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Old 09-18-2018, 11:32 AM   #1
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First 2hr Hare Scramble - Camp Story Arkansas

My pit crew(wife) and a friend visited Camp Story near Hot Springs this past Sunday (9/16) for the Arkansas Hare Scramble Champship Series race. It's a 2 hour marathon through the woods over a ~6-7 mile single-track with a few pastures thrown in for rest breaks and passing opportunities. This is our story.

We left Longview at 8:30 on Saturday morning and made our way up through Ore City, Texarkana, Caddo Valley, and Hot Springs to the woods North of Lake Ouachita. Camp Story is an old girl scout camp that is now leased and rented out to various groups (I think). At any rate there were dozens of motor-homes and toy haulers parked all along the access road and practice was under-way as we idled in with our truck and enclosed trailer. I saw a guy doing a long wheelie while standing on the seat along one of the practice lanes and thought...what have I gotten myself into

We found the registration booth and I signed up for C35+. I'm 37, so that seemed to be in my favor, right? My friend, Christian, signed up for C open. The wife is smart and had previously decided this racing stuff wasn't for her. The lady behind the table told us we could primitive camp anywhere except the playground, so we set off to find a good spot. After unloading the bikes, grabbing a snack, and donning our gear we headed off for our 1st and only practice lap.

Imagine trees spaced closely enough that you can touch 3 large one with outstretched hands. Now sprinkle fist sized, angular quartz boulders around like tic-tacs, so it's difficult to walk without planting your foot on one. Add 20-40' of elevation change for good measure and now you get a sense of the 1st half of the course. The rest of the course was rooty, dirt sections when the soil changed to...well changed from rock to actual soil. Half way through my arms were already pumping.

Near the end of the first lap is a choice. Hard, medium, or easy. Read "fast if you're good", "safe if you're not sure", and "just slow." We chose the hard line during practice and made several successful attempts at the logs meant to deter smarter riders. The race would play out differently.

After a lap, a few sips of the camelbak and some knowing looks we pronounced ourselves ready. Tomorrow would be race day, but right now it was time for pulled-pork sandwiches and a shower.

We slept well and made a hearty breakfast of bacon, eggs, and nan. Not sure if I spelled that right, but it's the bread from Indian restaurants. We love that stuff for camping meals. We watched part of the pee-wee race start and after a few more pre-race calories we headed for the starting line around noon. The race starts at 12:30, but we didn't want to miss anything, this being our first race and all.

The starting area was a little hectic with people and bikes milling about everywhere and a few people racing through the first 3-5 turns again and again. Who is already racing? Nobody, that's just people getting warmed up. Oh. My friend had raced MX for a few seasons, so this seemed a lot less rigid than what he remembered on the track. Fewer etiquette rules in X-Country?

Pre-race we were all smiles. Him lined up in the C-Open line with ~12 other guys and me one lane back in C-35+ with 6 guys.

C Open Class ready to roll..

C 35+ waiting for the flag...

When my flag dropped I was ready and was second of 6 to the first turn. Lap 1 was all about getting the jitters out and not "shooting my wad too early" as a few others advised. Ride smooth and you'll ride fast. This seemed to be working as I passed the guy who got the holeshot and caught a few of the slower C Open riders on the 1st lap. I thought, wow, I'm passing people! This is fun!! I got stuck behind a slower rider coming through the trees to the grass-track portion and thought, okay...I'll get him on those logs when he takes the medium lane and I take the faster, hard one. Haha. That didn't go as planned.

The approach was good...

...but the execution was bad. Very bad.

Over the bars I went. Fortunately I had on an Alpinestar pressure suit, a full camelbak (spine air bag), and my bike has a Rekluse. So while we looked for a moment like a crash scene from Grand Theft Auto with bodies and vehicles laying everywhere, I quickly collected my still running bike and was off to the races. My wife who watched the whole sequence said she was initially very alarmed and then when I popped up she wanted to kill me for taking the hard line. I did catch the guy a few minutes later in the woods and I did come back around and successfully hit the hard line on the 2nd lap. From there the arm-pump, hand fatigue, and lack of experience racing for 2+hrs started to take its toll.

