Race Reports from the HBMC Dual European Scrambles

| 14 March 2014 1:45 pm

District 37 HBMC Dual European Scrambles
Cougar Buttes at Johnson Valley OHVA

By Patty Blais, Skyler Howes and Sam Bangert
Photos by Grumpy and David Burson
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services

Race Report by Patty Blais, ATV A
Not having raced in Johnson Valley in over three or more years, I still knew what to expect. It’s a pretty rough but really fun area to ride and race in. My hubby [Chris Blais] and Ben [Meza] helped me prep my quad and make some adjustments for my race. A couple weeks prior, they had installed a new 41mm carb that I got from JCR. I was excited to test it out!

At the HBMC Dual European Scrambles, Blais Racing Services owner Patty Blais took the overall victory in the ATV A class on her Blais Racing TRX450R. Photo by Grumpy

At the HBMC Dual European Scrambles, Blais Racing Services owner Patty Blais took the overall victory in the ATV A class on her Blais Racing TRX450R. Photo by Grumpy

Skyler [Howes], Harry [Lyles] and myself headed out to Cougar Buttes on Friday afternoon to get some riding in and test out our machines. Ben and Brendan [Crow] were busy all day, helping get the kids’ courses all set up for Saturday’s races. I went on my way and rode for about 1.5 hours, making small adjustments to my newly rebuilt rear shock. My new carb was working flawless – all I can say is, Wow! My quad was working perfectly, and I was so excited for Saturday!

Of course, we had a team dinner and some Jacuzzi time Friday night, and I was ready to race – or so I thought.

I was excited all week long, and on race morning, I started to get really nervous. OMG!! Skyler, Harry and I headed back out to the Buttes on Saturday morning. We were all getting ready for our races – Skyler and Sam [Bangert] would race at noon and I would race at 1:30 p.m.

I had some nice alone time for about an hour before my race, but now I was really getting butterflies. I geared up and went riding around a little so I could calm down – ha ha.

I got to the start line and finally started to see the other racers pull up, including many of my old friends that I’ve been racing with for a long time!

The banner went up, and I had my sights on my line all the way up to the top of hill, where the end of the bomb run was. The banner dropped and off we went into the dust bowl!

Of course, I could see nothing in front of me – I was about fifth off the start, out of eight or nine of us.

After the hill, we dropped down into a long valley, where I would head over to the single-lane bike trail that was much smoother. I was able to pass two people in the first few miles, so now I was in third overall.

The whole first lap, which was nine miles long, I would be right behind my old friend Ryan Wilson. We came into this narrow canyon where the club had to have an alternate route for the quads, so they pointed us up this rock hill and we got to race on some Moab-style rocks for a few hundred feet. We would drop back down into a gully before hitting the open desert again. My team members were up on the rocks, cheering me on every time I came through this area. It made me smile so much to see my guys there!

I was eating Ryan’s dust for way too long. It was starting to really annoy me – ha ha – so as we headed out on lap two, I was plotting my pass on him. He stayed on the ribbon where the trail was really rough, and I was to his left on the bike trail, where it was way smoother but sketchy, as I was running over bushes the whole time and not knowing if there may be hidden rocks in them. Just as we went up a hill, I made a “sweet pass” on him (those are his words), and I got right in front of him. Now it was my turn to dust him out!

During that whole lap, I was in front of him until I got a little too excited about being out front and missed the ribbon. I ended up getting lost for a minute, but I turned around to see where his dust was. I noticed I was way off the course, and I headed back over to where Ryan was. Now I was behind him again! I thought, “Okay, I’ll just have to pass him again!”

I can’t quite remember where I passed him the second time, but all I know is, I was trying with all my might to keep him behind me. I kept thinking he was “right there” so that I would keep pushing, even though I was getting tired from pounding the huge G-outs and ruts, which my body is no longer used to doing.

For the entire third lap, I was out front. It was the best feeling! I kept telling myself, “Don’t blow it, don’t blow it, pay attention!”

As I approached that last rock canyon, I could see my team members – Sam, Harry and Skyler – jumping up and down, dancing and cheering for me! They were so excited, which made me so excited! I headed to the finish in first place overall, with Ryan about 1.5 minutes behind me. It was a great battle and we were all exhausted!

I want to thank my hubby for always keeping good ol’ “Black Betty” – my ’06 Honda 450R – in tip-top shape! And to Ben and all my team members, including Doreen [Bangert] and her parents for sticking around to cheer me on; that meant a lot to me! Thank you, HBMC, for a great weekend in the desert and for all the cheers. Thank you to our awesome friends and sponsors who also help me out: Fasst Co., Troy Lee Designs, FMF, Fastway/ PMB, Teixeira Tech, IMS, Earl Shuler Suspension, Maxxis, FAH-Q MC!

Until the next one…

Race Report by Skyler Howes, Heavyweight A
Friday morning, I made the trip down to sunny California for a weekend of racing and suspension testing! Saturday marked Day One of racing. I went out and walked the bomb with my teammate Sammy [Bangert], and we decided we had a good shot. I was lined up right next to Nick Burson, in hopes I could get the jump and hold the line.

