Fosterburg, Illinois
Marietta, Illinois
Park Hills, Missouri
May 2, 1999
Fosterburg, Illinois
3rd of 3 in Open B
Sometimes the drive to a race can be a good indication of how it's all
going to turn out.  My buddy Rob Rogers came along to watch the
race and take some pictures, and we got lost trying to find
Fosterburg.  We pulled into a gas station near Alton and asked the
teenager behind the counter for directions.  His reply: "Yeah,
Fosterburg.  Duuuude...I used to hang out up there with my boys."  I
knew we were screwed.  His directions were completely worthless (a
little too much "alone time" with the bong, I presume).  We finally
found the place and pulled in 30 minutes before the start.

I usually finish my races, but one mistake cost me what might have
been my first win.  There were only 3 guys in Open B, and after the
first lap I was in first place.  That never happened before.  The course
was typical Illinois riding with tight woods and some mud.  On the
second lap I tried to go around a messy little stream crossing and
ended up getting stuck deep in the mud.  The back wheel was buried
in slop that would have made a hog farmer proud.  I spent about an
hour trying to dig myself out and finally did, but it was too late.  On
my third lap, the radiator started spitting out all of its coolant.  I
stopped and filled it back up with the water in my drinking bottle, and
then cut out of the race just before it was over.  Rob didn't end up
seeing much of me.

Damage Report: Huge dent in pipe

May 16, 1999
Marietta, Illinois
DNF
We'll call this the race from hell.  It was my first enduro of the year,
and I decided to make the long drive up.  I usually enjoy enduros
because they are long (60+ miles), you rarely ride the same trail
twice, and I feel like I'm getting my money's worth.  The surrounding
area got pounded with a couple inches of rain the day before, so
everything was wet.  I ended up starting on the very last row, which
turned out to be an unlucky position.  All the prior riders used up what
little traction there was to begin with and created some huge ruts to
negotiate.

An enduro is different from the hare scrambles I typically race in.  The
focus is on maintaining an average speed, rather than finishing
fastest.  The riders leave every minute, about 3 or 4 at a time.  You
get checked at several points along the route (usually the checkpoint
locations are unknown) and have points added to your score if you're
early or late.  This race was supposed to be about 60 miles long, but I
could only do 7.  The hills were just about impossible to get up.  Like
Cuba, I pushed the bike as much as I rode it.  There was a water
crossing that was almost as high as my seat!  At one point I just
couldn't get the bike to turn left.  It was driving me crazy.  I finally
stopped and found that the steering adjustment bolt had worked its
way loose and was severely limiting the turning radius.  Nothing like
making a bad race worse.  After nearly 2 hours of torture I packed it
up and went home.  The poor bike got abused pretty bad but didn't
let me down.  One rule for enduros is that if you reach a checkpoint
one hour or more later than scheduled, then you're done (called
"houring out").  I houred out in the first 5 miles!!  Needless to say, this
was a race to forget.  To add further insult, somebody ran their truck
over the end of my bike stand.

May 23, 1999
St. Joe State Park
Park Hills, Missouri
This was the longest race I have ever done.  I normally ride the C
class in enduros, but the C class loop was only about 40 miles.  I
figured I might as well get my money's worth and ride the longer B
loop.  If I had known...  As usual I was completely rushed in getting
prepared for the enduro, but more so this time because I thought the
race started at 10:00.  I knew something was wrong when I pulled in
to the staging area and people were already leaving the starting line.  
Bad sign, very bad.  The fortunate thing about enduros is that it's not
a mass start.  About 4-5 people leave the starting line every minute,
so the start of the event occurs over a period of an hour or so.  The
race started at 8:00; I got there about 8:10.  I ran to the sign-up area
and saw that there were about 55 rows, meaning that with riders
leaving each minute, it would take 55 minutes for all of the riders to
depart.  I chose one of the last rows, which meant my start time
wouldn't be until about 8:50.  That gave me about half an hour to set
up, which really isn't much time.  Especially when it usually takes me
about 20 minutes to get my roll chart set up to match the route sheets
that are provided.  A roll chart helps you keep track of what mile you
should be on at a given time in the race.  Fortunately they were
selling the roll charts at the sign-up, so I bought one and didn't have
to use my computer-generated roll chart.  Saved me valuable time,
and it turned out my self-made chart wouldn't have worked anyway
because during the first 20 miles of the race they changed the
average speed requirement several times.  All of the enduros I had
done up to that point had been a straight 24-mph average-just go 24
mph for the whole race and you don't accumulate any points (like
golf...lowest score wins).  The roll chart I brought was set up for 24
mph (no speed changes), so it was basically worthless for this race.  
The guys with the programmable enduro computers don't have to
worry about speed changes-they just plug in the speed variations and
the computer does the math.  I haven't made that $400 investment
yet, so I keep track of my speed the old fashioned way...roll chart and
a couple of digital clocks duct-taped to my handlebars.

