Fernley NV Round 2 March 13th & 14th, 2021
We are well into our race season now, and round 2 was at the Fernley track in Nevada’s high desert. I made the trip up on Wednesday from Orangevale, California due to the forecast calling for snow on Donner Pass. It was an easy drive and I’m glad I went early. I met Mike Butler up there and he was already set up. We set up my camp, and roped off an area for five more rigs coming up from the Sierra chapter in the following two days. After that task was complete, Mike and I went into town to one of the local Mexican restaurants for dinner. We returned back to the track, watched a motocross movie, and settled in for the night.
On Thursday, Ricky Bobby & Michelle Slusher, Stacey & Karen Rowe, Duke & Christy Jay, Paul & Monique Park, Jerry & Judy Tucker, Wayne Halozan, Bret Eckert, Jay Wise, Shane Boone, Ron & Tammy Thronton, and the grandkids all showed up. We arranged our rigs to block the winds that Fernley is known for, and, for the most part, we were successful. No one felt like cooking so we all went into town for dinner.
When we got back we all walked the track. All of the guys we were like, “I’m going to take this line! No dude you need to be over here! No guys you are all wrong here is where you need to be!” It was interesting to say the least to listen to everyone’s ideas of what line they were going to take. I think that is one of the things that makes our sport so interesting and competitive. We all have different riding styles and abilities. The track was slightly different than years past; a little bit longer and with more jumps. Everyone agreed that the changes were good.
We finished walking the track and returned to our camp for a fire and some libations. Everyone was excited for the practice on Friday and had their game plan for how they were going to attack the track. It was a good night and everyone was gathering around the fire but then the wind came up and some of us (me) called it a night.
Friday’s practice day was now upon us, and with anticipated excitement, we all started getting ready for our respective practice groups. The weather was cloudy and slightly chilly. We all had our plan of attack on how we were going to attack the track from walking the track the night. For me, I really struggled to commit to the gap jumps in the back. I would get there and then just shut it down. My mind was just telling me, it’s a long season and don’t get injured. We all had a good day and everyone was happy with their practice.
The Friday night meal was provided by the Slushers (well Michelle really, lol). She made homemade spaghetti for everyone. The Slusher’s rig had fourteen people in it and with the wine flowing everyone had a good time. Thank you Michelle for all your hard work! Most of us retired early so to be ready for race day.
Saturday morning we all woke up to snow on the camp chairs, tables, bikes and vehicles. Luckily, there was no snow sticking to the ground. Then we discovered that Ricky Bobby left all ten sets of his riding gear, three sets of boots and five helmets outside. Yes, that’s a lot of gear and he wasn’t done yet! I had to laugh, but it was serious because everything was wet. My two sets were dry thankfully.
I was in the first moto of the day, and was trying to figure out how to stay warm without getting overheated during the race. With the cold weather my KTM was very temperamental and just didn’t want to start. She literally HATES the cold weather, and it took me a little while to get her going. I think in the future I may have to cover her with an electric blanket.
Most of us had a decent day, but Jay struggled in the support class he was in. It was a class that was just a little above his ability. After getting lapped, and last on all three motos, he just wasn’t having a good day. We were able to get him moved to a lower class for Sunday’s races, which worked out because then he was able to race with his buddy Shane.
Our camp was located in a spot where we could cheer everyone on. It was exciting to go by our camp and hear everyone cheering. I think Stacey, Ron, Paul, and Duke got so caught up in the action that they didn’t realize they were cheering on their own class! Yep, you guessed it, they all missed their gate! It was hilarious watching their reactions when they realized what they had done. As they scrambled around getting their gear, Paul was the first one out to the already going race. They all had a good time and with the pressure off of racing, I got a fist bump from Ron over the fence as he came by on the track in front of our camp.
We all laughed about it and in my mind I was thinking I can finally getting rid of the “FISH AWARD.” The fish award is something that Eric McKenna (#33) implemented in early 2000 for doing something boneheaded or dumb, during a race. I received the fish award in 2020 when I left on the wrong gate with the master’s class. Now, I finally get the opportunity to get rid of this plastic, tail wagging fish mounted on a wood plaque. I had to contact Eric, the “Commissioner,” to find out who out of the four boneheads was going to get it. See, there is a set of rules that goes along with this award. In Eric’s words and I quote, “We have now SUNK to a new low!” Lol! I NEVER anticipated this. This may take a little thought.
After careful consideration it was decided by the commissioner that being we were in Nevada, they would all have to draw a card. Low card gets the “Fish Award.” I am pleased to say that the new recipient of the “Fish Award” is SOTMX member Paul Park. I am so pleased that my fish has found a new home!
