Tuesday, February 10, 2009

4 Aces Desert Race

Back to the desert again, Saturday morning was spent loading up the trailer with the Yamaha in the rain and the mailman questioned my choice of activity since it was pouring. But what makes it a desert is the lack of rain and the weather forecast for Sunday was dry and cold. It rained off and on during the 156 mile ride and I didn't see anybody else hauling any motorcycles. Could the event have been cancelled I thought as the lack of traffic on 395 did seem low except for the folks headed back from Mammoth.
When I got to Sprangler there wasn't any shortage of trailers, RVs, trucks and motorcycles but not a lot of people riding cause it was cold and wet with fresh snow in the mountains. At the sign up area there was a nice fire burning and a stack of cut wood that would have kept Grant's Army warm and no one in the sign up line.
With years of riding experience under my belt I simply amaze myself on how stupid I can be. Friday afternoon was spent checking various items on the bike and after putting it back together I didn't bother to fire up the engine to see if the dam thing still ran. So flashes of ignorance and silent cussing only heard by the dog who refused to get of of the Nissan because of the weather as my rain soaked motor refused to idle smoothly and the throttle return cable kept sticking and the motor kept stalling. Kicking over a big four stroke is a pleasure only if it starts on the first kick. The next day at the second check point the dam thing stalled on me when it was no longer wet and cold but rather warm. After a dozen kicks with out a burp the fellow in the check crew asked, "You don't have an electric starter ?" Before I discovered kicking motorcycles as a sport both my legs were the same length. Well after moving cables hidden under the tank it did start to run smoothly again and I rode over looking for the start line which wasn't very close, found it, rode back, then loaded the trailer up and headed for a motel in Ridgecrest that had a heater. The next morning was wet after a night of rain but the sun was shining and it was not technically freezing at 34 degrees.

Anticipating that my fingers might fall off after a few minutes I switched to my teenage mutant snowboarding gloves and threw the motocross gloves back in the kit. The decision to dress warm or safe was then debated as my body armour worn under my jacket doesn't allow for bundling or layering but at the last race a rider died while they were operating on him to repair damages after he was hit by his own motorcycle before the first check point. So cold rather than dead was the choice and it was plenty warm after you started bouncing and dodging rocks.

To keep people honest the club holding the event uses a scoring card called a tank card (once upon a time the gas tank actually had room on top for a card). Your name and race number goes on it at the sign up along with proof of a spark arrestor and a noise test. You place the card upside down on your front fender using the greatest invention know to racers "duct tape" and on the starting line it receives its first check or mark. As you go around the course there are various checkpoint where you slow down long enough to get your card marked again. The locations of the checkpoint are unknown and at the finish your tank card is removed and your result is verified. What drove me crazy (among other things) was the second check point did not appear until closer to the end of the loop that expected. The thought that I had missed a check kept going through my dazed brain and whatever I did to change my thinking wasn't working. When I finally got to the check I had to stop and ask (that where I stalled it) why the second check was so far out and the reply was to drive people crazy. They were successful. After the finish an inspection of the gas tank resulted in no gas to be seen but after draining the contents and measuring the gas left there was probably another 10 miles left to ride. After reading the results the next day and the large number of DNFs a bigger gas tank might be a good idea.
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