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Number of posts : 245
Age : 41
Location : Chillicothe
Registration date : 2007-11-20

PostSubject: Decisions   Sat Apr 18, 2009 9:43 pm

Decisions, our lives are filled with them everyday of the week. Our decisions impact us all personally and in most cases impact others around us and in some cases impact those that we are not in direct contact with. Today I, along with about 100 other racers, made a decision to attempt the Bone Bender 3/6 race at Smithville Lake and it we made the wrong choice. Now I will say that we trusted the decision that the race promoters had made to go ahead and have the race but due to the rain I think we knew it wouldn't be a wise choice and that choice was all ours. Shame on them for letting the race go on but shame on us for being destructive to an awesome trail system. The 11 mile course started out wet and soupy but was still rideable and then about 1 mile in it quickly turned into a mud/clay combination that was locking up wheels and destroying drivetrains in a matter of seconds. I along with most other riders had to push my bike through this nasty sticky mud that caked itself to our frames, wheels, drivetrains, and don't forget about our shoes. I bet I stopped at least 60 times to scrape mud off my rig and this was just in 1/2 of a lap, that's right only 5.5 miles. You might make it 20 yds before the rear wheel would seize up and then you would just be dragging your bike through the trail. At the 5.5 mile mark (and it took me just shy of 2 hrs to get this far) I made a decision to take a paved road back to the race start, a decision that a lot of others made but I wish that everyone had made. We as a group were destroying a trail system, it isn't that we were just rutting it up, I have never seen a trail in this condition and I hope that I never will again.

I remember thinking during the carnage that I hope the supporters of H B 2 5 0 never hear about our decision today. We have been working to prevent this bill from passing, a bill that would allow horses on our trails. And of course we all know why we don't want them on our trails, the path of destruction that the horses can create is enourmous. But here we were engaged in hypocrisy, because we were making an absolute mess of this trail system. I am very upset that I ended up with a DNF today but I think I made the right decision to exit the race early for the sake of the trails and of my equipment. I am ashamed to say that I didn't make the right decision before the race started.

I guess I am sending this as words of advice for all of us that are trail users and trail stewards. We can't take for granted the trails that we have and abuse them like they were today. I am very grateful for all the hours of work that has been done on our trail systems and for the opportunity to ride on them and it is our responsibility to keep that privilege available for ourselves and others in the future.
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Doug Long


Number of posts : 475
Location : Chillicothe
Registration date : 2007-11-20

PostSubject: Re: Decisions   Mon Apr 20, 2009 5:39 am

Bernzie makes a lot of valid points, especially about making responsible choices. I spent a lot of time thinking about this on the ride home, cleaning up equipment, and then late into the evening.

I guess before we start pointing fingers, we need to remember the saying "whenever you point one finger forward, there are three fingers pointing back!" No one held a gun up to my head and made me go to Smithville and race. I made a concious decision, and therefore, became part of the problem.

Here are some of "MY" thoughts.
We all know it takes lots of planning and physical labor to put on a successful event. Even when you work your butt off, under the best conditions, events don't succeed. The promoters, trail crew, etc.... of the BB36 actually did everything possible to offer a top drawer, professiional event and had overwhelming rider participation. They did everything that they had in their power to control, for the benefit of the riders. The only thing they couldn't control was the weather.

I'm not going to play the "woulda, coulda, shoulda" game. Ben there done that before. The event is over and now it's a "wait and see" period as fair as possible damage to trails and also a "what can we learn from this" opportunity.

What went wrong? Why not just cancel the race and not take a chance of damaging the trails? That decision was a hard one to call. First, the race had been cancelled once already because of poor trail conditions and this was the makeup date on an already crowded event calendar. The event was also a fundraiser for ERTA and a large volunteer base had committed to helping put the event on and prep trails, etc... The trail crew worked their butts off all week preping the trails to showcase the Smithville trail system and offer the racers a primo race lap and venue. Remember what I said about promoting, Chris Locke used every message board and email base available to promote this event, and was still promoting the event till the nth hour Friday night encouraging riders to show up and race, because they felt the trails could handle a little moisture and the trails were "powder dry" on Friday!

There is that point of "no return" when you have to make the call because of the riders that were traveling either Friday night or very early Saturday morning. There were riders from at least 5 states that I recognized. Also, keep in mind that with Heartland not promoting as many events this year racers were anxious to race.

The "perfect storm" was setting up. Racing anytime on dirt trails in the spring is a crap shoot and the dice were about to get tossed. Forecast is for AM showers, then clearing. The trails are dry except for a few wet spots where gravel as been applied. All good intentions! The locals say the trails can handle some rain and still be good to go. Decision made-race on!!!!

No rain in the morning when Mitch and I leave for Smithville. Showers start about Breckenridge and I comment that we might as well turn back if it keeps up to Cameron. Approaching Cameron, rain is very light and it's clearing. Maybe Smithville didn't even get the shower we did and they are going to dodge a bullet. More clearing and some blue in the skies heading down I-35 and no rain till we reached Smithville and the venue. Around 10:00 the rain started steady and so were the flow of riders arriving and filling the parking lots. The promotion had obviously been successful!

I started questioning some of the locals about the condition of the trails and the capacity to shed water. No problems, they are solid underneath. May be a little slimmy on top, but good to go and should be ok! Riders are still pulling into the lots and lining up to register.

12:00-Race starts. Everything else is just history and pretty much summed up in Mitch's post. The purpose of my post was neither to ridicule or defend the decision that this race was not cancelled Saturday morning. Remember, it wasn't raining at Smithville at 7:00 am and the trails were still primo. Racers had already left from points all over the Midwest and were expecting to race! There was no turning back from this point on!

What I took from this experience is, if there is rain in the forecast for the day of the event, the event is cancelled! That is the policy. It takes the politics out of the decision making and sets a standard that the racers can expect for your event. Is there a chance that it won't rain and the event could have gone on? We live in the Midwest so you know the answer to that question and I've already told you my thoughts on "coulda, woulda, shoulda!"
Enough said. It's time to move forward, be proactive, and take something from this experience.
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