Race Report from NHHA Round 10, Take Two: Skyler Howes

| 13 November 2014 2:28 pm

NHHA National Hare & Hound Association Championship Series
Round 10: 100s MC H&H at Johnson Valley OHV Area

By Skyler Howes
Photos by Mark Kariya
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services
LUCERNE, CA, OCT. 26, 2014

Race Report by Skyler Howes, Pro
After our drive down to So Cal on Friday night, Colt [Brinkerhoff] and I stopped in at Chris and Patty Blais’ to chat, and Patty made us some delicious pasta. We got to sleep late and woke up bright and early Saturday to start some testing!

Skyler Howes (110) flies over the course at the NHHA season finale.

Skyler Howes (110) flies over the course at the NHHA season finale.

After my get-off in Yerington, ESR made some big changes to my suspension in hopes it would be better for the rocks. We spent a lot of time going through the clickers and making sure things were good. A lot of advice from Quinn Cody and Chris Blais made things easy to figure out and know what I was looking for. After a good day of testing, I felt like I had found a happy medium. We set up for our hot-dog-and-Pro-signing event in the pits, and just like that, the wind kicked in. We all still had a great time eating some hot dogs and candy in our Halloween costumes; the wind couldn’t stop us!

Race day! Up early again for the Sunday Kids event, I headed over to the start to see how things were going. I got to hold the banner with Ricky Brabec for the Pee Wee start, and my teammate Cole [Timboe] ripped an awesome start and came through to eventually take the win! So stoked for him!

I talked with Braydon [Bland] a little about his line and wished him good luck as I headed over to the bomb to practice. Braydon came home with a win, and that brought the championship down to the absolute wire. He grabbed the number-two plate for the year, and I’m so stoked for him!

As I was running the bomb, I looked for a smooth, straight line to the flag at the end. I decided on the main trail with ribbon, even though it was a little far to the right. On the way back to the truck, I made a rookie mistake and ran out of fuel! Luckily, Don [Meza] was there to come pick me up and take me back.

As I lined up at the start, I was really confident in my line and the power of the bike to take me to the banner first. The banner dropped, and I was on my way! Chance Wylie took off like a rocket and grabbed the line first. I tailed him for a couple seconds and waited for the line to open up a little. As I grabbed a handful of throttle, my Blais Racing Services KTM 300 XC pulled right on by and I took to the clean air. I could not see anyone to my left or right and was stoked on a good start! As we rounded to the flag, Ricky and Ivan Ramirez hit the trail first and put me to third. As I chopped the throttle in the dust, I heard a two-stroke to my right come screaming by. It was my teammate Ben Meza, grabbing a killer start and jumping into third, just in front of me!

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Everyone was pinned through the valley and in the dust. I got just off the trail so I could have clean air. As we were mashing through the cross-grain, Axel Pearson, Nick Burson, Justin Morrow and Max Eddy all kept it pinned through the ditches and passed me. I knew if I played it safe, I could come back and battle with them. Jacob Argubright came blowing by, way off in the boonies, like he was on a road. He was so pinned across that valley, it looked nuts. As he cut over in front of me, I knew he was on an insane mission. He worked his way all the way to the top three once we hit these huge sand whoops. I came through them to see him lying on the ground after a huge crash. My teammate (who was already having an awesome race) knew what was more important and stopped to help Jake; he gave us a thumbs-up as we all came by.

By this time, I had worked into a comfortable pace, but I knew it was way off of what I needed to be running. I was losing ground in the fast valleys, rocks and whoops. I picked up my pace, only to be slapped down with a close call, almost sending me on my head. Each time I would hit a whoop or rock, I would almost be sent into a yard sale. I toned it back and had to roll through a lot of these big ditches and things I would normally smash through. I was so reserved, and it was costing me big-time. Brandon Prieto came by; Eric Yorba, David Kamo and Morgan Crawford all had it pinned, and I was losing ground to all of them. However, I knew the bigger picture was more important. Today, I just was not in tune with my bike, and I had to keep it safe.

I came in to pit and got a full tank of fuel, thanks to the Blais crew.

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Loop two was my favorite. It had a lot of sand washes and some more technical trails. These were the only places where I could really feel comfortable putting a charge on.

As we worked our way across a fast valley, Ryan Smith came by aboard his new 450. I could keep him honest in the sand washes, but anywhere else he yarded me big-time. I rode smooth all the way back to the pits, where I got some more fuel and a fresh pair of X Brand goggles.

On to loop three: I knew I could make up time, knowing that it would be much more technical. I nailed the hills and the gnarly washes and closed right on in to Ryan. We came around the next hill, and I could see the pits. All that was left was a gnarly downhill and the drag race to the finish. I straight-lined it off the hill and bombed through the rocks to sneak in right behind Ryan as we hit the valley. I let it all hang out and put the pass on him just before the finish line to take over 11th overall. The battle was sick; Ryan has been an awesome competitor all year. However, to battle for 11th place was nothing we both wanted. Without having a mechanical issue, this was my worst finish all year. It was a great course, but it goes to show that racing is a business decision and you definitely have to make the right calls in order to stay safe. I’m very blessed to be healthy and know what I need to do in the off season to prepare for 2015. I’ll be hitting it hard and be ready to come back out at the season opener in January.

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Thank you to all my sponsors who made this season an unforgettable one. Everyone made it possible for me to compete with the best: Mom and Dad, Blais Racing Services, Fasst Co., KTM, Rebellious Status Clothing, ESR Suspension, Race Tech, Rad Manufacturing, Freegun, DVS, AMSOIL, Alpinestars, Kenda, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway, FMF, Rekluse, HBD Motografx, Regina, TLD, BRP, Bullet Proof, DirtTricks, REEL Cameras, Eline, IMS, No Toil, Acerbis, Muscle Milk, X Brand Goggles, A’ME Grips, RMOR FX and Bike Week Radio.

[For more from this event, please see “Race Report from NHHA Round 10, Take One: Harry Lyles” and stay tuned for more Race Reports from this event to be posted soon on Today’s Cycle Coverage… Editor]

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Category: Hare and Hound, National, POV, Regional, Riders, Riders All, Riders' POV, Riders' Race Reports

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