I’ve come to the conclusion that my newly built Yamaha WR250 is a single-track trail weapon. I raced the Sandlapper Enduro in early March, the Sawmill Hare Scramble later that month, and the Hardwick Creek event on April 13th.
A group of us made the commitment to race the Sandlapper National Enduro down near Columbia, South Carolina three months ago. We’d been to that race back in 2011 and made the (nearly fatal) mistake of getting on row 87. It was a miserable experience, but Bo, the Sheriff, and I survived the whole ordeal. The sand whoops would swallow a bike and stumps were everywhere.
But hey . . . we had a plan for 2014!! Get on an early row and maybe there wouldn’t be a bunch of sand whoops. So, on sign up evening I made it all happen and got Earl, Bo, David, and Sam on the same row. Jesse called just 5 minutes after I’d signed us up and said he wanted to go too. I quickly got back on the site and requested the row in front of us. I had requested row 7 and 6 for Jesse but we ended up with 4 and Jesse was placed on row 62. Oh well . . . it was not for lack of effort on my part.
Once again, the weather promised to be great compared to the Bluegrass State and whole crew was looking forward to the trek down South. However, just like the last enduro, Jesse was unable to attend due to work-related commitments. So, the week before the race Mr. Kyle Miller gave me a call and I laid the offer right in his lap. “Do you want to go the National Enduro next week Wildman?” . . . first there was a bit of a pause . . . then a fairly positive “Yes” emerged. He was on the hook to ride in Jesse’s spot. Could Jesse Smith (alias) obtain another Vet B Class win??
Onward! Everyone was excited. David and Sam really liked the Black Coal Enduro last year and Bo was anxious to head south for some warm weather riding. I knew that Kyle would keep things interesting for us and Earl was glad to not be going it alone! It is good when things are good!
We all left at different times on Saturday and Earl was the first to arrive at the venue. My truckload showed up about 30 minutes later. David and Sam were running behind and didn’t make it to the course, but at the end of the day we all sat down for dinner together at the Applebee’s is Lexington, South Carolina in front of our hotel. It is always good when a group can sit down together for a meal. Good conversation about the day ahead!
The next day began early but it worked out well and we arrived at the race with just a little over an hour before our 9:04 key time. I don’t like being rushed but overall, everything I “needed” was ready to go. Kyle helped with sandwiches for lunch and our gear as he had almost an hour to wait after we took off. The group headed for the line and Kyle tagged along to grab a couple photos. Shown (left to right) below are Bo, David, KYWR, and Sam on the line for the first test.
I think it was back in 2009 when I decided Tire Balls would be worth giving a try. We’d been cutting trail at the Salt River Run in Mercer County. You know that place with all the Honey Locust . . . the trees with the LONG thorns? I kept thinking that if there was ever a place to get a flat this was it. They were sponsoring our Series (KORHS) so it was convenient.
Well, to make a long story short, I’m sold on the whole concept. Not having to worry about a flat tire is great. Especially on long trips where you’ve spent significant time and money to get there and then all of sudden you (and all your buddies) are dealing with your flat tire.
My Son’s front tires are the best example of how well they perform. On at least three occasions he’s had 5 to 7 flat balls when I’ve pulled his tire off to “upgrade” but the tire was still solidly mounted on the rim. An S12 once and an M12 the other two times. So think about that . . . that is 5 to 7 times (each wheel) that we would have had to deal with a flat front tire. His example is extreme though. Typically, I only have 1 or 2 flat balls by the time the tire is in need of changing. Sometimes none are flat at all.
So today was the day. I did a front and a rear wheel. Most folks think dealing with them is a PITA (learned that from Bill) but I’ve actually mastered the entire process. If everything is clean and ready to go, I can easily mount a tire in 15-20 minutes. The right tools, the correct approach, patience, and persistence are all required. It is not for the faint of heart. BUT . . . think about it . . . I’d rather spend my “time” in the garage with the Balls than on the side of the trail dealing with my (or someone else’s) failed tube.
I have a rear wheel that I mounted up with a brand new Michelin Trials tire in June of 2012 before heading out West. It has over 700 miles on it . . . maybe more . . . the knobs still over 75% there in terms of height and it probably has 3 flat Balls from what I can tell. The tire is still mounted well on the rim and it just plain hooks up and goes where instructed.
Additionally, don’t forget about how it helps you in terms of suspension and traction. The ability to run a lower pressure with the balls does wonders for traction! A wide footprint that readily conforms to all shapes equals forward motion where others are left standing still.
See you on the trail!
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.
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!!
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.
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.
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.
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!!
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.
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.
The next KORHS event will be on May 19th at the Copperhead Run in Wolfe County, Kentucky. We named it Copperhead Run for a reason and the fact that it is located in the Eastern portion of the state means that the terrain is different from where most of our events are staged. The soil is more sandy, the pines are more abundant, and the undergrowth is thicker. All of those features combined with a large flat area that was strip mined over 3 decades ago make for an awesome venue (and a great place for Copperheads to hang out).
The course begins on the flat strip site and winds between the pines but racers are riding on natural terrain within 3/4 mile or so. The next 4.5 miles is a really nice single track trail through typical Eastern Kentucky mountain terrain. Lots of little elevation changes and a mix of hardwoods and conifers keep the trail fun and interesting. There are plenty places to pass though, and I’m sure some new lines will open up as the race wears on. You won’t find this type of trail anywhere in the central or western parts of Kentucky so enjoy it.
