Race Report from the NHHA Series Round One, Take Five: Skyler Howes

| 6 February 2015 4:43 pm

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

By Skyler Howes
Photos by Dave Burson
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services

Race Report by Skyler Howes, Sixth Overall Pro, First Two-Stroke
I was able to score an extra day off work on Friday and head down to get a little extra time in the California desert! Most of the team was there, Cole [Timboe] getting his 50cc prepped for the micro mini race and Braydon [Bland] for the Supermini race. Patty [Blais] fixed up some good chicken tacos, and we chilled in the Blais trailer afterward to watch The World’s Fastest Indian (which happens to be one of my favorite movies).

Skyler Howes at speed at the opening round of the NHHA Series.

Skyler Howes at speed at the opening round of the NHHA Series.

Skyler Howes, ready to rumble.

Skyler Howes, ready to rumble.

Saturday morning, the boys did great in their races, Cole taking the early lead and ending up taking second! Braydon was absolutely killing it [but] unfortunately had to sit out and watch after lap one [after having to deal] with some mechanical issues.

Race day! Up bright and early to a knock on my door from [photographer] Mark Kariya. We headed over to get some fresh shots of the race bike for an upcoming feature in Dirt Bike Magazine! Keep an eye out for that!

After that, I headed over to the bomb, only for my hopes to be smashed. It was gnarly, whooped-out and all uphill, which means a true test of two-stroke power for a good start! I parked my practice bike in tight between a couple riders (the right side was stacked with riders) and headed back to get some more food down.

As I got back to the bomb, I noticed they’d decided my spot didn’t need to be reserved anymore and moved my bike off of my line! I quickly noticed that I would be able to squeeze in on a solid line next to Meg Blackburn. Thanks for letting me crowd in at the last second on you, Meg; it was a big relief to still be able to start there.

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The banner dropped and the freshly prepped Blais Racing Services KTM 300 XC rocketed off to some fresh air! I kept it fully lit, but being on a new line, I got a little lost and had to weave my way around some bushes. I saw Gary Sutherlin to my left, powering up the bomb, so I started making my way over there and onto his line. We hit the banners and I came through in third overall! (Remember that true test I was talking about earlier? Two-stroke power!)

Immediately, I heard a fire-breathing 450 behind me. I was able to keep them at bay for a few miles. It turned out it was Ricky Brabec, absolutely on a mission! He jumped passed me and put me into fourth.

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The first loop was rad! Some really fun washes and good valleys with some sweet technical sections. However, after nailing a few bushes, my tape job failed and my fender card ripped off. A huge shout-out to DMC [Desert MC] for working with me and getting me dialed!

After a few fast sections, I was outpowered by David Kamo, and he got by me as we battled into a wash.

I was feeling much more confident in my setup for round one. After working closely with ESR and Race Tech Suspension, we have found a really nice setup for the 4cs forks on the KTM. I was able to charge hard and bring it in to the pits in fifth overall.

After a quick splash of fuel (mixed with AMSOIL Dominator premix, of course), I was on my way! No need for goggles; X Brand is always keeping it real with the clear vision!

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Out on to loop two, we hit the first little rocky section. I followed a fresh track, which actually put me slightly off course. I turned to head back down into the wash and slid out on the loose gravel. I quickly remounted and continued to squid out for the rest of that section!

Right as I crested out of there, I caught a rock with my front wheel and went down again! Two tip-overs in one section! I was about to rage!

As I picked the bike up, I could see a hard-charging Justin Morrow and Brandon Prieto close behind. Justin was able to put a pass on me just as we came to this gnarly downhill. As we hit the bottom, I pinned it and got him right back.

Just when I thought the coast was clear, Ivan Ramirez comes out of nowhere! Literally, I had no idea he was even close! He launched through this wash and passed me about six feet in the air. He was killing it! He proceeded to destroy me with roost and took off like a rocket. Luckily, I had on my Troy Lee Designs chest protector and gear to shield me from the blasting rocks! We hit this huge, flat sand wash and I was able to edge just to the side of him, out of his dust. To my surprise, I was able to keep him in sight for most of that section until the dust got too thick. (Refer back to that true test of Blais Racing motor power.) Then we hit the cross-grain, I’ve always been pretty nervous of this stuff. Good news! DMC did a great job of marking stuff, my suspension kept me fully stable, and my Fastway steering stabilizer kept me straight through all of it with no issues! Stoked! Thanks to my Flexx Handlebars for keeping me fatigue-free and able to hang on.

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Then came the real fun stuff: all the rocky uphills! The dirt was more like powder covered with loose rocks, so keeping momentum was key for me on the two-stroke. That was pretty easy to do with my Kenda tires! I’m still stoked on how good those things look after races, especially compared to other people’s stuff!

I lugged it up those hills mostly mistake-free! I could still see the dust from a rider in front of me; thinking it was Ivan, I kept pushing to keep close. Turns out it was third, fourth and fifth overall, all right next to each other! They were far enough away that it would have taken a miracle to catch them, but I kept on!

On to the last rocky downhill, I made one small mistake, just bombing straight down the hill, missing a left-hander. It still worked out, though, so I was stoked to come through the finish chute healthy and all grins!

After all is said and done, I am so stoked on how everything looked. My Dubya wheels are fully fresh, even after all that crazy abuse. Bullet Proof Designs made sure my radiators and brake rotors are kept straight.

Ending up sixth overall and first two-stroke is a great start to the year, with the stacked field that we are racing in.

Skyler Howes hangs with Austin Charters out the Johnson Valley OHV.

Skyler Howes hangs with Austin Charters out the Johnson Valley OHV.

All of my sponsors behind me make it possible: Blais Racing Services, Mom and Dad, Fasst Co., KTM, Rebellious Status Clothing, ESR Suspension, Race Tech, Dubya, DVS, AMSOIL, Alpinestars, Kenda, Pro Moto Billet, Fastway, FMF, Rekluse, RMOR FX, TLD, BRP, Bullet Proof, Asterisk, Dirt Tricks, REEL Cameras, IMS, No Toil, Maxilube, X Brand Goggles, A’ME Grips, Samco, Hot Rods, Vertex, BeHot, and Suzie Potts!

[For more from this event, please see “Race Report from the NHHA Series Round One, Take One: Patty Blais” and “Race Report from the NHHA Series Round One, Take Two: Harry Lyles” and “Race Report from the NHHA Series Round One, Take Three: Brendan Crow” and “Race Report from the NHHA Series Round One, Take Four: Ben Meza”… Editor]

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

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