Tag Archives: indiana

Mail Order Weekend!

This year, an expanded Prince family made its southward pilgrimage for a Spring ride in the woods of South-Central, Kentucky. I say “expanded” as it was Ryan, Seth, and their father Greg. They’d been eyeing the first couple weekends of April and ended up that the first was nearly perfect. Greg said several times, “You couldn’t mail order a better day for riding!” We all concurred!

The weather was ideal on both Saturday and Sunday but the wind was whipping on Saturday afternoon (that’s another story). It was cool but also sunny which is certainly a great combination for trail riding! Ground conditions were slightly damp in the bottoms but dry on the ridges. Spring was just beginning to put on a show. The redbuds were on the upswing, the maples were pushing out deep red buds, the beeches and hickory were opening up and a variety of phlox, lilies, and violets were blooming on the south-facing slopes.

Blooming Redbud
Blooming Redbud

Unfortunately, I have no group photos to document our Spring event. However, I do have some video footage! Ryan wore the camera for a bit once Kyle got there but his had the small SD card so he didn’t get lots of footage. My camera had a bigger SD card however, my camera was not working well. Luckily, I did capture some decent footage, as did Ryan. Enjoy the clips and read on for an overview of our great outing!

They arrived before 1pm on Saturday and we were able to ride 26 miles that afternoon. The trails we rode were a good sampling of some of the best in these parts. We packed up and headed out around 4:15pm as they had to deal with a kick-starter issue and getting a spare tire for their trailer. They’d booked a room in Danville so there were lots of options for dinner and so forth.

Sunday morning’s rendezvous was at Cracker Barrel in Danville around 7:30am. The group grabbed a bite to eat and rolled on down to the Green River Valley. Kyle was to join us, but he was running about 50 minutes behind. That gave us ample time to gear up and make a little loop before he arrived. A warm up is always nice.

All was good as we rode back up to the parking area to find Kyle nearly ready to go. After some greetings, bike adjustments, and so forth we hit the trail ready for an adventure! Our loops on Sunday included the Razor’s Edge, Goat Trail, Cat Cave Hill, Pencil Ridge, and anything I could use to make a seamless loop. I made sure to stop at the best viewpoints and I tried to keep a decent pace that would keep my more “fast-paced” friends engaged.

The lunch break was brief and it allowed us all to chat a bit with Kyle. It was wonderful to have a such a great group of riders that really appreciate all the time and effort we’ve put into developing such a nice trail system. Riding with a group like that makes all of our efforts truly worthwhile. A special thanks to the landowners that make this all possible. It is sincerely appreciated!

The final loop of day ended back at the parking area with 37.40 miles on the odometer. We’d covered 64 miles in two days and I made sure to include some new trails that needed a bit more beating in along the off camber sections. All was good! Everyone was tired and they must have been dreading their northbound exodus to the land of cold, windy, and icy conditions. (I saw some photos on their phone. Brrrr!) Something tells me we’ll see them again next year or maybe this Fall. Onward!

See you on the trail!

My First Dual-Sport Event

Honestly, I was very apprehensive about this “Dual-Sport” thing as I am not comfortable at all riding on the road.  It scares me. I’ve laid it down going 50+ on a dirt road and can’t imagine hitting the pavement at any speed. But . . . I had been told that this event was closer to an Enduro than any other Dual-Sport event. So with that knowledge we made plans to attend.

The event was staged at Lake Linville in Mt. Vernon, Kentucky, the County seat of Rockcastle County. It was a beautiful morning and the forecast called for perfect conditions. There was very little rain the week before so I figured the trails would be relatively dry for the first Saturday in May (Derby Day).

Unloading at Lake Linville
Unloading at Lake Linville

Unfortunately, we missed the Rider’s Meeting as we were trying to get our act together for the day. I had laid out what I thought was the perfect riding gear combo consisting of some Klim Dakar pants, a vented Klim Mojave jersey with my awesome Klim Dakar Pro Jersey layered on top. That Dakar Pro Jersey is so cool. It may be the most bullet-proof garment I’ve ever owned. This was topped off with some Klim Adventure gloves, Gaerne boots, and my trusty Arai VX-Pro 3 with the classic solid white color scheme. Onward!

At about 8:40, riders started leaving the staging area so we followed accordingly. I had my route sheet, the odometer was reset, and my GPS trip log was reset. Ready to go!

