Thursday, June 3, 2021

Round Three: AHRMA Mid Atlantic Cross-Country

 LL Raceway, Fairmount City, PA – May 9, 2021

Author: Joshua Schucker

Photos: Nora Hergenroeder, Brett Reichart & Becky Schreckengost

Last year, LL Raceway served as the unexpected season opener of the Mid-Atlantic region’s cross-country schedule due to delays caused by the early intervention efforts to curtail the COVID-19 pandemic. It was certainly a unique time in individual and collective history, as we all managed to do the best we could with the given situation. 


Generally, that event was a milestone in our vintage racing mindset as we were able to break free from the locked down nature of society in that moment in time and make a group effort to regain some normalcy in a responsible and thoughtful manner. The event generated equal measures of excitement and uncertainty, as well as a touch of surreal. Intent to put another exclamation point on the challenges of 2020 and attempt to strip away the excitement of a return to racing, Mother Nature pounded the area with a week of rain and a race day downpour.

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In 2021, racing returns to Fairmount City’s LL Raceway in its typical early-May spot on the calendar. And, it is once again round three rather than one. That in itself is a small indication of the fact that we are all in a better place than a year ago. Although certainly not completely past the pandemic’s curse, we are progressing. Set to further distance our thoughts from the surreal of 2020 and seek redemption from its mud fest, trial-boss Jim Reitz set foot on Preston Cypher’s LL Raceway property months ahead of the event to prepare an excellent and vintage friendly course. Jim, along with his “A-Team” of helpers, sons Jamie and Mike, and Wally Naletko, worked diligently to avoid most of the low-lying areas that were most impacted by rain in 2020. Assuredly, the intent was to prepare for rain but expect clear blue skies and lovely spring weather. Despite the good expectations about weather, the long-term forecasts were telling a different story leading up to the event, and unfortunately all the reports were consistent…rain coming, and lots of it. There was a sense of dread being fomented by the weather reports, in a similar way to seeing the new trailer for this summer’s blockbuster sequel to whichever horror film was most recently popular. New movie…same place, same victims, same slasher, same outcome. Of course, for us the “slasher” is rain, and thankfully no one is truly a victim of any harm, but the result was looking to be “Quagmire 2” regardless.


However, this sequel looked to set itself apart from the pack by unveiling a completely unexpected plot twist. The meteorologists said it was going to rain, and in that respect, those reports were accurate. It rained often leading up to the event, and by the start of the first race, a steady rain had settled into the area. The plot twist took hold just after the morning’s vintage race. Temperatures, which were expected in the mid-50s, took a plunge into the 30s. Is that snow? It won’t last, after all it is May, right? Well, in 2021’s version of surreal, the rain changed to a steady snow throughout race two and was even beginning to accumulate, turning the course itself white at spots. Even though the precipitation eventually returned to liquid form, the temperatures remained downright frigid for the remainder of the event. There is no denying that these weather events dramatically impacted the course and traction, but all told, the course held up remarkably well. The effort put in by Jim and crew to avoid lower elevations was a resounding success in mitigating trouble areas. The layout, combined with the terrain and soil composition, led to more water flow and standing water than outright mud. If you were able to ignore the cold and wet, the course was extremely enjoyable and far less demanding than one would expect given the conditions. Certainly, there were slick spots and exposed roots that would cause a bit of challenge to most. The course meandered its way around the LL property using a combination of dirt roads, existing two-track, and some fresh single track. The nature of the terrain affords some extreme elevations changes throughout the duration of a four-mile lap. Variety is exceptional and the contrast between woods and historical coal mining spoils is dramatic and entertaining. 


Logan Holley raced to a pair of wins on the day.


Race One (Vintage)

While attendance was down, as is expected with the forewarning provided by the forecast, a surprising group of thirty-two brave souls took their place on the starting line for the morning vintage race. They say it’s lonely at the top, and it sure looked that way as Brian Grove took the rain-drenched green flag. Brian was the only AA rider to make the start and had the front row all to himself. Typically, few can challenge the Husqvarna rider when starting in the same row, so with a clear track ahead and everyone else at least thirty seconds behind, Grove took the easy overall victory. Logan Holley’s lap times were right in the hunt, but he would have to settle for second on his DT360 followed by the Puch of Brett Reichart. Holley and Reichart took the victories in Vintage Open Expert and Vintage 200 Expert respectively. Vintage 60+ Experts Mark Schwab, Randy Marshall, and Marty Strouse would follow each other head-to-tail past the checkers to fill out the class podium in that order, as well as claiming top-ten overall positions. Schwab was challenged early and often as both Marshall and Strouse were within seconds of the lead for several laps before Mark opened some breathing room on the last lap while the Husqvarna duo of Marshall and Strouse battled to the end where Randy would clear Marty by one second for runner-up.  Dave Light made his entrance into the Vintage Open Intermediate class in style as he pushed his MX360 Yamaha through the muck to a solid victory over fellow Yamaha MX rider Mike Reitz. Emily Reichart also debuted in the vintage race at LL and followed Dave’s lead by taking the top spot in Vintage Women’s Intermediate with Jenn Smith close behind in the runner-up spot.


