I wasn’t planning on writing a blog so soon, but after my last weekend of racing I have one heck of a story to tell! It all started at the National Hare and Hound in Jericho, Utah; then briefly stopped at the WEBE at Bull Hollow Raceway then finally concluded in a Monticello, Utah emergency room. In the span of 3 days there was more then 20 hours of driving, 166 miles on a dirt bike, and one mangled tongue/face combo!
The National Hare and Hound was only the second one I have ever done, 2 years ago I finished 11th overall at the same race and I was looking to improve on that. Waking up Saturday morning for some reason, I just had a bad feeling and tried my best to ignore it. I went and practiced the start and found a line I liked that was somewhat off the beaten path. I didn’t want to be right in a cluster of all the top guys and have to follow somebody to the end of the bomb. After pounding down a sandwich and prepping my goggles, I headed out to the start to make sure I had the line I wanted. They did the riders meeting and before I knew it the Hare was off, so it had to be getting close to the start.
They raised the banner and I anxiously waited for it to drop. When it did my bike fired right up and I was off. I was out front on the line that I had made, so I had clear vision to the point where everyone merged to stay out of the sage brush. I would guess I was around the top 20 heading out into the first loop. Everyone around me was sprinting so hard right from the beginning and I got passed by two or three people in the dust. I am blown away sometimes with how people go as fast as they do in dust. Especially, to pass me when I am having a hard time seeing my own front fender. For the first 10 to 15 miles, it was basically follow the leader down the roads since the dust was so bad. After that the course went into sand dunes and I was able to pass five or six guys since there was no dust. After the first alternate pit, the course headed up into the trees and slowed down for a little while, which put me slightly more into my comfort zone. I knew we were getting closer to the main pit and I had a pack of 4 more guys ahead of me, but I was struggling to pick my pace back up to charge past them. I came to a spot where we went through a fence and I saw David Pearson behind me. I moved over for him and let him by. It was what I needed to close the gap on that pack. I latched right on to him and we worked our way past those racers. I came into the pits and my mom told me I was running 8th. I was feeling confident at this point since I knew the second loop was more up in the trees and I was certain I would be able to make up ground on the people ahead of me. I made a pass coming out of the pits and put my head down to chase down the next guy! Everything was going great and I started to see dust ahead of me again. I had caught Nick Burson and he was right behind somebody else, which meant there were 2 more places I thought I was going to make up. I was just cruising right behind them until maybe there was a spot to pass. The course turned onto a quad trail, I tried my best to not lose them in the dust and that's when everything went downhill.
The trail turned just a tiny bit, but I didn’t see, then in a split-second the dust cleared just long enough for me to see a downed tree. I almost missed it but caught it with my chain guide and I went flying over the bars. The first thing to hit the ground was my forehead. I hit the ground so hard it took me a moment to get up and figure out what happened. Everything seemed to still be working but my face and tongue hurt worse then I had ever felt before. I picked up my bike and just started cruising. I was in so much pain but I knew I just had to keep going to make it to a check or something. Both sides of my nose were gushing blood that was running straight into my mouth where my tongue was doing the same thing. I tried to spit the blood out but that made my tongue hurt even worse so I just started swallowing every 5 to 10 seconds. It was so terrible! The next check wasn’t for forever, so by the time I got there my adrenaline was pumping again and I decided I was going to finish this stupid thing! I started catching guys that got by me when I was on the ground and tried to work forward again. I was stuck behind some guy on a KTM for at least 15 miles. I was so upset I couldn't believe it. I was yelling at him to let me by, I was hitting him coming into corners, I started pleading with him to let me go; nothing worked and all I could do is follow him on the singletrack and try not to die in the dust. I don’t understand people sometimes...We have 30 to 40 miles left in this race, I am obviously faster than you, you are almost killing both of us trying to ride this pace, why in the world can’t some people let go of there ego’s and let a faster rider go by? I was pissed!
He finally blew a corner and I got by and dropped him like a bad transmission. I had one last guy that I could see and about 7 miles left. I came over a hill and saw him picking his bike up. He got going just ahead of me and that was it. I tried to get by but the dust was too bad, so I just rode at the edge of his dust to finish 8th. I was so disappointed at the finish since I knew without that one big mistake I could have possibly finished inside the top 5.
After the race the pain really started to set in. I was scared to look in the mirror to see what I had done. Usually I am pretty good with looking at injuries and not being grossed out, but this time I was a bit surprised at how nasty my tongue looked! I didn’t know how I was going to eat or drink to try and get energy in my body to race the next day. We found a little restaurant and I forced down some completely syrup soaked pancakes then crawled in the van and tried to get some sleep.
Waking up Sunday the soreness had really started to set in from my soil sample throughout my entire body. I walked a bit of the Bull Hollow MX track to see if anything had really changed, then finished prepping my other bike for the race. Everyone started coming over and asking how the race went and how I was feeling. I am sorry if I was short with anybody who came by it was just really painful to try and talk with my maimed tongue!
My strategy for the race was to take it easy the first lap or two until I knew the course then really push to get to the front. I got a mid-pack start and made my way into 4th by the end of the motocross track heading into the offroad. I was very cautious not to hit something in the dust and ruin this day early. I didn’t gain any positions the first time around and started to get a little impatient fearing the leader would check out in the clean air. I was able to get by third place when he made a mistake and was laying on the ground in a corner. I reeled in second place at the end of that lap and was very grateful that he pulled over and waved me by! Nearly halfway through the third lap I caught the leader, Jeff Trulove, but had no idea how I was going to get by him with how bad the dust was. Right after coming through the transponder to start the 4th lap, Jeff stopped for his pitstop and I was in the lead. I sprinted so hard this lap to make sure when I had to stop for gas he would not get back by. At the pit stop my Mom said I had about a 30-second gap, my plan worked beautifully! I raced the next 2 laps as hard as I could and extended my lead to around 2-minutes. When I came around and got the white flag I backed it down a bit and just cruised the final lap to take my first WEBE win of the season!
After getting loaded I was finally ready to admit that we should go to the hospital and see what they could do for my tongue. When they finally got to me they sprayed some weird numbing stuff on my tongue that was supposed to taste like Bananas... it didn’t! Then he stuck a needle about an inch and a half into my tongue and numbed the insides. I ended up needing 6 stitches to put the top of my tongue back together to hopefully have it heal somewhat normal. After all of this I could only think of one thing; I pointed the van towards Wendy’s to get myself a giant Frosty! It was exactly what the doctor ordered and the best way to start the trip home.
I have to especially thank Bruce from MotoAdventure Kawasaki for all the support he has given to Kyle and I. They are such great people there and if you get a chance to support them you will not be disappointed! I would also like to thank Dango’s Damping, Race Tech, Fly, Dirt Tricks, IMS, FMF, Motorex, Hinson, DT1, Enduro Engineering, Leatt, Dunlop, A’ME Grips, Excel Rims, Protaper, Topar Racing, Acerbis, and VurbOffroad. Thank you for reading!