4 Day Enduro 2002
Wednesday 13th March 2002 was OK but they came up with things that
were not asked for beforehand, like blood group, insurance documents and
national flags. Anyway, one way or another they were overcome like my drawing a
Union Jack about ½” square with a magic marker. My bike passed scrutineering
with no trouble, like most other events. Some riders had not done a quick check
of their bikes and found they where short on brake pads. Like my friend
(Richard) Mr Buy from Dirt Shop soon saved the day by turning up with a new set.
The scrutineer must have known what the course was like.
It started in
Bangkok on Thursday the 14th at 10am with a BS ceremony for the cameras then we
were escorted by the police in convoy about half way to Pattaya where the real
start was. On the way, however, the police escort led us up the ramp for the
elevated Banga-Trad highway, then stopped and decided against that, leading us
back down the on ramp. One begs the question what were they thinking.
The first stage
was a road section getting the championship lads to just about 45Km from Pattaya,
their off-road section started there. All off-road sections were timed to
the second, so once the ‘go’ was given you had to go like the wind. As I am only
a lowly sportsman I went to the second off-road section. On the first day, two
off-road sections only for the champs and one for us. I don’t know what the
first section was like personally but I was told it was difficult, hill climbs
etc. I would like to have given more details but that was all in my instruction
book which was lost; more about that later. My section looked OK from the start,
a soft sand track that I had not seen before, but I have had a lot of practice
at that sort of going so I was not put off at all. Once the ‘go’ was given I was
on my way quickly up the track - for me like a bat out of hell - till I got to
the first bend, when it was a different matter altogether- straight into a big
hole formed by water flow with soft sand in the bottom. That’s what you get for
going too fast into a bend. It took me several minutes to get out off that, with
much starting, restarting falling over etc. My mate Damo saw me in the hole as
he was on the next minute but managed to avoid it; lucky him. Once out, it was
slow and easy trying to catch my breath. So, on I went up the hill - nothing
But then came the
getting lost bit. Two direction arrows pointed directly across a ploughed field
so what do you do, you go directly across the field to the farm track on the
other side, don’t you?
Well as it turned
out. No. I got across the first field to the farm track to find nothing, ie, no
markers so I reckoned OK, it must be across the next ploughed field as well.
Having got near enough to see the other side it had no gap in the hedge one
began to despair, you’re losing very valuable time and only because of bad
marking. So I went back to the second farm track turning up it in the general
direction of the overall course to see if I could pick up the markers. Nothing;
so I went the other way. Nothing again, then I decided to circle back to the
last markers I had last seen. Sure enough there they were pointing directly
across the field, so try again, this time I found one tyre mark going right and,
sure enough, there was the next marker. Now the reason you can’t see them when
you get to the other side of the field is because they were then behind the tree
where they were pinned to by the time you were at the other side of the field so
you couldn’t see them.
So off again really disappointed not because of the markers
but because I had been stupid enough to fall in the hole on the first bend. Why
didn’t you follow the tyre track of those in front you may well ask? Well the
answer is I was one of the first because the champs had the other section to do
first, so the sportsmen were first on this section. So, all in all, our
first section was quite good except for that one bit of marking. I still beat
Damo as he got even more lost than me, just put that down to experience and my
time was not too bad; 14 overall in my class, not bad for my age I thought.
So it was back on
the road to Pattaya trying to follow the tulip maps, thank goodness we knew
where we were and didn’t need them for that bit. However I have had no
experience of these before so I spent that night trying to picture in my mind
what the maps referred to in reality.
must have been taken from the map as in reality they were a different story
altogether on the road.
The next day we
were to start from the Montien Hotel in Pattaya, the first bike leaving at 8 am,
I was number 62 so I left about 8.50 am as there must have been some numbers
missing. There were to be three off-road sections for us sportsman and four for
the champs on this second day.
8.50am came and I
got the ‘go’- the first road section, which was a doddle as I could tell from
the maps exactly where it was. This was a starting point that we use every
Sunday on our club trail rides. So I thought this should be good as we know just
about all the tracks that start from here. As I was given the ‘go’ for the off
road section the back end started to step out a little with the wheel spinning
on the compacted dry mud with a sprinkling of light sand on top. Calm down Paul
I said to myself. To finish first; first you have to finish. So the first
half of the section I knew well, no surprises there. Then the arrows pointed
across a farmer’s field this time with new crops. I thought they must have paid
the farmer for this.
No, the markers
were bad again. A little further on there was a track that everybody missed, the
farmer was not happy. Having got to the finish I decided my time was not bad so
started the road section, following the maps to the next off-road section. Well
me and Damo, as he was in front of me by now because he didn’t fall in the hole
on the first day, got 7/8th of the way there. Now you remember I said the
lengths of the road sections must have been taken from the map as, in reality,
they didn’t look the same on my trip meter. We had overrun by some way, the
distance allocated but hadn’t found the check-point when I picked up some
markers on the right. So I decided the check must be down there somewhere
despite the map saying the check was on the left, so we went off down a nice
little track but the wrong one. We reached the main road that we just turned off
somewhere east of where we started I guessed. We turned right and luckily got
back to the right road now approaching it from the right, not the left. We
finally found the check a long way from where they had marked it but we didn’t
get any penalty for being late so that was OK.