Emily Reichart races to the win in Vintage Womens Intermediate


Race Two (Post Vintage)

Logan Holley saved some speed for the post vintage race as he hustled his IT200 to the front of the Post Vintage 200 Expert class to take the class win while also making up the time from row two to take the overall victory in front of twenty-nine other riders. Rylin Pacella took the class and overall runner up to Holley on his CR125 followed by Eric Weiland in third overall. Weiland claimed victory on his Yamaha YZ in Post Vintage 50+ Expert. Josh Horvath would not only take the Post Vintage Open class, but also claim top intermediate rider in a solid fourth place overall just in front of AA class winner Mike Blackwell’s Yamaha IT. Geoff Kemp was faster than anyone has a right to be on a disco-era Yamaha DT175 as he became the third winner in as many rounds in Post Vintage 200 Intermediate action. Round one winner Mike McCullough took the runner-up followed by Kurt Kilby making his debut with a yellow helmet stripe. New to the series for 2021, John Brant is making his mark in Post Vintage 50+ Intermediate claiming his second win in as many attempts. Kawasaki rider Kevin Marshall set the pace early as he tried his best to keep Brant’s Yamaha behind him but had to settle for the runner-up spot when Brant made a move on the last lap. Rick Klingensmith and his Husqvarna captured first place in the Post Vintage 60+ Novice class and knocked down top novice rider honors in the tough conditions.


Mike Blackwell takes a AA class win.


Race Three (Disc Brake)

Fifteen riders hung around all day to get their shot at the course, and despite the continued cold, the course was holding up better than anticipated making for some competitive racing. Three AA riders took off from row one and remained out in front of the pack for four laps. Mike Blackwell and Brett Reichart, both riding Kawasaki KXs, were one-two with the KTM of Blade Schmidt rounding out the class and overall podium. Timothy Brendlinger and Cameron Pennington were trading fast lap times (nearly AA fast!) in Early Modern Open Intermediate, but trouble on lap one for Pennington was all that Brendlinger needed to put his RMX250 out front for the win. Josh Folmar was also turning some quick lap times on his XR250 on his way to the Pre-Modern Open Intermediate class win over Grant Reichart and his father, Keith Folmar, all Honda-mounted. Anthony Lowery was not able to beat his father, falling one second shy of Craig, the elder Lowery, in the overall standings as the two waged an epic battle to the checkered flag. Anthony was able to take solace in his victory over rivals Joey Spayd II and Dave Light in Pre-2K 200 Intermediate, while Craig secured the Pre-2K Open Intermediate crown. Joe Wallace parlayed consistent lap times into an easy win in Pre-Modern 200 Expert.


Tim Brendlinger wins Early Modern Open Intermediate

Despite difficult conditions yet again, everyone involved made the absolute best effort to make the event as successful as possible. As is typical when this group of riders, families, and volunteers puts their best foot forward in a difficult position, a better time was had than could have been expected. It is a shame for the Reitz family and their cohorts that weather continues to interfere with this event, as you can clearly tell they take great pride in the work put into the planning of this event. Thankfully that hard work paid some noticeable dividends this weekend with the thoughtfulness put into avoiding wet “problem” areas. Hopefully the future holds better weather for the LL Raceway round, because this venue possesses remarkable terrain that deserves to be unburdened by foul weather. Cross your fingers that next spring is the beginning of a streak of good fortune!


As always, thanks to the Mid-Atlantic’s ever-willing team of volunteers, thank you to Preston Cypher for continuing to let the series call LL Raceway home for a weekend, and special thanks to the sponsors that make these events possible; Potomac Vintage Riders, Preston Petty Products, Stainless Cycle, Vee Rubber, Grove Printing, KMI Printing, Horizon Homes, and Works Enduro Riders. The 2021 schedule and complete results from this event can be found at https://www.ahrma.org/ahrma-mid-atlantic-region. Follow the series’ Facebook page @ AHRMA Mid Atlantic Cross Country for updates and news throughout the year.



Wednesday, June 2, 2021

AHRMA Regional Cross-Country Showdown: Mid-Atlantic vs Northeast

Anthracite Run – April 24, 2021

Author: Joshua Schucker

Photos: Sarah Lane

While not an outright “showdown” between the adjacent regions as the headline billing may suggest (got to have something to grab your attention, right?), the annual springtime collaborative event between the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions is always one of the best attended events each year (over one hundred eighty entries in 2021). 


The influx of riders from both regions provides a great opportunity to test your mettle against new faces, make new acquaintances in the racing community, and revisit with old friends from nearby states. After an unfortunate cancellation of last year’s event, cross-country trail boss Dan Horengic was looking to capitalize on the enthusiasm of a 2021 return. What better way to make an impact than to debut an entirely new location with freshly cut trail! While historically the cross-country race was held on the same property as Sunday’s joint motocross race at Irish Valley, Dan and his crew were able to locate some fresh land just a few minutes away that would present a new challenge to the region’s woods racers while still maintaining the popularity of the Irish Valley motocross course for Sunday’s follow-up event.


Famous Reading Outdoors (FRO) is a publicly accessible, permit-based, off-road wonderland spanning over 20,000 acres in Pennsylvania’s anthracite region., and its operations manager, Brian Rich, was generous enough to carve out a small area in Locust Gap, PA to host Saturday’s race. One look at any topographical map of FRO’s land in Northumberland and Schuylkill counties clearly demonstrates that the Dan’s track team was certainly presented with challenges, and puts an exclamation point on the cautionary disclaimers presented at the morning’s riders meeting. There is little ground that has been untouched by previous or active mining operations in this area. In fact, the parking and start area is a part of an active mining operation taking place just beyond sight. While the area provided was limited in acreage and the terrain difficult, Dan and his crew quickly went to work on the property to carve out a fun and challenging three-plus mile course. As stated, there were plenty of dangerous areas, and Dave Kutskel made it clear that the course is one of the more difficult in the series and warned that you do not stray off course due to hazards inherent in the land’s history. His description of the ribbons indicating the strip-mining created shear three-hundred-foot cliff within fifteen feet of the trail certainly drove home the point that safety demands attention this day.

All the hype surrounding the difficulty and conditions is certainly meant to humble and instigate a safe event foremost, but also to set expectations and define boundaries for those set to participate. In action, the racers operated within those boundaries and thankfully everyone remained safe. Reactions to the course were tremendously positive. The course was hemmed in between the active mine access road to the south and a steep mountainside to the north. Leaving the parking area start, the course made an immediate right and began ascending the hillside on an old rock-strewn access road. If there is something this area is known for besides coal…it’s rocks. Considering the rocky predisposition, the course was nearly 80% untouched, freshly cut, single track carefully wrought to avoid the worst of the rock areas, but inevitably required traversing at least two rather gnarly rock gardens as it wound it’s way through various piles, gullies, valleys, drops, hills, roots and trees to finish with a blast through some snaking two track in a stand of pines. After a lap or two in the morning race, the course really started to get broken in well and developed a fun and challenging flow with lots of interesting visual reminders of the land’s manipulation by human hands. Weather was wonderful for April, and conditions in the woods were magnificent. The starting and scoring areas were in an open area covered in powdery coal dust, so visibility in the eighth mile surrounding the scoring tent was a struggle. Thank you to the scoring team of Jess Reichart, Connie Zdybak, and Lori Spisak for steadfastly keeping track of the day’s action in those conditions.

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Race One (Vintage)

AA riders Brian Grove and Josh Zerance set the pace for the 54 riders in the morning’s vintage race. Grove’s Husqvarna would pull away to a near five-minute lead over Zerance to take the checkers for the overall win. Josh’s Can-Am held on for second. After years of persuasion from life-long family friend Richard Colahan, Jamie Wright made his vintage racing debut on Colahan’s race-prepped ’74 Honda XL250. With a missing muffler, it was hard to miss Jamie as he roared to third overall and the win in Vintage Open Expert competition. Mike Ferguson and Christian Brumbaugh would follow Jamie for second and third in class respectively. Ed Weger outlasted the early leaders Kevin Marshall and Ed Klinger when, on lap three, he muscled his Husqvarna past Klinger’s Husky to take the Vintage 50+ Intermediate class lead and never look back. Klinger held on to the second spot followed by Noah Gullichson in third. A large group of riders took the green flag in the Vintage 60+ intermediate class and proceeded to see nothing but Glenn Hershey’s rear fender, none more so than Otto Dejager who stalked Glenn’s Can-Am all race long closing the gap to two seconds at the white flag. Otto would then proceed to lay down his quickest lap time of the day ending Hershey’s dominance and claiming the class victory. Glenn would still muster a respectable second in the competitive class followed by constant rival Dave McIntyre in third. Jim Reitz pushed aside concerns that this wasn’t a novice friendly course by laying down a solid lap time to place himself as the top novice for the race, and a class win in Vintage 70+ Novice.


Steve Mason Jr


Race Two (Post Vintage)

Any thought Brian Grove had of knocking down two AA class wins were spoiled by Steve Mason Jr as he had his Yamaha IT flying. Grove kept Mason on his toes being consistently within twenty seconds, but Mason would take the win in AA and the overall, with Grove taking second in both categories on his Husqvarna. Darrell Wassill was no slouch either laying down lap times close to the top two and nailing the third spot on the podium ahead of seventy-eight others. Post Vintage 50+ Intermediate laid claim to the largest class of the day with a whopping sixteen riders vying for the crown. Vince Monks would spoil the day for the rest when he took the lead on lap two and soldiered to a commanding win on his YZ. Tommy Tippett (Can-Am) and Anthony Yannitelli (Maico) tried to reel in Monks but to no avail as they had to settle for second and third. Kurt Flachbart made the trip down to PA from Maine to serve as the guest speaker at Saturday evening’s Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region awards banquet, where he humorously told his tale of a life-long motorcycle love affair and path to becoming the owner and editor of Trail Rider Magazine. While in town, Kurt lined his Husky up in the Post Vintage Open Intermediate row and capitalized on Josh Horvath’s early exit to take the lead and hold on to the capture the checkers followed by IT rider Mike Flaherty and Potomac Vintage Riders head honcho Tommy Grimmel in third. In more Open class action, Steven Perrotto, Mark Hummel, and Dane Brownawell swapped leads multiple times before Hummell’s Husqvarna took over for keeps on lap four. Dane maintained the runner-up spot on his Yamaha with Perrotto just behind. Laci Horvath followed up her earlier Women’s Vintage Expert win with another victory in the Women’s Post Vintage Expert class.



Laci Horvath grabs a Womens class win.

For several years now, the trio of Yamaha IT’s of Shane Reichert, Josh Stewart, and Eric Rupp, collectively known as the Dover Vintage Riders, have become a familiar sight in the Post Vintage 200 Intermediate class. While all are consistently in the mix in a competitive class, Rupp is the only member of the “team” to not yet have claimed a first-place finish at some point. That all changed at Locust Gap as Rupp was riding at the top of his game. Steadily shrugging off any challenge to the top spot and pushing his IT200 to fast and consistent lap times, Eric finally stamped his name in the winner’s column by mere seconds. It was truly heart-warming to see the joy shared by this group of close friends and their families as they celebrated the long-awaited victory together.


Eric Rupp grabs his first checkers racing at Locust Gap


Race Three (Disc Brake)

John Ashcraft is the man to beat when he is aboard his mighty CR500. Once again, he dominated the AA class besting Ethan Waddell (Yamaha) and Mike Blackwell (Kawasaki). Roy Miller spent the race being badgered by pressure from Mark Hummell before finally placing some breathing room between them on the last lap to make the Early Modern Open Expert victory a bit more convincing. Brian Schwein would follow closely behind on his YZ250 for third. The Pre-2K 200 Intermediate class is becoming a hot bed for ultra-competitive battles. Dave Light, Joey Spayd II, and Anthony Lowery did their best to live up to that expectation with multiple lead changes. The young guns Lowery (Yamaha) and Spayd (Suzuki) would push their way to the front to finish one-two with the elder-statesman Light rounding out the top-three on his KTM. Under the tutelage of his mentor, and Women’s Vintage Intermediate victor, Jenn Smith, Mason Swan ripped the holeshot on his Yamaha RT180 and led lap one before ultimately finishing a strong third behind winner Brandon Rowe and runner-up Al Linville in Pre-Modern 200 Novice action.


A big thanks to all the participants that continue to support and grow regional AHRMA cross-country racing, and congratulations to all for an enjoyable regional collaboration and safe inaugural Anthracite Run. Feedback following the event has been overwhelmingly positive, so fingers-crossed for a return in the future. As always thanks to the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region’s ever-willing team of volunteers, Dan Horengic and his trail crew, and eternal thanks to the sponsors that make these events possible; Potomac Vintage Riders, Preston Petty Products, Stainless Cycle, Vee Rubber, Grove Printing, KMI Printing, Horizon Homes, Hatch’s Hodaka, Jennings ATV & Cycle, Northeast Vintage Riders Club, Northeast Cycle Service, and Works Enduro Riders. The 2021 schedule and complete results from this event can be found at https://www.ahrma.org/ahrma-mid-atlantic-region and https://www.ahrma.org/ahrma-northeast-region . Follow the series’ Facebook page @ AHRMA Mid Atlantic Cross Country and @ AHRMA Northeast for updates and news throughout the year. Special thanks to Famous Reading Outdoors (readingoutdoors.com) for the land access and continuing to facilitate and champion the world of off-road adventures.