2010 Race Reports
Glasford, Illinois
Roselawn, Indiana
July 25, 2010
Glasford, Illinois
3rd of 5 in Vet A
In Illinois, our rock-free soil is something to behold. Give us relatively dry conditions
and certain trail riders would rank it somewhere between bacon-wrapped pork
chops and a lingerie surprise from your lady. Wet soil is more like Brussels sprouts
and shopping for window treatments. What we had at the Glasford round of the AMA
District 17 Hare Scrambles series was a leather recliner in front of a large screen
HDTV on a Saturday afternoon during college football season. All things considered,
a pretty good afternoon.

Glasford could have been even worse than Brussels sprouts, after torrential
downpours covered most of Northern Illinois the previous week. As luck would have
it, the greater Glasford area avoided the worst of the rains. I on the other hand did not
avoid what has become a bad habit of late: tardy departures. I had only about 30
minutes to spare when I arrived, based on the advertised starting time. After making
a run for the signup table, I came across WFO main man Ron Whipple, who advised
that the start time would be delayed for about a half-hour. Perfect. He also mentioned
the lack of rain and fine trail conditions, which was a surprise. During the drive from
Dakota, I'd had to take a detour around Pearl City, which was engulfed in
floodwaters. My alternate route had a stretch of water covering Highway 78, although
shallow enough that
Big Bird had no issues with it. So the northwest quadrant of
Illinois was as wet as it had been since anyone could remember, but Glasford was
fairly dry. Luck was on my side...or so I thought.

The starting area for the race was moved to the east edge of the property, away from
its usual spot near a graveyard of junked farm equipment. Trucks and trailers were
packed into an area just smaller than the space needed for all the vehicles. This new
staging area created a small problem: I couldn't find the starting line. As it became
clear that the race was about to begin, I rode aimlessly through the maze of aisles
between bike haulers, trying to find anyone on a full-sized motorcycle who seemed to
know where to go. Eventually I located the starting line on the north edge of the
staging area, where most of the bikes had already assumed their positions in the
various rows. In the front line was a miraculously recovered Jeff Snedecor, back on
the bike after wrenching his knee at the Roselawn Enduro three months earlier. He
too was lucky: his knee damage was considerably less than expected.

Stan Redell's shotgun blast, the highlight of any
WFO hare scramble start, caught
me napping. At the first turn I was in the middle of the pack, which included our Vet A
class and the Senior A class. While jockeying for position in the early stage of the
race, it occurred to me that I'd have only one more year to bang bars with the 30-
somethings before moving into the ranks of the Seniors. And to think, those guys
seemed so old to me when I began racing as a 22-year-old.

Inside the woods, the trails were, indeed, in pretty good shape for racing. In earlier
years, the course had seemed narrow and less than ideal for passing, but today it
felt a little more spacious. After a few bobbles by other riders, I was running near the
front of the pack as we raced through the first half of the course. The trails were laid
out very similarly to last year and included a steep, slippery uphill, and a scary off-
camber downhill. The soil was moist where shaded and dry where in direct contact
with the sun.

In the second half of the course was a nasty creek crossing that is part of every race
here. Its short distance from the gravel entry road always makes for an excellent
spectator location, and today the usual gathering was on hand to see the winning
and losing line choices. And there were many. The crossing area was located in a
grassy pasture, so the riders could spread out over about 100 yards. I took a safe
line well removed from the arrows and navigated my way across the muddy stream.

On the second lap, my fortunes changed a bit. After running with the leaders, I found
myself stuck in a rut that seemed like it had to have been made from a walk-behind
trenching machine. How could any bikes have ever squeezed through its depths? My
seat was poking out about 3 inches higher than the ground beside the rut. How this
happened, I don't know. I was just riding along, minding my own business, trying to
find a quicker way around the rider in front of me. And here I was, hopelessly stuck.
Or was I? An interesting thought came to mind: what if I flipped over the bike
backwards? I certainly did not have the strength to lift the bike out of the rut. Flipping it
backwards would leave the bike upside down, but maybe outside the confines of the
impossibly deep rut. So this I did, and the bike ended up in a slightly better place. I
flipped it over one more time and found myself with an upright bike, completely
removed from the rut. Wow, that was easy. If only it hadn't taken me 5 minutes to
figure it out.

My next mistake was back at that nasty creek crossing by the gravel road. My line
choice on the first lap was deepened by the tires of many riders, and I couldn't force
the 250XC up the opposite side. Help came quickly though, and I was on my way
after a few tugs on the front forks.

