My First Dubya World Vet Nationals Experience | Jamie "Darkside" Guida 1

Read how the 2022 Dubya World Vet Nationals went for Darkside in this recap of an extremely fun weekend.

For those of you that haven’t experienced the Dubya World Vet Motocross Championships at Glen Helen, no words can truly describe it properly. Going and partaking is the only way to fully understand the hellish nature of the most fun time you may ever have. To fully experience it you need friends to go with you as well. Without your buddies present, it’s simply torturing yourself.

Most of you know the 2022 race for me started with calling into the PulpMX Show to challenge my friend, Steve Matthes, to come and race again. The challenge was made in fun with the hopes of getting listeners excited, talk some trash, choose a side, and in the end maybe get a medal. Ok, to be honest, I never expected the medal. Hell, I had to move up to the Intermediate class to even race Steve. I just wanted to have some fun with it. The challenge did motivate me to start getting myself back in shape and find time to ride more regularly. That was probably the most rewarding thing that came out of it.

In the months leading up to it, I found myself mountain biking, road biking, changing my diet, and putting in 20 plus minute motos multiple times a week. I was riding the best I have in years and feeling better than I have since I was in my 30’s. I was feeling confident and pretty good about my chances. I knew that Steve has experience at a Pro level from his years in Canada and I’ve seen him ride GH in previous years. He still has skills left over. I wasn’t positive I could beat him, but I certainly thought I could make it close.

For approximately the last five years Steve has busted my balls on air of his show for a number of things. Busting balls is a staple of Pulp and quite honestly what we do with our friends anyway. I enjoyed giving it back a little on social media with photos of me heading to the track, going pedaling, and even having one of Steve’s favorite riders, Alex Martin, post that I was officially on the Troll Training program. (FYI, that was a joke) Steve proceeded to respond with, “I’m competing against myself” and quotes such as, “Work hard in silence. Let success make the noise”.

I’d been riding the 2023 Husky FC 350 at home with my Race Tech spring conversion kit done by PDR Performance. So, Michael Lindsay arranged to have KTM loan me a 350 in California and I would just fly out with my suspension. They didn’t have any Huskys available, so I got a KTM 350 SX-F. I was confident that wouldn’t make a difference. John Anderson from Dubya USA supplied a set of wheels as well. I can’t thank the people who helped me enough. It’s really mind blowing to me still. When the weekend of the event finally arrived, I couldn’t wait to get to the track Friday morning for practice. Michael Lindsay drove me up and we pulled into GH and immediately saw Steve, Ryan Gauld, and Ryan “Newf” Lockhart already there. 

We unloaded and it was time to hit the track. In my mind I was about to surprise some people. I believe I did surprise some people...just not how I wanted. When you hear “the track was like a war zone”, I don’t know what a real war zone looks like up close but Glen Helen, on Friday, before the Vet Nationals looked and felt how I would imagine a war zone would look. There were braking bumps of every imaginable size and shape. There were chuck holes, curbs of dirt, ruts with holes, and things I don’t know how to describe. I’ve never rode on a track that rough and on top of that, Mt. Saint Helens was scary. My suspension was a bit too soft, and I was holding on way too tight. My arms were pumped solid as a rock, so I was in trouble. If you listen to the show, you heard that I had a meltdown. I don’t consider what I was feeling a meltdown, but I was not happy. I couldn’t conceive of how I was going to get through the weekend without dying. Thankfully ML made some clicker adjustments that helped a bit. Not enough to be even close to fast, but better. My confidence was completely gone though.

We left Friday afternoon and headed up the hill to the Hi-Dez to Kris Keefer’s house for dinner. All the guys were there already cleaning and prepping bikes for the next day. Immediately upon arrival I hear Keefer’s giggle, “heh heh heh! Dark, how was it. I heard you had a meltdown”. “No Kris, I’m good. I sucked and that was terrifying, but I’m good”. “I don’t know, you seem tense. Why you so aggro”? Somewhere during this Kris walks up recording with his phone as he does because he loves stirring the pot and I might have been a little aggressive. In all seriousness, those are the moments that are fun at the end of the day. Because it’s not just me being messed with. No one is safe. It’s non-stop screwing with people.

