Motocross Guy’s First Hare Scramble

From the couch to my first Hare Scrambles. I can barely stand up after it’s over

“There’s a hare scramble tomorrow. It’s pretty fun, and I’m going to go. You should do it, it’s down by Medford.” -Scott

Sometimes when trying(doing) new things in life you just have to “buy the ticket and take the ride”. This is the exact situation I was in because the only ticket I wanted to buy was weed and the only ride I wanted to go on was my couch and a bong. But given the current situation 3 weeks after Moab all recovered and “raging to live” I really had no choice but to dive in….what did I have to lose?

So I got home and did all the research I could scrape off YouTube and some of the most poorly designed websites in the history of the internet.

Serious side note I don’t know what’s wrong with the technological side of riding clubs and moto events but all their websites are so bad that it’s not only impossible to find correct dates and times but you believe you found the correct date and time only to find out it’s a flyer from 2019 with no year date on it. Get ahold of us and we will fix your website for free, time to get away from geocities and angelfire, it’s 2023, let’s talk.

So back to my research, it got me nowhere, I knew nothing more or less to expect from this race than I did one day earlier. All I knew is I had to wake up at 3:30AM to get there by 6:30AM, signup from 7-9 I would be in the first race at 9 and it’s 1 1/2 hours long, open C class. I seriously DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS, every piece of my existence was saying Wtf are you doing? But i knew I had to. I had called Dave to see if he was going and he surprisingly responded with a yes, so was stoked there would be a few people there I know. My dad didn’t go for some reason, I think I got close to the same answer I got when I first returned to the motocross track, “that’s a dumb idea, don’t get hurt”

So first off I have this decked out Moab edition 2021 kx250f but it doesn’t have a spark arrestor, we went to Moab thinking the $500 “spark arrestor” made by pro circuit was an actual spark arrestor as it had the plaque saying it was an approved spark arrestor, but that guy Mitch is a bit shifty bastard sometimes and doesn’t send the $32 spark arrestor insert for the $500 spark arrestor if that makes any sense to you. Read another story about how the $32 spark arrestor also doesn’t come with a proper screw so you have to buy 4 of them before figuring out the proper combo of screw from the hardware store and lock tite to not lose it in the first 5 miles.

So what do I do? It’s 7pm the day before the race and I have no spark arrestor and have to pass an AMA “tech inspection”. So I turn my attention to my OG trusty steed, the 2017 kx250f, it’s been sitting for a long time since I switched to the newer bike, but it has a kick starter and a spark arrester, so I know the battery isn’t dead because there’s no battery, let’s party, I loaded it up without even starting it up to see if it ran. I brought both of my bikes because maybe I can sneak by tech inspection and ride the newer one, got everything loaded up, went to dollar general for some cliff bars, cold medicine(because I was sick), some Gatorade, and a bag of sour patch kids.

I was on the road by 4am after getting a couple hours of sleep due to the anticipation of what was to happen the next day. My plan was to stop at McDonald’s to get some breakfast as I’m heading out in the middle of nowhere, but wasn’t feeling hungry so I skipped breakfast. I had never been to that trail system before, it’s a private trail club and out past a lake up the side of a gnarly hill. As I turned on the road unsure if it was the right one or not there was a line of people and my mind was blown. Upon filtering into the front gate I realized there’s well over 500 people here, which blew my mind because I had no idea hare scrambles were this popular.

The dude at the front gate was super nice, explained where everything was and then pointed in a direction and said “good luck finding somewhere to park”. He was right there was absolutely nowhere to park, I navigated through the trees and trucks and parked my truck basically right on the side of the starting line then speed walked over to the sign up area as it was 6:45 and the race starts at 9 so I should have plenty of time to sign up.

This is where I realized the events are ran in a similar way their web dev team works. It was an absolute unnecessary “clusterfuck” of lines you need to be in instead of the line you’ve been in for an hour, go over there, pay for entry, then pay for AMA card, then get back in original line that says “start here if you didn’t sign up online” and everyone else around me is confused, and worried about making it to the gate in time. So then at approx 8:45 they announced “everyone in the 12:30 race please step aside, everyone in the 9am race come to the front”. I was already at the front so I watched as all my “competitors” or as I call them “friends” that got to eat breakfast and jerk off for the last 1 1/2 hours I had been in line come right up and stand behind me.

I was officially signed up at 9:10 with half my class standing behind me still waiting, they were nice enough to delay the start to 9:15 so at least half of the class was able to get signed up, if you didn’t get signed up then that’s your problem you should have been here at 4:15…keep in mind I was standing in line at 6:55AM, 5 minutes before sign ups even opened.

So I ran to the truck, unloaded my bike, didn’t check a single nut or bolt, fired up first kick, put on my gear, drank half a bottle of day quill(I’m sick remember) ate half a cliff bar, took a swig of Gatorade, and headed to the starting line where hundreds of bikes were lined up in 8-9 rows. At this point I was absolutely clueless as to what happens, the mandatory riders meeting was at 8:45, and for some reason they had the meeting at the starting line instead of at sign ups where most of the class was still waiting for the privilege of being able to sign up. Oh and I almost forgot, I rode through the “tech inspection” where a guy stuck his finger in my tailpipe and put a small round yellow paper sticker they sell at the dollar store on my number plate…..good thing I brought the spark arrestor, there’s a “muffin boy” in all of us.

