Checking the weather forecast on saturday convince me to take the chance and leave my portable shelter at home: 10% chance of precipitation, highs in the upper 50s. If that actually held up, it would be one of the nicest riding days we’ve had in quite a while.
Sunday dawns way too early, and chilly: about 36 degrees at Black Dog Farm. Breakfast, coffee, put the last few things in the car (lunch cooler, wallet, phone, etc.) except for the water bottles to fit in my fanny pack. This omission will be important later.
Cinch the tie-downs on the bike down, and boogie northward. Only about 10 minutes behind planned departure time, should put me there right after 8 AM. Get up to the turn-off, expecting another 3 miles of dirt road, and whoa, here’s the whole gang, just parked right here in front of the gate. I park and ask why we’re down here and not up at our previous location, and I’m told that they don’t want street-licensed vehicles past the gate. Oh well.
I unload, check the bike over, and gear-up for a little warm up. There’s not much at the gate, so I head up the road a bit, finding a turn-out with some downed logs in it, and warm up. Second attempt over a 20″ log, the front end digs in and over the bars I go! and onto my backside on the soggy ground, to add sogginess to chagrin. Well, hopefully I’ve gotten *that* out of my system for the day! But no, 3 minutes later, drop the front wheel into the same hole, and over I go. Well, this is either good, in that I’m getting this out of my system, or this day is doomed to be a comedy routine from start to finish. I ride over the log a few more times, just to teach it a thing or two, and head back to the truck to get ready.
I get my punch, pack a hat, goodies, tools, etc. into my day-pack. Water, I should take some water.… Shit, where are my water bottles? at home, on the laundry room floor… oh well, I’ll deal with that later. Head up the road a couple of miles, and follow the rugged loop trail into the deep woods to Section #6. It’s right next to 5, so I have another observer to chat with when things are slow. Pretty straight-forward section, a climb and descent, followed by a couple of tight, tricky corners to the exit.
Most Novice and Intermediate competitors do well in my section, i punch lots of cleans, and only a few fives, a couple of folks lost the front end and sampled the dirt, and one gentleman forgot where the section went and ended up riding part of it backwards. oops, I hate it when that happens!
Around noon we’re done, head back to the pits to get ready for my turn. Now I must deal with the fact that my water bottles, which fit so nicely into my fanny-pack, were I also carry a few tools and spare levers, are sitting at home on the laundry room floor. Well, I decide i’ll just put my fanny pack and my gallon-sized water cooler in my day-pack, carry it up to section 1 and leave it there until I’m finished, and the retrieve it for the ride back down. Ok, that’s a plan, not a great one though: it means only having access to water once per loop, not optimal hydration.
Off to the riders meeting, get a quick run-down of where the sections are, and we’re off. Grab my pack and up to Section 1. A tricky section with a rock step, and a couple of diagonal log crossings near the end, depending on how you tackled it. I get into the section, and my perception is all off, I’m way behind the bike, and end up with a 3. Much of the first loop was like that, I only really started getting in the groove on the second loop. By the time the third loop started, I was feeling pretty confident and had really started to ride up to my abilities. My judgement however, remained at it’s historically lowish levels. I enter section 1 the third time, resolving to clean it this time: around the tree, over the rock, so far so good, up the chute, hey feelin’ good, right turn here and out.… front wheel starts to slide and instead of just taking the dab and escaping with my 1, I chase it with the throttle and wind up on my head! Cost me a 5, some bruises, a smashed finger, and (i would later find out) 3rd place! stoopid.
Overall, it was a well done event: good, well-marked, and challenging loop trail. Good sections withouit too many dangerous obstacles. Wish my riding had been up to the challenge. It seems obvious from looking at the scores that my problem is practice and being ready to ride. As I get ‘back in the groove’, my scores go down every loop. Seems clear that I need more practice. Now to develop the discipline to do it!
On an administrative note, this is the last event report you’ll be seeing here for a while. In celebration of achieving ‘a certain age’, I have taking 4 weeks off in May and travelling around the western states on my KTM 950. I’ll be using this space to chronicle my preparations and progress as I go. Universe willing, I should be able to make at least one day of the PST round of the PNTA championship, in early June. Watch this space!
keep those feet up!