This time last week I was driving home from my race in South Carolina with second-place-wood from the 64th annual Little Brown Jug Enduro by Greenville Enduro Riders after Round 2 of the SETRA Enduro Series in Buffalo, South Carolina. Out of 272 entries, I finished 139th overall and second in the Women class with a score of 84, which barely edged out third place’s score of 89.
The turnout was huge for an enduro, especially one right after a hurricane, and I imagine the storm scared more people away. Too bad because the club laid out a killer course, and I heard “best conditions ever” from more than a few people. The overall race winner, Steward Baylor, scored a 41. The top 9 finishers all came from the AA or Pro classes, but 10th, 11th and 12th place went to riders in the 50A, 40A and 45A classes, respectively with scores of 52, 54 and 54! Talk about getting better with age. For the record, the Women’s class winner finished 46th overall with a score of 65.
The race started us right into the tight stuff – is this a pattern? – and I was thinking, “Well, it can’t be any tighter than last weekend.” Wrong! Just about every corner I found myself having to brake slide into a corner just to make the turn, let alone get around it without a mistake; thanks, Pops, for making me hammer out those figure-8s for hours in the grass when I was young.
The tight woods kept me on my clutch and brakes, even though I tried to ride a gear high like it likes. I remembered to note that I must practice more riding fast standing up through the never-ending bar-bangers with lots of terrain changes; I sit down too much through that stuff.
After 7 miles of ups and downs, tighter-than-ever turns one after another and a really rough rock garden that kept me on two wheels, we came to the first reset and I was thankful just prying my hands off of the handlebars to relax my frozen fingers. Coming into the race, I read that the club was “virtually out of arrows,” which made my row assignment of 47 way better: a late row meant the trail would be worn in/out by the time I saw it, and most of the roots and rocks exposed. We had about 15 minutes to “rest” at the first reset and I checked out the score on my row buddy’s scorecard. I was only 2 minutes off of his pace – an Open A rider – not too shabby. With only a handful of faster riders behind me – most of the A riders scored early rows – I didn’t have to worry too much about getting in anyone’s way.
I rolled into the pits at the gas, lucky to have my dad and his lady pitting for me, and was handed a cold towel while Pops AKA Pit Dog refueled my bike and checked it for dents – none, yet! I took a seat in the shade and enjoyed a fresh peach while I recapped the first 25 miles of the day, complaining that I didn’t have strong enough brakes or? Pops enlightened me that a bigger/heavier bike just means it takes that much longer to brake – that sucks! He adjusted my brake lever and I was off.
After the gas, the woods darkened so much under the tight tree canopy that I thought it was going to rain when there was no rain in sight. Coming into the second-to-last section, we hit a creek crossing – well, it was more like a river with all of the rain of late – and I couldn’t tell where to go, so I just pinned it across to the bank where a deep rut stopped me in my tracks and I dumped my back half in the water. Thank God there were two or three boys spectating nearby because I yelled out to them, “Help! Help!” in my girliest voice and they came running over, grabbing my front forks and helping me up the muddy bank. Thanks, dudes!
After that, my gloves wet – hated – I could tell I was getting tired when I started ping-ponging off of the trees instead of fitting between them. One eventually took me down and my hand crashed into a rock, which hurt like hell and almost ended my day, but I knew there was only one more test after this one, so I kept hanging on, which was hard with the whole palm of my right hand throbbing and ruining my concentration.
At the last reset, the course worker told us that this was his “favorite section,” (of 13 miles,) so I said a prayer for my hand because I so wasn’t looking forward to it. But after some more tight trails mixed with a few good and fast sections, my prayers were answered when I crossed the finish line without my legs cramping once! I wish I could say the same for my fingers…
Workers recovered more quickly from the demands of their working lives if allowed to indulge in hobbies in their free time.” – A man and his hobbies