I set my mind on making 5 laps in the 2 hr race. On lap three my hands were starting to wobble and I got passed by a few guys in my class. People started to line the trail. A broken bike here. A guy resting there. Oh, there is someone pulled off in a curve taking a piss. Ha. I thought that'd be me, but I. AM. NOT. STOPPING.

At the end of the 4th lap I came by the scorer's table (it's in a very slow 180) and I yelled "ONE MORE RIGHT!?" and she held up two fingers.

I swore loudly in my helmet.

I rode that 5th lap thinking, "okay, I have a 6th lap, but I am going to finish this thing." I knew I had a few blisters on my hands, some of them already popped and rubbing. My posterior was getting raw, and I almost lost it in a few corners that I previously blasted through. Was I going to make it without dropping the bike on this lap? How would I do a sixth!!

Then my savior appeared.

The track was really starting to spread out and I hadn't seen anybody for a while and around a curve here is one of the course helpers standing next to a cooler shaking a Gatorade bottle at me. I had ignored these people since I had a nice icey, full camel-bak, but I pulled over quickly and guzzled half that Gatorade. Mmmhmm. "The race is almost over, you've only got half a lap left", she said. I could have kissed that woman. NO SIXTH LAP! Off I went with a little more pep. I was going to finish!

I later learned that the two fingers I saw the scorer fly meant "two more minutes", not two more laps. I made the cutoff for another lap by just that much which means I raced for 2 hours and 20+ minutes. Learn something every race, right?

After the race we were whipped, but happy. Christian was doing okay in the C-Open class, but fouled a plug on the 3rd lap when he had to slow down a bit. His bike was set up more for MX and needs some jetting and suspension changes to be more comfortable for the slow, rocky terrain.

I stuck around for the awards banquet and nabbed a gift certificate for a twin-air filter as well as a 3rd place finish in the C35+ class. Cool! I was 37th overall out of 100 riders and stoked to just finish.

I'm hooked on racing, but those 2 hour races are tough. I'm looking forward to trying a TORN or other series with slightly shorter races.

Thanks for tagging along and please share any new tips for this newbie racer.

...and if you've ever thought about doing one of these I'd encourage you to give it a try. Just have a goal of finishing! It's great fun and the people are helpful, nice, and happy to have new folks race.

KTM 250 FreeRide

Last edited by PigTrail; 09-18-2018 at 01:51 PM.
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Old 09-18-2018, 12:29 PM   #2
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Re: First 2hr Hare Scramble - Camp Story Arkansas

Great story! You only fell once, that's a win in my book.

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Old 09-18-2018, 05:30 PM   #3
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Re: First 2hr Hare Scramble - Camp Story Arkansas

Great area to ride, I miss living up there
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Old 09-18-2018, 11:54 PM   #4
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Re: First 2hr Hare Scramble - Camp Story Arkansas

Originally Posted by aspr View Post
Great story! You only fell once, that's a win in my book.

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Yeah! Thanks for writing it up and posting. Pretty cool that y'all made it a family event, too.


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Old 09-19-2018, 12:58 AM   #5
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Re: First 2hr Hare Scramble - Camp Story Arkansas

Logs are my nemesis... I feel your pain.

I've never raced. It sounds like fun though.
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Old 09-19-2018, 08:13 AM   #6
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Re: First 2hr Hare Scramble - Camp Story Arkansas

Looks like you had fun. All I see are smiles.
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Old 09-20-2018, 05:20 AM   #7
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Re: First 2hr Hare Scramble - Camp Story Arkansas

Depending on what type woods riding you like, TORCS is a little more single track type racing than what I understand about TORN. My friends say TORN is faster, more open racing. My 2 cents, and good job! TORCS is 70 minutes.
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