Dawn breaks …… we may be able to repair her later
Despite all the problems of fire and flood the Casper event rolls on and the annual pilgrimage begins.
Normally a 2 day run to get there, this year we elect for a butt crack of dawn start, which for those not
used to Mountain Man time, is about 2 hours before the crack of dawn and 3 before dawn breaks.
We actually leave only 30 mins late and the 12 hour drive begins. A problem free drive and I’m soon
learning how to control the Safari engine temp playing boost against coolant to keep the dreaded red
light off. This problem has to be addressed in the next couple of months and after many consultations
it requires the complete removal of the radiator and a mega clean. One of the issues with this engine
is that for some reason, and unlikely as it sounds, the dipstick is the wrong length ! So, if you fill to the
full mark you have put in about 1/2 a gallon of excess oil which the engine now gets rid of via the CAT
called “slobber tube” or as the rest of us would call it a crankcase breather. The slobber tube stops
short of the radiator so the hot oil blows directly onto the radiator and now with dust and grot blown up
by the rear wheels blocks the lower portion of the rad causing the overheating. According to the CAT
people this is a simple, but time consuming fix, and costs around $4000 to do.
12 hours of driving later we are at the Trials Mecca ……. just downhill and through the gate where we meet the welcoming committee
“You must be Tony ? ……. Raeph sent us ……. enjoy”
The twelve hour drive is complete and we roll in and get our first real look at Mother Nature’s attack on
the hallowed trials land. New ribbons all down Hog’s Back in the newly discovered sections. The pits
area is unaffected by the devastation so we roll into our reserved parking slot that we have used since
2005 and are quickly set up for the weekend.
Whether Raeph and Priscilla have got their way, or maybe the recession has bitten into disposable
income I’m not sure, or it could be that many of us vintage riders have just simply retired I don’t know
but we are missing an awful lot of what used to be the vintage crowd when Ahrma was in its trials
heyday. Only 7 Ahrma entries ? …… I can remember when I came here in 2005 for the first time there
must have been 50+ ……so where have they all gone ??? If I were to list them all from names that just
flash through the memory banks I can think of 30 that are still alive and kicking and as we know that
trials bug just never goes away. Maybe we need to rally the clans once more, maybe put in more easy
sections that are not intimidating for the 60 and 70 year olds ?
But, no matter, good to see all those that DID make it and fantastic work by Dan and Bob who have
struggled to get this up and running against everything that has been thrown in their way.
Day 1 begins at around 2’ish and if memory serves me right we have 7 sections on Hog’s Back then
down to the remains of the creek for 8-10.
After two very good rides at Dolores I’m hoping for more of the same but over the years I’ve had some
variable results at Casper despite it being my favorite event on the calendar. Lets see how today goes
as No1 is a variation on previous years and has a choice of lines at about mid section with either a
straight up attack or a roll off after the first set of embedded rocks and a dip down lower line with both
lines then turning left into the downhill wiggle. One thing about ALL Casper sections is LINE! If you
are on it the section almost becomes a gimmee, but stray a few inches either way and you can be in
all kinds of trouble.
I elect to take the upper line and hit the rock jumble a little too far left which throws the back wheel
sending me towards the large overhang rock and a very unspectacular 3 ! No clean card today thanks
to a less than positive attempt. Lower line next time!!
Section 2 doesn’t go much better despite giving myself a severe talking to. I get target fixation on a
clump of cut sapling stumps and of course ride straight into it ! This sets me up badly for the uphill
and I hit a smooth rock with power on and need a 3 to get round the first turn…….. very dumb!
Section 3 goes well and I stay exactly where I want to be and of course it rides as a gimmee. 4 takes
marks from the group I’m with but looks cleanable with care. An upshot to turn above an outcrop then
gentle right on idle to set up for a left onto an upper ledge and ride out to the exit. Nice clean here so
on with the show.
No recall of 5, but at 6 its again choices, choices, choices. Either up onto an upper plateau and then
slight downhill into dipping left hander and up the hill for some simple turns and downhill run out, or
take a lower turn across the adverse and straight into the dipping left hander. I take the high line and
it seems to work but poor body weighting and I can’t quite hold on so a “tippee toe” is in the books!
7 looks simple enough with an adverse rock crossing as the starter noting where your wheels go
to avoid any chance of track crossing later on when you come back down to the exit. Second obstacle
of a big slab requires positioning so that you get a smooth transition coming off the rock to set up for
the rest of the hill and then descend keeping tight on the blue near the exit. It rides as planned.
Hog’s back done, so now down to the creek and see what damage has been done down here by the
flood. 8 is an old favorite with shallow running water on a firm base, some mud, and a whole load of
silt wash sand dragged in by the raging torrents. Cross the stream, wide on the mud/grass and a
quick squirt up the bank, then adverse sand which will pack down, and gently back across the creek
into uphill left turn on the opposite bank which is getting wetter with every passing rider. Well I’ve
always liked this one and it has memories of my youth.
9 looks like the remnants of the old “Island” section lower half and has had some dramatic changes
which give it a whole new flavor. Drop in the water out of more wash sand, loose rock turn to cross
into a water turn around some bigger rocks and then left over a few trees into a gentle right downhill
back through the water. Up onto a grassy flat bank for a tight right hander to the exit. No problems
here so on to the last of the loop.
Dan mid way through 9
Wolfy in action on 9
John Clement takes the Honda up the bank
Bob on the tabletop
Ed and Evelyn are checking this one down in the creek by the start. The basic shape of the “old”
tried and true section is here but all the giant logs and rocks have gone walkabout and are nowhere
to be seen. Quite amazing the power of angry water !! Adverse downhill to the water and through a lot
of golf ball sized well washed white rock gravel. Follow the stream with a few loose rocks to the climb
out point then blast up the rutted hill and around the tree. New piece takes us downhill again to the
edge of the water and then up a 10′ bank to the exit. 7 lost this time round but it was cleanable and
Dan or Chris could easily have a clean loop !
Trialsmaster Dan having a great ride today
Rick Armstrong lining up for the exit
Chris pops up the bank
Out of the creek, up the slot, now round the tree
……. and when the cameras are out you can rest assured there will be some showboating so first we
see Trialsmaster Bob with his frisky Baby Yam
Whoa boy !
STEADY Girl, Steady!!
…….and MTS Expert Mike Shay shows us a release from his latest film “The Trials Fugitive” starring
the infamous “one legged man”
Mike Shay at the finish of 10
Loop 2, and with checkers today I seem to be riding by myself with very few holdups. Try the lower
line on 1 but too fast into the dip and another dab goes out the window. Stay on line in 2 for a nice
clean so 5 better than last time with a bit more concentration. Clean all the way to 6 and after another
walk around the choices I elect to use the same upper line which doesn’t ride as well so another dab
is lost. 7, 8 and 9 go well and on E&E’s I hit a roller in the stream which takes me by surprize for a
second round total of 3. Again should have been round clean.
Nicely in control on 10, shame about the dab in the stream
Last loop with lots of time, and now the upper line of 1 is looking very tempting. Wolfy cleans it with
ease so I’ll try the same. Close but no cigar and yet another clumsy dab. At 2 the fixation is back!! I
am now way wide at the bottom of the hill and need a curling uphill to get to desired line and still
have the power on when I hit the smooth rock. Back wheel skips off into deep loose dirt and I can’t get
her up and round the bush which results in a 5 that I could have done without. Back at 6 I take the
lower line and it rides on rails…… wish I’d done that on the previous attempts. No more mistakes and
6 for the loop. Not a winning performance today but good practice and an enjoyable trial nonetheless.
Good clean to finish