Well the first 6.9 miles were asphalt . . . hmmm . . . I’m thinking “What did I get myself into?” Then, we turned onto a gravel road. The gravel quickly deteriorated and at its end was a left onto some single track trail. Very nice. This section was laid out well along the contours of the hillside and emerged at the top of a hill on a gravel road. The last section was certainly more enjoyable than the first 6.9 miles.

There was a “Key” provided on the route sheet that provided two characters codes for each surface type (i.e., BT – Blacktop, DR – Dirt Road, TR – Trail, etc.) which proved to be useful. However, the variance in what was to be considered a Gravel Road was VERY wide. It might be fresh, 1.5″ deep gravel (very sketchy), well-packed gravel, or some washed-out road bed where gravel once existed many years ago. The later actually turned into a little single track trail as riders consistently picked the line of least resistance.

Point of Interest
Point of Interest

There were also “Advanced Sections” scattered here and there. Those were designated with a green Moose arrow rather than the standard issue orange. Those were the best trails we rode all day. If you took the wrong bike on those trails you’d be miserable for sure. Travis rode his DRZ-400’s’ decked out with gnarly knobby tires (IRC VE-33 on the rear) and showed up quite a few guys on pure dirt bikes!

In each of the advanced sections there were places where a bottle neck would develop. Some guy would “fail” at negotiating a hill or creek crossing and a bit of a backup would slow the pace. In most instances we waited very little or creeped around and up through the carnage. The smell of antifreeze (the smell of KTM’s) lingered at the top of every challenging hill as riders struggled and their buddies reached out to help their fallen comrades. Seriously, (most) everyone was very nice and courteous. Certainly a great group of riders!

None of us had any problems at all with the “obstacles” as Jesse employed his Rekluse and displacement to crawl up and over and Travis just attacked each one on that DRZ as it was his only option! Definitely glad I had my “WR” 250 one those sections.

On the Trail
On the Trail

So all of sudden, my odometer is saying that I’m going much faster than I am. Something is up. I slide my Trail Tech odometer out of the holder and back in real quickly. Still reading the same. When we finally come to a stop I see that it has switched to Km/hr and the battery light is flashing. Geez . . . I picked up the older of the odometers. Oh well. So I get a reading from Travis and start tracking it on my GPS. Now I’m doing math on the fly. I’m not an old school enduro rider, nor am I Bryan Bunch. A few stops, turns and so forth on the route sheet and I was done with keeping track of that info.

At one point we emerged on a familiar looking road. Travis asked if I knew where we were . . . Ah hah! We were on the road that goes back to the main trailhead for S-Tree! We continue along that road for a bit and arrive at the Sandgap Community Park. We’ve driven past here a dozen times over the years when riding at S-Tree. There were nearly 100 bikes there when we arrived and they were still rolling in. Lunch was provided as a part of the entry fee but the local Fire Department took donations in a fireman’s boot at the beginning of the lunch line. Good idea for the locals and the event promoter.

Lunch at Sandgap
Lunch at Sandgap

While heading to the end of lunch line, I came across Charlie Williams from Indy. He was pulling in on his GasGas as we wandered towards the shelter house. We chatted a bit and moved forward for some deserved nourishment and bench racing.

Travis was complaining about a certain rider that had left us behind on a trail ride a couple years ago and Jesse said, “Well he doesn’t have anything on Ross!” Charlie chimed in immediately and concurred, “Ross will do the same and he has the right tools to do it with!” If you’d ridden with Ross you would understand!

We saw several riders at lunch that were once KORHS racers. Many asked what had happened with the series. It is obvious that many folks appreciated what we did, but continuing at a loss is just not the way to go. I appreciated hearing all the good comments. I said farewell to Charlie and we headed on down the road to get some gas.

The gas station was a hoot! There were 45+ bikes there at any given moment for I’d say 20-25 minutes. Jeff was topping off the RMX, Travis fed the DRZ and Jesse’s WR300 had sucked down nearly 3 gallons so far! I saw just as many people there as I did at lunch.

The trails during the afternoon were just as good and from looking at the GPS I could see that we were starting to loop back around towards the staging area. The trail traversed some properties that we’d used for racing in the past and it was neat to suddenly realize that we were at that location!

At various points during the day I turned on my helmet camera. I tried to only use it on the best of trails but ended up getting some footage of paved and gravel roads. The plan was to get several 3-5 minute clips out on YouTube and I’m making progress with 4 posted for viewing thus far. Below is the first of the bunch. Make sure to click on the gear and watch it in HD.

