Golden Eagle Enduro
Hosted by Stillwater Trail Riders, the 5th race in the Blackjack circuit (4th race for me) was in Stillwater, OK. Go Pokes!
I've ridden at the Stillwater 500 numerous times so I was comfortable with the terrain and location. Since it was only one hour from home, I was able to convince a couple local inmates to suffer with me and ride the event. Newner had a new-ish XR250 and Tomski74 joined me in the "650 Class" with a DRM650 (DR650 with RM front end). We call it the "Durm". Dirt2007 was supposed to join us, but he had a conflict. Of course, I would ride the KLR50. Tomski trailered with me in my van and Newner took his truck.
We made a humble camp among the toy haulers and RVs.
The Crowmobile Adventure Van made its second enduro trip. It was a hot weekend in late June and I didn't have the AC working in my van yet. Tomski and I got some funny looks on the highway. I guess they were in awe of our sweaty, shirtless physiques.
We stayed up a bit too late "pre-hydrating" and cooking performance-enhancing hot dogs. I managed to convince Tomski that sleeping on the trailer was a good idea. It sure looks comfy.
I brought my usual modest, pre-race breakfast- oatmeal, banana, juice, and espresso. So far, this has served me well.
Newner had other plans. He brought some of those Jimmy Dean microwave sausage, egg, and cheese croissants. I couldn't resist the offer. Bad decision.
We had the typical riders' meeting at 7am and we were pretty excited to race.
Looks like Tomski is cutting a fart.
Reminds me of OK State's football sideline play-calling.
Fresh as daisies at the start on row 21. Dirt2007 showed up on his 950SE and cheered for us. I charged him with taking some pics.
Dirt2007 made his way to an observation point for pics. I eluded the camera somehow, but here are Newner and Tomski on the course.
Misc. random shots. Gotta teach Rick how to focus my camera.
Unfortunately, neither Newner or Tomski was able to complete the short course and both bailed after the first loop. Newner developed some oil burning issues and it looked like he was riding a fog machine. It was a hot day (high of 99 degrees) and the heat was taking its toll on everyone, especially the 650 riders. Tomski called it quits after the first loop and a lone 650 persisted.
The course overall was firm and fast. They had rain a few days before the race and it was just enough to firm up the sandy clay and make for excellent traction.
The KLR performed like a champ and I had no real crashes to speak of. A few careless drops, but traction was perfect. Trail was only dusty in the sections with consistent sunlight, otherwise it was great. I was riding a gear up from what I normally can handle. I zeroed several sections and even passed a few people.
The Stillwater 500 is known for it's roller coaster sensation, as it has lots of sweeping banked turns with numerous elevation changes. They had quite a few course split options in this race where longer chicken lines were available. Of course, I can't be caught doing this sort of thing. I have a reputation.
Tackled ALL technical sections (instead of easy alternates). Some of those downhills were.
I just had to hold on and trust that I'd make it.
My eyes could tell a story here. You can see the redness of my face indicating that I was getting overheated. This was the last time the crew saw me for several hours.
Well, the heat got the best of me and I only I made it about 50+ miles out of 56 scheduled. I made it through 9 of 10 checks. Going into the 80-acre section (pictured above), I was really nauseous and light headed. I was sipping water and choking back the vomit. The 80 section was simple with no technical stuff, so I just slogged through at a relatively slow pace. I had to pull over one time and get off the bike (to separate myself from the heat source). I leaned against a tree (standing up) because I knew that if I lay down, I would definitely be through. Still no puke somehow. Maybe I'll make it. Meanwhile, I was passed by 6-10 riders as I gave them an extremely lazy "OK" sign with my fingers- not even looking up from the tree bark. I don't know how long I stood there like a drunk with wobbly legs. At some point I decided enough and I got back on the bike and continued my relentless crawl to the next check. This short section felt like it lasted forever. I was concentrating so hard on riding clean and slow giving myself pep talks as I went. Don't drop the bike because if you do, it will surely sap any remaining energy. Finally, the checkpoint. This ended in a brief jog on the county road to re-enter the 500 for the last section ~6 miles of easy terrain which I had already ridden once.
Stopped the bike in the road and stripped off some gear to sit in the shade. I was through. My body was completely spent, my brain was baked, and I likely was suffering from heat exhaustion. Any respectable corner man would have thrown in the towel on my behalf long ago. I must have been out of water at this point (I can't fully recall), because I begged a bottle of water from a spectator. I carry a 2L camelback and I top it up between loops. I generally drink a gatorade between loops, so it's likely that by this point, I had already consumed about 4L of fluids during the race, but it simply wasn't enough to cool me down. I made it half way through The bottle of water before I felt the most intense and violent vomiting of my life. Three times.
I later described it as the sensation of having my rib cage slowly cracked open at the sternum and pried apart. Then, in an instant, Bruce Lee punched me in my vulnerable, naked heart with a board-breaking jab.
An amazing volume of liquid was now soaking into the ground. It was shockingly painful and awe-inspiring at the same time. Unlike any vomit experience I have ever had. Now I was thinking I shouldn't have eaten that sausage egg croissant with breakfast. It was readily identifiable.
Eventually, I regained my composure and continued to sip water and sit in the shade. Spectators were long gone by now (they missed the puke show, thankfully). I really wanted to continue on the last 6 miles, but camp was SO close and I was fucking dying here. I took the short county road back to camp, turned in my incomplete scorecard, received my DNF, and went back to my shaded chair for some water (and a trip to the porta-john). I was still losing fluids... painfully. Meanwhile, Rick, Tom, and Brian were somewhere on the trail waiting for me to pass. I never did.
After an hour or more, they finally made it back to camp where I was still trying to replace fluids. I eventually recovered, but I certainly pushed myself way beyond the limits this time. Fortunately, it was just temporary discomfort and an epic story.
We finished 9th, 10th, and 11th in C-Vet out of 12 riders and I got 6th in Blackjack points.
Many thanks to Newner, Tomski, and Dirt2007 for sharing in the experience. Despite our collective trials, it was really fun and gratifying. Wish we could have trophied, but that isn't what really matters.
Here are some pics that Tomski took
And one from one of several "Pit Stops" on our way home. It was rough.
Up next... Lead Belt National Enduro
Strategery afoot and riding 9 different bikes in one weekend (none of which was mine)