Here's a summary of the places I've raced over the years, starting with the great state of Illinois
United Offroad Racing
This location in Western Illinois is typical of many in this area, with tight woods and sloppy conditions when wet. A
couple of creek crossings and a small motocross track add to the challenges. The woods are broken up by some
higher-speed grass tracks, one of which includes an interesting jump at the top of a hill. The course was about 4 miles
long and was located on a farm property.
This former strip mine is a public riding area that hosts a hare scramble each year. There are two distinctly different
levels of terrain, one where the staging area is located, and a lower level below a ridge that cuts through the property.
On either of these levels, most of the terrain would be flat, if not for the parallel strips of dirt left by mining equipment.
It is in here that most of the tight trails are located. While the property is not large in terms of acreage, these leftover
strips, about 15 feet tall and covered in trees and brush, allow the trails to be run very close together. Open area on
the upper ridge allows for some high speed dirt tracks. A couple of lakes are bordered by soil that looks like nothing
will ever grow in it, and the course runs over this choppy ground. When muddy, water holes in the tight woods make
for challenging conditions. Overall, it's a fun place to ride.
Belleville Enduro Team (BET)
One word: CLAY. The BET club grounds are located on an old strip mine property that was never reclaimed. As with
most of Illinois, the property contains plenty of clay that is very slippery when wet. There are some sharp-edged rocks
in a few places, but most of the terrain is black clay. The strip mining activities left many ridges that the club uses in
various ways to challenge riders. Some of the ridges are approached straight into the face, so it's impossible to tell
what's on top as you ride up the ridge. Many of the ridges are so narrow at the top that if you're riding straight up the
face, you can expect an immediate drop (usually very steep) when you reach the top. The BET club is located about
20 miles from downtown St. Louis and is setup very well for spectators. Some of the ridges have been cleared, so
viewers can stand at various vantage points as the riders come in and out of the woods. When it rains, BET can be a
tough place to ride. Soft terrain tires are a must. Most of the trails are tight, and the club usually gets maximum
mileage out of the property. Hare scrambles courses are often 4-5 miles long. If it is wet, plan on spending lots of time
cleaning the clay off your bike.
Forest City Riders/WFO Promotions
The Forest City Riders and WFO Promotions teamed up in 2009 to resurrect the hare scramble at the Byron
Motorsports Park. This race had been a mainstay on the District 17 schedule, but due to the events of September 11,
2001, security issues at the next-door nuclear power plant prevented riding in the woods surrounding the motocross
track. The race course was relatively short, but the woods were tight enough to keep lap times in the 15-minute
range. Muddy conditions make the hills challenging, and ruts develop quickly. The motocross track is part of the
course, and it is a fast one with sweeping turns and relatively easy jumps. This is a fun, challenging place to race.
Lincoln Trail Motosports
More known for its motocross racing, Lincoln Trail is a Southern Illinois off-road property heavy on mud (when wet)
and dust (when dry). I've experienced the worst of both in the handful of races I've attended over the years. One of
the more interesting events in Illinois is staged here: The Cornstock 100. It's 100 miles or so of cross country racing
on a course that includes all parts of the property including the motocross track. There are many opportunities to race
here, as District 17 schedules a handful of hare scrambles at this location each year.
Just outside Moline is a small tract of land used in the WFO series of hare scrambles (also part of the D-17 schedule).
It's typical Illinois - muddy when wet and a short loop with many repetitions. A few short, steep hills are mixed within the
tightly spaced trees, and a creek flowing through the property makes for some interesting spectating. The soil is
somewhat loamy, but if damp, expect to see lots of it clinging to your bike after the race.
Little Egypt Off Road
I raced Crab Orchard for the first time in December 2000 under less than ideal conditions. Like most places in Illinois,
Crab Orchard is a tough place to ride after a rain. The grounds are now open to the public on weekends and the site
is on an old strip mine property. The ridges remind me of Belleville and Ottawa, and many of them are very steep. In
dry conditions, the hills are not much of a challenge, but the December 2000 race was very muddy and I had to make
a couple attempts at various hills. Other areas of the course had deep mud with riders struggling to un-stick
themselves. The trails are tight, but the Little Egypt club usually adds some grass tracks and often lays out fairly long
loops. My 2001 race at Crab Orchard was in perfect conditions and I enjoyed it very much until I broke my front brake
perch. Crab Orchard is open to the public on weekends. You do have to buy an annual Illinois off-road permit to ride,
plus the $12 gate fee. The AMA has taken note of this nice property and awarded a National Hare Scramble to the
Little Egypt club in past years. District 17 has also included this in its enduro series as a closed-course event.
