Well, I guess I'll just start at the beginning. The 2012 BlackJack Enduro Circuit consisted of seven races. Here is the schedule.
As per the BJEC rules, your season points consist of your top 5 scores from any of the 7 races. In seasons with more or fewer races, the scoring will vary. If you ride all 7, then you can drop your two lowest scores. I planned to ride C Veteran class (30+).
For those of you that don't know how the scoring works, I'll just give a brief overview. Within your class, all riders are ranked by their times. But... only BJEC members gain season points. (Non BJEC members can always ride in a race, but they are excluded for season points calculation.) Furthermore, the first place BJEC finisher (in each class) gets 20 points, second gets 19, third gets 18, etc. You can also work a race and get first place points for the gesture. Somebody's gotta make all these great events happen...
So the first race was scheduled for White Rock, AR. Unfortunately, my work schedule in springtime has me working weekends during all of March and April. So White Rock was a throw-away for me. Sucks, but I had no option.
Indian Nations Enduro
I feared that Scipio (Indian Nations Enduro) would be the same. It was scheduled for the last weekend I was supposed to work. Fortunately, things shifted at work and I was suddenly off that weekend.
I had just a few days to prepare my bike, vehicle, and body.
I figured I'd have till May 20th to prep my bike.
I had a whole list of maintenance issues that I wanted to address before my first enduro. Scrap the list. What can I do to make the bike reliable for this ride this weekend?
Needed brakepads, fresh oil and filters...
Bald tire, yep.
I begged a lightly used D606 off a local inmate because you definitely can't get a DOT 17" knobby locally (or online and shipped in time).
Leaky case, yep.
I did a quick tear-down to RTV some gaskets and reassemble.
Lame ass attempt to rig up an odometer, yep.
(I have no gages.)
It didn't work for shit. So I tore it off to use on my bicycle.
At the time, I had a crappy old F150 that was giving me fits. I really didn't feel like I should drive it out of town for fear of a breakdown.
What can I say? I'm 165 pounds of twisted steel.
Actually, I was on a strict regimen of microwaveable processed foods, coffee, and energy drinks for two months. Probably not good. Could use some conditioning, but at least my job is relatively physical.
So where does that leave me? I couldn't rely on my truck to get me there (2 hr commute). The wife was scheduled to be out of town, so that made me the dog-sitter for the weekend. This meant I could only do an enduro day trip. I decided the timing was right for an IRONMAN Enduro. My buddy Redeye_AZ would qualify this as worthy of the "5RH Society".
ide to the R
ide the R
ide home. No trailer Queens.
I packed up the bike and rider with all the gear and tools I needed. I'd start with highway-ish gears 16/48 and swap the counter to 14/48 in the pits. remove some accessories (like GPS, mirrors, etc.) and the highway steed becomes an offroad machine.
Shop dog was not impressed. That or upset I was leaving him at home.
Ready to roll early.
Woke up at 4am so I could have a 5am departure. Had a nice breakfast beforehand. The slab ride to Scipio, OK was uneventful except for the hummingbird-sized insect that splatted against my goggles. Rolled into the staging area at about 645am and woke up Fotobo.
Started tearing down the bike for offroad duty. Stripped the mirror, GPS, and other minor bits. Changed from 16T to 14T and aired down the tires.
Had a snack, registered (C Veteran, row 22D), and tried to relax a bit. Yeah right.
Had a decent row with some nice riders (as always, it seems). Two of them were veteran timekeepers, so they were leading the charge at times when we had resets, pauses, etc. The fourth in our row was a first-timer and he did well.
Yes, I had the biggest bike there. Otherwise, a 450 was large and 250-300 was normal. None were street-legal, but my KLR. Understandably.
I rode this same enduro last fall too. It was really fun and I scored pretty well for an idiot on a KLR (4th place). My local ADV buddies and I have also ridden the trails at Scipio several times, so I know the terrain.
The enduro last year had a slow pace in the first loop - mostly 12mph. It was a comfortable pace. Maybe too comfortable (or so they figured).
Back to 2012...
We started the first loop (18mph) and it appeared that many riders (including everyone in my class) weren't keeping pace. I was late to the first two checks.
Scipio is a rocky trail system, but the weather was just right for an enduro- somewhere around 70-75 deg, overcast, slightly damp (the ground anyhow). Dust was minimal and the traction was good. The creeks were generally shallow, but there was the occasional stretch of epic mud which rapidly turned into deep, slimy ruts. One of these would haunt me later.
I can make the KLR do some pretty nimble things on a trail. When geared the way I have it, and with knobby tires, it has some pretty good throttle snap and traction. It climbs hills like a tractor. But there are some weaknesses that no rider can overcome (AFAIK). One is the sheer weight of the KLR. For me, it's most evident in banked turns, where the front end feels like a handlebar-high stack of bricks. Seems like no matter what I do otherwise (i.e. steering with the rear, weighting the pegs, leaning, dabbing, etc.) when I reach some sort of speed threshold, the front tire tries to skitter over the high side of the banked turns. This sort of forces me to really slow down entering turns and try to make it up otherwise. I guess pushing the limits for man/machine is what racing is all about.
As you can imagine, the beefy bike attracts a lot of looks on the trail. One rider commented that it must be like wrestling a bear. I later thought a more fitting analogy would be: Riding a KLR in an enduro is like trying to put a bear in a wetsuit.
The first loop was somewhat uneventful. It was just a fun, fast-paced trail ride on familiar terrain. I recall dropping the bike two times due to front-end wash-outs. My physical conditioning was the real limiting factor. I'd hoped to do some heart-rate training prior to my first race, but this was unplanned.
After loop 1 of 2, there was a gas available rest stop at the staging area. Fuel was not a concern for me , but I used the time for hydration, snack, and rest. Loop 2 would prove to be the game-changer.