May 4, 2003 6th of 8 in Open A 2nd of 6 in Vet (MHSC) Why can I ride 2 classes? Let me explain.
Diary of Events of 5/4/03:
6:10 a.m. Wake-up call. Eat breakfast and check Intellicast radar summary on internet. Shades of green, yellow, red, orange, and that was just my Lucky Charms. 6:48 a.m. Begin loading bike and gear into truck. Revolutionary idea hits me like Butterbean's gloves against Knoxville's head: why not bring two pairs of goggles today? Begin search for missing pieces to spare goggle/roll-off parts. Remember that one of the parts now needed may have been discarded in the kitchen trashcan last week. Kitchen floor covered with 5 days worth of garbage. 7:12 a.m. Missing goggle/roll-off part found on workbench in garage, in plain sight. 7:13 a.m. Rain begins. 7:15 a.m. Finish loading bike and gear. Having second thoughts about breaking out brand new AXO boots for this race. Depart for Kahoka. 7:26 a.m. I-64 appears more like a river than a highway. An H2 passes me pulling a shirtless guy on a wakeboard. Actually, it was a Blazer pulling a trailer, but who could tell. 9:17 a.m. Welcome to Hannibal, referred to in the Rand-McNally Pointless Guide to Completely Irrelevant Factoids as "City of 13 Speed Limit Changes." Still raining. 9:28 a.m. Rain ends. 9:30 a.m. Rain begins again. 10:13 a.m. Arrive at the Burkhart Farm; make a run for signup shed. Only MHSC regular in sight is Tom Eidam at the signup table. 10:15 a.m. The Illinois guys are laughing, having fun setting up in the rain. Mud is their friend, their ally, their means by which to humble the Missouri contingent, most of who are enjoying the comforts of their dry, heated homes. 10:54 a.m. Ray Osia, MHSC #370, stops by on his KTM to say hello. Ray is wearing the orange vest of a course worker. Ray is working the race. Ray appears to have made the smart choice today. 11:14 a.m. Deposit gas jug at usual location next to the northwest part of the pit area, along with a Ziplock-sealed set of spare goggles. 11:30 a.m. P.A. announcement for riders' meeting. 11:31 a.m. Another riders' meet announcement. 11:32 a.m. I think Mike really wants to get the riders' meeting started. 11:37 a.m. Riders' meeting uneventful. Course described as 8 miles long. 12:02 p.m. Proceed to starting area in light drizzle. Open A class starts on 2nd row, right behind the Pro's. Yeah, cool. Recognize familiar face of Lee Lankutis, D-17 fast guy, a few bikes to my right. Will be the last time I see him all day. He is still fast. 12:08 p.m. Drizzle turns into downpour, complete with thunder and large bolts of lightening. I visualize the headline in next month's Dirt Rider magazine: Race Field Shockingly Fast at Kahoka National Hare Scramble. Enduro jacket not waterproof around arms. Getting very wet very fast. 12:17 p.m. Still waiting to start. Cold. Wet. Envious of guys with pit crews holding large umbrellas over them. My ass, formerly the only dry part of my body, is now wet as the rain trickles down my seat. Fred Andrews, top dog in the pro class, arrives fashionably late and assumes the inside position. 12:19 p.m. Pro class takes off, spreading high, arcing plumes of grass and mud, all in my direction. My goggles are now completely saturated and virtually useless before the race has even begun. 12:20 p.m. We're off...covered in mud within the first 100 yards. Goggles cloud my vision. 12:20:13 p.m. Approximately 200 yards into the course, in the high-speed open area next to the pits, I attempt to remove the tear-off I had carefully taped over my roll-offs to shield them from a first-turn mud bath. What has proven to be a very smart idea in the past turns into a stupid one as I pull off not only the tear-off, but the goggles as well. No time or desire to stop and put them back on. Goggles get tossed over the pit-row fence, which is the last I'll ever see of them. 12:20:18 p.m. Fast guy with bad start makes up time and passes me just before our entry into the motocross track. Shotgun blast of mud flies into both of my unprotected eyes. Somehow manage to navigate the mud/sawdust track, but it is in the best shape it will be for the whole day and will only get worse. 12:22 p.m. Into the woods we go, and the ATV's have made some nice berms for us. Spectators watching near the pits as I slip-slide around the turns and head out into the first of several open fields. 12:23 p.m. Open fields are already nasty, and I'm only about the 25th bike to pass through. Back into the woods, the trails are muddy but passable. Front brake virtually disappears. I blame it on those lousy Brembo's but in reality the mud has already eaten away all that was left of the brake pads. 12:30 p.m. Second pass through the motocross track, just a simple on-an-off straightaway that takes us down a hill and back up, then into the woods. Bike struggles to make it up the hill in the deep mud/sawdust. 12:41 p.m. Third, and longest, pass through the motocross track. Not so bad, but I have to remind myself we're only on the first lap and I got a head start on most of the field by riding the Open A class. 12:53 p.m. Kevin Ruckdeschell cheers me on near the end of the first lap. Kevin decided not to break in his brand new 300EXC on the Kahoka course. A wise man. 12:54 p.m. Start of 2nd lap. Course in not-so-great shape now. At the far end of the pits, a nice lady helps me put on the fresh set of goggles I had left next to my gas jug. She suggests that I might not be wearing them 20 minutes from now. 1:01 p.m. Course is deteriorating rapidly, with wheel-deep ruts developing in many places. Rain had subsided a bit on the first lap but is now pouring down so hard that I can't see much of anything. That nice lady was correct - goggles are now off. 1:13 p.m. Course is getting interesting as water fills the gullies and low spots. Burkhart has done a good job of routing the course around the deepest parts of the creeks. 