To start, I want to say thanks to all of the folks who worked their butts off to put this event on. It was originally planned for Deer Flats, about 5 miles up the road and, more critically, abouit 1500 feet higher in elevation. We’re having a late, kinda crazy spring here in western Washington, and we had snow in the lowlands last week, and pretty much got snowed out of Deer Flats. But folks rallied around, and put on a great event.
Sunday morning dawns with typically spring weather for around here, maybe a bit chilly. 45 degrees and drizzling off and on. A quick bite, gather my lunch, coffee, etc.,
and i’m out the door. I’m driving the Rover today with the box trailer behind it, because when the weather is nasy, there’s nothing nicer than going into the trailer at lunch break, firing up the Kerosun heater, and getting truly thawed out. After an uneventful drive to Gold Bar, I pull off the pavement at Reiter Pit, and head for our riding area; holy potholes, batman, this road is really going to hell! Later I’ll see a competitor pull in driving a BMW 5-series sedan; I wonder how he got it up the road without ripping out one of it’s key organs?
Find a spot to park, untie the bike, but it’s drizzling, so I leave it in trailer, no sense getting soaked before I need to! Get my gear on, go say “Hi” to the familiar faces, and stretch out a bit. Go out and warm up, practice a few easy things and head back to the pits. Sign up, and have a bit of a discussion about group check vs. cross check. I grudgingly admit that the weather makes group checking a bit more attractive today, but regular readers know that I always ride worse during group check, so I’m not a huge fan. After some discussion, it is decided that we will cross check. So i get my assigned duties, and head out to my section. Section 6, I find it easily enough, and discover, in what would become a theme for the day, that it is long, I can just barely see the start gate from the end! A little bit of walking around reveals a good spot to observe from, which allows getting to the end gate to mark the riders card in only a few steps. Ah, my first rider, here comes Ted, almost always our first novice/intermediate rider, he just flys! He puts in a good ride, and motors on. Through the morning, I had a few fives (stalled motors mostly), one of which was an actual dismount from the machine. Front tire went this-a-way, rider went that-a-way. No injuries, so it’s all good. All in all, though everyone rode well, and most improved their scores as the morning progressed. It was great to see the new faces, as well, welcome everyone, hope to see you at another event soon.
Back to the pits, grab lunch, in this case beef stew and some french bread. Having a thermos that will keep stew or soup warm is really nice on these soggy 42 degree spring days. Change into some dry gear, gas the bike, and get ready to go. Oh, wait, tire pressures. Check them again, decide I’m happy with 4lbs in the front and 3lbs in the rear. That’s a bit lower than usual, but I figured traction was going be a bit scarce, and it seems like the Dunlop tire likes to run a bit lower pressure than the Michelin I used to use. We get our score cards and the riders meeting, and one of the Marshalls vaguely waves a hand and says ‘loop is yellow ribbon, and starts over there’. Find the section, and start figuring things out. This ones on a hill, predominately downhill, with some turns and climbs in it, and it ends with a series of tight turns
left 90, right 180, then right 90, over a set of tree roots and logs. I get a bit out of shape early, due to over-enthusiastic use of the front brake, and end up with a 3. Not bad, but I can do better. Back out on the loop and away we go. The next three are log and turn sections, I like the logs, but the turns are really tight. In #3, I take a planned dab early in the section and it works out pretty well. The small logs where the bark is gone are really slick though. Very delicate getting over them at any kind of angle. Working though the rest of the loop, mostly rock-jumble type sections. Things are really slick today, and for me, at least, it’s way too easy to pick up more speed than I can smoothly scrub off. I have been slowly coming to the realization that my bike may be too quick for my riding style, and maybe I need to do a bit more to slow down the initial hit off idle. I’ve changed to a slower throttle grip, but I’m thinking a gearing change or a small change in the ignition timing might be just the thing. We’ll see.
Finishing out the first loop, sections 8 and 9 are rock jumbles, and really tight turns; I struggle through both with 3’s. Then to section 10. This one deserves special mention, mostly due to the fact that it had two challenging climbs, and two downhill/dropoff obstacles that looked like they would generate fender-puckering fear. The entrance was tricky, over a rock then a log at 45-degrees, then some winding around over some logs, and up an S-shaped climb up the hill, and the last 6 – 8 feet are completely loose mud. I never got past this point, all day. 3 attempts, 3 fives. On the last one, I asked, humorously, the checker if I could yell a cuss-word? “I didn’t hear nothin”, sez he! When I was done venting my frustration, he asks “Is that going to be in the blog?”. Yes, Ted, it’s in the blog: F*CK! That said, I did notice from the posted scores that several folks got through it much better, and there were several cleans there on the day. A hearty ‘Nice job’ to those guys, that one was tough!
Anyway the next two loops went reasonably well, getting close to cleaning a couple of sections, improving my score in a few others, and completely floundering though a few. Just as I went out for the third loop, it started raining. By the time I got to #2 the third time, the logs had gotten really slick, expecially the big one right at the entrance, and my dreams of a clean there were washed away! I finished the trial with a decent loop, except for section 10, and headed back to the pits. Adding up the scores, I had to stop and do real math at one point, as I counted 17 ‘3’s on my score card! At that point in the day 3 times 17 was more than my wee brain could handle! That’s a ton of threes, with the upside that some of those coiuld have degenerated into ‘5’s, and the downside that some of them should have been ‘1’s or ‘2’s, but isn’t that how it always goes? Totalled up to 76 with 2 cleans, which I felt OK about, but didn’t really think it would put me in contention.
A bit later, as they are handing out the awards, I discover that 76 and 2 was good enough for 2nd place in advanced on that Sunday in April. wooT!
All in all, a fun day, and I’m really looking forward to the Columbia Cup. It will be in Goldendale, WA, May 3rd and 4th. Love to see you there!
Keep those feet up!