Below are the links to the other 3 in this series:

https://youtu.be/8DyEVUYJutk
https://youtu.be/w7SyETywLJk
https://youtu.be/sE38EsagO8U

The afternoon trails provided more great scenery, had some tricky creek beds, and were laid out to wrap up the event in a good way. The promotors did a great job for sure! At the end of the day, Travis’ odometer said 116 miles and my calculations using the GPS and my odometer reading before it gave out was also right at 116 miles. Other folks said they got 125 miles so I’m not sure if we missed a section or what. Regardless, it was a good time!

My regret at this point is that  I did not go back on Sunday. I hadn’t made plans to do so but will next year for sure! Marty said the percentage of trail vs. gravel vs. road is about the same but it is only 80 rather than 125 miles. Jeff said it was well worth the time and highly-recommended by many of the riders that had gone with him in the past.

My plan is to go again next year! Who’s going with me?

See you on the trail!

Just before Spring had Sprung . . .

About two weekends before the leaves fully emerged, some friends came down from Indiana for some non-flat land riding in the Kentucky woods. They picked the perfect day as the weather was awesome. The sky was blue, the temps were cool, and the ground conditions were unseasonably dry for April in the Commonwealth.

Ready to Ride!
Ready to Ride!

We arrived at our riding venue around 9:15 and were on the trail shortly thereafter. The ride began with a nice 12+ mile loop that included a lot of our well maintained single track and provided good opportunities for some rest stops with nice views. Things were just starting to green up and the Dogwoods and Red Buds were in full display.

A Spring View from the Overlook
A Spring View from the Overlook Trail

Some new acreage was appended to our riding area recently and we’d been busy cutting new trails all winter long. We knew that once Spring had sprung, the briars would be too much to deal with. The results of our efforts included a nice new switchback hill, some winding trails along and down off a knob, fresh single track through a new growth area, and a sketchy goat trail that requires caution if the conditions are wet. Our visitors were treated with getting to ride all of the above!

Great Spring Riding Conditions
Great Spring Riding Conditions

The afternoon riding included much of our older established trails and in order to make a good loop we did ride a bit of the morning loop backwards. But like someone said, “Riding it backwards is like riding another trail!”

On the Trail
On the Trail

Everyone was having a great time as we kept things moving and covered as much ground as possible. In the end, we’d clocked over 30 miles of classic Kentucky woods riding. We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to ride where we do. It is not something that should be taken for granted.

See you on the trail!

A Fall Tour of the Ky Woods

A young man from Northern Indiana came down to ride with us this past weekend. It’s already getting cold and nasty in his neck of the woods so riding down here in Kentucky was a treat with some warmer weather and great fall colors on display. Below is a photo taken the previous weekend from an overlook we ride past.

Fall Colors in Kentucky
Fall Colors in Kentucky

Currently, all the trails are covered with leaves that easily hide all the rocks, roots, and smaller logs. All those things that will grab your front wheel in a deliberate fashion and remind you to take it easy and pay attention. It is good practice and a perfect time to seek out new trails as the leaves are mostly gone and you can see through the woods a decent distance for a change.

Oak and Hickory Leaves Cover the Trail
Oak and Hickory Leaves Cover the Trail

On Saturday, four us were able to ride together. With two KTMs and two Yamahas in the group the jesting was continuous. Never a dull moment with Jesse and Bo are trading jabs! Our guest didn’t know what he’d gotten himself into but he took it all in stride. The good thing was that we all were riding quiet 2-Strokes as it was the opening day of Deer Hunting Season. Stealth riding with little impact was the goal as we traversed several areas.

The Riding Crew
The Riding Crew
Dropping of a Rock Ledge
Dropping of a Rock Ledge

Good times . . . Bad times . . . on the Red Bird Crest Trail

This is mostly good, but there is some bad mixed in here and there. It all started with an invite from Charlie to go ride the Red Bird Crest Trail with he and one of his buddies from up in Indy. His friend, Steve, had three other friends from down South (Tennessee, Georgia, Florida) that wanted to tag along as well. Jesse was also able to ride down with me so we end up with 7 guys ready to ride the Red Bird Crest Trail!

A Portion of my Red Bird Crest Trail Map
A Portion of my Red Bird Crest Trail Map

I’ve known Charlie for a while but had only ridden with him once. He is a “more” than capable rider but I had no idea about the rest of the crew. So, I planned to take it easy and not throw in any side ventures or exploring sessions. They wanted to get around the whole loop and that was the goal!

