NHHA National Hare and Hound Association Series
Round 5: Sageriders MC H&H at Little Sahara OHV
By Skyler Howes
Photos by Randy Christiansen/HiDesertPhotos.com
Courtesy of Blais Racing Services
JERICHO, UT, MAY 2, 2015
Race Report by Skyler Howes, Pro
I had high hopes for the Sageriders National Hare and Hound. A couple of weeks prior, I raced a USRA race in the same area, and the course was so fun. A lot of talk assured me that the Sageriders course was going to be even better, so I was stoked!
We got to the race site in the Little Sahara OHV area Friday evening with enough time to do some jet testing and head over to the autograph signing.
We were all up pretty early for the Mini races and to go pre-run the bomb. This bomb run had been used a few years ago, so I had my line mapped out before I even got there. Boy, was I totally off. If anyone didn’t know, sand dunes change a lot… so the bomb run was totally different and the main line that I thought was good was not so good. Gary, Ivan, Ricky, Dalton, Justin and myself were all planning on the same line.
When the banner dropped, I found myself battling with Ivan for the line. He grabbed a handful and hopped on the line first, so I stuck right behind him to follow and watch for good lines.
As we made our way around the dune and onto the flat, I looked to my left to see Josh Knight pulling on us both. He hopped on our line just behind Ivan but then quickly peeled off. I had watched him during bomb-run practice, and he really did his homework, making sure this line was dialed. I abandoned my line and peeled off to follow his. We made our way over the next dune to the end of the bomb, and I watched Josh squeeze back in front of Ivan and take the holeshot on his 250! I rode in just behind Ivan for a third-place start, which I was stoked on!
The next four miles were in the dunes. There’s always some traps out there, so I played it relatively safe every time I crested a dune. I could see Josh’s and Ivan’s lines, how they were just launching off of everything, which was really gnarly, but more power to them! Gary was right behind me, reading off me, and he was able to capitalize when I slowed for a dune, making a pass, putting me back to fourth. I ran just out of his dust for the next 30 miles or so, able to gain back some distance here and there on the flats but staying a consistent 10 seconds behind.
Just before the alternate pit one, I could see Ricky Brabec charging through the dust. I really think he has X-ray vision, because he doesn’t seem to ever slow down through dust – ha ha! He was right on my tail for a few miles and was able to take a beeline on a valley and come in right next to me on a corner. I put the hammer down to see if my Blais Racing-built KTM 300 could hold its own. We were neck and neck through the flat coming into the trees. I had the inside line and I braked later and was able to edge him out into the trees! I was pretty stoked to battle like that with Ricky.
Then, on the next little flat, we repeated it, and I still kept the position. We were banging bars doing, like, 70 mph! By this time, I knew that Ricky was on a mission, so the next corner I swung it wide and let him take the position. I guess he didn’t like battling with me, as he shook his head when I let him by; sorry, bud.
The dust was thick, and I had to drop back a bit to ensure I didn’t die… This put me much farther behind Gary as we came into the alternate pit. Austin Phillips hooked me up and handed me my dump can. I gassed myself and headed back out. To my surprise, I was about 10 seconds behind Gary again, seeing as how Ricky chose not to pit and Gary did.
I was feeling great and even catching back up and into Gary’s dust. Unfortunately, I judged a corner a little wrong and let my front wheel dip over the berm, causing me to slide out in some rocks. I hurried and jumped back up, making sure I didn’t lose any positions, but I did break my handguard.
The trees were thick, so the next 60 miles was fun, with random branches grabbing my front break. (Ha ha.)
I came into the main pits in fifth overall, where Troy [Guard] fueled me up and Amanda got me some fresh X Brand goggles.
The first 30 miles of the second loop felt like an additional 100 miles. There was so much virgin, rocky, tight tree lines that every five miles felt like it took two hours. I started to feel my endurance fading, holding the pace, and I’d heard that the next 20 miles would be even worse, so I really tried to ride smooth!
As we came into a dune section, Dalton Shirey launched over a few dunes, making a pass on me, but it was pretty spectacular watching him almost go over the bars! Ha ha ha! After that, we got into some random sagebrush, and I was able to come right within striking distance to put a pass back on him.
Just like that, I hit a whoop that kind of swapped me, and when I went to turn out of it, my steering was stuck and I couldn’t turn! My dry brake dust cap had fallen off, and since I had it safety-wired on, it swung around and got stuck in my triple clamp! I highsided and tomahawked into the ground, taking a handlebar straight to the gut. I rolled over and pushed myself up with the wind knocked out of me and immediately puked. It took me a couple seconds to regroup, and I knew I was losing a lot of time, so I hurried over, picked up my bike and got going. I had to stop again in about two seconds to try and throw up again, but it was mostly just some dry heaves. I was totally wiped out; that crash and puking took it all out of me, and I really struggled into the alternate pit and back out for the next four to five miles.
Axel Pearson caught up and passed me, as well as Carson Giles, both slowing down to make sure I was all right. Not too long after Carson got around me, we hit a road, and I felt it all coming up again. I pulled over and finally puked the rest of everything up. This actually gave me kind of a second wind, but I was still toast! This course felt like it just kept going and going. I tried pushing myself harder to make up more time but ultimately kept my same spot, finishing up in eighth overall. This marks my worst finish so far this year, but I still managed to stay in the top 10 and salvage some good points.
I learned some good tips this weekend and more so to work harder on my fitness. I have it a lot easier thanks to some awesome sponsors, but it’s a lot of work to hold on to the two-stroke at the speed of all those guys on their four-strokes. This year has been a huge learning experience, with racing a few different series with a bunch of different terrain. I am really stoked for the opportunities that I’ve had so far with racing and the sweet battles with awesome friends.
Most of all, I am thankful for all of my amazing sponsors that keep me rolling: 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 Designs, Asterisk, DirtTricks, REEL Cameras, IMS, No-Toil, Maxilube, X Brand Goggles, Tunex of Washington, A’ME Grips, Samco, Hot Rods, Vertex, C&J Powdercoating, BeHot, KHS and Suzie Potts!