84th Maxxis FIM International Six Days Enduro, Portugal
Team USA ready to race
By Mark Kariya
On the eve of the 84th Maxxis FIM International Six Days Enduro in Figueira da Foz, Portugal, Team USA is primed to carry the momentum it generated by finishing third in the World Trophy team standings last year in Greece (with the Women’s Trophy trio the runners-up after winning the inaugural contest in Chile in 2007).
Pre-race activities culminate in the opening ceremonies, highlighted by the parade of nations. Here, the U.S. World Trophy, Junior World Trophy and Women’s Trophy teams take to the stage.
For the most part, pre-race preparation has gone remarkably smoothly, starting with the on-time arrival of the 40-foot shipping container that holds the crates of bikes, spares and tools sent months ago from the U.S. That allowed the riders to dive right into the job of unloading the container and getting to work the morning after most of them arrived last week. They had time to carefully review their work and get their equipment dialed in on the very sandy, tricky practice track a couple miles from the parc ferme.
Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule. One Six Days new ‘b’ who shall remain nameless to save him public embarrassment (for the time being, at least) almost missed going through technical inspection when he decided to drive the two hours south to Lisbon with his wife and pick up a friend arriving at the airport. Apparently, he didn’t realize the ISDE isn’t like a local race and that each country is allotted a limited window of time in which to do things like check riders in to administration and impound bikes after tech. Luckily, he made it with minutes to spare.
And that, in U.S. World Trophy team rider Nathan Kanney’s mind, is why the actual racing is the easy part of Six Days.
“There’s so many people here—just trying to coordinate with everybody, trying to get your bike ready, doing the sign-up and tech inspection and impound, and finding all the [special] tests and walking all the tests and trying to keep the team together and pay attention in the tests when walking [them],” he observed.
“You get up early in the morning and you start hustling to get everything done. It’s like you start at seven in the morning and by the time you finally get back to your room at night and you finally get a minute to lay down on your bed, it’s 10:00 o’clock.
“It’s like a week of nonsense before you even get to ride your dirt bike!”
A staple of ISDE competition is tire changes. For those who’ve never done it under time pressure, practice is essential so Six Days rookie U.S. World Trophy team member Tim Weigand practices, assisted by Scott Dunlavey, while Kawasaki’s Jason Smigel looks on.
After a morning of walking various special tests, Ricky Dietrich goes through a stretching routine that he swears helps his riding. The real test will come after six days on the bike at the Portuguese Six Days.