Despite riding with a sore hand he injured three weeks ago, Monster Energy Athlete Paul Whibley finished a strong fifth at the Big Buck GNCC, round four of the Grand National Cross Country Series in Union, South Carolina.
Whibley came into this weekend’s GNCC knowing full well he would not be 100%, thanks to a cracked bone in his hand suffered when he hit a tree while practicing. And while his doctor indicated the injury was stable, he also warned that the tendons and ligaments would be weak, which Whibley found out this weekend contributed to a severe case of arm pump due to “holding onto the bars in a different way to compensate for the sore hand.”
Getting his usual holeshot, Whibley led the XC1 class into the woods ahead of Charlie Mullins and Kailub Russell to start the opening lap of the three-hour, seven-lap race. This year’s course was relatively dry despite the fact that the area got rain earlier in the week, as Saturday’s quad race sopped out most of the moisture in the soil, including Big Buck’s notorious mud holes, which are normally treacherous.
Riding tight from arm pump, Whibley gave way to Mullins and Russell midway into the opening lap and then later on he spent most of the rest of the race chasing Honda rider Thad DuVall for the final podium position.
“I spent most of the race in fourth, trying to gain some ground on DuVall,” said Whibley. “I thought we were pretty solid in that position, but then we had to make two gas stops and Chris Bach only had to make one and he ended up passing me during one of my stops, which bumped me back to fifth for the day.”
Out front, Mullins ended up taking his third win of the season with Russell in second. DuVall rounded out the podium, while Bach edged Whibs for fourth by just 13 seconds at the finish.
For sure, Whibley’s sore hand was a factor in the race, as well.
“I knew it was going to be a problem,” Whibley said. “I just didn’t have the strength I normally have and that made me hold on in a different way, which contributed to arm pump. All in all, I think it was a good day, all things considering. We’ll just have to keep plugging on and hope the hand heals fully before the next race.”
Of course, Whibley meant before the next GNCC, which is the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC Mammoth GNCC on May 5th in Park City, Kentucky. This coming weekend, Whibs will race a local cross-country race to keep the rest of his body fit while his hand heals.
1. Charlie Mullins (KTM)
2. Kailub Russell (KTM)
3. Thad DuVall (Hon)
4. Chris Bach (Yam)
5. Paul Whibley (Monster Energy Yamaha)