2000 Race Reports
September 17, 2000
Winterset, Iowa
1st of 9 in Open B (2nd overall B)
First of all, the obvious question here is what in the hell was I doing racing
in Winterset, Iowa.  The answer is, I don't have a clue.  All I know is that I
had the largest deal of my banking career soundly rejected during the
prior week and just wanted to get out of town, far away.  My schedule
showed the Winterset enduro, so I went.  A six-hour drive gives plenty of
time for deep thought and inner reflection and all that crap.  Plus, I had a
place to stay the night before -- a co-workers' parents have a house
about an hour from Winterset and offered me a bed to sleep in.

As most people know, Winterset is famous for the fictional account of
covered bridges, adultery, farm wives, covered bridges, out-of-state
photographers, adultery, and some beautiful covered bridges (did I say
that already?) in Madison County, Iowa.  Let me tell you, there were no
Meryl Streep lookalikes in Winterset.  And the worst part is that none of
the gas stations sell 93-octane gas.  When I pulled into the staging area,
the guys at the gate said they hadn't had a drop of rain in a month, and
to expect plenty of rocks.  I'm in the heart of the corn belt and there's
rocks?  How can that be?

As I was setting up, I took a leak just down the trail from the staging area,
which was hard as rock (the trail, that is...you pervert), and noticed about
5 vultures circling overhead.  I didn't take that as a good sign.  Then the
motorcycle wouldn't start, and when it finally did, it was sluggish.  More
bad juju.  But unlike most enduro starts, I was reasonably timely in getting
ready and warming up the bike.  Three other guys started on my row, and
as our minute started, the guy on a Yamaha jumped out to lead, and I
followed his dust for several miles.  It's been awhile since I've seen dust
that bad.  Otherwise the trails were in good shape.  The guys at the gate
were correct about the rocks, but they were nothing like Missouri.  The
first section was about 10 miles long and I dropped several points, but I
was riding pretty well.  After the second reset I jumped ahead of the other
guys on my row and lead for another 10 miles or so.  In a dusty race,
being in the lead is the only way to get clean air, and it sure felt good.

The first loop ended after 35 miles, and at that point I had dropped about
20 points.  The bike was still a bit sluggish, so I changed the spark plug
while a chatty lady parked beside me summarized her life history.  I tried
to be polite and listen, but by the time I was ready to go I was a minute
late.  Actually, she was very nice but I was a bit distracted at the time.  At
the next check I lost two points, which shouldn't have happened.  Shortly
thereafter I saw my spare inner tube (poorly duct-taped to the front
fender) flopping around, and eventually it broke free and the front wheel
tossed it high up in the air.  For an instant I thought about reaching out
and grabbing it mid-flight, but then what was I supposed to do with it?  In
my mind, no spare tube was a guaranteed flat tire.

Fortunately neither tire went flat and I finished the race, scoring a 49.  I
rode well enough to be fairly confident of winning a trophy, but then again
I had never raced in Iowa.  Maybe the farm boys were faster than my
usual competition.  After an eternity of waiting for the results to be
posted, I found the Open B class scorecards, clothes-pinned to an old
wire corn crib that doubled as promoters' headquarters.   Whenever the
club guys put up the results at one of these races, there's always a mass
of riders crowding around to find their scores, so I had to strain to locate
mine.  By some miracle it was hung up on the far left end of the Open B
class cards, which suggested a first place finish.  Now I'm thinking,
something must be wrong here.  Could it be that I had it all mixed up and I
actually finished last?  I never win, so surely that's what happened.  The
Iowa boys must have been super fast.  Then, common sense set in and I
looked at my 49 score, compared it to the others in my class, and realized
that I had won my class.  First place!!  After that I wanted to know how I
compared to the other B classes, since Open B is usually the least
competitive.  The 250 class always seems to be made up of guys who are
one season away from moving up to the A class.  The first place guy in
the 250 B class scored...50!!  I beat the 250 B class winner!  Then I had
to look at the 200 B class...shore 'nuff, beat that class winner, too.  So
now I'm thinking, is this possible?  Did I get the Overall B class win?  Well,
not quite.  The winner scored a 44 and they must have separated his
card from the other scores.  Even so, a win is a win and it felt pretty darn
good after 6 years of trying.

