Last Dog Standing Race Report
I had been waiting for this race all year, training at the gym, hydrating, and riding as much as possible. At my last race, my YZ 250 blew up so I was deciding what I was going to ride for Last Dog standing; it was either my YZ 125 or my XR600, either of which seemed less than ideal. Then I got a phone call from friend and assistant editor at Dirt Rider magazine. We were chatting about LDS (Last Dog Standing) and he wondered what I would be riding. I told him my options, he laughed, and told me to hold on and he would call me right back. A few hours later he called me and wanted to know if I would be interested in riding the 2012 YZ 250f that he raced Endurocross with. I was shocked and stuttered out an excited YES! The next Monday I went out to Dirt Rider, picked up the bike, and on Friday went to Milestone MX to ride it and get acquainted with the Rekluse clutch. I fell in love with the bike, the clutch, and was ready for Saturdays event.
We got to the track at about 7am Saturday morning, got suited up and rode to the start. I was the expert line which was line 2. As the flag dropped I got a one kick start but didn’t have the motor that a lot of the other bikes had to the first corner. I noticed everybody was bunching up on the inside except for Skyler Howes. I followed him outside and we came into the second corner in first and second place in Expert. I tailed him for about half a lap until he found a slippery spot in a corner and laid it down. From there I took over the lead. When I came around to the Endurocross section on lap 2, I found a bottleneck like I had never seen before. I was told by a course worker that all the pros were just going around it, so I did the same for the remaining laps. I ended up winning the expert line of the qualifier which put me on line 3 for the start if LDS 1.
After drinking some water and prepping my bike, I went to the line to start LDS 1. I started next to one of the Goolsby brothers which scared me knowing how fast they are. I got a one kick start and got to the first turn in the lead. We went back and forth a few times on the track, but once we got into the really technical stuff I never felt any pressure from anyone. LDS 1 was challenging but not overly tough. Getting a good qualifying time helped tremendously, because I didn’t have to deal with any bottlenecks. Half way through, I noticed a little dust in the distance, it started getting thicker and next thing I knew Kyle Redmond was in front of me going up a nasty rock canyon. I bobbled and he took off, it took me another few minutes to reel him in on the last big downhill. I thought I saw a faster line to the right so I went for it but that ended up outing me in the bushes and eventually down into a gully. I caught him again right at the finish and we went through the last two obstacles together. I ended up finishing 5th overall in LDS 1, which put me on row 3 for LDS 2.
Again I went back to my truck, cooled off, drank some water, and filled my bike up before going to the line. This time I stared next to the trials rider. We had to go under a 3 foot tall barrier just after the start, and luckily the 250F got another 1 kick start and I made it through before him. I knew I had to put time on him before we got to the real technical stuff because he was very fast in that terrain. Going over the bridge with the hanging tires I was doing great until the last tire caught my bars and looped me out going down the stairs, making me half stuck under my bike struggling to get going. Other than that LDS 2 went good until the bike started getting very hot and boiling over going up a canyon. This put coolant on the rock that I was trying to get up and just letting the wheel spin. This exhausted me; I was to the point where one eye went black and I was getting dizzy after tipping over numerous times. I knew I couldn’t stop so I dug deep and kept pushing until I finally made it up. I went through the finish of LDS 2 in 4th overall because Kyle Redmond did not start due to an ankle injury. This put me on line 2 for LDS 3.
At this point I was pretty tired, but at the time very excited to be doing so well. I also was nervous for what round 3 was going to be; It was two laps at one time and backwards. I took as long a break as I could, filled my camel back, filled my radiators, dunked my jersey in ice water and headed to the line. I started next to Max Gerston. Once again we had to go under the bridge, and I got through it first but was quickly passed by Max. I trailed him for awhile then got passed by another rider on a KTM thus putting me in 5th overall. I held this position for half of the first lap until I caught the KTM rider in a very hard uphill canyon, he was stalled out and I was able to get around him in a very creative line putting me back into 4th overall. That canyon also had one waterfall where I got help up from course workers with my bike steaming and whistling like a teapot. About 2 miles later, I got to an uphill that was very twisty, sandy and overgrown. It took me 6 tries to get up and when I did I realized I was out of water, just what you want when you have another lap to do. Coming through the start finish to begin my last lap I stopped and asked for water and luckily someone had a bottle for me to drink and a bottle to pour down my back. I headed out on the last lap just in finish mode, I knew that’s all I needed to do. Getting to the first hill climb, I pinned it and hoped for the best, but was unsuccessful. On my second try I got a good run and made it 5 feet from the top where my brother and some course workers helped me up. At this point the rear tire of the 250F was pretty much a slick. I knew I had to take it easy on it because I still had to make it up the nasty rock waterfalls and sand hills again. When I got to the waterfalls, I stopped by a check, let my bike cool down and added water knowing it lost a lot on lap one. I made it up the waterfalls with a little help from the course workers again and I was off but dreading the sand hill. I lost the course and had to backtrack for about 4 min before finding it and getting to the hill. I looked at the hill, the course worker told me no one had made it again but they made a line next to it. I tried that, it was still hard but I swept it first try. After that I knew it was smooth sailing (relatively speaking). I took my time, making sure not to make any stupid mistakes. I got to the finish in 4th place overall (out of 5 finishers) and was the only expert rider to finish every lap.
In the end I was very happy with the results of the race. All my training had finally paid off. I was beat, sunburned, had a bald rear tire, dirty, soaked in sweat, but the happiest I had been in a long time. Today my arms are covered in poison oak, and sore everywhere, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I would first like to thank Adam Booth and Chris Denison of Dirt Rider Magazine for letting me use their bike; I couldn’t have done this well without it! I would also like to thank my parents. They say this finish was my dad's fathers day present. Thank you to my sponsors for always being behind me, I am happy to represent your companies. Thanks to AMSOIL, AME grips, Fasst co, Dirt Digits MSR, SIDI, Moto Nation, TBT racing, FMF, Acerbis, Malcolm Smith Motorsports, and Total Chaos Fabrication for helping me throughout the season with assistance of all kinds.