Jesse and I showed up at 9:25am and they were dressed and ready to go! I felt a bit rushed but we got ourselves in order and pulled out to ride a few minutes before 10am. When we left, there was one other truck in the lot with a trailer and I assume there were 3-4 guys riding in their party. Over in the corner by the trail head sign, a man had a nice little camp setup with a tarp, a grill, and so forth. Looked like the same folks that were there last Sunday.

We all settled into a good pace and were making decent time on the trail. No one was having any issues and the group was quick to gather when I stopped. I pulled over when I saw the carsonite sign for Trail Section 4 and waited. Each rider rolled in in regular intervals, but Jesse did not emerge. Charlie leaned his bike against a tree to make some adjustments and everyone took a little break. Then Jesse showed up, but he didn’t look good. A “white shade of gray” would describe it best . . . he’d been hurt. Not good. His foot got caught on a rock or tree or something and rotated his ankle 90 degrees. Ouch! After a few minutes of debate on what to do, he decided to tough it out and get to the store. From there, he could take the road back to the trailhead. He’s tough and kinda stubborn like that.

Onward! Everything went well over the next several miles. We stopped down at the beginning of Section 8 down by Elisha Creek to explain the two alternate routes. There was a steep uphill that leads to a rocky, rooty, nasty climb but emerges on a nice wide and easy fire road. The other (easier) option was a gradual climb up to the ridge and some wide jeep width type trail to a juncture and marker for Section 8. Charlie and I hit the hard hill and the others followed Jesse up the main trail We gathered at metal sign marker for Section 8 and the last three that showed up had seen a bear run cross the trail! Cool stuff!

The plan was to skip Section 9 and head on down the road directly to the store. We were running a bit late but I really wanted to get around the whole thing. We ate a quick lunch and then got back on the trail. Jesse took some ibuprofen and headed back to the trailhead on the blacktop.

I really like the sections after the Collett’s Store and before the road crossing at the southern point on KY66. You climb up to a long ridge and then ride along it forever. At one point you hit an opening below a power line cut and you can see for miles in both directions. I always try to stop and get some photos here.

Red Bird Crest Trail Overlook
Red Bird Crest Trail Overlook

More Photos from the Red Bird Crest Trail

With little time to spare, we headed on down the ridge and finally dropped down to KY66 at the southern trailhead.

The Row 47 Report

I guess to me, an enduro equals adventure. Typically, there is a wide range of terrain in an enduro event and that is attractive to me. The idea of covering lots of ground, having a few breaks here and there and seeing the landscape of a different place is something I look forward to each year. We did three National Enduros a couple years ago but that is the most I’ve done in any single year.

For the past three years, the National Enduro Promotions Group, or NEPG, has held a round up north of Muncie, Indiana but this year they went with the Black Coal venue down in Lynnville. Let me tell you, the terrain varies greatly between the flat farming land around Muncie and the scarred strip mining sites in South Indiana near Lynnville. Wide open areas that are rough as can be and covered with scrub grasses and useless little trees coupled with the roller coaster like hills in the older woods makes for an interesting riding experience.

I signed up for this particular enduro back on the evening of July 3rd while I was out in Idaho. The usual suspects were registered: Philip, Bo, Jesse and me. I really don’t like signing up that early but if you want a good row, it is a must. Row 47 has been kind to us all so once again that was my desired row selection and we got it!!

Unfortunately, Jesse just got a new job (congrats to him) and they wanted him to fly out of Lexington @ 5:50PM the same day as the race. He tried to get it switched but luck was not his friend so he bowed out gracefully. We all missed having him around that is for sure.

The first two people I thought to call when I learned he couldn’t go were Kyle and Jeff. Ended up that it was not in the cards for Kyle, but Jeff was able to fit it into his schedule and was pleased to go along. Knowing that they don’t allow row changes, we just decided that Jeff could be Jesse for the day. Jesse dropped off his AMA card and everything was good to go. I had paid for all the entries back in July so that was a sunk cost on my end and Jeff was the beneficiary. Jesse sent his “competition kit” info to Jeff so that he could truly impersonate him. The “kit” included an electric razor (so he could shave his head) and a thumb throttle. Alan said it was mandatory that Jeff use the “kit” but I don’t he liked the idea.

Enduro Ready!
Enduro Ready!

I got everything together for Philip and I on Friday evening and Saturday morning. We picked up Bo around noon and headed north and west towards Lynnville. Jeff had “kid duty” and had to drive up early on Sunday. He arrived at the venue before we got there and was ready to sign up when we got on site. None of us had any major issues getting registered but they did give Bo a hard time regarding his AMA card and exhaust but he worked it all out. Time to race!!

