Train Robbers Enduro (continued)
I wasn't keeping a good enough pace in the second loop. The woods were just too tight and I just wasn't man enough to push the bike to higher speeds given the terrain. I was super fatigued.
In my last installment above, I alluded to a less than positive experience which soured the event for me. No, it wasn't a crash, injury, or otherwise. At the riders' meeting that morning, the club outlined the details of the course, checks, and whatnot. They mentioned one rule that would later bite me in the ass. They said that if you hour-out at a check your race is over.
This happened to me. I'm certainly not whining about it, well maybe a little bit, but that isn't the rub. Yes, I was late to the check. I don't recall how late because they refused to mark my card, but I know for a fact that I was just barely late. The "Hour-out" status is easily determined in the digital scoring process after the race. It was no mystery that I was houred-out. They could have just marked my card and let me finish the 2nd loop like everyone else. But no, their policy was to close the check at 1 hr and hold hostage anyone that came to the check late. Again, this kind of sucked, but it was their club, their rules, and their race. I understand.
That still isn't what ruined my day. I swallowed my pride and was told to wait at the next road crossing while the check crew disassembled their gear. After that, I would be led back to camp.
So I waited. They didn't seem to show any concern for who I was or why I was late. Never asked if I was doing OK, needed any water, or had crashed or anything. Sort of non-typical, really. I wasn't looking for attention, but when I was replaying the day's events later, this struck me as a bit odd.
And I waited some more. It probably wasn't really that long of a wait, but plenty of time for me to get off the bike and shed some gear. I was waiting at a crossroads in the forest next to the check. The check crew had gathered up their stuff and was heading out, so now we were free to go. Another racer and myself were directed to follow a course worker (geared up and on a bike) back to camp. The check crew was in a pickup. Our leader said "Let's go" and we scrambled to gear up and depart. I was 3rd/last in line. Again, nobody asked me if my bike or body were capable. Our leader just hauled ass. I can only assume that the other rider was keeping up with him because there was nothing but dust in front of me. Again, the conditions were dry and hot- even moreso on the forest roads. I stopped to put on my goggles so I could follow and it wasn't long before I came to a split in the road. No evidence of which way they went. Nobody waiting there to make sure I was following (you know, basic ride leader etiquette...).
It wasn't long before I was fucking lost. Occasionally, I would find course arrows which I could only assume led me back to camp. These were on forest roads, afterall. But it just never made sense. I stopped at every split to really examine the intersections for burnouts or other signs that I should be going one way or another. This wasn't helping. If they are looking for me, I'm now a moving target. That isn't wise, so I back-tracked. As I approached the original crossroads location where I waited at the check, I really hoped I'd encounter the pickup truck or anyone that could guide me back. No dice. So I waited there for about 10 minutes. I hoped someone might come back for me. Nope. In all, I made several attempts to retrace our path thinking maybe I missed an obvious turn or something. No luck. I wandered around in the forest within the general area for about an hour. Meanwhile, I'm beginning to fume. Why the fuck would someone leave me out here? If I was 2 minutes earlier to the check, I'd have been done with the race and relaxing by now. Instead, I'm bumbling around in an endless forest with no clue how to get back.
Obviously nobody is looking for me at this point. They simply don't give a shit that they started with two bikes behind them, but ended with one.
I continued wandering around the forest in the general vicinity of where I started. It was a maze of roads. Fortune shined upon me as I was heading back to the check area and passed a course worker. He looks familiar. Yep, it's Jeff Gaston (inmate JGAS aka Jeffro). My mood just brightened a bit. One of my first singletrack forays since I moved back to OK in 2008 was with Jeffro and others at Brock Creek in NW Arkansas. We did unspeakable things to my KLR that weekend, but it was amazing fun.
I explain my predicament to Jeffro and ask if he can lead me back to camp. He didn't seem to surprised that I got left behind and we made haste back to camp so he could continue his sweep work. I didn't see him again after that, but I owe him one. Thanks, Jeffro.
Back at camp, I head over to the scoring trailer and turned in my incomplete card. I houred-out at check 6 of 8. I explained to the scoring chairman (inmate BMeador) how I got left in the forest and oddly, there was a general consensus in the area that "they like to do that shit." Lame.
Just to add a bit of insult to the whole thing, I saw the check worker later that afternoon and with a wise-ass grin on his face, he smirked, "So I guess you found your way back, huh?" Prick.
Anyhow, I'll digress from my sorry ass experience at Train Robbers. Like I said before, this was really my only regrettable moment in the whole circuit and it was simply due to the poor decisions and attitude of a single courseworker. It won't sour my overall experience with Train Robbers or Blackjack, but I definitely wanted to share it here.
When all the scores were tabulated, I ended with a 5th place finish out of 9 riders in my class (and 4th within BJEC). It pays to have a small class sometimes.
Up next... Golden Eagle Enduro, Stillwater, OK
This one is not to be missed...