October 17, 1999
White City, Illinois
This was another of those races where nothing seemed to go right.
This enduro is put on by a club where I've raced several times before.
At signup, they let us pick which row we wanted to start on. I chose
an earlier row because the area had received some rain during the
week, and after the previous mud race there in June and my
experience of being on the last row in Marietta, I didn't want to get
stuck riding through everyone else's ruts. My choice of the 5th row
turned out to be bad...more on that later. Again, I was running way
behind in getting set up, and had to throw everything together with
only a minute or two to spare. The trails turned out to be in excellent
condition, so a 5th row position was not really necessary. The
summer had been so dry that any rainfall had been soaked right up.
The problem was that the trails were not marked very well, and there
weren't many other riders ahead of me to make the trail easier to see.
I kept having to stop and look around for the familiar orange arrows
and lost time in the process. About 5 miles into the race, my right
contact lens started drying out big time and eventually it fell out. I
was able to pull it out of my goggles and get it back in my eye, but
lost a couple of minutes.
The course went through most of the club grounds before heading
out to a road. The arrows were very sparse, and I got lost a couple
more times. By the time I got to the next woods section, I was
actually late. That should never happen when the route is going over
paved roads, so it goes to show how poorly marked the course was.
Also, some of the mileage markers posted at different places were
way off what my odometer showed, so I had to make several
adjustments. The second woods section was marked even worse
than the first. Plus, there were no established trails. Normally, these
types of "virgin" trails are great, but most of the time I couldn't tell
where I was supposed to go. It's hard enough to concentrate on
avoiding obstacles...searching for orange arrows added more
At one point I hit a gully pretty hard and noticed that my crotch was
cold and wet. I don't normally wet my pants while riding, so I stopped
to see what the problem was. Turns out the valve on the end of my
drinking water hose had come off, and water was being siphoned out
of the tube and onto my pants. We're talking ice water here, in a very
sensitive place. Wasn't quite as bad as gasoline, though.
After a long road section the route took us back into the woods. I was
riding moderately well, and except for getting lost about 50 times and
losing my contact lens, I was having a decent race. That is, until I
missed a turn and found myself heading straight for a 3-foot ledge
that dropped into a creek. I panicked, of course, and didn't do
anything except ride down into the creek bed. When the front wheel
dropped down, the sudden stop bucked me over the handlebars and
I fell to the ground. No problem so far. Then the bike flipped over on
top of me and knocked the wind out of me. Houston, we have a
problem. When I tried to breathe, it was like a knife was stuck in my
left side. After about minute of uncontrolled gasping, I caught my
breath but the pain didn't go away. It didn't take me long to figure out
I was banged up pretty good and my race was over. First, I had to
get the bike off my legs (intense pain). Then I had to stand up
(extreme pain). Then I had to get the bike back on its wheels
(unbearable pain...took a couple tries). Then I had to get the engine
started again (pain is pain, by now). I got back on the trail after
having served as a human warning notice to all the other riders that
had passed by and barely missed making the same mistake. I limped
along in 1st gear, hoping that sometime soon the trail would get me
out of the woods and take me back to a road. Every hill, every log
crossing, every bump for that matter, was mind-numbingly painful.
After a couple miles of torture, the trail led me to the next checkpoint,
where I told the guys I was done and asked for directions back to the
setup area. They sent me back towards the town of Mt. Olive. I rode
right through downtown in full riding gear while receiving strange
stares from the residents.
Back at the setup area, I painfully loaded up my bike and gear and
set in for the ride home. Fortunately, the club was only an hour from
my apartment, but I couldn't find a comfortable driving position. My
shoulder was giving me a sharp pain that wouldn't go away. The ribs
were just sore in general, and my right hand was bruised. At home, I
called up Rob Rogers and he came over with his wife Cyndi to help
unload. Rob wasn't in much better shape than me because he had
just torn his abdominal muscles while working out. What a worthless
pair we were. They insisted that I go to the emergency room to get
checked out. I felt bad that they had to waste the better part of their
Sunday afternoon sitting in the waiting area while I had x-rays and a
CAT scan. Diagnosis: broken ribs. I took off work the next day and
began the long road to recovery.
So that's how my racing season ended. I won the most trophies
ever (4), at the expense of my body. The new KTM didn't look so
new, and the cost of keeping it in one piece drained my bank
account. I ended up in 12th place in the Missouri Hare Scrambles
series, top-5 in the Southern Illinois hare scrambles series, and
somehow managed a 10th place in the D-17 enduro series for
Open B (White City was the only time I raced the Open B class).
My best season yet.
White City, Illinois