Racer X Virtual Trainer Goes to Loretta Lynn's
By Tim Crytser
                    Heavy Weight Times                               Light Weight Times                                  Kids Times

Where is all Started
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The Loretta Lynn's 500 meter rowing challenge leader board.

At the beginning of the summer during the High Point National, Greg Hammond from Concept2 rowing and Rob Hill from Man and Machine attended their first professional motocross event, courtesy of Racer X Virtual Trainer.  During the long weekend, Greg had donated a Concept2 rower for the hard training staffers at Racer X, now proudly emblazed with dust in the scantly used Racer X office gym and Rob was there to introduce his new training system, the TransforMx bar .  Along the way, we had a great time with a 500 meter rowing challenge at the Racer X open house and made some great industry contacts that will hopefully take this website to newer heights.  While at High Point on Sunday we noticed a booth setup by the marines that was packed all day long.  The Marines were having a contest to see who could do the most pull-ups and it was extremely popular despite the drunken nature of the participants and the hot weather.  It was then and there that the decision was made that Virtual Trainer should be at the races answering questions, demonstrating training equipment and promoting the site.  I decided that Loretta Lynn's would be the perfect place to set up shop for the first time.

We Needed a Hook
Talking training is great and I could talk for hours but getting people to come talk about it at the races is another thing.  I needed a way to lure people to the booth like the Marines and Greg had a great idea.  He and Rob donated two $1200 rowing machines along with a few TransforMx training systems to be given away at the end of the week to the two fastest people in a 500 meter challenge.  We would also get some of the top names on the sport to put in their 500 meter times for people to have something to shoot for.  One top rider that is always up for a challenge is Travis Pastrana.  Greg is a true FOT (friend of Travis) and Travis has used the Concept2 rower for years.  From the way Greg describes it, rowing with Travis and his Dad is a pretty crazy experience.  As usual, Travis is highly competitive no matter what he does.  Rowing is no exception.  Greg has been a rower for years and takes pride in setting some pretty good times in not only the 500 meter but longer distances as well.  Travis aimed to knock Greg off his perch and if you look at the ranking on the main page of this site, you will indeed see that Travis is ranked #1.  Checking the World wide rankings on the Concept2 website, Travis ranks #105 out of 1368 registered 500 meter times; not bad for a Motocross/Freestyle/Rally Car driver from Maryland.  With Travis' permission, we had one top name for people to shoot for, now we needed a few more.  I knew just the person we needed; RC!

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The Racer X Virtual Trainer booth set up and ready for business.

Over the past several years I have become pretty good friends with Aldon Baker (Ricky Carmichael and Ben Townley's trainer) and  thought I would make use of having Aldon's cell phone number and ask him if he could get Ricky and Ben's 500 meter times.  It is not often that camp RC gives out such personal information, but since this wasn't really giving out any trade secrets to RC's training regiment, Ricky and Ben consented, as well as Moto GP star Nicky Hayden and laid down some pretty decent 500 meter times.  Thanks to the generosity of those guys, we were now set with times from three of the top names in the MX industry.  The Loretta Lynn's 500 meter challenge was shaping up to be quite an event.

Time to Prepare
We had nearly two months to put together a meager 500 meter row challenge under the Virtual Trainer tent at Loretta Lynn's.  I had a lot to learn since I had never put together an event like this that would last 5 days.  I needed banners, stickers, t-shirts, rowers, TransforMx bars, a tent, plane tickets, a rental car, hotel room, and a thousand other things not to mention the GOAT's 500 meter time as well as Travis'.  They were promised, but the real challenge would be getting them.  Since Travis is so into rowing, he already had a time posted on the Concept2 website.  But in true Travis fashion, he didn't want to use his posted time, he wanted a better time.  He would soon deliver a better time as promised.  Aldon and the boys would be a little more challenging since they all have crazy travel schedules.  With one week to go, there was a break in the schedule and Aldon pulled through.  On Saturday, July 28th, I hit the road loaded down with a freshly printed banner, brand new t-shirts, a new tent, three world class times and all the rest of the tools necessary to put on a booth at Loretta Lynn's.  Eight hours and two rental cars later (that's an entirely separate story) I pulled into Loretta Lynn's and was ready to set up.

