The first Enduro of the year is always an exciting time of year and dusting off time keeping equipment is a nostalgic affair. Thoughts rage weeks before the first event such as: Should I buy a new clock? Is my computer still ok? Where is my roll chart holder? I find all this stuff in a box on the top shelf in my garage about 4 days before the event. That’s when I discover the kink in my computer cable, clock batteries are dead and my roll chart holder is nowhere to be found.
This year was different though, due to injury, I was forced to observe the NMA’s first Enduro for 2010, the Sparkplug Enduro. For this Sparkplug I am mending a broken rib and my box of timekeeping equipment remains on the top shelf in my garage.
The first Sparkplug Enduro was in 1963, according to Tommy Thomson, a “Belfair Legend”. Typically the Sparkplug is the first Enduro of the year and has been run in the Belfair-Tahuya area since it began 47 years ago.
The Bremerton Cruisers are known for using every inch of trail. They know how to link trails together so you have no idea where your going next. The fun is further enhanced by the tight single track trails. At Tahuya, the forest is covered with Salal brush, and the singletrack is defined by a few inches of bare ground. Sweet! There’s a few toe stubber’s out there too, as some have found over the years. Most of the stubber’s are covered by the Salal brush. Very sneaky. Take Caution, there’s a few good stubbers to hit in the open clear cuts too, so you may want to visit your eye doctor prior to riding Tahuya. Riding here is also a turn-turn-turn environment. If you like to turn, Tahuya’s a great place to ride. If your learning to turn, Tahuya’s a great place to enhance your turning skills. Be Forewarned, these turns wear you down at days end. Most riders are eager to cross the finish line, even when there’s a turn involved!
This year the Sparkplug was a bit different than past years Enduro’s. First, it did not rain on Saturday. Second, it did not rain on Sunday, the day of the event. Although there were a few puddles holding water, traction was superb. Dust? Not much. It must have been strange riding the Sparkplug in the near 60 degree dry weather. The views from Raines Grade would be spectacular if there was time to take a peek. To the East is a Birds Eye view of the town Belfair with Mount Rainier in the background. To the West are the Olympic Mountains. So picturesque!
Past Sparkplugs have seen rain all week long before the Enduro. By Saturday the rain comes down in buckets while the Bremerton Cruisers M/C hang arrows and set up the course. On race day, there are rivers running down and across trails. Puddles become Lakes. Your bike sounds like a jet ski as you motor though water. One year I saw an Orca Whale floating in a puddle next to the trail! Really! A club member tied off an inflatable Orca Whale in one of the biggest puddles there was. Yes indeed this year was different.
Right off the bat the Cruisers threw in a Special Test. Only 2 riders zeroed this section. My guess is they missed the added reset the morning of the event which was noted at sign up and mentioned in the riders meeting. They were lucky this was a check out and not a check in, since none of the AA riders or A rider’s zeroed Check 1. At Check 2, nobody from Long Course or Short Course cleaned this check. By check 3 a few riders caught their breath since out of the 138 riders attending, 14 riders zeroed Check 3. Then after Check 3 was the Gas Stop!
Since this is a Gas Stop, everyone knows there will not be a check 2 miles before and 3 miles after the Gas Stop, which was at 35.6 miles. Also, an added benefit was the large reset. Riders received 22 minutes to fuel up their bikes then jam down to the next possible to rest and munch on a power bar. After the Gas Stop riders headed near “Toonerville” where the course went through an old abandoned bus. The Woods are tight here and at the check out, which was check 4, only one rider zeroed this check, Dave Sheets.
Soon Short Course riders split from the Long Course at Check 5. Long course riders received an additional 20 plus mile beating including 2 more checks for a total of 7 check points. According to Dean Nail, he never rode well until the last 20 miles. Really Dean? 5 points total for riding Long Course is pretty good!
Awards went quick and without a hitch. The Overall Short Course Winner was Cory Freilinger with 10.0334 points. There was a 2 way tie for the Short Course Overall with emergency tests used as the tie breaker. Cory’s Overall Competitor’s was Ken Norris with 10.0415 points. The Overall Long Course Winner was Dean Nail with 5.0246 points. Deans closest Overall Competitior was Dave Sheets and Scott Mcfate who had 7.0301 and 7.0302 points respectively.
The NMA Competition Committee gave away some goodies too. Compliments of the MSR Contingency Program. Dutch Van Elk won a MSR Enduro Pac. TJ Swartz and Dave Sheets won Answer Tool Pac’s. All NMA Competition License holders are eligible to win, and must be present to win. Sorry Zach Paukert and Arron LeClair, you guys needed to be there!
Complaints? I’m sure there were a few. The few complaints I heard were:
1) It was too tough.
2) The trails were too tight.
3) There was sooo much single track.
4) No check out after a section where you lost time.
How could anyone complain? It was warm. It was sunny. There were perfect soil conditions. There were miles and miles of arrowed single track! Are you nuts? It doesn’t get any better than this folks.
I would like to thank the Bremerton Cruisers M/C for taking the time to put this event on. They logged many hours preparing the trails for this event which is appreciated by all attending. Great Job Bremerton Cruisers! Dean Nail would like to thank his sponsor, Lucas Oil. I’m sure Dutch, TJ and Dave would like to thank MSR for the tool packs too, so thank you MSR.
Oh and Sparkplug, I’ll see you next year!