The 3rd round of the National Hare & Hound series was held in West Texas. It was a long drive for all of us California boys but once we get there it is always fun to ride some new terrain. We headed out late Thursday to get a few hours in so we didn’t have that long to drive on Friday. With my wife having to start a new job on Monday the day after the race she wasn’t able to make the trip out with me and It would be the first race she has missed in over 2 years. It was a weird feeling heading to the race without her. She helps me in so many ways at the races but this should be the only race she has to miss this season. We showed up to the race late Friday and got to see a little bit of the terrain before the sun set. It looked really tight and that the dust would be a big factor.
Saturday was more of the same just hanging out, checking out course, riding the race back and getting prepared for Sunday. It was nice to have a relaxing day after such a long drive. The start was going to be super early for us from California. We had a two-hour time difference and daylight savings kicked in. The start was scheduled for 9:30am. IT didn’t leave much time in the morning which was kind of nice. I woke up put the bike on the line got some food and got geared up. When the banner dropped I got a decent jump but was edged out by some 2-strokes and a couple others. I came around the first turn about 7th overall. I made a few quick passes before we dropped in a sand wash for about 3 miles. I couldn’t make any passes but capitalized on one riders mistake when he went down. From there I set out to try and make more passes. I just couldn’t get close enough with the dust. I struggled to get close to make a pass for quite some time and that’s when I got impatient and made a big mistake. I shaved a corner a little too much and ended up in one of the many wash out ditches that were out on the course. There was a reason why the trail went pretty wide around this corner. I ended up being stuck in a big ditch and managed to get out pretty quickly luckily for me. I lost one spot to Tyler Lynn and now had Jake breathing down my neck. This actually helped me start riding a lot better. It put some more urgency in my riding and everything started to flow really well. We hit some open sections and I made the pass on Tyler and quickly creeped back up on 2nd and 3rd. In the same valley I was able to pass both riders. I was really feeling good and hoping I didn’t give up too much time to the leader. I was also hoping with my quick passes that I would get a gap on Jake and be able to relax a little bit. Well he actually just followed right behind me and made the passes at the exact same time. Now we were nose to tail trying to catch the leader. He was right behind me for the next 20 miles. I knew it was hard to pass but easier to follow. I really tried to be smooth and not make any mistakes. He was putting a lot of pressure on me and I just finally had to relax and let the race come to me. Toward the end of the first loop I stopped hearing his squeaky brakes and realized he wasn’t back there anymore. I didn’t know what happened but came to learn that he crashed out right behind me. This left me all alone in 2nd place. Kendall was gone and had checked out. When I came into the pits they let me know Kendall was 2 minutes up and just ride my own race. I tried to just focus on my lines the 2nd loops and not make any mistakes like I have the past two races. It was a really long 38miles just trying to get to the finish. The terrain was a lot of fun and really tight. We had a little bit of everything minus open valleys which is what we are used to. After a long 2nd loop I came into the finish 2nd overall with my first podium of the year.
I was really happy to get this finish out of the way and get on the podium. I ran up front at the first 2 Nationals but just didn’t finish them out where I should be. I felt really comfortable on the bike and comfortable with my speed. I wish I got a better start so I could of battled for the win but that’s racing! It wasn’t the same this weekend not being able to immediately celebrate with my wife but I know she was there in spirit and supporting me from afar. Thanks to Collin Woolsey, Ron Purvines and Kyle Kurtz for taking care of me in the pits and for all the support all weekend long! Also a congrats to Tyler Lynn for making his first podium at 17 years old!! That’s a huge accomplishment and I expect big things to come from this kid in the future!! Thank you to all of the team sponsors that keep us being able to do what we love to do!