Michael Allen King of the Motos Race Reportposted Feb 6, 2013
Tags: Racing, General News All Article Tags
In early December, I saw a race flyer on Facebook about KOM. I had heard about it last year and thought it looked fun and challenging, so I decided to look into entering. Then came the price tag. Three hundred dollars per entry sounded a bit much just for the privilege of destroying your own motorcycle without the guarantee of even finishing. I got a call from Adam Booth of Dirt Rider Magazine asking if I was thinking of entering the race. I told him I had thought about it, but didn’t think I was going to be able to make it. He then gave me the opportunity that was impossible to pass up; he said that my entry would be compensated and Dirt rider would have a 2013 KTM 250xc with all the armor and goodies I could dream of, if I was still interested in racing. I couldn’t pass this opportunity up. I got the bike two weeks prior to the race, put all the accessories on it and took it for a ten mile shakedown ride. KTM’s always feel a little different to me; they seem wide at the knees when sitting and the pegs seem low, yet with a little seat time I was right at home and ready to take on KOM.
I arrived in Johnson Valley Saturday morning, so I could do a little riding before the event and see what the course was like since it was open to pre running. I had brought my 2003 YZ 125 along so I could pre run on it instead of taking a chance of breaking the KTM. Saturday afternoon, I went on a ride with Destry Abbott and Taylor Robert to check out the course, we headed up some fairly technical trails. My 125 was struggling, but made every climb and rock garden before heading back to camp. That evening I did some last minute tweaking on the KTM, mounted the Trail Tech Voyager GPS unit on board and went to sleep in the bed of my truck hoping for a successful race day.
At about 3am race day I was awakened by rain drops which forced me to put all my stuff under my truck so it wouldn’t be soaked, then get on my cab and get as cozy as possible and try and get some sleep. I finally got up around 6am, ate some breakfast, had a protein shake, got my gear on, and headed over to the start. This race was different in that there was no outside assistance of any kind. No one could hand you water, food, or help with the bike in any way. We were informed it would be a dead engine start and drew a number for position on the starting line. I drew 25th, yet didn’t mind because I knew a 160 mile race isn’t won from the start. Every time I test started the KTM in gear it fired right up first kick.
I had tried it with the starter but it seemed faster with the kick starter. As the grand marshal of the race, Larry Roeseler, raised the green flag, my heart pounded and I could hardly wait to get things going.
Roeseler dropped the flag and without hesitation I gave the bike a full swat, dropped the clutch and grabbed a hand full of throttle, all to no avail as it took two kicks to get the engine running. After getting moving, l came into the first turn in about 5th place. As I was going down the first hill, I fell over and got passed by quite a few riders, but I got up quick and continued on my way. The first ten miles were fast with one quick pit stop to top off my gas. I left there and crossed a few valleys enroute to the first technical canyon. As I entered the canyon, I took off my goggles and worked on my breathing, trying to not overheat and use too much energy. The canyon was not the hardest, but it was by far the longest of the day. The rocks weren’t too big or loose, but around every turn they seemed to be never ending. Once we got to the top of the canyon we had a short downhill wash, then a wide open lake bed that led to the next difficult section. We were led up some rocky climbs and along some narrow ridges before heading down some very steep, soft sand hills that were littered with rocks.
Once at the bottom I went through a check point and rounded the first corner. I looked up, there were a lot of people and I realized we were going to have to ascend the “jackhammer,” a well-known rocky climb. As I headed up, I was surprised that it wasn’t as bad as I had imagined it would be, yet as I reached the summit my bike was hissing at me and had lost a little water. I topped off the radiator with water from my camelback and continued on, going up and down countless rocky canyons and mountain passes. The last hard climb before the pit was called “chocolate thunder,” It consists of large boulders in a bed of sand that ascends at a very steep, seemingly never ending, climb. Again, the bike boiled over, but I kept riding knowing the pit was near. I arrived at the pit and got the chance to take a breather, refuel my bike, fill the coolant, eat some food, and refilled my camel pack.
