2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

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MoonStomper
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2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by MoonStomper » 12:35 pm Oct 12 2020

This Sunday we were looking forward to The Rattlesnake Hare Scramble of the VCHSS, a race where you expect to actually use the upper end of your transmission range, a course around and through a dirt track, over an enduro obstacle course, and off into some high speed woods single track with banked turns and steep WOT ups and hang-on-for-dear-life downs.

Was not to be. Well not the upper end of your transmission part anyways.
The tropical storm arrived Friday night with other ideas.

But, this was going to be my second race and what's a little rain and mud right? Apocalyptic, apparently.

My 15 YO son Henry and I loaded up, strapped'em down and felt good about our prospects. He was racing his KTM 144SX woods modified in 200C (his 3rd race), I was set with my '03 KDX 200 for 50+C (my second). We had our buddies racing with us in 200C, 250C and the afternoon race 250A and 50+A and with their experience we were well prepared for the conditions. Googles were adorned with tear-offs, cooking oil sprayed on fenders, visors extended, extra gloves packed, hand towels tucked in our pants, extra 75cc's of oil in the transmission, and air pressures lowered. We were ready... -ish.
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Loaded...

The infield wasn't quite a lake, so that was promising since I'd left my creek boat at home. The promoter had added mulch in key areas which also helped things a bit. But I'll tell you - dropping the hammer on that greasy straightaway was like riding a wild mustang bareback while knowing the stampede was coming behind you. I didn't want to get left behind, but I really didn't want to go down and get run over.
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Start...

As we entered the switchback out of the track and up the hill I swung wide and got above and around twent or more riders spinning and hemmed in below on the shorter inside line. This was working out and I hadn't eaten crap on the oval! The Enduro track was next and had some 3+' logs, tire grids and huge rocks - some how I blasted through and passed a bunch of guys by keeping the KDX nose light and straight on. My first experience doing this, I'm still amazed I got through unscathed both times.
The first creek was a real splash, I had no idea how deep it was, so up went the feet! Somehow my wool socks stayed dry all day. My entry level O'Neals aren't great, but for $99 they are still getting the job done.
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Creek...

Things in the woods got really interesting, the track narrowed to 4-wheeler width and I moved up into at least third (it was a small class) and felt I had the other guys covered if I could just stay out of log jams and neck deep ruts. I passed a bunch of folks by surfing my rig mountain bike-style down the steep hills and letting that KDX eat on the soft and treacherous climbs - the low pressure in the Pirelli Gara-cross really did great finding traction where others gave up. The gearing stayed between 2nd and 3rd whenever possible and I kept pressure on the clutch as needed. In one long climb up a ravine I found myself packed in a log-jam with 40+ other smoking, steaming and screaming bikes, mud was flying, voices were high, and the sound of mud clods impacting my helmet and plastics were punctuating the smacks I felt from it hitting my body - I kept my head down and used my extended visor to block the worst of it to see where to move.

After making it through that section I had more confidence because it seemed my green mud machine could often go when others couldn't. I was passing riders in the nastiest sections and staying upright everywhere else. Then I hit the worst log jam of the day. This one hemmed us in from both sides with unclimbably steep mountainsides squeezing the knee deep rut we all had to follow. There was nowhere to go until it opened up further above. We inched forward, spinning, slipping and grinding, an orgy of man and machine moving in starts and fits. Near the end of this miserable death slog - disaster struck. The guy on the KTM (okay - ALL the guys were on KTMs right?) in front of me that I had followed for this bit was finally getting over another wet root, and the trail ahead was opening up. I could see the end of this conga-line of misery! As he eased ahead I saw his wheel spin and prepared to make a move by him left and above the rut he was still in when... POW!!!!! A blast of white exploded in my face and I was overwhelmed by this burning sensation on face, neck hands and arms! OH THE HUMANITY. I looked down and realized this explosion had erupted from my bike and immediately thought the head had blown or the piston had gone sub-orbital. I then realized the burning sensation was intensifying and saw the white smoke slowly rising from my glove and sleeve. What had happened? I reached down for a handful of mud and rubbed it on my arm to cool it down.

Then as the steam cleared I looked at my bike - the head was intact, what happened?!? Then I saw it, the plug on top of the left hand radiator had blown out. I thought I was done for the day and began to drag my bike out of the rut to clear the way for those behind me. I sat down and caught my breath as I tried to asses my situation among the din of roaring motors, yelling racers and flying mud. The top of the hill wasn't too far above, but was so far out of reach now that my bike seemed to be disabled. I took out my camera and recorded the crazy scene surrounding me as I became aware of all the others around me struggling with their muddy and almost helpless plight. some were just standing there staring at their machines - full on catatonic, or lying on their backs and looking at the clouds above as the drizzle fell and coated their goggle lenses. Wheels spun as engines shrieked, curses rang through the air and pierced the smoke both above and below as racers struggled and refused the fate of victims strewn around them. I laughed, 'Man, this was kind of fun!'
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Down...

