What is motocross? Is it the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat? Is it the feeling that you get when you clear that big double? To every rider it can mean something else, but for me it is the people I have met and the friendships that have been forged that have enriched my life along the way. I have been friends with some of these guys since we all rode minis.
Now as vet riders we have 20+ years of good times to talk about. Everyone can relate to the great times spent going to and coming home from the races with your buddies and the experiences that go along with it.
When my friend Chris Prenderville’s application for the Unadilla national was accepted we decided that this would be a great opportunity for a road trip. A road trip is the ultimate guy bonding experience and since we haven’t had the opportunity in quite a while it was decided that we were Unadilla bound. A quick email to the AMA to arrange credentials and a phone call to book a hotel room we were set. We were joined on our trip by Chris’ mechanics for the weekend Kenny Dwight and Jimmy Reese. Chris, Kenny and I competed in the first Unadilla amateur day back in the early 90’s and this was going to be a great opportunity to relive the past.
Friday came and we met at Chris’ house to load up his van for the 5 hour trip to Unadilla. Everything was checked off, bike, cooler, umbrellas (it always rains at Unadilla) gear bag, etc. and the all important good luck bag of Teddy Grahams. By mid afternoon we were on our way with Reese riding shotgun and navigating for the trip. Driving along we started telling those remember when stories of our youth and before long we were right around the corner from our hotel. And a half an hour later we were still right around the corner from our hotel. A couple of wrong turns later we were finally just down the road from our home base for the weekend. The stories continued over dinner and since it was getting late we wrapped it up and headed to the hotel. After helping Chris prep his goggles for the next day and killing giant mosquitoes that got in the room we turned in for the night.
The next day dawned cloudy and while waiting on line to pick up my credentials those famous Unadilla rains started. Chris found a parking spot away from the semis with fellow privateer and New Jersey native Barry Carsten and set up for the day. The rain had stopped by the time the first practice got underway but by the second practice the track was turning into quite a mess. When Chris lined up for his first qualifier the rain had stopped but the damage was done. What was once lush Unadilla loam was now a heavy concrete like mess. With a poor gate pick Chris could only hope for a good start. It was not to be as Chris rounded the first turn midpack and couldn’t make up the difference by the motos end. We gave his bike a quick wash, grabbed some fresh goggles, and headed to the line for the LCQ.
Chris got off to a better start and ran in qualifying position for most of the short 3 lap moto. But by now the track had deteriorated into a nearly impassable circuit. Riders were missing corners and getting stuck all over. Some guys were even at the bottom of some of the hills for 2 laps. People were looking for traction both inside and outside of the track’s borders. As I stood on the side of one of the long uphills I saw his bike smoking and barely making it to the top. He was no longer racing, he was in survival mode. In the end Chris would just miss the cut by a couple of positions and although he was disappointed in being so close it was a true testament to his survival in such awful conditions. After washing a ton of mud off of his bike we headed back to the hotel for a shower, dinner, and a good nights sleep. In a cruel turn of events as we drove back to the hotel the sun had come out and the rains were gone.
Sunday was spent washing the bike again and watching some great racing action in both classes.
By the time we were loaded up and heading home it was time for more stories and road trip memories. We had a great weekend adding stories to our library of life. We even talked about planning our trip for Unadilla next year.
Don’t forget the umbrella, it always rains at Unadilla.
Chris would like to thank his sponsors No Fear, Scott Goggles, One Industries and Xtreme Machines, as well as Fox Equipment Rentals for helping out with fuel along the way.
Great times with great friends, that what motocross is to me.