Team NAXJA finishes 7th in King of the Hammers race
First off, big thanks to Garry Hall for hooking up the invite. We had zero to no chance of getting in without Garry’s name. Garry no doubt had some reservations about putting his name on the line for a couple of us bus drivers, but he stepped-up & got it done.
So, what a ride… It didn’t really hit me until I got in, spent 10 minutes getting securely buckled-up (with Rick helping to tightly cinch-down the seat belts), followed by ‘drivers, start your engines’. That was cool, & it was then I realized that we were in way over our heads.
Other than our little air-line problem, leading to a busted rear driveshaft, the entire race was like a Sunday morning drive. Once in a while I called out ‘that way’, or ‘a little passenger/driver’, or, ‘just be ready to punch it’, & my index finger got a workout controlling the winches, but in reality Richard was so ‘on’ that it couldn’t have been easier for a co-pilot. Aside from our break on Jack, I can only remember backing up once, it was entering plaque rock on Sunbonnet, we hit a diff, backed-up & took the little waterfall line to the right (on the left going up). We all have our ‘on’ days, but it took some intense concentration for Richard to stay on for near 5 hours straight with that kinda pressure.
With the exception of Jack S., Wrecking Ball & the Johnsons, all the trails were run down. Anyone that has run down these trails knows that it puts you into constant blind drops. Normally when running down trails we edge up to a waterfall or ledge & cautiously drop down. In the race we barely slowed. If the drop was to the passenger side (in which case Richard couldn’t see it) I’d tell Richard left/right, gas it, etc., & he’d just do it. He never hesitated. I don’t know that I could have driven some of those falls without questioning my co-pilot.
We had (that I can think of) 3 distinct places/lines that we knew in advance would be good places to pass guys that were less familiar with the trails, we got to use all 3 & the timing was perfect for all 3. The second we caught-up with the car in front of us our ‘optional’ line was right there waiting for use & we didn’t miss a beat. We were grinning ear to ear each time, almost like we knew what we were doing.
Another neat thing about the race was that at times it was almost surreal how quite it got. We had the Johnsons & Outer Limits entirely to ourselves. In the middle of such a crazy, noisy race we (or at least me) actually had some time to just enjoy the Hammers.
Thanks for the ride Richard.