By Billy Rainford
Good morning from Jasper, Alberta. After a wild weekend in Prince George for round 3 of the Rockstar Triple Crown MX Tour, it’s time to start heading east and get ready for another new track on the circuit.
We’re all meandering our way through the Rocky Mountains headed for the small town of Minnedosa, Manitoba, that sits just north of Brandon and a couple hours west of Winnipeg.
If you’re like me (sorry, if you are) you take two steps and get to the Tragically Hip song when you hear the name, Brandon. Brandon’s minor hockey team is the Brandon Wheat Kings. the Hip’s song, “Wheat Kings” has always been a classic and automatically gets stuck in your brain as you pass the small prairie town.
“Wheeeeeeat Kings and pretty things…”
Anyway, I’m sitting in Jasper in the middle of the Rockies, so I’ll put some John Denver in my head and sing “Rocky Mountain High” for a while instead.
What a weird weekend it was in Prince George. Last week at Popkum, we had sunshine on Saturday for Pro Day and then the sky opened up for the Parts Canada Amateur Open on Sunday. This week, we had the exact opposite.
We had to fight the rain and mud on Pro Day at Blackwater MX Park this week. The track crew did their best to keep the track in good racing condition, but even with all the sand they’d added, there was no way this was going to be a “normal” day of racing.
All the new sand had to have you thinking it was going to be a perfect day for defending champion, Matt Goerke, would be ready to take his first overall of the young season.
During the two practices, a lot of the riders were playing around between a sand tire and a soft tire. Nobody really knew how the day or the track were going to change throughout the day, so it seemed to be the biggest question mark.
In the end, most changed out for a sand tire and dealt with the slight lack of traction off the cement start. Yes, PG is another track that uses a concrete pad at the line.
The Jetwerx gang went with the two practice/qualifier method and kept the day running very quickly and smoothly. In fact, the race day goes so smoothly now that it’s really difficult to step away from the track and get into the pits! Seriously, there is always another moto lining up getting ready to go!
Usually, I can handle all the action myself, but with the women also being on Saturday, I needed to pull in a recruit for this one. Thanks to Michael Earle who stepped up and will be taking care of all the racing action shots from Saturday.
Of course, we did have that moment of panic Saturday night when his memory card all of a sudden took ill and couldn’t be read! Yes, that happened and we thought we’d lost almost every single shot he’d take for the day.
8 hours later and several near tantrums, and we were back in business. Unfortunately, Michael has a “real job” and had to head straight back to Vancouver (Langley, actually) Sunday morning, so we haven’t seen his stuff yet.
Stay tuned for some photos after I get the recap video edited and voiced over later today. Have you ever tried to do a voice over? No? Well, trust me when I say it’s not as easy as Paul Malin makes it seem. I find myself slipping between the voice and intonations of Paul and Johnny Miller from a PGA tournament! I’ll see if I can inject some enthusiasm today without sounding completely affected. Let me know what you think…but let’s keep this criticism constructive, please. Don’t just tell me I sound like an idiot because I won’t know how to fix that…
Oh ya, back to the racing…
#12 Dylan Wright looked good right from the first time he hit the track. He also looked ready to take a win last week at round 2 but the gremlins got him and he had to wait a week.
I was worried about his aggressive style and what it would mean in the tough muddy conditions, but he said he’s been working on smoothing things out and it showed.
(OK, I can relax now, someone got up from the one table in this Jasper Tim Hortons next to an outlet, so I’m plugged in)
Dylan pulled off a sweep in really tough conditions. I know his mom and dad were probably yelling at the computer screen as they followed along from back home in Ottawa. Take a breath, guys, he brought it home!
“Saturday smelled expensive!”
While it was a banner day for #12, it was a tough one for the points leader, #15 Jess Pettis. Conditions were such that you really had to manage your bike to make it through, especially on a super-tuned 250F. Just about everyone’s bike was smoking or spewing coolant after just a couple laps in moto 1.
Oddly, Jess’s Yamaha wasn’t showing any signs of stress and he looked good mixing it up near the front of the pack. He would say afterward that his clutch really started slipping and that he was spinning the roller like a wild man as the moto progressed.
Fast forward to the final lap (with only 2 corners to go, no less) and suddenly there was enough fog in the air to hide which rider was causing the smoke screen. Sure enough, Jess was sitting on a dead bike and trying to keep his composure.
Since there really was no way to push your bike though the stuff, Jess took a DNF for moto 1. Ouch, that one really hurts. When we find ourselves crowning a champion at Walton, let’s hope this moto isn’t what decides his place in the record books.
(So, I just tried to access the results on the Rockstar Triple Crown website and Timmy’s here in Jasper has blocked the site due to “Inappropriate content.” Haha Weird.)
The whole place smelled like fried clutches and burnt out motors during and after the first 250 moto. Saturday smelled expensive.
