New Year’s Day has been the beginning of the calendar year dating back to 1751, and before that, to the day when baby Jesus was circumcised. In western culture, it’s a day of hangovers, laying in bed and eating way too much, knowing full well the guilty will compensate with gym time and a new found healthy lifestyle. However, while most are still sleeping happily in their cozy beds, I'm freezing my ass off on my motorcycle up in the mountains, racing in a grueling hour long hell-race of mud, black ice, shit riders, rocks, snow, ponds, puddles and hills. To top it all off, I still get drunk the night before to honor the name of this great race, The Hangover Scramble.
The 41st Annual JCTRA Hangover Scramble is put on by the Jones Creek Riding Association, and the race is around an hour long, covering about 16 to 20 miles of riding in and around the Washugal National MX Park. The first year I did the race I was atop my 2006 KTM 525, a beast of a bike with bald tires. Not the ideal machine for the conditions that year, which had 3 ft of snow and flooding. I actually cried like a little baby mid-race.
This year, my third in a row, I’m racing my favorite, “Happy Love Bike,” the 1975 Husqvarna CR250. Expecting the worst, I’m pleasantly surprised that aside from gale force winds, the conditions where near perfect- sunny, not flooding, and not freezing.
The Happy Love Bike. Sexy hipster not included.
Just like the last 2 years, I’m no slouch on the whiskey and beer the night before, making the 5:30 wake up call seem like more of a dream. But, knowing full well I’m going to forget something, I’ve built myself a trail of all my crap leading out the garage straight to the van. I manage to pull into the paddock early. All gassed up and ready to roll, I’m on my bike blasting 2-stoke smoke and an exhaust tune almost un-muffled to all the people slumbering out of giant RVs.
The race is a dead engine start off the line and into a dog leg, then down a hill and into a wide open field. Some of the people who get good starts find out really quick why taking it easy out of the gate is crucial. I say this because stopping or turning on a dime in the snot-slick clay is not an option. A bit of knowledge I’ve picked up down the trail is that, to win endurance races, racers need to be quick but more importantly they need to be smart. Slowing down eliminates mistakes and wrecks by 95%, speeding you up in the long run.
Keeping my pace the whole race I end up lapping a good portion of the riders, but I’ve forgotten to wire my grips. Half way through the race, my left side grip is as loose as my throttle grip. Then my left hand flies completely off the handlebars with the grip still in my hand. I let go and send it bouncing off the rider behind me (sorry dude).
I pass a guy on the last lap riding a vintage Maico. But, if my mind serves me right, it’s the 2nd time I’m passing him during the race, only to find him directly in front of me again at the finish checkpoint. So either he has a magical bike that can transform time and space, or he’s cheating. Probably still hungover from last night's whiskey, I go with time travel bike as my guess.
I end up getting 2nd in Vintage/Evo and 3rd overall. When I go to get my trophy I I find out that third place, although slower during the race, is in fact quicker than I am at grabbing trophies, because he makes off with my 2nd place trophy. Now I’ve been swindled by two racers, hmph! I could be pissed, but I’m just happy I managed to finish another year without dying or crying again.