Desflurane's Romaniacs Blog

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

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Chalk Bluff redux

Posted by desflurane on November 8, 2010

For five or six months I have been planning to ride in the Cow Bell enduro in nor-cal. Well, when time came to roll out and do it, I wimped out. To get to the race on Saturday morning I would have to have left Friday evening, driven five hours and slept in the back of our Durango, done the race and driven five hours back. Given the fact that we returned from Scottsdale Thursday night, I just was not feeling it.

Fortuitously, I dropped by RMS to get some new grips and ran in to Ben Barnes. A solid A-class rider who happens to be an orthopedic hardware rep who I see frequently in the OR, and the son of Jim’s business partner. Ben and I B.S.’ed for a while and it turned out that a few guys were going to ride chalk bluff in the morning, and kindly, Ben invited me to come along. This really was an ideal set-up for me. I get to ride with a bunch of guys who are MUCH better riders than me in an area that has some awesome terrain – tight trees, gnarly singletrack, switchbacks upon switchbacks and remarkably few rocks.

Saturday morning we met up at Ben’s house, loaded the bikes and scooted up to the OHV area. It’s probably a forty five minute drive along I-80 most of the way. I rode along with a guy named Jeff who has a sparkly new 2011 300xc. He actually had 40 hours on the bike, but it looked pristine – much like mine did back when I only had forty hours on her… No, his looks better, really.

We geared up and got riding through the forest. As I said the singletrack is off the hook! And these guys left me like I was standing still!! It was REALLY a struggle for me to stay somewhat close by. Truly keeping up wasn’t even an option! Fortunately they were cool about me being such a boat-anchor, and waited for me to drag in at each major intersection in the trail. I really appreciate them not just bailing on me completely, because it truly was effortless for them to just ride away from me on the trail. And I was really trying too! I’m amazed how fast those guys can ride the trees! But then, they have all been riding for decades longer than I have. They should be far better than me.

As far as a dry run for Romania I think that this was about as good as I’m going to get. Judging from photos and videos, the terrain was remarkably similar – minus the torrential downpour from this year, however. As I said the switchbacks were plentiful, treacherous and sometimes scary. In some of the nasty sections I could actually keep up for a while, employing the Wattsy-inspired slow riding skills, where I rolled through stuff with both feet on the pegs rather than foot-dabbing. But this was short-lived because they were just SO much faster than me everywhere else.

We went out on two big loops for a total of
exactly forty miles. But, as Jeff pointed out, these weren’t “desert” miles where you just jam down the trail until you get bored, this was WORK!! on the singletrack the straightaways probably averaged no more than 30 feet in length. It was just corner upon corner upon corner. Which again, was good as I could work on my weak cornering skills. I think things were getting better by the end of the day, but I was so blasted it was hard to tell.

Rain and snow have fallen in the last 24 hours, so getting back up there this year may not be in the cards, but I think that it’s some of the best practice I’m likely to get. I’ll definitely head up there again asap.


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