Test 1
None of us knew what to expect but Test 1 started to shape our expectations of what the rest of the event may hold in store. Basically, it was in a wide open area that had been stripped. The ground was not smooth at all . . . very, very choppy. The course ran in and out of some tight tree sections and there were hundreds of turns. Things didn’t start out well in this test as the other guy on our row would NOT get out of the way. Bo put a motocross move on him and pushed him out in a corner but he would NOT let Philip and I pass him. Philip lost his front end in a corner and went down and I pulled right up on this guy and hounded him for at least a mile before he pulled over and let us go on. I had used every tactic I could get around him but he refused to budge. That sure didn’t help our time in that test. As was the case with every Test, Jeff beat us all quite handily. He makes it look easy. Philip came in just ahead of Bo and I dragged in after all of them.

Test 2
Here we go again. Test 2 was just like Test 1. Very easy overall, but lots and lots of turns in open fields with very high grass on each side and a few little tight scrub woods sections thrown in here and there. I just can’t make good time in that stuff for some reason. The fact that I don’t use my brakes much really makes it difficult to make good time where there are lots of turns. Oh well, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks! Once again, Jeff beat us all and was waiting at the beginning of the next test. Looks like Philip finished just ahead of Bo on this test once again.

Test 3
At this point we all commented that the course was not quite what we expected. It was VERY easy up to this point. I swear that there wasn’t even a log laying across the trail. Some sections were so tight you’d have to squeeze between the trees but they were few and far between and typically that is where I do the best, in the tight stuff. Once again, nothing eventful happened and the Row 47 finishing order was still intact: Jeff, Philip, Bo, and Kent.

Black Coal Enduro GPS Tracks
Black Coal Enduro GPS Tracks

Test 4
Now were talking!! The course was now transitioning a bit into some better woods sections, less field stuff, some off camber hillsides and lots of those little sections through the scrub trees. This is more like what I expected. I felt like I was doing fairly well and towards the end I came upon Philip. He had said he was tired at the start of the test and I could see it in how he was riding. We were about 1.5 miles from the end of the test and he let me around. So now the finishing order had been shuffled a bit: Jeff, Bo, Kent, and Philip. Bo and Philip were impressed with Jeff’s skill and the fact that he was doing all this on a 1998 RMX250. Gotta love it!!

Test 5
We all went back to the truck before Test 5 and refueled our bodies a bit. I was getting low on gas but had enough for at least one more test but I suspected that I wouldn’t do Test 6 anyhow as my legs were starting to cramp. Not good. This problem has haunted me now for 3 years and it just won’t go away. Getting old?? Test 5 begins with a little climb and then immediately gets technical. Yes! This is what we’d be waiting for! I get about 1 mile in and realize that I can’t grab the front brake. My fingers won’t unfold off the grip. The next thing I know, my left leg starts to cramp. Geez!! The course is finally primo and I’m not able to put my full effort into it. Argh!! I backed it off a bit so that I could stay in control and then rode at a steady pace enjoying the course.

All day long some young guy on a KTM with Klim gear would pass me hauling the mail. I heard him coming and let him around. About 20 seconds later we come out on a beat up old logging road that is littered with big roots and large rocks. Well this kid hits the ground hard!! His bike goes one way and he the other. It looked really bad! I stopped and picked up his bike as it was nearly blocking the trail. He was down on his knees with his head on the ground. This is not good. I asked how he is and he said he’d hit his knee on one of those big rocks. He said he’d be okay and really thanked me for stopping. I got back on and finished out the Test. It was roller coaster city out there! Up, down, right, left. This was fun! The soil was good, it was technical, and the off camber stuff was everywhere!! Why couldn’t the whole course be like this?? Great fun and awesome job on the layout in this Test. Jeff beat us handily once again and Bo came in somewhere behind him. Philip didn’t even do the test as his hands were all blistered up so I rounded out the pack. I was done, Test 6 was not in the cards for me so I headed back to the staging area.

Test 6
All I know about Test 6 is that Jeff said it was more of Test 5. Very cool!! My energy level just wouldn’t have allowed me to do that safely. Jeff made it back as we were finishing loading up and had a big grin on his face! He’d done well and he knew it! Hats off to him and the old RMX!

Little did we know, but Jeff (I mean Jesse) had pulled off a first place win his class! Very cool! The balance of Row 47 finished quite poorly within our respective classes be we all had a great time. That is what it is all about. Of course we’d all like to do better, but I’ll never get any faster and my conditioning is average at best. Treating it like a trail ride is basically what I do so at the end of the day its more about how much fun I had than how I did overall or in a particular test. Sure beats sitting at home on a Sunday watching some sports game on the tube. If you haven’t tried an enduro, do it!

