Topic: Trail Tails
Posted: 05/01/2006 3:00:10 PM
About 15 years ago, in a galaxy not far away, my riding buddy decided that he wanted to start racing enduros. We had been riding the trails up at Gorman (Southern California) for about a year together, and we thought we were pretty fast. The black diamond trails were our favorites, and I guess he figured that if we were doing so well on the advanced trails, how much harder could racing in an enduro be? He said he was planning to enter one out in the desert near Apple Valley, and suggested that I enter too so we could ride together. Still being young and full of myself, I figured what to heck, a ride is a ride, so we entered together. I studied the rules, made a roll chart holder, and clamped a digital kitchen timer to the cross bar of my bone stock 1985 XR200. We showed up on race day 2 hours early and were amazed to find that there were well over 200 riders that were also entered! This was the big time (for us at least)! We discovered that we had been placed on different minutes (probably because I had entered as a “B” class 250 vet, and he had listed himself as a “B” class 250 2 stroke). I looked around the starting line for somebody that looked fast (like you can really tell sitting still at a start line), and noticed that some of the guys had an “A” as part of their assigned number. As I had a “B” as part of my assigned number, I assumed that that meant that they were “A” class riders. I told myself that if I could keep those guys in sight I would probably do pretty good, and finish well. We started out on the first section and I busied myself learning to work the roll chart and keep time. Only one guy was leaving the pack, but he was a dude that Had a “B” or “C” as part of his assigned number so I assumed he was just some “wacko motocrosser” that just wanted to go fast and did not care about “burning a check”. We quickly got into some pretty technical sections and I found myself getting held up by those “A” class riders I had hoped not to loose sight of. I could see we were falling behind our scheduled times for the section but figured I’ll just stick with the plan and not strike out on my own. After 2 or 3 check points I was almost 4 minutes down from being on my minute. I finally asked one of the dudes (while at a odometer reset check station) who was the fastest rider on our minute (they all seemed to know each other). He said well, that dude over there is an “A” rider, but nobody can keep up with him, and the rest of us are all “B” class riders. Naturally the guy he pointed out was the guy who had left the pack (the wacko motocrosser)! I felt so stupid! My plan was good, but I had just picked the wrong guys to watch. The rest of the race I stuck to that dude like a bad haircut. I quit looking at my roll chart, ignored the time keeping, and never let that guy get more than 100 feet away from me. When he went fast, I went fast. When he went slow, I went slow. At the last check I asked him what our time needed to be at the finish line, and he said “this is the last check so there is no more time keeping from here to the finish line,” and said “I’ll see ya there!”. That dude took off like a rocket! It was all I could do to keep him from getting more than 1 full turn out in front of me. I was riding faster than I had ever been on the dirt, and well over my head. I was hot, tired, and just wanted to finish. After about 10 minutes the guy was a good 2 turns out in front and I was loosing ground faster than I would have liked. I decided that I had better slow down because I did not want to end my first race with a crash, and that “A” rider was obviously “in his element”, and in a class of his own. I backed off to a place that I was comfortable but not so much that I felt safe. It wasn’t long before I came around a corner in the middle of a whoop section, and ran right into a blinding cloud of dust. At first I was confused because I was sure that no one was in front of that “A” rider, unless we had caught up to someone that we had not yet passed on one of the minutes ahead of us. I slowed down enough to stay on the trail and get my bearings back. Then I saw something I couldn’t believe. That “A” rider was going head over heals off the whoops and into the bush! I stopped long enough to see him come to a stop, and wave that he was ok. Then with redoubled confidence I took off for the finish line (about 3 miles away). He did not catch me after his crash, and was a really good sport when he crossed the finish line. After all, he had done all the navigation and time keeping for me (because I just followed him), so in a way I was kinda cheating (though there is nothing against it in the rules). Besides we were in a different class, and his early race scores were so much better than mine that he finished better than I did overall. By the way, I finished better than 85% over all, and got a class trophy. My riding buddy did not fair so well, but still finished in the top 75% overall (but at least he kept his own time). I did not attend the next race in the series (don’t remember why), so my riding buddy was kind enough to pick up my trophy for me at that event. I have ridden lots of enduros since then, but never got another trophy. I suppose it didn’t really belong to me anyway, so here is a belated thank you to the “A” rider who’s name I do not know that made my first race one to remember!
Reply by 4Putter on 05/08/2006 07:23:28 AM
Most people's perception of New Jersey is not tree covered, lake filled, stream filled, nirvana. But its pretty rural in some parts. Last month my son and I were riding at our local spot and a radical looking Jeep stopped on the trail and the driver said, "there's a huge bear a couple hundred yards up the trail, off on the left. Be careful!" We rode on and spotted the bear and it was a huge black bear, over 500 pounds, beautiful coat shining in the sun. He was about 40 yards to our left just foraging around. We sat idling and watched him for awhile then booked on home. When we got there my son said exactly what I'd been thinking: "dad, when we got going after watching the bear I was SO HAPPY I didn't pop the clutch and stall it!!"
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