Lead Belt National Enduro, Park Hills, MO
The sixth race of the Blackjack Enduro Circuit was hosted by Missouri Mudders and was an AMA/Rekluse National Enduro. This was the big time. The national races are run, scored, and promoted by NEPG- National Enduro Promotions Group.
Well, what does this mean for a KLR rider? Well, at the mere thought of competing on this stage had me feeling like a deer in the headlights. That's where the strategy came into play.
So far in the curcuit, I've been slogging along. I haven't been winning races (in my class), but I'm being relatively competitive (considering my 400lb handicap). Going into the 6th race, I have a shot at a decent finish for the season.
Here's a brief recap of my BJEC scores:
White Rock - NA (didn't race)
Indian Nations - 5th (16pts)
Hardwood Hills - 1st (20pts)
Train Robbers - 3rd (18pts)
Golden Eagle - 4th (17pts)
Sub Total - Tied with my nemesis for 3rd place (71pts)
The current 2nd place rider had 75 pts and the 1st place rider had 99 pts (out of 100 max). *Remember that only 5 of 7 events are counted in your season score.
In a typical race, the C-veteran class is pretty small. The National Enduro was expected to draw nearly 500 riders, so I was betting the C-vet class would be way more competitive. Pretty poor outlook for a lowly KLR rider.
So I used this opportunity to work a race. In the club scoring, you can get first place points for working a race. It's called a "work average". Depending on the number of races in a circuit, you might be able to work one or more races to get points toward your season. I felt this was a strategic move. Of course, I could have ridden the race, but the likelihood of improving my season score was pretty slim.
My plan was to ride out to Park Hills on my street bike, camp, and work the race. It would be a nice trip to celebrate my 35th birthday. I had a scenic route picked out for the trip. As the clock ticked away, mother nature had a different idea. We were forecast for a storm of epic proportions.
I ditched the plan to ride and hitched a ride with inmate Crash217 from Tulsa to Park Hills. I was glad I did. The storm was as expected and tracked a nearly identical path that we were traveling along I-44. I've ridden in thunderstorms before and consider myself pretty tough, but no way in hell would I have made it through this storm. It was pretty terrifying in the cab of a 3/4 ton truck with hydroplaned/crashed vehicles littering the shoulders of the interstate. On Friday night, Park Hills received three inches of rain between 1700 and 2200 hrs.
Good thing the race wasn't until Sunday. The rain had crapped out at about the time we reached the pits, so we began drinking beer and made camp.
Saturday, I got to have some fun. KTM was having a demo day, so I brought all my gear to try out some dirt bikes. I rode everything they brought. The demo track was a few miles long and included some singletrack, grass track, sand, woops, and elevation. Plenty to break a sweat.
Like I mentioned, this race was a big one and drew factory teams from various manufacturers.
Here's the layout.
Our humble camp. Crash is riding a brand new KTM 250 with about 0.75 hrs on it.
I got my work assignment to help with a checkpoint on Sunday. Crash brought his YZ125 with us as well, so I got to travel around on that. We would later rendezvous with a dude to make a bike swap- the YZ for a trials bike. Counting both of these and his new KTM, I got to ride 12 different bikes over the weekend.
Here are some pics and videos from the race.
That's Crash (89B).
The last section had a pretty wicked series of drops in a creekbed. Fortunately, most of the rain runoff had subsided, but the puddles were still entertaining.
The kids you hear cheering "Don't STOP!" in the videos belonged to this attractive lady.
Some riders opted to bushwhack through the woods instead.
Crash showing good form.
The race weekend was great, but we decided to extend it through Monday. Crash needed to meet some colleagues to test run some scoring technology with MotoTally. We helped cut some trail at the site of the 2012 Ozark 100-Miler and got to test out some of the virgin singletrack. It whipped my butt.
Brian from MotoTally has a pretty slick setup. The testing went well, too. IIRC, he was able to read three transponder stickers in the order of their placement on a single helmet of a rider passing at 40mph. Damn slick.
In all, it was a great 35th birthday. Got to ride 12 bikes and my work average points pushed me into 2nd place for the season.
Up next, the LAST enduro of the season: Crosstimbers Enduro in OKC.