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Ben Meza ISDE Qualifier Race Report from Washougal MX park

BLAIS RACING SERVICES RACE REPORT!

ISDE Qualifier
Washougal, WA
April 1 & 2

BY: BEN MEZA

There are a couple unique venues in the Motocross world that have been bucket list deals to me. One of which is the world famous Washougal Motocross Park. At the beginning of the year I was super excited to see Washougal on the schedule for the Western Qualifier Series. To be completely honest I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

I left work in Riverside Wednesday night at 11:30pm and headed home to Apple Valley to finish packing and load up any final things I had missed. I picked up my fiancé from her house and we met up with Brendan and my sister around 4am and headed up to Washington.

I drove the first section just passed Bakersfield, and Brendan and Sierra took over until Eugene Oregon, where I drive the final stretch into Vancouver, WA. 19 hours later we had made it. We got some dinner and then checked into our hotel to get some rest.

We woke up Friday morning around 9 and headed to Washougal to walk all of the tests. The first thing I noticed as we rolled into the track property was a beautiful grass track covering the rolling hills surrounding the track. I was so amazed that we’d be allowed to race dirtbikes in such a beautiful place!

There were two tests one being a “cross test” and the other an “enduro test.” The cross test included the whole Motocross track as well as a 5 mile grass track. The enduro test was a 3.5 mile test littered with single track, creek crossings, tight trees, rocks, as well as a little grass section. We were allowed to walk both so we all strapped on our hiking boots and got to walking. We put in a lot of miles on our feet and it was honestly so peaceful and awesome to just do that (again, I couldn’t believe we were allowed to race dirt bikes there!)

After familiarizing ourselves with the tests, Brendan and I got ourselves signed up and we all headed back into town.
Day 1: Saturday snuck up on us quick and I was so excited to get out to the track to finally race! As we left the hotel we realized that a storm had completely engulfed the surrounding area. It appeared to have been raining steadily all night and it didn’t look as if it had any plans of letting up. My excitement was quickly erased with a new found nervousness taking over. I’ve never really raced in the mud before and I didn’t know what to excpect. I was all stocked up on VonZipper Tear Offs so at least I was somewhat prepared.

When it was my turn to head into my first test, the cross test, I headed to the line. When I was told to go I pinned it to find myself sitting still while my rear wheel spun. I let off the gas and finally my bike caught traction and slowly lurched forward. As I dropped into the Moto track I shifted all my weight to the front of my bike to drop into the first berm, this caused my front tire to dive and me go sliding through the mud. It didn’t take me very long to cover myself in the slick goo… the rest of my attempts on the cross test were very similar to my first, just trying to figure out what I was doing. I was way out of my comfort zone and by the end of my third go on the cross test I had kind of figured it out and was able to do a whole lap without going down.

After the cross test we headed over to the enduro test. I wasn’t sure how I’d fair on this test either, but at least I had a basic understanding of how my bike would react in the mud. The enduro test was much tighter and I was very tentative, after my first go around I hadn’t gone down but I was feeling really slow. When I finished the loop Cody Webb came up and asked me how it went. I was honest and said I felt like a squid and had probably put in a really slow time. He said he felt the same and he told me to just pin it and stay off the front brake. I thought to myself, “if only it were that easy,” but I laughed and told him I’d give it a shot.

My next two times around the enduro test I did just what Cody had said and I went down a few times, but I also felt way faster! It was more or less holding on and going for a ride rather than trying to be in control. You just pin it and let it slide and just kind of hope for the best hahaha.
After racing was over for the day I had about 15 minutes to look over everything and make sure my bike was still in good shape. All I could see was mud, I couldn’t even see my motor. I focused on cleaning as much mud off the bike as possible and figured I would worry about the rest in my 15 minute work period the next morning.

Day 2: The next morning I was trying to go into the race with a positive outlook. It didn’t help that when I left the hotel I realized it had been raining all night… I tried to keep my positive attitude and just focus on the things in my control. The first thing I did when I got my bike out of impound was clean my chain and sprockets out with a wire brush and make sure they had plenty of lube on them. I knew how important drive components were especially in a mud race so I wanted to make sure they were handled. After that I just did the basics and tried to make my bike as “normal” as possible. When it was my turn to head into the test to start racing for the day I tried to remember to just pin it and stay off the front brake. To my surprise the little bit I had learned the day prior had paid off and I felt much better on the bike. Don’t get me wrong I still had a couple crashes in the super slick spots, but for the most part I was able to keep myself on two wheels. Due to conditions much like the first day, it was more or less a day of trying to make the least amount of mistakes since (for me at least) mistakes were inevitable.

At the end of the two days I scored a solid 9th OA Saturday and 7th OA Sunday. It’s pretty remarkable that I finished with my best overall finish of the season at the race where I felt the most out of my element. Although my overall results for the series weren’t enough to earn me a trip to Six Days, I feel really accomplished with my riding. I gave it my all everytime I was on the bike and I even surprised myself a couple times. I’m really happy I made the decision to chase this series as it gave me a chance to make new friendships, as well as build on existing ones. There’s something remarkable about racing off-road and all the people you meet along the way. It really is just one big family.

Lastly I want to thank everyone who has helped me along the way, although this series is over, my season is long from it and I know these people are behind me for the long haul. First off I want to thank The Lord for all the blessings I have in this wonderful life I get to live. I want to thank my Fiancé Paige for standing with me and making sure I’m prepared and taken care of. She looks after things for me that I wouldn’t even think of on race day and she always makes sure I’m fed and get all the rest I need. Next I want to thank my parents both of whom have been supporting my racing addiction my whole life.

Although now a days my dad isn’t able to attend all of my races I still know he’s my number one fan and supporter, so I thank him for that. I need to give it up to all my sponsors, first and foremost Patty and Chris Blais of Blais Racing Services for treating me like part of their family and always making sure I have the best possible equipment whenever I ride. They’re more than just team owners, they’re some of my best friends, my fiancé’s family Noleen J6 Technologies, Fasst Company, Delaney Drive Components, Bullet Proof Designs, FMF, KTM, Kenda, BRP, Stance, VonZipper, Moto Seat, Fastway Pro Moto Billet, Rekluse, Alpinestars, A’ME, IMS, each and every member of my club HBMC, and anyone else who has ever lent a hand over the years, thank you all!

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