Event Report: Walker Valley, October 3, 2010

Anoth­er Sun­day in the Pacif­ic North­west, it looks like so many of it’s brethren, damp, over­cast, and dark. But it’s not rain­ing, so it’s not as bad as it could be. I put the rest of my gear (cof­fee, lunch, the few near­ly for­got­ten items) in the truck, snug down the tie downs on the bike, and head for Walk­er Val­ley ORV. Today is our last offi­cial club event of the year; our sched­ule hav­ing been abbre­vi­at­ed by our dif­fi­cul­ties in get­ting per­mits and per­mis­sion to hold events in the region. 

90 min­utes finds me pulling into the park­ing area, find­ing about 15 – 20 folks already there, unload­ing, bull­shit­ting, get­ting ready, ya know: the stuff rid­ers do when they’re get­ting ready to ride! I sign up for the Advanced class and get the bike ready, tak­ing a few min­utes to put a few neces­si­ties into a day pack: extra water, snack bars, ener­gy goo, and a liter of extra pre­mix. Our loop today will take us 3.5 miles up the moun­tain, through three loops of sec­tions, and back down to the park­ing area. We have per­mis­sion to ride, but not to park up there, appar­ent­ly. Gary, the co-mar­shall today, tells me that we’ll be doing group check, so I want to make sure I have every­thing I need with me, don’t want to be a drag on my rid­ing buddies.

Head­ing out for a bit of prac­tice, I note that my left knee is com­plain­ing on mod­er­ate bend­ing under load. Hmm, not too good, I’ll have to be care­full of that today. Oth­er than that, things felt good, if a bit rusty. I head back to the truck, top the fuel tank up to the very top, and go look­ing for my lit­tle pill box that has the sodi­um naprox­en and ibupro­fen in it. Rum­mage, Rum­mage, Rum­mage, crap! left it at home. At that moment, they sig­nal the rid­ers meet­ing. Oh well, i’ll sponge some off of some­one lat­er. We get our instruc­tions, find our groups, mud­dle around for a few min­utes when one of our num­ber arrives a bit late, and head up the mountain. 

A pleas­ant mean­der up the moun­tain finds us at sec­tion 1: a twisty, tech­ni­cal lit­tle job­bie with a tru­ly unfor­tu­nate­ly placed 24” high stump right after a sharp uphill right hand u‑turn. That pret­ty much set the tone for the day: Not a lot of awe-inspir­ing obsta­cles for the Advanced class (a few expert lines looked a bit more, er, puck­er-induc­ing), but tight turns and tricky obsta­cles strung togeth­er. Sec­tion 6 was a bit of an excep­tion to that, more lat­er. I strug­gled get­ting my rhythm for most of the first loop, then start­ed to loosen up a bit. My knee was still com­plain­ing, but it turned out that walk­ing the sec­tions was the hard­est part, after the first loop, when we cut down on the stum­bling around, it felt bet­ter. I was still very care­ful not to stress it lat­er­al­ly at all, but it didn’t hin­der me too much. 

And then there was sec­tion 6: We’ve all seen then “over the log, turn, over the log again, turn, over the log…” sec­tions, often with some oth­er lit­tle gim­mick throw in: water, rocks, mud, you name it. Well this sec­tion didn’t rely on any gim­micks: the log is the thing. around 48” in diam­e­ter and a cou­ple of tricky approach­es, oh, and yes, here an added twist: an absolute root-infest­ed off-cam­ber climb to the exit. Many of us found our attempts to scale the log sum­mar­i­ly reject­ed mul­ti­ple times, In one observed case, plug­ging the exhaust of the bike ques­tion so tight­ly that the bike wouldn’t start! many egos, and a few fend­ers were abused in that sec­tion. I final­ly man­aged to strug­gle through with a ‘3’ on my last attempt, and was ecsta­t­ic with that!

We final­ly get the sec­tions fin­ished, with only a mod­er­ate num­ber of cuts, bruis­es, and com­plete­ly cramped fore­arms, gath­er our packs and head down the moun­tain. I’ve been keep­ing an eye on fuel in my bike, and knew I’d be close to get­ting back to camp. Sure enough, about ½ mile from the pits, bwaaaaaaaaaaaa…. urp. I fum­ble for reserve, get it run­ning, and wob­ble in. Count­ing the score tells the tale: a rough event: 82 points with only 3 cleans on the day. But it was good enough for 3rd, and only 3 points off of 2nd (which makes the last ‘5’ in Sec­tion 10, from just a bit too much front brake on a easy part of the sec­tion, real­ly annoy­ing. I was on a clean, which would’ve giv­en me 2nd place clean­ly!) oh well, that’s the way it goes.

Thanks to Gary and Jon for all their work, as well as the efforts of oth­er club mem­bers to get us per­mis­sion to use this area. It was a cool event, thanks!


About the Author

Jim Harriger