The Side Story from the MiniGP 24 Hour

How a frankenbike took the other Cycle World staffer on hand for the 2016 UMRA 24-Hour to a second place overall finish

I hadn’t intended to work on a weekend off. I did however commit to seat time within a six-rider team contesting the UMRA 24-Hour MiniGP held at Grange Motor Circuit, a kart track located in Apple Valley, California. What was to be all about riding without writing now sees me at the keyboard.

Team Senility standing in back of their race bik
Team Senility members James McNeill, Matt Doyle, Ayuma Kurodaya, Don Canet, Radford Pajita with Ichiro Horiba and crew chief Dave Collins taking a knee.Don Canet

Shortly after I arrived at the track Saturday morning for pre-race practice, I discovered a Cycle World co-worker was also on hand riding for a "factory" Kawasaki team fielding a Z125 entered in our class. Okay, so the bike Associate Editor Bradley Adams was riding wasn't a works effort, rather an off-hours Team Green effort composed of race experienced employees from Kawasaki's USA headquarters. As for the band of brothers I rode with named "Team Senility" paying homage to our advanced age and um, experience, there's a backstory.

RELATED:

I've been the organizer of a local race series called SuperTT American Racing Series (supertt.com) since 1997, and what originated as America's very first supermoto series has since evolved in recent seasons to also include several MiniGP classes. When a few of the guys asked me to ride with them I was all in. Our steed was unassuming; a frakenbike comprised of a Honda XR100 punched to 125cc with Takegawa parts shoehorned into an XR chassis fitted with KTM 85 motocross fork and Bridgestone slick-shod 17-inch wheels.

start of the 24 hour motorcycle race
The beginning of a daylong race as the leadoff riders line up behind big banner and run through it for the Le Mans-style start.Don Canet

Our ace in the hole was a solid rider roster consisting of two former Japanese national road racers, a trio of fierce STTARS regulars, and myself, an old guy that never grew up.

Admittedly, 24 hours makes for a lengthy race report, so cutting to the chase we battled a much faster Honda CRF150R for the overall lead throughout the first half of the race. We lost insurmountable ground in the middle of the night as the drive chain repeatedly jumped sprocket requiring repeated pit stops, first for adjustment, then chain replacement. Following my two-hour midnight stint I awoke a few hours later to learn the problem had been diagnosed and rectified, requiring some makeshift on-site frame welding to repair a broken motor mount.

guy welding a motorcycle frame
Japanese MacGyver Horiba puts the moonlight weld to the XR frame in the pits.Don Canet

Despite the down time, old age and treachery clawed back into second overall and first in class by daybreak, a position we maintained to the end. I must admit that while my aching back, blistered hands and raw tailbone are glad it’s now over, my teammates and I are looking forward to the next annual 24-Hour MiniGP.

chair and motorcycle in back of van
It’s all about priorities when old guys race.Don Canet
Don Canet resting in a chair before the ride
Canet gets his head around riding a 24-hour endurance.Don Canet
Don Canet resting in a chair before the ride
Knowing the recliner awaits helped me get through that 2-hour midnight stint.Don Canet
Don Canet race action
Although a bit cramped for the hour-plus stints, Canet had a blast proving older gents are still competitive.Courtesy of race competitor
James McNeill race action
James McNeill charging hard on the Team Senility Honda XR.Courtesy of race competitor
Carlos Verdinelli race action
Carlos Verdinelli aboard the Kymco USA entry.Courtesy of race competitor
Team Squid Hard race action
Team Squid Hard’s CRF150R proved quick, reliable and ultimately unbeatable.Courtesy of race competitor
worn rear tire of the race bike
While 1140 laps in 24-hours took its toll on the bike’s Bridgestone rear slick, the bike remained hooked up to the very end.Don Canet
racers standing on the podium
Spilling the spoils on the podium for the top three overall.Carlos Verdinelli
phone app showing real time race results
Transponder timing with real-time standings transmitted in the pits over Wi-Fi kept us abreast of the situation throughout. 21 bikes made it to the end.Don Canet