Saddlemen

Race Report from the USRA Drunkards Wash GP, Take 1: Skyler Howes

| 31 March 2015 10:30 am

USRA Utah Sportsman Racers Association Desert Series
Round 3: Finishline Drunkards Wash GP

By Skyler Howes
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services
PRICE, UT, MAR. 14, 2015

Race Report by Skyler Howes, Second Overall Open Expert
The Guards (Kadin and Troy) and myself have decided to carpool to all of the USRA Desert races this year, which is actually awesome! I’m so used to traveling to most of my races solo, so to have some company is pretty rad. We headed up to the Bland family’s house in Herriman, Utah, on Friday afternoon. After some bike prep and a delicious dinner, we headed to bed.

Skyler Howes (110) gets under way at the third round of the USRA Desert Series.

Skyler Howes (110) gets under way at the third round of the USRA Desert Series.

Up early on race day, we made our way down to the race site in Price, Utah. We all got signed up and headed to the start to reserve our lines. I was pretty stoked on this race! I had won the overall the year before, and it was a great course. I was looking forward to hopefully have a repeat!

After waiting on the line for quite some time, waiting for some course to be fixed, the one-minute warning was given and we all got settled in for the dead-engine start. The flag raised, and we were off!

I got a great jump and headed to the first corner in the lead. Cory Pincock didn’t give that holeshot up easy and was making any move he could to try and battle for the lead. I snuck in first, grabbing the holeshot and taking to the course in first place.

The ground is interesting in Price: a lot of hard-packed dirt with silt on top, then some great grippy dirt, so it takes some effort to read it all.

Skyler Howes negotiates a waterfall section of the Drunkards Wash course.

Skyler Howes negotiates a waterfall section of the Drunkards Wash course.

As we made our way out to the off-road section, I had the inside line on a straightaway, coming into a flat, road corner. It was hard to stay planted on the gravel and I slid around the corner too wide and left the inside wide open. Josh Knight took full advantage and snuck right on in as we hit the desert. I knew I could stay close and keep out of the dust, so I stuck right on to his rear tire. I thought to myself, “Oh, man, not again” – referring to a repeat of the Rhino Rally, where we spent the entire race battling. We hit the washes, which were awesome! Price had gotten some good rain earlier in the week, and the washes were still kind of wet! This helped me a lot to close the gap more on Josh and put the pressure on.

I tried a few inside lines; some hurt me and some really put me close. The loop was about 12 miles long, and I was able to keep Josh honest for about the first seven or so miles. We hit another wash and I made the terrible decision to stay down in it. I could see Josh’s line straight-lining right over it and I knew that I was losing a lot of time. I pushed a lot harder to hopefully close the gap. I was able to get just close enough behind him to be right in his dust. I was hoping that once we hit the fast roads, I could let my Blais Racing-built 300 do all the work, but with the dust, it was just too dangerous. All I had to work with was Josh’s helmet and back, which I could see through the dust. He seemed pretty stable, so I kept on the gas.

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The previous weather that Price got put a lot of random sink holes, ruts and wash-outs in the course. As I was pinned, I hit one of the rain ruts and I started riding my front wheel. I was able to recover from that. Thinking it was a fluke, I kept it pinned to not lose any more time. The second I recovered, I hit another one, putting me so much closer to going over the bars. I knew right at that moment that I was so lucky to have my ESR/ Race Tech suspension to save me. I also decided to tone it back and play it safe. Mine and Josh’s speed were very, very close, so any time that I put in between us, it would have to take a big mistake on his part for me to close back in.

Just like that, by the time the dust cleared, he had about a minute lead on me. I settled into my pace right then and played the rest of the race smart.

On loop three, I came in for a quick pit. Troy got me dialed with my fuel and I got a drink of water.

Skyler Howes (110) on his way to second overall Open Expert.

Skyler Howes (110) on his way to second overall Open Expert.

Back out on loop four, I felt more and more in my zone. My Flexx handlebars keeping me relaxed on the choppy course, I upped my pace, hoping I could close the gap more on Josh. I was nice and warmed up now and ready to rage.

Just like that, coming in off my fourth loop, the checkered flag was out and the race was over. I pulled up next to Josh; we were both fresh, ready to do another four laps. He rode great, and I’m stoked to have a season like this that is close, with some great battles. He has progressed a lot since last year and really has the heat on! I’m glad to come away with a second overall and to be healthy.

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The biggest “thank you” to all of my sponsors: 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, RmorFX, TLD, BRP, Bullet Proof, Asterisk, DirtTricks, REEL Cameras, IMS, No-Toil, Maxilube, X Brand Goggles, Tunex of Washington, A’ME Grips, Samco, Hot Rods, Vertex, C&J Powder Coating, BeHot, and Suzie Potts!

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

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Category: Gran Prix, Off-Road, POV, Regional, Riders, Riders All, Riders' POV, Riders' Race Reports

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