1. bkowal

    bkowal Limited User

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    The Cord 2013 – Part 1 Saturday – Hell On Earth

    So another Cord is over. Wow, where do I start? I hooked up with Hal Judd, an old friend from school to share the ride from the GTA. Friday evening, we arrived at Graham and Karen’s place outside of Gooderham, who were friends of Hal. He had arranged for us to stay there over the weekend. Both Karen and Graham are dirtbikers, so it was a pleasure to stay at their lovely home and swap war stories.

    Graham is quite involved with the Cord, and had stopped by Gooderham on the way back home to see what was up. The situation was grim. There was event permit issues with the Orilla police and a huge storm front coming in that was promising substantial amounts of rain. The rain started late Friday evening and continued throughout the night. On Saturday, the police problems seemed to get sorted, but the weather was the real issue. We would ride the endurocross section, and proceed directly to the second section, missing a road and trail section that was causing the police problems.

    I was a little concerned about my ’09 Husaberg FE450. The Berg, who I refer to as “Inga”, has been performing like a typical sexy super-model: great performance, but unreliable and high maintenance. Hopefully she would perform this weekend and not leave me stranded like a couple times before.
    It turned out that I had been assigned minute 40, which was not a good thing. Blair had 4 bikes starting every minute, so that would mean over 150 bikes would be tearing up the trails in front of me on this rainy day. Two years ago I had minute 51 and finished in the rain, so I figured I might have a chance. Hal was on minute 36 so he was just slightly better shape than me.

    First off was the endurocross course which was wet, but a ton of fun. Inga flamed out on one of the logs, but overall seemed to be running fine. Then it was off to the first check. The transfer section to the check was already getting nasty and I passed some broken bikes on the way. As usual there was a wait at the first check. I had to laugh when one of the riders was concerned because one of his boots had filled with water, and proceeded to remove it to dump it out. I can only assume this was his first Cord. Of course the first section was nasty, but rideable. I wasn’t a hero in there, but I made it out in one piece. It was tough. Even the wider trail sections where completely chewed at this point and it was a lot of work to keep the bike up.

    The rain continued to get worse and the trails were turning into rivers. For some reason I was actually starting to have fun. Much of the course at this point was wide, rocky snowmobile trails and I was having a blast riding over the rocks and jumping over puddles. It was raining even harder now, and it was difficult to maintain speed in the down pour, but I still had a smile on my face. I met Graham who was directing the riders and stopped for a quick chat before continuing to the next check.

    It was after the next check that things were starting to get bad. Let’s call this section “mild insanity”. Some of the puddles in front of the rock faces were getting VERY deep. Inga is a submarine with her high airbox and fuel injection, so I figured I could make it through almost anything if I didn’t do something stupid. Well I almost did something stupid. I was heading into one puddle and just before the climb out on the rock face I hit something hard and stopped dead. I almost dropped the bike. The water was up to the seat. Another couple inches deeper or if I slipped on the rocks and she would have been under water. Several riders weren’t so lucky. I heard later that Graham was pulling out drowned bikes with his ATV, one attached to the other like a circus train.

    I was still in good spirits at the gas stop. A quick gas fillup, energy bar, banana, Gatorade and I got to the check 10 minutes early which meant I got to make back some time I lost in hopes of not houring out. Warren Thaxter checked me in and off I went. The riding was tough, but progress was being made. That is until I got to the two ladder bridges. The area was pretty much destroyed. A couple stuck riders left me no options as to which line I could take, so I headed for the third wooden bridge to the right. There was a small rut in front of it to get onto the bridge, pretty standard stuff, so I gassed it into the rut and swoosh! The bike sunk. The rut was so deep the seat was level with the ground. This was the beginning of the end. It should be noted that I spoke to several earlier riders had ridden the same line with no issues. I was facing the hazards of minute 40. After much lifting, pulling revving and swearing I got Inga out of there, onto one of the aluminum ladder bridges and walked the bike across.

    Next fiasco was another creek crossing. Several bikes were stuck in the trail. The problem was a steep slick river bank with gouged out tree roots and no possibility for a good run up. There was no option but to push the bike up the hill. A couple bikes tried to go around, but the attempts also proved to be of no use and left the bikes stuck in the mud. This would be the first tag-team group effort. We all took turns helping each other get up and out of there; simply was no other choice. After a drink of water and a couple minutes to let the heart rate settle down, we were off again.

