As I sat in the long tech inspection line trying to calm a stomach full of butterflies and relax before the big event, a guy looked back from the quad in front of me and said, "Dude, you don't look like Chris Borich!" He most likely was puzzled because I was sitting on the No. 3 quad.
"Well, I'm going to be racing his quad today," I replied. I began to ponder the magnitude of the words I had just uttered and the events that were soon to take place. I was about to race a pro rider's quad-the very machine that was in the lead for the first six rounds of the 2005 Grand National Cross Country season.
Living Like A Superstar
Maybe I should take a few steps back. Several weeks prior to the race, editor Bryan Nylander called and said, "I'd like you to race Chris Borich's quad at the Wisp GNCC." I was speechless as this would be an opportunity of a lifetime. Rumors of the event's extremely tough terrain had me putting myself on a quick training program in order to increase my endurance for the race. Needless to say, there just wasn't enough time to whip this ole body into shape. The huge Maryland boulders and sharp-edged rocks would just have to beat me, as I was not about to pass up this chance.
When I arrived early Friday morning, Borich and crew were wrenching away and prepping the pit area for Saturday's race. I must say that Team Alba Action/Borich Racing's pit area was one of the tightest and most professional setups on the ATV pit row. After bolting a prototype set of Axis piggyback shocks onto the familiar black TRX, they informed me I would be testing these new shocks during the race.
"What can we do to get this quad set up for you?" Joey Borich, Chris' dad and team manager, asked. I wanted to put this quad to the test with the same setup Borich himself uses. After a few photo laps with camera ace Adam Campbell, my only request was a thumb throttle instead of the twist Borich uses. After all, I wanted to test this quad, not launch it off a Wisp ski slope because of my inexperience with a twist throttle.
As I made my way to the starting line, I felt as if I were a superstar. Everyone was pointing and looking at me with a great deal of confusion when I passed by. They either thought that Borich had gained a few pounds or wondered why I was riding his race-prepped quad. I even got a thumbs-up from five-time GNCC champion Bill Ballance. As I sat waiting for the pre-race festivities and the flag to drop, Joey B. stood by my side offering words of encouragement and holding my goggles just as he would for his son-he drew the line at holding an umbrella over my head, but I was stoked for the pro amenities. Having a crew to help you prepare for a race physically and mentally is a true bonus. Scrambling to get ready the day of the race is the last thing I needed to do.
When the flag finally dropped, I gave the Honda one quick kick and the motor roared to life. The Maxxis Razr tires kept me spinning controllably toward the first turn in a stampede of 40 determined competitors. As I crested the top of the hill and started around the first corner, quads were banging into me from both sides squeezing the No. 3 machine back from the middle of the pack. With such a horrible start, I needed to make a few passes before the woods to lessen the possibility of getting stuck in one of those notorious GNCC bottlenecks. To my surprise, passing was not a problem. Borich's Honda easily propelled me past at least five riders within the first few miles.