Finally I came out of my fog and back to my senses. I wasn't waiting for rescue, I'd leave the bike here and climb up the hill to the powerline and try to contact my buddies with a text and get some ideas on what to do. Still too many folks were coming up the trail for me to have a prayer of getting out yet, even if my motor will fire. I'd let it cool while I developed a plan.
This worked out, as I got to the top I could see the hill climb I was stuck on was finally being rerouted by the marshals for the coming lappers. By text my buddy suggested I refill the radiator with water from my camelback and screw a small stick into the bung where the plug had disappeared, then get back in the race. I wasn't done yet. The bike fired to life and up we went as the now clear trail allowed momentum to be created and rewarded with my release from this slippery mud pit of smoke and destruction. My one lap took 93 minutes, but I didn't care. I got another victory lap around and through the speedway oval and another much easier shot at the enduro course before reaching my checkered flag. As I caught my breath at the finish my son rolled in after his 4 lap run, he finished in 7th place in a packed field. His buddy Mason had won their 200C class and Russ had won his 250C. That evening Mason's dad pulled a 5th in 50+A and Trevor Won the 250A. All of us had finished and brought home hardware. I even managed fifth out of five but did not DNF!

The best thing was, I wasn't going to spend the night in the woods!
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Umbrella girls... (my wife and daughter, there first time at a hare scramble)

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by doakley » 12:59 pm Oct 12 2020

Great story! Congrats on getting her going again. A tip for you: Throw away that plastic plug in your radiator. Go to a automotive parts store and find the closest matching metal oil pan plug. It won’t be the same thread but should be close enough you can retap the threads in the radiator to match your new metal plug. Did this to mine and never had the problem again.

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by MoonStomper » 01:52 pm Oct 12 2020

doakley wrote:
12:59 pm Oct 12 2020
Great story! Congrats on getting her going again. A tip for you: Throw away that plastic plug in your radiator. Go to a automotive parts store and find the closest matching metal oil pan plug. It won’t be the same thread but should be close enough you can retap the threads in the radiator to match your new metal plug. Did this to mine and never had the problem again.
Thanks,
I figured that it was loose or just old plastic that caused it to eject under pressure. I thought the radiator cap was supposed to prevent this. It freaked me out - thought I'd blown the piston straight to kingdom come.

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by doakley » 02:03 pm Oct 12 2020

Haha! Happened to me in a mud race too. Scared me as well. I don’t know if the plastic gets old, hot, overtightened and damaged or some combination.

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by MoonStomper » 02:32 pm Oct 12 2020

Would love to figure out a better than OEM replacement - any idea what the thread and bolt size is?

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by lucy » 04:42 pm Oct 12 2020

Great write up! Keep 'em coming!

(The pics just make the whole deal more awesome-er)

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by doakley » 09:26 pm Oct 12 2020

MoonStomper wrote:
02:32 pm Oct 12 2020
Would love to figure out a better than OEM replacement - any idea what the thread and bolt size is?
Sorry, I don't recall exactly which I used. My radiator was tapped metric but the closest oil pan plug was US. It was close though. I had a mechanic I trust retap and it took him about 60 seconds. He said it was already very close. Just take the radiator to your auto parts store and try a few. I found them hanging on a peg board at AutoZone. About $5-6 as I recall.

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by KDXGarage » 12:40 am Oct 13 2020

WOW!! What an ordeal! Great write up! I could envision the carnage you described.
Thank you for participating on kdxrider.net. :bravo:
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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by MoonStomper » 07:24 am Oct 13 2020

The carnage is real! Just now getting the gear cleaned up - hoping to tackle the bikes tonight.

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by SS109 » 10:44 am Oct 13 2020

Excellent story telling! Thanks for sharing your story with us.
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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by GATOROC » 09:03 am Oct 14 2020

Very cool! Great job, and thanks for bringing us along for the adventure! That mud sure does look nasty. My KDX hasn't heated up to that level (yet), but it's nice to know of a temporary fix, as well as an option to permanently fix it if that plug blows. :cool:
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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by MoonStomper » 10:25 am Oct 14 2020

PROBLEM SOLVED - after scouring this site I determined the proper bolt size and thread pitch for H model plastic radiator plugs: M12 X 1.25
Then I went to Advance Auto parts and picked up a drain plug complete with gasket. I wrapped the threads in Teflon tape and installed. No issues so far. This part was about $7 cheaper than the plastic OEM replacement by the way. I've added a new Mylers earless, high-pressure radiator cap to my cart at RMATV also which will bring my boiling point up as well which Jeff Fredette suggested for muddy conditions. He also said that he thought the old plastic plug had "probably just gotten brittle."
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Last edited by MoonStomper on 10:34 am Oct 15 2020, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2nd Hare Scramble - Rattlesnake @ Wythe Raceway

Post by KDXGarage » 01:59 pm Oct 14 2020

Thank for the info!
Thank you for participating on kdxrider.net. :bravo:
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