Spotted at the Black Coal
There were several Kentucky folks there and some others from close by that race the KORHS series. Earl Coffey was there and parked beside us on Sunday. The “Sheriff” Thacker rode up with Harvey and Mr. Tucker tagged along on his new KTM 350. I ran into Jeff Green a couple times and saw him with Eric Gill at the beginning of Test 5.

When I was a kid . . .

My first bike was a Yamaha TY80. Yes, a trials bike. My Dad figured that would be a good bike to learn on. He was right, it was. It would go anywhere. He fabricated a mount and bought a small Preston Petty black front fender and raised it up like his MX bike. A knobby tire went on the back and front and I thought that was so cool! The metal tank was mostly white but had the Yamaha yellow across the bottom with a little black stripe. Not quite like the YZs, but close enough for me.

Of course, what I really wanted was one of new YZ80s with cool yellow, black, and white graphics. I didn’t get one, but my Dad meticulously taped up my simple white helmet and painted it Yamaha yellow. Then, he painted that black Yamaha stripe around the top and down around the back. We snapped (yes snapped) a white “duck bill” on the front and I was ready to go!

Years later I had some ITs, WRs, and YZs but none of them had that “Hurricane Hannah” look dominated by the Yamaha yellow and their signature white and black stripes. Well in 2006, Yamaha released their 50th Anniversary Edition Yamaha YZFs. The color scheme was dead on the Hurricane Hannah bikes of yesteryear but it had the latest four-stroke race engine. Our friend Jesse Dean bought one right away. I was impressed but didn’t need a new bike at the time. Oh well, I could look at it when we rode with Jesse.

2006 Yamaha YZ250F Anniversary Edition
2006 Yamaha YZ250F Anniversary Edition

Fast forward 20 months and Jesse has a broken leg, can’t work, and his Dad is pissed. So he needed to sell his bike. Well I jumped at the opportunity. I finally had my Yamaha Yellow YZ!! It was bit worn but still had the original plastic and was in good shape mechanically. What happened next is that my Son decided it was his bike and he’s been riding it since late 2007.

50th Anniversary Edition Emblem
50th Anniversary Edition Emblem

So, I bought all new plastics for it over a period of time. Then, slowly, I purchased all the graphics. Those were NOT cheap, but I set it all aside in a box to keep for a later date. That later date came last weekend. I’d been looking for an excuse to put them on for years and the upcoming enduro up in Lynnville was the occasion. I checked with Philip first and he was all for it. The process began the next night and it was completed by Friday. I took my time and did it right and cleaned up the bike well before installing it all.

YZ250F Anniversary Edition
YZ250F Anniversary Edition
2006 Yamaha YZ250F
2006 Yamaha YZ250F

The result is very nice! Just what I wanted when I was a kid. The Hurricane Hannah Yamaha is now in my garage. Think I’ll hang onto it for a while.

See you on the trail!

The Row 47 Report for the Muddobbers Enduro

Well it’s been over a year since I’ve given a Row 47 Report! One year and two weeks to be exact. Last few times this race was the final in the series thus it was on Saturday instead of the traditional Sunday as race day. Everyone was dreading the race on the drive up Saturday afternoon. The forecast called for a 70% chance of rain on Sunday and a 40% on Saturday evening. We got off the Interstate and headed up the back roads towards Matthews, Indiana and suddenly it started raining. The rain continued as we made our way to a parking space and got out to setup some stakes and course marking tape to claim a spot. I pulled out my Klim Traverse jacket and was able to stay dry through the whole ordeal but it was not the best way to start the whole adventure.

The crew headed towards Muncie after registration to get something to eat and rest up for the next day. The wind was howling but the rain subsided about the time we got to Muncie. All four of us went to Chili’s for dinner and had a good meal before settling in for the night.

I got up at 5:30am the next morning (as usual) and walked down to get some things out of the truck. The wind was blowing hard once again but the parking lot was mostly dry. Blown dry! We pulled out around 7:30am and headed towards Matthews. Marty, Trey, Jared, Earl, and David were all parked in out reserved area and we pulled in and set up camp for the day.

We did the whole sound check thing and geared Philip’s YZ250f up just a bit. He insisted it would help him in the fields. Philip noted at one point that the sky was clearing and sure enough it was. Luck seemed to be with us in terms of the weather. Everyone filed out as their row time approached and soon enough Row 47 was on the line.