    The last section could be called “mild insanity”, this one was quickly turning into “total insanity”. The next obstacle would be the turning point for switching into survival mode. Forget about, trophies and houring out, let’s just get the hell out of here alive. The hill in front was simply destroyed. Exposed roots and rocks left no place for traction. I knew we were in trouble when I saw bikes being pulled up the hill by rope. There was a few bikes queued up for rescue in front. Then along comes Rick Day and a kid on a KDX. Rick and I decided the youngest one should try the alternate path instead of waiting, so we got the kid to fire the bike up the hill as best he could. First attempt got nowhere. The second attempt got the bike half way up and we yanked it up the rest. By this time, the other line had cleared and we decided I would go next up the original line. It seemed to be working better. I got Inga pointed in the right direction and cranked up the throttle. I was getting up pretty well. For a millisecond I thought I might actually make it. I almost cleared the apex to the top when the bike proceeded to launch straight up in the air throwing me off the back, and then quickly began sliding back down the hill. We got the bike stopped, hooked up the rope and start heaving until the top was cleared.

    Rick was next. He can ride pretty good for an old guy and got surprisingly far before the bike got jammed into the roots. We had one more bike to get up and I was off to the next obstacle, Then the next. Then the next one. It turned into a series of 100 meter obstacle sections,. Ride, get stuck, repeat. I figured that I was I need of some Vitamin Advil at this point, but was out of water, we all were. A clear stream provided refreshment. Hopefully it won’t turn into a case of Beaver Fever. It was worth the risk, because at this point if I started cramping up, there would be no way I could ride out. I had to stay hydrated.

    It seemed like we were riding for hours and there was no end in sight. Did I mention this section was only 8 kms long? I looked at my odometer and it didn’t look good, We had only gone a couple kilometers and had several more to go. At this rate we might not make it out before dark. Simple solution, just ride faster right? Wasn’t going to happen. Everyone was getting fatigued and making stupid mistakes, we just had to press on as best we could. Buddy on the KDX didn’t make a hill and falls over. I was up ahead, and tried to get Inga stabilized so I could get off and help him. It didn’t look good, I was really worried he got hurt. I threw Inga down and ran to help him. He somehow got tangled in there badly, with the bike on top of him, under a large tree branch. I couldn’t lift the bike off him, the branch was in the way. After I dragged the bike away, with him under it, he got up and all was good.

    Not much later we heard a voice calling and saw someone walking toward us on the trail. It was one of the sweepers. It turns out the sweep riders would not ride in knowing that they too would get stuck and elected to walk the section. We were only about 500m from an alternate route out of there. Yipppeee! It was a ride down a forest access road then we would take the 507 highway back to Gooderham. Rick somehow got ahead of me on the trail but stopped at an intersection. I said to Rick, “You are riding like you are on a mission!”. He says, “Yes I am. I am on a mission for dry clothes, food and beer”. Enough said let’s get back.

    Of course it started raining again. Raining hard. Riding down the 507, the rain drops felt like gravel bouncing off my face. Pulling into the start in Gooderham, Hal was already on his third beer so he decided he would be my pit crew. I also got a pleasant cheer from the Head family. Before the race, I was quickly recruited to be on the GP Bikes team by John Head. I felt kinda bad for letting them down and not finishing the race. Turns out John DNF’d too so at least he couldn’t bug me about it. Hal dumped some gas into Inga before she would be impounded for the next day’s ride. A quick inspection showed I had no rear brake pads left. Nothing, I was running on steel. I thought they felt a bit weak. Crazy, I installed new pads just before the event. The Cord is hard on bikes. John gave me a set of used pads so I could ride the next day. Hal quickly installed them and the bike was wheeled into the impound.