Saturday, I finished behind SOTMX member Bret on all three motos. He and I are from the same chapter and he is a very good rider. I call him the sleeper because he is not the type of guy who gets overly excited about his riding ability. He is one of those riders that lets his riding speak for its self. My mission was to have good, safe, competitive competition with Bret, just like I use to have with our old President, Carmon Ogino.
Sunday we woke up to a beautiful day. No wind, and the sun was out and warm. I did have another problem starting my KTM, but with Bret, Jay, and Jerry helping me they were able to jump it utilizing my truck. I didn’t even know you could do that. Thank you fellas! I decided to attempt the gap jumps during the warm up that I’d been hesitant on the last two days. I rolled them again on the first lap and decided to pull the plug on the second lap. It was the only time I got the chance to clear them because as I came around there was the checker flag. Just like most of us know, if you don’t try how will you know if you can do it. I truly wish that I would have been doing them the last two days.
I was able to get an ok start on my last two motos (didn’t stall, or fall). My starts literally sucked, and I was able to keep Bret in my sights. We battled safely, and I was able to prevail the last two motos. With Bret’s wins on Saturday he was able to edge me out of third place by one point. Yep, one, 1, stinking point!
We all broke camp and thanked Chad Johnson (President) of the Nevada chapter for putting on a wonderful event. Next year Chad, you have to see if there is something you can do about the wind!
Keven #359 out
The 2021 season is now here and round 1 was at Canyon MX Park in Peoria Arizona on April 27th & 28th 2021. My moto friend Tay Gragg of the last couple of years, is now taking his turn on the injured list by getting some fractured ribs and a lacerated lung a week before the race. To put salt in the wound, Tay was my ride to Arizona! I searched high and low, and made multiple phone calls, but I was unable to find any of the crew that went the year before going. With the last couple of years being injured and the Covid virus hitting in March 2020 I decided to make the trek in my little Chevy Colorado on my own.
I loaded my little Colorado with my dirt bike, mtn bike, club canopy, tools, gas can, moto gear, ice chest, bike stand, ramp, chair, and clothes. To say the least, that little five foot bed was loaded. I broke the trip up into two stops on the way down. One of the stops was in Lake Havasu to see Eric #33 and Cheryl McKenna. We had a nice visit over dinner, talking about the race, my trip, and what they have been doing, it was good to see them.
The next day Eric and I met with Don Rohmann and Mark Kaestner for a mtn bike ride in the desert. It was a nice ride and just the right amount of miles to stay loose for the upcoming weekend. That night Don, Laura (Don’s wife), Mark, June (Mark’s wife), Eric, Cheryl (Eric’s wife) and I went out for Thursday night tacos and libations. It was really nice catching up on what everyone has been doing.
I left Friday morning to get on the road for practice that started at 2:00. I arrived at the track, and was setting up the club canopy when I heard familiar voices. It was Duane and Debbie Quick! It was really nice to see them. It had been snowing in Reno and they decided to make the trip down South for some nicer weather. The track was pretty much the same layout as years past, with the exception of the entrance to the track off the starting line.
I did three or four sessions and felt comfortable, decided to lock up my bike, get something to eat and find my hotel.
Saturday was a good day and we had really good weather. The sun was warm and no wind. Canyon MX track has always been a Vet friendly track, but when you add a little water the track has its challenges. I did ok Saturday and finished the day in the top five and injury free.
Sunday was a whole different challenge. The wind was blowing from North to South at about 60+ mph. The track is laid out from East to West. With the wind there were only two young support class riders that I saw doing any of the jumps. I went out for my warm up and my bike was making some unusual noises. I went back to the pit to investigate and found the top shock bolt missing. With urgency I went to the pit service truck to see if they could help. He was unable to find a bolt that would work and suggested leave your bike here and ask around. I started to jog threw the pit asking if anyone had a bolt that would work because I’m in the first moto and time was a factor. I found one guy that handed me a box full of assorted bolts and I returned to my bike. The gentleman went through the box and was unable to find anything that would work. He told me go get ready for your moto, your bike will be ready. I ran up to my truck got a drink, grabbed my helmet, gloves and ran back to the service truck. As I approached he had my bike running, off the stand and said good luck. I was like what? He said I borrowed a bolt off another bike, come back after your last moto.
I ended up with a 4th place overall for the weekend in the 60+ expert class. If it wasn’t for that guy (I don’t have his name) I would have never made my moto, thank you. Duane Quick finished the weekend with a 2nd overall in the 75+ Expert class.