Skyler Howes (110) scored second overall in the Heavyweight A class at Cougar Buttes. Photo by Grumpy

Skyler Howes (110) scored second overall in the Heavyweight A class at Cougar Buttes in Lucerne Valley. Photo by Grumpy

When the banner dropped, I got an awesome jump and held that KTM all the way to the throttle stop! To my left, I heard the Beta four-stroke creeping up. As we reached the end of the bomb, Nick was able to edge me out for the holeshot.

We hit the course, and the dust was thick. The A loop we were racing was nine miles long, and we did that four times. After loop one, Nick had opened a demanding lead, and I settled into a comfortable pace in this fast, extremely choppy race. We sure did pick a great race to test suspension on! It was feeling great, thanks to the hard work from ESR Suspension and Race Tech! And thanks to Flexx Handlebars for keeping the arm pump and fatigue down on this course! I raced on into a second place overall!

After that race, Sammy, Harry and myself found a good spot on course to cheer on Patty, who was racing the quad race. After being stuck in the dust on the bomb, we expected her to be caught up behind everyone. Sammy poked his head up and said, “No way! That’s Patty!” She was in second overall and right on the guy in the lead!

The next loop came around and she had a huge lead and kept that all the way to the finish! We were so pumped!

After that, we headed over to help out the kids’ event. Ben and Brendan really put a lot of work into it and did an awesome job! Harry and myself got to drop the banner for one of the events, and we hung out after to hand out all of the awards.

After a night of watching Supercross and eating fajitas, I got some sleep.

Sunday! Boy, I thought Saturday’s course was rough! This course had a lot more technical spots, which was great, but the valleys were even more rough from all the previous races, creating a lot of square edges! I lined up right beside Ryan Smith and Nick Burson; we were all shooting for a great start on this line.

The banner dropped, and Ryan and myself got a great jump. He peeled right and I kept left. Nick made a fast pass on the bomb, and I followed his line to the end for another second-place start.

Going into the technical sections, I could feel some needed suspension clicker changes. I waited it out ’til the end of the first loop. After slowing to make a couple clicks, Chance Wylie made a pass on me in one of the valleys.

Back around for another loop, I felt the need to change a few more clicks. This allowed Ryan Smith to make a pass on me, putting me back to fourth overall. After slowing to make the changes, things felt awesome! I picked the pace back up and started a good battle with Ryan, where I made a pass stick back on him coming through a valley. The charge Ryan and I put on caught us back up to Chance. I took his same line that he’d passed me on and put the pass back on him to bring me back to second overall on the last loop!

I did what was planned and made sure everything is feeling great for the next National and came home with a second overall for the weekend. I am pumped!

I really want to give a big shout-out to Earl [Shuler] at ESR for giving me some great suspension. It definitely has saved me many times from being ejected! Thank you to all of my sponsors: Blais Racing Services, Fasst Co., KTM, ESR Suspension, Race Tech, RAD Manufacturing, Freegun, AMSOIL, Alpinestars, Kenda, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway, FMF, Rekluse, HBD Motografx, Regina, TLD, BRP, Bullet Proof, DirtTricks, Eline, IMS, No Toil, Acerbis, Muscle Milk, X Brand Goggles, A’ME Grips, and Bike Week Radio.

Race Report by Sam Bangert, 200cc A
Coming up to this weekend, I didn’t decide to race until a couple days prior. Saturday morning, I drove out around 7:30 a.m. and picked up some breakfast. When I got to the Buttes, I went and signed up for the one-hour race. My teammate Skyler Howes and I rode over to the bomb and walked the line we thought was the fastest. I went back to our camp area, got fueled up, and headed back to the line.

Sam Bangert (C316), on his Blais Racing KTM 200 XC-W, and on his way to second place in the 200cc A class and seventh overall. Photo by David Burson

Sam Bangert (C316), on his Blais Racing KTM 200 XC-W, and on his way to second place in the 200cc A class and seventh overall. Photo by David Burson

The flag went up, and the butterflies came flying into my stomach! The banner dropped, and my bike fired up, but for some reason I was way back in the pack. By the end of the bomb, I had one of the worst starts this year. Right out of the gate, me and fellow competitor Dalton Shirey were right next to each other. The course was one of the most rough courses I’ve ever raced.

By the end of the lap one, my wrist was killing me. Dalton slowly pulled away, and I just tried to keep a good pace. The course went by very fast, considering it was nine miles long. Seeing the white flag was glorious! The last lap, my wrist was giving out and I was getting a little squirrely, so I’m glad I finished!

Congrats to Skyler on his second and to Patty on her first overall! I ended up second place in my class and seventh overall.

I had the privilege of helping with the Blais Racing HBMC kids’ race. I was stoked to see our teammate Cole Timboe killin’ it!

I want to thank my sponsors: Blais Racing Services, Fasst Co., AMSOIL, No-Toil, Rad, Vonzipper, FMF, Asterisk, Troy Lee Designs, Fastway, IMS, KTM, Muscle Milk, my parents, and God. I also want to thank the Walker family.

’Til next time… Yee Yee!

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Category: Hare Scrambles, POV, Regional, Riders, Riders All, Riders' POV, Riders' Race Reports

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