The 500 Meter Row Challenge
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Heavyweight, Troy Smart fought all week to maintain top honors in a very competitive class.  A strict diet and proper hydration were his keys to success!

By Sunday at noon I was set up and ready to start logging names for the 500 meter challenge.  The rules of the race were simple.  See how fast you could row 500 meters.  Three classes were set up; lightweight, heavy weight and kids.  Determining which class you rode in was highly scientific.  Once I corrected for air temperature, humidity and the angle of the sun I would stand exactly 7 feet away, hold up my thumb at exactly eye level and if I could see any part of you from behind my thumb, you were a heavy weight.  I also used Newton's Theory of Relativity, but why show off and explain that here.  The kid's class was equally scientific.  If you looked young and didn't have any facial hair, you were a kid!  In all, we had over 200 registered rowers try to beat Ricky, Ben and Travis' times.  In the end only 11 people were able to leave the Ranch saying they beat RC, although eight were heavy weights and only three were true lightweights.  Only four people were able to best BT101 and no one even came close to Travis.

The winner in the heavyweight class was Troy Smart who was there volunteering his time with the Riderdown.org folks.  His other two partners-in-crime, Bruce Vermeulen and Dave Weisong didn't have the sack to try and beat Troy's time, but then again they are much older (ouch!).  Troy battled for three days keeping his time at the top of the chart each time he was knocked off.  After some advice on hydration and a brief warm-up, Troy's time of 1:31.8 (that's 1 minute 31.8 seconds) was too much for second place finisher Kelly Hoffman who was the leader after day two.

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Lightweight champion, Rashidi Kerrison shows the grit and determination needed to row in the low 1:30's .

In the lightweight class the top two were separated by 1 tenth of a second.  Third place finisher Cam McQueen, who drives the Ogio bus and had the added advantage of a shot of an unknown "energy" drink from his buddies before rowing, held top honors for 2 days.  Rashidi Kerrison, out of the Millsaps Training Facility took top lightweight honors but not without some stiff competition from Daniel Corbin.  Rashidi DNF'd a day earlier when racing head-to-head with one of our female contestants, Deanna Monbeck who was the hands down crowd favorite.  At one point people were 6 deep watching Rashidi crumble to the pressure of having Deanna lay the smack down on him.  Good thing Rashidi came back to set the fast time of the week (1:31.0) once the crowds dispersed to defend his honor.  I really want to give second place finisher Daniel Corbin props for being such a  good sport and showing true character after a few attempts at beating Rashidi's time.  Better luck next year.

In the kids division, there was a tie at 1:46.5 between Jeremy Turcotte and Colt McRea.  Great rowing guys!  And of the three women who dared the rower, Sherry Kruger was the fastest at 2:00.3.

Big Names Visit the Booth
During the week, some pretty heavy hitters stopped by the booth to talk about the rower and Rob's TransforMx training system.  At one point, as I was returning from a lunch break, Jeff Ward was hanging around looking for some information on the rower.  After chatting for a while, Jeff decided to see if he could beat RC's time.  He came close at 1:36.1 and for a while held the best time in the lightweight division.  Not bad for an "old" guy.

