May 20, 2001
St. Joe State Park
Park Hills, Missouri
5th of 17 in B Class
Now that I've ridden the Leadbelt Enduro three times, the best way I
can describe it is like this:  hook up a jackhammer to your ass, turn it
on for 4-5 hours, and there you have it.  Despite the 80-mile
bum-grind, I did have fun.  The Blackjack Enduro series changed the
classes around this year so that there's no Open B class like the
previous two years.  I competed with all the other B riders on the long
course, which meant no B-class cutoff before the end of the second
loop.

At the signup, I was pleased to see that the club had accommodated
my request to be on row 10 or higher, with a 13th row start.  Just
enough riders ahead of me to clear out some of the trail, but not too
many to make it choppy on the first loop.  As in years past, the first 5
miles were basically a trail ride, with a 15 mph average.  No reason to
lose any points on a 15 mph average, right?  Sure, if you're a normal
person, but this is me we're talking about.  Somehow I
underestimated my speed, didn't look closely enough at my roll chart,
and ended up dropping a point at the first check.  How do you say
Stooopid??  Just after the check, the trail came out at the far corner of
the sand flats, where I promptly followed several riders who went
straight past the arrows pointing us into the center of the flats.  After
riding a quarter-mile with no sign of an arrow, we all realized our
mistake and backtracked.  Fortunately, the next couple of miles were
open, fast sand trails and the speed average was only 18 mph.  By
the time we entered the woods again, I was back on time.  Just before
the gas stop at 16.3 miles, the speed average went up to 24 mph and
I dropped two points at the check coming out to the gas area.  We
kept our 24 mph average for awhile before dropping back to 18 mph,
then back up to 24 mph for the last 8 miles of the loop.  The trails
wandered through the public area of St. Joe for about half of the loop
and then went off to the normally off-limits area that only gets ridden
a couple of times a year for races.  Some of the singletrack was 4th
and 5th gear stuff.  Totally cool going that fast in the woods.  Picture
it...moist trail, just enough traction but not much mud, blazing along
in 3rd gear, trees of all shapes and sizes whizzing by, constant
directional changes, the occasional softball-sized rock adding a little
excitement, the feeling of wanting to kiss the steering damper for all
the times during the last mile that it saved my ass, the smack of
barkbuster against a tree that got a little too close, a wheelie over a
shallow gully, a perfect 6-inch berm around a tight 90-degree corner,
dump the clutch and give'er hell to the next corner.  Nothing does
justice to the experience except getting out and riding as fast as you
dare.  And the Leadbelt Enduro has a little of everything except rocks,
which are in nearly infinite supply.

Near the end of the loop, I noticed a photographer near the trail and
assumed he might be the same guy who
took pictures at last year's
enduro and the Columbia hare scramble.  Later in the year, a set of
proofs had arrived in the mail with two pictures: one of me standing
up and looking aggressive in a fast, open section of the 2000
LeadBelt enduro, and the other of me with my butt firmly planted on
the seat during the Columbia hare scramble, looking like I was
coasting back to my truck to refresh myself with a cool beverage.  
Guess which picture I chose to purchase?  Since I didn't want to see
another shot of me sitting on my ass, I was motivated to stand up and
look aggressive just before the flash went off (
check it out).

For the first loop I dropped 15 points and had about 15 minutes to
regroup and start the second loop.  Somehow those 15 minutes
passed way too quickly, even though all I did was put in some gas,
clean my goggles, eat a granola bar, and add ice cubes to my
CamelBak.  As I rode out to the sand flats to start the loop, I noticed
that I had not reset my odometer back to zero, as instructed by the
route sheet.  Should take just a few seconds, right?  Wrong.  I had to
turn that darned knob backwards for what seemed like an eternity.  In
an enduro, two minutes can be just that long, and with a cramped left
hand I began the final 40 miles.  Fortunately the first loop check at
just short of 5 miles was not there on loop #2, so I was able to make
up some time in the sand flats.  One of my row-mates, fast guy Mike
(or is it Jeremy?) Havens, was parked along the flats letting some
time pass, probably wondering what took me so long.  I followed him
for the next few miles, but he left me out of sight when the speed
average increased to 24 mph.  After the gas stop at 16.3 miles, it was
a race to the finish with a 24 mph average the rest of the way.  No
major events over the next 23 miles, just lots of trail in perfect
condition.  I began to feel a bit tired about the time I entered the last
check, but my race was over.  The bike held up perfectly during the
longest race I had ever completed.  The only time I rode more miles in
one day might have been in Michigan in 1994.

I felt good about my score of 40, but another guy who also scored 40
beat me on tiebreakers.  Had I not lost a point at the first check, I
would have finished in 4th place but had to settle for 5th.  It was a fun
day.

June 3, 2001
Florence, Missouri
Race Cancelled
I had a choice.  I could have driven one hour to White City, Illinois and
raced in what surely must have been a mud bath rivaling last year's
June hare scramble.  Instead I chose Florence, 180 miles from my
home but located amongst the rock quarry I like to call Missouri.  
Man, I'm turning into a mud wimp.  The Yahoo! weather forecast
showed a chance of rain, but that didn't stop me from failing to pack
any rain gear or even a jacket.  Morning temperatures don't often dip
into the 50's during June in St. Louis, so my long sleeve shirt should
have been enough.

At 6:30 a.m. I left my garage and headed for Wentzville to pick up
Matt, who had his shiny new Dodge full-size truck parked in the
drive.  He is now a 3-automobile family, so they are sufficiently
prepared for 8 years from now, when Michael can drive himself to the
motocross track.  We loaded up my truck and began the long drive.  
At Boonville the rains began, moderate but steady.  We arrived at the
race site, 45 miles later, and the rain had still not let up.  After a
half-hour of shivering under the concession stand awning, we signed
up to race and searched for Pizza Man's trailer. By now it was 10:30,
the ATV's had finished their race, and the rain showed no sign of
ending in the near future.  Pizza Man let us hang with him under their
pop-up awning while the rain continued.  He offered us sandwiches
from
Shakespeare's Pizza that were conveniently wrapped in
cellophane, courtesy of the sorority girls on his payroll, who had been
reluctant to accept his offer for "a raise" until learning that all they had
to do was make a few sandwiches for the race.  Come on, girls...he's
a family man for Christ's sake.  Me, on the other hand....

At 11:30, the rain was still steady and had not let up for about 3
hours.  We had already decided that a practice lap was out of the
question but it was time to get dressed to ride.  At 12:00 I warmed up
the bike with a few short sprints around the starting area, which was
just enough time to get completely muddy and soaked.  Every low
spot was covered with water, the ground completely saturated.  At
12:30 a guy came around and announced that the race was called off
and we were to go back to the signup area and get our money back.  
Matt and I lined up in the rain and waited for about 15 minutes, got
back our $20 and decided that as long as we were dressed to ride, we
might as well do a loop around the course.  The word around the
staging area was that one of the creeks had risen to waist-level and
the current was swift, so it was a safety issue that caused a
premature end to our day.  We figured we would go as far as we
could, but that ended up being not much more than a mile.  Where
the trail came to the edge of the staging area, a guy pointed us back
to the parking lot.  End of the ride.

By this time we were cold, wet, and muddy, after riding a total of
about 10 minutes.  After a change into semi-dry clothes, we packed
up and drove home.  The rain ended at about 1:00, just as we pulled
out of the parking lot.  Should have ridden White City, dammit.
Park Hills, Missouri
Florence, Missouri