Luke "Duke" Emmons gives you the inside scoop from Round 4 of the XDL Sportbike Freestyle Championship in Los Angeles, CA.
LA, LA, LA, but first a quick stop in Tennessee. Not too many people live farther from Los Angeles than the residents of North Eastern CT like myself. Just fuel cost alone is over $1000 to make the trek. I left with $250 dollars in my pocket. It was actually a contingency check from a sponsor that I had cashed that day. My first stop was in Scranton PA, 250 miles from my door to pick up one of the best female rider's bikes and Shift/Racing 905 Teammate, belonging to Dena Sodano.
After that we headed straight to Tenn. for the King of the South competition. The track was at the usual hwy 211 drag way in Seymour. I rolled in the day before the competition to get some more seat time on my new Shifty 636! Love it BTW and am glad to have made the transition. It was over 95 degrees and over 80% humidity both days being there.
I watched a rider wipe out doing 60 mph with shorts and a t-shirt. I shuddered and knew there was no chance of myself getting that degree of rash with my protective Shift gear on. I ended up taking second on the day to Bill D by 1 point. I am working so hard to break this cycle to Bill as it is the fourth time on the year.
So since I won all my gas money we were ready to make the journey to LA. We... as in my tandem riding partner and soon to be wife Nicole. We drove the next day straight to West Texas and decided to park it in a rest area and pop the tent. The tent blew in with 50mph wind and we realized it just wasn't happening that night. As we packed up and hit the road again we hit a rock with the rig and got a flat. As soon as I got out to change the tire the sky opened up and started down pouring. Oh well such is life.
Skipping a couple days ahead, and the rest of the 3500 mile one way drive, we were in LA. The day of qualifying we had to be at the track at 7 for a news promo on the day. The anchor was very unique to say the least but the sport was on TV so you can't argue with that. I am riding my new bike very well in practice but when the pressure is on it feels like a different bike. That feeling had disappeared with the Honda because I had so much seat time on it. I felt an added air of confidence when my family showed up unexpectedly in a sweet winni all the way from Fla.
During Qualifying I ran the same run that I was doing on my F4i. It was solid...but not a comp winner so I finished fourth and was happy to be in that spot. There is room to climb but your still in the top five.
On Saturday I felt awesome. Due to the drive there wasn't any jet lag so I was ready to make wheelies. I took seventh in the first round of what I thought was a good run. Oh well, the judges didn't think so, so I re-wrote my run on my gas tank....GO FASTER.
That run really helped since I finished in second in the next round and was third overall now. I was in a position to win and I knew it. I went all out in my third run with no mistakes but still took third. In a judged sport I guess you have to sometimes beat the other riders and the judges at the same time. Bill D won the 2010 XDL series championship because of the added point for qualifying first. He actually wiped out during this series winning run...
Lin Savage went head to head with Tony Carbajal and won the circle challenge. The burn out comp went to a well deserved Shift rider, Alex Flores, who did the whole minute backwards. The Aprilia All star challenge went to Eric Petit, who needs to finish top three in Indy to win a new 2010 Aprilia sm. Sickest trick went to Aprilia rider Joe Dryden, with a no handed sub frame scrape.
The Female cup went to Brandy "Tex" Valdez, who seems to be riding more aggressive than the other women on the circuit. The team win went to Cali Alliance, which included Alex Flores, Guru Khalsa, John Michael O'Leary, and Rick Hart.
After that Nicole and I only had a 3000 mile drive ahead of us. I am looking forward to going back to LA for the X-Games at the end of July and am prepared for the trip. I took Shift rider Chris "Teach" McNeil's BMW home to CT because he had a local show and was glad to do so as a payback for all the tutelage I have gotten from him.
I want to thank all my sponsors that have made this trip and career possible: SHIFT, Racing 905, Warrior International, Dave Bolognese, Hindle Exhaust, Sparx Helmets, HEL brake lines, Gabriel Racing, Amsoil, Shinko Tires, Thrust Co, Bike Styles, Stuntride.com, and Hohey Designs. Thank you all.