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A Reno cross?

Let this serve as a caveat for those who fear X Games, snowboards, loud noises or terms containing the word “cross” that don’t relate to organized religion.

Mix those preceding elements, and prime the pump of an extremely powerful, efficient, wheeled chainsaw, because that’s where the evolution of dirt bikes started. Combine in the mad bowl of the Reno Livestock and Events Center with 150 truckloads of dirt, gallons of gas, thousands of fans, a 70-foot gap jump and a $25,000 weekend prize purse, and you’ve created the arenacross that hits the arena Friday through Sunday.

“The first thing you notice is the length of the tracks,” said No. 7-ranked arenacross pro Tom “Sleepwalker” Hofmaster. “Supercross is longer and more technical, whereas we race on tight and fast tracks. There is a different atmosphere in the air. I think the competition is higher and the chances to make mistakes need to be fewer.”



Maybe arenacross is too loud, raw and dirty for its detractors, but spectators have packed stadiums from the Lazy E Arena in Guthrie, Okla., to Arco Arena in Sacramento for the National ArenaCross Series, which began in November and ends after Sunday’s race. In fact, organizers claim attendance figures have nearly doubled over the past 10 years. With two stops in Northern California – Hofmaster’s first podium finish was earlier this month in San Jose – and the finals in Nevada, the high-octane road show might as well be indigenous. In fact, at least two pros from Minden and one top-tier rider from Sacramento are planning go after the Livestock and Events Center track with the same aggression South Shore riders wield against the Sandpits when emulating Shaun Palmer.

“It motivates you to push harder and stuff when you race,” said Minden pro Mike Mason, who hopes to extend his past month’s streak of top-10 finishes – or better it – in Reno.




Another Minden pro, Dustin Miller, agreed.

“We’ve been traveling a lot the last few weeks,” said Miller, who will probably race in Reno to finish off a tough season that has included bike problems and a badly bruised tailbone. “It’s really nice to be home.”

Maybe it’s nice for those two riders and Sacramento’s Kenny Bell to be so close to home. But they shouldn’t expect a warm welcome from the Livestock Center track. Mason said Reno has a big floor, which allows for a section of closely spaced, molar-rattling whoops and a double dirt mound with a 70-foot gap jump. That means tougher arenacross races, and a chance to go bigger in the extreme jump-off contest Friday.

“With Reno being bigger, you get more opportunity to do bigger stuff,” said Mason, who has been working on his Superman – hands on the grips, feet off the footpegs and extended over the back of the bike like Clark Kent’s alter ego – and a no-footed can-can – swinging his right foot off the peg, over the seat, then extending both his legs off the bike. That formula has worked well for Mason in the past few weeks, when he’s grabbed two first places and two more thirds in pro jump-offs.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Mason and Miller are two Minden pros who plan to compete in the pro division, which might include Carson Valley homie Brian Foster as well. Both Minden pros are shooting for top-10s in the weekend’s four main events, Mason top-fives to finish the arenacross series on a hot streak. But the task of unseating three-time defending National Arenacross Series champ and current leader Buddy Antunez of Temecula, Calif., may be pretty tough.

“It’d take a sniper in the stands – and I don’t think we’ll have too many of those,” said second-place rider Denny Stephenson of Omaha, Neb.

“I’m just looking forward to wrapping up the year really solid and ending up with a No. 2 plate,” Stephenson said.

Stephenson comes to the series finals trailing Antunez by 57 points. While it might be too much for anyone to surpass Antunez before his coronation and $25,000 bonus for Saturday’s crowning of the Wrenchhead.com national series champion, four main events, including the freestyle jump-off and a dash for cash ensure the weekend won’t get stale. Friday’s Dash for Cash is a four-lap, no-rules race to the finish where the winner takes home all the cash the riders collect from the crowd. Stephenson has won most of the dashes for his own sort of series title to complement four years of solid overall series finishes.

“I’d like to pull off a couple of wins up there,” he said.

Stephenson has never been to Reno, but is looking forward to his top at the Biggest Little City in the World.

“I’m a big fan of Vegas, so everyone says it’s just a little Vegas,” he said.

Main events start at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday at the Reno Livestock and Events Center. For more information, call (775) 787-TIXS.

BREAKOUT

Gasoline glossary: an almanac of arenacross terms

Whoops – Whoop-de-doos; a series of closesly-spaced bumps similar to moguls

Set-up jump – An arenacross course jump that can be set up in one of two ways: as a stair step, or a small bump placed before a larger jump; or a tabletop, where the rider uses the first bump to jump to the top of, or over the following obstacle

Doubles/triples – A series of dirt mounds that are designed to launch the riders

Flying W – an unintentional maneuver that occurs when the rider’s legs kick into the air sabove the seat while he maintains his hold on the handlebars. This can happen when landing short on the doubles or mis-timing the whoops

Endo – When the motorcycle flips end over end

Holeshot – Leading the pack through the first turn

Roost – Flying dirt kicked up by motorcycles

Block pass – when a rider overtakes another by moving into his opponent’s path, effectively blocking the line of travel

Stuff – Squeezing opponents underneath in a turn, occasionally forcing them wide and “stuffing” them into hay bales

Pinned – When the throttle won’t go any farther back

Lipstand – When the rider crashes face-first into the ground

Arm pump – A condition that occurs when a rider grips the handlebars too tight and the muscles in his forearm become so tense it’s difficult to hold on and work the handlebars

Brake check – Considered underhanded, a tactic where the rider brakes hard in the middle of a slow turn to force the trailing rider to brake suddenly. Caught by surprise, the follower usually loses momentum or rams the leader’s rear tire and falls over

Whip it – No, not Devo. ONe of the more common tricks in the air, where the rider whips his bike so it lays flat in peak flight

Nac-nac Another airborne maneuver that requires a rider to take one foot off the peg and swing it back over the other side of the bike

Can-can – The rider takes one foot off the peg and raises his leg up and over the seat so both legs are on the side of the bike

Superman – Hands on the grips, feet off the pgs and extended backwards

Heel clicker (Dorothy) – A colorful trick where the rider raises his feet above the handlebars then wraps his legs around his arms and clicks his heels together over the front fender

No-footer – both feet off the pegs (Variation: Nothing – feet off the pegs and hands off the bars)

– Courtesy of Pace Entertainment


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