I left the gas stop not knowing what to expect before returning to the main pit. About two miles into the course, I looked down at my GPS and realized I was off course I turned around and headed back about two miles before finding the turn I had missed. In that process, I had been passed by a rider so I turned up my intensity a little and was able to pass him back before entering a rock garden. I had a good line up a cliff but gave it a little too much gas looping out the bike and getting passed again. Yet, only a few miles further came to find the same rider urinating in his radiator because his bike had over heated and he had no spare water, thinking to myself, desperate times call for desperate measures. From there on, the course was fairly easy with the exception of two obstacles. First, there was a sand hill that was very long and soft with rocks at the top that made keeping momentum very difficult. Then, a very long, downhill canyon that was filled with refrigerator sized boulders and anything but a traveled line. Once I passed these sections, I had gone eighty miles in four hours, and had reached the main pit and was able to refuel my bike and body before starting the second loop.
The second loop was identical to the first with one exception; the start of loop two sent us up the “Back Door,” a very rocky climb with numerous cliffs to ascend. It took me about 15 minutes to clear the section and I was off to the remote gas stop. I stopped again and refilled everything, ate some protein bars that I had duct tapped to my gas can, and drank some water knowing I was going to need a lot of energy to finish this race. The second loop went pretty much the same as the first but much slower, with stopping and eating, drinking water, and just catching my breath. I was pushing my body to the limit; it kept telling me to stop and go back to the truck but I refused. I had committed to something and I was determined to finish what I had set out to achieve. The second loop differed in one other way. I had been riding for so long that all the top riders had finished, the only spectators on the course were my friends and girlfriend, as everyone else had gone back to camp. It meant so much to me that they were still there, cheering me on and keeping me motivated. Max Gerston was nice enough to stop and give me an energy gel pack on the trail as he could see I was hurting and in need of some energy.
After my last gas up I knew I had two hours to finish the race due to the ten hour time limit. I pushed myself and stayed mistake free. The only problems I had in the last leg of the race were the same sections that troubled me on the first loop. First, the sand hill, which took me three tries to climb, because my tire looked like it had gone through a cheese grater and had turned into a slick. Then, going down the rocky canyon before the finish, the bike flipped over and landed with all the weight of the entire bike on my leg. The pain was horrible and all I wanted to do was give up and relax, but I knew the pain of quitting and knowing I had failed would trump pain in my leg any day. I got up, started the bike and rode the remaining five miles to the finish with pain shooting up my leg. I was the last pro finisher and crossed the line in twelfth place with fifty-six minutes to spare.
After being on the bike for nine hours and four minutes I had gotten used to the KTM and become quite fond of the orange machine. The hydraulic clutch was amazing and felt like butter all day, the bottom end power was unreal and the bike never seemed to load up no matter how much I lugged it. The electric starter was by far the best feature of the bike, I cannot imagine how tired I would have been if I had been forced to kick this bike every time I stalled it in the rocks. I also think having great AME grips and Fasst company flex bars saved my hands from getting destroyed. The Trail Tech Voyager unit was fairly simple once I was given basic instructions. It was easy to view on the fly and also easy to change modes while riding. The only issue I had with the unit was that at times it showed me being off track, so I would change course to follow the GPS line only to have it jump back to where I had originally been. All the guards that were put on the KTM definitely went above and beyond their duties protecting the bike’s vital organs.
When it was all said and done, I would put this event near the top of my list of difficult races I have entered, although I was a little disappointed that when I crossed the finish line there was just a woman sitting there with a checkered flag and no one else around to check my number plate for checkpoint stickers, check my IRC tracker, or shake my hand and say thank you for coming out. It seemed that as soon as the big names were finished the promoters didn’t care about the rest of the field. I think that they could have made the terrain much more challenging without having the race be 160 miles long, I think it was the mileage that was more challenging than the terrain. I was also disappointed that after a three hundred dollar entry fee, and beating up your motorcycle all day you were given nothing to show for it; a finisher pin would have meant a lot to me personally. I would first like to thank Dirt Rider Magazine for always giving me amazing opportunities and top notch motorcycles to ride. I’d like to thank my sponsors, AmsOil, Moose Racing, Fasst company, TBT racing, Total Chaos Fabrication, AME, Motion Pro, Dunlop, Acerbis, SIDI, AVIK graphics, and last but not least, my family, girlfriend, and friends for continued support.