First Road Enduro

May 31, 2012 View Comments by

Always up for something different, I just completed my first road enduro recently. Road enduros involve navigating a mix of paved and secondary roads from a charted route, the goal being to maintain a certain average speed the entire route. All navigation must be from the chart, with no GPS units allowed. Various checkpoints, where your arrival time is recorded, are located along the route.

Around 50 riders met a few miles east of Zanesville, OH, on a sunny but crisp Sunday morning. I saw quite a few familiar faces from previous ADVrider events, and it never fails to amaze me how “tight” the dual sport crowd is in my area. Orange seemed to be the dominant color as far as the bikes were concerned, and my aging KLR 650 looked a bit drab compared to much of the farkled-to-the–hilt European hardware that was present.

I rode with another ADV rider that I knew, and we left in pairs at one-minute intervals. We were the 16th pair to leave, and there was enough departure time difference for the dust to settle between bikes. Neither of us had ridden an enduro before, and we simply wanted to enjoy the ride and hopefully find a few more good roads. The goal was to maintain a 30 mph average over the entire route, which didn’t seem too difficult. In fact, it was difficult holding our speed down to 30 mph, and we entered the first few surprise checkpoints a few minutes early.

Although the scoring system was a bit of a grey area, at least for us, we did know it was better to be late than early. We got penalized pretty bad for being faster than 30mph. Why are there always penalties for being fast? We decided to start taking it a bit more seriously, and often found ourselves waiting for several minutes at turns until the correct arrival time rolled around. We were getting a bit cocky and proud when we rolled up to a couple of checkpoints within a few seconds of our designated arrival time.

The day quickly turned into a routine of checking the roll chart for upcoming turns and arrival times, looking at the speedometer and the watch to see how we were doing, and trying to stay on the road because the navigating and timekeeping diversions made texting and cell phone use look like child’s play. My riding partner conveniently “lost” his route sheet, and simply followed me for the second half of the route.

We completed the route around midafternoon and enjoyed the camaraderie of a hearty lunch with the other riders as our scores were totaled. I assumed we must have done fairly well, since we neither passed nor were passed by more than a couple of other riders. When the scores were posted, our times were off by over 800 seconds. Yes, they score by the second. I didn’t think that was too bad for a 135-mile ride until I learned the winner was off by 5 seconds and second place by 15 seconds. Oops.

You’re probably getting the impression that perhaps I’m straddling the fence on whether or not I had a good time, and you’re right. Riding the backroads is one of my favorite activities, and it was great to see so many other riders participating in a relatively small segment of our sport. But one thing bothers me, and it’s a big thing I’m not sure I can get around. I ride motorcycles to relax, and one advantage of riding the backroads is the utter freedom they provide, whether to stop and enjoy the scenery at will or roll on the throttle and sling some gravel.

With all due respect to the guys who are good at this and take it very seriously, I can’t say that I really get it. We spend most our lives being controlled by rules of one kind or another, and when I get on a dirt road, there’s only one thing I want to do, and that’s RIDE!

Tags: , , Categories: Outside the Lines