Welcome to Quick Fill.
Wow. Round one is already in the books and boy was it a great weekend. It started off a little muddy in some areas but as the weekend wore on conditions just got better and better. By the end of the weekend there were even some poofs of dust here and there but the overwhelming majority of the Big Buck property was darn near perfect. It was also exciting to see two riders win who had never won the opening round before, and that really makes things interesting heading to round two.
If you happen to miss it, Brycen Neal emerged with the ATV win and Grant Baylor came away with the bike win. Both of these guys were kind of quiet during the off-season and seemed to somewhat fly under the radar until the race weekend. For Brycen, while it was his first opening round win, it was somewhat business as usual as he won three of the last four races in 2020. For Grant, it was a huge feat as it was his first straight up win (he did win The John Penton a few years back after penalties were assessed) and it was his first win aboard his new KLM GasGas ride in the team’s first GNCC event.
These were just two huge parts of the weekend at Big Buck but there were plenty of other big moments as well. Cody Collier topped the 4x4 Pro class, while Hannah Hunter picked up where she left off on the WXC ATV side, while Rachael Archer started the 2021 season in the same way she ended 2020 by winning the WXC bike class. Then on top of all these, Mike Witkowski picked up the XC2 bike win ahead of Craig Delong and Lyndon Snodgrass. This makes it look like there is sure to be another heated battled in the XC2 ranks this season.
The GNCC Track Crew got the Big Buck Farm cleaned up Monday and made a pit stop at Aonia Pass Motocross, home of The General GNCC to scout things out for round three. We’ve got a pretty fun loop planned out for The General, and we even found some ways to mix things up and make it a good bit different than last year’s two Georgia events. The other side of the property where we had the entire event based out of years ago has opened back up a bit as the farm animals occupying those fields have moved to a new home.
The big fenced in area in the back of that field is totally open now, and in addition to running that side of the woods a bit different, we’ve thrown a few grass track turns back into that field as well. If you’re not a big field section fan, don’t worry, we’re only talking about 6 turns total and that includes what gets you back across to the woods on the main side of the property. I spent our two days in Georgia figuring that side out and haven’t really seen what Ryan has laid out on the motocross side of the property but he also says that side feels a lot different than it has and the trails are linked together a bit differently.
With Georgia in the rearview mirror, the track crew now has our eyes set on Florida as we’re making the trip down right about the same time this edition of Quick Fill goes live. Obviously, next week I’ll have the lowdown on what to expect out of the Wild Boar GNCC so be sure to check back then. In the meantime, I did get a word from Vet A racer, Nathan Alering, with some advice and suggestions on preventing blisters in the grueling Florida sand…
Lots of money is spent on new bikes, mods, gear and getting ready to be at our best when the season starts. All this prep starts to go down the drain when soft winter hands start turning into blistered hands after a few laps. If you work a manly job using your hands and or have been riding sand whoops all winter you might be good but if not you may be a little soft coming into the season after a solid winter of minimal riding. There are a few ways to get through this without destroying your hands. Over the years I have seen some really bad blister pics especially this time of year, super painful looking and definitely having a negative impact on people's results.
I'd like to share some tips to help prevent this and help riders focus on the track, not the pain of blisters breaking open. There are a few techniques that can be used here. One technique is glove liners, this technique is pretty common and can drastically help. It does change the feel of your grip and makes the grip a little fatter, which could contribute to the dreaded arm pump. This is a pretty common method used by some of the pros though. Another method is a pad called palmsavers, I haven't actually used these but again they add a layer of protection at the cost of extra thickness to your grip. These also don't offer any thumb protection so if your thumb is an issue those won't help there but can otherwise help. The final option and in my opinion "THE BEST" option is taping up with a purpose made tape like my product at www.holditwide.com. @holditwide tape is a pre-cut form fitting thin tape with very strong adhesive. All tape is not created equal. This tape comes in two options, one is full hand which includes a piece for your palm and thumb x 11 sets, the other option is thumb only and includes enough for 33 races. This tape has been used and is used by some of the top Pros and top A riders as well as many amateur level riders with great results. Pro tip: use exhaust to heat it up after gloves are on and it really sticks. Whatever option you choose, don't give your competition any advantage by missing this small but important detail in the goal of running up front this season.
Thanks Nathan! I’m actually going to keep this week’s edition of Quick Fill on the “quick” side as we’ve got a busy day on our end making the move down to Florida. So, I’ll turn things over to Mr. Ken Hill with his words for this week. Enjoy your weekend and we’ll see you back here next week for another edition of Quick Fill!
Catching Up With Ken Hill (Ken Hill)
Well it appears mother nature wanted to see a race and dealt us all with conditions that ranged from yucky muck to near prime as we tackled another round of racing at Big Buck! I have to admit, looking at the forecast when I arrived in town did not look promising. My email and social media was on fire as folks from all over were giving me the local take on things as well as from afar as racers not only faced the upcoming conditions but the conditions at home as a snow and ice event slammed a large majority of the racin’ nation! I was getting calls from my wife who is about as far over this winter as one can get, however, I was listening to those who do this and have done this forever and I trust them.
