AMERICA’S TOP ISDE FINISHER–OCT 31
International Six Day Enduro, Czech Republic
The container with our bikes was actually at the parc ferme on time! However, our team was scheduled to be the second to impound on Friday morning between 8:30 and 10:30. Unfortunately we were not able to get into the container until Thursday morning. So as usual we had no time for testing and preparation.
Of course I believe that if you have 40 hours to prepare you bike you?ll spend 40 hours and if you have one day to get it done, somehow in one day it gets done. I like to use every possible minute to get ready because I thought that once the race began there would not be a minute to do any setup or maintenance. So as U.S. riders began to trickle in we soon discovered that kickstands were mandatory. Ahh, there?s the first thing I thought about but didn?t bring. The organizers wanted an attached stand to the motorcycle that they wanted to see on the sixth day. Usually a triangle or some other type of stand is sufficient for impound, which is what I had sent in the US container. Not this year.
It?s now 10:15 a.m. Friday and I?m searching for a permanent side-stand. There?s one at the Factory Husqvarna Truck but I have no way to attach it to the frame. After making a mount, we needed a welder. The English Army Team had a gas welder, but the stand was pretty sketchy with the gas welding. There was only one country with an arc-welder and that was Portugal, and they wouldn?t let me weld it, they had to do it. Seemed ok at the time and what can you do, I?m glad to just get it on there. I was the last U.S. rider to impound at 5 that evening.
For me the first couple of tests are just trying to get acquainted with the motorcycle, terrain and trying to concentrate on which test is coming up and coordinate that with the 10 tests we previously walked. The first half of the day is usually the difficult part because you have to learn the loop and the times, tests, etc. Times were tight and we were flying down the roads and just about wide open on the trails. Everything is going about normal and I get through the first test and then the second test of that section when the bike starts pinging and detonating. I think it has lost a little water and I?ll slow down a little to make it to the check. But it gets worse and it starts to steam and smoke. The trail has us basically in the middle (at least to me) of nowhere. There?s nothing I can do except to keep going until I get to the control or find some water. As luck would have it the bike just about seized when I crest this little hill and I stop and directly in front of me is a course marshal. Not only is it a marshal, his bright orange bib has a number one on it! What are the odds? So I ask him if he has any water. He doesn?t understand. I try different languages, nothing. I try pointing and eventually he gets it, but he has no water.
I get back to the bike and fill it up with water and try to start it. Locked up. Turn the bike upside down and drain out the water, put a new plug in and pushed it down the hill towards the church, for about 3 or 4 tenths before it starts. I say thanks to the marshal and head to the check. I didn?t put any more water in it, when it was not running, because it would just lock up. I was about 25 minutes late to the control and rode the bike the rest of the loop (90-plus miles) and tests with no water in it, filling up only when it was running and trying not to lose any more route points.
I make it to the parc ferme, take it apart and fix the O-rings and replace the head and rear tire without losing any more time.
I really wanted a gold medal because in ?91 (Czechoslovakia) I had a flat tire and wound up with silver. Well, I thought, I have gold and silver, so a bronze would complete the collection.
Didn?t have time to fix the light, was stopped again and told them I would fix it. Crashed in the last test and completely wrecked the headlight! Now I really have to fix it. Actually it broke at the mounts to the forks as well as the light being cracked. Slight problem, as it is a marked part. Fortunately after some discussions with officials I found out, as I thought, we could replace it and have it remarked. Getting a new backing and number was a hassle. Waved to my marshal buddy when I saw him again today.
The final moto was set up great for spectating as I watched and cheered on my fellow American team members. It was truly an ISDE that would test both the rider?s ability and the bikes endurability. It is just as hard sometimes to get a gold as it is to get a bronze. The bottom line is that when everything is going wrong, teamwork, experience, and perseverance can help you come out on top. That?s what the ISDE is about!
I can?t thank all the friends and family that give of their time and money to help the American team. They work very hard and help keep us going when it gets tough.