Earlier in the year I managed to get some racing in at the first two rounds of the National Enduros held in Sumter, SC and Greensboro, GA. Both of these events were exceptional with great organization, trails, and conditions. I was just so stoked to be able to go on such long rides (80 and 60 miles of single track) without having to go over the same piece of trail twice. No chance of getting bored there. Things were going great at Sumter as I had the lead after the first of four 18 mile long sections, but from there it went downhill as I had some major rear brake problems to the point where I was generating so much heat through the rear brake that I actually bent the back side of the caliper out until it was hitting the spokes of the rear wheel. Seeing as the brakes would get that hot the fluid would continually boil leaving me with zero brakes until they cooled down and the pedal came back. Later in the day we swapped to a different brake system which worked okay until the heat eventually melted through the stock brake line. I was somewhat lucky to finish up 6th there. Round 2 went a little better results wise with a 4th but I wasn’t as happy with the way I rode as I just wasn’t pushing it much in the very tight trails.
A couple of weeks later I managed to keep my win streak intact at the first round of the GNCC series in Florida. Sure now it was only the morning race that I won instead of the afternoon Pro race, but we’ll just ignore that little piece of information! Actually I was originally planning on racing the Pro race but at the last moment I realized that I just wasn’t physically prepared to last the distance for a decent result. If only I was in the shape that I was back in 2002! Check out this gem that our friend Jeff Spencer was able to locate; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IXuBI1VgqBI
No wonder I used to get such bad arm pump!!! Anyway, in the Pro race I would have done pretty much what moto legend Travis Pastrana did, which was to lead for the first couple of laps and then run out of steam and fade back to a dismal result of 17th overall. The other reason why I rode the morning race is that I had to be back at home in NC that night (10 hour drive) so as I could watch the kids and let Carrie get back to her new business and focus on running that. Plus I also needed to answer the multitude of email inquiries that we had received for the Dirt Wise schools.
Following a few days in the trenches tapping away at the keyboard it was time to load up again and head to GNCC Rd 2 and this time with the family in tow. The morning race was on the agenda again for me so we decided to head down early on Saturday so as we could go hang out at the track and catch up with friends we hadn’t seen for ages. Well it was bitterly cold at the track and everyone was hibernating so we hightailed it to the motel and finally got to relax for a few hours from our chaotic life. The race didn’t go any good for me seeing as my 12 month old clunker of a bike had the water pump gasket let go on the start line. I only traveled about a mile before it had pumped itself dry and was about to blow, so back to the trailer we went. After watching the Pro race start we went and got some tacos, hot dogs, and fries and had ourselves a trackside picnic as the Pro guys roosted on by, and then it was off home to get the kids in bed by a decent hour.
During those next couple of weeks before GNCC Rd. number 3 I was able to get out and ride quite a bit with all of the guys who are staying in the area at this time of year. Glenn Kearney and Cole Calkins live in town, and Jesse Robinson lives just up the road, while the following racers have also been camped out in the area: Paul Whibley, Josh Strang, Jimmy Jarrett, Charlie Mullins, and Rodney Smith. Seeing as all of these guys and their family’s are either foreigners or currently living on the road we decided to have everyone come over for a big feast and get-together over the Easter weekend.
On the Wednesday before that next GNCC race our 6 month old boy had to go in for a scheduled 4 hour long surgery to get himself a little ‘tune-up’, and thankfully pretty much everything turned out great following his recovery. The same couldn’t be said for me, as on that same day I had the effects of some serious food poisoning kick in which resulted in me spending basically the next five days in bed only getting up to let it fly out both ends. It was not nice and it wasn’t a pleasant way to lose 11 pounds (5 kg). Obviously now I never did make it to the race even though it was only 45 minutes from our house, and thanks to my awesome wife Carrie and her mum Chris for pulling double duty and looking after the both of us sick boys.
Last weekend we conducted our second Dirt Wise school for the year at Highland Park, GA (www.highlandparkresort.com) which is a top notch riding park that features something like 80 miles of trails. They have a full range of quality rental bikes and seeing as they’re situated just over an hour away from the Atlanta airport this is a perfect destination for anyone who wants to fly in and have a weekend of roosting in a true ‘back east’ environment. Due to all of the rain things were a little messy for us on the first day but everyone handled the conditions great especially our oldest student to date, 71 year old Bruce Johnson. While driving through Atlanta on Friday I stopped off and visited the Australian Bakery Café in Marietta ( www.australianbakery.com ), to load up on some meat pies, sausage rolls, lamingtons, etc. which is all traditional Aussie food that you can’t normally buy over here in the US. The other southern brothers (Kearney, Strang, and Whibley) had all put in orders so I ended up walking out of there down $400 but with two huge Esky’s full of frozen supplies for the troops. And yes they do taste bloody beautiful!!!
This shop is run by two Aussie mates and they also stock some of the other great Aussie delicacies like Vegemite, Cheery Ripes, Butter Menthols, and the classic Tim Tams. Now Vegemite is an acquired taste which it seems all American do not like, but trust me when I say that if you want to win the heart of your lady friend then you need to get her a pack of Tim Tams(unique chocolate covered biscuit/cracker). These things have more power to impress than a diamond.
Any way back to business. Below is our finalized Dirt Wise school schedule until the end of July;
April 19-20, 2008 Penhook, VA (near Roanoke, VA)
May 3-4, 2008 Brentwood, CA (near San Jose)
May 10-11, 2008 Denver, NC (near Charlotte)
May 17-18, 2008 Russellville, AR
May 24-25, 2008 Gambonini Ranch, CA (Only open to MCMA Club Members)
May 31-June 1, 2008 Milliken, CO (near Denver, CO)
June 7-8, 2008 Foot of Mountain, PA (near Neelyton, PA)
June 14-15, 2008 East Orange, VT (near Montpelier)
June 28-29, 2008 Idaho City, ID
July 3-4 and 5-6, 2008 Rock Hill, OR
July 11-12 (Friday-Saturday), 2008 Meriden, CT
July 18-19 (Friday-Saturday), 2008 Battlecreek, MI
July 24-25 and 26-27, 2008 Trail Tours in Canada (1 hour East of Toronto)
The school in Meriden, CT has already sold-out, and the rest are filling up fast. Either email us at [email protected] for an event flyer and registration form or just download it from; https://www.shanewatts.com/ridingschools.aspx
We will be taking off all of the month of August and the first half of September so as to prepare for ISDE in Greece. It’s been quite a while since I’ve raced at the ISDE and I’m definitely looking forward to going back to my old stomping grounds in Europe and tearing it up. In the mean time I’ll finally be lining up on the Pro row at this weekends fourth round of the GNCC series in South Carolina.