    After getting cleaned up we walked over the Community Center for dinner. It was obvious that it was a crazy day. The wall where the results were posted was covered with DNF’s. I didn’t even bother to look at my results but it appeared Hal was first in his class. There was some concern over the three sweep riders who hadn’t yet returned. On the way back to Graham and Karen’s place, we passed three riders heading back into Gooderham. It was 8:30 at night. We got back to the cottage and were welcomed to the smell of freshly baked ginger cookies and a glass of Jagermeister on the rocks. Very nice. Later in the shower, I noticed how much dirt was in my hair. Then I remembered an incident back at the trail. Rick was hung up a log and stopped to take a break. Inga was wedged into some rocks just below and I needed some time to get my strength back. So I sat down on the log and took off my helmet to cool off. Of course Rick decides to go for it and roosts me something good. I pick up my helmet and it’s filled with dirt. Dirty hair mystery solved.

    To be continued….
  2. ecarnell

    ecarnell Limited User

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    :eat
    Great report so far, thanks!
  3. michel mondou

    michel mondou ODSC Executive

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    :shock: :shock: :shock:

    Not that I would even think of riding the cord; but I'm glad I was supervising my girls riding the PW50 on a grassy track...and not riding in the pouring rain in gooderham :wink: . Most humble regards to all that participated!

    Michel
  4. Randy_K

    Randy_K Limited User

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    I was planning to come to the cord to take photos and do the DS ride , then bailed because of the rain. Sounds like a good thing I did. Sounds like a real tough weekend.

    Good ride report, keep it coming.
  5. SteveP

    SteveP ODSC Executive

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    Excellent recap Brian. I remember those mud holes from hell. Sounds like they have gotten even bigger and deeper! Can wait to hear about day two.
  6. 3BeeJay3

    3BeeJay3 ODSC Executive

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    Steve- there was biblical amounts of rain on Friday nite/sat AM - I heard a bunch of animal noises outside our motel at one point thru the nite and peeked out the window to see what's going on, just in time to see Noah's Ark float by - seriously.......... :wink:

    Many bikes watered out on Sat. and many more houred out well before even halfway on Sat. Over 80% of the field DNF'd on Sat. Lot's of worn looking folks at dinner on Sat.
    Take the excessive rain away and any other 'interference', and it appears it would have been a really good course. Any rider that completed course on Sat or Sun regardless of how much time they took should consider that a 'win' in itself.
    If Lance Matthews says it was one of the toughest he's ever seen, that's saying something....... :shock:

    Still amazes me how fast the pros can blast thru that stuff..............
  7. sadlmakr

    sadlmakr Limited User

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    Great write up Brian! That was my first Cord!
    Your day on Saturday seems to mirror my own. I was doing well until I got into the test with the aluminum ladder bridges (I think it's called the "Hunt Camp Trail"). I got through there ok, but then fell into that creek you described in your write up. Basically the bike was upside down with the bars stuck in the mud in the creek. Dragged it out, got it going and got part way up the hill when it quit. Stuck on the side of the hill, exhausted, I waited 30 minutes to see if anyone came along.... Nobody! Finally decided to try and sort out the bike.... Took the seat off and found 3" of mud in the air box and water sitting halfway up the air filter! That didn't look good!! Cleaned it all out, changed the plug and kicked every few minutes after resting in between. Well, it did start and on I went. Got to that notorious hill just before those 2 guys =D> [-o< with the rope were about to leave! From there it was slow going having to rest every couple of hundred meters. Finally found some of that snowmobile trail and booked it back on the 507. Didn't ride Sunday, but I have to say that I had fun on Saturday! :D Great event! =D>
    But what I really want to know is.... Who's got a picture of Chef riding with no pants! :lol:

    Attached Files:

  8. bkowal

    bkowal Limited User

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    The Cord 2013 Part 2 – Sunday turns into Saturday

    Even though I had a warm and comfy bed, I really didn’t sleep to well Saturday night. Maybe it was the events of the day replaying through my head. Or maybe it was the anticipation of the next days ride. For whatever reason, Hal and I had no problem getting up, packing and getting out by 7:00 on the way to Gooderham for breakfast. Things were constantly changing as events unfolded. The latest word was we would only be doing a single 35km loop twice for a total of 70km that day. I could do that. It sounded like a cross country race with a gas stop in the middle. A bit of stress was released as I realized I wouldn’t be thrown into 120km of hell. Key time was moved 10:30AM, so there was plenty of time to eat, work on the bike, and load them up on the trailer to the first check. There would be no riding from Gooderham on Sunday. Inga was almost running perfect, but had the occasional flame out when chopping off the throttle. It turns out I had the idle speed to low, so couple clicks of the adjustment screw and it was all good.

