The Enduro Experience
Posted July 17, 2003 - 04:36 PM
The Enduro Experience
For years, I have wanted to enter an enduro race. Every year, it seems that something has come up to prevent me from entering an enduro. This year, I finally got the chance and entered the Kachina Enduro, near Española New Mexico. Long before the race I started to study the ins and outs of enduro races. From reading over and over about time keeping to learning how to write a roll chart and of course, learning the rules. For those interested in learning about and eventually entering an enduro race or any other race for that matter, the American Motorcycle Association and local racing circuits such as the Rocky Mountain Enduro Circuit are great references, not to mention such organizations work very hard to protect our rights as motorcycle riders.
Race day was approaching, but not fast enough. Finally, it was Friday afternoon at about 4:55, the weekend is only five minutes away. I think I could have beat Carl Lewis out of the door and to my truck at the office that afternoon. That evening I packed everything in the back of my truck so I could leave early Saturday morning.
Saturday started out with a drive from Colorado Springs to Española. Half of the fun of an enduro race is the road trip. There are so many beautiful sites along the way, like the state patrol officer traveling the opposite direction without turning around to pull you over as you speed past and the early morning shadow of a motorcycle in the back of a truck. But who cares about all that, by now you’re playing enduro traveling down the interstate and trying to check in and out of towns along the way on time.
Arriving at the race site in the early afternoon, there are campers and RVs galore. I felt naked not pulling a camper or trailer of some sort. Pretty soon, I have my camp all set up and my Joe seventies tent sticking out like a sore thumb. After camp is set up, I take a stroll around the pits and on to the sign-up trailer for my time card and to set my clock to match the key clock. The rest of the day was spent prepping my motorcycle and meeting some great people.
The terrain at the Kachina Enduro is high desert, with scattered piñon trees, cactus, and tons of sand. Early Sunday morning I woke up pumped. It was race day. I got my riding gear on, had a quick breakfast (I now know to have a bigger healthier breakfast) and headed over to the riders meeting.
I was on minute 7, so I had about a half an hour after the riders meeting to get to the start line. I did a last minute check of things while my bike was warming up. Roll chart…check, clock…check, extra clock…check. Over at the start, I met the other riders on my minute and told them this was my first enduro. They gave me a quick rundown of things to watch for, while I’m thinking ‘Hey, I’ll just watch for this guy and try to keep up with him. He’s an A rider with a computer.’ Pretty soon our minute was up and we were off. With in the first 3 miles, I forgot that I had a roll chart. The A rider on my minute slowed down to check his computer and that’s when I remembered to check my time. ‘Hey we’re really ahead of schedule’ so we slow down to a crawl before the first possible check. After repeating this process for every possible check, I start to get the hang of time keeping, or so I thought. The first section of the course took us over narrow ridges where if you fell off to one side or the other, nothing was going to stop you until you hit the ground.
At the first speed change, we had three free minutes. After our three minute break, the A rider said, “Well, we go up 4mph here,” and off we went down the course. Knowing what I know now, I would have kept going down the trail at a slower pace. At the next possible check, we slow down to a crawl again and roll into the checkpoint right on time.
After check workers marked my card, I looked up and the A and B riders on my minute had disappeared! I try to play catch up and keep them in site for about a half a mile. Then the course winds us down from the ridge tops to the first sand wash. It’s about this time that I notice that my stabilizer isn’t working right. The arm on it had rattled loose and was barely hanging on. Note to self; next time check the stabilizer during preparation! While winding down the first sand wash I attempt to turn one of the corners, but instead just auger the front tire in the deep sand. Well that was a nice soft landing!
The sand washes I am used to here in CO are more like gravel washes where you don't sink in too much and can turn corners a lot easier. At the Kachina Enduro, the sand washes are actual sand washes. Fine sand like is at sand dunes. You have to keep your speed up so that you float over the sand or else it pulls you every which way you don’t want to go. The only problem with the sand washes was that they wound down canyons that had more curves than the Playmate of the Year where it is very difficult to keep up your speed. Pretty soon I found myself picking up my motorcycle again, getting back on only to pick it up again 100 yards down the sand wash. I must have laid my bike down seven times in those sand washes. After the seventh time of crashing in the sand washes, I decide to fix the loose arm on my steering stabilizer. Well, take time keeping and throw it out the window at this point. Now I have to ride as fast as I can to try to catch up to my minute. I now HATE SAND! I would cheer out loud when the course would take us back on the ridges and curse when it started down hill back into the sand washes.
A few miles away from the first gas stop and a twenty minute break, I hear a snap from my stabilizer. Something inside broke and it quit working all together. You can really tell the difference between riding with a stabilizer and riding without one, especially when it breaks. Riding down the trail with already exhausted arms in a rubber-like state from picking up my bike so many times has now become more difficult without the stabilizer to help keep the front end from wobbling. By now I’m sweating so much that there is probably a fine mist coming off my back as I ride down the trail and I’m almost out of water in my drinking system. I start to see spectators along the racecourse and know that I am nearing the first gas stop and a twenty minute break. At the gas stop, out of water and still pouring sweat, exhaustion hits hard and I decide I had better not continue.
Although I race my friends all the time, this was my first official race. The Kachina Enduro was one of the most fun experiences I have ever had, even with all of the difficulties. This was my first enduro, but it certainly will not be my last. I’m hooked.
Posted July 17, 2003 - 04:46 PM
You have no worries when it comes to that sand wash. Riding sweep we came across lots of carnage......see ya next time.
Posted July 18, 2003 - 11:27 AM
Posted July 18, 2003 - 12:17 PM
Don't know if you've ever ridden Boot Hill, but I can
almost guarantee a challenge. Scott knows what it takes
to stick the fast guys with points. Have fun and let us
know how it goes...