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June 1999

Can Just Any Spode Run An Enduro?

Well, I finally did it. I've been threatening to do it all year and yes, it finally happened. What was it, you ask? Well, I entered my first enduro, the Little Polecat Enduro, put on by the Merced Dirt Riders. Everyone working the event was extremely friendly. The Checkpoint workers were quick to offer words of encouragement. Most importantly, no one who passed me roosted me too hard.

I went into this event with two main goals. The first was to actually go through with it. I almost backed out on several occasions. The second was to pass at least one person. I know that enduros aren't about passing people. However, I knew staying on time was not even an option, so I wanted to be faster than someone!

We arrived sometime around 7:00 pm, unloaded, set up camp, then headed to the checkin. I already had my AMA, card so all I needed was a District 36 card and to pay the entry. $70 later we were ready. We headed back to camp, in a less-than-desirable location. By the time we got there, the only option was to pitch the tent on the road. Rarely have I experienced so many mosquitoes. I have 28 bites just on my face, and three of those are in my right ear. After eating dinner in George's Bronco to avoid further bites, we worked on getting George's computer programmed with all the pertinent information. Then we hit the sack. Some folks (non-racers) were partying, BIG TIME, until about 3:00am. That combined with the insane itching from the mosquitoes left me with very little sleep.

Did anyone ever mention that these things start at an ungodly hour? Key Time was 7:30 am. That means that the first group of riders left at 7:31. George and I were on the 65th minute, which meant that we started at 8:35 (or was it 8:36? The whole timing thing is still confusing). The day was hot, dry, and very dusty so they were kind enough to have three riders per minute instead of the usual four.

It was a dead engine start and my faithful RMX250 started first kick. I grabbed a handful of throttle and was the first off the line. I had told George that I didn't plan on racing him to the first turn. After all, this is an enduro, I had no timing equipment, and was going to key off of him, and he was on his KTM 380 (it wouldn't have been much of a race). However, the temptation did strike and off I went, quickly backing off to let him by. Off we went, I felt very confident at this point, finally succeeding in
my first goal. I did well for the first two miles, keeping the XR400 that was also on our minute behind me. What happened then I'm still quite foggy on. To the best of my recollection, I started to lose it on a fast left turn. I put my left leg out to save it, at about the same time I hit a big bump. I then found myself in the ungodly position of having my left leg trapped in the rear tire, under my fender. Still going about 20mph, I hit another bump, bottoming my rear suspension against my ankle. About this time the XR400 blew by. I thought to myself that he surely was thinking I
was a huge idiot. George commented that he probably was just glad it wasn't him (thanks George!). I managed to save it and continued on, though my ankle was pretty sore.

I made it to the first check only four minutes behind schedule. By the second check I was down only five minutes. I was feeling pretty good and thought I could start making up some time. In this section I actually passed about four people. I won't mention how many people passed me! I was sticking to the three guys from minute 70 for quite a while. Then, suddenly they disappeared. Unfortunately, I made a few bad turns. The course markings were great, just sometimes, to a spode such as myself, they weren't quite good enough. The MRD gang did an excellent job marking the wrong turns, THANKS GUYS! So it was very obvious when I blew it. I lost a lot time due to these extracurricular adventures.

I thought I was doing pretty well despite my poor navigation skills when I came upon George. He was stopped, facing the wrong direction. As it turned out, he lost his shift lever. He had found it by the time I caught up to him and was in the process of stealing a side-cover bolt to put it back on. Unfortunately, I made the mistake of hanging out while he fixed it. He was quickly done and off we went. To George's dismay, it fell off again a couple miles later. He waved me past yelling GO GO GO!

I really turned it on at that point. After going through some good single-track and a looong rocky uphill, I came out on the road. I could see someone ahead so I punched it. As I was making the pass I realized it was George, minus shifter. He yelled that he was done and headed to the truck. With this, I continued on, reaching the third checkpoint 23 minutes late. I was shattered.

I had forgotten my wrist supports and could hardly pull the clutch. I was getting tired and was positive that no other human could possibly be as late as I was. I guess the guys at the check could see my expression. They yelled, "not too bad" and "hey, just go and have more fun!" That I did. This next section had some great single track. It was shady and tight, just my type of riding. It was a little damp and traction was great. I reached Checkpoint 4 21 minutes behind. Hey I made up some time! My motivation was high, but my stamina was low. In my left wrist the pain was horrible, additionally, my left elbow had started swelling and my left ankle was throbbing. However, this last section was mostly road, and the average was 21mph. I'm certain I beat that. As I headed down the last leg of the first loop I began to spot them. They looked like dead soldiers from a civil war reenactment. In actuality they were just poor fellows who had run out of gas.

I was starting to get nervous. The Suzuki had never gone more than 45 miles on a tank of gas. In fact, I had run out three times previously, all in the 43 to 45 mile range. However, I had the new carburetor and had no idea what affect it would have on my mileage. There I was at 42.5 and not even on reserve. "How much longer," I thought? Have I been on reserve the whole time? At around the 44-mile mark I spotted a crowd. Sure enough, I made it.

Caution -- the rest of the story includes whining and bad excuses. There was a twenty-minute break at the gas stop. I was close enough that I could have filled the tank and bolted and I would have been only a minute or two behind. Did I? NO! I headed to the truck to see if George made it back. I think I had already resigned to the fact that I wasn't going to finish. I was sore, tired, and very hungry. I also had a blown fork seal (I don't want to talk about it). George had called it a day. This was too easy. I pulled up, yanked off my helmet, grabbed a ham & cheese sandwich, grabbed a cold Sierra Nevada Porter and sat down. George looked at me and said "what the hell you doing? Are you going to finish or what?" I replied "I'm still trying to decide." With this I ended the day.

Could I have finished? Most likely. Do I hate myself for not trying? Most definitely. Was it worth the $70? Probably. Was it worth the 28 mosquito bites on my face? Unlikely. Will I do it again? Without a doubt.

I'd bet that the A riders will complain that it was too easy and some of the C riders will complain that it was too hard. I'd say that it was not too hard but I was too out of shape. Of course rumors where that the second loop was a lot harder. Anyway, thanks again to the Merced Dirt Riders for a fun day of riding and a well-organized event. Well, I'm off to bed, though I may stop to hurl on my way . . .

by Jay Ev'Mon Everson