To finish first, first you must finish…………..That’s racing.

As any racer will attest, it seems every race weekend has some sort of drama leading up to it.  Mine (as posted about earlier) was no exception.  Thankfully the planets aligned, bikes got sorted out, and even the weather was looking to be just about perfect.  Truck and trailer got loaded up, I headed up and picked up my buddy John who would be racing his first Enduro.  After spending some time at his house changing his tires, setting up his suspension, and loading his gear, we were on our way out.

We spent the night in fine luxury of a couple camping cots in the back of the trailer.  The mild rain that came in the middle of the night sounded like thousands of shotguns blasts on the roof of the aluminum trailer.  I motivated myself to get up & out of bed around 7 to get registered for the day.  It’s nice walking straight through registration not having to deal with a swarm of other riders.  We really had no line preference for when we started, so we got up on row 10, easy enough for calculating out Key-Time early in the morning.

We didn’t have much time after the riders meeting to get our final gear on & get to the starting line.  They funneled us from the pits down & across a corn field to a gate where the actual start was.  We hopped in behind the Row 9 guys, and saw some of the others who would be joining us on row 10.  My buddy John (despite my yelling) jumped the gun and somehow snuck in with the Row 9 guys right off the start.  Thankfully it was just a .5 mile road section to another start point, and he was able to fall back in line as he should be.

We got up to the line and we were immediately off.  I took the lead of the 4 or 5 of us on our row, and immediately felt extremely confident on my bike.  The terrain was grassy, but had an odd sand base to it.  It was a perfect situation for the Michelin S12XC tires that I run.  I had a few initial bobbles as I was getting reacclamated to running in much tighter tracks than we usually run.  I was running smart though, and running confident.  I began picking up speed where I needed to.  Areas that I normally would have cruised in a constant RPM, I was holding full throttle, and immediately pitching myself fore\aft for upcoming terrain.

I was attacking in a restrained way.  Knowing the race was all day, and it was still early on.  However, I was already pacing myself ahead of the rows ahead of me.  I knew they could all be in totally different classes than me, but it still gives that mental gratification that you passed someone.  It helps, helps me push, helps me keep focused.  I rolled through I believe a check point and motored on.  I came into a tight section that had a fallen tree stump to my left, and some shrubs to my right.  I can only assume I didn’t look far enough ahead, or whatever, cause I immediately felt my foot being smashed between the stump & my foot peg.  I lost my balance, fell to my right and hobbled away from the bike.

It was a sharp pain.  My adrenalin was flowing, and I knew I could work through it.  I looked to my left (behind me) to make sure no one was coming.  I knew I had a good gap from the guys I had passed, but that race instinct says to get back up and going ASAP.  I picked my bike up which was thankfully still running (thank you Rekluse).  I went to turn my bars, and felt some resistance.  I saw the inner radiator shroud had been pushed in, so I yanked it out to toss in my camelbak.  No sooner did I rip the shroud out that the radiator began pissing coolant.

I knew it was over.  As soon as the fluid hit my fender, that was it.  Game Over, See you next credit.  I was pissed and extremely frustrated.  I pulled my bike off the main line and began looking for ways to be resourceful to work around this.  I began pulling for sticks that I could bypass the busted radiator, so I could at least get myself out of there on 1 functioning one.  I searched all around, nothing.  If I had some little tube, maybe I could make it work, but obviously no tube.  Plenty of riders checked to make sure I was OK.  I was grateful, as this never seemed to be the case in the Harescrambles around here.  Somewhere along the way, someone must have mentioned that there was a rider out, because just as I was about to begin the daunting task of pushing my bike out, here comes a truck in the corn field.

It was a long drive back to the pits, so I can only imagine how bad it would have sucked having to push my machine that entire distance.  I had plenty of time to think things over, that’s for sure.  I thought that maybe I could rig something together, but no way was I going to risk getting stuck out there again, only to have to hope for another tow back out.  At this point the race for me was mentally over.

I waited and waited, and my buddy John rolled back into the pits from the first 1/2 of the race around 12-12:30 or so.  He was beat, exhausted and had no desire to do the 2nd half of the race.  I laughed when he told me I’d be riding Enduros alone from here on out.  Which right there makes me laugh.  I’m absolutely pissed that I busted my bike and had to end my race so early.  I was riding solid and knew I had a good finish in me.  But that’s the awesome part of the Enduro’s.  You’ve gotta make everything click.  It’s all day and one early mistake can cost you.  Super frustrated for sure, but now looking forward to the next enduro which is unfortunately not until August.

Until then, I’ll be keeping myself going with Harescrambles & whatever else I can.  Going to be one long summer full of a lot of racing.