The next few laps came quickly and uneventfully. On my next pass through the low
area where I’d found the impossibly deep rut, I took a wide line around it and was
shocked to see a wooden bridge. It kept me high and dry, and I would use it every lap
from then on. I also found a decent line through the nasty creek crossing that worked
well every time. But after a couple more laps and a few congratulatory words of self-
affirmation for solving the two toughest problems on the course, the race leaders
lapped me within about 45 minutes of the start. And the two Vet A frontrunners were
long gone. Pat McClure would go on to win our class and Oscar Rodriguez finished
in the runner-up position. With fewer mistakes, I might have been fighting for the
class win, but a 3rd place trophy was fine enough. Less rain in Glasford made this a
lucky day all around.
Roads were a little wet to and from Glasford
August 15, 2010
Roselawn, Indiana
7th of 8 in Vet A
The record shall reflect that at the 43rd running of the annual Summer Bummer
Enduro, my bike came back cleaner than when the day began. It’s true. Having said
that, however, I must confess that my KTM 250XC was not in the most pristine of
conditions to begin with, but the sandy terrain common to the Roselawn, Indiana
region was somewhat like a sandblasting machine in the way it polished a
lingering layer of dirt off my seat. So this year’s event was especially suitable for
those who prefer not to wash their motorcycles after a race. The sandy loam that
makes up the course was dry but not dusty, and devoid of mud holes and creek
crossings and other forms of dirtiness. Five hours after the start, my bike looked
spectacular.

The ‘Bummer was another 2-day enduro this year, with the Saturday race consisting
of a closed-course event in and around the
Sun Aura club, an organization having
little to do with dirt biking. I chose to race Sunday only, which meant, as it always
does, that the Saturday racers sticking around for both days would get first dibs on
the best rows for Sunday. I was relegated to a relatively early minute #7, which
meant the trails would be a little thick with only 6 rows leaving ahead of me. Sharing
my row were a trio of B riders which included Joliet native Bob Brooks, as well as
Brent Pierce and Brad Evans. Our race began with a road section, followed by about
55 miles of singletrack and more road sections. Below are some of the highlights
(and lowlights) of the day:

  • All checks that should have been zeroed were zeroed. In one section near
    the middle of the course, following a reset, I did my usual routine of entering
    the section about 10 seconds early, figuring I could scrub enough time if a
    “don’t-you-dare” check was right around the next corner. When the check
    appeared about a quarter-mile later, the check crew had their hands on the
    “8” card, ready to flip it over. According to them, I was only a second or two
    from arriving a minute late. Jeff Snedecor and I would debate this check
    placement later, but I was pretty sure they had their clocks off by a minute.
  • The trails were well marked, but that didn't prevent a couple of scouting
    missions to relocate the arrows. As usual, a later row would have been
    beneficial.
  • Everything I expected from past Summer Bummer’s was there, except for
    that old house we used to get to ride through. One of my favorite areas is an
    overgrown ditch with high banks on each side, with the trail carved (literally)
    through a mile-long thicket that you couldn't otherwise walk through.
  • My steering damper tower decided to come loose in the second half of the
    course. I've tried 3 or 4 of these in the past, with similar results. I will,
    however, give Enduro Engineering some props for making it the longest
    before a tack weld became the final solution.
  • The 250XC proved itself, once again, as the weapon of choice for the
    Roselawn trails. The super soft Enduro Engineering seat made for a much
    more enjoyable ride than the spring enduro here. The stiffer suspension
    tackled the sand whoops with a little more confidence and the motocross-
    style gear spacing was right on.

The final section, as usual, was a 11-mile sprint through the trails around the
staging area. The entrance to these “nudie woods” was a known control, so we
could line up near the check crew with no penalty for being early. The club members
asked how I was feeling and unlike Jeff Snedecor, who admitted earlier that he’d
had enough and really preferred not to ride the final 11 miles, I proclaimed that my
RAGBRAI legs were still in good shape and I would be leaving nothing on the trail.
For most of that loop, this was true. I was only partly distracted as the trail took me
close to the Sun Aura club grounds. “Eyes ahead,” I thought to myself. Despite my
display of [over]confidence with the scoring crew, I was running on reserve energy at
that point and didn't need any diversions. The trails were alternately fast and flowing,
tight and slow, loamy and soft.

The inevitable distraction came at the observation check near the midpoint of this
final section, a lone topless lady helping out the check crew. With such warm
conditions, I expected more but was not disappointed to see less. The twists and
turns continued and I was feeling good…a little too confident, maybe. On the
northeast side of the section, I found myself in a tightly cut thicket of whatever it is
that grows here, with my front wheel on the wrong side of a log lying diagonally
across the trail. In normal woods, I would have simply pulled forward, squared the
bike alongside the log, and hopped over. But in these woods, I couldn't see more
than 15 feet through the undergrowth and there were no other options than to back
up the bike and try again. That was a no-go, however, because I was blocking the
trail. After spending a minute or two heaving the back end of the bike over the log, I’d
used up the last of my energy reserves. I’d lost my mojo, so it seemed. But after a
few minutes catching my breath and feeling the 8-mph breeze that was about all I
could muster in these woods, I gained back some speed. Near the end of the
course was a small dirt track where I finally caught up to a guy on the row ahead of
me who’d passed by while I was stuck on the log.

With my race over, I was beat. Jeff Snedecor limped home several minutes later
with a facial expression that said exactly what I was feeling at that point. Once again,
the Hill & Gully riders tested our strength and stamina. Mr. Kawasaki, Jeff Fredette,
smoked everyone on the course with a ridiculous 5-minute gap over the Cody
Mastin. Rockton’s very own Ryan Moss rounded out the podium. My results were
less than stellar, but only two points separated the bottom half of the Vet A guys.
Even so, I had a great time in a place we are fortunate to have access to year after
year.