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ABA Grand National

ABA GRANDS!

A new thanksgiving tradition... well for us maybe.  The whole Thanksgiving weekend, BMX racers from around the country and even from around the world decend on Tulsa Oklahoma.  The Oklahoma State Fairgrounds to be exact, even more exact the 'Quick Trip' Center in the Expo Square in Tulsa.  Where thousands of yards of dirt get hauled into one end of the 'QT' center, which just happens to be one of the largest clear span buildings in the country if not the world.  But I digress.  The ABA has been doing this for some time now.  They have so many racers show up for the Race Of Champions, (ROC) where all the state championship riders compete for the ROC #1 plate in each age group, and for the final ABABMX National of the year, GRANDS, that they have to have a separate DAY for practice.  Thursday, Thanksgiving day, the gates open at 6am practice starts 7am and the last session ends at 9:25 pm.  Then ROC is all day friday, with the Pro Spectacular, and the NAG 5 challenge, plus the 5 novice main from earlier in the day ROC, and a side hack race.  You can find all sorts of stuff on the Pro Spectacular event so I won't go into it here.  

We packed up early in the week, and to avoid weather we spit tuesday night, and drove about half way through Iowa.  We drove the RV, and it took a few hours before we figured out how and where to put coverage over the grill so we didn't freeze to death! We avoided the weather but we did NOT avoid the cold.  Where we got some sleep in a wayside and continued on in the morning.  We arrived fairly late in the afternoon evening, got set up, ordered pizza, and settled in for the evening.  Jim and I were both very excited with anticipation of this large event, and what the track had in store for us. 

Thursday AM after a mediocre nights sleep, feeding the girls outside in the cold, we started to get ready for our first and only practice sessions.  I was up first from 9:50-10:30 on my cruiser, then Jim was up from 6:20-6:50pm and lucky me I was up again for my 20" at 8:55-9:25pm...  We learned alot about all the TIME you have at this event on the first day!  And the first day isn't the worst!  The track was fast and challenging, with a optional AM section that had 4 doubles, that were make it or break it jumps, not huge but timing and smoothness was requred, me being a ground dweller I avoided this section the whole weekend,  but really want to work on my jumping skills so I can take advantage of these type of sections in the future! 

Cruiser was up first for me 41-45 cruiser is a brutal class, 4 of the top 5 guys battleing for the Number 1 national cruiser are in this class... George Goodall, Todd Parry, David Archibald, and Joel Reinoehl.  All these guys have decades more experience than me, and I have yet to figure out why I even signed up, other than extra track/practice time...  which I guess was worth it...  Friday I managed to get out of the qualifiers, but did not make it out of quarters.  There just isn't any way to compare the speed difference until you ride next to the best in the country!  WOW!  anyway I was pretty happy to even make it out to quarter mains out of 29 riders in 5 groups! 

Class bike was much more entertaining, I didn't not transfer out of the first round, but did in second round, and with good enough finish I also transferred from the semi to the main event!  where I managed to fight my way to a 4th place finish!  Not bad for my first ROC race and my biggest national to date!   

On to the rest of the weekend!  Grands is SOOO big that it actually takes 2 days to run it, this year there were about 530 motos!  Saturday they ran 1st and 2nd round so 1060 motos!  I did not transfer on either bike on Saturday which is ok.  That way I get another 'lap' on sunday morning!  It was pretty incredible to be there, patients, eating, cool downs, warm ups, were all very important, next year we will be more prepared! 

Sunday morning, Cruiser is up first, and I was pretty optimistic that I would be able to at least transfer to quarters, I was not quite fast enough though.  My class bike on the other hand, I managed to make it out of the 3rd round!  Which put me in one of 4 quarter mains, 6 riders in each, from there they would take 3 from each of the quarters, into two 6 rider semis, where they take 4 each to the main event!  managing to keep focused, eat, but not too much, rest up, and be ready for each new round.  with literally HOURS between.  The quarter mains were pretty stessful, but nothing spectacular happened, I managed to stay with the lead guys and transfered to the Semi mains! 

Semi mains I was super stoked!  just impressed that i made it this far I was extremely focused, and ready for it!  I had a good gate position, I drew number 1 gate for semis, I had a good start, and chased 2/3rd place all the way to the finish!  I've never been so excited to get fourth place, I think the whole place could hear me scream and holler with excitement!  I made the main at my first trip to Grands!  Now the stress begins!  a few more hours before I run again, cool down, eat, rest, but not too much, keep focused, but relax.  my main will be the 2nd to last race of the night...  As mains are posted I go check it out and I drew gate 1 AGAIN! inside line and NOBODY in 41 I has a gate on me!  just get a good start and ride hard!   

Main event time, I don't think i've been this focused in a long time, alot of 'sitting' around spinning my cranks, trying to relax, but keep some focus...  On the gate, keep my routine the same, except this time they announce all the finalists... so roll into the gate, with my left foot clipped in, but instead of clipping my right foot in right away I stand, and wait, I get announced first, being in gate one, point to the lord above giving credit where credit is due!  then taking my time, clip in the right foot, set my feet, riders ready, watch the light...... POW!  I had a decent gate!  a good pedal manual over the table and Im racing with the lead pack over the step double into the first berm...  a slight bounce, and I am in the mix for a podium, chasing the 3rd place rider the whole way!  thought I had my first podium finish at a national in my grasp, just didn't quite have enough to get by for third.  But man what a day, and I am so happy to have a 4th place from my first trip to the ABA Grand National.   

Wouldn't be possible if it weren't for, GOD, and our personal savior Jesus Christ... who has given me so much,
My beautiful, loving and supportive wife, who encourages me to 'go for it' and giving her/our son the opportunity to pursue his BMX dreams!

And I need to give thanks to...
FELT Bikes, and Alan Foster for all the help and support this year!
ODI grips, Kevin thanks for setting me up and always taking care of me!
BELL Helmets, literally I would not be alive today if it weren't for ya'll!
Revolution Cycle & Ski, the best damn bicycle shop anywhere, PERIOD!
Bombshell, Avent, Redman for helping out our team!
And Donahue Harley-Davidson Inc. 

 

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