Archive for January, 2010

2010 Daytona Beach Freeride

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Sitting in the West Palm Beach airport now waiting for my flight back home, I have some time to recollect on the incredible weekend I had at the 2010 Daytona Beach Freeride. Right off the bat, I have to thank my sponsor Pacseal Hydraulics, without their financial aid this trip would not have been possible. Big thanks to my Sponsor and friends at Liquid Militia for helping me afford to pay Chris MacClugage to drive my ski across the country and back, and also for being my biggest on site supporters! Last but not least a big thanks to my good friend and rider DJ Grahm, and his Sweetheart for a wife Natalie. They welcomed me yet again to stay at their house the few days before and after the event, also getting me around town and to and from the event.

In Daytona, Friday was a little uneventful. Chris MacClugage didn’t show up with my ski until about 1pm, yet I wasn’t able to get it out of the trailer and install my new prototype AC Racing handle pole until about 3:45. I finished installing the new pole and was rushing my ski into the water at 4:30 with less than 30 minutes to ride before the beach closed at 5pm. unfortunately I was not able to ride and spent the next 3 hours pulling my carburetors apart to unstick my needle and seats that were stuck shut from the long transport. That night we all partied at the beach house about 10 min down from the event site where a huge pallet bonfire was lit, Pit bikes and mini ATC’s circled the party, and loud music kept everyone having a great time.

The next day I made sure to be the first one in the water, it was a stormy day with scattered rain and overcast conditions. I had a lot of fun riding but eventually came in after an hour very frustrated because I overlooked a component on the new handle pole that allows me to install a spring to reduce the weight I have to lift on the pole. I ended up taking an hour and a half to remove the new pole and install my old pole that I brought. This was the best thing I could do because I felt so much more comfortable and fluid riding with a handle pole spring.

A few hours later I signed up for the sickest trick contest Sponsored by Hydro-Turf. The ground rules were one person goes out and gets 5 waves to attempt to pull the sickest tricks you can. My first wave I pulled my first one handed re entry, the next wave I wanted to get a feel for how high I can launch myself and threw myself in a scary high barrel roll, the third wave I attempted a barrel roll Re entry which didn’t go so well. My fourth wave I went for the double barrel roll with only 15 ft to run at the wave when I wanted 30, I still made a hair over 1 ½ rolls. On my way in I attempted to barrel roll over a breaking wave but got sucked in and spit up the opposite side. Macc and Ant Burgess ended up splitting the title with Macc going for a huge double back flip attempt and Ant going huge on some back flip variables.
Later on when I went to go ride, I ended up sharing some waves and riding with child hood hero, Rick Roy. That was an incredible experience I really appreciated. That night we partied at the local club Razzles. A lot of shenanigans took place that night but overall it was a fun night meeting a ton of cool people, and having a great time with my friends at Liquid Militia.
The following morning I was again the first one in the water at 8:50 am to ride some really big and clean surf for Daytona. It was a beautiful morning and I rode my ski for about an hour and a half before my half tank of gas was empty. After I cleaned up the room I was in to check out, Natalie drove me to get more gas so I could ride for the rest of the day. Another 2 hour ride session left me extremely tired and ready to slow down for a few minutes until I was convinced to race in the amateur motosurf race. This ended up being the most fun thing I could of done next to the sickest trick all weekend.
Having never raced before I took advice from a few friends and race legend Chris MacClugage which was really helpful. His wife Rachel ended up finding a pair of race goggle for me to borrow which really came in handy! The first moto I ended up right behind the leader by a buoy before I ate it big time coming around the inside buoy. After a swift swim I was back in the race and held 3rd place until the end! The race was a promotional race where the top 3 amateurs raced in the Pro class vs. Chris MacClugage, Dustin Farthing, and a handful of other experienced racers for a $1000 prize.
Halfway through the race Macc and Farthing ended up breaking down and the amateurs took the same finishing position including myself beating the other racers on the track! I also ended up coming in front of a perfect launch wave on the final lap that I threw a barrel roll off which was really fun! The entire experience was super tiring after the entire weekend and the intensity of the race but I would not trade that experience for anything.

