September 8-13, 2011
After X Games I was off to another race I’ve really been looking forward to! The ISDE is a true test of a rider’s limit and they’re overall ability. It’s 6-days of endurance with around 200-miles a day of riding and racing. We (USA Trophy Team) spent the first week walking all the tests and getting our race bikes ready. The tests looked really good and the weather was just about perfect before the race (note before the race)! I tried to do a short recap of the week, but it’s hard to remember what happened every day:) It was a long week!
The first day was really cool since I got to ride with three of my other USA teammates that were also in the E2 class (Kurt Caselli, Russell Bobbitt, and Jimmy Jarrett). The first test was pretty slick, and had a nasty rock section that actually got way worse the next few times we went through it. I had a pretty good time through it even after making some mistakes. The nice weather I was talking about was already changing and we had a light drizzle for part of the day. The trails on day one were really fun, but during the tests you had to be smooth since it was slippery. After hitting 5-more tests during the day (3 tests we did twice) it was time to head back to the finish to change tires and everything else. I ended up finishing day 1 running 22nd overall and 11th in class and was pretty happy since I knew I still could’ve rode better.
Today we started in the order of how we were doing in the overall. We rode the same course and tests that we did on day one, and boy did the trails and tests really change. Of course the worse part for me was it was raining again and everything was turning into a big muddy mess (not what someone from Arizona sees to often). Even after the first nasty test I had moved up to 19th overall, and stayed there for half the day. On test 4 I had a huge crash into a tree and it sent me flying, and spectators scattering! I was hurting, but the first thing I did was try to find my bike and luckily the spectators were there to run over to me and see if I was ok. I was able to get going again and finish the test. As you can imagine the rest of the day was more of a muddy mess, and I was just trying to make it to the finish without losing any route points on the trail. After the day was over I think I moved down to 24th overall. Thanks to Kurt’s trainer (Troy) for some painkillers that really helped out later that night so I was able to get some sleep. One of the hardest things about today (besides my crash) was the trail sections getting to the tests. There were huge ruts that you couldn’t ride through and had to go sideways through them. There were also some nasty rock climbs that weren’t easy at all, especially with the rain.
We had new trails today and some new tests, but still had to do the first rocky one (not timed the first time around though). I was really hoping to pick it back up again, but the tests were so nasty and slick that I just wasn’t super confidant. I was still able to put in some pretty good tests scores, but I had one test that cost me close to two minutes after I got stuck in a rut and couldn’t get the bike out. You really need to watch some of the YouTube videos below to see how bad they were. I was pretty bummed to lose all that time since I had a descent day going. Not far after this, I got stopped on the trail to do a sound check. Well I didn’t pass, and they gave me a minute penalty, which basically adds a minute to my tests scores. They told me I needed to make it quieter at the end of the day or I was going to be DQ’ed. After the day was finally over and I had changed both of my tires again, I pushed it into impound. They pulled me to the side and said I had 30-minutes to work on the exhaust. The FIM started a new way of doing the sound (hold the bike wide open and check it). I run an Akropovic system (which is definitely the best system out there) but the Kawasaki revs higher then most bikes. I was able to get it to pass with 2-minutes to spare. However, they said if they checked me on the trail again and I didn’t pass I’d automatically be DQ’ed (nice to have in the back of your mind). I had my dad, Anthony, and Brian Garrahan really help me out at the end of the day to make sure I had everything I needed. Big thanks for all their help!
After all the time I lost yesterday I moved back to 30th overall (something like that). Last night I heard it was supposed to clear up for today, but when I got up it was still raining! I was so over the rain and it’s just something I don’t shine in against the great mud riders! My goal of top 20 wasn’t looking good, and as the day went on it turned into more of a survival in the tests. They were nasty and I really can’t explain how bad they were and how deep and sloppy it was! The good part was the transfer sections were a lot easier with more jeep roads, but at the same time we were all freezing from being so soaked and with the higher speeds. One of the other big problems I was having with the mud is the fact it was so hard on the bike. My chain rubbed through the chain slide and was rubbing on the swing-arm and wearing it down. I didn’t have another one, but was able to get something that would help slow down the wear at the end of the day. I wasn’t able to change my front tire after the 200-miles today since I was working on my swing-arm. Today was more about survival for me, and since our Trophy team was running 3rd overall I knew I just needed to be smart and get us descent scores to keep us there. I was worried about pushing it in the tests like I was earlier in the week!
It was nice to wake up and see it wasn’t raining, but it was still raining in some of the sections of the course. My goal today was the same as yesterday, to just be smart and keep myself and the bike going until the end of the day. One of the tests (the one I lost 2-minutes in) was cancelled today, because it was basically impossible to get around. That was the best news I’d heard the last couple days. I was able to put in some descent times, but not like I was earlier in the week. Halfway into the day my swing-arm was really bad and most of the free time I had was working on that. One of the fixes I tried really backfired, and on the trail I had part of the slider go into the counter shaft sprocket and derail the chain. It was all stuck into the case and I pulled off my fanny pack and had to pull off the rear wheel to finally get the chain unstuck. Colton Udall wasn’t far behind me and stopped and helped me out with whatever he could. Once I got everything back together I was wide open to make sure I got back on my time before the next check. Luckily I made it and didn’t lose any route points! Another day over and, once again, I wasn’t going to be able to change my front tire which had around 400-miles on it now.
