-backed riders Maria Forsberg (above) and Kacy Martinez (below) both travelled from Brazil to make the Big Buck GNCC.
Motorcycle-Superstore.com Bell Helmet riders Maria Forsberg and Kacy Martinez weren't going to let 12-plus hours on a plane or a trip across the Equator interfere with their ongoing battle for the GNCC championship.
Both riders competed in the first Global X Games EnduroX race in Brazil last Thursday night, boarded flights back to the states Friday morning, then were at the Big Buck GNCC Nationals by Sunday to resume their friendly rivalry.
"My flight out was at 7:30 in the morning," Martinez said. "I flew all day and got to the Charlotte airport at 1 a.m. on Saturday. We went to the track after we slept in a little and got all signed in."
It took three planes and a 90-minute car ride to get Forsberg to the race.
"It was pretty gnarly," Forsberg said. "An hour-and-a-half to Sau Paulo, then eight hours to Miami, almost another two hours from Miami to Charlotte then an hour-and-a-half drive to Union.
"I felt pretty good for the race, but after the race on Sunday, I definitely hit my wall."
Despite both riders dragging a little bit, Forsberg and Martinez did not disappoint when the helmets went on.
"I pulled off the win, but Kacy and I had quite the battle going," Forsberg said. "I was the best I had ever seen that course because normally it is so dry. I got a good start and built a bit of a lead. It turned it into a trail ride, because Kacy and Jessica Patterson caught up and passed me."
At one point, Patterson struggled with an obstacle and fell back, which left Forsberg and Martinez swapping the lead throughout the final stages of the race.
"I was a little surprised about how good I felt racing," Martinez said. "I went through the check third on the first lap, but came around in first the next lap. Later on, I had a crash with a lapper and that's when Maria passed me.
"I caught back up and passed her and was really feeling good and thought today was going to be my day."
Late in the race the pair came on to a mud hole on the track which had swallowed a lot of other riders, causing officials to re-route Martinez and Forsberg.
"There were racers everywhere," Martinez said. "We came up on it real quick. A course worker had his back to me when I came through first. He signed Maria to go another way. I turned around real quick to follow her."
Forsberg said she did see the official first and reacted quickly.
"When they re-routed us, I was behind Kacy which gave me an advantage," Forsberg said. "I was able to cut in and get around her. That was the last lap of the race. I got in front of some lappers in the tight section then tried to gap her as best as I could."
In the end, Forsberg crossed the line with a final time of 1 hour, 50 minutes, 26 seconds with Martinez finishing in 1:51.02. Forsberg leads Martinez by two points in the championship standings.
"This was a big race for me," Martinez said. "I know I can be a frontrunner and compete with Maria head-to-head every race now. If I put my work in, hopefully my next race will be better."
The jet-setting ways aren't over for Forsberg and Martinez. Forsberg said she's already committed to racing in the season opener for the GEICO Motorcycle AMA Pro EnduroCross series in Las Vegas on May 3 then head to Monmouth, Ky., on May 5 to race in the next GNCC race. Martinez said she's definitely on board for the next GNCC race, but will try to pull the double as well if she can get a bike to Las Vegas.