1:22 p.m. In a very narrow section of woods, I come up on a stuck rider on a Yamaha and attempt to move around him, getting my own bike stuck in the process. The Yamaha guy helps me out and I am now obligated to help him out. Fortunately, a simple push on the back of his bike is all that is required to un-stick his bike. Approximately 100 feet later, like a guided missile unable to abort, I head straight down the center of a long, deep rut and come to an abrupt halt. Luck is on my side, as I can see the next checkpoint ahead. One of the course workers takes pity on me and helps me extricate my bike from the rut. He asks me to tell the guys at the main checkpoint that something needs to be done about the wooden bridge. What wooden bridge? I have no recollection of any wooden bridge, but at this point every trail is a little river in itself, so the bridge could have been concealed by rushing water. I agree to relay the course worker's message...I'm sure they'll get right on it. 1:40 p.m. Motocross track is horrible. A couple of times the bike nearly comes to a complete stop on the uphills, wheel spinning in 2nd gear, throttle wide open. At the same time I'm cursing the truckloads of sawdust added to the track, I have to admit that the track wouldn't be passable without it. But it gives me a good excuse to try out creative new combinations of various four-letter words. 1:51 p.m. Second lap complete. Nice lady helps me fuel the bike and I dump my worthless goggles next to the gas jug. As I head toward the big ravine just past my makeshift pit area, I pause to check out the lines. I pick one just to the left of the main line, which looked a bit nasty. As I start the descent down into the ravine, I can hear a guy behind me coming up fast and yelling to make his presence known. As I'm about halfway to the bottom, he charges down the ravine, barely missing me on my right and takes the main line at a speed I wouldn't have attempted even if the ground were perfectly dry. By now the main line is full of water a couple feet across, and there's no way to tell how deep the rut is. Had it been deep enough, the rut would have stopped his bike and thrown him into the opposite side of the ravine. Apparently that's a risk this guy was willing to take. He slams into the bottom of the ravine with a huge splash of water, somehow stays on the bike, and his momentum shoots him up the other side. By the time I make it up the other side and out of the woods (a couple seconds later, at most), the guy is already around the first turn of the grass-turned-mud track about 200 yards ahead. Unreal, those pros. I attempt to go fast using the same general lines as this guy and come ever-so-close to burying the bike in a 2-foot rut in the middle of the field. Not sure how I made it out of there. 2:07 p.m. Bike seat is very slippery and I'm sliding backwards on even the smallest of hills. Hard to keep it going straight, or going at all. Front and rear brakes are pretty much gone, but the mud gives me enough natural braking power to make due and besides, I could probably walk faster than the speeds I'm attaining in the woods. The sound of the wheels passing over the slop is like taking handfuls of mud and continuously squeezing it out through your fingers. Most of the trails in the woods are now two ruts - a deep one down the center where wheels have passed, and a shallow one to the side, created from the boots of guys extending their legs for balance. 2:10 p.m. Good news: the rain has finally stopped. 2:25 p.m. Long run through motocross track not so fun. Actually, it just plain sucks. 2:29 p.m. Around an easy turn in a grass/mud field, ever-so-slightly off-camber, my bike refuses to go straight. The back wheel spins in the heavy clay and encourages me to do donuts. Around and around I go. But now is not the time or place for that, and I urge the bike to behave. 2:33 p.m. K-Ruck #94, still standing near the motocross track, shouts encouragingly that I'm in second place. Had I been Kevin, I would have been long gone at this point, somewhere warm and dry. But Kevin stuck around because that's the kind of guy he is. 2:34 p.m. Third lap complete. I stop to clean off my watch and it says I've been riding for about 2 hours and 15 minutes. Decision time...to go again or not to, that is the question. I decide to go again because I don't want to be a quitter. But I'd really like to quit. 2:35 p.m. The big ravine just after the pits has a couple guys stuck at the bottom. I take a wide alternate route to the left and somehow make it up the other side. 2:42 p.m. First major challenge of this lap, and I stop the bike to evaluate my options up a small hill with many deep, water-filled ruts. No good ways around. The bike is turned off and steaming so much that I can barely see the radiators. Chris Nesbitt comes by and tortures his engine getting through this section. I decide I'm done torturing my bike and body and search for a way out. I walk down the hill to a creek and see that there are trails here and there. I go back to the bike, coast down the hill and drop the bike down into the creek. After a few minutes it stops steaming, so I fire it up and follow the unmarked trails. Eventually I find my way back to the pits. 2:49 p.m. Search begins for goggles thrown over the fence. 2:56 p.m. Search for missing goggles ends, unsuccessfully. 3:17 p.m. Bike loaded up; rain begins again. The positive side to riding in the rain is that there's plenty of water to keep some of the mud from accumulating on the bike. The negative part is that my enduro jacket didn't repel any mud and now it weighs about 10 pounds. Another downside is that I am saturated all the way down to my underwear. Looks like I'm goin' commando for the ride home. While changing into dry clothes, occurs to me this is the first time in many years I've been buck naked inside a vehicle. Also occurs to me this wasn't what I had envisioned as my next buck naked experience inside a vehicle 3:31 p.m. Packed up and heading for home...to heck with the results. Heat turned all the way up in the truck. Still shivering. 6:45 p.m. Home. Warm. Dry. Shower. Underwear (finally). Sleeeeeep.