Row 47 - Muddobbers Enduro
Row 47 - Muddobbers Enduro

We all took off right on time and I immediately let Bo and Philip around so they could set the pace. Philip finished just ahead of Bo on that test. Only several seconds separated them. Bo stepped it up the next test and finished almost 2 minutes ahead of Philip. In both instances, I was 1-2 minutes behind them and Jesse did show up before our row number came up.

The 3rd test was fun and Jesse showed up just before our row took off. Charlie was there helping with the check but I was surprised. He told me earlier in the week that his back was keeping him down. A visit to the chiropractor and some time worked in his favor and he felt good enough to help out a bit.

The 4th test was going well until about the 1 mile mark. At that point, there was a big mudhole and racers were stuck all over the place. Bo dropped into a bad rut but Philip took another line that a course worker was pointing out. He got out without too much effort but Bo had a tough time getting out. I took Philip’s line and soon afterwards I caught both them as they were worn out. I rode a steady pace and neither one of them caught me in that test. We headed back to the truck for fuel and lunch.

Lunch was good. I needed lunch. But, in my case lunch was too long. Bo left before me and he got there after me. That should have been my queue. But instead, I arrived at the checkpoint almost 7 minutes late. That hosed my time on the 5th test. About 1.5 miles from the end of that test, Earl caught and passed me. I was just starting to get some leg cramps and keeping him in sight just wasn’t an option. When I turned onto the road at the end of the test, he was about 100 yards ahead of me. We headed down the road and made our way back to the truck. I just didn’t have it in me to do the 6th test. From what Marty said, I didn’t miss a whole lot.

About 6 miles of pavement later we arrived back at staging. Bo already had his bike loaded up and Philip had our truck and trailer loaded the best he could without me being there. We chatted a bit and rounded up all our gear and threw it in the trailer. On the road again! We headed in a southerly direction back towards Kentucky and stopped before we got to Indy to grab a bite to eat.

None of our bikes broke down and none of us got hurt. That’s a good day! None of us did that well either, but hey, I had a great time and doing an enduro is always like an adventure. You never know what’s lurking around the next bend!

See you on the trail!

The Row 48 Report and other stuff . . .

For the second year in row, we’ve made our way up to Matthews, Indiana for the final National Enduro of the year. It is usually held on a Saturday which makes it even more attractive.

We had a full row signed up this year which was going to be nice. All 5 of us knew each other and my Son was excited to get to ride with everyone at the same time. Jesse, Trey, Bo, Philip and me were all signed up for Row 48.

All was good until the first weekend of September and then our plans started to unravel. I came down with a fever, headache, and all sorts of stuff. This was Labor Day weekend and unfortunately I couldn’t get into my Doctor until the day after the Holiday. At that time, my Doctor thought I had a flare up of something he’d treated me for in the past. So I started on some familiar antibiotics. Five days later, I was in really bad shape, couldn’t kick the fever and was in and out of the Emergency Room. It wasn’t until the following Wednesday that they realized how bad off I was and sent me to the Hospital. After a couple nights there I was starting to improve so they sent me home with an IV for medications and some different antibiotics. They still had no test results that said what I had or what was going on. But, they suspected something tick-borne or maybe a rare form of Hepatitis (not A, B, or C).

To make a long story short, they finally figured out that I had

My First Enduro, Not my Last!

Yesterday was a learning experience for sure . . . the concept of an enduro has always intrigued me and yesterday was my first real exposure to the whole deal. I got the idea to go earlier this year and everyone told me that the one in Indiana was always fun and featured some great trails. Sign up for these events is done via snail mail so I corralled the troops, got the forms filled out and sent in three checks for Kyle Miller, Jesse Smith and myself. We landed on row 69, which according to Kyle meant that we left the line 1 hour and 9 minutes after the standard 9am key time.

Several things proved to make this whole trip quite interesting. First of all, we had Wild Man Kyle Miller along . . . that always shakes things up a bit and reminds me that we should all be happy to be alive, just like Kyle! His ever present smile and positive attitude are to be admired. Also in tow was Trey Algrhim . . . his lack of fear, inquisitive nature, and love of riding make him fun to around.

