Wilmot Road Ride

By Mike Hoppe

Drew Simboli suggested we ride at one of his favorite spots last Friday (Wilmot road 6 miles south of I-10) for a 22 mile loop and some time to practice the drills that Ned taught us last weekend at the clinic.  By the way, for a lot of us (me included) that clinic was probably the most progress I have ever made with my riding skills in a single day…and I have been to a bunch of ‘em from my pro road race days!  Much thanks to Ned, Ben & Tim for an awesome time in the dirt…despite the snow! 

Anyway, what Drew failed to mention is that this track he likes to ride is 22 miles of SINGLETRACK and, oh, by the way, when he lived on the east coast he was racing endures (you know, the thru the woods craziness with all the trees 27” apart so your 26” wide handlebars will go thru them at 50 mph…usually) at the national level!  Here I was thinking I was going to have fun on my Friday morning ride… 

After clipping along an 8” wide sand track up against a barbed wire fence for a couple of miles we drop off a 12 foot cliff (I’m not kidding) into a wash that is 8-15 feet wide with vertical walls, deep sand, major obstacles, rocks, etc.  Remember the scene from Star Wars where they are zooming down the canyons of the Death Star going in for the kill…well, something like that anyway.  Are you kidding me!  This is nuts!  Getting out of the stupid thing was real easy, too…if you had a helicopter!  So then it’s time to relax (not!!!) on a few more miles of singletrack and then set up some cones and obstacles to do practice drills.  My favorite was the mini dirt track we set up (oval) to practice brake slides and turning 180 degrees.  Otherwise known as intentional high-siding J.  

Learning to use the clutch like a valve instead of a on/off switch is amazing!  Spent some time rearranging the layout of my clutch and brake levers as well to help with the (attempt at) new skills.  Drew was amazing to watch and once in awhile I could almost imitate 5 seconds of what he was doing…sort of like golf…hit one decent drive and your willing to come back for 4 more hours of abuse.  And that’s what it turned out to be; 4 hours on the bikes just having a blast.  I knew I was wiped out but Drew had to excavate a 50 pound barrel cactus with his XR to figure out it was time to quit…ask him about it!  

Can’t wait to go back!

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