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