As I sloshed around getting some pitshots, I had fun teasing everyone with a few puddles as I tried telling folks it was going to be some good stuff if they could manage a safe evacuation from the icy grip to our north. Trust me, the staff running this show doesn’t want crap conditions no more than you or I so when I see them with smiles on and upbeat attitudes I know we are going to be just fine. I also have seen them shake their heads ruefully and try to make the best of things so they full well know your experience at an event depends heavily on their experience and knowledge of how to lay out a course. Kudos to all of the track crew as they once again gave everyone the best they could offer.
Now just because things improved as the hours went by doesn’t mean a few classes did not bore the brunt of the top layer of clay that gave them a very challenging track. Guess what? They handled it like the competitors they are and will become as every race gains them the experiences they need to succeed. By Saturday afternoon things were really shaping up, but some mud remained coating everyone in the same monochromatic colors that makes identifying folks difficult. It wasn’t hard to see Brycen Neal take a tumble in the second turn but there was just enough dust thrown up and sheer chaos that many missed Walker Fowler suffering the same fate just a few quad lengths ahead!
As the race unfolded it wasn’t long before these two were upfront and charging as mistakes cost positions and their speed put them where they wanted to be. When the checkered flag flew, it was Brycen Neal coming out on top with a cheerful but disappointed Walker Fowler taking second. I suspect we will be watching these two very closely as the season digs in and we get through the first few rounds and if Brycen can hold his momentum and not suffer from mechanical issues or plain bad luck, we might see a real battle for the XC1 championship. Hunter Hart claimed 3rd as he was all smiles on the podium as he relayed his race to the fans. With just one round down, its anyone’s guess who will rise to be a podium threat however Hart is in a great position to have his best season ever.
Earlier in the day we had another tight battle as Cody Collier finally got in front of Landon Wolfe and stayed there for the 4x4 Pro win! There was way too much chatter for me to listen in as they both spoke of the days ups and downs but Wolfe might have a real fight on his hands if Collier can settle in to a solid rhythm and keep his quad together be it parts breakage or rider error. If he can manage that then all bets are off as to who will be crowned champion later this season. Best of luck to both of them as they provide an action packed race every round. Robbie Pecorari rounded out the top three after a solid effort here at the Buck.
Speaking of solid efforts, reigning WXC champ Hannah Hunter powered her way to the class win and would be joined by Jessica Elioff in second with Katelyn Osburn in third. Hunter winning is becoming the new norm however the switch to WXC for Elioff should be getting some serious attention as she put in a great race earning her that podium finish. Did the WXC class just get interesting, again? I hope so, watching these ladies battle then get all lady like afterwards is a hoot! Best of luck to all of that class and I for one will be keeping a very close eye on who’s doing what!
Sundays are the day were I can just take pictures as I don’t delve into the race stuff regarding the bikes. It is a relief in many ways but over the past decade I’ve been sucked in and find myself listening and watching more and more every year. I mean c’mon man, Steward Baylor was indeed the Vegas pick right up until he was advised by his doctor to sit this one out. Total bummer, I mean his fans were in a tizzy but we all know if Stu could have safely raced he would have and his health is more important than having to sit out a race. Him listening to his doctor was one of his more clever decisions and I personally am thankful for him following directions.
With Stu out and Kailub retired the doors were wide open for someone to pounce on the opening round and make it their own. If someone had asked me after the news broke on Stu, I would have laid my bet on Ben Kelley or Thad Duvall for no other reason than they are both fast, calculating and fierce competitors. And as the race started and progressed, indeed those three were up there in the mix as well as Josh Strange who one can never count out of the fight. So when the white flag came out the radios were filled with updates as Grant Baylor and Ben Kelley and Thad Duvall were basically nose to tail as they raced through the early miles of the final lap. When Grant emerged I was elated along with so many others to see a Baylor still claim the win for no other reason that it will keep things jumping! As a fan of racing you tend to cheer on anyone who is an underdog, which I wouldn’t classify Grant as but in the big picture he hasn’t gotten the hoopla thrown on him as others. Well even is Grant wasn’t on your A list he earned that win and did it in grand style. Coming into the 2021 season on a new ride, a new team and maybe a new outlook, Grant could emerge as a powerhouse this year. He has just about everything at his disposal to get the job done and with the support of his new team, 2021 looks very bright.
Thad Duvall would charge hard but come up just a bit short and settle for second here at Big Buck. It was very telling about what he has had to face in the off-season as he described swallowing his pride and getting some serious coaching from the man himself, Kailub Russell. With Russell out of the fight, Thad stands amongst the highest talent in the series and with the hard edges polished to a knife edge he might just be the last man standing late in the season when we crown a champion! Joining Baylor and Duvall on the podium would once again be Josh Strang. Josh had a very solid effort in 2020 and it appears he is ready to push even harder this season. Third may not be exactly where he wanted to be but it’s a good start on the new season. You just can’t keep Josh down!
Hey that’s about all from me this week as I actually am getting this in a full day early even though I am actually a day behind due to Monday being a travel day but I will take it! Last week I missed it being Thursday until it was Friday so yeah, its been like that! As always, may the good Lord continue to bless us all and please, be safe in all you do! See you in Florida!