Missouri Mulekicker

Hell on Wheels
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
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
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
Race Field Shockingly Fast at Kahoka National Hare
. 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
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
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.
Kahoka, Missouri