2013 24 Hrs at Starvation Ridge - Team Race Report
It was looking to be an epic year for our ‘Old Enough to Know Better’ 40 expert team at the Ridge this year. With the group we put together, we were expecting to throw down a standard that would be hard to match and leave younger teams scratching their heads in disbelief. Of course, things don’t always go as planned. I guess that is why the call it racing, not simply ‘winning’. I’ll cut to the end right now. We finished second to a very strong “Bots” team and I tip my visor to you all. Great ride, and thanks for the competition.
OK, so you already know how it ends, but here are some of the highlights on how we got there. We have a tradition going all the way back to 2010 of ‘letting’ the youngest rider on the team start the race. This year, that honor fell to Rob Chastain. When Scott dropped the start flag, I lost track of him in the melee and was not real sure where he ended up in the mix. I do know that he rolled thru the pits on that first 5 mile section somewhere in the top 3rd of the riders, and worked his way up on the remainder of the lap to the top 15 or so. We elected to run one lap each and began the slow grind of working our way up towards our class leader. Along with Rob, we ran Rick Goodman, Keith Cayton, Dennis Sweeten, Aric Cool and Steve DeGeyter (that’s me). The daytime was pretty kind to us and we worked our way up into first place after a few laps. Bots was not going to go down easy, and they kept us honest by being right there time wise.
I can’t really speak for the other riders on my team, but I can tell you about my first lap. I had every intention of running a blazing fast lap, amazing my teammates and being the hero of the race. A hero in my own mind anyways. I ended up catching a rider at about mile 2 that was just marginally slower than me, but the dust in that first section was just bad enough to keep me from passing him. He knew I was there, I even gave him a friendly tire bump in the house, but every time I got close enough to pass, we’d hit a rock section or the dust would make passing too dangerous. I badly wanted to get around him, and he badly wanted to race me whenever I got close. A real motocross hero, I guess. Finally at about mile 8 I was able to get around and that only after a game of chicken to the next corner. Once I made that pass I may have roosted him and drug my feet with a bit too much enthusiasm . The rest of the lap was pretty uneventful. It was a fantastic course, lots of perfect traction grass, some rocks and a whole lot of fun. I do know that I ate more dust and got dirtier on that first lap than I did in the whole remainder of the race.
The conditions just got better as time wore on, and our team began to pad our lead as day turned into night. We did have a small hiccup, where Keith threw a chain and buggered up his chain guide at the front sprocket. This led to an urgent call at check 3 for a screwdriver and a quart of oil. Fortunately, the hole in his case was not so large that he couldn’t finish the lap with the best oiled chain of any team….and once back in the pits, it was nothing a bit of contact cleaner and some JB weld couldn’t fix.
I had that one daylight lap, and then one night time lap before we went into our night time 2 up rotation.
That first night time lap that I did was just too much fun. My new double 25 watt LED lights from Cyclops were well sorted out, and worked perfectly. Man, those things are bright! Stupid bright may not be the best technical explanation, but it just fits so well. Every time I caught someone their light would just disappear in the glare of mine, making passing super easy. Bright enough that riders would pull over almost immediately whenever I got close. I figured some of them were experiencing flashbacks of their last alien abduction. With the palate of legends we had on our team, I would have in no way expected to be the fastest at night, but I did turn in lap times a couple minutes faster than the others in the dark hours. Nothing like being able to see everything in extreme detail. I highly recommend giving Daryl at Cyclops a call if you need more light, these things rule!
With night upon us, and our lead extended out to about 15 minutes, I headed off to my trailer for a couple hours of rest. At about 3 am, I woke myself up and went to the warming tent to find things in disarray. Dennis Sweeten had apparently clanked a rock pretty hard with his sprocket, knocking his chain off and breaking a rear hub. He had just walked in and Keith had headed out when his bike was brought back in by the UTV of shame. To round out a rough period for the team, Keith lost his bike light for the last 20 minutes of his lap, and had to rely on the helmet light to get back in. All in, we lost about 75 minutes in that timeframe, putting us about 55 minutes back from first. The rest of the race, we slowly chipped away at the Bots lead, eventually ending the race just 7 minutes back from first. After a couple of self disappointing laps, Keith Cayton had a breakout lap and turned the fastest time of the event for our team in the morning. His money quote was “ I was 22 and at the Baja for that lap”. He even came in with the sole of one boot flapping in the breeze. I don’t know how fast you have to be to make that happen, and will probably never know. Glory days, right?
I have to give a hat tip to Scott and the gang for what seemed to be the best laid out, best marked 24 that I have done. I love the furrows on the sides of the grass track course. No questioning if you got off course, you just knew… and again thanks to Scott for giving the 2 Junior teams a chance to compete. That’s right, there was 2, four ‘man’ teams of kids that ran both day and nighttime laps. I could not be more proud of each of them, and of course my boy Zeke, who did two dark laps. One in the evening and then again getting himself up to do a second just before the sun came up in the morning. Those kids are the real heros. All that chop, rocks and ruts on small wheeled 65’s!
One more shout out to the RUTS crew for letting us race with you guys again. I know a lot of seemingly unappreciated work goes into what you guys do to make our race better, and I just have to say thanks! And, if you’ll have me, I’ll be back next year, couch and all. I also gotta thank our Pitt officer, my wife Rhonda who was there for every transponder handoff for the entire 24 hour period. She must be nuts.(verifiably so, she did marry me…)