All I know about hare scrambles is that it’s something people did before there were motocross tracks. Thinking back to the movie “On Any Sunday” I gathered that a gunshot was going to go off, the first row would take off, then would continue on down the rows every few minutes until everyone was off. I looked to my left, there was no one there because I was on the far left leaning against the front of my truck, I looked to my right and I saw approx 60 riders with camel backs on, and I realized maybe this race is longer than anticipated, I turned to the dude next to me.

“Whatsup dude you done one of these before?” I asked

“Fuck no, I’m a moto guy” he says

“Same here” as we both anxiously awaited what was to happen next

“Well, have a good race” we both said to eachother.

This is when I decided I was going to just let everyone go, I mean I’m out of shape never done one of these don’t know what to expect, and also didn’t know if anyone I knew was there, I hadn’t heard from or seen Scott or Dave yet, but they were to be in the 12:30 class anyway.

So the gun went off for the first row, then a flag a few min later for the second row, one by one working their way back to whatever row I was in for the open C class. Our flag waved and everyone started their bikes and took off, I then somehow snapped into full on motocross race mode and forgot about “taking it easy”. I bombed into the cloud of dust in the first corner in dead last, then proceeded to pass an average of one person every second for a few minutes. I was passing 4-5 people in some of the corners and on an absolute roll, in the zone, avoiding any and all carnage that was happing either in front of me or right next to me. Then I passed a sign that said mile 1 and realized I didn’t even know how long the course was, how many laps we were doing, how long I would be out there, and I began to feel the fatigue that happens once you are done passing 4-5 people in a corner and go into survival mode.

Around mile 8-9 you dip around to where the race started so I started feeling like I could handle this, maybe 10 miles and a couple laps, and then we rode off into the middle of nowhere again. It wasn’t until mile 16 that I started thinking maybe we are only doing one lap, this is the “slow” class anyway. I was wrong as I crossed the finish line only to see a flagger clapping and cheering for me instead of holding out a white flag.

It was wild, just about once a mile there would be someone working for the event clapping and cheering for me as I went by, I’d do a wheelie and give a thumbs up. I didn’t realize it at the time but I think these people knew that this overweight 39 year old stoner wearing baggy LBZ gear riding a bike with metal Mulisha graphics and no camel back or pit crew was just absolutely raw dogging it out there living life to the fullest.

As I suffered through lap 2 I was in full on survival mode, everyone had settled into their respective positions and I was totally cool with getting passed by someone or passing the occasional person slowing down. This is when the hallucinations began.

The arm pump was gone at this point, i was totally numb and on some version of total autopilot hoping the race ends at lap 2. It did not end however and I saw a white flag, 17 more miles to go. I started thinking if I was going to survive this race, that I would have to take different lines, smoother ones instead of hitting every single bump and rut and rock and root.

Back in my younger motocross days I learned quite a bit about racing through this guy Roby Leach, son of Bob Leach owner of the Albany Motorsports Park. I always called them “Roby Leach Lines” as he would show better ways to go around the corner faster and without hitting any of the bumps. His father Bob though is where this knowledge came from, because Bob raced back in the very beginning of it all, when it was hare scrambles and motocross tracks with 8 single jumps and 3 artificial mud puddles.

Bob unfortunately had passed away a little over a year earlier, and so, as per the Star Wars rule book there was Bob standing there hovering in my top left vision like Obi Wan not telling me where to go, but laughing at me and pointing at where I should have gone every time I went the wrong way. Not laughing at me in a negative sense, it was more like laughing like I knew better than to go that way. I started picking the right lines and one after another the numbness went away and the pain kicked in, but pain with no numbness is better than no pain with numbness.

Blown away with how well this was working I then realized my grandfather also did hare scrambles and so I summoned him and there he was in my top left talking with Bob, they were able to talk to each other and watch the race because no one had to tell me where to go anymore.

This is where things got weird, i was so impressed with the effects of summoning old heroes of hare scramble lore I then somehow summoned this guy Shane Trittler…..who is not even dead he is very much alive, and is a badass motocross dude I’ve known for a long time.

“THIS WAS A TERRIBLE IDEA THIS IS THE WORST DAY OF MY LIFE!!” He kept saying over and over. Shane is the only person besides my bandmate Dano that will understand what Shane just said to me and it was absolutely perfect timing for where I was at.

So now I have Bob next to my grandpa on the left, and Shane in the upper right, and then out of nowhere Nick Allen shows up, yet another kick ass inspiration of mine still in the mortal realm. He just says “MAN SHIT!” As he does this thing with his teeth that he always does.

