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Yep, I went back. Had to. This time with a vengeance. That shiny plastic trophy was going to be mine!

Yamaha had come out with their revolutionary YZ400F four stroke and Chris had already switched over, but we kept that KX500 for me and my vision quest. As I said before, it was FAST! Chris had raced it in a GP at Carlsbad a few months earlier, and had been clocked @ 97 MPH on the drag strip that was part of the course. AIR, we had added one tooth on the front and taken three off the back. Bonneville here we come!

Just as the year before, I raced the "Legends" race earlier in the morning. As I was passing a couple of guys on a downhill, I suddenly found myself going downhill on my back without the bike. I had gone over the bars so quickly that I couldn't understand what happened or why. As I got up, both questions were answered. The left side grip was still in my hand! Seems someone (not saying who) had installed a new pair of grips that morning but forgot to safety wire them. It was hot that day, and the sweat from my hands was enough to loosen the grip.

By the time I got going, the fast guys were about to lap me. As we entered Main Street, I did my obligatory wheelie and held it on into the fast left-hand sweeper that led back onto the dirt. Thinking I was Ade Critten, I was going to demonstrate my superior late braking skills for one and all. AFTER I had grabbed the binders for all they were worth, some guy, came around me on the OUTSIDE, tapped his rear brake and backed it into the turn in classic flat track style. Spinning the rear tire all the way through the turn (still on the pavement), all I could do was admire his skill. He left me tied to the proverbial post. I later found out he was David Aldana, a legendary pro flat track racer. I know I was impressed.

My adventure on that downhill left me with a pretty good cut on my elbow, but from the other crashes I witnessed that morning, all of the ER's for miles around were going to have very long waits. Besides, they still had my trophy. BTW, if they're right about chicks digging scars, I'm holding out for Heidi Klum.

Much like the year before, I grabbed the early lead in the 50+yr. old Amateur race and began to stretch it out. I actually started to pick off lappers on the second lap. This says more about them than me. There were a lot of guys who entered this race just to say that they'd done it. Obviously, they didn't know how important that trophy was! Just kidding of course. I respect anyone who puts it out there, regardless of their ability. The Elsinore GP was a very fast and dangerous race.

After the now-famous David Aldana turn, there was a wide open dirt section that led to a paved road that went up into the next canyon. To get on this road, you had to jump off a 3' dirt ledge and make an immediate 90* left turn. From there it was WFO all the way up the road for about 1/2 mile. IOW, a great place to make time, especially if you were on a fast bike. Again, I was no Ade, but the road was straight and I had the blade between my teeth. I had a 5+ minute lead on the last lap. Remember, this was the Amateur race. I'm sure that the experts in my age class would have smoked me, but fortunately for me, they were in the next race, so I got to play hero for a little while.

As we entered the dirt section (think of 3-4 square acres of vacant lots), I saw 4 lappers in front of me going pretty slow. I went very wide to pass them on the right, figuring that I'd beat them to that road. When I jumped out onto the road, I had gotten three of them, but the fourth was just coming to the ledge as I started accelerating up the road. I saw him, but I thought I could beat him to the spot where he would drop down onto the road.

If you're still reading this, this is where it gets good.

Just as I was about to shift into fourth, he tried to ride down the ledge. As the embankment was straight up and down, he landed straight down on his front wheel, wobbled a bit, then went down just as I arrived. I saw it coming at the last second and leaned into him to absorb the hit. Somehow his bike had become wedged underneath mine, but I was still going at a pretty good clip, and I didn't want to shut off or hit the brakes as I knew it would result in an instant high-side. Everything seemed to slow down for the next few seconds.

The people lining the course alongside the paved road were waving at me and yelling. I knew that the rider had fallen off just before he hit me, so I was thinking why were they waving? Did they think I didn't know I was dragging his bike up the road? As I slowly backed off the throttle, I looked down to see where his bike was. His bars were caught under my swing arm with most of his bike actually behind me. As I looked further back, I saw that he had somehow managed to get his foot stuck in his own swing arm, so he was being dragged by his own bike. He was also doing a pretty good impersonation of a bobble-head doll as his head bounced off the pavement. Yes, he was wearing a helmet.

I immediately chopped the throttle and got on the brakes. As soon as I did, however, everything cleared out from under me, and the same people who were frantically waving at me to stop only a moment earlier, were now giving me the full throttle hand gesture and the thumbs up. I looked back to see that I was some 20 yards clear of the wreck and some people were already helping him. I was pissed that he had screwed up such a simple obstacle at such a slow speed (2-3 MPH).This may have led me to rationalize that there was nothing I could do to help him, and after all, it was his fault. A little cold perhaps, but I was back on the gas. Understand that this all happened in a matter of a few seconds. And no,I don't know if he pointed his toes!

A few minutes later I was on the dirt fire road that led back into town and the finish. I was still passing a lot of lappers, but as you might imagine, giving them a lot of room. As I neared the top of the last hill, I passed a rider on the outside of a sweeping right hand turn. He must have been surprised by it because he suddenly turned into the face of the embankment (dirt wall) just enough to clip his bars on the right (throttle) side. The result was that he veered sharply left into me, and it knocked me off the road and over the side of a steep hill.

Fortunately, the hill was so steep, and composed mostly of loose dirt, so I wasn't hurt. Unfortunately, the hill was so steep that i slid approx. 100' down the side of the hill.

To his credit, the guy helped me drag my bike back up the hill and onto the road. We had to drag it nose to tail. As a guess, I would say that it took 10+ minutes. He kept apologizing the entire time, and when he realized that I had been leading the race, he felt especially bad. I didn't say a word.

Two things:

I felt like Wiley Coyote in a Road Runner cartoon. Pure disgust!

I figured this was Karma's way of evening the score for the earlier incident.

When I got back on the dirt road, I was about 2 miles from the finish. I didn't do a wheelie past the my fans in the park, I just rode back to the truck and sulked for a while. I finished 5th or 6th, but I didn't bother to collect my shiny plastic trophy, nor any of the contingency prizes that went with it. Chris and his friends had been watching the race at the intersection where I collided with the nose-wheelie specialist. They said that the guy was fine. They couldn't believe that I didn't win the race. Chris offered his comforting "You should have raced the Expert Class" once again and we went home. I never raced it again.

Chris raced the Pro Class there the following year and had one of the scariest crashes I've ever seen by anyone, anywhere. I think everyone that was there that day would agree.That's a story for another time however. I hope you enjoyed this one.
 
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