September 24, 2000
Fosterburg, Illinois
2nd of 3 in Open B
Funny thing, winning a race.  Makes you feel like you have to win the next
one, too.  Matt and I traveled to Fosterburg for our annual mud race
there.  Last year it started out dry and dusty and finished wet and
muddy.  This year it started out wet and muddy and stayed that way.  
Matt brought his new Y2K KTM 300EXC for its inaugural ride, and I had to
admit it looked very tasty, compared to my '99 300EXC that looked
exactly the way it had been ridden for the last two years: rough and nasty
(like my women).  We got to the club early so Matt could get his bike
broken in a little, and while he did that I spent a couple hours walking
most of the course.  A light rain continued for most of the morning,
making the hills very slippery.  The mini-bikes began their race at 10:00
and I watched them struggle up a hill that I was sure would give the big
bikes even more problems.  The boys do get frustrated when they can't
make it up a hill.  Some get whiney and almost start crying, others just cry.

At the starting line of the big bike race, only one other guy showed up to
race the Open B class besides me and Matt.  I didn't know it at the time,
but he was the same guy who beat me by a minute at White City this
year.  The promoters made us start in that goofy
straddle-the-front-fender position with our bodies facing the rows of riders
behind us.  As each group waited for their start, the flag guy took a
position behind the row to be started, a departure from the normal
position well in front of the riders who, under more common starting
routines, sit on their seats, looking forward with legs up on the kick-start
levers, eyes fixated on the green flag, bodies forward, tensely waiting for
the flagman to lower his arm and drop the flag.  The best riders have the
engine started by the time the flag drops to its lowest position and a
fractional second later are quickly moving down the trail to fight for
position at the first turn.  With the fender-straddle start, the flag dropped,
but instead of an immediate rumble of engines coming to life, for about
two seconds the only sounds originated from a scurrying of bodies to the
other sides of the motorcycles, guys jumping on the seats and throwing
down the kick-starter.

My technique was a bit rough, and after a couple of kicks I was
comfortably near the back of the pack heading into the first turn (our row
also included about 6 riders in the 200B class).  Within a minute I had
caught up to Matt and was trying my best to make my front tire rub his
rear tire.  Traction was less than ideal, but the rain had apparently not
saturated more than an inch or two of ground.  The thirty or so riders
ahead of us, in many trail sections, had already cleared out the mud and
left us with a nice loam.  On a tricky, root infested hill, I passed Matt and
set my sights on the leader in our class.  Within 5 minutes I passed him,
but throughout the race we would change positions several times.  In the
second lap I slid out around a corner, dropped the bike, and saw Matt
pass me.  During the next 6 laps I never saw him again but tried my
hardest to catch him.  I rode pretty well and felt like I was in contention for
the win, but at the finish Matt was already back at the truck, so I figured
he got the win.  As it turned out, he had run out of fuel and finished a lap
down, and the other guy in our class had passed me in the last lap and
beat me by 24 seconds.  Even so, the race was very enjoyable and I beat
Matt, so it was a good day.

October 1, 2000
Festus, Missouri
6th of 14 in Open B
These Missouri races are all the same.  Miles of rocks, get your body
beat to a pulp, put a few new dings on motorcycle parts, go home tired,
shower, and then sleep it off.  The only good thing I did was get a great
start, with only one guy ahead of me in the woods.  I hung with the lead
pack until it got really rocky, then fell off the pace and settled into 6th
place for the whole race.  Festus has a lot of gullies to cross, and you
can cross them one of two ways: slow down and ride through them or get
brave and pop up the front wheel, losing no speed as the motorcycle
basically jumps the gap.  However, the landing on the other side can be
harsh.  I hit one at speed and lightly kissed the steering damper.  I didn't
realize it at the time, but the impact was hard enough to push my forks up
in the clamps until they rubbed the handlebars.  Just before my last lap,
the lead guys in the pro class lapped me just before the final check.  The
first one got around, and I didn't realize the second-place guy was right
on his tail.  I sort of blocked him while going into the scoring gate, and
vaguely remember a "fan" (more like a member of his pit crew) shouting
at me, loud enough to suggest that I was creating mass anarchy and
generally causing the end of the world as we know it.  All I can say
is...Ooops, you redneck a**hole.  It's a friggin' bike race.

I don't even remember if I stuck around to see the results.  At least with
the Internet posting, I always can find out where I finished.
Winterset, Iowa
Fosterburg, Illinois
Festus, Missouri