At the point of peak hallucination around approx mile 7 on the third lap, so mile 41, while whistling the theme song to On Any Sunday I round a corner to see 20 bikes lined up at a red flag and we’re all stopped. Immediately I snapped back into reality the music in my head stopped and my helpers all vanished. The guy in front of me asked “are you whistling the song from On Any Sunday?” He asked as i gave a resounding fuck yes before saying something about how destroyed i was and why are we stopped. Someone had gotten impaled by a stick and needed life flight, they had to pause the race for a bit to let the helicopter land. It was around 5 minutes we all sat there as my body started texting me saying “bro…….wtf?”. I texted back “yolo…..stfu…..10 more miles to go”. The guy that stopped us then started re starting everyone spaced out in the order they arrived somehow using an iPhone in the middle of nowhere, gotta love technology.

These last 10 miles were probably the most physically demanding thing I’ve ever done in my life, taking my physical condition and age into account. I then started getting passed by people that already passed me, perplexed as to how they were able to lap me on a 17 mile track I kept pushing on, come to find out they had stopped for fuel. This is where a 400 pound man on a DRZ with blinkers passed me….I literally laughed out loud.

Now is when I started passing people that were running out of gas, so I started thinking about how maybe I would run out of gas, but there was only one mile left. Finally nearing the end the anticipation of seeing a checkered flag was beyond any feeling I’ve ever felt, like surviving Mt Everest. Bob, grandpa, Shane, and Nick showed back up, Bob and grandpa smiling and kind of laughing, Shane Nick and now Dano were spraying imaginary Coors Light on me either to cool me down or in celebration.

I crossed the finish line and a guy handed me a pin for finishing and said “good job man we were all pulling for you!” I was like hell yes this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever done as I rode my bike back to the truck.

It was an hour and a half race, what that means is that in an hour and a half, wherever the leader is at is on their last lap is where the flag is, so if the leader crosses the finish line at 1 hour and 25 min(which is exactly what happened) that they do an entire extra lap before the checkered flags come out. Then if you don’t get lapped, which is hard on a 17 mile course, you do as many laps as the leaders, this is why people will sit before the finish line and wait for the leader to finish, as a 17th place is better than a DNF. I however did not know of this option, nor would I have taken it, so I see why they were cheering on the lazy out of shape first timer getting punched in the face by a hare scramble.

I took my helmet off first, then peeled my gloves off one hand at a time, removing some skin in the process, surveying my body for signs of heat exhaustion or overall am I going to die right now. All was good and the next moto was lined up right in front of my truck, so I went to find Dave, as Scott left a message on my phone saying he wasn’t able to make it.

Twice as many riders were in this class, more bikes than I’ve ever seen on a starting line. I found Dave and only had time to upload a bit of info on the course to him as he told me his wife was over in the pit lane. “Pit lane?” I asked confused as if I was supposed to refuel or have a pit crew. It all makes sense now, I went absolute raw dog, through complete ignorance. Ignorance is different than stupidity, had I known about a pit crew and camel bak and chose to ignore it that would be considered stupidity, since I didn’t know it was ignorance and is really the most pure way to enjoy anything. So from here forward it is stupidity, I will never race a hare scramble again without a camel back, as far as refueling goes though, I had plenty of fuel left, and came to the conclusion my bike runs on hopes and dreams, not gasoline.

Dave’s race was 2 1/2 hours, so it could potentially go 4 hours as my time was around 2 hours 45 min on a 1 1/2 hour race. The course was way gnarlier and wore out and had a few changes to make it even more catered to experts. He ended up waiting at the end on lap 3 as 4 laps on that course is understandably insane. I went over and talked to him afterwords and we were both so jacked up, we couldn’t believe no one else in the crew did it, it was a magical race and only Dave and I will ever know just how awesome it was, perfect weather, perfect conditions, unknown new different experience. We both were ready to get out of there and eat a cheeseburger or really anything that wasn’t a cliff bar or handful of granola, so we parted ways and headed down the hill.

I was just in a haze for a few days as every single bone and muscle in my body, even my eyelids suffered the consequences of going through such a ruthless activity, and in my mind such a feeling of accomplishment for having survived something more physically demanding than anything I’ve ever done in life. So we immediately signed up for the next race, along with the rest of the crew, in Heppner in a few weeks, and that is it’s own story for another day.

One last thing is you really have to do is give it up to the OG’s of this sport, anyone racing on bikes pre mono-shock, doing these hare scrambles in the middle of nowhere as there were no developed motocross tracks at the time.  This is where the inspiration for motocross and super cross came from.  People like Bob Leach saw what it could be and went out and put in some of the first motocross tracks to ever exist, which ended up changing the lives of so many people by giving them a sport to focus on that wasn’t one of the big 4 team sports society had provided.  Participating in a hare scramble in real life really let’s you see this in a way you can truly understand, and I recommend anyone, no matter what kind of riding you do, no matter what your skill level or age, to give it a shot some day.

About the author

Born in the early 80’s, I have been riding since motorcycles had kickstarters on them. I put in a fairly solid young motocrosser “career” of taking racing seriously from about the ages of 11-21. After realizing making a living in motocross would be near impossible I hung up the helmet and tried my hand at music. Somehow that actually worked and led to 15 years of being able to play music almost every day.