Race Day Recap: Tyler Medaglia – GNCC Round 2
By Billy Rainford
Last Sunday, Parts Canada Husqvarna rider Tyler Medaglia raced the second round of the Amsoil GNCC Series in Washington, Georgia. Tyler raced the first round the previous weekend in Palatka, Florida, and placed 5th in his first-ever go at a Cross Country race of this level.
This past weekend, the series moved north to Washington, Georgia. You can watch the series live on Racer TV each week. Since we weren’t able to be there in person, we thought it would be interesting to give Tyler a call and have him take us through his race day.
Here is how Tyler described last Sunday:
This second one, I actually went up in my friend’s motorhome – Dain Gourgon – and my friend Dan is here cycling, so he came up to help me. We went up and had a little road trip. It was pretty fun. We did get there on the Saturday night but it took a little bit longer than I expected to get there and it was really muddy – the pits and stuff – so we didn’t even park at the track the night before. We just went to Washington, Georgia, and we all just went for a little recovery ride and then we just stayed in the parking lot of a grocery store.
At the track, there was really no way we were going to get in because it was pretty bad as far as like the pits were concerned. It was super-muddy.
The next day, we were able to sleep in [because] my sign-up doesn’t start until 10 and goes until 1. Basically, you can sign up right up till the time of the start.
[Does the whole thing have a more laid back feel than a motocross National?] It does and it doesn’t. There are so many people there. When you pull in, there are like hundreds of people there and there are rigs…it looks like you’re pulling into Loretta Lynn’s. There are rigs everywhere, four-wheelers…there’s like, I don’t know, it’s huge! It’s a lot bigger than you’d think. At this one, the pits were a little bit more open so you could see how many people were there. It was pretty wild.
We got there and I had to find Dunlop to get some new tires put on and tire mousses, so that took a little bit of time. And then I had to got to the Racer X TV trailer to see how I was going to get paid for the last one. Because I’m Canadian, they were trying to figure out what to do. They ended up finding out that they could do it through PayPal, so that was a lot easier.
Once we left Dunlop, we had about 45 minutes to take a gander at the entrance to the first trail and just kind of looked around. Again, I should have been there the day before, but, like I said, we were kind of late getting out of GPF. I was getting a good look at where we were going and I knew that by the tie we got out on the track it was going to be way worse as far as the conditions go and the track. It was really soft in the woods so I knew it was going to be nasty.
I think it’s supposed to be 4 o’clock on Saturday [when riders get to walk the track] is the allotted time. We didn’t even really walk into the track. We just looked into the entrance to the trails just so I knew where I was going. The last time, I didn’t know where I was going. The amount that we looked at it didn’t make that big of a difference. Maybe I’ll bring a mountain bike to see the whole spot so I know what I’m doing. It’s tough because there’s racing going on the whole time you’re there.
This track was longer because of how muddy it was and how rutted it is. If you got caught behind somebody…that was thing. I was going to go hard the first lap and give myself a better chance. This time, I noticed when the guys were doing their practice starts they were starting in gear. I went out in the field and I tried it a couple times. I put my bike in 2nd gear, I had the clutch in and I hit the electric start and it worked fine. I did it twice and it seemed all right. It definitely labours the motor. Maybe it’s because I’m using this Serai battery in my bike from last year. It probably has almost 150 hours on it because I had it on my KTM last year. I don’t think it’s turning over as quickly as it did when it was younger. When I tried it, I was like, “OK, well this should work fine.”
When I started it, it didn’t really work. I should have done it like the last race and just put it in neutral and then shift into gear right away. I had almost a dead last start. With these races there are a bunch of curves in the field so people get spread out before heading into the woods. I was able to make a bunch of passes right away so I went from way back in the pack, almost last, to…I think I hit the first trail in like 5th. It was just because you can see some of them brake a little bit early and you just out brake them coming into the corners and you can get by.
Then, when we went in, there was a bunch of deep ruts from the race before us and one was so deep that it pushed in my rear brake caliper. The ruts were so deep that I had to have my feet off the bike or else they would have ripped my ankles off. They were touching the rad shrouds. That’s how deep the ruts were.
