Riding an entire enduro circuit on a +400lb KLR

Discussion in 'Racing' started by DirtyDog, Oct 17, 2012.

  1. DirtyDog

    DirtyDog Lust for dust.

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    Shocking, I know.

    People wonder if I'm stupid, crazy, or both. I like to think that I'm just stubbornly goal-oriented.

    In 2011, I had a goal to ride the Western TAT solo. So I did. Then I let an inmate convince me to ride in an enduro. So I did. On my KLR650. I rode 3 races in fall 2011. It was fun and I didn't do too terribly.

    For 2012, I figured I'd do some more racing. Why not set a lofty goal? Let's do an entire circuit on the KLR. I know other inmates have ridden their KLR in enduros and harescrambles, but I've never heard of anyone doing an entire circuit competitively. I'd do my best at the latter.

    I'll sort of give you a bit of perspective on my experiences with this grueling endeavor. I have some pics, but mostly, I'll just be recapping the trials, tribulations, pain, and anguish for you.:p3rry

    Consider it a public service announcement, if you will. As if it wasn't already common knowledge that this sort of thing should not be attempted by anyone with an ounce of self-respect or decorum.

    Stay tuned. The season just ended. It was a blast, but my KLR is now retired from enduro racing (with the exception of a special event I'm riding in November).:evil

    [​IMG]
    #1
  2. MotoMike

    MotoMike Washed Up Desert Racer

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    BlackJack Enduro Circuit?

    Yer Nutz!
    #2
  3. B1KSOLO

    B1KSOLO Been here awhile

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    you must have Balls of Steel, go for it
    o ya and your frichen nuts and a bad ass if you pull a whole BJ enduro series
    #3
  4. rburkat

    rburkat Been here awhile

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    I support ya man. I'm also about pushing what a big bike can do so got for it.
    #4
  5. DirtyDog

    DirtyDog Lust for dust.

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    Well, I guess I'll just start at the beginning. The 2012 BlackJack Enduro Circuit consisted of seven races. Here is the schedule.

    [​IMG]

    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. :clap
    I had just a few days to prepare my bike, vehicle, and body.:uhoh 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?

    Bike check:
    Needed brakepads, fresh oil and filters...
    Bald tire, yep.
    [​IMG]

    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).
    [​IMG]

    Leaky case, yep.
    [​IMG]
    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.)
    [​IMG]
    It didn't work for shit. So I tore it off to use on my bicycle.

    Vehicle check:
    Meh.
    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.

    Body check:
    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".
    [​IMG]
    Ride to the Ride. Ride the Ride. Ride 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.:lol3

    [​IMG]

    Shop dog was not impressed. That or upset I was leaving him at home.
    [​IMG]

    Ready to roll early.
    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    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.
    #5
  6. MotoMike

    MotoMike Washed Up Desert Racer

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    :lurk
    #6
  7. MotorCade

    MotorCade Rugby whore

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    This belongs in the Thread of Awesome. :clap
    #7
  8. Tbone

    Tbone off-ramp slayer

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    :freaky
    #8
  9. hardwaregrrl

    hardwaregrrl ignore list

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    Hell Yes!!!!1:super:super:super
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  10. ct-ktm

    ct-ktm Long timer

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    Coool
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  11. MotoMike

    MotoMike Washed Up Desert Racer

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    The very first enduro I ever rode was a BlackJack event at Chadwick, And I was a fresh off the boat desert racer from So Cal :yikes
    #11
  12. Silver

    Silver Dirtnewb

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    I knew you had done a bjec but didn't know you were doing the whole circuit. Awesome!
    #12
  13. Krabill

    Krabill Long timer

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    Carry on . . . :lurk
    #13
  14. reddirtjoe

    reddirtjoe motorcycle addict

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    :norton


    That's "Captain Awesome" to us mere mortals!!
    #14
  15. Newner

    Newner Buffering

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    #15
  16. mabuz

    mabuz Adventurer

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    Sweet! Definitely going to be following this one. :ear
    #16
  17. DirtyDog

    DirtyDog Lust for dust.

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    Indian Nations Enduro (continued)

    Loop 2 started strong. I had already gotten over the arm pump, hydration cravings, and general lack of conditioning (aka sucking wind) that the first loop had to offer. I was now energized and ready for loop 2.

    Yes, I get passed a lot. But, it's a timekeeping event and you're really only racing yourself. On a slow, heavy bike, you better come to grips with that in a hurry. In my first enduro, I made the mistake of trying to keep up with other riders- using their speed as a motivator. This doesn't really work for me and I was pinballing off of trees and disabled my bike before the first check in the 2nd loop. I have to remind myself "slow and steady wins the race"- no matter how contradictory this sounds. Victory #1 has to be to have fun. Victory #2 is to finish the course. Victory #3 involves being competitive. If you focus on #3, you may miss out on #'s 1 and 2. If so, what's the point?

    But even if you're riding with fun/finish as the end game, things can change with just one slip-up. That's what happened.

    I don't really recall the exact circumstances, but I think it was a short straight leading into a flat "chicane" of trees. One which requires the bike to be upright and the trees are separated by not much more than handlebar width. This one was a left-right chicane and the trees were relatively small and sparse, though placed in all the wrong places for a quick entry/exit. I guess I was a bit too hot and took the left turn too wide. I had the balls of my feet on the pegs and my weight was forward (which pointed my toes down). I clipped a tree with my right boot and footpeg. I heard/felt an awful sound and the weight of bike and rider culminated at the junction of my foot and the tree. It was a small tree, but it was way bigger than my bones.

