2001 Quicksilver National Enduro
The 2001 Quicksilver National Enduro is in the books and the Salinas Ramblers wish to congratulate Mike Lafferty for his second win of this young enduro season. We would also like to thank all of the riders who entered and contested this event. Finally, we would like to thank the numerous companies and individuals who sponsored the event through the donation of contingency prizes, trophies and other items. This support is greatly appreciated.
And now, for the rest of the story......
Due to heavy snow over much of the riding area above 3,500 ft. elevation, the Club was not able to use the 100+ mile course on which we had worked for the past four months. Much of the course (and the good trails) are located between 4,000 and 5,000 ft. elevation and in the more remote parts of the riding area.
The first blow came the 8/9th of Feb. when a cold winter storm dumped 6+ inches on snow on the Creek. On Saturday the 10th, our trail work parties were unable to get much marking done because of the snow. On Saturday night and Sunday morning another storm blew through the area, depositing even more snow in the upper elevations and a couple inches in Rambler camp (elevation 2,600 ft).
Monday: This morning, the trail boss, Billy Waltrip and his assistant, Ed Tobin (the author) decided that it would probably be impossible to run the event as planned and that we would have to run a wet weather/snow course i.e. fire roads. The advanced weather forecast for the weekend was calling for showers on Friday, rain on Saturday and showers again on race day. A phone call to the BLM confirmed that they would permit us to run a wet weather/snow course and a call to Hugh Fleming at AMA confirmed that the Club, in an emergency, could run an event with less than the 85 miles required distance. So far, so good.
Thursday: On Thursday morning, Billy, Ed and William Schwarz, the BLM ranger for Clear Creek met to review and ride the proposed wet weather/snow route. Every year since 1994, when the Club was forced to run a snow course, the club had filed a wet weather/snow course with the BLM and in fact had a alternate enduro laid out, ready to go. Every year except 2001, when we changed the traffic flow direction and neglected to redesign the wet weather/snow alternate . This meant that we had to lay out a new enduro from scratch, in three days. Complicating this was the fact that many of the fire roads we planned to use in the first part of the new course themselves had 8-12" of snow.
The plan was to lay out a loop of approximately 30 miles and run it twice, first at 18 MPH and then at 24 MPH. For simplicity, we had to place the checks in locations that were easy for the check captains to locate and get to. For safety reasons we had to lay out a course that could be accessed by a 4 wheel drive vehicle in the event of an injury. Finally, Billy thought that we should run a third loop, actually a short special test loop, through the Picacho Rocks trails near Rambler camp so that we would not end up with a zero run decided on tiebreaker points.
Leaving Rambler camp around 10:30 AM, we immediately hit snow at 3,000 ft. and it just got worse as we gained elevation towards our first destination, a trail intersection known as 4 Corners. Before the snow got too deep we placed our first check at 3.6 miles. Soon, the snow became so deep in places that you could not ride through it. Billy was in the lead and would stop, get off the bike ( no need for a kickstand) and tromp the snow down in front of his front wheel to the point where he could once again make some headway.
From 4 Corners, we took a road that contoured around the next ridge on the sunny side (south/west facing side). Snow was not as bad here and we were able to plow through without any stopping, except to take mileages at turns. Of course, the trail looked as though a bunch of drunks had ridden down it. Eventually, we work our way downhill to Clear Creek road near Staging Area 6 where we placed the second check. The snow had melted in Clear Creek canyon and on parts of the main road heading towards New Idria, but as soon as we climbed to an elevation where the proposed course left the main road, we again found ourselves back in 6-8" of snow again with drifts up to 18" deep. Before the snow got too deep, we placed our next check (a check-in following a big reset) at 16.8 miles.
We had only traveled about 12 ground miles total when Billy had to switch to reserve on his 2000 KTM 300EXC. Leading through the deep snow had taken a toll on his gas mileage. I was not in much better shape on my '97 300 EXC, but I have a slightly larger tank. William had dropped out with mechanical problems right after we reached Clear Creek road and would later be rescued by some club members in a 4X4.
Billy and I beat a hasty retreat on snowless main roads back to camp to refuel around 3PM and then we made a hasty return to continue with the layout effort. The course was designed to head towards the lower elevations around Clear Creek canyon and we eventually were able to work our way to Staging Area 2. Along the way we placed a check at the end of the only single track trail section in the loop and then another one at Staging Area two.
By now it was starting to get dark but we forged on. From Staging Area 2 we were able to use a majority of the fire roads that we had intended to use in the original enduro course as this was a transportation section back to camp towards the end of the original event. We did have to throw out one trail section and replace it with a road as it would have become a bottleneck, given the conditions. The loop leader for this section, Steve Kelly and is partner Alfred Browne had spent the day marking this portion of the course so all we had to do was follow their lines through the snow and take turn mileages.
Finally, within four miles of camp, it became too dark to continue safely, even with headlights, and we again retreated to the flat roads back to camp, getting back around 7PM.
Friday: Mostly sunny and warm. Because rain was forecast for Saturday, all of our loop leaders and many of our hardcore riders showed up to get the marking done early. Billy and I split up today. He led a marking crew around the first 9.6 miles of the course and then mileaged the third loop. I took a marking crew around the remaining course and mileaged a final check near camp. I heard lots of stories about soft landings in the snow from Billy's marking crew. Apparently some found it very hard to ride the deep rutted snow. The snow on the south/west facing trails was melting rather quickly.
Friday night was spent developing a new route sheet and sanity checking it.
Saturday: Partly cloudy to mostly cloudy and warm. More snow melted and Clear Creek road was dusty. The first nine miles of trail became seemingly more difficult to ride with mud now mixed with the melting snow but the rest of the course was almost devoid of snow. Final marking was done to the 31 mile loop and the special test loop. Billy and I double checked mileages into checks and led check captains out to their new locations. By nightfall, the course was ready.
Saturday Night: The long promised rain finally materialized, but only a light dose and it was warm enough that it did not snow in the course.
Sunday: Low clouds and a couple of early showers. The Salinas Ramblers executed another perfect national enduro. Clear Creek road was not dusty, the lower trails were a bit slimy and the first nine miles took points from just about everyone but the AA riders. Many of the AA riders zeroed the first two loops. The third loop special test proved to be the deciding factor (good thinking Billy!).
Sunday Night around the campfire: Billy and I were asked multiple times why the club had worked so hard for four months laying out a national enduro when all it really took was three days.
Now you know the rest of the story!.
Salinas Ramblers Enduro Staff
Billy Waltrip, Trail Boss and Coordinator
Ed Tobin, Enduro Consultant
Entries/Sign-In: Charlotte Gomes and Robin Morasca
Scoring: Larry Deaton and Derrick Morris
Loop1, Sec. 1: Steve Aday and Matt Rohr
Loop1, Sec. 2: Joe Gomes and Steve Morasca
Loop 2, Sec. 1: Manual Datan and Frank Rodgers
Loop 2, Sec. 2: Steve Kelly and Alfred Brown
Loop 3 (AA): Chris and Ross Burnett
Check Leaders: Angie Hildreth, John Phillips, Brian Winn, Ron Carson, Bob Pitts, Jeff Buckner, Dave Middleton, Steve Aguirre