Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

Chronicle of My Participation in the World's Toughest Enduro Rally – Again…

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Thoughts on Wild Pony

Posted by desflurane on September 29, 2010

I’ve been reviewing my helmet-cam video of the Wild Pony, preparing a “digested” version to put up on YouTube (and here, of course). It is really instructive to watch yourself ride. Mistakes that didn’t seem like mistakes at ALL -at the time- become fairly obvious.

The number one thing (which seemed like a huge mistake for the whole event) was the camera mount I am using. I have been using the goggle-mount that came with the camera. I put it on the right side of my helmet and it provides a really good view of what I’m doing, the trail, etc. The great downfall is that if I cut too close to a tree, or just have to bash through some low-hanging branches, the camera is just getting wiped right off. I would guess this occurred six or seven times during the race. Since I was having more trouble going slow enough than anything else, it was no big deal to pull over and mess around with the camera for a minute – getting it snapped back into its perch. But if this had been a higher-speed event (hare scrambles or grand prix) I would have been really screwed! I am fortunate that VHoldr included a little retaining leash in the mount. Without it I would have lost the camera for sure! A few times I brushed fairly gently against the trees and didn’t realize the camera had been wiped off again until I could feel it smacking against my neck as it dangled on the leash.

So that’s that, I need to beef up my camera mounting system so that it could withstand a nuclear blast! I also need to clean the lens more often. But that’s no big deal.

As far as my riding, I notice myself making the same mistake I have made many times in the past – not downshifting appropriately when approaching a steep hill. I get preoccupied with picking my line, looking at flowers, or something… and don’t bother to shift down a gear or two (or three) and end up bogging and killing the motor halfway up. The ignition map switch helps some – it seems to allow the engine to lug better in the lower RPM’s – but I think I would be a lot better off to hit the hills harder with more gas in a lower gear.

During the main instance of this problem, I get stuck on a nasty, loose hill near the end of the enduro. It’s getting hot, I’m tired and I really misjudged how tricky the hill was going to be. Exactly as I was describing, I bogged the motor and flamed out three-quarters of the way up. Getting started again was pretty much impossible. I was off the bike very quickly trying to shove it up the gravel and silt slope toward some rocks that just HAD to offer better traction. The sun was brutal by this time of day and the tree-covered hill stifled any hint of breeze that may have been blowing by. As a result, my personal radiator began to steam up almost immediately! My plan failing, I opted for pushing my bike off  the side of the trail to try and cut across the hill, rather than a full-frontal assault. This strategy sort of worked and I got going again, but it looks as though I never down-shifted during the whole exercise! You can hear the engine lugging as soon as I let out the clutch! Stupid! Other riders passed me by as I toiled in the heat. They just kept the back wheel spinning and up they went. I need to start doing the same!

I’m thinking about starting a little “slowing down” exercise/mantra where I hit the brakes and downshift a gear or two. Hopefully I can just make this a reflexive thing so I don’t have to think about it. When I grab the brakes I drop a gear. Simple!

Otherwise, I’m fairly pleased with how I did. I wasn’t going very fast, but that wasn’t the point of the event! I think I rode most of it very well. It felt good at least.


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