What a beautiful day it was to wake up to! It was finally a really nice day and now we just had a slow trail ride to the MX track where we would have our final moto. I was in the fast E2 main and of course it was stacked, but I love to moto so I was excited! When the gate dropped I had an awesome jump and was in 3rd going into the first turn, then the guy right in front of me goes down and I slam into him. It was a huge pile-up and I got ran over by a couple bikes (picture attached). Mine was at the bottom, and I was the second to last rider to get going! Just the way things went for me, but I did pin it and pass a lot of people to move up by the time the checkered flag came out. I was so pumped to finish and know we pulled off a podium finish again (last time was in Greece 3-years ago). Kurt also won the moto, which gave him the win in the really competitive E2 class!
The race started off pretty well and halfway into day two I was sitting right where I wanted in the top 20, but since the rain just kept coming down it went bad for me. One huge crash and a sore body, plus some other issues that set me back didn’t help. This was one of the toughest ISDE’s I’ve done and the first two days the trails were really difficult and you never had much time to do anything. Then on day 3-4-5 the trails were a lot easier, but the tests were incredibly tough! Physically I felt pretty good, but mentally with everything I had going on had really taken it’s toll! I’m still happy to get another Gold Medal, and most importantly be part of another podium Trophy Team!
Overall Trophy Team Results (top 5):
3rd USA (Caselli, Bobbitt, Kanney, Jarrett, Udall, and myself)
Overall Rider Results:
1st Euro Remes( E1) Finland
2nd Juha Salimen (E1) Finland
3rd Marko Tarkala (E3) Finland
4th Kurt Caselli (E2) USA
5th Luis Correia (E3) Portugal
6th Ivan Cervantes (E3) Spain
7th Cristobal Guerrero (E2) Spain
8th Toby Price (E2) Australia
9th Matthew Phillips (E2) Australia
10th Jari Mattila (E2) Finland
Here are some great videos of each day from the guys at ISDE.tv https://www.isde.tv/site/
Here’s a video of the final day and you can see my first turn crash at 3:20
This is the rut I lost 2-minutes in https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn1XMdRvVAU&feature=related and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FLMipzSvGSY
Super rocky and slippery test (this was day one and it got a lot worse). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6r7xDOXvB4M&feature=related
This is the test I crashed in when I hit the tree (slippery) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KwipEDTE91o&feature=related
Kurt hit this line perfect! Why couldn’t I do thatJ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOjKuj7ITCg
Talking about the ISDE before it started
Even the fastest guys look slow through this test! I’m at minute 4:20.
Kurt Caselli pulled off the win in the E2 class and really looked good all week. Russell Bobbitt really stepped it up too and did awesome all week. All the guys really put in a lot of hard work (Nathan Kanney, Jimmy Jarrett, Colton Udall) and made it possible to pull off the podium! I was really happy with our team and we all got along great and did just about everything together. It’s the one time during the year we all really come together and help each other out with whatever they need. That’s what it should be about too! Great times!
Big congrats goes out to team Finland! They were just insanely fast and I know we were really happy to see them pull off the win in their home country. They were great guys and they even invited our Trophy team over for a BBQ (Friday) before the ISDE started. Juha Salmin is one of my favorite riders (finished 2nd OA) and really made us feel comfortable along with all the other riders. Finland was one of the coolest places I’ve ever been to and everyone was so nice and laid back. I would for sure go back and visit it again!
At the awards ceremony all of us on the Trophy team had some really cool white collard shirts that we wore. The best part was it had a big #54 on it and said Nathan Woods! He was on the Trophy team the last time we got on the podium. He was a huge part of that team and was greatly missed!
Another thing about the ISDE, which is awesome, is seeing so many people from each country representing them. The spectators here were awesome and there were a ton that showed up. The final moto was great and to see all the different flags waving and air horns going off it’s pretty dang cool. I love following the World Enduro series and it’s great to be able to race with them!
There are so many people I need to thank for getting me here and also helping all of us (USA racers) while we were there. This is for sure a team race and we know we couldn’t do it on our own! Thanks for everyone that helps at the container and at the pits.
Next year’s ISDE is over in Germany and I’m not sure what my plans are yet. Time seems to fly by and it will be here again sooner then we expect.
This week I have another race up in Washington for a WORCS race (Friday and Saturday). It’s in the trees so I’m actually looking forward to it. Maybe I’ll get lucky and it will just pour rain! I have plenty of practice on that now!