A 3 hour drive back to West Palm beach I spent a day at my main sponsor Wamiltons customs to relax, recoup, and help out around the shop before I ended up here at the West Palm airport writing this blog.Overall Daytona was a huge success and killer event. I had so much fun riding, and meeting a ton of really cool people. Now I have to get home, get my ski back from MacClugage in Havasu, and figure out how afford to get to the Australian Pro Invite Open February 20th!

Until the next event,
-Mark Gomez

Blowsion Surf Slam 2009

Monday, January 4th, 2010

This post has been really delayed because for the life of me I could not log into this blog account!
Anyways, my trip to the First annual Blowsion Surf Slam Presented by WORX in Pacific City Oregon was a rough journey, tough competition, but overall successful! Leaving off from my last blog, I arrived at my good friend and amateur rider Zack Bright’s house around 2am, We then woke up around 5 am to load up his dad’s company fleet truck, which was a 2 wheel drive automatic Ford Ranger with no cruise control for a 16hr+ 1000mile drive to our destination. With the Truck loaded with our gear, extra parts, and my double trailer hitched on the back with our skis, we were on the freeway at 7am and arrived at our first destination in Sherwood, Oregon at around 3 am to get some much needed rest at a local motel 8. We stayed at this location because it was the cheapest motel 15 minutes away from the main event sponsor Blowsion Kustoms shop. It was there where we got to see many familiar faces of the Blowsion work force, as well as guests like Steve Webster of Kommander Industries, Freestyle pro rider Josh Lustic, race legend Robby Myer, Ross Champion, Chris and Rhonda Burgess of Nacencey Cinema, and many other people. All who came in to hang out, snag some product off the shelf, and or do some last minute pre-competition repairs and modifications before we all left that night for a 2-3 hour drive to the event site in Pacific City, Oregon. We arrived at about 3am that night to lay over at the event staff’s rental home.

The following morning we got breakfast at the local breakfast cottage, while we waited for our beach front rental cabin to be ready. A few hours later were at the cabin that John Dady the owner of Blowsion was very kind to not only rent for his riders and photographer’s to stay at, but also allowing Zack and I to crash there. It was very generous of him and I still appreciate that warm cabin to this day. All unpacked, we drove 15 minutes away to the event site at Tierra Del Mar so we could all practice, and so I could then also break in my 3rd brand new top end of the year. Which is usually the thing a person would do weeks if not months before you are 1000 miles away the day before a competition. After tearing up some beautiful 4-5ft pre event surf we loaded up and made our way back to the cabin. We all cleaned up and drove 4 minutes down the street to the one and only Mexican food joint in the very small town of Pacific City. We had a great first night’s meal with good friends talking about past events in anticipation for the start of the surf slam the next day.

The next morning we arrived early for the riders meeting which for the amateur part of the competition seemed to be still in development. To decide the bracket seating we geared up and were told to go out for a few minutes and practice riding while world champion and amateur competition judge Ross Champion would then seat us by the look of our riding. I ended up being seated 3rd bellow friend and rider Chris Rosner and Stanton High at the top. Hours later after pro qualifying I was in the second heat against Ramon Ferre from Spain. Nothing will ever replace that feeling of wearing a red sponsor bib, standing next to my ski on the beach tote underneath the judging stand waiting for the event staff to signal us to launch. All those times, before I really got involved in the sport, before I ever dreamed If I could become a sponsored rider, watching videos of the pros standing in the same setting and environment before they went out to compete. I was so excited and stoked on the reality of where I was and what was going on, words cannot explain the feelings I had. . It was such an awesome feeling to be right there on deck so when the they signaled us to launch, adrenaline consumed me. This was good because It made me oblivious to my nerves of riding in the 15-20 foot massive power full and washing machine like surf that Ramon and I were charging our skis toward. Running down the beach toward the surf a 3 ft surge came up perfectly washing my beach tote out from under my ski making my launch almost effortless. I opened up the throttle on my ski shredding around in the shallows feeding my adrenaline, waiting for Ramon who launched his ski too early and had to wait for a wave surge to provide some deeper water to take off from. Ramon was in the water and I could only do circles keeping an eye at the judging tower waiting for the red flag to go down and the green flag to go up to start our 5 minute heat. I watched the flagman drop the red flag so I immediately started my stop watch on my handlebars so I could keep track of my time out there. By the time I looked up the green flag was up and I found myself riding full throttle almost everywhere. It was such a messy and gnarly surf break that it made it really hard to get any rhythm going I just found myself zipping full throttle everywhere trying to surf every wave I came across and find a wave that might provide the right face for a barrel roll or any other trick. Those 5 minutes flew by as I looked over and saw the yellow 2 minute warning flag raised and my stop watch reading 20 seconds shy of 5 minutes. I found myself in front of a large swell that I decided I would try to slash then possibly ride in. When I got to the wave little did I know time had ended and I hit the wave a little too late and found myself at the top of this 15 ft wave with my nose pitched down because I came in and turned too hard that my finger also got stuck holding the throttle wide open. I held on as hard as I could but I was slowly ripped off my ski and sucked down over the wave.

