This past weekend was a busy one for me. Saturday was the Spring into Summer Duathlon. Sunday was a nice MTB out at Landahl with the family and most of Cow Town. It was nice riding with everyone even on those crazy 10 and 11 trails. Who's idea was that anyway to go ride them :-)
After the ride I took a little time and worked on the ole' KTM 300. I changed the spark plug, repacked the silencer and changed the pre-mix to 50-1. This really helped a lot and the beast actually ran well enough for me to head to the Walter's Ranch Hare Scrambles on Monday. It was advertised to "separate the skilled from the fast!" and the guaranteed no muddy bottle necks.
I arrived around 10:00 am at Walter's Ranch ready for a fun day of riding without having to pedal. I parked under an old oak tree and quickly went to sign up. I found my registration card which had a note attached to it. It read " You need to move to the 600 class. You may even be fast enough for the 400 class". Dang, first Zoolander calls me a sandbagger for racing the short course on Saturday, now after one Hare Scrambles they want to "cat me up". I thought this was kind of funny and moved up to the Vet class for this event. I thought about just entering the B class or even the A class (I will explain this later), but I still need to get used to riding a motorcycle again. Especially in the woods. It sure is not like riding a mountain bike. On a motocross track I feel comfortable after a couple laps, but that is not happening in the woods.
The course was advertised as 10 miles long with technical features. It sure felt like more. The first part was very dusty and had a ton of little rocks. It reminded me or riding at Gatorback down in Florida - Hard packed, dusty with little rocks along the edges of the track. This was not good because Gatorback was not one of my best courses. I am a sand track man myself. There were several rock garden sections on the course and I am not talking about your average MTB rock garden. Dang, these Hare Scrambles go over some crazy stuff. I will not even tell you about the rocky creek bed that they took us on.....the pre-lap was going well until I went to shift my bike down to 2nd gear when there was nothing. My shift lever had fallen off. So I started doubling back walking looking for my shift lever and hopefully the bolt that held it on. Walking in the boots and full gear sure brought back some memories. I kept trying to remember the last time I shifted which ended up being a little over 3/4 mile back down the trail. I found the shift lever, but no bolt. I got back to the pits whipped from riding the course and walking. Only had 25 min to fix my bike, gas it, eat and get to the starting line. Luckily I found a bolt rather quickly from this nice young man.
I get the line and everyone is already lined up. I get a really crappy spot has a nice ditch just 15 feet in front of me. I practiced a few times starting my bike and got it first kick every time. When it came time for the 700 series class to start I was ready. Well, I thought I was ready. I went to kick start and nothing. Took me 4 kicks to finally get going. Last place again. We had 20 riders in our class so the work began. Remember that first section that was all dusty and rocky? Well several riders went down there right in front of me.
After I got by them I fell in line behind everyone else. This is one reason I am thinking of moving up. It is really frustrating riding behind riders and trying to pass. No one wants to let you by so you have to work at it and this can sometimes get you in trouble. You almost have to wait until someone makes a mistake. At all the technical uphill rocky sections I would get a few riders. At the rock gardens got a few. Things started opening up some out on the course and I started really flowing well (see picture on the right from Yellow Wood Photography). That was until I got toward the front of the class. These riders were a little more aggressive because they wanted to keep their position. I worked myself to this one rider who would just not move out of the way. I could not remember when the next technical section was so when I saw an alternate line down this little hill I took it. I re-griped the throttle and when flying by this road block of a dude. Things were looking good until I got to the bottom of the hill when I hit something that was hidden in patch of grass. I don't know if it was a root or a ditch. All I know is I went flying over the bars and the bike came along for the ride. I got up a little shaken and my head was spinning. Instincts kicked in and I just ran to my bike and started to go again after a few minutes. Bars were all bent up on the left side, rear sub-frame was bent (enough that the rear fender was hitting the tire) and my radiator shroud was cracked. All I could think about was that rider that would not move over after me yelling at him for 5 min.
I worked hard over the next 4 laps working my way past riders and trying get used to riding with bent handlebars. After about 30 min it was o.k., but I would not make right hand turns very well because the bars would hit my legs due to the way they were bent. At one point I about called it a day, but I kept thinking about Danny Magoo Chandler. He recently passed away and was one of my idols growing up. If he could ride with bent bars and a jacked up bike so could I.
At the end of the day I worked my way up to 2nd place about 45 seconds out of 1st. I drove home with a 3 foot trophy in my truck, a crashed up bike and some good memories. I am still undecided on if this Hare Scrambles stuff is for me. I might just get a MX bike and ride some tracks. I seem to have more fun on tracks and that is what I am doing now in my life. Having some fun, enjoying each day and keeping a good attitude. I like doing a lot of sports and still have not found which path I want to take over the next few years. I might try getting back into adventure racing. I had a lot of fun doing those events. Who knows, I may even get back into road racing. I just about have my road bike all ready to go for some summer criteriums. No all I need is a set of legs and lungs....