Indian Nations Enduro (continued)
Loop 2 started strong. I had already gotten over the arm pump, hydration cravings, and general lack of conditioning (aka sucking wind) that the first loop had to offer. I was now energized and ready for loop 2.
Yes, I get passed a lot. But, it's a timekeeping event and you're really only racing yourself. On a slow, heavy bike, you better come to grips with that in a hurry. In my first enduro, I made the mistake of trying to keep up with other riders- using their speed as a motivator. This doesn't really work for me and I was pinballing off of trees and disabled my bike before the first check in the 2nd loop. I have to remind myself "slow and steady wins the race"- no matter how contradictory this sounds. Victory #1 has to be to have fun. Victory #2 is to finish the course. Victory #3 involves being competitive. If you focus on #3, you may miss out on #'s 1 and 2. If so, what's the point?
But even if you're riding with fun/finish as the end game, things can change with just one slip-up. That's what happened.
I don't really recall the exact circumstances, but I think it was a short straight leading into a flat "chicane" of trees. One which requires the bike to be upright and the trees are separated by not much more than handlebar width. This one was a left-right chicane and the trees were relatively small and sparse, though placed in all the wrong places for a quick entry/exit. I guess I was a bit too hot and took the left turn too wide. I had the balls of my feet on the pegs and my weight was forward (which pointed my toes down). I clipped a tree with my right boot and footpeg. I heard/felt an awful sound and the weight of bike and rider culminated at the junction of my foot and the tree. It was a small tree, but it was way bigger than my bones.
I stayed on the bike. Oh shit. I just broke my foot. Before I even have time to really process what happened, I come to a checkpoint. Inmate Fotobo marks my card and I murmur something about breaking my foot... onward I go. With trepidation.
I slowed down a bit (actually, a lot) and took stock of the situation. The pain isn't intense, let's try to wiggle some toes. Shit. At least two of them are accompanied by shooting pain- my big toe and 4th toe, I think. It was the little piggy that had "none" roast beef, IIRC. Just feels like roast beef now.
Now I have a decision. I've just started the 2nd loop and have made it through one check. I have no idea how many miles are left. I consider quitting. Well, "consider" doesn't really describe it. I basically slow down to a putt, and start weighing my options and what they would do to my ego and my future outlook. Example: Today is Sunday and I have X,Y,Z planned for Monday. I think I can get an x-ray tomorrow morning... shit like that.
Ok. Fuckit. I'm not quitting. Nor am I going to be competitive. This might not be fun (i.e. some pain), but at least I can try to finish. Ok that's the plan. In the meantime, I have basically been passed by EVERYONE.
What I quickly realized was that riding the bike wasn't really hindered much by the injury- just the dabbing of my right foot on the turns and to regain balance in the rocky or off-camber stuff. Ouch. Gotta slow down and ride clean.
So I did that for a LONG while. Like I said, I was already passed by nearly everyone, so I didn't see many other riders for a long time. I was running way late. Of course, any offroad rider knows that slower isn't always better. Some obstacles require momentum and speed. Well I met my match numerous times while turtling along. The worst one was one of those epic mud ruts that I alluded to earlier. It followed a left hand turn and the natural line leaving the turn plops you right in a deep, muddy rut. At the end of the rut is a cross root, which provides a natural "step". In the first loop, I made it through this with no hesitation. Well, ~150 riders hitting that rut 2x deepened it somewhat. As I entered the rut on loop 2 with a bum foot and travelling at 1/3 to 1/2 speed, it didn't work so well. I tried to pause and knew there was no getting out of the rut, so I gassed it hard. Front wheel popped over the rut and root got acquainted with the shock linkage and stopped the bike cold. That is when my nards got acquainted with the gas tank. Oh boy. No sooner than I got stuck and am limping off an impact to the nethers... more riders show up behind me... repeatedly... locked in to the same rutted line. It took me 3 tries to get the bike drug out of the rut and over the root. Nice. So much for riding clean.
Well the rooty rut was the toughest obstacle for me and I just kept riding. I resigned myself that it was a trail ride now, not a race. I made it to another checkpoint manned by inmate Dickosaurus and I implied that I was just in survival mode. He replies that "you still haven't houred-out" and that I was doing well. That's the great thing about doing this stupid shit on a KLR- the expectations are naturally low.
Anyhow, Dick's comments reminded me that I can still get DQ'd by going too slow. And my foot was feeling better by some miracle of nature. Am I just an uber-puss who has psyched himself into thinking I had a serious injury when all I had is a wittle boo-boo? When I take that boot off, I better see blood and mangled flesh!
Foot is feeling relatively ok, and I'm feeling more comfortable going faster. really, I only got it back up to about 3/4 speed in the last few sections. I'd capitalize on stretches where I knew I wouldn't need to dab my foot. I made up some time, but not without a few more crashes and tree impacts. I have a nice contusion on my forearm to show for it.
Well, I finally finished the enduro. Most everyone else was already sipping cold beers in the parking lot waiting for the sweep riders to clean up the wreckage. But I was victorious. I achieved goals #1 and 2.
I stuck around for the awards just to make certain that everyone else wasn't DQ'd or DNF'd resulting in a lone C Veteran champion/survivor, but that wasn't the case. I got 6th place out of at least 6 riders in my class , but there was an understandably large point gap between my 5th place enemy and myself. Aside from the foot thing, it would have been a potentially tight finish for 5th. At least, I'd like to imagine. I mashed my foot right before checkpoint #5.
Brett Kyle would later be regarded as "My Nemesis".
So I completed my 4th ever enduro on the KLR and finished the first one of the 2012 season. I eventually took my boot off to find no mangled flesh. A little blood and bruising, but no cool scars or compound fractures to make this psychosomatic injury a real one.
I swapped my sprockets, had a cold beer, packed up, and rode my KLR back home. I got the last laugh as I repeatedly passed all the trucks hauling trailers full of true offroad bikes. In the end, they ate my dust.
I think I had several 5-hr energy shots that day. Tough to drone along on the turnpike when you're completely spent from wrestling a pig for 4 hrs.
Fun shit as always. Three weeks till the next one.
Enduro #1 of 6 was in the books and I've now set the stage for the remainder of the season.
Next installment- Hardwood Hills Enduro.