Ron Whipple, the main man of WFO Promotions, knows how to get the most out of limited acres. The East Moline site
is very near the Quad Cities on a small piece of land with extremely tight woods. The terrain is similar to Colona, with
narrow trails inside the woods and fast grass tracks in open fields. The length of the course was fairly moderate but
the tight trails made for some challenging passes.
Splinter Creek Dirt Riders
The Splinter Creek club is about 80 acres of short, steep hills and plenty of clay. The well-traveled trails can be
extremely slick after a rain, especially where the ATV's have packed down the surface. The club puts on a couple of
hare scrambles each year and usually lays out a 4-5 mile loop. In dry conditions, the trails are fairly hard-packed, so
much that a soft terrain tire isn't really necessary. However, I learned in 1999 that it's better to be safe than sorry.
After a three-month drought, the rains decided to return during the September hare scramble and my Michelin M-12
rear tire was very ineffective. Unless conditions are very wet, the trails are ridable for everyone. But wet clay makes
racing difficult. Certain sections of the course are very tight, so speeds are generally moderate.
This area has hosted both hare scrambles and enduros at two separate locations near Geneseo. The hare scramble
venue was at a hog farm, while the enduro staging area is near a shooting range. The enduro usually includes the
land used in the hare scramble, which is relatively flat and tight. The woods around the enduro staging area are fairly
expansive, with about 12 miles or so of trails. These are also very tight and surprisingly hilly. I have ridden in good
and bad conditions here, and the good is very good; the bad can be pretty challenging.
This venue has been a regular stop on the District 17 hare scrambles series. In my early years of hare scrambling,
race promoter Dan “Link” Lingenfelter and the Central Illinois Dirt Riders club hosted many races here. With Link now
living in Missouri, WFO Promotions added this as a stop on its hare scrambles series. The terrain is filled with hills and
ravines and can get pretty muddy if it rains during the week before the race (it's Illinois...what do you expect). The
trails don't always "flow" well, and the ravines and tight, technical woods make for a challenging course. The course is
usually set up for 3-5 miles loops.
A new venue on the WFO Promotions regional hare scrambles series in 2006, Hooppole has a loamy surface that is
very enjoyable when dry. I happened to experience both sides of good and bad weather in 2006, and I can tell you
that driving rain was a whole lot less enjoyable than dry loam. Even so, the course was ridable when wet, although
challenging. A few sections of woods were very tight, but frequent high-speed passes through fields gave a nice
Forest City Riders M/C
The Forest City Riders M/C have hosted an enduro here for many years, and I finally had a chance to attempt it in
2006. The terrain is much like most you'll find in North-Central Illinois, with smooth dirt (or mud) and almost no rocks.
You won't find huge tracts of woods, but what's there is predictably tight. Since the event normally takes place in the
Spring, expect to find some damp or muddy conditions. In 2006, a wise decision was made to postpone the race for a
week because of rainy conditions, and it turned out to be nearly perfect the following Sunday. The staging area for
the enduro was at the old high school in Leaf River, which now serves as a community center.
Marietta is similar to White City in many ways. You either love it or hate it. At the 1999 enduro, and I only made it
through the 7-mile section on the property where hare scrambles are held (I had already houred out at that point).
With some very steep, long hills, Marietta is extremely difficult in wet conditions. But in dry or slightly moist conditions,
the place is very fun to ride. Laps are usually 5-7 miles and wind in and out of the Spoon River Valley. If you are
looking for a challenge, go race after they've had a couple inches of rain during the week. If you want a very fun ride,
wait until the area has been dry for a week.
United Offroad Racing
Morrison (Bike Barn)
Until the Last Man Standing came along, the Moose Run was universally recognized as the toughest race in the U.S.
For the average racer, it still is, because Last Man Standing is not really open to the average guy (probably for good
reason). Most years the peat bogs swallow bikes and the logs make the best racers look like amateurs. In my three
attempts at the Moose Run in 2005-07, two years saw conditions that were surprisingly mild, thanks to dry weather
leading up to the race. In 2007, the course was muddy and pretty much impossible for anyone below AA level. The
logs and off-camber hills are difficult enough when dry. With mud, the challenge is too much for most. The course is a
mix between wide open spaces along railroad tracks and waterways, and many miles of very tight woods. It will wear
you out, regardless how wet or dry the soil. Don't put new plastic or graphics on your bike before this race - waste of
Regular hare scrambles are also hosted here in the woods surrounding the Bike Barn. Honestly, I found it
uninteresting and basically a motocross race through very limited woods, peat whoops and open fields. ATV's are
very much at home here, and as such, when dusty it's downright dangerous.