    Hal was a little upset that he scored so well. He would have to race Sunday since he had a good chance of getting a log trophy. He would not get a chance to implement Plan B, which was to go fishing on Sunday. My objectives for the day were to simply do what I could. Ride what I could, don’t do anything stupid and don’t get hurt. The starting lineup was much thinner on Sunday, but conditions were clear and bright. We left in “compressed” starting order, filling in the missing riders, so I started on minute 27. It should be a bit better than the minute 40 I had on Saturday.

    The start of the course was nice loamy single track through the pine forests. It was the exact opposite of what we had experienced the day before. Things were looking up. I was getting a nice flow going. To bad it wouldn’t last. I was catching up to some slower riders and again had to pick some bad lines and ended getting stuck a couple times. No big deal I figured, I could avoid those lines next time around. Then I got to the long wooden bridge. There were lots of people standing around. Usually this is not a good thing since people usually gather where there is lots of carnage. I managed to get up on the bridge but immediately slid off. Allan Lachappelle quickly helped get the bike back on the bridge and said to me “Just ride and don’t do anything stupid” The wooden planks were covered in greasy mud that was more slippery than water on ice. There was no way I was going to be able to get back on the bike and ride it, so I just walked the bike to the end. I was trying to keep the drama to a minimum.

    The next creek crossing might have had a bridge at one time, but it was nowhere to be seen. There was at least half a dozen bikes in front in various states of getting stuck or unstuck. I stopped and surveyed the situation. One bike was pulled through the creek. Buddy on the other side said he would help me across. I tried my best to get Inga through, then got a lift out. I managed to pussy-foot around avoiding the ruts. At this point it was not looking good. I had been stuck a half dozen times already. There was no way I was going to go over that bridge again and through this creek. I decided to cut it short at one lap.

    It turns out I really didn’t have to make that decision, the course made it for me. Conditions continued to get worse. Mud holes got deeper, hills got steeper, trail got tighter. Then I smelt burning oil. Did I smash the engine case? Did I have any oil left in the bike? I stopped to take a look. It would be much better to spend ten minutes fixing the bike now than spending a thousand dollars fixing a seized engine later. I did see a lot of smoke coming from the rear of the engine, but no obvious crack or oil spill. It seems the clutch cover was leaking slightly. I tightened it up, and it seemed OK. By this time a couple other riders stopped to ask if everything was fine. We all had the same idea. Just get out of there in one piece. Sunday was turning into Saturday. Again we would tag team getting each other unstuck and ensuring we made it through. As I was riding I kept thinking “This is freakin hard, really, really hard” There wasn’t one meter of trail that you weren’t fighting. After one nasty rock face climb I stopped at the top to wait for the other guys. Actually that was one of my better moments. When in doubt gas it. I lined up the bike and basically smashed it through the creek, up the rock face through a pine tree to the top. I love it when a plan comes together.

    Anyway I heard someone calling from the top when I had stopped. It turns out there was a check just around the corner. It didn’t matter, we had houred out at this point and just wanted to get back. But of course the only way to get there was to ride the trail. So we were back at it until the next check. We still had a few more kilometers before we could skip the last check and head back to the start. One of my less stellar moments was trying to cross what at one time could have been considered a bridge but was now just a mangled mess of big logs. I had no idea what to do, so I simply applied generous amounts of throttle and hoped for the best. The quick launch of 450 power turned into a quick end as I stopped dead in a big hole of missing logs. Fortunately there was a course marshal to help get me out. The last section was a blast since it was wide open forest roads, a nice contrast to the bush whacking we just finished.

    Back at the truck, I got rehydrated. Hal showed up a few minutes after me but rode the entire course. He wasn’t quite sure if he had to go around again. The guy at the check said he houred out, but Hal’s math proved him wrong. Anyway it didn’t matter; Hal still came away with first place in his class. I noticed Inga had lost her skidplate. I joked with the guys “I want to go back and look for it. Who is with me?” I didn’t get any volunteers. Funny thing is, the sweepers found it and brought it back to Gooderham were I picked it up!
    I spoke to a few riders who said this was the one toughest Cords ever and possibly the most difficult thing they have ever done. I must admit you really had to dig deep to get through it. Its one thing to ride the bike, its another thing to push it. And there was a lot of pushing.

