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!