United Offroad Racing
Morrison (Ryan's Farm)
I happened to ride the hare scramble here in 2006 in very wet conditions. Even so, the course held up fairly well.
Since it's a Bill Gusse race, expect to see tight woods and a few large logs. The largest log in '06 was about 5 feet off
the ground, and going under it was about as difficult as it would have been riding over it.
Dirt Riders, Inc.
The Oakley club is located along the Sangamon River near Decatur and offers typical Illinois tight woods and some
steep hills. Hare scrambles courses are usually 4-5 miles long and there are some open areas to add variety to the
woods sections. Rain can make the black dirt very slick and the hills challenging. The club has a small motocross
course that is usually part of the hare scrambles loop. Each year it seems that the jumps get bigger and bigger. This
venue holds sentimental value, as it was the site of my first race in 1994. It was also where I won my first trophy in
1996. Over the past few years, hare scrambles are mostly limited to an annual charity event in November.
Don't worry, there aren't buffalo here anymore. Actually, there isn't any riding here at all anymore, after the owners
sold the property. This was an old strip mine that was open to the public for riding off-road vehicles. As with most
abandoned strip mines, Buffalo Range had a series of ridges that ran parallel, with many different ways that the
promoters could have fun with them. In the area where silica sand was removed, a deep pit remains, full of sand so
white you'd think you were riding in snow. The property had a motocross track that was usually part of hare scrambles
courses. Many of the areas have slick clay, but the sand pit always added some variety. There's enough acreage to
get 5-mile loops at hare scrambles and they always routed the course through a cool section with rock stair-steps (a
nice waterfall was in that same area).
The Trumbo Farm used to be the site of an annual hare scramble hosted by Ottawa’s Variety Riders, until part of the
land was sold in 2006. Interstate 80 splints the farm, but the course accessed both sides of the property via the I-80
bridge over the Fox River and a very long, dark culvert. The woods were fantastic when the trails are dry: tight,
technical, and loamy. A couple of the creeks running through the property were used as trail and had a few decent
sized rocks; otherwise, the course was mostly smooth dirt. When wet, the trails were a challenge, just like any other in
United Offroad Racing
This hare scramble course is located near the Rock River and is an excellent location to hold an early season hare
scramble. Sandy soil holds up to moisture very well, and it's actually more fun to ride here when the ground is wet.
Woods are tight, but trails are often routed through wide access roads will get you into 5th gear. There's also a
motocross track near the staging area and plenty of sand.
South Fork Dirt Riders
This club was opened a few years ago and hosts hare scrambles. If you race here, be prepared for the fastest Illinois
race you'll ever experience. Woods are scarce but high speed, open “grass” tracks are plentiful. These tracks contain
blind jumps that can produce ugly surprises on the other side. If you like motocross, this is the place. If you like tight
woods, well...might want to try something else. The owners were trying to buy some adjoining land and expand the
property (not sure if this ever happened), so it may one day be a little more challenging. As usual in Illinois, the terrain
is heavy with clay and gets slick when wet. When dry, the surface gets pretty hard-packed.
Cahokia Creek Dirt Riders
I've raced here many times over the years, and I either love it or hate it. But even when I hate it, I still like it. As with
most of Illinois, the trails get very slick when it rains. White City happens to be located in one of the few places in
Illinois that have steep hills, so wet conditions virtually guarantee that every once in a while you'll need a couple tries
to get up a hill. When the soil has just a hint of moisture (or is dry), Cahokia Creek is a joy to ride. Nice,loamy, smooth
soil with hardly any rocks. Every year the club hosts a truly old-school enduro which takes riders throughout the
countryside around White City and Mount Olive. A couple of the toughest enduros I've ever attempted were here in
the early 2000's. In fact, for a variety or reasons, I've only finished the enduro one time.
The club property has several hundred acres and has been known to lay out 12 mile loops, the longest you'll find at
any Illinois hare scramble. The trails are fairly tight in places and the hills can be challenging. Expect to see plenty of
tree roots and some choppy ruts that develop during a race. The best part about Cahokia Creek is that there aren't
ATV's, so only motorcycles are shaping the trails. Soft terrain tires like the Dunlop 752 or the Michelin S-12 work well
Fox Valley Offroad
Fox Valley is a public riding area near Ottawa, operated by Gerhard “Wardy” Ward. Each year Wardy hosts a few
hare scrambles on the property as part of the District 17 series. Since the riding area is open to ATV's, most of the
trails are fairly wide. There is a small motocross track used in most races, as well as a rocky creek bed that the
motorcycles usually get to ride through. This short section is as close to Missouri-style riding as you'll find in Illinois,
but if that bothers you, don't worry because it won't last long. The rest is pure Illinois, hard packed when dry and slimy