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Is this race #7? It's by far the hardest one in my opinion, and I had the same problem with damaging out or flopping off bikes when trying to do it normally. Luckily, you can do the race in a helicopter instead - it can be a bit picky about letting you start in one, but it *is* possible. The best choice is probably the Agency gyro. Be careful about hitting the trees because you'll need to drop down closer to the road to trigger the checkpoints, then rise up again to get to the next one. The time limit seems tight at the start but you soon make ground on it and can take things a little easier :)
If you're having trouble in the gyro, then I don't think a standard chopper is gonna be any easier :/ It sounds like you just need to practice your flying a bit - get used to changing height while moving forward (if you don't already), and learn how much of the trees you can get away with cutting through. The time *is* a little tight at the start, but if you're aggressive with the first couple of checkpoints you can get yourself some breathing space. As for the normal chopper - I had a problem once getting it to trigger with one, and so did my friend who played it recently. I'm sure it worked for me at least once though, because I ended up crashing into trees right at the start and then decided to leave it til I had the gyro :/