Rookie GNCC Pro XC2 racer Layne Michael, gives us the inside scoop throughout the year on the trials and tribulations its going to take for him to transition from an aspiring, talented amateur rider to hopefully a future Pro champion.
Well, I’m finally able to write my next blog! After I finished writing my last one, I saved it so I could go get some lunch and apparently when I came back to send it, the computer crashed and I lost everything! So that’s why it’s taken me so long to get caught up because we had to find a new computer, get it ordered and all of that fun stuff! But I am back and have a lot to make up on!
So before the John Penton GNCC I was starting to get back in my groove. I’ve been training and riding a lot and I was starting to feel good again. Come race day, I was still feeling good and ready to race. Conditions were going to be a little slick due to some rain the night before but I was still feeling good about it. For my first time in a very long time I ripped a holeshot and I was pumped! I was up with those guys on the start but I kind of struggled a little with keeping my front end under me and I kept pushing the front.
I slowed down a good bit and lost sight of the leader and I was in a big pack of riders we battled it out for a while but then I found myself to be alone. I realized I was going to have to put in a last lap charge to try and catch them and I was starting to make that time up on the last lap but I started to make some mistakes and crashes and I just lost more time than what I just made up. I came across the finish in 5th place. I was pretty upset with it because I should have been on the box with those guys and it just had me frustrated. But I was pumped to finish the race with a decent result and finally gain some points.
After the race we packed up and drove home that evening and with the nice short drive we made it home before dark and had everything all washed up! That week I kept to the training and riding and I was really getting comfortable on the bike. That weekend was the High Point Pro Motocross National so I decided to take the weekend off and go watch some racing for once. My good buddy Thad came up to watch it and to also stay for the week for some riding.
After High Point the next morning, Thad had to go to Virginia to his boss’ place (John Ross, owner of Shenendoah Honda) around Winchester and he wanted me to tag a long so we could get some riding in. It was fun to ride with John’s sons, Jake and Luke Ross (who also run the GNCC in the youth class) at their farm and just to ride something different. We crashed at their place for the night and were just going to head home that next day. That night, John cooked an amazingly good dinner then it was off to bed.
Next day we woke up and went to John’s shop so Thad could re-stock his parts inventory. John I got to talking and he ended up giving me some advice on bike set up and a few other things, which was awesome. I wasn’t going to turn it down so he helped me with the few things, which was soften the forks up and change a couple settings and he also talked me into running Dunlop tires. And I think the results showed!
Leading up to the Mountaineer Run, which is my hometown race, I’d say I had a solid week doing some rock riding with Thad and I was just super pumped to have the hometown crowd supporting me! So before the race I was relaxed and was having fun with all the friends and family there and it was perfect. Once again we had a little rain before the race and it was going to be a little slick but I actually had another awesome start but I was too far inside and had to make way to sharp of a turn and guys blew around me but I was in a solid 5th or 6th and right there with the leaders. After the first couple miles got sorted out, I made a couple really good passes and I got tagged along with Jason Thomas. We started getting into a good rhythm and I was just riding behind him. We came around for the first lap and dad said I was in third, and I thought Jason and I were 1 and 2 so I was a little confused but a couple miles later we caught Michael McGinnis, who was leading at the time, but we got around him and then put some distance on him. And then it was just Jason and me. I just followed him and wasn’t trying to push to hard and stayed with him for a few laps and eventually even leading one!
Jason passed me back in the woods and I was back to following him and we went down a little downhill and I pushed the front over the berm and wrecked. I got up and took off right away but my bark buster plastic had broken and my front brake was locked up! It was wedged in there pretty good and it took me quite a few seconds to get it out and finally I got it out and took off but just with that short amount of time I lost Jason was gone! I tried to push to catch back up but he was gapping me. Next few laps I was by myself trying to keep a good lead on third but Grant was coming and eventually he caught me. He passed me in a field so I hooked onto his rear wheel and he was pushing really hard. I stayed with him that whole lap and it came to the last lap and grant and I caught up to Whibs and Grant actually passed him and I made a mistake and couldn’t get him. After Grant passed Whibs, he started to gap me as well. I tried to push and catch back up but I couldn’t make up any ground. I finally came around to the finish and I ended up third!
I was so pumped to finally get a podium for my dad and my whole family. I wouldn’t have been able to do it if it wasn’t for everyone cheering me on and keeping a smile on my face all day! I am now looking to build off of this finish and to keep it rolling into the next round at snowshoe. I now know what it feels like to be on that podium and I sure won’t want to be off of it again!
Layne Michael is supported by DirtWise Academy of Offroad Riding schools and Instructional DVDs, Morgantown Powersports, KTM Hard Parts, Fly Racing, Clockwork fuel tanks, EBC Brakes, Asterisk knee braces, G2 Ergo throttle tubes and handguards, Scott goggles, PR2 suspension,Powersport Grafx, FMF exhausts, Renthal bars, Maxima oils, UFO plastics, Bullet Proof Designs, Dunlop tires, USWE and most importantly by his family.