“What have I gotten myself into?” I thought as my team mates for the weekend and I rattled our way down a horrible dirt road. Our Friday afternoon drive to the races had been rather uneventful thus far save for the drive-by mooning to a fellow racer. Its funny how a mooning is usually a good laugh for all involved but come in hot from the back seat and try to stick your exposed pasty white cheeks between the driver and their steering wheel and suddenly everyone thinks I’m a lunatic! We had just finished up our Drive to the Race podcast and posted it when Ellis veered off of the pleasant rural highway and onto what seemed to be a supercross whoop section from my vantage point, a lawn chair in back of the van. The reason for my trepidation was not the tumultuous death march we were doing down this dirt road. It was the fact that I was spotting rocks. Rocks everywhere. The kind that jut out at odd angles. Rocks made of decomposing limestone that feel like razors when you hit them and do about the same type of damage to your tires. I was worried because I had brought my fastest motospode friends with me to what I figured would be a typical Oklahoma woods race, a few rocks, wide fast trails and A LOT of whoops. Motospodes excel in those conditions so of course I brought them. 9 hours of racing should ensure whoop development. Not in this terrain though. My fatal oversight in planning for this event was to not look at a map. The race site was located a mere three miles from the Oklahoma-Missouri border on the northern end of the Ozark mountain range. First obstacle of the weekend, noted. I started singing Kumbaya using Ellis’s Bell and Arai helmets as bongo drums.
Rolling into the gate of the race we were met with some awesome sites as the event was held the D-Day Adventure Park. D-Day is a massive complex for paintball wars. Not games, wars. It has many different buildings and even small city-scapes across the property. They have tanks and jeeps to get around in and even some old planes and boats sitting around for the games. It is truly an impressive place. And lets not forget, we race through those buildings at The Off-Road Cup which makes this years event EPIC on a whole new level. We got parked, did the sign-in dance and even messed with our buddy Brian over at Moto-Tally before hunting down some dinner at the little on-site café.
Early the next morning we awoke to a startlingly long line of cars coming into the event. It had been very busy the evening before but this was getting wild. I heard reports that over 500 people had come through the gate for the event. That’s what happens when Wieners in the Woods race team shows up, people congregate and usually end up drinking and practicing their poor decision making skills.
We drove the race van right past the riders meeting and out into the pit lane area. Lucky us, we had an outside spot and were able to back the van right up to it. This would prove even more useful than we could have hoped by the end of the day. In the meantime I just meant our cellphones could be on chargers, we would have AC in case it got hot and most importantly my new quadro-copter with go-pro mount would have a charger available all day.
The race went off with the usual amount of hitches for our team. Clark’s super modded CRF250R decided to be a little bitch after firing up seemingly while breathing on the kick starter all morning it took him 5 kicks to get it fired up. I would have gotten this all on camera from the air except for the small detail of leaving the Wi-Fi on with my Go-Pro caused it to prematurely drain its battery like a 13 year old boy watching scrambled CineMax on Friday night. I hustled back to the van to swap cameras and was able to catch third row and back from the air.
After the start Ellis and I headed back to the van to get everything ready for our rides. Riders started pouring in at the 20 minute mark and no Clark. I was hearing from other teams that there was a lot of tight virgin trail and a copious amount of nasty rocks. I felt impending doom was looming over us as Clark rolled around the corner and into our pits about 8 minutes behind the lead pack. Clearly I should have started as this is not my favorite terrain, but I am much more comfortable riding in these conditions than my teammates. Ellis took off and Clark looked like someone had just beaten his puppy with a kitten as he slumped into the lawn chair. “Dude, this place sucks,” is all he said for about 5 minutes. He repeated it so much I started inspecting his helmet and bike for signs of a crash thinking maybe he had bonked his little noggin.
40 some minutes passed until we saw Ellis again. We hadn’t seen him come by to take a second lap so we worried that problems may quickly be stacking against us. Ellis finally showed up to pass the baton onto me and said “You’ll love it!” I had already heard enough of people complaining about the terrain that I had made up my mind that I was going to LOVE this dirt whether I liked it not so his words were encouraging. I hustled into the woods knowing that we had a lot of ground to make up and approximately 8 hours to do it.