On my way home I stayed with the legend Eric #33 in Lake Havasu again. Eric’s new bike garage will make any man jealous. Now his “I love Me Room”, just kidding Eric, that Cheryl put together for him of all the accomplishments and memories they have together is just a step back in time. From racing in Europe, being featured in magazines, and the stories they have from when they first met in high school, through all the moto years to present is just simply impressive. Eric was a Loomis/Folsom Cali guy and I was a Sacramento guy. We both worked in the same industry, but didn’t meet until later in life, damn, I would have loved to have trained with him.
Eric invited me to stay another night because a few friends were going on a ride for tacos the next day. I accepted, but didn’t realize that going for tacos was an 87 mile ride across the desert with some of the elite dirt bike riders in the sport! Eric said, “Your bike won’t make it.” He loaned me his KTM 500 EX with this big oversized tank, bark busters, and outfitted for the desert. Those bark busters have been used many times over (Not a good sign).
We took off right from Eric’s house, and started up a sand wash. We used a couple of paved roads and ended up at Don Rohmann”s (Recon’s) house. As I was looking at Don’s bike, I realize that we were waiting for another legend, Mark Kaestner. I thought to myself, “What have I got myself into!” The four of us took off across the desert, and I realized that this desert terrain is a whole different beast. I also realized very shortly into the ride, these guys want to test my abilities to the fullest.
As we went across several mountain ranges, I realized we were crossing them all at the peaks. Literally, it’s a single track where you can’t stop because the trail is so narrow that you can’t put a foot down. This was where I started telling myself, “Keven, don’t panic,” and “Just keep your momentum.” That’s when the ride even got more adventurous. My first of many hill climbs had lose rock and sand that didn’t allow any traction. Yep, you got it! I lost traction and find myself on the ground! This was just the first of many falls.
Later, we came to a very big sand hill, something like Glamis or Sand Mountain. Everyone made the ride up with success, and I watched Mr. Kaestner rail the top of a big berm/hill like he was on a moto-cross track. I tried just a straight line up the hill, but didn’t have enough speed. I buried the back tire and just stepped off the bike. Eric came up to assist me in getting the 500 turned around, which is not easy in the sand. I went back down and said to myself, “Oh hell no! I’m not going to let this hill get the best of me!” I went back up like I was going up Mt Saint Hellen at Glen Helen and was able to complete the task.
We made it to the taco stand after about three hours of riding, and they all had more than one laugh at my expense. I am pleased to say that the tacos were good and we all left with full stomachs. On the way back, I hit a covered rock in a sand wash and went down again. Of course, when I hit the ground, I hit a rock with my left thigh that gave me a very nice charlie horse, I shook it off and got back on the bike.
So let me see, that’s about five tip overs, and one small get off, so far. They had been telling me all day, you can’t stand up going up these hills. It’s totally different riding in the desert than on a track. You have to keep consistent speed, sit down towards the back and slip the clutch. That’s a lot to take in when you’ve been riding moto-cross tracks.
Now, let’s get to the granddaddy of them all. I was following Eric and I was feeling that with all their instruction, I may have this down enough to get through this ride. We went up this hill, and of course I loose traction, AGAIN! I stepped off the bike and lost my footing, went backwards… and end up stepping into a cactus bush. I peeled off the bush like shrugging off a tackle, and started running down the hill. I got to the bottom and couldn’t keep up with my momentum, and did a face plant right in front of Don and Mark, who had front row seats to it all. If that was on video I would be a You Tube Star, lol.
I picked myself up, and of course, join the hysterical laughter coming from Don. I lifted my left hand up because it was killing me only to find barbed cactus thorns from the tip of my pinky finger down the blade of my hand to my wrist. I started pulling them out and quickly realized that they were pulling my skin through the glove and wouldn’t come out.
Mark came over to assist me as I laughed and screamed at the same time. I told him to hang on, and let me get three of the gloved fingers away from my hand. I said, “Grab the glove, and on three I’m going to pull!” Mark ask, “Dude are you sure?” I wasn’t, but it had to be done, so… 1, 2, 3, OUCH, Sh*%, F@$#, Damn that hurt!! Thankfully, there was just a little blood (lol) and Mark was then able to pull out about 30 to 40 cactus barbs out of my hand.
Oh yea! desert riding, “You just have to love it!” I got back on the bike, and with determination, I grabbed a hand full of throttle, went up that hill so fast I almost went off the top into a drop off canyon on the other side. They all had to calm me down a little and told me, “Next time don’t let go of the bike when you fall.” I asked “What do you mean?” They all said, “You were lucky that you were able to run down that hill. You could have just ran yourself off a cliff and killed yourself or broke your neck. The bike will dig into the terrain and save you.” I thought, REALLY GUYS! That wasn’t something you all couldn’t have told me before we started this ride, lol.
