Red River Enduro 2009
Last year I got a wild hair and I decided that I was going to race my dirt bike in the annual Red River Enduro Race in Bulcher, TX. Well, if you read my blog from last year you know how well that ended. Well, this year, I decided that I needed to redeem myself. I was going to finish! So I undertook the quest once again to race. Wow, what an adventure it was this year!
I have always wanted to compete in the “6 Days of Michigan” since I was a little kid with my first Honda XR200. There is nothing more fun then racing through the woods as fast as you can, going through the trails which are just wide enough for your handle bars to fit through, practically sitting on the gas tank to get better control and maneuverability. What a rush! Of course I am super competitive and I have to always be the best and fastest! We raced from start to finish, last one was a rotten egg.
So last year, when my parents finally moved to Texas, I convinced my dad to not sell my beloved dirt bike and bring it with him. Although it was close to 20 years since I rode it last, I was on cloud nine when it came home to me. It is a shame that I neglected one of the things I love to do the most for so long. Unfortunately when I moved to Texas in 1993, I could not bring my dirt bike with me. Life seemed to get busy for me and took it’s twists and turns and I never met anyone else interested in the sport. So I put it on the back burner, that was until my baby came home to pappa! As you read last year, I went nuts, buying all new gear in order to “look good”. I didn’t even make it 20 minutes into the race when I broke downa and ended up DNF because I didn’t have any parts to fix it.
So, a year has gone by and I have had this date on my calendar ever since. My plans of training, conditioning and getting ready to conquer this race was my mission. Ok my first goal was to fix the bike, I thought it was a tougher problem then it actually was, so of course I neglected it for about 6-months. I thought I needed a couple new parts and since I have a 1982 CR250R, they don’t make hardly any parts anymore. But after further review all I really needed was just a bolt. So I got it fixed and I let it sit in the garage some more. I joined a couple of online forums and I tried to find some friends to ride with. I really hate riding alone (so does everyone else, not sure why they assume I am going to break a leg or something), so I tried to find new riding buddies. But the Texas summer heat deterred several hopeful candidates and the rest of the time I couldn’t meet anyone to ride (it really sucks not having a truck to haul your bike around). Well it was safe to say that I only ended up practicing twice before the big day. But, I am pretty confident in myself and I had “No Worries.”
I remembered that last year everyone had camelbak’s on and I thought to myself, self, you need to have one of those. So this year, I went out and got one along with the fanny pack to hold the essentials, I forgot were necessary for riding.
- First aid kit
- Spare bolts (got me last year)
- zip ties
- duck tape
- electrical tape
So this is going to be my year! I am ready, I have all of the extra gear, tools, and heart! Once again I got up at the butt crack of dawn and headed to Bulcher, TX, home of the Red River Motorcycle Park. I am pumped, I aim to finish this year, that is my goal, I don’t care how I place, just as long as I finish. While standing in line I meet a couple of guys that end up being brothers, Britton and Winston. As we approach the registration window I convince them that we should ride as a group since they told me they “don’t ride much” and I figured at least I would know someone here and they would help look out for me. Well, I was half right!
So this year as I stated, I bought a camelbak, I was going to fill it with my PowerAid and hydrate myself and quench my thirst out on the trails. It was quite chilly on this particular morning, a bone chilling 45 degrees and by the start of the race it still was cool and I figured I wouldn’t need the camelbak yet, so I left it in the truck. Biggest mistake I made this year!
Ok so the race starts and we head out, 9 minutes later we hit check point one. What a rush! I didn’t fall or crash and I am only 20 seconds behind my group mates. They were hauling butt and I tried to stay in control and keep up at the same time. We get to the waiting area for us to begin the 2nd leg and I am pumped. Fist bumps and smiles all the way around. We waited about 10 minutes and then we were up for leg two. Off we went and that would be the last time I would see the Foster Brothers until they came back from checkpoint seven.
We head out into the great unknown, I pictured the course to be like what I had just encountered. But no, that was a warm up to get the blood pumping and bikes warmed up. For the next two and half hours, I went through hell. If you were to speak in downhill snow skiing terms, they label the hills or runs by a symbol and color. A green circle is the easy hill, followed by a blue square and a black diamond being the hardest. Well, this course was a black diamond, possibly a double black diamond! We went up and down hills filled with rocks (boulders), tree roots, and deep ruts. This had to be the hardest task physically I have ever under taken. I am sure that plenty of people quit and if I was not so darn stubborn, I may have quit myself. Honestly, it took every bit of my fortitude to keep going. The first hour or so I was on fire, just going through everything like no big deal. Then my conditioning or lack there of started to set in. When I crashed the first time, and no it was not some horrible over the handle bars type crash but a “damn!, I can not believe I just did that” type of crash! The sand monster got me. So by the time I picked the bike up and kicked it a couple of times, I was pretty much winded. But I forged on.