When I got through the first section, I started going downhill and we were going fast but going downhill in 2nd gear on a 450 you just use your momentum and when I came into this tight tree section I pushed my brake and it went all the way down. Instead of running into the guy I kind of turned and I still couldn’t stop. I pulled the front brake and I washed out into the freaking woods.
There was a tree that was stuck between the front wheel and the front fender so I was trying to pick the bike up and I was trying to clutch it and bend the tree over but it was super-thick so it was lifting my bike off the ground. So, in the first 5 minutes of the race I’d used up a ridiculous amount of energy and over-heated the bike and I was way back and almost in last. I had to pick my way through the field.
I caught up to where I was before [to the rider who ended up 6th, Grant Baylor] I crashed and started to pull away from him and then I pulled into the first check point. I had to stop 3 times this time because the laps were so long. I stopped in and while we were messing around I lost about a minute there. I got back going up to the guy who got 3rd…he ended up having a great race because got onto the podium.
Then I tried to make up some time and the course kept getting more and more nasty and the bike was over-heating. I had to pull in for another gas stop and that was all right but then I ended up pulling over again. They had adjusted our track because the ruts were too bad in one section. I was basically bushwacking. I thought I was lost and ended up hitting a rock and falling down and then I really messed up the bike.
The last half, on the motocross section, I couldn’t even get on the gas hard because it was just blowing up. I thought the bike was detonating really bad so I thought maybe we’d gotten some of my drink into the gas tank when we were switching it or dirt got clogged in the gas line but it was actually because the bike got over-heated and it was blowing coolant out of the head gasket. It was so bad that I just put it in 2nd gear and just coasted the last 2 laps just so I didn’t blow the bike up.
The only adjustments I made [to my bike] this weekend was I softened up the compression on the forks and shocks 5 clicks. I actually had hand guards. The brakes, I didn’t fix properly. I don’t know what it was. They must have put ones in for a 150 2-stroke or something because the brakes didn’t fit and I had to rig it up. The hand guards did make a difference; I wasn’t getting slapped in the fingers the whole time. I’m using the standard Rekluse clutch that I use for moto. It’s strong. I mean, that was a 3-hour mud race and my clutch plates were fine. I didn’t even need to change them. It’s just a standard clutch so I have to pull it in. I know those other guys are on anti-stall ones which would be nice. I’m running a standard rear wheel. I would like to run a 16-inch rear wheel and more grippy tires for the roots but I’m just kind of winging it and trying to make do with what I’ve got.
The 450 was definitely more of a handle on this course because it was tighter. I’d like to be on a 300 2-stroke for the woods but I still feel it’s fine. I mean, to have suspension set up a little bit better would help but I’m just grippin’ it and rippin’ it, man! I only stalled it once in the first round but, other than that, it’s been pretty good.
It was still 27 degrees so it was hot but it wasn’t whooped-out sand. I wasn’t as physically cooked as the first one. I felt OK after the race. I was depleted because it’s hard to eat and drink the right amount. I pulled too hard on the hose of my Camelback and the mouthpiece came off and spilled my drink. I was depleted but I didn’t feel that bad. I think I could do better. The learning curve has to be super-steep for me.
I think I’ll do the next two rounds and then head home. It’s not really going north, it’s going to North Carolina first and then South Carolina. Then I’ll probably go home. We just got hit with another 2 feet of snow at home so it’s kind of depressing. It would be nice to be home now, but…
[Comparing it to a day of National Motocross racing] Let’s say this one was like Regina ruts from this year and through the trees with roots so that’s how tough that was for 3 hours not 25 plus 2 or whatever we did that day because it was short. It was pretty intense. I mean, when I’m done it’s kind of like a cycling race. I don’t know why I do this, you know what I mean? You’re just totally drained, you’re sore, I mean, I did something to my ankle. The swelling has just gone down today. The bike is taking a beating and then at the end of the day I’m just looking forward to the next one. It’s insane.
This next race I’ve just got to have a little more patience. I’m guessing I’m going to be there early to walk the trails at the right time. I’m actually sitting down in the trailer right now so I have to get the bike running well first.
I’d like to thank Husqvarna Canada, Freedom Cycle, Parts Canada, Thor, Bell Ray, FMF, Dunlop, HAF, Oakley, Alpine Stars, Joe Skidd, and everybody that helps me. Hopefully, I can put on a better show for you guys at home this next round