I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not excited to be reporting that I finally completed my first event of the year. I am excited however in how the day panned out for me. It wasn’t a top finish as I had been hoping, but all things considered, I felt I did really well. In my class were 12 riders, of which I placed 6th. Out of all the B Group riders, I placed 19th out of 54. While not the most stellar, there were a few things that definitely didn’t help my situation.
I began my morning with an appropriate breakfast (albeit at 4am) of 4 giant strips of bacon, 3 eggs, and a pile of home-made home fries. Plenty of energy packed in there to keep me going through at least the morning. Hopped in the truck, and I was on my way over to Johns to reload my stuff in his truck and get going. The drive down was quite uneventful with plenty of jokes about whether or not the Husqvarna was the right choice for the day, or if I should have chosen the Mighty XR for the event.
We arrived at the event with plenty of time to spare. Rows 10 through the end were already spoken for, so we found ourselves on row 7. It didn’t bother me, as I figured the trail would be what it would be. Before I took the bike off the stand, I gave it an inspirational speech….Telling it it WILL finish the race today. I dropped the bike off the stand, fired it up, and rode a couple little circles to get some blood flowing to my arms.
We pulled up to the line, along with a couple others. I noted the one rider was on a brand new WR250, and noted that the red\black looks 100x better than the older blue\yellow, but I suppose that’s all subjective. Either way, our minute came up and the other rider on the Husky took off. He was going a decent pace, so I figured I’d ride behind him a bit and find a groove for myself. This proved to be a good strategy as the rider was at the same speed as me, but much much smoother.
First section was a bit so-so for myself. I knew it’d take at least that section to get my blood flowing. Completed (docking 3 minutes), and onto the next section. I took the lead this special section and found that while I rode faster than the other guy on my line, my form did not allow for me to maintain the higher pace for the entire day. I messed up a corner or two (or 10), and was passed by him. I was ok with this, as I keyed off of him again, and found myself to be more consistent. The following section, I rode behind the other Husky rider as well. This proved to be a good strategy.
The 2nd special was interesting to say the least. Most of it seemed as if they chose a random line through the woods, and just tacked up some random arrows. Since there were so few guys ahead of us, we were making wrong turns quite consistently. The section just downright sucked. I like riding as much as the next guy, but when you’re just bashing through shrubbery, trying to guess which way to go based on some random arrows, well it kind of sucks. It also makes you wish you had an auto clutch. haha By the end, it opened up a bit and had me feeling much better. That initial part just annoyed the snot out of me.
After the 2nd special (I think?), I decided to take a look down at my little roll chart I had taped to my fuel tank. I believe I was supposed to be heading towards fuel or something along those lines. I was heading down an open grass area, with corn to my left, and a drop-off & ravine & corn to my right. I glanced down for a second while still accelerating, and found myself heading right towards the drop-off. I would have been able to pull out of it, but the drop-off was all this really tall….corn like stuff. No idea off hand what it was, but it sucked me in, and down I went. I couldn’t let gravity do it’s work to help get me up, as there was a creek or something down there & a bunch of water. I had the joy of lifting the bike uphill up this drop-off. It sucked for sure, but really pounded in my head to pay attention. I got the bike up and worked my way on down to go fuel up my bike.
I realized while filling up the bike that I would have been fine using just the stock sized fuel tank (which I’ll be doing at the next Enduro). I attempted to eat one of my energy bars. Unfortunately it was just too rich & dense that I couldn’t put it down. I took in a good amount of water and then headed out to the start of the next special with the other guys on my line. When we got there, we had a good 30 minutes to relax. In this time, I was able to put down one of my protein bars, so that provided me with some energy for the “5 mile” special we were about to head out on. As soon as we took off, I could feel that my body was running low on energy. My proper breakfast held me up for 1/2 the day, but no way it was going to hold me over for the entire event. I failed to bring the proper “quick energy” supplements (sugar\carbs), so found myself really working as things went on in this 5-mile section.
This 3rd Special was to me kinda like the 2nd special. Just a bunch of annoying stuff, though I suppose that is why this was an Enduro race. There was a long section, which appeared to be on a slight ridge. The trail was pretty much straight, but you were riding under low hung trees\shrubs for what seemed an eternity. You had to stand in an odd crouch position to ride quickly, and this quickly sapped the energy out of me. I also managed to have a branch catch on my hand guard, and promptly fling into the tip of my thumb. I decided to not stop and investigate, as I figured I’d be seeing some blood. By the end of this special, I was really feeling drained and wishing I had more stuff on me to give me some much needed energy.
Just before the 4th & final Special, I ate my last 3 Gatorade energy blocks, and hoped for the best. Not quite the greatest plan of attack, but what you gonna do? About 1/4 mile into the special I had the strangest thing happen. A random tree jumped out right in front of me. The thing pile drived itself into my shoulder\right arm. The tree literally stopped me in my tracks and knocked a good bit of wind out of myself. I did my best to push on, and rode as hard as I physically could. I got through to the end, and was mighty thankful that it was the end.
I had no idea what place I came in, no idea of much of anything, but I was quite pleased at how the Husky rode through the day, and felt pretty positive in my own riding through the event. I was kicking myself for not having a better source of energy for the event, but it was a great learning experience for the next one. I’ve also decided that my bike could handle some slightly lower gearing. Currently my gearing allows for me to do 85+mph, which is more than enough for these events. I’ll be adjusting that and see how it goes at my next race.
I also found that my riding style needs some slight work, as I was having a heck of a time with front end confidence in the loose stuff. This was my own fault, as I was using too much front brake, and putting too much weight over the front in general for turning in the softer sandy areas. It seems this Husky steers with the rear, which is another reason for dropping my gearing. 2nd & 3rd Gear just need that little extra pep that I think it will get with this gearing change.
Anyway I cut it, I’m ready for the next event. I’ve got 2 harescrambles this month, then a weekend off for my birthday, and then I’m off to the UP for a weekend of riding with some friends. Looking forward to the riding I’ve got ahead of me.
ps – If you’re riding an Enduro…..make sure you have a kick-stand. I’m kicking myself for losing mine the last time I rode. Sure you can always find a tree, but what a pita. Time to make one!