I think it’s almost safe to say that the top 5 has become the top 6. #66 Marco Cannella has injected himself into the lead pack, and I think we’ll be seeing more of that as we move through the summer. The combo of Marco and his dad, Sam Cannella, make for a relaxing yet fast duo. I seem to say this about almost everyone, but Sam is one of the nicest moto dads you’re going to find at the track. He’s also signed up to do his first Ironman Triathlon in Florida this coming November. I hope he’s out for a bike ride as I’m typing this! Everyone thinks flat courses are easy, but he’ll see that it just means you’re always pushing the pedals.
Here’s a look at the results from Saturday. I need to get to the video and photos.
|250 Pro – Overall Finish Positions|
|450 Pro – Overall Finish Positions|
Oh, congratulations to #26 Kaven Benoit for taking home his first overall of the season. I think this race should have the rest of the field a little concerned. Kaven came into the season nursing a sore back. I’m pretty sure it was worse than they were letting on, so it’s great to se him getting back up to speed.
His 2-1 gave him the overall. Also, #5 Tyler Medaglia went 3-2 to take 3rd place. His second moto was a good one, as he hounded Kaven right up until the final lap. In fact, he went for a last lap pass with less than half a lap to go. He got jammed up trying to double a tricky section and that allowed Kaven to get away and take the win. This season is far from decided!
I’ve got a photo of Tyler that I sent over to him with the dare that he use it for something. Let’s see if he did..
In the women’s racing, #1E Kennedy Lutz won the firs moto by something like 2 minutes. It wasn’t even close. As you’d expect, #265 Brittany Gagne came next and then there was a really good battle for the 3rd spot.
I think I’m most impressed with the riding of both #6 Tamala Whiteside and #138 Mariah Gauthier. These two have really picked up their games and are looking like they will continue to get faster.
If you want to make Mariah uncomfortable, I think all you need to do is go up and talk to her. Honestly, she came right out and said on the podium that she “Doesn’t like people.” It was the funniest podium moment of the day, by far.
|Ladies – Overall Finish Positions|
There was no racing south of the border this week as they get ready to head to Pennsylvania for the next round.
MXGP of France | Saint Jean D’Angely
Who’s the fastest motocrosser in the world right now, Jeffrey Herlings or Eli Tomac? I think this summer we’re going to find out when they go head to head at the MXON at Red Bud and they both give it 100%. I don’t think last year at Ironman (I don’t like that they use that already-taken name) really counted, as Tomac was finishing off a championship and Herlings just wanted to prove a point. Anyway, MXON will be the same motivation for both of them, and I can’t wait to see it.
Did I just hear someone say they wanted more road trip stories? You got it!
After stopping by Cycle North Powersports in PG for a little #DMXVan photo op, I pushed on toward Jasper and the Rockies. On my way, I stopped for some gas and bumped into 4 dudes from Spain on loaded adventure bikes on their way up to Alaska. Wow, talk about an adventure!
I think a trip to Alaska sounds like something good on paper, but once you realize just how long you’re going to be in the saddle looking at very similar scenery, the enthusiasm wains and the trip looks better in the rear view mirror when you show friends the photos a year down the road.
As I headed off, I passed Tabor Mountain ski hill and then saw my first moose warning sign. I thought about how some people I was talking about actually saw one in PG and how I wished I could see some wild life. BANG!
No, I didn’t hit anything, but all of a sudden they were everywhere!
The first two I saw were amazing. I actually saw a full-grown wolf messing around on the side of the road. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that before. Not 30 seconds down the road, a very big lynx ran across from left to right. Wow, another really cool sighting.
Next came a coyote standing on a grave side road. And then I saw a guy pulled over at the side of the road in his pick up. I looked up on the rock face to my right and there he was almost to the top of the vertical cliff. Cool.
Then I saw a full grown black bear peeking up at me from the bushes on the right. All of these animals were really cool to see. I saw deer warning signs but was fortunate not to see any of them up close!
The best came next when I looked up in the distance and saw a mother bear walking across the highway with 4 tiny cubs close behind her. It looked like a clumsy remake of the Abbey Road album cover.
I’ve never seen bears this small. We’ve got a Maltese Yorkshire Terrier cross at home and these things were barely bigger than her! The stumbled and tripped their way up into the grass as I fumbled for my camera to grab some video. I was a little late, but…
OK, it’s noon back in in the Eastern Time Zone so we’ll end things here. I’ve got a laptop full of content to get at, here. I think I’ll spend a couple days just working my way through it before I pick Emily up at the Calgary Airport. She’ going to make the drive home across the prairies and over Lake Superior with me. I always say that’s a drive everyone should see once. She’s never seen it. Me? Ya, nobody should see it THIS much!
Not a ton of insight there, but these travel days are busy days. Have a great week, everyone.
Oh, man, I’m tempted to use the photo of Tyler here…