A few days before the Spring Creek national Shane McElrath posted a picture to Instagram of a brand-new bike still in the crate, stating it was the first time in his life he had ever purchased his own motorcycle. Shane then took that stock YZ 450F and lined up with the best riders, on the best bikes after only a couple of days on the bike. It's not like Shane has not been riding and training though, as he is the current points leader for WSX in the SX2 class. Still, motocross on a 450 and supercross on a 250 are two different beasts. Our Kellen Brauer caught up with him after the race to see how things went, and his expectations for Washougal.
Racer X: Eleventh in the first moto. Let’s go there first. I feel like that’s a really solid start for you.
Shane McElrath: Yeah, it was decent. I got a pretty good start, and the first couple laps I kind of went backwards a little bit. The race intensity is hard to replicate in practice. For me, I literally had two days on the bike. So, a lot of it was like, I don’t really know where I’m at and I don't know what my limits are yet. So, the first couple laps it was kind of like, I’m good right here. It was probably lap three or four. I got a little bit of clean air and really just started focusing on myself and kind of pacing off the guys ahead of me. I know they’re racing, and it’s like, let me just learn for a little bit. I changed up some of my lines. I was able to experiment. Honestly, I started feeling pretty good and just gaining confidence with each lap. I think my fast lap was three laps to go in the first one. Obviously, I was tired, but I didn’t really think that that was accurate when I was told that. To not really be prepared at all, it was definitely tough at the end of the moto. Freddie passed me on the last lap, and I was trying to hold him off but I’m like, dude, I’m tired right now. The intensity that we were riding at is like mentally high intensity. So, I was like, I might throw up here. Then the last lap I’m like, dude, I’m doing everything I can. I’m okay with this. So, it was definitely a good starting point for me, just to kind of have that foundation of this is where we’re at right now. We can definitely make changes and we can definitely grow.
I know you said you were tired, but were you at least happy with the overall fitness to be able to go 30 minutes and run with those guys the whole time? I thought it was pretty impressive, at least.
Yeah. Honestly, I was. After the fact once I thought about it, I felt better about it. But in the moment, I had places where I would catch the guys in front of me and then they would pull away. In the moment, I’m a little bit frustrated but at the same time, I was like, these guys are pushing. I’m still not super comfortable. I’m trying to feel it out. But after the fact, it’s like, okay, we made a couple clicks on the suspension. I’m pretty confident going into the next moto. It’s like, let’s just push it a little harder and see where we’re at. We were literally battling for pretty much the whole moto. I didn’t realize that until everybody was like, “Dude, you were just fine. All you guys were together the whole time.” So, I was just trying to focus on myself, honestly.
So then second moto you go down. I see you’re okay now, but just take me through what happened.
Yeah. I fought a little bit harder. I was a little bit more confident, especially in the first corner. I was more aggressive in the first corner coming out. So, I was in fifth or sixth and I was pumped on that. My starts today were really good. The guys on the inside of me, they definitely outpowered me a little bit, but that was kind of to be expected. So, coming into the rollers, I didn’t really prefer the inside, but I couldn’t go outside there. I got through the inside clean actually with some decent momentum. Right in the middle of the rollers they were really steep. [Dylan] Ferrandis was kind of staying to the right and I didn’t want to follow him, so I tried to cut over to the other side of where they were steep. When I went to manual on it, it just kind of broke traction. So, then it kind of unloaded the other way. It kept doing that, and I’m like, am I going to save it, am I going to save it? Finally, I think it was Anderson I came together with, which I was on my way to crashing at that point. Came together with Anderson, and thankfully I fell off the track, but my bike stayed on the track. I don’t really know what happened after that with the other guys, but it was kind of like a self-check. I definitely hit my knee. Like, what’s going on? So, just some stitches in my knee but everything else is good.
So, it was just a gash?
Yeah. Everything was good. I took a couple steps on it and I’m like, okay… Stepping on it, it’s strong but it’s hurting. My radiator was spraying out coolant on this leg, so my pants were wet. I’m like, is that blood or not? But just a little cut.
So, moving from here, what are some things that you learned today maybe setup-wise that you’re going to build on and try to work for next week? Honestly, today was really good because leaving here it’s simple stuff. I don’t need much on the bike. Honestly, even suspension-wise, the end of the first moto it was definitely a little soft, but we made some changes to help with that and I still had the room to go. Honestly, I’m really happy with the bike. It’s really just getting more comfortable this weekend, learning what the bike does at higher speeds. For next week for Washougal, it’s a lot harder base, so I’m not sure. I’m pretty happy with where we were today. It’s just kind of thinking about some small things that are changeable. It’s almost hard to overthink something at this point.