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NW Cup 2015: Round 4, Mt Hood, Oregon

Posted by Victor Sandrin at

Hey guys, it is that time again and we have another race re-recap. This one is based on the Round 4 stop of the NWCUP series, it took place at MT. Hood Ski bowl in Government Camp Oregon. Going into this round the points stands between the 4 riders were the following:

Kody Clark Cat 1 19-29 4th
Alex Wynakos Cat 1 19-29 2nd
Peter Buckley Cat 2 15-18 4th
Tyler Booth Cat 2 19-29 out from round 1 Injury

Thursday Drive/Set-up Day

Thursday was the day the team left for MT. Hood, the 5 hour drive never seemed longer with the return of Kody to racing after a bad crash at round 3. Also the return of Tyler to racing after breaking his back at the first round of NWCUP at Port Angeles in late April. Apon arrival we had found that it had still not rained since the last Mt. Hood race a month prier. We immediately changed the tires on the bikes from the Maxxis High Rollers to the Maxxis Minion tires for more side traction to help the push of the front and back tires. We also replaced fork seals on Peter’s Fork, which had been blown for some time. Overall Thursday consisted driving and bike work. And hanging out with the whole team including Tyler and his Dad Ron who showed up a couple hours after we did.

Friday Practice Day

Friday was the first official day of NW Cup which was just a practice day, the tire change from the day prior made a huge difference. Because it hadn’t rained there in almost 3 months at this point the trail had about 4 inches of soft duff dirt with hard pack underneath. It was definitely a 27.5 race course with some people (Luke Strobel) running a prototype Evil 29er Enduro bike. If you have never been to Mt. Hood Ski Bowl, the course is very fast for the first 1/3 of course. Then it goes into a nasty rock garden which is followed by a pretty tight wooded section which ended up at the final sprint to the finish line. Unlike last time at round 3 were we worked on specific sections each day. We practiced full mountain laps right away, the reason? being to get used to the soil as much as possible. To make sure every time we would come though even with a changing course we could still hit the same lines without messing up. Amazingly Friday went without any problems, Although Kody and Tyler had been a little hesitant coming back from injuries. All went well, Friday ended with everyone doing their own things for dinner. Alex and Kody made tacos, Tyler and Ron went out to dinner with a fellow Canfield rider.

Saturday Practice Day

Saturday on the schedule was the 2nd practice day, to dial in the bikes and make everyone could memories there lines and remember the areas where rocks were on the course. If there is anything to be said about the MT. Hood course this year for the 2015 season I would say it is magical. But not in the normal meaning, I mean it as you could be riding on complete hard pack dirt and the next minute you would be flying over 4 to 6 inch deep powder dirt. Or you could be riding and magically a rock would appear right in front of your front tire and you would either go down or get a pinch flat, or do extensive wheel damage. On the plus side, with all the practice the AOR team had on Friday, no one got hurt on Saturday. Kody was able to find some lines that most people had not been taking which were a little slower but stayed out of the soft rock main racing line. Giving him more speed exiting the corners. After the AOR rider found these lines, he showed the rest of the AOR team. Overall Saturday ended on a good note, not much was different from Friday (riding wise). Saturday night we went to Peter’s parent’s cabin that they had rented for the weekend and had a huge dinner. All of the stuff a rider should eat before a race day was made from scratch, everyone was passed out by 10PM to ensure a good full night’s sleep before Sunday’s race day. Mechanically all the bikes were still 100% other than a couple broken shifter cables.

Sunday Race Day

Sunday marked the official round 4 race day of the NWCUP series, If you can imagine an over confident warrior that is how the AOR team was before the racing started, over confident and not a care. Just counting down the minutes to the gate drop, so they could unleash hell on the race course. Letting everything they had hang out. Like a mid-evil warrior charging across a field into a million battling warriors. In this case the battling warriors is the track/rocks/ruts/tree roots and bike mechanicals all trying there hardest to destroy and take down the AOR riders, and all riders.

Kody was the first of the AOR riders to launch, if you have never seen this kid race. It is the most intense thing you will see. Coming from a professional motocross back round he knows nothing than giving it everything he has and pushing the absolute limit of focus and talent.  You would think most people would say positive things to themselves during a race run. Examples being, ok I'm doing well, that line was perfect, remember to breathe, they was perfect and you got this. Not Kody, The second that gate dropped it was almost as if you could see him go from person to machine, his legs turning into huge pistons and his heart going from a normal heart beat to absolutely no beat at all. He is a very physiological rider, he is able to get deep inside of his own mind and tune everything out. If you talk to anyone around him before the gate drops they will tell you, it is like talking to a zombie. He doesn't reply nor does he move, if you weren't staring at him you wouldn't even know he blinks.