Anyway, I just barely got going in time to leave on my row.  Only
problem was the guy at the sign-in gave me the wrong key time (the
"master clock" that everyone sets their own clocks to).  My clock was
set about two minutes different from key time, so that messed up my
timekeeping.  I constantly had to compensate for the error and try to
do the math in my head to figure out what mileage I should be on.  
The speed averages were kind of screwy at the beginning.  There
were some 18-mph sections, and even a 12-mph section.  There were
some youth and women's classes that only went about halfway
through the first loop, so the promoters made the speeds easier in the
first part of the race so the slower riders wouldn't have really bad
scores.  I had a hard time with it, though, because usually with a
24-mph average I can never keep up so I just ride as fast as I can.  
But an 18-mph section is sometimes achievable for me, and the
penalties for being early to a checkpoint are much worse than for
being late.  At times I actually had to slow it down to keep from being
early.  The race was held at St. Joe State Park and used some of the
trails there, along with other areas outside the park.  The trails are a
little more open than those of the Illinois and Indiana enduros I had
done in the past, so the speeds were higher and the risks of being
early were greater.  Being early to a checkpoint (called "burning a
check") gets you penalized way more than being late, so that's
something I try never to do.

At the 20 mile marker was a gas stop, and I had sent one of my gas
jugs on a truck that was supposed to deliver it to that spot.  It got
delivered, along with about 200 jugs that looked exactly like mine.  
Apparently I was supposed to have put my row number somewhere
on the jug, so they could sort them.  Mine ended up in a group of
unsorted jugs of people like me who missed the riders meeting and
didn't get the instructions.  Fortunately I had put a distinguishing
band of yellow duct tape around the handle, and that narrowed my
search to about 50 jugs (why in the hell is yellow duct tape so
popular?!?).  I knew I had found the right one when I started pouring
in gas and the familiar leaky spout sent a steady trail of highly
flammable liquid down the side of my piping hot motorcycle.

After the gas stop the speed average was mostly 24-mph throughout
the rest of the loop.  However, there were not any major resets (a
point where the route sheet instructs you to advance your odometer a
certain number of miles forward; it's like being magically transported
into the future and gives you the opportunity to get back on time if
you're late like I always am), so I never did get a chance to stop and
rest.  All the other enduros I've raced had sections of paved road
linking the woods sections.  This enduro was entirely off-road, so
there were no easy stretches to rest and make up some time.  From
that point on, I was continually late for the rest of the race.  I had to
stop once and tighten the rear brake pivot bolt, which was about the
first time I'd ever used the tools in my fanny pack for anything other
than un-sticking the bike from mud holes.  Good thing, though,
because the brake pedal would have fallen off if I hadn't tightened it.  
This is important, because as most people know, brakes sometimes
(but not always) keep guys like me from smacking into trees on a
regular basis.  A light rain came off and on, making the rocks extra
slippery but keeping me cool.  The first loop ended where were
started, about 40 miles in total.  I grabbed a quick snack, filled up the
gas tank, and got back on the trail.  I wasn't too tired at that point, but
in retrospect it would have been an ideal place to quit.  
The rocks were taking their toll on my back.  Ten miles into the
second loop (50 miles overall) I was a hurtin' unit.  At the gas stop (60
miles overall), I had serious thoughts of cutting out early.  Finally after
72 cruel miles the B-loop ended.  The A riders had to finish the whole
loop, for a total of about 80 miles.  I was never so glad to get back to
my truck and go home.  My back was so sore that it hurt no matter
what position I tried to sit in.  I didn't bother sticking around to see my
results.