Day 2 was not scheduled to start until 10:15, with a riders meeting at 9:45. I was up around 7 and excited to get going so I had plenty of time to get ready. At the riders meeting they mentioned that there was a mountain bike race going on and they would be using some of the same roads as we used for the transit stages. Because of that they gave everybody extra time to do the transits and let us know that there would be a forest service officer checking our speed. There would be NO tolerance for violating the 30mph speed limit on the road leading up to the start!
As we were getting ready for the start I noticed David Sammel wasn’t in his riding gear. He said he had twisted his knee on one of his crashes the day before and while it wasn’t too bad now he didn’t want to risk further injury. We were all sorry to hear he wasn’t going to ride but it was probably a smart decision. He, like me, is a 40+ guy just playing around with motorcycle racing. At the end of the weekend we all need to get back to our jobs and the real world.
Stage 5 and 6 were going to be mostly the same as stages 1 and 2 from the previous day. They had the same start and endpoint howerver there was an added section in the middle which extended the stage to 20 miles.
Stage 5 went pretty well, however towards the end I was starting to catch a little bit of dust as I started to catch up with Jim Heyder who had started 1 minute ahead of me. The problem with such a long stage is you don’t need as much of a speed difference for one bike to catch another. I also found that toward the end of such a long stage I started to loose my aggression and was slower getting back on the throttle and also rolling out of it much earlier. I realized that I was essentially just going back to my typical conservative riding style. Not to say that my “aggressive” riding is really all that much aggressive. My #1 goal is still to not hurt myself, it is just a matter of getting on the gas as soon as I can and staying in it until I am ready to break for the next corner. My corner speed is probably about the same either way however I can probably gain or loose 1/2 second on each corner. Over the course of 20 miles that probably means nearly a minute difference.
I finished stage 5 in 27:29 which was 5th fastest. Anders (the experienced rally car driver in his first rally on a bike) was starting to get into the groove and had beat me by 18 seconds. Still this was enough to keep me in 4th position for the rally.
Stage 6 was another pass of the same road as stage 5. This time we were given 2 minute intervals between starts to avoid issues with dust when catching another bike. I was a full minute faster on this stage compared to my stage 5 time! Remember my comment about making up 1/2 second on each corner? However, everybody else was even faster yet. This was the one stage of the rally where I had the slowest time. The biggest difference was Jim Heyder, he is more of a track racer and likes to see the course before he really gets on it. He was 2:23 faster stage 6 compared to his stage 5 time! Anders also beat me on this stage however this time only by 6 seconds.
Once again we were on the familiar transit route back to Snowshoe. On day 1 I had gotten back nearly 20 minutes early and we all had to sit around for quite a while before we could hand in our timecards and enter the service park (you get a penalty if you check in early). So this time I wasn’t in any sort of rush. We were all very careful on the gravel road leading back out to the highway due to the warning we had regarding the mountain bike race and the fact they WOULD be checking our speed from time to time.
I rode back with Anders and as we got there (still quite some time early) we were flagged down by the person working the check-in and told that they had decided to shorten the 1 hour service to 30 minutes (trying to get the rally back on schedule after delays earlier in the day). However, we were allowed to check in early with no penalty. If I had known this I would not have wasted so much time on route however I really didn’t need to do anything other than grab a bite to eat and dump some gas in the bike.
I was going to wrap up the story today but since this is getting a little long I think I will finish it up in a 4th installment tomorrow.