If you have never been to MT. Hood it is very unique as you can see the entire trail of cannonball which is about the 1st 1/3rd of the race course. From the top you can also hear the rider’s and bikes before they tuck into the rock garden. Watching Kody attack this was absolutely the craziest thing I’ve ever witnessed, not in the fact that it was necessary fast. But it was insanely aggressive, you could hear the AOR rider not just saying things to himself but screaming out loud to himself. Horribly nasty things. Some of which I won’t put into this article but what I can put in here. Things like, you suck, you’re going to fail, get off the brakes you coward, get back to pedaling you p****, you are failing. And other things along those lines.  Not to mention he never stopped pedaling even when he was on the brakes his legs never stopped keeping the forward drive. As I said earlier it was like he was a robot, or something possessed.

Not even 2 minutes later the next rider on deck was Alex Wynakos, as if 1 AOR rider wasn’t enough on course. Now another AOR warrior was on deck. I happened to have a walkie talkie with me tuned into the same channel as the course officials so I knew who was about to launch down the course when I heard “Alex Wynakos rider 177 dropping in 10. A few seconds later I heard the count down.

5…
4…
3…
2…
1…

I look up the course because at this point I had walked far enough down the course to be able to look up and see the starting gate. I hear the gate drop and the dust rise. Alex had dropped and was on a mission, which he should be, at this point in the series he was sitting in 2nd place overall. Not to mention he could see the ride Kody was putting in from the top of the hill also, Alex knew he had to ride that fine line between man/machine to evenly match that pace. When Alex passed me it was nothing but tactical, it was as if I was watching a ninja in real life. Every part of him and the bike was working as if it was 1 thing. From his head to the tires it was complete perfection as he dropped into the sharp quick decent before entering the cannonball run. Still being able to see the trail from where I had been sitting I watched Alex negotiate cannonball. Left turn, jump, right turn, jump back into another left turn. It was perfect, so incredibly smooth. Like that he was gone, disappearing out of my sight and into the smiling devilish grin of satins rock garden.

A couple hours later Tyler Booth was on deck for his category 2 19-29 class. By this point I had made it down to the bottom of the race course, where both Kody and Alex where sitting watching the TV monitor with all the rider’s times on it. Tyler was the first rider in his class to come down, so he had the unfortunate stressed out feeling waiting for the rest of his class to come down. The 2nd rider to come down was 15 seconds behind Tyler, immediately all hopes went sky high for the returning AOR rider, who had a very good race run with no mistakes. Unfortunately for Tyler the hot seat was short lived as the kid who won the class came though and was another 15 seconds above Tyler’s time, that kid would go on to win the overall in his class by 9 seconds. But not all hopes were lost yet. Tyler’s main goal was to just finish in the top 10, which he struggled to do last season without injury. Himself and His fellow team mates sat there just staring at the TV monitor as Tyler’s time slowly fell, on the plus side however out of the 30+ riders Tyler’s time was good enough for 8th place and he was over joined. Coming back from even a basic injury is never easy, better yet coming back from a compression fractured T9 vertebrae.

The next rider on deck was the last AOR rider of the day. Peter Buckley, by this time I had hikes up to the MT. Hood famous double log drop where most people heckle the cat 2 riders. Leading into the double log drop is some nasty tight corners chicaning through huge trees. I heard over my walkie talkie that peter had launched so I knew in a matter of a minute or two I would see the AOR rider come through the trees. Peter was one of the first riders in his class to launch, with about 25 total riders in his class. Once I saw peter, it was clear he was out go get a podium. He was tired of getting those 5th 6th 7th place finished and was hungry for that top step. His intensity was spot on and his breathing was very quiet, which in the sport of Down Hill usually means the rider still has a lot of energy left. When peter passed me it almost seemed slow motion. Like a junk yard dog, peter was wide eyed with a sadistic snarl on his face, nothing but a pure power house. Man handling the bike through the tight corners putting it where ever he wanted it to go. Which was a good sign for Peter because all that was left was a huge sprint to the finish line. Which is exactly what he did. Peter went flying through the finish line like his worst enemy was there and he just wanted to kill him. It was a extremely quick time. Placing 3rd overall in his class, he had done it. His first podium finish!.   

NW Cup 2015 Round 4 Race Day Recap

Sunday was amazing for the AOR team. With Kody’s effort it landed him in the lead of his class, winning his first ever NWCUP series race. Not to mention he won by over 3 seconds and it bumped him back up to second in the points. Which is where he was before crashing and DNF’ing the previous round. Alex’s race was really good as well. Landing him a solid forth, which put him down into 4th in the overall points. The difference between Kody in 2nd overall and Alex in 4th overall is less than 20 points going into round 5. With leader Nate Chenye in the overall leading by 80 points. Peter’s race landed him in 3rd overall which was the cat 2 rider’s first podium finish of his DH career. And he made him tied for points in 3rd overall with the same kid he has been going back and forth with so far this whole season. Tyler ended up 8th in his race run, unfortunately he isn’t able to qualify for the overall rewards but he is now sitting 25th overall between the 50 cat 2 19-29 riders who had earned points so far this year.

Points As They Stand Now

Kody Clark Cat 1 19-29… 2nd overall
Alex Wynakos Cat 1 19-29… 4th  overall
Tyler Booth cat 2 19-29… 25th overall
Peter Buckley cat 2 15-18… Tied for 3rd overall. 


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