Here is where my knowledge of two-stroke engines dirt bikes and how to properly get the best out of them came to haunt me. When we got to the hellish hill climbs, these things were nasty, large rocks, straight up hill most of the time and just my luck that there would always be other people stalled or crashed when I get there. So I have to try to avoid running over someone and at the same time try to maintain my speed to get up the hill. Probably about 60% of the time I stalled out about 1/4 to 1/2 way up. So I either rolled back down the hill, fell over, or got stuck. Needless to say that it took endless amount of time kick starting, balancing, and trying again. At least four hills I can remember took me more than 3-4 tries to get up. One time one of the officials came and helped me push my bike up the hill. I know you maybe laughing right now, but that guy helped about 5 people while I was there. This has to be the single most energy draining part of the whole thing. I can remember breathing so hard, my chest protector felt like it was choking me like a python around my chest. Another time I wanted to throw up in my helmet! This is where the camelbak may have come in handy. Note to self, just wear the damn thing! I could have used the liquid to re-hydrate myself.
Ok, so last year I gave an exhausting play by-play account of my wonderful fifteen minutes. This year, I could go through all six check points, but I don’t want to have a 5000 word blog. So I felt as if I was riding for an eternity trying to reach the checkpoints. One by one I arrived only to find that I was to continue onward, no stopping. I ended up getting behind a father and son (about 13) and lucky me, either up every hill they were stopped or at the bottom they were crashed. I never caught a break, I couldn’t build up any momentum and I continued to stall out myself because of the slow speeds. I was glad to see however, I was not the only one exhausted from this. I remember after check point three, I asked how much further and I got “just around the corner” which ended up being over an hour and a half! So anyway, at this one hill the kid crashes and can’t get up and I stop and wait (unlike many of the other contestants who would just blow by and didn’t care about anyone). When I stopped there was another guy, his number was in the 60’s I remember and I thought to myself, wow, I don’t feel so bad, he started over 20 minutes before me and I caught him!!! (I was #89A) This guy had his elbows on his handle bars and looked at me as I was catching my breath and said “how much longer” like he was going to die. I laughed and said, “it should be just around the corner!”
I passed checkpoint four and five and thought I was doing so well. I guess I had lost track of all time and had no idea how long I had been out in the woods. I eventually had to stop for about 10-15 minutes and I just sat down and rested. I was just exhausted, dehydrated, and sweating my butt off. I thought for a minute of just taking a nap and forgetting the whole thing. I had no water, and I had not seen or heard anyone in quite a while. But the competitor in me would not let myself give up. My legs were so tired I could hardly lift them to kick start the motorcycle and at times barely enough to lift them back onto the pegs! So, I missed a turn and I ended up on this service road. Now guys with numbers in the top ten were catching up to me and I ran into these guys on the road and I asked them where the trail was (yes they were race marshals) and they told me that I was real close to check point six just go down the road, and I was like “no, I’ll go on the course” then I was politely notified that I was starting to get lapped and I timed out of the race. So I hung my head and headed to check point six. Yes indeed I had timed out I was told, they wouldn’t even give me a time. But they did have some fine quality H2O! I asked how far til camp and I was told about a mile on some easy trails. Yeah right like I am going to believe that.
So I am headed back to the truck, one last leg to go. It was actually the best riding I had encountered, some nice whoop-to-do’s and jumps. But I was too tired to stand on the pegs and try to do any worthwhile jumps. I motored my way back and I relief came over me as I headed back to the truck. I later learned that there was another loop (number 7) and it was projected as an hour and half to complete it. I was in shock, needless to say I was out on my loop so long that they were going to return within a half hour. So I waited and saw my group mates return. I was glad they actually finished in one piece.
What a ride, even though I didn’t get to complete the whole course, I was surprised at myself. I actually finished without breaking down or getting hurt. So, I technically had another DNF this year but I finished #27 out of 36 riders in my group (30+ Novice C, short course) and in the novice class over all I finished #132 out of 141 riders. Definitely something to build on for next year. I was also told that this was the hardest enduro course in the country, so that made me feel good, I was able to compete and almost conquer it.
I now have the 3rd weekend in October blocked off, if all goes well, I am going to retire my 82 pinger and get an up dated 2000 something model thumper. I am going to condition myself physically as my mental conditioning seems ok, and I am going to practice more and rock the Enduro 2010!