We were told to
wait as there was a problem, so we did for over an hour, when it was decided to
call off that section. I thought we were going to be escorted to the next
section as the maps where now useless as they begin from the end of the section
we didn’t do. I made a particular point of asking the check marshal if we should
follow the truck, which he said we should. So we followed the truck but when
they got to the main road it turned right, going south. Now I had read all the
schedule for the day and I new the next section was some way north but what can
you do but follow current instructions? OK you’re right, he was wrong, having
gone about 50km south we all turned around and came back. All of the bikes where
getting a little low on fuel by now so someone indicated to the driver of the
truck that we all needed gas so we stopped at the next gas station. Boy, were
they surprised by about 100 bikes turning up out of the blue. While the staff
were overwhelmed by the very large demand for fuel there was no one serving at
the little drinks cabinet. Everybody helped themselves I think that most people
left some cash, I know I did. But there were people from Korea, Japan,
Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan as well as Thailand. When the girl finally came
over she didn’t look unhappy at the amount of cash anyway so that’s what it’s
all about - happiness. About another hour went by when we found the rest of the
day was cancelled. They blamed us for following the wrong truck Hmm. Oh, yes.
The reason the section was cancelled was revealed later; the bike doing the
marking broke down so he couldn’t finish marking and everybody got lost ie, the
champs that started it that is. They found the rest of us at the petrol
By this time there
was a lot of fed up people. I had remarked all along that it was a horrendous
job for a Japanese organizer to put on an Enduro in Thailand. I know very well
what my good friend, Nick, has to suffer putting a one day event on in Wales.
We had now missed out on two sections from the day before, the champs had missed
three so what was going to happen? New instructions were given and maps.
Confusion rained and many people were wet. However it was clear enough to me. We
were to go to the first section that was cancelled the day before, starting from
there. At that point all was fine. I got to the section and started: good for
the most part, sandy tracks and I didn’t fall in any holes. Then I came to the
main road where there were no marshals, remembering this is timed to the second
so you have go as fast as you can on the “public highway” Hmmm. It was only a
small section of road then back to the sandy tracks with some woodland that I
had seen before, at the end. So here I was into the third day on an
international Four-day Enduro and not unhappy with my times overall, certainly
not as I am 50 next month, when most of the other competitors are in their mid
twenties. I had said though out that all I wanted to do was finish but I was
only half way down the ladder against lads that could have been my
We got to the second section of the day with no problem. I picked up fuel
at the one pump in the local town before the start. Sitting in the shade on my
bike waiting for my start time the cameraman started zooming in on me just as
they had when I was in the hole on the first day. There’s a lesson for Enduro.
If you see a lot of spectators, especially a cameraman - watch out, there is
some sort of fun for them and potential disaster for you. I should have heeded
my own warning shouldn’t I ? Anyway I got talking to the cameraman, who’s
company covering the event is from the Isle of Man, UK. He, too, had fallen in
love with Thailand over the last two or three days and wanted to stay. He rang
ahead to his buddy at the other end of the section to ask what the course was
like when the answer came back, just like the start - 22km distance, with
long fast straights on hard packed flat mud with a sprinkling of soft sand. Now,
remember this is off-road ie, off tarmac but public right of way. There can be
trucks coming in the other direction.
Dangerous or what?
I told Damo and Richard who were both there from our Sunday club, our other
three club members that had entered were in the champs, Ivan, Manote and Roland,
to take it easy but Damo is an ex-track racer and it was Richard’s first Enduro.
The one who should have taken the advice was me. So I pushed my bike to the
start and I am given the ‘go’; in my mind I am not doing nearly as badly as I
expected: fatal or almost. Well I remember the first part of the track. I
remember saying ‘Hello’ to a young lad watching the goings on then remember
looking at my speedo hovering around 140kmh (84mph). The next thing I remember
is waking up with a crowd around me under the porch of some building. I was
groggy and didn’t feel like getting up too quick but there was not a great deal
of pain, not then anyway. Soon afterwards a doctor turned up and I was
bundled into the back of a truck and taken off to the hospital. They decided
that I needed that.
When there I was
practically held up in front on the X-ray machine. The doctor told me I had a
fractured bone in my left shoulder, the clavicle, and I was taken off to the
Bangkok Pattaya hospital in Pattaya. The surgeon showed me the X-ray fracture –
a minor understatement; it’s in 5 separate pieces all pointing in different
directions. He wanted to put me under the knife there and then saying I would be
in hospital for two days afterwards. Two of the directors of the Enduro arrived
it was agreed that I go in next Friday to get sorted, besides the party for the
end of the race was Sunday and I wasn't going to miss that. I had only
just taken out the insurance two days before, which I wanted to check on as I
didn’t have the policy yet, etc. There may be a problem with that I heard
Monday last, for despite paying the money to the head man exactly what he quoted
and despite his assurance that I would be on cover as of last Thursday: anyway I
will find out more later in the week.
