Red Bull 1 Day Enduro
My day began about 6.30am, as usual.
The morning was overcast at that time for which I was grateful but then again it
usually is at that time of the day in the rainy season. All my kit was already
packed away ready the night before. I am never at my best until an hour or two
after I wake up so if I had have left it till the morning there would be a good
chance that I would have forgotten something. So after a quick cup of char I set
off. The event was a few miles inland from Chonburi at a place known locally as
Kowe Keaow, it's not that far from where I live about one hour taking it easy.
I arrived at around 8am, and parked up
where I had done the last few weeks that I had been invited down by the local
club to look over the track. I put my kit on and got the bike off the back of
the truck, thinking ‘Where is everybody?’; the time is getting on. Having got
myself all ready for the off, I sauntered up to the café – well, OK, that’s
about the nearest word I know in English that describes the establishment. There
I found Ron, one on the colonials I had met on the disaster of a trail ride I
had attended up north. Following the normal greeting between POHM's and
colonials, none of which I would print on this sort of site, I found out they
were starting the event from about half a mile up the road.
This was no problem I would just ride
up there. Starting the bike WAS a problem as I had managed to flood it because
some evil person had switched off the emergency ignition switch. Having finally
got under way I was considering putting the bike back on the truck and going
home. Anyway I didn't, proceeding to the signing-on table up at the start. Ten
dollars later I was a competitor. I might add a competitor that was determined
to take it easy and definitely not hurt himself today. They had a really posh
start with tents with motor-cycle spares, drinks and one of those blow up half
circles for the starting line. The Thais are terrible show offs but then at the
same place a bicycle race was starting directly after us mostly on the same
track I might add. The very idea, doing the same thing without an engine is
enough to make me collapse on the spot.
Well, after the pictures were taken
and all the other finery we where on the 100 yd's or so of road to the real
start. There, the stop-watch was out and my start card was marked. Finally the
go and off down the very sandy track looping around the start area, then off
into the jungle. OK I don't suppose my Uncle Don would have called it jungle
having been captured in Singapore in WW2 and worked on the Rangoon -Bangkok
railway for the Japanese but for sure it's as near to it as I ever want to come.
The first of four legs, all timed to the second, was 20 kilometres long and the
time allowance, 45 minutes. It was a very nice run with not a great deal to
report; most of it was what I would call genuine off road i.e., not many
farmer’s tracks, with a lot of over hanging vegetation making it difficult to
see what you where actually riding on.
Not far out of the start I was bitten
by something on my upper thigh either inside my motocross Jeans or through them.
I didn't see what it was but it was not unlike a bee sting at first a jab then
it got to be a hot burning sensation. My leg was beginning to swell and the next
day it was to cost me a $20.00 hospital bill for antibiotics etc,. For me,
anyway, this kept the speed down and the riding safe. I had ridden over this
particular part three weeks ago and recognised a lot of it.
This was much the same as SS1, up hill
down dale, weaving around the odd farm house deep in the depths of the Thai
country side. This was a big day for the locals all sitting on the porch of the
family home with the kids at any rate waving to the riders as they went by,
probably most surprised to see a farang taking part in the event. For myself I
always like to wave back if nothing else to promote a friendly atmosphere. As
all Enduros across the world depend on the locals for there co-operation. Where
I have done just about all the other Enduros in the past is Wales in the UK.
Here the local Welsh people are quite sporty but the problems arise for the
English gentle folk who buy a country cottage for their retirement or an escape
for the odd weekend.
These people can be downright
unpleasant. I personally came across one on an ill-fated event, the first to be
held in Snowdonia North Wales. My friend Nick & I arrived early at the event to
help as marshals. If I remember correctly we were asked to open the course, the
point being to check the marking but even at this point one could tell that the
event was - to say the least - not very well organised. Anyway, we set off.
In particular, I was not very well acquainted with the tracks around that area
and although Nick had much more experience than me, a lot was new to him as
well. So there we were at a junction in the wood and the markings had run out,
Nick made his best guess so we took off in the hope we could find the next
marker then retrace our steps and join up with them in time for the first
competitor to arrive at the point where the markers had stopped.
Well we went this way, then that, but
failed. At this time there were competitors turning up and at this point they
were lost. All we could do was to tell them to try and get back to the start.
The event was obviously over and Nick decided that the best thing we could do
was clean up i.e., take down what markers there were.. While Nick and another
bloke, Alan, when off in one direction I was asked to stay and wait for them at
a particular point - for the life of me I can't remember why now. While I was
waiting with my bike a smallish dog came up wagging its tail. I was patting the
dog who seemed quite happy to see me when his owner appeared over the rise.
He was not happy, this man was in his
late fifty's to mid sixty's and as soon as he saw me he came out with a tirade
of Anglo Saxon, hardly stopping to draw breath. Now my first thought was to
punch him right on the nose, but I thought better of this because I didn't know
if anybody had enough money on them for my bail so I smiled instead this seemed
to make him worse so I leant over and told him that I knew where his cottage was
and I was going to make a point of coming up every Sunday to ride round and
around it. Of coarse, I had no idea where his cottage was but he didn't know
that and for some reason this seemed to make him worse.
I had intended to wind him up so much
that he would have a heart attack right there. Luckily for him Nick returned. He
presumably imagined that I had done something other than stand there by my bike
to start this bloke off and started to apologise. Anyway we left before there
was any reason to call an ambulance. Oh yes where were we? Back to the event in
Thailand where there was no such unpleasantness. There was one down-hill that
was quite a little challenge, it was fairly steep but not dramatic. What made it
a challenge was the water gully in the middle which was was quite deep and would
have presented a real struggle if you managed to fall into it. It was flanked by
bevelled sides at a good angle themselves so if you were to add the slightest
amount of power to the back wheel you would have been in it for sure. OK so
there were two sides to the water gully and luckily I picked the right one, that
literally was the only one. About half way down you had to cross the gully
luckily at this point where it was narrow and had been filled in.
