First Time Racer - Marc Lanciaux

February 29, 2012

Marc Lanciaux (Frenchy750 on the USDR Message Board) signed up for his first ever race at Round 1 of the US Desert Racing Series February 4th-5th. He had only been riding since September and figured he'd give it a try... needless to say he had a GREAT time and is now part of the USDR family!

Above is his "First Race" Video!

Here's what he had to say about his first experience! (Apparently he's a professional Blog writer by Night!) 

It's 8:58 AM on Sunday, February 4th. The day is a bit chilly, but a clear, crisp day. My heart is pounding much harder than it does after a Starbucks black eye double espresso. In two minutes, my race career as "502S" will officially begin.

I'm lined up in the seventh row, happily continuing the theme of "I have no idea what I am doing." This has been my central theme for the entire race weekend. I line up with hundreds of real racers, surrounded by exquisite racing machines all growling and roaring. Iā€™m not even sure why I am here other than because I said I would do it. I told too many people I was going to race not to race. I have no idea what the starting procedure is, hadn't really given it any though. In fact I really have no idea of much of anything at all, except the course is over six miles long, and I have to complete as many laps as I can in a hour, then do one more lap. I 'practiced' on the course for forty five minutes the day before, trying to learn as much as I could about how everything works.

I watch as the first row gets the green flag. When I see them charge into the first turn, a 180 degree bend that leads to the racetrack proper, I realize my choice to line up on the inside most spot was probably not the best idea I've ever had, because I will have to make the tightest turn of the entire Senior-1 Beginner group. The racing learning curve may be pretty steep, but as an old dog, I'm game to learn some new tricks. I look to my right, taking in the revs of the enormous KTM next to me. I count fourteen people in my line, there may actually be more, I'm not entirely sure. I valiantly decide that I'll let them scrap for the lead instead of battling for it and taking everyone out. I may not know much about racing, but I do know this much. Nobody wins in the first turn.

Hundreds of thoughts scream through my head. Wave after wave get the green flag, and before I can properly process it, my wave is next. This has suddenly gotten very real. The green flag is pointed at me then follows down the rest of the line, then it waves high in the air. With a loud roar, the line is off.

And, by design, I am behind them all. The course starts on a motocross track, and I am jumping along slightly behind the rest of the S-1 Beginners. Woo! Scary fun! Rather than hitting the gigantic step up, I opt to take the chicken path around the scariest obstacle I have ever seen. I realize that nearly everyone else has also opted to skip the jump. I start to think that these guys are just like me, probably many of them also racing their first race. That realization forces me to relax, and from that point on I start enjoying myself. Racing is fun!

The course is fast, at least to me. I do my best to stay on course, not take anybody out, and keep the black rubber circles underneath me. I drop the bike when the course turns sandy, slowing up a few other riders. Fortunately, the CRF 450x restarts with a quick stab of the starter button. My clutch lever is bent, my pride is dinged, but I am still smiling, still intact, and still in the race.

The course snakes into some tight technical single track. An ATV has died in that single track, its rider frantically waving to everyone to warn of his newly made obstacle. I make my way around the four wheeled obstruction and continue around to finish lap one.

It feels like the hour should already be up, but sadly it isn't. I am all by myself on the track now; the faster racers are all ahead of me, the slower racers are... well, there probably aren't any slower racers than me. In my helmet I tell myself that I am actually in the lead, decimating the field. This lie keeps me motivated until the faster riders catch and pass me, leaving me in a cloud of roost and dust. How they go so fast is a mystery to me. I watch in awe as they make pass after pass. One rider hoots, hollers and revs his bike to let me know he is behind me. I move over, not wanting to ruin anyone's day.

Other than dropping my bike at the same exact sandy spot as before, lap two is mostly uneventful for me. I relax a little more, and realize my back end is sliding though some of the turns. Does this mean I am starting to pick up some speed? Or am I just getting tired and sloppy? I am passed a few more times, but it doesn't bother me. Racing is fun, even when you are the slow guy.

On lap three, I actually catch a rider, but have no idea how to make the pass. Of all the eventualities I was prepared for, passing someone definitely wasn't one of them. Eventually, I hoot, holler and rev my engine. He moves over to let me by. The learning curve may still be steep, but this old dog has already learned at least one new trick. Once again I drop the bike in the sand; my clutch lever is now bent like a curly munchkin shoe. Once again I pick the bike up, and once again it starts without too much protest.

Lap four begins like lap three ended. I eye the flagger, expecting to be waved off the course and given the award for 'Best Comedic Performance on a Motorcycle'. Again it doesn't happen. I am still mostly by myself. My biggest problem, other than I am starting to get tired is I haven't figure out a good system to get a drink, and I am very thirsty. My Camelback hose has come alive like a snake, wriggling out of reach, forcing me to slow down every time I want a drink. I manage my way through the sand trap without falling, which to me is a major victory. I pick a new spot to drop the bike instead. A course marshal shouts encouragement as I pick up my battered ride once again.

Finally the white flag waves. I have one more lap to go, and I do my best to make it count. I am surprisingly tired at this point, all the running and Crossfit training and everything else I did to try to get my conditioning up to par have no doubt helped, but I still have a way to go to get fit enough to be competitive. Of course that nasty sand trap claims me once again, but at this point, with then end in sight, I don't care. I break into a huge smile as I cruise to the checkered flag, one hour and sixteen minutes into my racing career. I cross the line 87th out of 107 overall, and 14th out of 16 in the Senior One Beginner group.

I'm exhausted but happy to have finished my first ever US Desert Racing series race intact.

I will be back for more, Round two is only a few weeks away!

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