May 21, 2000
St. Joe State Park
Park Hills, Missouri
3rd of 10 in Open B
This race was the annual St. Joe enduro, the same one that just
about killed me last year with 72 miles of rocks.  This year I was more
prepared, starting with pre-registering by mail, downloading the route
sheet from the
BlackJack Enduro website, making my own roll chart
with all the speed changes, and finally, showing up on time for the
start of the race.  I arose early at 5:00 a.m. and was on the road by
5:30 (probably a new record for me).  I had planned on riding with
Matt Sellers, but he had a work conflict and couldn't go.  However, he
had ridden at St. Joe the day before and the course was already
marked, so he scouted the part of the course that was inside the park
boundaries and called me the night before with a few tips ("Watch out
for the rocks"...ya think?).  When I arrived at the sign-in, I saw my
name already written in on row #4, and at that point nobody had
chosen the earlier rows.  It's usually not ideal to be among the first
groups to start the race, because sometimes the trails are not very
well defined and you have to totally rely on looking ahead at the
arrows to see where you're supposed to go.

After my pre-race dump, I was feeling good as I pulled up to the
starting area.  My group of 3 riders was the first to go into the course.  
One of the guys was a 250B rider and the other was pretty much a
recreational rider.  In fact, after the start I never saw him again.  The
first few miles were pretty tame, with a 15 mph speed average.  Later
it increased to 18 mph, and then 24 mph.  I managed to crash during
the slow section, but no damage was done to bike or body.  
Conditions were a bit dusty, but being on the first row meant that
there weren't too many people ahead of me to stir up the dirt.

The course was very open and fast for an enduro, and I was pleased
to see that I wasn't dropping very many points at the checks.  Plus, at
the resets I actually had some time to stop and rest (unlike last year).  
So either the course was faster this year or I was riding better.  The
only incident I had was when a tree limb pulled off the little door that
holds in the roll-off tape on my goggles, so for a while I had a
three-foot trail of clear plastic streaming behind me.  Luckily the trails
were dry and I didn't really need the roll-off tape anyway.  The course
was set up just like last year, with a 40-mile loop that the "A" riders
did twice and the "C" riders did once.  The "B" riders like me had a
cut-off about 27 miles into the second loop.  The last part of the loop
was very rocky, but because of the cut-off I only had to do that part
once.  In between loops the reset gave me about 20 minutes to rest,
look over the bike, and have a snack.  Again, it was a nice change
from last year where I barely had time to gas up before heading back
to the trail.

The second loop was mostly uneventful, but I started to get tired
about 5 miles from the end.  Even so, I finished with a score of 21,
which was the lowest I'd ever carded.  Too bad everyone else had low
scores too.  The overall winner had a score of 6!  I didn't stick around
to wait for the scores to be posted because I had been the first of the
"A" and "B" riders to finish and didn't feel like waiting a few hours for
everyone else to finish and for the scores to be calculated (the
scoring  process takes forever).  The BlackJack website had the
results posted a couple weeks later.  Overall, it was a fun race that
didn't beat me up nearly as badly as the year before.  After doing
about 10 or so enduros, I'm finally getting decent at the timekeeping
thing.  After every reset there were checks within a mile, and I was on
time for every one.  That was a good feeling. Check out this
race
picture.

May 28, 2000
Kingman, Indiana
10th of 17 in Big B
Three inches of rain in the two days leading up to this race made
things very interesting.  I walked some of the course beforehand and
it reminded me a lot of the Keen farm where I used to ride.  Very tight
with lots of weeds and grass, trees spaced very close together.  One
very nasty off-camber section was taken out because if one rider got
hung up, there was no way around.  And with conditions as they
were, there were bound to be some hang-ups.  While I was walking
the course, the minibikes were doing their parade lap.  After the main
group passed by, I suddenly heard a desperate cry for help from one
of the riders, over and over again, so desperate that it seemed he
must have been trapped under his minibike.  I finally found the little
guy and he had lost momentum going up a hill and couldn't get
started again.  A "sweep" guy came around and we helped him get
up the hill.  I found another little guy (even smaller than the first one)
who had fallen over and couldn't get the bike started.  I tried to start it
for him but the darn engine wouldn't fire.  His dad finally found us
and started the bike after one kick...after he flipped off the kill switch
(duh!!).