We got the bikes ready and went to hang in the hot tub so our beaten bodies could recover a bit. Steve instantly was complaining that the water wasn’t hot enough. After a half hour of approximately eight dudes in the hot tub, wife of the century, Heather Keefer comes home and makes dinner for the whole crew. She really does set the bar high. We get out of the water while Kris builds a fire in the pit with about $30 worth of race fuel, to Matthes’s amazement. Straight Hi-Dez life, really. Steve didn’t seem to like the idea of hanging around a fire and talking in general. But his tantrum came a few minutes in because of a lack of chairs, which were literally only 30 feet away. Instead he just stormed off to sit inside on the couch, alone.

During dinner stories were told that cannot be repeated. Some of these guys have lived a "rock-n-roll lifestyle". Again, the ‘hang’ is what this weekend was all about. The camaraderie and friendships are what make moto and life worth doing. Someone mentioned that we could sell this experience to people and I believe that's the truth. After dinner, Michael and I headed back down the hill to where his house is to get some rest before day one of racing. Saturday morning came quick, as we left the house around 5:15 am with Eye of the Tiger blasting. We were unaware but Kris was waking everyone up at his place with his own version. We rolled into the track about an hour later, found the group already parked, and we proceeded to get ready for practice. I was not much more confident after practice. Steve and I were moto 13 and didn’t race until after lunch, which for me was ribs and fries. They were fantastic and they should be.

Play-by-play is not necessary for all the races. As I’ve said, the highlights are the hang. A quick synopsis is in moto one I had a terrible start, got arm pump around lap two, and basically sucked. Steve got a decent start and rode away. He simply was better. Another high point is having The King, Jeremy McGrath, also there to race. He was receiving the Edison Dye Award that evening and decided to bring his bike. He still looks good on a bike but admitted to getting arm pump and backing it down. Who cares, he’s still the coolest dude around. ML and I hung out to see him receive the award and watch the video they put together in his honor. That basically concluded our day.

Sunday started much the same. I had planned on skipping practice because I’d heard them say the day before it was most likely only one lap. And our second moto of the weekend was race four Sunday morning. As soon as we parked Steve started asking why I would skip practice and giving me crap. I quickly dressed and went up to the corrals (thanks Steve) as our practice was ending. Perfect! I did sneak out in the pro practice and got a lap in. Moto two was my best ride of the weekend. I did get a better jump than Steve, but chose the wrong lane going into Mt. St. Helens, got hung up a bit, and watched Steve’s Yamaha YZ450F pull by me up the hill. I kept him in my sights until lap three when I stalled. Again, he was better than me. The truth-is-the-truth.

We then had hours to kill before our third and final moto. We spent that time as we had all weekend watching our other buddy’s race. Watching Keefer get worked by Brownie, watching Janky Mike get better and better, cheering on Matt Siervage, Gauldy, Newf, and all the boys. Oh, and I got more ribs. You may have heard this story Monday night on Pulp. I ask you, how are you supposed to eat delicious ribs slathered in savory BBQ sauce and not have it on your face? It’s not humanly possible unless you do it wrong. I did not care that my face was a mess. I was not going to waste time cleaning my face after every bite. I was going to enjoy myself. And damn were they good.

Moto 3 went how the others did. I finished one spot behind Steve, but about 27 seconds back. That, for your information, was caused by a pile up on lap one that had me blocked for a long time. Probably not 27 seconds, but who’s counting. In the end, it was one of the most fun weekends of racing I’ve ever had, even though the racing part wasn’t much fun. I was certain when leaving the track Sunday afternoon that I never wanted to do this event again. Now, as I sit on a plane heading to Paris, France, I can’t wait to do it again. The opportunity to be with my friends, tell stories, talk trash, make new memories, and be around dirt bikes can’t be passed up. And next year, I’ll obviously beat Steve.


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