Well it's finally in the books, it is a long drawn out story which I wasn't even sure was ever going to happen, so grab a beverage and get comfy or scroll down and look at all the lame pictures before clicking onto something more interesting.
I've been riding since 2009ish and been racing and riding mountain and BMX bikes my whole life. Despite my relative inexperience I had a two wheeled head start and am a bit of a nutter. I've been putting off racing for years because honestly I don't really like going that fast and I don't like jumping. Smashing myself or my bike into logs, piles of rocks, and falling down the sides of mountains I'm perfectly fine with.
That being the case I entered Last Dog Standing in the expert class as I'm stupid, crazy, and had be cajoled into it by inmates cross-country and thump_co. About a month before I rode in Montrose with inmate enduro-ince, or "the -ince" on some pretty gnarly stuff and was feeling good.
Here is "The -ince" eyeing up a healthy slice of bike smashing suffer pie.
Driving back from that ride I started to feel extremely tired and achy. Not the kind of tired and achy a 28-year-old would feel after a hard days riding. I was getting sick.
I slept it off and went and rode a shorter local loop the next day, and felt pretty decent all day but that night it came back with a vengance. The next four days I had a high fever, whole body aches, and extreme fatigue. I still went into work every day as we had an important project to deliver and it wouldn't have happened without me.
The next weekend my buddy andrew came down to ride and i was still sick but less so, so I went out for a couple rides with him.
Me doing some log hoppin!
Andrew getting all splishy splashy
The second day I made a lot of mistakes and he commented "Man you are all over the place today." It was true and I knew it. This was about three weeks before LDS. The following tuesday I was having Margaritas in the back yard by the fire pit with my wonderful girlfriend and noticed I was stumbling like I'd drank ten of the things, not two. It kept getting worse, I wasn't physically sick anymore but my motor skills were going to shit. I normally ride my bike into work and that got down right hazerdous, I had to stop driving. A week later I arranged to work from home until I got better as the Dr thought it might be a couple of weeks for an inner ear thing to work itself out.
LDS came, and went. I was able to have cross-country use my entry. A month later I was having trouble talking, could only walk like someone 15 shots in, couldn't touch the end of my nose with my finger to save my life, and was referred to a neurologist and told it was bad. I pretty much thought it was over and the moments spent lying on the front porch in the sun under the russian olive in front of my house with the dogs and my girlfriend would be some of my last.
I went to the neurologist who put me through the gamut of tests and determined my inner ear was fine and I needed an MRI. Time to go in the tube. By the end of that week they had determined there was no tumors or visible cancers and a blood test had come up normal. I didn't know it at the time but a pattern had begun to emerge.
Still with the sober walking and talking abilities of a college freshman who is a handle deep into the nights shots I spent the next four weeks on the couch extremely thankful for netflix and in and out of the hospital.
MRI. Nothing. Blood Test. Nothing. MRI with contrast dye. Nothing. Spinal Tap. Nothing. Blood test sent to mayo clinic. Nothing.
The weeks drug into months like your bike does after it falls off the hitch carrier and you pull it nervously by the straps for the next hundred yards until you can fight your way through traffic to the side of the road. I put down seasons of sci-fi shows faster than a toddler drinks a juice box. Languishing all day in a dog hair filled couch I couldn't clean up. I wanted it to end, and certainly had the means, but knew it was just another obstacle I had to beat.
Three months after it all started I began to ride my mountain bike up and down the block. There were lots of very awkward slow crashes. I started going to physical therapy and learning to walk again. People said I sounded better on the phone and not like I'd spent another morning with the hair of the dog. Then I rode my bike around the block. Then I rode my bike to work. I stopped using a walker and started using a cane. Progress wasn't measured in days but in weeks and months and life still pretty much sucked. I was getting better but had no idea how much better I'd get.
I started riding my mountain bike on single track again going very slow and crashing often. I've stood the the top of podiums, have a collegiate conference gold medal for the one year I raced that, and here I was; riding at the level of a brand new beginner. It was frustrating as hell, but damn was it good to be out on the trail again.
Skip to about four months since it all started, and el doctors determined they had no clue what the fuck had happened to me but I was getting much better and it was probably some very unlucky virus which had been beaten by my immune system before they could turn my into a lab rat. Regardless, my noggin had been damaged and it took all that time to get pretty much every motor skill back, walking, talking, driving, typing, putting socks on, the works.
So fast forward to the beginning of September and the riding season is shot to shit and I am completely caught up on Star Trek, Star Gate, and Fringe. All of it. I was nervous to go ride a dirt bike out in the woods because there are things to drop them off and things to fall down. So I did what I figured was the more logical thing. I rode my 950 with a dead clutch around the neighborhood. About 20 Miles around the neighborhood.
S.T.L.R.B. with mineral oil all down her side.
It felt great. Not riding proficiently or safely great. Wind in my face, endless coasting, two wheels, and a healthy motor great.
I continued to ride my mountain bike and was getting to level where it was fun again. Time to ride a dirty bike.
Oh god damn yes. All the struggles I encountered riding a mountain bike were about 10% of the obstacle at this point on a dirt bike. Inmate thump_co had talked to me about doing the denver endurocross so I figured what better a celebration of my recent rise from shittyness than to make a fool of myself in front of a crowd.
