It’s the start of Day One of the 2013 USXC Seven Clans Casino I-500. Ahead are three grueling days and 500 miles of ditch and river.
I am standing at what is literally the first ditch approach after the starting line. It’s a driveway approach, actually, with about a 10-foot transition from the bottom of the ditch up to the roughly 3-ft.-tall grade.
The Pro 600 class starts first, with riders leaving one-at-a-time at 30-second intervals. Most are expecting a three-day, cumulative time of around 7 hours. Ryan Simons is the 15th of 21 Pros to start.
Conventional wisdom says that it’s wise to pace your first handful of miles in order to warm-up, understand the style of the course officials who mark the course and to “find your rhythm.”
And the first 14 pros that hit the approach while I pull the trigger on my Nikon are mostly following conventional wisdom. Polaris rider Aaron Christensen is the first to really launch, and he flies past the landing marks of those who came before him. Team Arctic’s Wes Selby does it one better, showing off his snocross background.
Then it’s Simons turn:
I swear he only burped his throttle for one second.
KAPOW-he-nailed-the-approach! And for a few seconds he blithely, almost peacefully, sailed into the distance. WAY further than anyone before him. Strong as the ProCross chassis is, I’m surprised it didn’t fold in half.
When he landed the throttle was pegged and he disappeared into the distance, hitting each approach as if it were but a mere speedbump.
That is how Ryan Simons won the 2013 I-500. Kids, don’t try this at home.