This made it work but not easy not for
me anyway. At this point it was stop, point and accelerate but not too much
because the other side was steeply bevelled also. That was not to speak of the
over grown foliage that was right in your face on the that side. anyway having
negotiate the crossing it was just a matter of slowly trickling down trying to
see where you where going at all because of the vegetation. Shortly after that
there was an up-hill bit that I had tackled the week before, but was not
difficult. There were several water gullies but they were not that deep or
tricky and the trick to this hill was power and momentum. Unfortunately there
was a bike strewn across it half way up. I stopped because I was concerned about
the rider. He must have been hurt to leave his bike like that.
Well I shouted and looked around, on
one side there was quit a steep bank leading down to the track and the same on
the other side but down not up. I thought he may have fallen through the thick
bushes but there was no chance of that they where much to thick, I wondered if
he had catapulted himself over the top of them and been lying injured somewhere
down the side of the hill that I couldn't penetrate. As I was looking having
found nothing, the next two riders had picked there way gingerly past me my bike
and his. I then thought what the hell they don't seem to care so why should I
and got on my bike and went on. I found him about 2 kilometres further down the
track sitting on the side of the bank. I thought should I stop but by that time
I was past him and already lost a lot of time looking for him where he wasn't
and went on to finish the section. After all he had walked that far he could
wait for the closing marshal or walk the rest.
This was only 7 kilometres unlike the
last two which where both 20 each. This was a nice section with no concern apart
from the river crossing. By the time I was there it was all silted up with a
deepish tire rut forming on the far side which had a steep bank leading out of
the river. But it was easy and presented no problems.
Then there was the dinner brake. By
the time I had about 1 ¾ hr, before SS4 this would be to allow everybody at
least a one hour break before the event began again in the afternoon. My first
thing was to get to where I had parked my truck and fill up with gas. There I
found my colonial friend Ron who had been suffering a stomach problem earlier
that day having perhaps unwisely eaten seafood the night before. This is for
sure uncomfortable on a ride like this. I had a quick Coke and a few fags
(before you think I am strange, a fag is an English term for cigarette).
So I went back to the main mustering
point and met Ron again who had his bike in bits at this time. Two of his Thai
friends were strip cleaning and re-lubricating his steering head bearings. I
thought this was a little ambitious in the time that was remaining, about 1¼
hours, but I was wrong they were very capable mechanics and completed that task
then set about swapping the rear sprocket on another bike; both were completed
with time to spare. Thai people around me offered me some food but I declined,
one because I don't like to eat in the middle of an event but two because I am
not so keen on what they find delicious. I was later to find this was a big
We all set off in convoy at 1 o'clock
to ride the 6 or so kilometres to SS4. This was the only bit of bad origination
on the whole event. We got there and waited and waited about another 1½ hours
for the marshals to turn up. There was little shade from the sun on what now had
turned out to be a rather warm day, well it was in this particular jungle
clearing anyway. Finally it was my turn to start and disappearing down the track
I still had in mind that I was determined not to hurt myself. Anyway plodding on
the next rider caught me up. I had seen this guy a few times before and he was
fast so I was not in the least put out by this, trying to stay with him would
surely mean incapacity and more hospital bills, so I let him go.
Shortly after that I came across
another rider who had obviously taken a wrong turn. Now this lad was slow but I
kept hospital bills in mind and stayed behind him for a while as there was
barely room to overtake anyway. Then there was another rider behind he was fast
and overtook but this started the adrenalin flowing, winding it on I overtook
the slow rider and was right on the other guy's tail. He would have liked to
have shaken me off but there I was right on his rear wheel. Down the track we
raced to a clearing but he missed a marker and went the wrong way. I could have
blown the horn etc, but I thought, ‘No, this is a race’ and let him go on in the
wrong direction. He arrived at the finish about a minute after me. From there to
the last part of the event the motocross test.
I arrived and there were only about
three riders in front of me waiting for the start. This was good; I was a little
put off by all the waiting around for SS4. This was a very nice section that
weaved in and out around the side of one of the reservoirs. Not a lot to report,
lots of ruts and turns on some sand but a lot of hard packed gravel leading to
the odd rear brake turn, this bearing in mind just how hard that sort of stuff
is to land on. Apparently there is a picture of me at this point so I will put
it in here if I every get it.
I was glad to get my kit off as it was
now quite warm and then I saw my friend Roland’s wife Miriam, she had offered me
a beer while waiting for SS4 to begin, at that time I had refused knowing that
beer and off-road events don't mix too well. However, now was the time for sure
and it was one on the best cans of Heineken I have ever tasted.
After the motocross test it was back
up the road to the start area. Lots of waiting around mostly looking for where
Roland's little boy, Leroy, had disappeared too. Much re-hashing of parts of the
event, small accident and big holes that people had been stuck in. The prize
giving was taking forever to get under way and I was hungry to say the least, as
I hadn't eaten that day at all, deeply regretting having refused lunch off the
real kind Thai people that I had never meet before in my life, who had kindly
offered me food. Darkness came and to my surprise food was given out plus a
bottle of Maekong for each table. It was Thai food but for sure it was eaten and
enjoyed; pork with chilli taken with cabbage leaves. The overall winner was
Manot, the same bloke who has ridden with my club and won the 4 day event back
in March. Despite having a small spill Roland was fourth overall. That was it.
There where big speakers on the stage, no doubt for some revelry as the night
wore on, but for me it was time for going home.