After doing a whole bunch of site seeing and just cruising to the race site I ended up getting there super early Thursday and was the only one there besides the NEPG crew. Went and said hi to Alan Randt’s Wife, found out where to park – on the pro pits… duh – and started getting set up. The KTM rig showed up a bit later and was driving in circles until they found where they wanted to be then started washing the semi as usual. Was able to walk around with Rowlee off the leash for a few days before people showed up.
My buddy Will Lyons from Kentucky who I met while working King of the Hammers showed up the next day. He is a videographer for the Learning Channel and Discovery and came from Kayaking and extreme stuff like that and recently started racing. He has only done 1 race ever and his buddy Jared Whitaker convinced him to stop in Wyoming to do the Enduro. Good idea right??? haha. So we BBQ’d, played Banjo, watched people slowly stream in and jut hung out relaxing, getting ready for the race.
THEN Jared from Kentucky showed up with his new wife Kathy. They had JUST gotten married Thursday and were on their Honeymoon and a stop at the National was part of the entire thing! That was definitely awesome. Both Jared and I were racing Vet A so I told him “I’m gonna beat your ass this weekend” and the crap talking between all of us commenced. Definitely the best kind of buddies around.
THEN Ian Reid, from Colorado showed up and it was an all out shit show after that! haha. We had such a good crew in our little corner of the “pro pit” it was awesome. Ian is an action sports photographer and I’m pretty sure is immortal because he has done SO many rad things in his life and has SOO many rad stories to tell and the list just keeps going on and on . He was at the event to shoot for Dirt Bike Magazine so he had some recon to do with the club and was off riding.
We had a grand ol’ BBQ Lunch and Tire Changing session Saturday before the event. Truly an amazing spread. Jared helped me change my tires to brand new Kenda Washougal II’s and the second time changing the “Tube Saddles” was definitely easier then the first but it is still challenging. I will get the hang of it one of these days! Went through sign up, had our spaghetti dinner hosted by the local Cub Scouts, ate with Jesse Groemm who told us all about how he is a Boilermaker in his regular life and then we started on final prep.
HAVE to mention the local that we named “Buck” who stopped by a few times to say hi. Kind of senile, kind of drunk, kind of hillarious. He told us all about the Benedite mud that was there. “Boy… that’s Benedite right there. You spit on it and step and you’ll bust your ass on the ground” this guy was absolutely classic and made us all laugh… ending with “welp… I’m bored. I’m gonna go home and beat ma dog.”
At about 2am Rowlee woke me up snoring so I went outside to pee and I saw it. A HUGE storm cell all around us. Lightning in the distance in every direction… and I thought “Crap”. I looked on my phone and sure enough I had just gotten a severe storm warning. Right then the sky just opened up and BAM we got 2-4 inches of rain and hail in the next hour. Ian was tenting it and had the Upton river running through his tent… man oh man did it pour and let me tell you I am NOT a mud rider! I was really looking forward to some dry and dusty conditions but not this time!
Got up early to start preparing for what was probably going to be the toughest race of my life… at the riders meeting they talked about how they had to change a bunch of the course because it was “unpassable” by the pilot rider Mike Lafferty. Oh man was I gettin’ a little nervous. The only nice part was the first test was the worst one so if you made it through that you would be okay.
Was all prepped and ready to start, had a few lovely ladies lined up to babysit Rowlee and even bring him to the Gas Pit 3 miles down the road and started at 9:14am on row 14. Just getting to the first test I was already muddy and wet and had a good close call on the 2 track road. Man this will be tough. After finding out who was in what class – another Vet A, a 55+ A and 2 C’s on my row – we got ready to start into the woods.
Once we got going I was 100% out riggers into the mud and trees and was last on my row right away… sweet. I was getting passed by everyone and their mother… Kailub Russell from 7 minutes back passed me way sooner then I expected along with Jared, Jubal Brown, Dustin Welcher and all the other guys we all talk crap together with… Mud is not my thing… BUT by the end of the test I didn’t crash and I had caught and passed everyone back on my row after they had crashed or slowed down. So I started to kind of get the hang of this mud thing. A little. After I likened it to deep sand it was a little easier in my head and I started to pick up the pace. By the 2nd test I was the fastest one on our row and they let me go ahead and do my thang.
At the beginning of each test we all spent 5-10 minutes trying to dig as much mud off our bikes as possible with sticks. I’ve never had so much mud packed on a bike EVER. It made for a very exhausting day with so much extra weight but I was having so much fun at this point I didn’t even care.
After the Gas Break, petting Rowlee, getting fresh goggles and gloves I was ready to roll again. KILLED the 4th test because it was part of test 1. Now it was all blue groove and fast as hell. No one caught me in this one so I just through I was lost! Kind of freaked out when I recognized it as test 1. Once I got to the end I asked the guys and they confirmed and I felt a lot better. Got to test 5 and they had thrown it out. It was impossible to ride through so they put us straight to test 6. WHICH was like an extreme enduro itself! The slipperiest, toughest rocks and waterfalls and creeks we rode down. Into one ravine then out, then back into the next then out… Russell Bobbit passed me right before the last gnarly rock section and promptly flipped over the bars separating his shouder. Hopped back up and kept going to finish 2nd overall! BEAST MODE! I just did my best to make it through, got wedged in all 3 rock formations wasting all kinds of time and energy and getting super muddy myself dragging the bike out. Got to the end and was more then happy we didn’t have another test after that.
After the 15 mile ride back to staging we all met up and took pictures of our muddy bikes and let the bench racing commence. Waited for Will who was on minute 74 to come in and make it even more fun! He actually did really well … “I made that last section ma bitch!” haha… we all high fived and I actually had a Celebratory beer with everyone. A local passed by offering up his pressure washer down the street and after scraping 10+ pounds of mud off the bikes we headed over and used the gnarliest washer I’ve ever held! The wand was like 8 ft long and it sounded like it was used to strip paint off a house! but it worked haha.
Checked out the results and Jared WHOMPED on all of us winning the Vet A class and finishing 25th overall!! Killed it! I finished 6th Vet A out of 12 and 79th overall. I was super stoked on the day – except that in WEST CHEC I need to finish inside the top 20 for any sort of points… Will finished 4th Vet B in his 2nd race ever! which was AMAZING!!!
Will fired up his propane stove and cooked up more spaghetti using our left over Brats in the sauce and we hunkered down and put on the Warriors to wrap up the night. Jared and Kathy headed back on the road for the rest of their Honeymoon and Jacob Rowland and his girlfriend (who watched Rowlee during the day) joined up for some classic cinema! Next morning Ian, Will and myself hit the Upton Diner for come breakfast and we all hit the road going our separate ways on separate road trips! Sounds like Will is gonna meet up again in Elkton for the Funky Chicken to do his 3rd race! haha.
Heading to Elkton, OR for the Funky Chicken Hare Scramble… Stopped in Bozeman, MT and Pasco, WA to stay at KOA’s and as usual they were all a blast… sounds like I’m riding with Rory Sullivan this afternoon in Oregon on some of his favorite trails then hitting the water front for some R&R… Should be a blast!
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