sorry, I was out of town on business...back to the fools gold enduro.
after the "warm up" lap aound the staging area, we start with some of the trails. the race was a mix of stitched together regular trails and some virgin trail that connected section as well as some special "event only" sections. a mix of tight single track, rocky up/down hills, a few tight switch backs and a couple of creek crossing. this year, they chose not to include the "deep water" crossing. they said something about concerns of fuel/oil getting into the stream when people drown their bikes.
since I gave up on keeping time, I generally had no idea if how early/late I was, however, looking at the time on the score sheet it was obvious that I was getting later. when you arrive at a check point, they note the current check point time on the score sheet. if it matches your row, then you are "on time". so, you subtract your row from the time and figure out how late you are. one of the interesting things that happens when you exert youself for a long time, like a marathon or ultra marathon, etc... is your mental ability decreases over time. towards the end you have a hard time doing math in your head.
I was doing well until the first fuel stop. stopped, got gatorate and clif bars our of my bag that I left with the gas can, but since I was doing OK on gas, chose not to refuel. i know, once should go to the bathroom and refuel, "when you can", i.e. don't wait until you have to. I left the fuel stop at some estimate of my current time. some more gnarly single track, plus some sandy sections and then "trish's trail", which was the only really trouble some spot for me. basically, it's a section on the side of a slate mountain with really steep downhills. here is a video someone else shot at a different time. the trail ridin' starts at 2:40...you get the idea.
I dumped the bike once. I guess the year before someone dumped their bike and it continued to slide down the side of the mountain with a shower of sparks, which caught the fuel on fire and burned the whole bike ! nothing like that happened this time.
after going down the hill I stopped to help a guy who lost his chain, figuring I had surely hou'red out by then anyway. sometime later, it was the flume trail, which is pretty cool and more countless trails/uphills, etc... after that until, finally, the second fuel stop. really the same fuel stop, but entering from a different trail. this time, I need fuel, filling up the whole tank. turns out I get close to 70 miles on a tank. good to know. more gatorade and glucose snacks... and on. after the fuel stop there was a killer uphill with a huge rut that my footpegs got hung up on an it took me over 15minutes to get out of and retry the hill, taking the high side. the next check point I actually hour'ed out, but kept on riding.
more single tracks, up hills, more up hills, and more up hills... some rock gardens, got hung up on some rocks... more rocky trail... at this point all kinds of people where stopped along the trail exhausted taking breaks, having cramped legs, shaking, being dehydrated, etc.... the bike is starting to feel pretty heavy now. and my legs where starting to cramp up a bit, but I just rode through it, which is not a problem until you have to slow and stop and actually put you feet down. finally some of the trails started to look like trails that were closer to the staging area and we're getting close. just a few more miles and since I know I can do all those trails in my xl600, it seemed a little easier on the xr350r. I finished the race, and thought I was disqualified a couple of check points before the end because I hour'ed out. turns out, I was disqualified after the 2nd checkpoint, because I missed it... I actually remembered riding through it, but forgot to stop....sigh.
well, that was my first enduro. thinking back to the hare scrambles I did, this was a bunch harder. I think after the first 50 miles it's really is mind over body. you just have to tune out all the discomfort, pain, cramps and convince yourself that it's easier to just finish it than trying to figure out how to hike out and retrieve your bike later. you also really need to have enough water. about 1liter/hours is the minimum. the trick, I think, is to ride conservative, so as not to make mistakes and dump the bike. dumping the bike make you burn 10x the energy and will wear you out in no time.
lessons learned... don't mess with the computer, don't worry about the time, just ride easy and consistently, have plenty of water. put an extra gallon of water and gatorade with your fuel to fill up your camelback. I bought a nice 3 liter tactical camelback, which will last half the race and is insulated and ultra rugged. also, eat glucose snacks, but don't forget to eat something real at the fuel stop, or you get stomach cramps.
the xr350r was a bit heavy for this particular area, but it's a blast to ride up hills and pass all the people on their 2-strokes that are trying to manage their clutch and powerband, or kick starting their stalled bike. of course, this bike is not "flickable" in the woods.... the knobs were starting to get torn up from the rocky sections. probably only had one more race on them (little did I know). also, sturdy handlebar guards are a must.
so, a note about getting hurt. I have read up on enduros and some people have written papers analyzing injuries for different types of motorcycle racing. turns out enduros are pretty harmless, mostly minor injuries/breaks to extremeties. anyway, buddy from the DS group I ride with is a EMT and volunteered for this ride. turns out there were several trauma cases, including one guy who impaled himself (abdominal laceration) in this race. I don't know the individuals involved and hope all is well. just a reminder to take it easy out there, no matter what the statistics say, getting hurt is no fun.