Race Report from the NHHA Series Round One, Take One: Patty Blais

| 5 February 2015 3:31 pm

NHHA National Hare and Hound Association Series
Round 1: Desert MC H&H at Johnson Valley OHV

By Patty Blais
Photo by Grumpy
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services

Patty Blais on her way to topping the Women’s class at the opening NHHA round.

Patty Blais on her way to topping the Women’s class at the opening NHHA round.

Race Report by Patty Blais, ATV A
It’s been a few years since I’ve raced the Desert MC National Hare & Hound. They always do a great job! I had decided a couple weeks prior to race round one since I hadn’t raced since September and I just simply needed to! It’s hard to leave my “pit duty” for our six riders on race day, but I knew our awesome pit dads had it covered.

There’s not really much I have to do to my machine to get it ready, since it’s always prepped and ready to go – just a quick filter and oil change with some help from my hubby [Chris Blais]. Now, as far as my body [is concerned], well, let’s just say that the holidays always do a number on me, with all the food, parties, overindulging and not much exercise. I joined a new gym recently and it really helped me with my stamina and my strength on race day, thank goodness!

We headed out to Johnson Valley on Friday afternoon and helped some of our riders do some bike prep. We had some time to relax in the evening with some of our team, had a great meal, and watched a great movie, The World’s Fastest Indian! A great motivation for the race!

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Our two youngest racers on our Blais Racing Team, Cole Timboe and Braydon Bland, raced on Saturday, so we spent the day with them, and I rode my quad quite a bit that afternoon to shake out some of my butterflies. Oddly enough, though, I wasn’t half as nervous as I normally am, for some strange reason, and I felt pretty confident. I was just really excited to race! Many of my old racing buddies came by my camp to harass me and bench-race a bit; that’s always fun!

On Sunday morning, I headed over to the bomb-run start to practice and then just stayed to watch all the bikes take off. Our guys did great – Skyler [Howes], Ben [Meza], Harry [Lyles] and Brendan [Crow]!

Now it was our turn. We had a great turnout of ATVs – 20 total! Excellent for a National, as I remember doing them “back in the day” with only three of us, ha ha.

I had a great line to the far right, where Skyler had lined up. The bomb run had huge, overgrown bushes with trails that all crisscrossed over each other, so it wasn’t going to be easy going.

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The banner dropped, and my trusty Blais Racing TRX450R fired right up, and off I went into oblivion!

The bomb run was long, rough and dusty. I kept trying to veer left in the dust, and it was a bit confusing, as I could barely see. We all were freight-training for the first few technical miles through rocks and boulders. I made a couple passes early on but knew the lead pack of Pros were pulling away, as we were all hanging back in some bad dust. I was trying so hard to make more passes, but it wasn’t safe or wide enough just yet.

After a few miles of tricky washes – (this must be the “fast and fun” terrain the club promised, ha ha!) – I was able to pick up some speed and get out of the dust for just a few miles. Back into some gnarly canyon we go, and now I see a racer trying to get up and over this narrow section with a boulder right in the middle of it and, of course, he got stuck. Behind him was Shaun Riley, and I was third to this spot. So now we’re bottlenecked – the thing I hate most during a race. Shaun and I got off to help the stuck racer, moved some boulders, and tried our hardest to help, as the other racers started to show up – Eric P., Andrea, Jay, Rachel, etc. Eric yelled out, “Andrea went up the hill and around,” so then we all followed suit. Sometimes this plan doesn’t always work out and it actually makes it worse, but we all were able to get up and over the boulder-filled hill.

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At this point, Andrea had probably a two-minute lead on me, and now Eric was also back in front of me as well. As we raced on, I was behind Eric as a bike racer brake-checked him going up a hill (not on purpose – and looking back now, it was kind of funny to watch), and just after he bumped into her, I bumped into him! I got loose from him and was able to get around them both.

As we started heading towards Cougar Buttes, I was flying up this fast valley that we’ve raced up many times, and I saw some vehicles parked in a pack in the distance. I “assumed” it was the next check and didn’t realize I had lost the ribbon. As I looked around, I noticed dust way off to my right – at least two miles away. OMG, I had gone some extra miles, and now Eric and Rachel had probably gotten back in front of me.

I kept charging hard, wanting to make some passes on my longtime racing friends! In the last eight or so miles, I had worked my way all the way back up to Shaun Riley, and I was trying my hardest to pass him as well. He made sure I stayed behind him, as every time I got too close, he would speed up, even though I could tell he was getting tired. We finished within 30 seconds of each other. He said he had no idea that was me, and I made him work for it.

It was a great race! I finished first-overall Woman, ninth-overall ATV and fifth-place Expert.

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I want to thank the Desert MC crew for their awesome first round of the series, for all the cheers at the checkpoints and hugs at the finish line! We have been friends with many of the Desert MC club members for years!

Thank you to my husband, Chris, and to all my friends and sponsors for helping keep my TRX in tip-top shape for these grueling desert races and over the last 16 years: FMF, Fasst Co., Teixeira Tech, Fastway/ PMB, Baja Designs, IMS/ Roll, Maxxis, and the one and only FAH-Q MC! I also want to thank KT Tape, Ben Gay, Pamprin and Folgers Coffee.

Until next time!
– Patty

[Stay tuned for more Race Reports from this event to be posted soon at Today’s Cycle Coverage… Editor]

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

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