Three miles into my stint I had already decided that the course was “so-so” in my opinion but I could tell it was going get a lot better. Just as I wrapped my head around that I got a flat rear tire. I did everything right, I run super heavy Dunlop tubes, I put air in them weeks ago and never checked them so as not to unnecessarily lose any air so I know that wasn’t the problem. Obviously it was sabotage by a nail, evil unicorns or vengeful rocks. I believe I called a tree an “asshole” somewhere around that time as well. I heart trees 4eva.
I waddled my way around the course and back to the pits to hand the torch off to Clark, who wasn’t ready for my arrival which was another growing trend in our race. I spent the next hour or so changing my rear tube and flying the quadro-copter over the pits getting footage for the video of the race. Woods-Mom and Woods-StepDad arrived around that time to check out the teams progress. They were quite impressed with our last place running in the Pro class and the facilities in general.
Clark shows back up into the pits from his stint, arm in his lap and tears in his eyes. We called him a sissy and start icing him down. He hit the dirt hard with his shoulder and wasn’t too sure he could continue. We finally get him back on the bike about 2 hours later after Ellis and I each did nearly hour long stints.
Somewhere around this time, I had to crap. I don’t know how many of you wear in the boot pants and knee braces, so I’ll just break it down for you. Basically you hover while holding your pants as far forward as possible and hope for the best or you disrobe and go to the porta-potty in your underwear and flip-flops. And no matter how many times you put wet wipes in your gear bag they will never be there when you have to do a number two on race day. So you are playing with fire… possibly on your doo-doo hole. I’m talking about the dreaded monkey butt.
Around the six hour mark I was strapping my helmet on figuring Ellis would show up any second when the “ryno of doom” showed up with the passenger madly waving a baton at me. Luckily Ellis wasn’t hurt, he had just broken down less than half a mile from the finish line. This put us another 30 minutes down. I raced as hard as I could and was rewarded with a front flat tire about 2 miles into my second lap. It actually wasn’t bad as long as I wasn’t trying to lean over. I came in and got Clark back out on the trail and went to access the situation on Ellis’s bike.
Fubar’d came to mind instantly upon seeing the poor KTM. A rear wheel bearing had gone out causing the chain to come off the rear sprocket and get wound up between the engine case and front sprocket. Luckily we couldn’t see any leaks, but Ellis’s 300 wasn’t moving any more at this race.
Coming into the last hour we stopped for a team safety meeting and we took stock in our situation. Clark had just come off the track for his last session and had a flat front tire. We were all out of tubes at this point so his bike’s day was over. We decided that Ellis should ride a lap on my KTM 250XCF with the sweet retro graphics. He hoped it wouldn’t give him a boner but we all knew that it would. He wears snapback hats so obviously the 90’s graphics were going to “do it” for him.
Ellis came in from his last stint on the bike complaining of cramps. I handed him some Midol because cramps are for pussies then told him to meet me at the finish line in 24 minutes with a beer and the Go-Pro. Our last place finish had to be documented. I scooted out of the pits feeling surprisingly fresh for having nearly three hours of riding under my belt by that time. And then it happened, it was in slow motion from my point of view and the image has haunted me ever since. I was trailing some slower riders through a big G-Out and thinking to myself “I am going to dispatch of these spodes as soon as we hit this next section.” When suddenly the rider in front of me kicked a jagged football sized rock into my path. I turned it up to 11 on the throttle and hoped for the best as I came slamming down into the G-Out but was met only with agony and shame as I felt the rear tire collide with the middle finger of mother nature. I instantly knew I was going to have flat number three of the day, number four for the team. I tried to ride it out but the bike was slithering like a snake on ecstasy as soon as I hit the next turn. I was in full on Ken Block Gymkhana mode going across the field across from the pits. I’m sure Tanner Foust would have gotten a tiny boner as I whipped the bike through the trees at odd angles. I had to give up the ghost as I came into the next field as the bike was barely moving because all that Austrian horsepower killed the rim lock with a quickness.
I limped it back to the race van and promptly slammed a beer before we tore down the pits and headed back to our camp spot. The beers were going down too good to leave with the rest of the team so I stayed an extra night with other people from the race and hitched a ride back. I also flew the quadro-copter catching some nice after race parties from the air. That’s what its all about anyways, hanging with buddies around a camp fire bench racing and having a few beers. Till next year Off-Road Cup, you were a stone cold bitch to me this year but I’ll be back for more come next spring.