Saturday, November 15, 2008
The first paragraph contains the following words:
"This is not the kind of bike you're going to ride in the average bike-killing NETRA turkey run, or definitely not in an enduro. The WR250R is not made for that kind of riding."
They do back-off that comment a little by stating: "At least it's not made for it right out of the box."
I know that my Sparkplug Enduro experience wasn't very successful but it had almost entirely to do with my lack of conditioning and skill as opposed to the WR's capabilities. The mere fact that I finished The Black Bear Enduro on a mostly stock, (the only mods I've done are add accessories like handguards, etc...), WR250R tells me that this bike is more than capable of riding in these events. Just imagine if I was an "A" or "B" class rider and had put a trials bike tire on the back and a decent front tire on. I'll bet the results would've surprised a lot of people.
I wouldn't argue that it's as good as the KTMs or Huskys or the other bikes that are specifically designed for that type of riding, but in my opinion the WR is more than capable for riding these types of rides and doing so without a bunch of modifications.
If any WR250R owners out there ever read this, let me know what your thoughts are. I'd love to see if I'm the only one who feels this way. Shoot me an email if you like.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
1. Don't get significantly injured
Here's a picture of me taken by one of the CFMC members during the 2008 Black Bear Enduro
At this point I'm going to skip past a few miles for the sake of time... just imagine a lot of slippery rocks and tree roots, mud, water and anything else you might imagine that you wouldn't want to see while riding a dirt bike.
Mile 42ish: Less than a minute after I leave Checkpoint 8, I just started to get a second wind and was feeling more and more confident about my ability to finish this ride and not hour out... when "Oh $*^!"...... I either wasn't paying attention or just misread the trail but I found myself topping a small crest that then had a descending right hand turn. If you failed to make the turn, you would find yourself running head-on into a large tree. This is essentially what happened to me. I knew immediately that there was no way I was going to avoid hitting the tree and I also knew for sure that this one was going to hurt, a lot. I hit it hard and found myself airborne and then tumbling down the trail. I was able to get up fairly quickly and about the only pain I felt was that my left wrist was throbbing a bit. I figured it was probably a sprain and if it didn't get worse in the next couple minutes, I should be ok. I made my way up to my bike and I could hear riders approaching. I was concerned that they wouldn't see me or my bike that was laying halfway on the trail because of the blind corner. I got up to the bike and was able to wave my arms to warn the upcoming rider and he stopped. He didn't ask if I needed help but he did say 'sorry' as he rode by. I really wasn't sure if I needed help or not yet but it seemed to be something I could handle without assistance. Then I saw my bike. I drug it back onto the trail and then rolled it off to one side to assess the damage. The first thing I noticed was that both of my Zeta handguards were pointed nearly straight up. After closer inspection, it became apparent that the handlebars actually rotated inside the clamps about 60 degrees. Maybe that's why my wrists were now so sore? It seemed to be nearly impossible to operate the clutch or the brake lever. I attempted to rotate the bars back to the original position but the combination of sore wrists, general fatigue and the factory tightened bar clamps, I was unable to budge the bars at all. This is where the wrenches I talked about earlier come into play. I removed my helmet, gloves and backpack. I dug out the 10mm and got to work. Before too long I had the bars back to a usable condition and the Zeta handguards were back to the guarding position. I did a quick overall check of the rest of the bike and it appeared to not be in too bad of shape. The forks seemed straight and the fender was still in one piece. I thought I'd see if it still ran and amazingly enough, it fired up right away. I got all my wet crap back on and got back on the horse.
After that crash, I definitely felt a bit more tentative. I wasn't as concerned about the pain of an injury as I was about missing work. With the upcoming layoffs at my airline, I really need to work while I can until I can find another job. So I was taking it a bit easier at this point. One thing about this though is that I find if you ride scared, I think you're actually more apt to crash again. You have to have a certain amount of an aggressive attitude toward certain obstacles to successfully traverse them. If you try to "pansy" your way over them, you're just going to crash again. It's a fine line.
As the minutes zipped by my confidence was returning. I had no idea where I stood as far as the pace but I was pretty sure I was more than an hour late to the next checkpoint. At least I knew I could finish the course though.
Somewhere near the end of the ride there was probably the most dangerous section of the entire course. It was not even really a trail. It was a very steep descent through a bunch of trees but it was very soft ground and no place to really stop if you needed to. If you were to lose control you'd defintely be careening headlong down the 30% grade until you smashed into tree. The difficulty of the section wasn't too terribly bad but since it was getting toward the end of the ride, the fatigue factor played a huge part in whether or not one would make it or not. I actually found that if I shut the motor off and just let the compression act as a brake, it worked better and I was able to reach the bottom without dying. Crisis averted.
A few more miles go by and eventually I get to another checkpoint, the guy tells me that it's the last one and to just take it easy and follow the arrows back to the staging area. I don't recall the time that was written down but I do believe that is was less than an hour late. I couldn't believe it, I actually finished the course without "houring out". It wasn't pretty but with two major delays, including a fairly big crash, I was surprised to have actually done it. This was a big accomplishment for me personally and no matter what the times were, I was happy to have just survived the ordeal in one piece.
After getting to the "end", I still had a few miles to go just to make it back to the truck. I followed the trail with a sense of satisfaction and I just putt-putted along at a slow pace. I was a little dismayed, however, at the difficulty of some of the trail that was left. While it wasn't any more difficult then any of the stuff I'd just been through, I was mentally "done" with it all. I just wanted it to be over and I wondered why they didn't just pave a nice freeway back to the staging area?
I finally made it back to the parking area and as I got there, there was a final "checkpoint" where they took your time card and said "congrats". As the guy removed my card he noticed that it said "Sportsman" and he indicated to me that this was the hardest class, NOT the easiest like I had requested. He said that I should've been in one of the "C" classes and I asked that if it could be changed. He said "no"... so I left. I wasn't really upset because I was still pretty satisfied about just finishing and I really didn't have any delusions about finishing high in the daily rankings. I still don't have my final times/scores but just finishing was my goal so I'm happy.
(Update: I got some clarification on the classes and the sportsman class is actually NEITHER the hardest, or the easiest. It's just a recreational class where any level rider can enter and just ride it for fun. There were 9 riders in the sportsman class this race and it appears from the scores posted that 2 of them were excellent riders and the rest were closer to my skill level.)
I got back to the SUV & trailer, I took off all the soaking wet gear and put on some dry clothes. I ate a sandwich, drank a Rockstar coffee drink and generally just plopped down in the back of the SUV. I eventually mustered up enough energy to load the bike on the trailer and get everthing else loaded up in the car and headed toward home. I remembered to grab my small, half empty gas can from the staging area and got on the road.
On my way home I called my wife to give her a quick run-down of my day and to make sure that there was plenty of hot water available for a long soak...
(As I type this, it's now been 4 days since the event. I was very sore all over until this morning. My muscles seem to have mostly recovered but I've now got a constant sharp pain in one of my wrists. I am getting xrays later today so maybe I'll find out what it's all about.)
Update: Just got back from the doctor's office and after performing the well known "Finklestein's test", the doctor determined that I have not broken any bones in my wrist but instead have what is called "de Quervain's disease". Basically it's a fancy way of saying that one of the tendons in my wrist is strained and needs to rest for a few days and should be fine. This is good news as far as I'm concerned.
I hope you all enjoyed this ride report.
Another update... The CFMC just posted the results for the event. I finished 4th out of 9 riders in my class. I had 176 points which isn't very good, but I didn't get a DNF so I'm happy!