Loretta Lynn Ranch August 1st, 2017 9 am
The AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships kicked off Tuesday with a full slate of motos at the Loretta Lynn Ranch. Fenton’s Ryan Valade rode in two events and represented himself well. Riders qualified in area and regional races to earn the right to compete for the National Championship in their class. Ryan qualified in the Vet 30+ and Senior 40+ age classes.
The 36th Annual Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships presented by Lucas Oil at Loretta Lynn Ranch is the largest motorcycle racing competition in the U.S. Over 22,000 contestants entered this year’s event. A total of 22 classes raced on today’s schedule with 42 rider’s in each moto. Ryan’s first race in each class ran just three hours apart. He will compete in three motos in each class with the best average finish of the three races determining the class’s National Champion.
Race 1 Senior 40+ Class
Ryan was on the track early for his first race. The Senior 40+ class ran the fourth moto of the day and it started at 9:00 am. Riders arrive at the staging area behind the starting gates. They are checked in by an AMA official and each rider pulls a chip from the official’s bucket. The number on the chip determines the order in which drivers select their starting gate. Ryan pulled number 23 from the bucket of 42 chips.
The staging area is directly behind the starting gates. Rider’s line up according to their chip number. While in line rider’s prepare mentally, loosen up muscles, talk strategy with coaches and double check equipment.
After one-half of the field choose their gate Ryan selected the spot three positions to the inside of the starter’s shack. Placing him almost in the center of the 42 starting competitors. Some prep work on the starting box helps to ensure a good launch at the drop of the gate. Competitors take to the track for a parade lap and to check track conditions. After returning to their chosen gate, they prepare for the start.
Ryan’s start difficult as he was boxed in by the rider’s to each side.They squeezed off his lane and a wreck could have easily occurred. In a great strategy move, he backed off and cut behind the pack into the tight first turn. But he exited the opening corner in 23rd place.
With a fast first lap of 2:06.743 he moved up to 16th place. By the end of lap two, he had moved into 13th. On lap three he passed two more riders into 11th. Running consistent lap times of 2:12 to 2:14 he was ninth by lap five and held that position until the 10th and final lap. Former professional Nathan Ramsey, recently retired from a 15-year career, turned in the second fastest final lap to take the ninth spot from Ryan. Still, with a 10th place finish Ryan is in good position to make a run for the podium with strong performances in his two remaining motos in the class.
After the race, Ryan reported that his bike was overheating. The track is watered down prior to the start of the day’s competition. Racing early meant having to deal with muddy conditions during the moto. One rider’s engine expired during the race, likely from a similar cause. Ryan with the help of sponsor Lasco Ford purchased a new bike just prior to the AMA Amateur National Motocross Championships. He credits that decision with saving his race. With only two hours on the new motorcycle, it handled the high engine temperatures with no issues. A coolant change after the race proved to be smart maintenance. The issue did not return in his second moto of the day.
According to Ryan, “If I had been riding my old bike it would have blown up. I would have been standing beside the track just like David Jones.” (The rider who’s engine expired during the fourth lap of the race..)
Next, for Ryan, the Vet 30+ class runs at Noon just under three hours from the finish of this race. Race two of the Senior 40+ class takes the track at 3:30 pm Wednesday afternoon.