Racers exit this more natural terrain and drop into an area along the fringes of the old strip mine. This area has an interesting surface as it is where the overburden from the mine was pushed downhill. Lots of little ups and downs between the pines. The course transitions to the flat mined out area around mile marker 5 and flows nicely through the pines for another 1.5 miles.
Below are three links to some video clips of the 2013 Course:
The course was a hit in 2012 with most all the KORHS Racers and they’ll love the extra mileage and widened trails in 2013.
See you on the Trail!
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.
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!
Well the Halstead Fire is slowing down a bit thanks to some showers and the fact that it reached a large burnout area from 2006. It’s daily growth has been minimal for the last 3 days and all the evacuation notices for Yankee Fork have been lifted for residents. This is good and I’ll be watching the progress for days to come.
I hate to get on this soap box again but if you don’t have a trials tire you are surely missing out. Did you notice the rear tire on Mike Lafferty’s Husaberg at the last enduro? Mike is sponsored by Michelin and he was sporting a new Trial Competition tire on his 18″ rear wheel. I’m sure his setup ate up those rocks on that course. The traction a trials tire gets on a rock (wet or dry) is incredible! He got 2nd overall running his Michelin “Grip Master” . . .
The past KORHS course in Anderson County was beat in well as we ran it the other way last year. Jesse did a great job using the best wooded areas available when he laid it all out last Spring and it worked out well running it backwards. My WR250 was sporting a trials tire that I had on there from Idaho and it hooked up so well on that hard clay soil. All those rocks were not match for it.. The tire excels in those conditions and it grips surprisingly well on dry grass. Check out the photo below that Jesse took with his fancy new camera. The trial tire in action . . . and by the way . . . three other guys were running them that day too!
I’ll step off the soap box now . . . but think about it.
See you on the trail!
At the most basic level, the header photo on the blog has changed. The photo was taken this Spring in Wolfe County, Kentucky. My attempt to capture the landscape does not do it justice. There were rolling hills and massive cliffs in the foreground and ridge tops from a couple counties away with water tanks perched upon high so as to achieve maximum pressure. I changed the header because a friend noted that there were snow capped mountains on my page. Having not been to Kentucky before, he wondered if we really had snow capped mountains like out West. So, I switched it up for a new look and to let him (and others) see what Kentucky looks like.
Additionally, I just returned from an extended vacation to a small city named “Stanley” in the Sawtooth Mountains of central Idaho. Returning from a trip like this usually leaves me with a different take on things. A new view or perspective on life . . . or maybe not so much “new” but possibly more “energized” . . . maybe that is a better way of stating it. Being off work for a month causes me to contemplate retirement and everything that goes along with it. I’ve been planning for retirement for many, many years now and hopefully Kim and I will be able to live comfortably in our later years.
I’m also drawn farther and farther away from my desire to “compete” in off road racing. Doing an Enduro from time to time seems attractive, but I have little interest in racing hare scrambles. I enjoy working on the courses in the Spring, but anything after June is just plain brutal. The heat, humidity, bugs, and thick undergrowth make trail cutting miserable at best. It takes all the fun out of it . . . makes me think about not doing it at all and just spending that time riding and having fun.
My view of work also changes a bit after being gone for four weeks. I’m certainly re-energized and I know there is plenty to get done in the next several weeks. Having fun and challenging things to do at work keeps me engaged and leaves little time for getting bored. I’m lucky to have a great job that I enjoy and that allows Kim and I to take off such long periods of time. It’s always good to have “a new view” of your life . . .
See you on the trail!
Just like March, April came and went quickly. Today is the first day of May so that means I have 18 days left to finish the course in Wolfe County. After that race on May 20th I’ll have 5 weekends to get the one in Mercer County completed. I’m going to let Jesse and David take care of Horseshoe Bend which is just 3 weekends after the Wolfe County event. I have little to no desire to work at that place especially since I learned that mud buggies are going down in those woods now. I’ve never been a fan, but lots of racers really like that venue . . . just not one of my favorites. You can check out the locations of all the KORHS races on our new interactive map. It has some neat tools and base layers with aerial photos and topographic information. You can use the bookmarks to zoom directly to each of the venues. Check it out!
It’s has been fun working on a new piece of property. Wolfe County has a different variety of plants, soil types, and critters that we get to see here in central Kentucky. The problem is that this time of year I start to get burnt out on the whole course layout thing. I start to dread doing the course work when it is hot outside and it got quite warm this past weekend. This is when I start to look forward to doing some traveling and riding out West. Just plain fun . . . no worries about course layout deadlines or any work-related items at all. Getting away from it all and having no schedules to pin me down for a while is a worthy recharge for Kim and me. This is something we both look forward to all year long!
What are you looking forward to?
See you on the Trail!
No more “fun” days of riding for a while. It’s time to focus on getting courses ready for the 2012 season. The last two weekends have been dedicated to cutting in new trail for the Sawmill event. So far, so good. I think it will most likely be close to 10.5 or 11 miles this year and the vast majority of it is high and dry!
Not that working on courses isn’t fun, because it is in its own way. It’s certainly not as fun as a great day of riding at Red Bird, but being outdoors and enjoying nature is part of the experience as well. We’ve learned to read the terrain and know how soils types will hold up during a certain type of event. Additionally, we also take pride in what we do. It’s always nice to get some good feedback after an event.
But for now, each weekend will be dedicated to this activity. I’m not a person who can wait until the last minute to get something accomplished and people who do wait until the last minute to lay out a course normally fail miserably. You just can’t do it well in a couple weekends. The effort involved is much greater than that even if there is a course already on the property. Few will ever understand . . . but that’s Ok.
See you on the trail!