Octane Racers and Chasers Duathlon | Track Time

Under power and underpowered

By Ari Henning, Photography by Erich Herber

Following your passion is sage advice, and that’s exactly what Robert Herber did. His love for off-road motorcycling and mountain biking were always vying for his time and energy, so rather than doing just one on a given day, he combined them into a single punishing event he dubbed the Octane Racers and Chasers Duathlon.

The premise is simple: Compete in a motocross grand prix followed immediately by a cross-country mountain bike race. The inaugural 2010 series consisted of four meets, all held on the grounds of Cahuilla Creek Motocross in Anza, California. The atmosphere is competitive but fun, and for most participants it’s a casual run-what-ya’-brung event. At the race I attended in January, motorcycles included an 85cc two-stroke, a 450cc four-stroke and everything in between. The same variety was reflected in the mountain bike contingent. I was lucky enough to have a 2010 Yamaha YZ250F (the same bike John L. Stein raced in the Catalina Grand Prix) and my own 6-inch-travel Trek Remedy mountain bike.

The event is promoted as a duathlon, but solos in either leg are an option, as is a team effort. The MX course was comprised of Cahuilla Creek’s excellent Vet track and several miles of fast double-track through the desert, while the MTB trail was smooth singletrack through the chaparral surrounding the main pit area. How many laps you complete in each segment depends on your competition class, which follows the standard cycling structure of Beginner, Sport and Pro. My Sport class was slated to do five laps of the MX course followed by two laps of the approximately 5-mile MTB circuit.

The majority of attendees were there strictly for the cross-country mountain bike races, but there were approximately 15 of us with the equipment and ambition to take on the Duathlon. As a first-timer I found myself obsessing over how best to execute the transition from moto to mountain bike gear, but how well you handle a dirtbike (read: how many times you crash) and the strength of your legs and lungs are of far greater importance. If moto is your strong suit your skill on a dirtbike will allow you to complete the off-road course faster and with less fatigue, whereas those with Lance-like abilities on a mountain bike can make up a lot of time in the pedaling portion. With mediocre capabilities in both categories I got beat up in the motorized leg and over-revved my heart in the pedaling segment, but I had a great time doing it and am looking forward to the next one.

The Octane Racers and Chasers Duathlons (www.racersandchasers.com) run year-round and are an excellent social event for the whole family. Entries cost $55, with part of the proceeds going to local parks and charities. There are other two-wheeled duathlons popping up across the country, but if there isn’t one near you, consider creating your own. All you need is a suitable spot and a handful of friends looking to get some exercise and have a good time.

Now, if only someone would create a triathlon with a roadrace segment…

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