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Sawmill Enduro 2010 Ride Report
Sawmill Enduro 2010 Ride Report E-mail
Written by shawn   

Personal highlights from the race

  • competing my first enduro
  • crashing in the 2nd turn
  • the red mountain special test torture section
  • experiencing only one real bottleneck and teaming up with another rider to get through it
  • finishing in one piece

The 2010 sawmill enduro, organized by the Northbay MC, was originally scheduled to run on April 11, but had to be postponed due to weather.This turned out to be a really wise decision as the reschedule date of May 2 greeted us with a clear sky and near perfect conditions: tacky and cool in the trees, mild dust in the sunny spots and almost perfect temps.

We got to the Lakeport staging area in plenty of time to gear up and meet friends who were also running the race. By the time our minute rolled around (77), we were raring to go. As the starter's arm dropped all I was thinking is 'ride smooth, don't drop the bike, all you want to do is finish', so what do I do? Drop the bike in the second turn! That spot as in the shade and a little greasy so my application of throttle at the wrong moment spun up the back tire while the front washed out. I thought the bike was just going to lay down on the right, but it kicked up and ended up flopping back up and over to the left, leaving me embarrassed and on the ground as my two friends on the same minute, Jim and Frank, blew past.
This event used the AMA National Enduro format, so for newbs like me, this eliminated the concern about getting to a check early and timed sections were linked by transfers. The first transfer section included a nice fast uphill fire road followed by some fun two-track. We all arrived at check one early enough to get a breather and quick drink of water. More fun twotrack and some short, rutted uphill singletrack led us to the second check and a big line of riders waiting for their minute to come up. We were about 15 minutes early here so it was nice to be able to relax a bit, drink more water and talk with other racers.

As we waited at the line, we commented to the starter that we were stoked on being able to stay on time so far, his response 'the minute you leave this check you'll be late'. Wonderful, a quick look at the route sheet showed a really fast avg speed, and being familiar with the trail we were headed down, the starter was more than correct. It as also at this point that I started to lose contact with the other guys on my minute.

This section is called 'acupuncture alley' and for me is semi-slow singletrack, the kind that seems to reach up and pull my bike down into the manzanita in all the tight corners. As luck would have it, we were heading the easier way (in my opinion) on this trail, so I just tried to stay up and keep moving. The trail exited into a really fun twotrack section that narrows down into some singletrack and then up again on to a fast and fun twotrack climb. The next check was located at this intersection and I was already pretty late. I knew the trail ahead was fast so I was hoping to make up some time as I left the check.

I raged up the hill, having a great time, on to another more narrow twotrack, and managed to catch up to a group of about 6 other riders at this point. I thought better of trying to get past them as I was trying to figure out where the course was going to take us, knowing there area we were headed to could get really ugly. A short section of jeep trail was next and then on to more singletrack. Thankfully the course did not branch off to the area I was thinking of, yet... The singletrack led to another short jeep trail going into the 4x4 area. This is a section where there are a lot of huge boulders, block steps, and other obstacles for the crawler crowd to enjoy. Right at the entrance to this area was another check leading to a special test. Amazingly, I had recovered to within three minutes of my time and was pretty stoked to be almost back on schedule. That would all change though as the course was taking me into the section I was definitely not looking forward to.

This spot is called Red Mountain, and it is literally covered with rocks. Not little stones mind you, these are grapefruit size and bigger, with scarcely enough bright red soil to hold them loosely in place. The club had woven a tight path weaving in between the manzanita, and for such a relatively short section, this is where I left most of my energy. Turn after turn, I was praying for the end of this ordeal, but it just kept going. To make matters more fun, my bike was heating up and starting to run crappy and stall. I did my best to let the fast traffic pass and catch a breath. Thankfully the trail opened up and I was happy to get some air through the radiators. More rocky trail kept coming, including a monster puddle/swimming hole that was claiming bikes. I was stoked to meet up with my buddy Jim who was on my minute. He pointed out the line and charged it, unfortunately he lost it and almost went all of the way down. Luckily there was a volunteer helping people extricate their bikes and Jim was up and out quickly. Sadly, his bike had inhaled water and I added insult to injury by motoring through and past him, hoping this wasn't the end of his race. Shortly thereafter I was back to the 4x4 area where the club routed us through some of the obstacles. I was doing ok through here but on the last, short, steep uphill section I bailed right under the top lip after a valiant attempt to stay upright, much to the amusement of two guys right at the top. We shared a laugh as I called them sadists, and they responded in kind by giving me a short push up and over the lip so I could catch another breath and drink of water.

