1986 Quicksilver National Enduro

I could not find any articles for 1986 so I will have to fill in the blanks as best as I can.

The 1986 Quicksilver National Enduro did not happen.  The club tried to make it happen but it just was not in the cards.  It was a wash out.  A one hundred year storm, the weathermen said!

All week before the event, a series of storms pounded the central coast, dumping untold amounts of rain on Clear Creek. About every 18 hours a new wave would hit. We are talking serious rain.  On Thursday evening after the club meeting I took off for the property in my 1974 yellow Dodge van loaded with two bikes, marking supplies, food and camping gear.  All the way down Coalinga Road I was hitting water flowing over the road and the three creek crossings were the highest I have ever seen them.  When I got to the gate and turned in I saw water from edge of the gate to the other bank.  Given the late hour, I decided not to attempt to cross the river and instead drove up to the Picacho Inn to park for the night.  Somewhere in that quarter mile stretch of road I hit a stream of water that flooded into the air cleaner and killed the engine.  So there I sat in the middle of Coalinga Road with my flashers going, the rain pouring down and a truck packed to the gills. I was gradually able to shift stuff around in the truck to where I could pull open the engine cover and wipe the water out of the air cleaner and eventually I got the truck started.  When I got to the store I first parked perpendicular to the road until a big gust of wind coming up the valley rocked the van.  It felt like it would blow over it was so strong.  So I started the van and parked parallel to the road.  Had to set a cooler between the seat in order to make a bed.  I did not get a good night's sleep.

The rain stopped overnight and by morning on Friday the river had gone down just a bit.  I was able to ford the river successfully, likely due to all the weight in the truck.  Not many members were down at the property. Surprise, surprise!  This was back in the days when all the marking was done the Friday and Saturday before the event.  We also had a remote gas stop on the dirt mine haul road below the Atlas Mine.  To get there we had to travel up White Creek road which we were allowed to do by one of the owners, Jim Nunez, a motorcyclist who herded his cattle on the back on a Honda.

Now, if this had been a District 36 enduro I would have cancelled it before even driving down to Clear Creek, but this was a national and the AMA frowned on national events being cancelled. Somehow the Club had to pull this off if possible.  So, first thing JR and I headed down to White Creek to see if we could get up the road.  We couldn't.  White Creek had cut two foot banks where the road crossed.  If we were to run the event, white creek road need to be made passable.  JR took on this job and organized a group with picks and shovels to knock down the banks.  I organized a marking crew consisting of myself and a high school student (whose name I can't remember)  and headed out to mark the course.  Like I said, there weren't a lot of people at the property.  By mid-afternoon we had marked about nine miles of the course.  While riding down a bald ridge line a gust of wind hit us and knocked the kid off the trail and off his bike.  No long after that, about 18 hours after the last rain stopped, the rain started again with a vengeance.  We headed back to camp, drenched.  As the afternoon progressed, the rain seemed to increase in intensity.  The storm was drawing moisture from the Hawaiian Islands - the so called pineapple express - and it had a bull's-eye on Clear Creek. 

After dinner, with no relief in sight, the Club leadership present at the property decided to cancel the event.  Given the forecast for continued rain throughout the weekend, the likelihood that White Creek would have washed out the road again and the fact that we only had nine out of 100 miles of course marked made a difficult decision easier.

The next challenge was to communicate the decision to the outside world.  With the river flowing bank to bank again, the only option was to use the tractor of the 18 wheeler rig that Kim Kobow Trucking had loaned the Club for scoring.  The truck driver and I climbed in the cab and headed out to find a phone.  We made it across the river with the water topping the wheels and proceed towards Coalinga.  About 10 mile down the road we found a ranch and pulled up to the house, surprising the residents.  Upon explaining our situation the rancher graciously allowed us to use his phone to make a call to Salinas.  Joyce Ponton and Derrick Morris had yet to leave town and they took on the task of notifying the outside world to the best of their ability.

Ironically, Sunday dawned clear and dry.  Dave Bertram later told me that he and some Husky teammates had driven down to Clear Creek to go riding, disappointed about the cancellation since Sunday was so nice.  That was until they tried to cross the San Benito River and almost lost their bikes.

Because of scheduling conflicts with other AMA national events and holidays, we could not reschedule the national.  The AMA selected the Timekeepers MC Wild Boar as a replacement to fill out the schedule.  We ran a District 36 event later that spring of which I remember little except that we cut out the AA third loop.

Lessons Learned:  As a result of the problems encountered in 1986 we started to pre-mark the course a week or two in advance and many club members began to take vacation on the Thursday and Friday before the event in order to get the course marked.  We also shifted the location of the gas stop to a spot just off the paved KCAC haul road after negotiating a lease agreement with the property owner who controlled the road. 

To help the Club justify the cancellation to the AMA,  I asked the BLM Area Manager, Dave Howell, to send the club a letter that we could then forward on to the AMA so they would realize how dire our situation was.  Ed Tobin