The desert has a beauty all its own, but man, is it a challenge to ride. In closing I hope you all got a good laugh at my expense. You all are up to date and my next adventure will be much shorter. Here is to good times, and the memories we make along the way. Thank you to everyone who made this adventure a time I will never forget. I would also like to thank Doug McCaleb 21J again for all those years he entertained us with his writing.
Keven #359, out!
Hey everyone! I’m going to attempt to write something for you all to enjoy. It’s been a lot of fun reading the blog from 21J Doug McCaleb these last few years, and we all appreciate the work he put into it. It will be very hard to take over, but I hope you will enjoy it just as much. I’m going to go back a little bit and start my adventure in Peoria Arizona for round 1 in March 2019. This was my very first race in the Expert class, and I did ok in this new class. I was excited for the rest of the season and was looking forward to it.
The second round of racing was held in Fernley NV April. I wanted to be prepared and was practicing at the Fernley track the week before the race. I arrived at the track and didn’t realize that it was open to the public, and not maintained on a regular basis. There is literally no gate to even enter the track! As I stood in the bed of my truck, after unloading my bike and gear, I took a 360 degree video of nothing but desert and a deserted parking lot and track. That’s right, there was not one person there.
I decided to ride anyway, and realized very quickly that the track didn’t flow the way it did the year before. I turned around and found, somewhat, of a track going the right way. I had no idea when the track was last prepped prior to my arrival. After my first session, I realized that the wind Fernley gets made the track feel like I was riding on cement. I sent some of my MX buddies my video and told them I was going to go out again. It’s not a good idea to ride by yourself, so I kept a few people in the loop.
Second session, I was going a little faster and felt better about the track. As I sat in the pit replenishing my body, and getting ready for my third session, I realized, “I’m still the only one here!” As I did a couple more laps I really started to find my groove (All of you know what I’m talking about). I took a left hand berm and was going just a little too fast and too high, when the top of the berm gave out.
The berm gave way from my front tire, caught my back tire, and all I could think was, this is where my trip to the hospital begins! I remember hanging on to the bars and my feet, legs and body were above me. I assume I hit the ground, with my heels and legs first, and was knocked out. When I woke up with pain from my ribs I started to crawl to my bike.
At that time, my bike was no longer running, and I had no idea how long I had been knocked out. I reached my bike and pulled it up to my knees. I then pressed the bike up as I was still on my knees. I got up on my bike, and thanked God that I could! I was also thankful that my bike has an electric start. I started my bike and rode as slow as I could back to the pit. As I was approaching my truck, two guys where just arriving. They came over and asked, “Do you want us to call 911?” I said no because us motocross riders feel that we know what we need, right?
They loaded my bike and I got in my truck. That’s when I realized that I still had all my riding gear on; boots, knee braces, chest protector, and neck brace. I got back out of my truck because, as all of us know, it’s kind of hard to drive with all that gear on! I knew that there was nothing I could do for my ribs, and elected to not go to the hospital right away. The next day, however, I was still in pain. I thought, “Yah, I should go to the hospital.” Several x-rays later the doctor tells me, “Yes, Mr. Stewart, you have seven fractured ribs. BUT, what you don’t know is you broke both of your legs as well!” There went the rest of my 2019 season! My recovery took some time, as injuries like that always do. But, as soon as I was cleared, I was back on my bike. How is it that we forget the pain that we just went through?
The 2020 season started in March in Peoria Arizona at Canyon MX Park. The Sierra chapter had a good showing for the 1st round with Bret Eckert, Wayne Halozan, Bill Buffington, Mark Lane, Eric Mckinna, Mark Castner, Duane Quik, and Tay Gagg; just to name a few.
As I was sitting on the line in this new, exciting, competitive class, I was full of nervous excitement and anticipation when the gate drops, and I take off. I thought, wow these guys are really, really fast! I finished the race and got back to the pit injury free and felt pretty good about my performance.
Then Bret showed up and said, “When did you pass me?” I said, “Hell I don’t know, why?” That’s when someone in the back ground yells, “Keven did you go on the wrong gate?” That’s when it hit me. I got too excited and went out with the Masters! Holy smokes Batman that’s why those guys were so fast! Let me say to all of you Masters, you guys are in a whole league of your own. With that mistake, I started all sorts of drama, and the reps had to get together and decide how to place me for that moto. That mishap was on Saturday in moto three. For the weekend I ended up with a 5th overall and if it wasn’t for the mistake who knows how I would have finished.
I’m anticipating the Fernley race in April 2020 because of what happened to me the year before. But, there was another delay, nope not another injury. Yep, you guessed it, Covid-19 hits, and no season. This brings us up to the 2021 season.
Keven #359 out