unfortunate that he had the bike issues since it was shaping up to be an exciting race.
I’m stoked to get another win this year and I’d like to thank the team: Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarms racing for building a damage proof bike, because I did my best to test it’s resistance through all of my crashes. Thank you to all of the wonderful team sponsors and my personal sponsors as well: Fox racing, THR Motorsports, USWE, Northland Motorsports and HookIt.com. I’d also like to thank all of my friends from CrossFit-Foothill for coming out and watching me race; perhaps that was the reason for my continual crashing -I was probably trying to show off a little bit.
My busy February continues next weekend as I’m teaming up with David Pearson at the BITD, GPR, Laughlin Hare Scrambles on Saturday and then rushing to Competitive Edge on Sunday for the Mammoth MX qualifier. Just can’t get enough of this whole racing dirt bikes thing I have going!
Thank you to all the Precision Concepts, Alamo Alarm racing team sponsors: FMF Racing, GPR, IMS, BRP, AME Grips, Kalgard, Ryan Abbatoye Designs, Renthal, Dunlop, VP Racing Fuels, DT1 Filters, Hinson, Matrix Concepts, RK/Excel, Acerbis, Works Connection, Zip-Ty Racing, SealSavers.