Submitted by S. Cesselli
On May 15, Tharon Cesselli participated in the first Okanagan Hare Scramble Series (OHSS) race in of the 2011 season. The Rock Hound at Salmon Arm/Silver Creek. Since the previous race in Kamloops, Tharon spent hours training on trails near Kamloops, but two days leading up to race day he took a bad spill off his bike that sent him over the handle bars and into a small creek. Although the creek broke his fall, he was strained and in pain and at one point considering sitting this one out. However, the desire to ride convinced him to give it his best shot.
The race started at the bottom of a steep rocky hill where the riders spewed out dust and loose rocks as they chewed their way to the top. This year the Rock Hound had a perfect mix of dust, rocks, mud and hills to keep this racer interested. Trail pre-riding is prohibited and the racers must be able to read the trail markers on the fly; missing a marker can significantly set a racer back to a point they may not be able to recover from. However, sometimes a marker is not missed, it is just missing; this was the case that Tharon encountered. He came onto a split in the trail with a marker directing the morning race route, but no alternative for the afternoon race. Tharon considered his options and took the fork to his left, however, the choice felt wrong to him. He narrowly escaped a near head-on with an oncoming rider who shouted in passing that this is the wrong way, but Tharon misinterpreted him to mean that Tharon was going the wrong way. He pulled off the trail and contemplated what to do next. During this brief time he came upon no more riders and Tharon eventually realized the rider was informing him that they both had taken the wrong trail. Coming to this understanding, Tharon turned his bike around and he began to back track and get back in the race. Again he had another near hit as he came across a large group of confused riders who also were all racing the wrong direction. As a group they discussed their options, grumbled a bit, and together they re-routed themselves for almost four km to the point of the missing marker. By now the hosting club had learned of the navigation problem and sent up a volunteer to help guide the riders and establish a directional pointer.
Tharon commented, “Making a critical error on the first lap can be really frustrating and you consider pulling out of the race, but after a while you get the feeling to go hard once more”, so that is what he did, knowing well enough he probably would not be able to make up for the lost time. More serious was the two narrow escapes he had from head on collisions; that concerned him most and was something he had to shake off.
Tharon raced over 60 km with a time of 2:42 and placed fourth in a class that started with 13 riders. He speculated what he may have got if he not made the wrong turn on his first lap.
Tharon’s next scheduled Pacific North West Motorcycle Association (PNWMA) race. The Squealin’ Pig in Vernon/Lumby took place on May 21 where he prepared his bike for his first ever night race, which was then followed the next afternoon with his regular Hare Scramble race.