Heading into round 4 of the Hare Scrambles championship we were headed back to a district 36 race in Lake Shasta, CA. I have raced this event a handful of times now and it’s been dusty a few times and really muddy a couple other times. Watching the weather report coming into the weekend it was looking like it would be another muddy year. Rain was in the forecast every day except for race day. I was prepared for a mud race and had my mind set on making sure I learned from my mistakes in the previous race to get the result I needed. With racing every weekend it’s always hard to see family on a regular occasion and get enough time visiting with everyone. It doesn’t help that my family is extremely large as well. Lucky for us we get to travel a lot and that means we can plan visits when we have races near family. This weekend would be no different for us. I have family in Clovis, CA which is about the halfway point of the drive for us up to Lake Shasta. Our plan was to leave early Friday and spend the rest of the day with family. About an hour away from my grandparents’ house on Friday my dad received a call no one ever wants to get. My wife and I could tell instantly when my dad was on the phone that something was wrong. My mind started racing trying to figure out what was going on and what to do. Finally we heard my dad talking to my mom and my dad informed us that my “Grandad” had passed away just then. In a state of utter shock and disbelief my wife and I tried to process the news why my dad tried to calm my mom down on the phone. It was a shock no one was ready for and at that point we knew we just needed to go be with family. We got to my family’s house about an hour later and we all just sat around comforting each other and trying to deal with then news. We got my mom, sister and nephew on a plane headed to Fresno as soon as we could. That night was a little bit of a blur but our family rallied together and everyone’s plans at that point were focused on getting to “the block” and being with family. As I sit here and write this thinking about everything that happened I am still in a little bit of shock but also get to smile knowing that my Grandad lived an amazing life. We have so many pictures of him and just thinking back on what he has lived through and the history he saw is amazing. He was in amazing health and went out on Gods plan. His life was complete here and as sad as it is he had completed his journey through life and is on to his next mission. We know he is enjoying some golf and eating the best fruit he could imagine up in heaven. I can’t wait to have another chat with him and here some more jokes the next time we get to talk!
At this point I didn’t know how the race would go. I knew my wife and I needed to leave and head to the race Saturday morning. We decided my dad would stay with the family and help with whatever needed to be attended to. My wife and I would take our nephew Aiden with us and head to the race. We got up there Saturday afternoon and went straight out to the race site. I got signed up and checked out some course and my bike to make sure everything was good to go. Luckily for me I have an amazing team behind me and an awesome mechanic. I didn’t have to do anything but show up and race. My bike was there waiting for me, the pits were set up and everything was handled. This is always a huge relief as all I have to worry about is racing. From there we went back to a hotel and tried to get some rest. We didn’t sleep really at all Friday night and Saturday night wasn’t much better. I had no idea how my body would respond to the grueling 3 hour race but I had no choice except to give it my all. Luckily for me the rain stayed away and the course was going to be perfect!!
Finally it was race day. We had to wake up at 5am and head to the race. Our race started at 8:30am and would be the first race of the day. After everything that was going on I was just ready to get the race started and get back to be with family. Luckily for me I have an amazing wife and she took care of everything for me to be ready for my race. Once I got on the line I started to focus in on the task at hand. At every district36 race they have a prayer on the starting line. I was thankful for this and bowed my head for some extra time and said a prayer and thanked my granddad for everything he did for me in his life. When the flag dropped I got off to a good start. I was around 4th when we funneled into the trail and from there I set out to take the lead. I made some quick passes and by the time we looped right back around by the pits I was leading. I wanted to just put the hammer down and checkout but that wasn’t in the cards. It wasn’t going to be an easy day at all. I held the lead for a few miles until I blew a corner. I was sitting 2nd and then coming down another fast straight away into a sharp turn Ty Tremaine didn’t make the turn and plowed into the back of me costing me two more spots. I put my head down and made my way back up to 2nd coming around on lap 1. I set out to catch the leader and tried to push. In the first tight tree section I clipped a tree and fell over. As I was getting up the bike got away from me and went into another tree on the other side. It took me forever to get going and not long after I crashed again in the trees. I felt my race spiraling out of control and knew I needed to suck it up and put my head down and pin it. I decided to just calm down ride the bike how it should be rode in a high gear and let the power of the Yamaha 450 do the work. From this point on I started feeling really good. By the end of lap two I had made another pass and caught back up to the group in front of me. I came in for a quick pit stop and some encouragement from my wife to keep pushing and catch the guys ahead. At this point they had the white flag out and I knew I needed to sprint to the finish if I wanted on the podium. I made it into 3rd pretty quickly and set out to catch whoever was in front of me. About 2 miles from the finish I finally saw Max Gerston up ahead. Not only did I want to pass him for 2nd but he is one of my main competitors in the championship hunt. I started creeping up on him slowly and knew I would need to make a pass right before the finish. I was getting really close and I knew the finish was approaching as well. That’s when I over cooked it down a hill and blew a corner right into some trees. I thought my chances were over but I had a few small sections left before the finish. I kind of just hair balled it down some hills and caught back up to him. I knew it would be hard to pass but I got close and when we get really close to the finish he slid out and I went right on by. I was really happy that it worked out and cruised into what I thought was the finish. That’s when I looked up and saw the white flag again. In my mind I was pissed. I gave everything I had and didn’t know if I could make it another lap. I had no sleep coming in and didn’t know how I would get through this last lap. The first part of the lap had some really tight sections and they were getting really nasty ruts and mud holes. I decided I would just cruise through here and try to re coup some energy for the rest of the lap. Max caught right up to me but wasn’t forcing the issue at all. He just followed in behind me through the deep ruts. I figured he would get by me and I would just stay close and make the pass later on in the lap. However it didn’t seem like he wanted to make the pass either so as soon as we got out of the trees I tried to suck it up and put a little charge in so I could break away. That’s just what happened and after I got a good gap I just brought it home for a 2nd overall.
If the weekend would have been a normal weekend and the result was the same I would still be super happy. Any district36 event I can podium is a good race for me. With the circumstances that went on before this race to come out of it with the points lead is beyond anything I could have thought about before the race. I know I had some help out there from up above to keep me going for the whole 3 hour race. Nothing was handed to me this race as I had to charge the entire day to get to where I finished. I couldn’t have done this without the support of my wife. She has been my rock through this whole process. She has kept me calm and positive through the whole situation. I don’t know what would have happened if I wouldn’t of had her by my side. There is no way I could have made it through the race or the weekend without her. I want to thank my team Purvines Racing and especially Collin Woolsey for having everything taken care of and making sure all I had to do is focus on the race. Thank you to everyone for your kind words as my Grandad touched so many lives in his journey through life and I don’t have enough words to tell everyone how great a man he was. Until we meet again I will be always thinking of him and living my life to the fullest just as he would have wanted!