Story and Photos by Trevor Hunter
When does a broken visor, a sore back, and a dented pipe add up to a good time? Endurocross you say? Although it isn’t always fun at the time, endurocross seems to be more enjoyable the more you forget about it. When are those times never the best times?
Endurocross promoters have been trying to attract more amateur riders to grow the series as a whole and not just cater to the pro riders. For 2017, they are focusing on making the tracks more amateur friendly with slightly easier obstacles while still providing some challenges for the pro riders with the addition of the “No Joke” lane which is to be used once during the Super Endurocross or final main event.
At round 1 in Las Vegas, the “rider friendly” track ended up providing great racing and some even said the best racing ever seen at Endurocross. The two stars of the show defintely belonged to Colton Haaker and Cody Webb as the battled each other every time they hit the track.
They also are attracting local district and club riders like District 37 for Ontario and Las Vegas since they are the hardcore riders willing to try out races like this. Similarly, more amateur races in the night program give them a better chance to qualify for racing and also allow for more seat time.
In preparation for this year’s race, I headed out to Glen Helen and did some laps around their endurocross track in between doing moto’s and testing bikes which will be up in the near future. Glen Helen’s endurocross track is all but gone as only a few logs and tires remain but I had no troubles with any of those obstacles which gave me a little bit of confidence going into the weekend. I also received the all important Goldentyre GT216X gummy tire from Ty Davis on our way up to Vegas and he swore by its capabilities and how it was necessary. And it works.
The tire still wasn’t enough to mask my lack of skills in this type of riding/racing and I quickly found out. As I line up next to fellow D37 and Big6 rider Jordan Gamboa, we watch on as other Big6 riders Hayden Hintz and Preston Campbell navigate the track and look good doing it. Soon after taking off, I find myself and many others stuck in the matrix (a series of logs placed close together) — a sign of things to come. As I hit the rocks for the first time, the gummy tire hooks up instantly and I’m flying right through it until I’m not. Another stuck rider runs right into the side of me as I’m trying to pass and knocks me down — another sign of things to come. Amazingly, I was able to clear the matrix the next lap–but I then found myself staring into the dirt as my bike laid on top of me.
I just crashed on the smallest log in the entire arena. It wasn’t just me, I look up from the dirt and I see Supercross rider Alex Ray crashing on the next log in front of me. What has endurocross become? After the first couple practices, I concluded the biggest obstacles aren’t the ones on the track but the other riders out there. Coming up to the matrix without anyone being stuck in front of you is a rarity. While in it bikes and riders seem to come out of nowhere.
After the first heat race, all of us D37 kids concluded that water on an endurocross track is not your friend. The track crew laid down some water which made everything like ice and even the gummy tires struggled to find any traction. Endurocross is also filled with highs and lows. In the LCQ, after completing what I call a perfect lap for me, I found myself catching and passing into 5th place – a qualifying position for the Amateur B main. As quickly as I passed the riders I found myself trying to pick my bike up as the grip was wedged between two rocks – thus the end of my day as I missed qualifying by one.
After all was said and done, I qualified 11th in practice, and finished 10th in my heat race and 7th in my LCQ. However, both Jordan Gamboa and Preston Campbell qualified for the Amateur B mains with their 3rd and 6th place finishes in their LCQ’s. Reflecting on this experience, I have concluded that I need more practice at this type of racing as it is different than anything else I do. The pros make it look so easy. But they also spend hours on special built practice tracks and train specifically for this type of racing.
Come time for Ontario and I will make approximately 150 passes through a matrix prior to lining up since my struggles started there. I’ll also hope to grow a few inches between now and then since that seems to be more favorable for this type of racing.
Here’s a clip of my practice crash:
Here is my LCQ where I found myself on the ground as I passed into qualifying position: