With temperatures expected to soar to more than 90 degrees and humidity peaking this Saturday in north central Texas, the Freestone National should live up to its reputation as the most grueling stop of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championship season.
“In every year I’ve been there it’s been 100 degrees or more,” said GEICO Honda pro Eli Tomac, who is racing in his third Freestone event. “It’s a tough one, so you’ve really got to be able to pace yourself there. You just have to be prepared for it to be that hot.”
Wil Hahn, who as a Texas native grew up riding in these conditions, said the way a rider prepares in the days before for a hot weather race is crucial to being able to hang in there for two 35-minute motos.
“You go into it knowing you are going to lose a lot of liquids during the day,” Hahn said. “We’re going to have an hour and 10 minutes of racing on the track plus all the practice sessions. It’s a long day, but as long as you go in hydrated and keep up your liquid intake, you can give it all you’ve got and recover the next day.”
Justin Barcia, who finished second overall at the season opener in Sacramento, has been getting used the sticky conditions by training at his home track in Florida.
“The best way to cope with heat and humidity is to train in it,” Barcia said. “I’ve been doing it that way for a while and it works for me. No matter what, it’s definitely a test of your fitness. If you don’t go there a 100 percent, the conditions are going to drag you down hard.”
A Colorado native, Tomac said conditions are so extreme at Freestone that there’s really no way to completely acclimate your body to them.
“When it gets that hot, there’s really no way to get used to it,” Tomac said. “I’d rather show up at the race completely fresh and use all your energy that day then to try and get used to the heat. I do all my moto work early in the week and really take it easy on Thursday and Friday so I don’t burn myself out before I get there.”
Tomac is fifth in the points after the first race. He had to recover from an early spill in the second moto of the outdoor season opener and pass a lot of bikes to salvage that finish.
“I fell in the first corner during the second moto, which jacked me up,” Tomac said. “I was able to get back to 10th and fifth overall. I really just lost a few points here and there. Considering where I was at the start of the second moto, I’ll take a finish like that every time.”
Hahn, who suffered a similar fate as Tomac in the second Hangtown moto and had a similar recovery, said keeping the bike on two wheels is always an important first step to success.
“I set myself up with a top-five gate pick in Hangtown, then I crash in the first turn and suddenly I’m 40th,” Hahn said. “I just need to stay in that Top 10 and not work from behind, and I’ll be ready to go.”
GEICO Honda’s rookie Justin Bogle is going to miss the next few races following minor knee surgery. Bogle was injured at the Toronto Supercross, but soldiered on through the rest of the SX season. He realized he wasn’t riding the same so he’s elected to go under the knife this week to repair his meniscus and be healthy for the rest of the motocross season.
Practice for the Freestone National gets under way at 8:30 a.m. CDT on Saturday with opening ceremonies slated for 12:40 p.m. FUEL TV will air the first moto live starting at 2 p.m. EDT Saturday with the NBC Sports network showing the second moto starting a 11 p.m.