The race started amid a rain shower that lasted just long enough for
my goggles to fog up, so they came off before the end of the first lap.  
I got off to a decent start but lost about 10 places when two guys in
front of me tangled up and crashed.  About 5 minutes later we arrived
at what seemed like the main check, except they pointed us back to
the starting area and said there would be a re-start.  Apparently
someone got off the course and several others followed (including
me).  Riders were meeting each other head-on, so for safety reasons
they made the wise decision to start over.  Some of the riders were
none too happy, particularly one guy who went ballistic with a tirade
of profanity directed at a couple of the club members.  If it had been
me listening to that, I probably would have sent the guy home.  But
the club should have known that homemade arrows (triangle-shaped
paper with two orange dots spray painted on them) would cause
problems.  And as I've seen before, it doesn't work well when a club
tries to run the minis and quads in a simultaneous race prior to the
bike race (on separate courses), and then combine the two courses
for the motorcycles.

After what seemed like forever, they finally restarted us for a 1.5-hour
race.  Most of the course was rideable except for a couple of nasty
creek crossings and an uphill out of a ravine.  I didn't really get hung
up on any of it, and there were plenty of people helping with the
creek crossings.  The only problem I had was a close encounter with
a tree branch that hit me near my right eye.  If my goggles had been
on, I wouldn't have even felt it.  When the race ended and I had a
chance to look at it, it didn't look good.  I went over to the ambulance
to see if the EMT's had something to clean and sterilize the cut, but I
think they were there more for show than for anything else.  I asked
them a few questions, like "Do I need stitches?" and "Are you old
enough to drive this ambulance?" and the best they could do was
give me a tiny alcohol pad and a huge, face-sized bandage.  Let's
see, I've got a bloody half-inch cut about one inch from my eye, and I
get a 4 inch square bandage and a sterile pad just large enough to
clean a small pimple.  So I used some leftover water from the
CamelBak and an old Dairy Queen napkin from the glove box and
cleaned it up real good.  A few days later I had a nice black eye, my
first one ever.

June 4, 2000
White City, Illinois
2nd of 11 in Open B
Oh, so close.  After two hours of racing I was less than a minute
behind the leader in my class.  Less than one minute from victory.  If I
hadn't got caught taking a shortcut through the woods, I might have
won, but more on that later.  Matt and I went together and both
signed up for the Open B class of the SOIL (S. Illinois) series.  White
City is one of four clubs that hosts one or two races each year as part
of a regional hare scrambles series (Belleville's race was also part of
this series).  When we arrived and walked part of the course, it looked
to be in perfect condition, unlike the previous year when it was hot
and very muddy.  I've ridden in both good and bad conditions here,
so I was very pleased to see that I would only be fighting my spodely
riding skills and nothing else.

Naturally, 20 minutes before the race the skies let loose for a brief,
moderate rain shower.  Not much accumulation, but just enough to
make the trail very slippery.  When our row started, my tire spun in
the wet grass and Matt took off ahead of me.  The rain continued just
long enough to render my goggles useless, so for the second week in
a row I rode most of the race with no eye protection.  My shiner from
the previous week was still noticeable, and as the race progressed I
was having visions of unseen tree branches poking my eyes out.  
Fortunately that didn't happen, but on each of the three laps I got
hung up on some obstacle.  On the first lap I didn't make it up a
steep hill and lost about 5 minutes getting restarted.  On lap 2, a
tricky off-camber had deteriorated to impassible, so the wasted time
and energy cost me more time.  The third lap might have been my
fastest, since the trails were more tacky, but some of the sections
were getting torn up and guys were getting hung up on some of the
hills.  At one of those hills, I took an alternate path to avoid a downed
rider, which took me right to a bunch of club guys who told me to turn
around, but I didn't think I had cut the course and just kept going.  
Apparently I was wrong and they wrote down my number and docked
me one minute on my overall time.  After the race was done and the
scores posted, I questioned the scorekeeper about the minute added
to my time.  I think several guys got caught doing the same thing I did
and had already complained, so by the time I talked to the guy his
patience was running out.  He wasn't too friendly and told me that if I
kept pushing the issue I might not get second place, or any place at
all, so I just walked away.  The incident kind of took away some of the
good feelings I had from placing second, so I grabbed my trophy and
went home with Matt (he got 4th), who kept saying "Every time I go
with you to an Illinois race it rains the whole time...."
Park HIlls, Missouri
Kingman, Indiana
White City, Illinois