Supercross action with hobby rider Bart de Jong
The Suzuki Crossover Challenge is a race of Athletes from different sports mixed with Celebrities that takes place during an actual Supercross event. For the 2005 season the race took place at the SBC stadium in San Francisco, California. Instead of riding RM 125 bikes, this year the Crossover Challenge was raced on DRZ 110 mini bikes. I managed to score a ride but was so unprepared it wasn't even funny. On top of that I dislocated my shoulder the week before riding some BMX at the Bellflower track. It took a "whatever it takes" effort to make it to the evening program. With 38.770 people in the stands, it was on, but for how long?
Here's a rundown of the day:
07:00am. Woke up at hotel Triton on Grant Avenue. Slept on the floor in the Universal MX room with Randy Sullivan and Drew Kuriger.
07:05am. Walked to the parking meter and put some quarters in so my Neon rental wouldn’t receive a parking ticket. Picked up some hot chocolate and croissants at Starbucks, located across the street from the groovy hotel.
07:30am. Took a shower and packed the bag with everything I would need riding the race that day.
08:15am. Drove to the SBC stadium. Parking was $25.00 USD (pretty ridiculous) so I tried to find something else to park the car.
08:30am. Picked up the wristband at the WillCall trailer. Good to see that my name was on the list and the paperwork was ready. Received two extra tickets that I gave to Sully as he had some dealers coming to the event.
08:45am. Drew, Sully and I went for breakfast. Typical American breakfast with toast, bacon, potatoes, scrambled eggs and lots of ketchup. Perfect for the upcoming race.
09:30am. Drove over to parking lot B. Used the â€œPress from Hollandâ€?-line and paid 5 bucks instead of $25.
10:00am. Joined Drew and Sully with a walk through the privateer pits looking for Universal riders. Lots of 3 digit riders around using the product.
10:45am. Made it to the Suzuki rig for the Crossover meeting. The DRZ110 bikes were all sitting there. They were tricked out with taller seat foam, TwoBrothers bars and a sweet exhaust. I got appointed bike number two (McGrath’s number). I asked a Suzuki mechanic to adjust the bars in the right position and that was all the tuning that needed to be done. The meeting further consisted about safety, the program of the day and having fun.
11:15am. Track walk. There I was, walking on the track with the likes of RC, Reed, Fonseca and everyone else. What the hell is going on? I did two laps around the track on foot. It looked rough at places but nothing too crazy except for the take-offs of the triples and the finish jump, they were like spine ramps, very steep backsides. The whoop sections were not that intimidating knowing I could roll through these rollers on a small 110.
11:35am. I checked in with Tom Carson of Asterisk to have my new braces set up. Might as well once you’re there and they have a service truck available. Thanks to Tom for making the adjustments. I also brought all the shoulder braces that I collected during the week but Tom told me to visit the Asterisk mobile hospital at the track and see Eddie to have them checked out.
12:00noon. Went to the Suzuki tent for lunch. Sandwiches, fruit, drinks, chips, cookies, all taken care of.. Did some optical tuning to the #2 bike and slapped some sponsor stickers on.
12:30pm. Walked over to the Asterisk rig at the track and asked for Eddie. You see, my shoulder had popped out the week before on Saturday riding BMX at a local track and it needed to stay in place for this day no matter what. Ed checked it out and started taping it up and then used the Sully-brace that I borrowed from Drew. Ed used the EVS straps to make my shoulder feel solid. I walked out of the truck with one stiff arm.
13:15pm. Back at the Suzuki 18 wheeler it was time to gear up for practice. Everyone had to wear the full MX gear so no sneakers or skate helmets allowed. I put on all pads I brought, just in case. The blue Thor pants had not made it in time so I looked like a real amateur with all blue gear and orange pants on a yellow bike. Oh well.
13:45pm. It was the first time we started the bikes. I had never touched a 110 four-stroke before and I had to ask if the gear was all up just like my brother’s CRF50 that I only rode once. No clutch, just shift.
14:15pm. Here I am rolling around on the supercross track. The bike feels small and shifting with boots on is hard. I’m trying to get a feel for it but never made it out of third gear on the track. The shocks bottomed out on several occasions especially when I forgot I was heading for one of the spine take offs and landed flat bottom. On the first practice lap I bent my brake pedal in a deep rut and had no rear brake left. The front brake faded too but I actually didn’t notice until I got off the track. Most of the time it was just rolling around trying to hold on, keeping the bike on two wheels. The shoulder held up fine.
15:30pm. It was time to watch some qualifying racing. Maybe I could learn something by just watching. The second practice for the Suzuki Crossover Challenge got cancelled so I could use all tips in the world at this point.
19:00pm. After watching the opening ceremonies and the first 125 and 250 moto’s it was time to get ready for the race.
20:15pm. Everyone in the Suzuki Crossover was excited at this point and had a smile on their face. After gearing up it was time for some start practice. I had heard the riders talk about the perfect way to start and Drew explained it to me: Shift in first, lift the lever one more time and hold it there. The bike is now in neutral and you can get on the throttle. Once you drop your foot the bike is in 2nd gear and you’re ready to go. I found it hard to do this with the boots on. I practiced 25 times and got the hang of it but I still wasn’t sure. It looked like everyone else was going for it.
20:40pm. Waiting in staging. Tried to get a peak in the stadium to catch some of the action. The SBC stadium wasn’t sold out but it was crowded with over 38.000 in the seats. For some reason I wasn’t nervous at all, just excited to get it on.
20:50pm. We walked our bikes to the gate. We lined up with #1 on the inside and #25 all the way on the outside. My number 2 bike gave me an inside spot. I couldn’t be bothered getting the rut ready knowing that I had no chance against the others who had been practicing for this race and had the starting technique down.
20:55pm. We took our helmets off and got introduced to the crowd. Then it was time to put the lid back on and protect the eyes with the brand new Oakley’s that I got hooked up with.
21:00pm. The 30 second sign went up and everyone was revving the bikes. I had to make a decision and chose to start in first gear. The sand is a little bit rougher to get out of and I did not want to mess up right away with a starting technique that I had not completely mastered in the parking lot 30 minutes before the race.
21:00:30pm. The gate dropped and I pushed off a bit to get going. JD, the Kayak guy on the inside of me had a great start but I was up there too. I saw some wheels in a far corner of my right eye but shifted up and held that throttle wide open heading for the first left turn. Holy smokes, I’m in third place! What is going on here?
21:00:45pm. Still on the second straight, a well prepared Brian Lopes came from behind and passed me on the inside. I think it’s allowed to do some elbow rubbing in a mini bike race so I aimed for Lopes’ rear wheel in the second turn trying to move up a spot. I was full on the throttle ready for impact but I never hit him and shot over the berm with speed doing a superman of some sort.
On impact I felt right away that my race was over as I popped out my taped up and braced up shoulder. Within seconds the terrific Asterisk medical crew was on the spot and helped put it back in place. By the time I got back on my feet, the 3-lap race was finished. Jet-skier Victor Sheldon won with Dave Cullinan (MTB) in 2nd and Keith the surfer in 3rd.
21:20pm. After some group shots I checked in with my crew in the stands and got changed. I watched the 250 main, picked up my gear bag and sat in traffic for 30 minutes before I made it back to the Triton hotel in one-handed driving style.
23:15pm. It was time for some liquid painkillers that we found in a local bar to wrap up this unforgettable day.
Thanks to Denny Hartwig, Jill@HaroBikes, Blick/Paggio@Oakley, McGoo/Drew/Sully/MikeD@UniversalMX, Tom/Ed@Asterisk, Suzuki, Guido@EVS.