After I surfaced I found my ski not only upside down a few feet away but the motor was still stuck full throttle as well. I swam to my ski as quickly as I could fearing my new motor would seize, I got to my ski and flipped it over putting the pump in the water shutting the motor off because of the resistance. That was one small obstacle because now my ski was floating very nose heavy being ½ full of water. Before I could attempt to try and start the ski again a wall of white water hit me and my ski and violently thrashing me around separating me from my ski instantly again and holding me down for 10 seconds. When I thought I surfaced I was actually in a few inches of foam so when I took a breath I gulped down salty foam which made it harder to stay calm and breathe right. My ski was now completely full of water; I watched my ski bob up and down nose first before 2 more waves thrashed me. By the third wave and hold down I was really running out of air and energy to fight the foam to the surface. Fortunately the rescue crew spotted me so I could heave myself onto the rescue sled on the back and get brought to shore. I coughed up a bunch of salt water and caught my breath, but was overcome by frustration thinking that I was now out of the competition and wondering if I could get my ski back. I was told that I sank my ski after the time on my heat ran out because the judges scores came back I won that first heat. Ramon was a great opponent; there were no rivalries because we are all buddies.

The event was delayed for an entire hour because my ski was in the way of the event and the surf was so rough the rescue crew didn’t have enough time between waves to hook my ski and drag it in. When they finally were able to recover the ski I stopped my watch at 59 minutes and a few seconds shy of an hour. The rest of the day became a nightmare because the massive swell combined with the arriving high tide created random mini 1-2ft tsunamis that would race up the beach knocking skis off of beach totes, washing skis into vendor stands, sweeping people off their feet and almost sinking the judging stand. The final 2 amateur heats were delayed almost 2 hours because the event crew had to use the one big tractor they had to retreat the entire event farther and farther up the beach. The entire time this was happening I was under a booth trying to get my sunken ski started again with a low battery, water logged fuel, and those damn tsunamis that would catch me and friends who helped me off guard putting water back into my ski.

I ended up giving up and loading the ski onto the trailer so we could all abandon the main event site that was the high ground and now hit by a foot high surge every 15 minutes. Back at the house I quickly began working on my ski now that I was on dry land and in a lit garage. I was still in my wet suit, tired, hungry, cold, and beyond frustrated. I will never forget and will always thank Chris Burgess of Nacencey cinema for convincing me to stop working, go clean up and get dressed so we could go out and enjoy a good dinner, I could then come back, hammer down , and get my ski running. That advice really helped me unwind and allowed me to enjoy some of the night with friends and a good meal before I came back to work on my ski. We got back around 9pm and I didn’t get my ski running until 1am with the help of my good friend Zack Bright who stayed up and helped me out the entire time in that freezing garage.

The next day they scheduled only 2 rounds of the pro brackets so everyone could get out before the storm surge came back. Zack and I just ended up sitting in his truck with the heater on watching the pro heats and later helping them launch and pick up skis after the heats were over. Sunday morning the brackets were posted and my next opponent just had to be Zack Bright! Both of us were bumbed and pissed because we wanted to if anything face off in the finals. What made it worse is because of the event timing complications with the tide problem, whoever lost that round instantly won 4th and didn’t have a chance to ride again to go for third. That heat was by far the closest heat of the whole competition. I came out on top my a small point but just barely we both rode so hard It was such a frustrating feeling to be stoked that I won the heat but also pissed because my buddy couldn’t move onto the final rounds or ride again. Especially after we traveled so far to do this!

