2017 Kenda Tennessee Knockout Extreme Enduro - TKO is in the books and we are now halfway across the country on our way back to Washington. I feel the race promoters upped the ante this year and in combination with heavy rainfall prior to race weekend the creek beds that have typically been bone dry in years past were flowing strong and deep.
I was concerned about the big creek crossing less than a half mile from the start when scouting it the day prior. When the women's row got to it in the race, I saw Morgan go for a dunk in the middle of the line I had previously chosen and knew I would have to go for an alternate one. To my own surprise, I made it up a root-covered vertical bank to avoid the mud hole created by the 200+ riders before us. The one bottleneck that I came across was only about a mile and a half in. There were bikes scattered in all directions around a shallow hillclimb covered in large slick slab rocks. It is here I owe a huge thanks to Roger Smarr for the helping hand through that area. Rock gardens, sometimes stretching off into the woods as far as you could see, kept things interesting until pretty much halfway through the mileage of the course where the difficulty level finally lessened up. This was opposite from years past where you could get warmed up and make good progress before too much of a struggle.
There were rooty hillclimbs, rocky hillclimbs, muddy hillclimbs and every combination in between. I was truly amazed and very grateful that my Kenda Ibex tire stuck to them like Velcro and my Rekluse clutch with Torqdrive pulled hard up the steepest of them all.
By the time the women's afternoon finale sprint race rolled around I was really more ready to take a nap than anything else. My arms were dead tired and I couldn't steer properly or stand anymore since I was so worn out already. It took everything I had to avoid tipping over constantly which would just have added to the rock garden bruise tattoos all over my legs from the 1st race. It was not a pretty ride. I envision that it looked something like a scene out of an old Western movie where a wounded and dying cowboy is flopping around in the saddle barely clinging on to his horse. I do however really appreciate everyone that cheered me on then and the encouragement from spectators at the hard spots along the main course.
I find it can be hard to convey the intensity of an "extreme" racing event and the mental and physical toughness (or the 'suffering' part as some people refer to it) that it takes to complete them. I liken some aspects to the sensation you may get when lifting weights or doing intense exercise where your muscles begin to fatigue and tremble...but it is your whole body trembling not just one muscle group. You can feel the surging adrenaline, maximum heart rate and all out exertion while fighting exhaustion. Often you are on your own struggling by yourself for hours. It is generally a battle against the terrain of the course, and in the case of TKO, against the heat and suffocating humidity too. Yes, there are some of us that enjoy this kind of torture. ;)
Thank you to my fantastic sponsors for all the support along the way!
Rekluse Motor Sports
MotoAdventure Kawasaki Beta
Also, a shoutout to Brady Meador with TBT Racing for the confidence-inspiring suspension tuning!