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May '98

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September 1998

For Beginners...

So, you wanna race an enduro huh? If so, you probably have about a hundred questions about timekeeping, schedules, route sheets, etc. Unless you're a bonafide prodigy, you're not going to have to worry much about keeping on schedule, so lets concentrate a little on how you finish your first race, and how you should prep your bike and body so you stand a greater chance of finishing. Things seem to happen in an enduro, so lets concentrate on controlling, what we can, and try to be prepared for the things we can't control.

The Bike:

First and foremost, make sure your bike is properly jetted. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to ride a bike that won't run or keeps fouling plugs. In sweeping the Pikes Peak National course recently, we found a poor gent whose XR600 was waaay rich. He was stuck at a foreboding hill climb just 16 miles into the race. Getting that heavy bike out wasn't much fun.

Safety wiring grips is something that also should be done, IMHO. Three wraps of safety wire around a grip is all that's require. If for some reason, like you dump it in a mudhole, you're grip cement releases, you'll experience arm pump from Hades if they're aren't safety-wired.

While they aren't "required" equipment, some type of hand guard is highly recommended. I've had great luck with the Acerbis Rallye Guards, but just about anything beats a broken or crushed finger.

Clean and oil the air filter.

Check the pressure in your tires the day of, or day before, an event. This has been the best hint I've ever received to reduce the risk of flats. I run 14# front and rear, and check it before every ride.

Clean, check and lube your clutch and throttle cables. In a long race, you're likely going to need a free moving clutch and throttle cable. The easier they move, the less likely you'll get the dreaded arm pump.

Carry some type of fanny bag that has the minimum amount of tools necessary to perform basic repair of your bike. A good test is to attempt maintenance on your bike using *only* the tools in your fanny bag. Since the content of one's butt bag varies greatly from rider to rider and bike to bike, I won't even go there.

IF you are running a computer, like a Pacemaker or ICO, prep the displays for dust. I use Armorall and have had great luck doing so. Just smear a little AA on the display, let it sit for a few seconds, the buff it to a polished-like sheen. Dust will still stick to it, but not as badly.

It's also a good idea to make a hardcopy list, not mental, of the things you want to check before the race. You'll be surprised at what you'll forget if you don't have a list.

The Body:

This again, varies from body to body, so I'll just share with you what has worked for me, and what hasn't. Keep in mind that I'm a 40 year old that's had lotsa miles registered on the odometer.

Abstain from coffee the day of a race. Coffee is a diuretic, and you'll need all the fluids you can possibly have the day of a race. Same goes with alcohol the day before.

Carb load the night before a race. The ritual in our camp is lasagna. It may not be the best, but it works for us.

Don't eat a "large" meal at the gas stop. Your body will expend too much energy in attempting to digest such a meal (like a sandwich). Instead, eat small, but eat every chance you get. Powerbars at every reset, followed by copious amounts of water, work well. Cold fruit, Gatoraide, Ultra Fuel, etc, at the gas stop also is nice.

I have a small cooler that I send to the gas stop, marked just like my gas can, so I can have something cool to eat and drink at the gas stop.

Make sure you have some kind of drink system. Camelbacks seem to be the most popular, and work for me, but *anything* is better than nothing. Force yourself to drink from it as often as possible. That's a hard thing to do, but cramps will slow you down MUCH faster than slowing to take a drink of water. Have extra water for refill at the gas stop, if you're riding the long course.

Even a moderate workout regimen helps.

The Intangibles:

Carry extra gloves and extra goggles. Many riders will bungee or tape their extras, in a zip-lock bag, under the numberplate. I carry mine in a fanny pack. If you biff in the mud and dirty your gloves, you'll hate life before you can get them changed. If you don't want to carry these items, send them to the gas stop in/along with, your cooler.

Read the terrain and weather as best you can and prep your goggles accordingly. If it looks like it's going to be a dusty day, Armorall your goggles, using the method described above, inside and out. Apply a thin layer of baby oil to the foam part of your goggles. If it looks like a rainy-muddy type day, RainX works well on the goggles as well. Don't oil the goggles on the rain day though, it makes the foam a little too constrictive and will cause fogging problems.

Study the route sheet and try to second-guess where the checks will be. This is a good exercise to do, especially if you have access to a veteran rider.

Create a "cheat sheet" (or buy a Jart Chart) of the route. I usually just record speed changes, resets, gas and the race end. I print mine by hand on a piece of duct tape that I tape to the handlebars. Personal choice will play a large part in this decision.

The Reason we do it:

This one is easily forgotten when it seems like you've been riding since the birth of Methuselah and you still have 40 miles to go, but the reason for doing the race in the first place is simple: To have fun. Remember that single reason, and the race will come to you.


Ken "Merfman" Murphy

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