The Rut; Summer of 2003

My son Bryan and I, as well as a couple of the other local guys have
been working on the trails of the Hare Scrambles course at Healing
Springs, NC over the last couple of week-ends and today we were going
to ride.

The trails are passable, but in very poor condition. There are
holes, roots, rocks, ruts and assorted trail junk littering the old
race track. The ground was wet, and water was standing in all the
holes, ruts and low laying areas. A couple of the streams were high
and in places out of the banks. Still, in other places the ground
resembled loam, and good traction was available.

I rode a total of 4 laps, which is about what I would do in a typical
race there. It did take me more than an hour and a half to get them
done on the other hand.

The first lap I felt like a total spode, well ok, even more so than
normal. I remember having thoughts of just selling the bike and
changing my name to Alice 'cause I sure didn't seem to be able to
ride
the blasted thing. At the end of the lap I pulled in and stopped for
a bit. Drank some water and shot the s*** with the guys that were
there with us.

I ran the next two laps back to back, I was beginning to get the feel
for the bike and getting into a groove riding. For sure I wasn't
haulin' a$$, but I did have a good pace and more importantly to me, I
was starting to get that feeling of flowing with the bike. In a
couple of sections I found myself actually attacking the course and
the obstacles on the trail. I took another lengthy pit stop at the
end of those laps to rest and re-group. I still had one more in me,
and as I was getting familiar with the course I hoped that I'd be able
to put in a lap at a quick pace and then park it for the day.

Leaving on the last lap I felt confident and good. It was great to
be on the bike, and though I rode through some of the more technical
and difficult sections like the total spode I really am, in others I
felt like a hero, connecting several turns and straights at a time
making few mistakes and keeping my pace up.

I was coming out of a slick small little downhill section and
remembered a line at the end of the section that lead right across
the
middle of a piece of bottom land. I had been going left and around
over some nasty a$$ slick roots and losing time, so I decided to go
right down the middle in this wide rut that was full of standing
water.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have tried to do it like some
sort of GNCC hero but at the time it seemed perfectly logical. I
twisted the throttle and got the old 432 Clatterdale up on the cams.
The front end was light and I was standing, crouched with my weight
back. At first the rut was about as deep as I'd figured it was and
my momentum was carrying me easily through it, the front end not
really touching the water but just skimming across the top. Traction
was there so I continued pouring it on focusing on the top of the
rise ahead.

I could actually feel the rear tire digging in and the bike
accelerating through the mud and goo. I was in control and focused.
Life was good.
By now you’re figuring that something is about to go wrong. You of
course would be right.

No, I didn't crash and get hurt, and really I didn't even technically
crash, as I never came off the bike. But...

It was if the earth just opened up and tried to swallow me. In fact
I don't mind admitting that for a moment I envisioned myself riding
into some sort of geological anomaly or something. The ground just
simply vanished. At first I was sort of hydroplaning across the top
of the water but the back end quickly headed down and the water was
so deep that the only way I know how to describe the feeling is that
it felt just like when you drop the rope water skiing. I slowed down
and sunk at the very same angle that I had entered the rut. The
water was almost up to my knees and my a$$ was wet, and the sumbitch
was STILL SINKING but still going forward. My only hope was that I
would find the bottom of the rut before the water went over my
head.

I must have been living right lately, because as luck would have it,
the skid plate ground itself into the 'bank' on the far side of this
rut from hell and I was also STILL enough in control of the bike and
aware of my surroundings that I was able to sorta push forward on the
bars while planting my feet on the ground beside me... in about two
feet of goo.

What little forward motion I still had was lost, the small amount the
bike
had let it pull out from underneath me and with my hands being firmly
locked onto the grips I began to kinda fall and be pulled forward at
the same time. Except that my feet weren't going anywhere, so
something had to give and quickly.

It did. The bike suddenly stopped, which was a merciful thing, but I
was stuck to the top of my boots in the nastiest smelling goo you can
imagine leaning forward towards the bars with my feet stuck at about
the rear axle line. I was in an awkward position at that very least.

The only thing I could think to do was let go of the bars so that I
could free myself, then the bike. As I let go of the bars the bike
suddenly slid backwards into the deep water of the rut. As it slid
backwards it slid deeper. I watched in sheer horror as the fuel cap
came rushing back to where I wish I had been wearing a cup if you
know what I mean. There was contact, but I'm pleased to say that it
was minimal.

At least now things had stopped moving.

What followed was twenty minutes worth of tugging and dragging that
got me completely covered in that smelly goo as well as completely
soaked to the bone.

I was finally able to wiggle the bike around to where the back tire
was rubbing the wall of the rut, I fired the bike and had it bumping
the rev limiter with the back tire searching for something to grab.
Water was flying everywhere like some sort of water park attraction
gone bad. Mud and goo flew in every direction. But it finally bit
and I got it out of that damned rut.

To be honest, I didn't finish that lap. I found one of our access
roads and went straight back to the van and put the bike on the
trailer.

Was it a good day? Of course it was!!! I managed to ride a little
over twenty miles without getting hurt or breaking anything on the
bike. That’s a winning combination these days.

I just real anxious to see what that 'rut' looks like when the water
goes down...

Bruce