Another big name that spent some time at the VT booth was Rick Johnson.  Rick was not only interested in the Concept2 rower but was
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Top trainer Charles Dao, Rick Johnson and Rob Hill gather around the TransforMx bar and talk shop at LL's

also extremely impressed with the TransforMx training system.  I think Rick has a new best friend in Rob although RJ may have something to say about that!  All the top trainers in the amateur ranks were in attendance and stopped by from time to time and included Robb Beams from
Motoendurance.net (Toyota 20's Team Trainer), Seiji Ishii from Team Green Extreme, Charles Dao from Dane Herron's Red Bull JAM's team, Paul Bevan-Thomas, Clint Friesen and Mike Kirby from Millsaps Training Facility, Gary "The Professor" Bailey, and the guys from The Action Sports Medicine Facility which is the amateur version of the Asterisk Mobile Medical Center run by Dr. Steve Augustine and folks.  At one point, I thought we were going to see an epic rowing battle between Charles and RJ, but they both mysteriously disappeared when it came time to row.  RJ doesn't need an excuse and rumor has it that Charles is still trying to extricate himself from the great state of Tennessee after a small run-in with some locals and the law.  Good luck with that Charles!

Overall Impressions of the Ranch
In all I spent 4 days at the ranch (I had to leave a few days early.  My Brother-in-law was finally getting married) and came away with some fantastic memories and a new appreciation for the Coombs Family on what they have created.  Big Dave would be proud of the way his kids (as well as the many people like Tim Cotter who have been around forever) have stepped up and made Loretta Lynn's one of the most professionally run events of any kind.  I get goose bumps just thinking about it.....well done.  Here are some random thoughts I have regarding LL's.

The Beer Tent - Although the beer was cold and the star power high, I was a little disappointed at the guy to girl ratio (try 100 guys to 1 girl) and the general lack of rowdiness from the participants.  It was disheartening to see the single guys like Rob and Troy fight over the same girl and in the end go back to their hotels alone.  There was a lot of swinging but not a lot of hitting.  Better luck next time guys! 
The Heat - Generally I love hot weather, but 14 hours in the Tennessee heat and humidity takes it to an all new level.  Damn it was hot!
The General Laid Back Feel to the Whole Place - Even though there were "factory" riders racing, their pits were as open as the guy racing in the plus 40 vet class.  I liked not having to get special credentials to gain access to whom ever you wanted.
The Lack of Warm-Ups - I was really surprised to see such a lack of warm ups before the races.  I know it was hot out and every single racer sitting on the start line was sweating before the race, but I still think people are missing the boat on the nature of a true warm-up.  Fitness wise, the warm-up is the single most important thing you can do once you get to the track.  Ideally your heart rate should be at or near race pace before the gate drops.  
The Size of the Ranch - I tried walking around to see all the famous monuments at Loretta's, but the shear size of the place made that difficult.  Heck, I never even made it down to the infamous creek.  With over 2000 campers and 8000 spectators each day, the mass of people was impressive.
Disney has Nothing on MX Sports - With all those people you would think that there would be garbage and debris everywhere.  Not so.  LL's is as clean as Disney.....If Disney were build in the dirt.
The Beauty of the Track - All that needs to be said about the dirt at Loretta's is that it is near perfect.  No rocks and dirt that looks like someone crumbled a huge chocolate cake and spread it around.  It literally looked good enough to eat!
Kids Running Around Unattended - The only negative thing I can say about my experience last week was the general lack of adult supervision with their kids.  It even prompted a politically incorrect (which I loved) announcement of "Do you know where your kids are?  If not, find them and control them!"  or something like that.
Kevin Kelly and Jason Weigandt - These two on the PA system are just plain funny.  Running the booth, I wasn't able to see much of the racing action, but Jason and Kevin kept me informed of all the action on the track and entertained during breaks.  These two are the future voices of our sport without a doubt.
That's it for now. Until next time, good luck with your training and, as always, VT can be reached anytime at crytset@comcast.net .  In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section , your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.

Have a Question? Use the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum >> Click Here !

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RJ demonstrates how push-ups are done with the TransforMx bar

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RJ demonstrates balance training to Rob....
I think!

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One of over 109 kids to accept the 500 meter rowing challenge

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The Racer x Virtual Trainer booth set up and ready for business.