Before our final heat, I was watching the pro semi finals and ended up standing next to and taking to Jack Shelly the owner of WORX Racing components Australia, the home and foundation of WORX development and production. We were just discussing a few topics and he asked a few questions about myself and my riding career and I will never forget when we stopped talking for a minute watching a pro heat he turned to me and asked me how I would feel about being a WORX sponsored Freerider. I was overtaken by the gesture which for me was a huge honor being that I was at my first competition ever and haven’t even finished with any results yet! To this day I am thankful for Jack’s belief in my potential and support of WORX Racing Components.

The Final heat ended up being a 3 way head to head for 1st 2nd and 3rd. It was the top seats, Stanton High, Chris Rosner and Myself. The surf was the gnarliest during our 8 minute final heat. 10-20 foot waves were breaking everywhere, there was still no rhythm to made out there, I just remembered two things that I was told that made the biggest impact on my score out there. The first was the advice from Freeride Legend Randy Laine. Randy explained to me the value of surf riding in competitions and how it is best worked into scores how to ride in a way so judges and see you. The second lesson I learned listening to legendary power motosurfer Jeremy Brandon also known as JFB. I listened to him at one event where people asked how many back flips he would do. I never forgot when he said “forget going out there to do a certain amount of tricks, I just go out there and do what the waves tell me from where I am,” That was the best advice because during the final heat I just stayed heavy on the throttle moving fast surfing wave after wave after wave, not waiting any time waiting to line up to a good wave face to do a certain trick. As I was surfing around I would come across opportunities where a wave in front of me would present itself in a good position to do an aerial so I would do it, after that I kept moving. Without that advice I would not of been able to make sense of that washing machine of a surf break. Every time I came across Chris or Stan I would see them going huge off waves throwing big barrel rolls and especially stand throwing down back flips like no tomorrow. With the yellow flag up I had surfed as much as I could, I hit as many of the aerial tricks I knew I could pull off, it was time to nut up and go for the back flip because I had nothing to lose. With seconds to go in the last heat I came in front of a 15ft face. Every nerve in my body screamed no as far as running into a almost breaking 15 ft wall of water but I just crouched low and yelled as I death gripped the throttle and accelerated up the massive wave. I had to be ridiculously high because I hit the was super aggressive screaming to get over my nerves but didn’t think to use technique and kick my legs out and pull like you’re supposed to, so I went straight up and slowly rotated until I came down right on my face. It turns out that time had ended right when I landed on my head, any other day that would of rattled me big time but the amount of adrenaline flowing through my body over came any stars I was seeing to roll the ski over and get the hell back to shore before another wave could thrash me and my ski.

It was completely up in the air, we all rode super hard in the messy surf. Nothing but stories and stoke was passed between us seeing each other do certain tricks during the heat. We were all super stoked to have gone out and done it that we never held our breath for the results. We found out they were holding the results for the trophy podium at the end of the event. Right after that heat we watched Ross Champion face off against Mike Serlin who came out on top by some killer surf riding against high flying French rider Pierre Maxient. That final heat was nuts! Ross and Mike hit the same wave doing a cross over back flip. Mike hits it first going left doing a regular back flip then just a few beats later Ross blasts off the lip of the same wave going right doing a super flip. Ross rode a big wave in while Mike stuck to the inside sets legdraging as he was almost getting barreled in some waves. Both of them rode extremely well.

At the podium, Ross came out on top one step closer to his second world title, with Mike Serlin in second and Pierre in third. Stan ended up getting third, Chris got second, and I came out on top! 2009 Blowsion Surf Slam amateur champion! Huge thanks to all my sponsors and big thanks to my friends at PacSeal Hydraulics who made getting to this event and back financially possible. Thank you all for your support. World finals, a stop in Pismo, and Daytona Beach Freeride are around the corner!

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