Saddlemen

Blais Racing Services Race Report from Lost In The Woods

| 23 January 2014 4:27 pm

West Chec AMA Western Checkpoint Enduro Championship Series
Round 1: Lost Coyotes’ Lost in the Woods Qualifier at
Rower Flats OHV

Courtesy of Blais Racing Services
SANTA CLARITA, CA, JAN. 18-19, 2014

Race Report by Harry Lyles, AA
Coming into the 2014 race season, I was feeling confident from winning the 250cc A title in the AMA West Chec Enduro Series, but at the same time, I was really nervous, because winning the championship meant that I have to ride in the stacked AA class, which was filled with gnarly guys who have some pretty impressive racing backgrounds.

Harry Lyles and his Blais Racing-sponsored KTM 250 XC.

Harry Lyles and his Blais Racing-sponsored KTM 250 XC.

Although I knew the new competition was going to be really tough, I was still really excited to get back into the groove of racing and having fun. But in the back of my mind, I knew it was going to be tough due to the lack of support from sponsors. That all changed when Chris Blais gave me a call and asked if I wanted to race the AMA West Chec Enduro Series for his Blais Racing Services KTM Team. I was Dungey-pumped, because the opportunity was going to help me tremendously, and it gave me tons of confidence for 2014, ’cause I knew I had the best support from Chris, Patty, and all my new teammates and sponsors!

For the race, the Lost Coyotes hosted the first round of the West Chec Enduro Series at Rower Flats OHV, in Santa Clarita, California. I was stoked to get on the bike and race, because I had a blast at this event two years ago and I was hearing that there was going to be a lot more single-track than the previous event.

I came into the round with a conservative approach, because I was coming off a broken collarbone I suffered seven weeks ago at Day In The Dirt, and I was still feeling slightly run down from the flu that plagued me earlier in the week.

I was on minute three, and I was very thankful for this, because I knew the guys on the later minutes would be fighting hard for clean air due to the extremely dusty conditions. Knowing this, I came into the first special test with zero pressure and threw down a mistake-free, fiery test time.

I wish I could say the same about the second test, but it was extremely fast on rolling ridge tops, which definitely did not suit my style. I felt myself backing off a bit, because in the back of my mind I had flashing thoughts about re-injuring my collarbone, so I kept it at a fast and safe pace.

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After the second test, we had an hour-and-a-half break at a check, which was cool because it gave me time to catch up with my racing friends that I have not seen in a while. It also gave me a chance to compare my times with the fast guys, and I was stoked to find out I wasn’t too far off some of the top guys’ pace.

After the last check on the first loop, we rode a long fire road back to the staging area for the lunch and gas break. I drank a Vitamin water, put down a sandwich, and rode off to the second loop.

I always look forward to the last loops clubs put on, because generally they are a lot tougher, and I tend to throw down faster test times. The next two tests were extremely fun and suited my riding style, but I was struggling for grip because the lack of moisture in the dirt made it seem that we were riding on marbles on top of glass! In one of the tests, I came into one corner way too hot and flew off the side into a little ravine, almost ending my day, but luckily some bushes grabbed me and slowed me down. I hit the e-start on my Blais Racing/ Fasst Co.-backed KTM and pinned it up the other side of the ravine, only losing a few seconds.

After I got back on the trail, I had a few choice words for myself, and I backed it down, reminding myself that I cannot afford to get hurt at the first round.

After those two tests, I was starting to feel the effects of the flu I had earlier in the week and was feeling really fatigued. Luckily my Flexx bars were doing a superb job of soaking up the course, because my shoulders were smoked!

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I got to the last test, and I knew it was going to be a short one, since I could see the staging area from the mountain we were on. The final test was a downhill sprint all the way down the mountain, and it was filled with gnarly rain ruts and rocks that could catapult you off your bike at any given time. I felt like a downhill skier, bobbing and weaving down the mountain, missing all the dangers that could end my day on a bad note. I came into the special out feeling relieved that I’d finished the sketchy special without going over the bars.

Although I felt I rode well, I ended up finishing a slightly disappointing 13th overall and fourth 250cc A. I was a little bummed, because first only beat me by 23 seconds – but that’s what makes enduro racing fun, because every second you’re not on the gas or hard on the brakes, it makes a difference in your times.

All in all, it was fun, and I was glad to come out of the race safe. My Blais Racing/ Fasst Co. KTM 250 XC ran flawlessly thanks to the prep work from Chris Blais and my teammates Ben Meza, and Brendan Crow.

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The next West Chec Enduro round is February 15 in Wickenburg, Arizona, and I cannot wait to get out there, because last year it was, hands down, my favorite race of the year!

I am really excited for my racing program this year because I have so many great people that have my back. A special thanks goes to my family, friends, Chris and Patty Blais, my teammates, and all of our amazing sponsors – Blais Racing Services, Fasst Co., Race Tech, ESR, Troy Lee Designs, Muscle Milk, Vonzipper, Dirt Tricks, No Toil, Kenda and FMF.

See you at the races!
– Harry Lyles

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Category: Enduro, National, POV, Regional, Riders, Riders All, Riders' POV, Riders' Race Reports

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