This turned out to be OK.
examination of my riding gear I found that both sides on my helmet had taken
heavy damage and my bike had cart-wheeled. All the instrument cluster had been
very badly damaged plus the handlebars.
I was told later
that a Taiwanese lad who had been on the next minute had seen the event from a
distance. He said the bike just seemed to spit me off in a cloud of dust. So I
guess I just got high sided after hitting some small indentation in the road. He
was very worried that he would have to give me the kiss of life but he decided
after several minutes that I was breathing so he went for help.
race was held up for 20 minutes while the doctor’s truck was called out.
The third section
was longer and more dangerous so I am told, there being a part of the dirt road
that crosses a main road with no marshals and bikes approaching it doing over
100mph, Roland had a narrow squeak there as he just about stopped as a car
passed, a tarmac road that has had several bikes across it is hard to see. I
reckon they where just trying to sort the scores out the easy way; survivors
& Last Day
That was a bit of
woodland where the marking was bad, then a bit of beach, then a one minute dash
with a moto-cross test to finish, nothing dangerous there. Despite every one
being lost in the woods I am told the moto-cross test was the hardest.
This was a Buffet
meal in the Montien Hotel in Pattaya, not a remarkable meal by any standards.
However the main thing was to see how every one had got on. The only beer going
was Singha, which has to be the worst beer in the world, in my opinion anyway. I
was very glad I had smuggled in my own bottle of Sang Som. Thai people call it
whisky but in fact it’s very good rum. There were six competitors from our club
and between us we got four awards. Minnoet came first in the AUM Champion class,
Ivan came second, while Richard achieved a fifth place in the sportsman section
this was extremely good as it was his first event ever. The last one was given
to me in the dummy section they said it was for the most action, however
according to my friends in the crowd I had the best ovation of all, probably
because they couldn’t believe an old man like me would enter such a thing in the
first place. It all ended with most people being thrown in the pool as is
somewhat customary at times like this.
The accident site
the 02/04/02 I was near the section where I my accident occurred, visiting
a very poor stupid girl in jail. If you would like to know more about this click
on this link.
As I got to the road entrance in my pick up
truck it seemed much narrower than it had on the day. This was just an
allusion as I was in the truck. My trip meter is demolished at 12k so I imagined
that I had got 12k into the section this was wrong. I must have forgotten to
reset it at the start. It must have been from the last tulip map reference I
passed on the road. The track was also a lot bumpier than I had remembered it
but that only due to the truck as agenised the bike as well. It was still as we
would regard in the UK as a Motorway section.
Just 3 to 3 1/2k into the section I came across
the accident site. It was a small village of about a dozen houses well if you
could call them that on the left hand side. Just shacks really occupied by the
local farm labours. There was also one very large well made house just a little
further down on to the right. This was a house and a business using very large
trucks any of which could have pulled out of the front entrance directly on to
the track and collected a bike on the day. Just before the beginning of the
shacks there was a hard track junction on the left and on the right at the same
point there was the end of the field marked with a row of hedges. All this was
at the end of a long fast straight. So I would have been approaching the village
at around 140k per hour this is 84mph, on my left obscured by trees until I was
right on top of it is the junction and after it the row of shacks. On the right
is the hedge which was a blind for anything come out of there and I would have
been able to see the large house a little further down on the right. Then there
was the obvious culprit, a particularly vicious speed hump of about 12 to 15" On
talking to the locals who remembered the mad flying frang very well, I was shown
where I had ended up. Which confirmed my suspicion about the speed hump, it had
been around midday so the sun was at it's height leaving no tell tale shadows.
and I am still only guessing as I still have no memory of the event, I must seen
the junction on the left that was hidden be trees, just as I was on the speed
hump that I hadn't seen and braked hard. This being the all time No No on a
jump. This brings the front wheel down when where you want it is in the air. I
guess I landed badly on the front wheel, and tucked it in under the bike and
cart wheeled both me and the bike. At least I know now what I must have done
wrong. I thanked all the locals for taking care of me until the doctor arrived
and we tried to follow the track on but only 500mt after that the track became
interesting and a little to much for the truck. This would have brought the
speed down to half the speed of where the accident happened. The joys of Enduro.
This event was run
under FIM Rules and they state that the maximum speed should not exceed 55KMH.
Well this event was run at around twice that speed. All but 3 timed to the
second sections where run on public roads that where not closed to the public
with no or few marshals. It's a wonder there where not a lot more casualties or
If this event
where held in England the organisers would be likely facing criminal charges by
now. One of the first events that I ever attended as a marshal was in a forest
in Whales. One poor man died because the special test i.e., timed to the second
section was run on long fast straights between the trees. This was considered to
have been very bad planning by the organisers. But was in no way held on any
part of a public road.
having been back to the site of my accident is that at very least the organisers
are criminally negligent to run a timed to the second section on an open public
road through an occupied village.