|June 10, 2001
Crab Orchard, Illinois
The Little Egypt guys really know how to put on a race. Lay out one of the longest loops an Illinois hare
scramble has ever seen, and make it tight. Add a few sections of grass track, keep the rain away, and you've
got an incredible course.
But to enjoy all that the course has to offer, you have to ride smart. I made a silly mistake that ended my day
early and set me back a few bucks, but I'll get to that later. Before the race I walked a small portion of the
12-mile course and got back to the staging area just in time to see the emergency helicopter land in a grassy
area smack in the center of 200 or so parked cars and trucks. They don't land those things in real life the
way they do in Arnold Schwarzenegger movies. This one came in low and slow and right over about 10
pop-up canopies, which are not exactly designed for the 100 mph winds kicked up by a 30-foot propeller.
Only three bikes raced in the Open B class, and at the start the other two guys jumped out ahead and I never
saw them again. Was I really that slow? The results would later show that the class winner placed 9th
overall, out of 130 bikes. So a Pro rider decided to race the Open B class...bet that was a satisfying victory,
friggin' sandbagger. The first lap was fairly uneventful as I tried to remember how to ride in tight woods.
Crab Orchard is an old strip mine, so there are some steep ridges, often in series, that we climbed and
descended over and over again. With 12 miles of tight woods, lap times were fairly long. I completed my first
lap in about 40 minutes and was halfway into the second lap when I slowed down for a gully, applied the
front brake as the front wheel dipped into the gully at an angle. The wheel came to a quick stop at the bottom
of the gully, causing the motorcycle and I to do an Olympic-style somersault (judges score: 2.35 with no style
points). As the back end of the bike began its "death flip" I had visions of White City in 1999. Only this time it
was all in slow motion. While lying on my back in the bottom of the gully, I had time to give the back end of
the bike a swift kick that deflected it away from my rib cage. Bodily harm averted...the gods were smiling
down on me. I picked up the bike and began to start the engine, but the brake lever assembly had rotated
down around the handlebars. As I smacked it back up into position, I saw that the clamp holding the brake
assembly to the bars was missing. The brake assembly was still attached to the bars (barely), but the lever
was pretty much useless. I finished my lap with no front brake, riding a nice C-class pace. At the scoring
tent, the white flag was out and I actually considered finishing the race, but then decided not to risk getting
hurt on some of the steep downhills.
Back at the truck, I discovered that the throttle housing had also broken during my 2 mph crash. I called it a
day, drove home and searched for motorcycle parts on the internet.
June 24, 2001
3rd of 11 in Open B Class (trophy)
The KaTooMer bike maintenance (or lack thereof) program struck again. On Saturday, after spending an
unbelievable amount of time tweaking the brake lever clamp and new throttle to fit properly, I discovered
during a tire change that my rear wheel bearings were failing badly. Naturally I had no 6005 bearings in my
extensive inventory of useless bike parts, so I figured what the hell, I could get one last race on the bad
bearings and then replace them. When I arrived at Matt's place at about 7:00 a.m., he took a half-second
look at the wobbly wheel and described the disastrous consequences of riding on bad bearings. So rather
than risk destroying my fancy-dancy Talon hub, we pulled out the old bearings and put in Matt's two spares.
One minor problem, though: the Talon hub uses three bearings. I carefully evaluated the alternatives, which
consisted of: a) put in two new bearings and leave in a crappy one; and b) ride on bad bearings and buy a
new $250 hub. Took me about half a second to figure that one out, and 30 minutes later we were ready to go.
So I had already been a pain in Matt's ass first thing in the morning, but that would only increase as the day
went on. The drive to Marshfield is long, but I figured we would shave some time by cutting off 15 or 20 miles
on 2-lane roads to the race site. O.K., so the map sucked. We got there, alright? Too late to do a practice
lap, but hey, how much does practice really help anyway? At least the line for signup was short.
The word from the riders who did the practice lap was that the course was very tight, a bit damp, and full of
logs. Perfect. Off the start I was about 5th and quickly moved into 4th, with Matt somewhere behind. I
followed the guy in front of me for several miles before he bobbled and I got around. After that, I didn't have
much company for the next couple of laps, except for an occasional pass by a faster B rider in one of the
classes behind me. The first few miles of the course were extremely tight and muddy, actually rivaling the
Roselawn enduro. Many of the logs were a foot or more in diameter and at an angle to the trail. On the
second lap I came around a corner and saw one of those logs too late and did a nice get-off. Somewhere in
that lap, some tree branches grabbed at my goggles hard enough to rip out my brand new roll-off's, leaving a
long streamer trail of roll-off tape. I finally took off the goggles on the third lap.
I never did see the lead guys in the Pro class pass me, which usually happens about 2/3 of the way into the
race. I did see an unfortunate rider in the women's class drop her bike down a ravine. With the exception of
my single crash, I rode fairly well and completed 4 laps. Matt did three laps and already had his bike loaded
up before I got back to the truck. He wanted to go home right away but I made him wait until the results were
posted. With my third place finish, I earned a trophy and made him wait another half-hour through the protest
period, then made him wait some more while the trophies were distributed. Man, was I ever a pain in the
|2001 Race Reports