Saturday afternoon craig_enid and I loaded up and headed to Walnut Shade, Missouri for the Hardwood Enduro.
This is a brand new riding area on private land and the word on the net was that it was going to be tight, rocky and tough. Trim your bars they said!
We pulled into camp as it was getting dark, found some familiar faces and set up camp. We didn't get too crazy as far as the food we took partly because of time restraints but it didn't matter as food started being offered from every direction. One meatball sub and a couple pieces of pork tenderloin later I started having to say no fearing I would need a roll of toilet paper half way through the race. I think we turned in for bed a little after 9:30 hoping to be well rested come morning.
Sunday morning we had a light breakfast and found the sign up tent. We signed up on row 17. There were a lot of rows open ahead of us. No one wants to be the first out on new trail.
All the racing I did this spring just about put me in the poor house this spring and I finally said no more but as the races have gone on and I have watched myself slide down the standing I couldn't take it any more and decided that I had to at least do the minimum number to complete the series. After the Golden Eagle was canceled it became a 9 race series counting the best 6.
As I got back to the bike I remember that I needed to set my watch to key time and went back to the sign in. When I got there I saw a guy picking a row and recognized his name as someone in my class and introduced myself and he blurted out "Oh no your here!" He is one of the guys I have been beating that had moved in front of me in the standing and he seemed to be counting on my not doing any more races.
to be continued.... (maybe I'll actually talk about the race)
Right before race time Craig checked the sign up board and reported that we had two other Vet C riders on our row. I wasn't too happy about this as I was hoping to have a couple of fast guys to chase and key off of if I had computer problems as this was a good old fashioned time keeper. My other concern was that we would all be about the same speed and be in each others way all day. Turns out they were just getting back into the sport after a 20 year layoff and were perfectly happy to follow.
The majority of the short course was a 15mph average and it was as difficult as advertised but they mixed just enough open section into it that it as easy to stay on time. At the first reset we still had out entire row together and Craig and I compared our computers to make sure they agreed with each other and let the other two how much time we had. Somewhere between there and the end of the first lap Craig had a pinch flat to his front tire and the other guy got lost.
Stillwater isn't the place to get good at riding rocks and I was struggling to get comfortable as I was pin-balling around off of trees and rocks. There were several sections where they ran us along the side of a hill where it was off camber with trees right along the edge of the trail. That really wore me out knowing that one tiny mistake and I would be fighting the bike to get it back up the hill. I finally started to get in a groove using ruts, rocks and tree trunks to bank the bike off of in the turns and actually was able to use third gear in a few places.
I felt pretty confident after the first loop and went back to the truck to gas the bike up, eat and energy bar and top of the camel back.
Craig acted like he had had enough and considering neither of us are fast tire changers he called it a day so there were only two of us for the start of the second loop. Loop two used a lot of loop one but split us into several new (tighter) sections where I found myself abusing the clutch in second gear and finally resigned myself to first gear knowing I was losing time.
We knew three of the guys on the row in front of us, one being a father/son and I caught and passed them after each of the resets, three of the times it didn't turn out well as their problems turned into mine. The third time the son was actually pinned against a tree and started yelling for help when he saw me coming. My first thought was screaming "Craig will help" as I blew by but I knew he was back at camp so I stopped and threw down my bike and he wasn't crying wolf. Somehow the bike (KX100)had him pinned against a tree and his tires were wedged in between some rocks and it took a lift and a pull to free him and I was on my way.
I really started to wear down about half way through the second loop and almost had a trip over the bars on a rock drop off. I thanked my trips to the gym for saving that one.
I ended up dropping 15 minutes for the day. That put me in 1st Vet C and 5th overall C. With one race to go I should have 2nd place Vet C and am a long shot for 2nd overall C. It will probably work out to 3rd or 4th.
It ended up being a good trip with no injuries. I'm still tired and have a lot of clean up to do.
I plan on being at the Crosstimbers, to see Dwreck wrap up another C-vet win, (Gorp troll), and possible an overall C! (Workers? We don't need no stinkin' workers!)
I can report that flat fronts stick pretty good to logs, but aren't worth stink on off-camber loose rocks!
Congratulations Derek, wish I were there to see! I won't be making Crosstimbers but if you pull the overall I'll buy a round!
You guys going to be out this weekend? I haven't ridden in a long while and I'm itching-
-The Troll (though to be fair, I think Derek really had a couple more wins. Some of the early races were separated by mere seconds, which as it turns out, were lost because he was waiting for me to pick up my bike after going ass-over-tea-kettle and he didn't want to ride over my new rims to get past... Thx Derek! ;-) )