    I stayed on the bike. Oh shit. I just broke my foot. Before I even have time to really process what happened, I come to a checkpoint. Inmate Fotobo marks my card and I murmur something about breaking my foot... onward I go. With trepidation.

    I slowed down a bit (actually, a lot) and took stock of the situation. The pain isn't intense, let's try to wiggle some toes. Shit. At least two of them are accompanied by shooting pain- my big toe and 4th toe, I think. It was the little piggy that had "none" roast beef, IIRC. Just feels like roast beef now.

    Now I have a decision. I've just started the 2nd loop and have made it through one check. I have no idea how many miles are left. I consider quitting. Well, "consider" doesn't really describe it. I basically slow down to a putt, and start weighing my options and what they would do to my ego and my future outlook. Example: Today is Sunday and I have X,Y,Z planned for Monday. I think I can get an x-ray tomorrow morning... shit like that.

    Ok. Fuckit. I'm not quitting. Nor am I going to be competitive. This might not be fun (i.e. some pain), but at least I can try to finish. Ok that's the plan. In the meantime, I have basically been passed by EVERYONE.

    What I quickly realized was that riding the bike wasn't really hindered much by the injury- just the dabbing of my right foot on the turns and to regain balance in the rocky or off-camber stuff. Ouch. Gotta slow down and ride clean.

    So I did that for a LONG while. Like I said, I was already passed by nearly everyone, so I didn't see many other riders for a long time. I was running way late. Of course, any offroad rider knows that slower isn't always better. Some obstacles require momentum and speed. Well I met my match numerous times while turtling along. The worst one was one of those epic mud ruts that I alluded to earlier. It followed a left hand turn and the natural line leaving the turn plops you right in a deep, muddy rut. At the end of the rut is a cross root, which provides a natural "step". In the first loop, I made it through this with no hesitation. Well, ~150 riders hitting that rut 2x deepened it somewhat. As I entered the rut on loop 2 with a bum foot and travelling at 1/3 to 1/2 speed, it didn't work so well. I tried to pause and knew there was no getting out of the rut, so I gassed it hard. Front wheel popped over the rut and root got acquainted with the shock linkage and stopped the bike cold. That is when my nards got acquainted with the gas tank. Oh boy. No sooner than I got stuck and am limping off an impact to the nethers... more riders show up behind me... repeatedly... locked in to the same rutted line. It took me 3 tries to get the bike drug out of the rut and over the root. Nice. So much for riding clean.

    Well the rooty rut was the toughest obstacle for me and I just kept riding. I resigned myself that it was a trail ride now, not a race. I made it to another checkpoint manned by inmate Dickosaurus and I implied that I was just in survival mode. He replies that "you still haven't houred-out" and that I was doing well. That's the great thing about doing this stupid shit on a KLR- the expectations are naturally low.

    Anyhow, Dick's comments reminded me that I can still get DQ'd by going too slow. And my foot was feeling better by some miracle of nature. Am I just an uber-puss who has psyched himself into thinking I had a serious injury when all I had is a wittle boo-boo? When I take that boot off, I better see blood and mangled flesh!

    Foot is feeling relatively ok, and I'm feeling more comfortable going faster. really, I only got it back up to about 3/4 speed in the last few sections. I'd capitalize on stretches where I knew I wouldn't need to dab my foot. I made up some time, but not without a few more crashes and tree impacts. I have a nice contusion on my forearm to show for it.

    Well, I finally finished the enduro. Most everyone else was already sipping cold beers in the parking lot waiting for the sweep riders to clean up the wreckage. But I was victorious. I achieved goals #1 and 2.

    [​IMG]

    I stuck around for the awards just to make certain that everyone else wasn't DQ'd or DNF'd resulting in a lone C Veteran champion/survivor, but that wasn't the case. I got 6th place out of at least 6 riders in my class , but there was an understandably large point gap between my 5th place enemy and myself. Aside from the foot thing, it would have been a potentially tight finish for 5th. At least, I'd like to imagine. I mashed my foot right before checkpoint #5.

    [​IMG]

    Brett Kyle would later be regarded as "My Nemesis".

    So I completed my 4th ever enduro on the KLR and finished the first one of the 2012 season. I eventually took my boot off to find no mangled flesh. A little blood and bruising, but no cool scars or compound fractures to make this psychosomatic injury a real one.

    I swapped my sprockets, had a cold beer, packed up, and rode my KLR back home. I got the last laugh as I repeatedly passed all the trucks hauling trailers full of true offroad bikes. In the end, they ate my dust.:drums
    I think I had several 5-hr energy shots that day. Tough to drone along on the turnpike when you're completely spent from wrestling a pig for 4 hrs.

    Fun shit as always. Three weeks till the next one.

    Enduro #1 of 6 was in the books and I've now set the stage for the remainder of the season.


    Next installment- Hardwood Hills Enduro.
    #17
  18. AustinJake

    AustinJake TE450-KLE-FXDWG

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    I rate ya metaljockey, love the story, hope you stay in one piece and finish this thing!
    #18
  19. Crash217

    Crash217 Been here awhile

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    Wooo! Captain Awesome!

    I like to make sure I'm on a row behind Dirty Dog at the gnarly races, that way its like a pep talk when I go by him. "My day may not be going great, but at least my bike weighs 200lbs less than that KLR!"
    #19
  20. Dirt2007

    Dirt2007 Long timer

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    #20