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Rider Review: X Factor GNCC

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It’s race review time again! I’m Rachel Gutish, Dirt Rider’s resident women’s pro racer, and today I will be reviewing the most recent GNCC round, the X Factor. As a competitor in the race, I have the “inside line” so to speak. Reading this review will give you a better understanding of the conditions and challenges faced by the riders, as well as helping fence-sitters decide if this is an event they might want to do in the future.

This is the first (and probably last) running of the X Factor GNCC in Peru, Indiana. Originally scheduled to take place two weeks ago, on May 6th and 7th, it was postponed until the 21st due to rain. Unfortunately, the GNCC series was unable to escape the clouds, and the rain struck again this weekend.

Due to the one-two-punch of a changed date and imminent weather, turnout was at record lows for the season. In addition, for the first time since the Mammoth GNCC back in 2013 (which was also a mudder of epic proportions) there was no AM and PM race; all riders were ran jointly in one big race which contained all riders, from Kailub Russell to the slowest trailrider. The race only lasted two hours, with the top pros managing four laps.

The event was located at a private hunting preserve in northern Indiana. The overly-saturated soil is usually a mixture of clay and loam; at the race it morphed into sloppy mud and deep ruts. There were a smattering of roots, but trying to make it through the course without getting stuck or crashing was the primary obstacle.

The main lines (from the quad race) in the softest spots became so impassible by the second lap of the bike race that if you went through them, you would get stuck. So people developed alternate lines around and zig-zagging across them just to make it through the course. By the end of the race though, it was hard to tell where the trail even went. Some people did a reasonable job of sticking to the course. Others got lost, missing large swaths of the course or ending up miles behind where they were. This is why at the time of writing [Monday evening], the WXC and XC2 results are still provisional pending further review by officials.

In retrospect, given the low turnout, scoring fiascoes, and massive property damage, it would probably have been best to cancel the race. That being said, I am glad they did not, as I love a good mud race! Judging from what I saw back in the woods though, I would be surprised if the property owners would be willing to host motorcycle races ever again. I know GNCC works hard to maintain good relations and clean up after themselves, but I have no idea how they’re going to clean this one up. Given enough time the woods will heal itself, but normally that is not what the owners like to hear.

This is a shame, because the property has great features. Riding the beautiful mess of a trail was enough for me to recognize how universally loved this race might have been had the weather actually held out. There were a number of short but steep hills, about two miles of wide, sweeping grasstrack, and several places for creek crossings or singletrack sections. Personally, my favorite section this race was the gravel road they re-routed us down from the second lap onward to avoid the nastiest mudhole. I was a fan because it was the only place I didn’t have to worry about getting stuck! The next GNCC, the longstanding John Penton, will take place next weekend in Millfield, Ohio. Hope to see you there!