CROSS-71 Hardcore Racing: Diary of a Racing Kid By Hunter Cross After heating up my rear tire on the concrete I am watching the 30 second board and waiting for the gate to drop at Mammoth. I have a bad habit of thinking too much when I am on the gate so I try to space everything out. After my parents both give me last minute advice I do some arm pumps to get my adrenaline going and then it is time to focus. I don’t hear or see anything but the guy holding the 30 second board. When the gate drops 35 riders race straight up hill into a left turn that continues up to the top of the hill. My start isn’t the best, so I cut my line in closer to the end of the track and move into fourth and then make the pass into third. Jett Reynolds and Jeremy Ryan are just ahead of me heading toward the turn. Everyone funnels again into a left hand U-turn and straight down hill. I don’t have a problem with going up and down hills but I am looking for the smoothest line that will allow me to go down as fast as possible and miss the large bumps. As we make our way into the S-turns in the back of the track, I look for a line around Jeremy. Because the Mammoth track is in the middle of the mountains and trees most people never get to see us racing in the back section of the track. For about a third of the race we are in the trees and it is just us and the track. We race through several more S-turns, a couple sweeper turns, and small table tops. The sand section is really rough and technical, but I make my way through it. Within 45 seconds we swerve into a big right turn around another tree and we’re into the straight-away, sailing over two big table top jumps right in front of friends cheering me on. After landing the second jump we race into a tight rough corner and jump through the finish line. A few moments and we race past the mechanics area and back to the uphill we started at. 84 theROOTSMX • ISSUE 3 2014 I keep up my speed while protecting the inside lines to avoid a possible pass. Mostly I am focused on the riders in front. I keep an eye on their lines to determine what parts of the track I am faster and what parts I am losing ground. I try to make adjustments in my line selections that will allow me to catch Jeremy and set him up for a pass. The dirt has a lot of big rocks in it and in my last race when I rode close to someone to make a pass the roost really hurt. I put hand guards on my bike for this race but I still got a rock to the face that split my lip open and bruises on my arms and legs. The other big challenge of Mammoth is the altitude, the track is at 8100 feet. Breathing is hard at that altitude but the bikes also don’t like to run. Getting the right fuel mixture and jetting to get the bikes to run there is difficult. Mammoth is not only a race to challenge the riders, it also challenges the mechanics to find the best mixture to get the bikes to run the fastest. The track at Mammoth is different from most tracks I race on because the turns don’t get ruts they have berms that stay loose. Because there are no ruts it is hard to make up time on other bikes. Everyone is able to get around the track the same and there isn’t much to separate the racers on the track after the start. I take my time, getting in the flow of the race without overthinking. I am in the moment. I make it to the last lap and when I get a really good run off the single, I am side-by-side with Jeremy going into the corner. He’s on the right side, which is a little rougher, and I know I have a better run going to the corner. I get on the throttle a bit harder and make the pass on the last lap before flying over the finish line for a second place finish. I am proud of my finish. I gave it my all and beat out some very fast riders to win a bear. This year at Mammoth I raced three classes so I got in a lot of riding....can’t wait for next year!