2001 Race Reports
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