I made lists and spread sheets. Riding my moto three times a week, my mtb 3 times a week and goind to the gym.
It was still hard, I still made a lot of mistakes, and was still functioning at around 95% Walking and standing still give me problems. Fortunately I've always been pretty clumsy so others don't really seem to notice.
Five days before the race I was going to go out for one last short testing ride to make sure some jetting changes I'd done felt good.
The bike felt great but the 5mph awkward slow crash into a recent rain rut caused this:
Shit. Shit. Shit. Shit.
The next day I called every dealer in the US I could think of. No one had a brake pedal I could overnight. Lesson Learned about riding oddball bikes in races.... Everyone I talked to on the phone was very helpful and sympatheitc to my cause. So props to Halls Cycles, Jim of Dual Sport Utah, and Doug of Dougs Kawasaki who offered to try and weld my pedal should I not be able to find a replacement. Finally I called Gunnison Motorsports and talked to the owner Fritz. He offered to take the pedal off a brand new 2013 Gasser 300 and sell it to me. I was so thrilled!
I had my hotel reservations, the friday before off, and a bunch of new stuff like tires and such I bought for LDS but obviously never used.
All I had to do was stop through Gunny on the way to Denver and everything would be set. Oh yeah, except for the most part I had no idea what I was doing.
Everything is ready to go!
So on Friday I drop off the dogs at my mom's hop in the car with the gf/mechanic, and hit the road in the season's first snow storm
We got the brake lever and pulled into Boulder, where we were staying, around 9pm. Ate some din and then hit the sack the next thing I know is this. Slept through the alarm, shit show engage.
We met my buddy andrew at the venue as he was riding in my class. Thump_co talked me into racing and then bailed with some lame excuse about bike problems so shame him when you see him post.
At the Western Center parking lot my mechanic/ wonderful girlfriend guards our fine euro steeds.
Andrew putting his numbers on.
Hell Yeah! Race time baby!
Scenic views. What adventure is complete without them?
A quick pose before the rider's meeting.
Well we wandered/scrambled around like idiots and managed to get registered, make the track walk, and get our kits on in time for the first practice.
The course, of course.
I was pretty nervous because it was my first race and I can't ride for beans at the moment, but overall felt fairly good. I lined up for the first practice and made it throught he first three obstacles without too much effort. Then came the log matrix. I got very stuck, as I did every lap, and it made me so tired everything else, which was pretty rideable, became very hard. I got stuck again in the rocks and again in the river rock turn. So in perfect newb fashion, I huffed and I puffed and I whiskey throttled my bike off the next non-obstical on the first lap of practice and broke my subframe to shit. Instead of stopping and watching some more experenced folks lines or getting my wits and breath back I put myself out of the race by breaking the ass off my bike.
Oh wait never mind, god gave us zip ties, electrical tape, and jb weld.
I was very thankful threw in a cordless drill "just in case" because I needed it. And the jumbo pack of zip ties!
I was also very thankful my wonderful girlfriend was along because she dove into the tool box and started patching shit back together.
Considering I got basically ten minutes of practice, two to four laps at best, before qualifying, and my bike was broken in half but held together with fifty cents worth of shit I felt like things were going pretty well. In my second practice I got stuck in the matrix on my second lap and some one ran into me from behind and really broke my broken rear end. Regardless, the dreaded stack of tires never even got me once!
I got the unholeshot in qualifying, which was good, because my bike made it to the second corner and..... just fucking died. I ran the battery down trying the e-starter, then kicked and kicked and kick until one of the course workers came over and started joking with me. It was actually pretty funny considering. After what felt like fifteen minutes I kicked and she fired, so I rode the next obstacle and the next course worker told me to pull off because the checkers were out. Hallelujah, I didn't have to ride the matrix!
I went back to the pits dejected, thinking my day was over. I met andrew who got 3rd, just one position shy of qualifying. He was actually riding really well the day I thought.
Andrew coming out of the rocks.
Andrew in the reever rocks
Andrew coming out of the reever rocks
Andrew blasting into rock mountain.
Well I talked to an AMA offical who said even though I DNF'd qualifying I still got to race LCQ. Being grouped with the worse was my best time at the race. I cleaned everything but the matrix, despite coming in dead last. Being that two months ago I was using a walker, and my bike was completely fucked I was very thrilled with how things went!
Rounding turn one in last place.
coming into turn two.
More turn two.
Jumping the big tire spine thing.
This is the obstacle I whisky throttled. It was the easiest bit of the course haha.
Cleaning the rocks
Hey, I'm not on the ground so things are going well right?
I could get half way through the matrix before getting epicly stuck.
Don't be fooled by the timing of this photo. I rolled the double every time
Rounding the last turn right before my completing a successful first race without injury, dismemberment, or death!
All in all it was a great experience and I learned a lot. Bike can be fixed and I definitely want to enter another endurocross. I hope to spend some time on a course similar to the one we rode and get an actual feel for it as I felt like every lap I got better and better. I maybe never "got it" but certainly reached the point where I could see myself a least finding the middle of the pack. Since I'm ridiculous I don't see to many hair scrambles or regular enduros in my future, but would lvoe to see what hard enduro is all about and race some more EX.
Honestly I'm just super thankful to be back on a bike.