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U.S.Open Nationals!

So about a month or so ago, when doing some research on the ABA site, I found that there is this really cool program that was put together by the ABA and U.S.A.Cycling. They made a combined effort to start the Junior Development program. Basically a series of races during a certain time window, gives 15 and 15 year old boys and girls a chance to race and gather points for an opportunity to go to the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista CA for a 6 day camp and an opportunity to train, and ride on the UCI supercross track! Upon this discovery, we decided that Jim and I would fly to the U.S.Open Nationals at Chula Vista, and he would race both 15 Intermediate, and the Jr Development races. We wanted to see how he stacked up against some very good riders that are close to his age group. The benefit for me was that I got to bring my class bike and race too!

We packed up our bags, and flew out Thursday the 16th. This was our first time flying with bikes, so there was that whole stress, plus Jim and I had never really traveled together, just the two of us. We arrived at San Diego without issue, I had made a mistake on our rental reservation about the time we would be arriving, and they were out of the car size we reserved, but gave us a minivan for about the same price! BONUS! We loaded up and headed for our hotel. And just before we got to the hotel we decided to go to the track and look around a bit. WOW, what a facility, the track we got to ride is what they normally use for weekly races and some training. Because the place is built at the base of the foot hills it has a built in recess, the front straight has grand stands that are 10-20 feet above the first straight. Along the final straight they had bleachers the whole distance, and in between the second and third straights and the third and fourth straights they had a fenced area for spectators to stand and watch. The layout was very cool. The track was in pretty good shape, they use soil tack to hold the surface together, but with all the gravely sand, it is a difficult surface to keep together. It was packed well and for the most part did not have a lot of loose dirt. It was a pretty long track, and most of the obstacles were steep and bigger than we are used to. Although it did flow well, the rhythm section was busy, berms were large bowl type berms but if you cut hard at the bottom it was pretty loose. After checking out the track we headed to our Hotel to get settled in and get our bikes put together!

Friday, we had most of the morning to lounge and rest up. I was anxious to get to the track, find a parking spot, and get ready for the day, our practice sessions were not until after 3 in the afternoon, and we arrived by 11am… so I was a little over anxious to get to the track. Anyway we got a spot right up front, and we able to set up and be ready for the day. Our practice sessions went well, and the track turned out to be just as steep and challenging as we thought upon first view on Thursday, but definitely manageable. It really showed Jim and I how much we really need to work on our manualing and jumping skills. Friday race time, Jim got combined with the 16 intermediates, and he faired pretty well, getting used to the track and such he managed to make the main and get a third! I was pretty impressed. In the Jr Devo class he struggled a bit more, running against 15-16 experts that probably have 6-10 years of experience compared to Jim’s two. Even with the odds against him he really surprised me, without having the jumping and manualing skills of the other riders he managed to stay right on the tail end of the main pack every race! My race on Friday, I struggled with the new track and more aggressive riding style out west, besides the fact that I was in the 28+ class with at least one multi time national #1 racer. I was excited just to make the main, then while racing for 3-4, I bonked just about every obstacle on the 3rd straight, relegating myself to 5th, and the last position for Friday nights race. Still with all the experience and speed the rest shown by the old guys I was just happy to make the main.

Saturday, an earlier morning this time, practice times starting for us just after 9, we showed up a little early, but not really early enough, we managed a parking spot not too far from the track, but not as close as Saturday, 200 motos on Saturday! And still no 41+ inter class, I got bumped down to 36-40 inter, at least it was all intermediates, one of them is only a win or two from being X. Anyway, I fought hard to make the main in the first round but missed out, by a position. In the second moto, I managed to get into the main, which again I was super stoked about being my first national! And being in a 2 group format Saturday too! Which basically means 2 motos, they take 2 from each, then whoever is left gets combined and they take 4 from the second round moto. Main event time I was very excited, and ready to race, I got an ok start, and most of the guys I race are manualling better than me just out of sheer experience. But I managed to stick with them, come to the 3rd straight, the rythym, I am fighting with 3 riders for 3rd, the leader gets out of shape, then the second place guy crashes, right in front of me and next thing I know I am laying on the ground, wind knocked out of me. I crashed so fast that I never had a chance to take my hands off the bars, and I have scabs on the TOP of my wrists to prove it, my chin bar and just above the eye opening of my helmet are scarred bad where I face planted. Thank God for BELL helmets! Won’t trust my head to anything else! I was able to get up and finish, and with one rider walking off and not finishing gave me 7th place! Not what I wanted but still I made the main, and raced right with the west coasters! Jim had another great day! Racing Jr Devo again, he was right with the group but unable to make the main. And even though he was not getting to the front, he kept his head up, focused on doing well in the 15 interclass and used the JrD class to learn. And learn he did, first round on Saturday for 15i, jim got squeezed and fell down in the first straight. He got back up and finished, brushed himself off, and transferred out of the second moto. Come main event time Jim was focused and ready, and it showed, he pounded them in the main! Getting to the front and never looking back, nice passes, keeping it clean, and taking the win!

Sunday, way early morning, races start at 8 with NO practice Sunday morning. Jim and I arrived early! And got our spot right up front, which strategically gave us some shade and a home base for the day… Jim was first up in the JrD races, all three rounds this kid just stuck with it, gave his all and raced em hard, never giving up. It was spectacular to watch! He may not have transferred to the main in JrD but he is certainly a winner in my book! Come time for 15i Jim had a tough time in the first moto, but did manage to transfer in the second round. Come main event time, Jim again was very focused, and ready. And it showed, he had gate 8, and everyone works so hard to get to the inside here because it is quite an advantage. Jim opted the hi route, staying clear of the group, he stayed beside them the full length of the first straight, and pulled a out side to the inside move just before the berm excecuting a beautiful stuff pass on the leader, raced his way to the front and never looked back! Two national wins for Jammin Jimmy Gray!!! Woo Hoo! My races were quite interesting, there was a full rack to start, so a 3-4 transfer, I battled for 3rd the entire race but was not able to get it for a first round transfer, and the second round I took 4th literally by inches! Transferring and making the main again! Against the 36-40 inter class again! Come main event time I tried the Hi-Lo pass in the first berm, and just as I cut the turn and started cranking, Tim Deal crashed right in front of me, I bounced my front wheel off his helmet so hard my bars went cockeyed, by about 15-20 degrees! Try riding a technical track with your bars that crooked! Not fun! I was able to finish though, and Tim was too slow getting up to get past me, and I found out later that another rider crashed in the first straight, giving me 5th!
As  you can see here Jim did the representing for Team Revolution, ODI, BELL, Bombshell...

It was a great weekend, the trip went smooth, the racing was great! We got to watch some of the UCI time trial Saturday, and 1st round of girls UCI, it was a bummer to see local girl Alise Post slip a pedal in round one, but she bounced back and got a second in round 2. We didn’t get to stick around and watch the full race program Saturday night as we had our own racing to do Sunday morning! But congrats to our friends Alise Post, for her 3rd place, and her sweetie Sam Willoughby for finishing 2nd in Men’s UCI supercross!

Saturdays races
15 Intermediate race http://www.go211.com/videos/24823/ 
36-40 Intermediate race  http://www.go211.com/videos/24840/
Sundays races
15 Intermediate race  http://www.go211.com/videos/24944/
36-40 Intermediate race  http://www.go211.com/videos/24941/



Thanks to our sponsors, BELL HELMETS, ODI GRIPS, Bombshell bike parts,

And to my Frame sponsor FELT BIKES!

 

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