Train Robbers Enduro
My enduro season from hell continues.
Keith and I drove separately to this race because he needed to be there early enough for his son to ride the kid’s mini enduro. From the Dallas area Bismark AR is about 5 hours drive time and I arrived about 4:00pm Saturday afternoon. Keith’s dad had a nice camp site all cleared out and ready for us and we were one of the fortunate ones to have some good shade as the temps were in the low to mid 90’s and humid. The dust in the camping area was bad but the trails looked to be pretty good. Conditions for the next day looked promising. To help us out even more we were assigned to row 9 which meant we’d get to take advantage of the cool morning air for the first loop at least.
Keith’s son , Jacob, rode a great race in the mini and finished in first place with a comfortable lead over the 2nd place kid. After the mini we hooked up with Opie and Gabe at the Fish Net restaurant for an excellent meal. They still have the fried dill pickles but when I asked for Hot Monkey Love the waitress took two steps back and looked at me like she was thinking about calling the cops. Apparently they haven’t served that in a while
Sunday morning was clear and cool and looked to be a great day for riding. At the start Keith and I introduced ourselves to our 3 row mates. All of them looked fit and ready to go with their computers and roll charts and they were all riding the long course so I felt confident that even if one of us had computer problems we could still tag along with someone and get a good finish. At last our line took off and the pre-race jitters faded away as they always do once we got rolling. The trails were great and we started the first of our three loops running like a freight train. Keith led the group and was doing a great job keeping us in the middle of our minute as we neared the first series of possibles. This was an 18mph section and somewhere I guess I just went to sleep because one moment I was right on time and then a little while later I looked at the ICO and saw that I was a minute down. I’m not sure how or where it even happened but it woke me up and I started to pick up the pace but it was too late as I just went a few more turns when I hit the first check dropping one minute. Jeez that was stupid. I gave myself a few mental slaps and vowed to get on Keith’s tail and quit following the other guys on our row.
The terrain at Train Robbers is probably the most diverse and rugged of any of the TSCEC Sabine Division races. There are lots of elevation changes because they run us up the side of mountains, along ridge tops, then down the mountains into lush valleys. The ridge tops are very rocky and the trails up and down have lots of off-camber turns around trees and are usually littered with rocks and roots. It is extremely challenging and great fun if you can do it correctly. Our whole row was running good and we zeroed the next check but as we got into more technical terrain I sensed that some of the folks on our row were starting to struggle a bit. The terrain progressively got more difficult as the single track consisted of sections of loose gravel and rock gardens with tight trees throughout. Again I found myself at the back of the group and as I watched the time start to increment on the computer I yelled at the fellow in front of me to hurry. It wasn’t until he waved me by that I noticed that he had a brace around his left hand. I found out later that he was riding with a broken thumb and I’m sure he was taking a beating in those rocks. Time was really starting to evaporate quickly now and I had to pick up the pace...a lot. Keith was nowhere to be seen and that was a bad sign. I was now in full race mode but was losing to the clock. My troubles were compounded by slower riders who, no fault of theirs, were holding me up because the terrain made it difficult for them to move over and also made it difficult for me to pass. I did my best but still dropped two minutes at the check out to end the first loop. At least now I was fully awake and setting a good pace in the rocks.
At the start of the 2nd loop I quickly dispatched the other riders on our row and Keith and I were running a really fun pace. It was a 20 mph section and we were right on our minute or just a bit hot, even through all of the difficult parts. Keith was riding really well and I was comfortable just staying glued to his tail and we were having a great fun. We hit a section of gravel road and were pretty much tapped out there when we saw an arrow pointing to the left. In unison we set up a picture perfect flat tracker drift onto the trail on the left. We went a short distance and came upon a creek crossing filled with crystal clear water. Hmmmm. Even with my feeble reasoning power it was pretty obvious no one had been through here in a while. We crossed the creek, whipped it around, crossed the creek again, and went back out to the gravel road for a look. There we saw *another* left turn just a few feet further down the road. DOH! We rode as hard as we could but we never could make up the time that we lost and dropped two minutes at the next check. Still, it was the most fun section of the day so far and I was having so much fun that I didn’t really mind the two points. From there we started up the mountain ridge section called “Big Nasty