The Fool’s Trial, Gold Bar, WA April 6, 2008

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!


About the Author

Jim Harriger