The interesting part was that somehow I talked Jesse Smith (Quad Racer) to sign up and compete with us. Now get this, Jesse has never raced motorcycles more than about 4 or 5 times and in most instances he just cruises around has some fun. But, since going to Idaho this summer, Jesse now has a desire to get a bike for trail riding. Kyle said many people treat an Enduro like a big trail ride thus Jesse thought it would be fun. Once again, he removed the bars from my 2005 YZ and mounted his Flexx Bars with the freaking thumb throttle (yes, you read that correctly). I call it the “trigger of death” . . . but it makes him more comfortable.

When we arrived at the course early on Friday we found that one section of their Hare Scramble course was very dry, hard, and powdery. I went back to the truck, pulled the rear wheel with the knobby and replaced it with the one that has a trials tire on it. Seemed like the thing to do. Jesse said if I didn’t use it, he would. But, once we arrived at the hotel, I got online and checked the weather . . . not good . . . 60% chance of rain was the new forecast. Maybe the trials tire wasn’t the best choice.

So, the next morning some puddles on the parking lot clearly showed that a small shower came through during the evening. As we drove to the course, it sprinkled a bit a here and there. Once we arrived and unloaded, the skies began to emit a steady rain . . . someone walked by and said, “We hear it is going to start pouring down between 10am and 10:30am!” Race prep continued and the rain kept coming down. We all knew that the old hard pack trails would be like ice . . . it was going to be interesting. The photo below shows us just minutes before heading to the starting line . . . just a bit damp, but no dust!

Pre Race Prep in the Rain
Pre Race Prep in the Rain

So, the race was on and we dropped underneath the bridge and into a narrow wooded area along the creek bed. It is my understanding that we were not being timed at this point, we had 2 miles to go before that would begin. But during this section I came upon Kyle picking up his bike. I didn’t see anything that would have caused it but all of sudden “wham” I hit a huge root and nearly go over the bars. I hit the inside of my leg on the bars I guess and have massive bruise to show for it.

Not long afterwards, we came upon some small rain soaked hills that were giving some folks fits. I threaded my way around and through the mess to the first check/start point where I rejoined Kyle. Goggles were already toast and we had 34 more miles to go.

Upland National Enduro (1st 3 Tests)
Upland National Enduro (1st 3 Tests)

When I think “34 miles” of trail, half of Red Bird comes to mind so that seems just fine. The course was very cool. I just kept thinking about how hard it would be to lay it out. Each time we’d cross the road, run across a harvested field, or through the corner of someone’s yard I’d think of how difficult it must be to manage all those contacts and property agreements. It was astounding! Look at the screen capture from Google Earth above. I recorded it using my GPS during the event and laid it on there this morning to see the ground we covered. Very cool!

I plugged along enjoying the ride and the constantly varying conditions. It would go from slick-hard packed previously ridden trails to completely virgin single track in the corner of some wood lot then over a rocky area and along a fence with 10′ high corn stalks right beside your bars. I was waived through at the first two checks indicating I was late. The first time I heard the scoring lady saying that row 75 was next which meant I was 6 minutes late. At the next check they waved me through again but I have no idea what row was up. Near the end of the 2nd test, Trey, who started on row 75 caught up to me. We rode another mile and then hit the rode at around mile 22 where people were stagged for a gas stop. Once we hit the road, he took off and I didn’t see him again until the start of the next test. After riding about 3 miles of road I came upon the next test start where I say both Kyle and Trey talking. I was back on time! We had about 6 minutes or so before our row was to depart, thus some time to rest.

When we hit the trail again I picked up the pace, but Kyle was out of site within a 1/2 mile . . . I rode steadily taking advantage of the YZs awesome turning to thread the trees. My results on this test were better than the others but afterwards there were about 4 miles of road before we got back to the truck for lunch. At that point, I was soaked to the skin and getting very cold . . . very uncomfortable.

Kyle was at the truck and said he’d been there for a little over three minutes and that I was doing good. Trey was about 4 or 5 minutes after me, but he started 6 rows back. We’d all done fairly well, especially Kyle. No one had seen Jesse for quite some time, so we were a bit concerned.

After sitting down and eating I got comfortable and was starting to not chill as much but then learned it was time to leave. We were actually late. I sat there for a minute but just couldn’t put that cold helmet back on and go out for another 35 miles with at least 6 miles of road . . . it wasn’t in me today. Jesse finally showed up and told of his adventure that morning. In the end, I’m glad I didn’t go back out, but I hate to be thought of as a quitter. I normally like the muddy conditions, but the pouring rain and road sections just zapped my desire to move on that given day.

The aftermath of all this is that I’m really hooked on this enduro concept. There is still much to learn before next season but that is part of the fun. I hope to follow up with some friends and may report back on their feelings about the event.

See you on the trail!