Feeling the relief of making it through that ordeal I continued on only to encounter the only real bottleneck I encountered over the course of the whole race. A short section of trail led to a sharp left and a mellow up hill section. The reason it was bottlenecking was that this section was still very rocky, in the shade and as a result was very slick. Riders were not giving themselves enough run up and were trying to turn the corner, then gas it, which ended up in lots of wheel spin and downed bikes. I used this to my advantage and scarfed a powerbar and some water. Thankfully a rider had positioned himself at the turn and was helping direct traffic. When it was clear I gave it a go, I made it up about half way before deflecting off a rock and going down. The rider behind me tried to get by but also fell prey to the slick rocks and lost momentum. I told him 'I help you, you help me, deal?'. 'Right on' was the response and he was up and out in a flash. True to his word, he was back down and we were both back on our way.

More rocky trail followed and then we were on our way down a rocky jeep trail called 'pebble point'. Normally I'm not a fan of this trail, but compared to what we had just been through, it was a breeze! At the bottom the trail dipped into a ravine for some cool shade, nice soil and singletrack. I had been through this section before, but never going this direction (up). I knew that I just needed to keep my feet on the pegs, weight forward and on the gas. My concentration paid off as I motored up without a problem. Feeling good, I succumbed to target fixation shortly thereafter. Seeing that there were some small berms built up I made a mental not to not get a wheel over one. A couple of turns later on a right handed uphill I did just that. Fantastic, I was in one of those crappy situations where the bike is down relatively perpendicular to the trail with the front wheel over the edge in some bushes and the rear in a slight rut. Thankfully there was minimal traffic and people were able to get around me as I cursed my predicament. After losing a bunch of time along with a healthy bit of cursing and sweating, I managed to get the bike back up on the trail, restarted and on the way.

From there it was up on to more fun twotrack where I could catch my breath and try to make up some time. I hit the next check, stopping barely long enough to get marked and then the course dropped back to a singletrack section, soon my ODO was reading 30+ miles so gas had to be coming up soon and at 33 miles there it was! I had strapped some food to my gas can and that ice cold gatoraide tasted sooo good. I downed it immediately, gassed up, had another water and some oranges, I ate and drank until I almost felt sick but knew I would need it all to finish. Since my energy level was getting pretty low I decided to let my food and drink settle in a little bit and see if Jim would catch up. I knew I was either houred out or close so I was focusing on finishing rather than overdoing it. Riders were filtering in and a small amount were hanging out, waiting for the sweepers so they could take the main road back to the start finish. There was no way in hell I was going to quit now so after some more time in the shade and no sign of Jim I geared back up and was on my way.
The course covered lots of fun single and double track and fire road and I was feeling good going into the next check. Sure enough, I was houred out at this check but kept on moving. More fun trail followed and after one rutted downhill section I pulled off to the side for a breather and to my surprise who shows up but Jim! He had to do major surgery to get his bike going again, but here he was, riding like his life depended on it! On to the next check and more fun fire road and twotrack. Jim was on a mission and boogied on as I enjoyed the scenery. The course doubled back on a short section we had ridden earlier and then up down and up a really fun trail leading back to the fire road. I was bummed to see that they had closed the very last section of trail to us late guys so I continued back down the fire road to the staging area.

I had been on the bike for approximately 6hrs 20min and covered some 70+ miles of challenging terrain. Despite not being able to tackle the very last bit of trail, I was excited to have successfully completed the event with no major mechanical or bodily damage. Jim tried to rub it in that he beat me back to the truck but I didn't care, seeing him earn his submariners badge totally made up for it! Judging from my Monday morning aches and pains, I know exactly what I need to do to train for the next one.

A huge word of thanks goes out to my wife Nicole for letting me ride her bike. I would have died without the e-start of the crf250x. I'd also like to thank her mechanic for the awesome race prep, you are the best dude! Thanks to Jason and his crew at MX1WEST for the great deal on the killer Acerbis Moto Corps gear, it too a beating and hardly shows! Last but not least, I'm very grateful to the NorthBay MC and all the volunteers who contributed to making this event a fun and memorable one, thank you all, I'm definitely looking forward to 2011!