    I want to thank Graham and Karen for their wonderful hospitality and for sharing their home with Hal and myself. I also want to thank all the riders who helped me and Inga get out of at tight spot. I tried to return the favour whenever I could. And of course I want to give the biggest thank you to Blair and the other volunteers who put countless hours into event. They managed to pull off the event under the worst possible circumstances, which is the most incredible thing about this years Cord.

    Bryan Kowalchuk
  9. WudzRydr

    WudzRydr Ride Organizer

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    Great write up!

    This was my first Cord and probably 2 of the most physically demanding days of my life.

    The third timed section on Sunday was the worst of the entire event imho. It was mudhole after mudhole that seemed to go on forever. I remember climbing one hill and at the top someone said to me "Only 8km more to go!" and my heart just sank. I don't know how many times I had to get off my bike and lift it out of a mudhole and toss it up onto the bank, only to push it the rest of the way to the other side. A root hidden under the mud ended my dreams getting out of there without houring out when it popped off my chain and it wrapped around my front sprocket. I must have passed at least 5 guys who watered out in that section.

    [​IMG]

    Thanks to Shawn Hall for getting the pic of me as I came out.
  10. Ontario GS

    Ontario GS ODSC Executive

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    Re: The Cord 2013

    All great write-ups, really enjoyed reading them! Congrates to everyone who even attempted The Cord this year.
  11. oldkdx

    oldkdx Limited User

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    Saturday was the toughest day I have even spent on a motorcycle. After a fall on my first attempt to get out of the "ravine of death" with a bunch of other riders, I found my bike stuck in first gear. Any glimmer of hope I had at making it through to the finish of Day 1 was quickly dashed. It was crazy hard to ride in those conditions when I couldn't get enough speed to keep the front tire cleaned out. I soldiered on, actually passing some other riders, and met up with three other guys. We stayed together until we reached a check near the end of the day, but were obviously well over our hour.

    As hard as it had been up until then, the long 20 km jeep trail / gravel road / pavement section back to Gooderham was not fun in the pouring rain at 10 - 15 km/h top speed. At one point I tried kicking the S@%# out of the shifter, trying to at least get it into 2nd on the road. But....I thought....what if I do get it to shift up from first and it sticks in neutral...I decided to keep my foot still and not tempt fate. The three other riders stuck with me until the end, and we even picked up another guy on a Gas Gas, who brought up the rear of our sorry, slow parade. Thanks fellas...for making sure I got back to the start that afternoon.

    My first Corduroy was in 1976, and I took a 32 year break from 1980 until last year. Coming back after such a long hiatus and being able to finish last year was a great feeling. However,I am more proud of my attempt this year than my all other finishes.

    Many thanks to Blair and the rest of the organizers and volunteers. Their day(s) were not any easier under the conditions.
  12. Shawn Hall

    Shawn Hall Ride Organizer

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    :eat

    Great stuff Brian. I DNFd both days as well. It was good enough for 4th place overall in Novice B.

    So I'll see you all on Sunday at the Great Pine?
  13. crankshaft

    crankshaft Limited User

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    This was my first Cord and I'm mad that I waited so long to give it a go. A better group of guys has never existed on this earth, all you Canadian enduro folks are a class act. Having said that, your terrain is knarly and not very nice to visitors from other locales hahahahaha! Friday night, I was laying in bed in my van, listening to the rain beating on the roof and knew I was in for a death march the next day. I wasn't disappointed, that's for sure. Much to my surprise, I actually finished the first day with time to spare. Brian, I'm the guy that was chatting with you and Hal at the end (The Sprinter van). It was great talking with you both. Big thanks to all you guys that were such great hosts, I can't wait until next year!

    Aaron Gibson 336 NOV-B
  14. binsel

    binsel Limited User

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    I wanted but never had the courage to ride the Cord. After reading these cord posts, I decided to ride it when;
    - It's unusually dry
    - It's unusually warm
    - With my shorts-on
    - I'm in top shape
    - Organizers decides to ease the course to decrease the number DNFs
  15. dennystar

    dennystar Limited User

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    Another missed finish at the Cord(3rd attempt)....last year a broken wrist a week before the event kept me from participating.This year I was ready..or so I thought!

    Arrived Friday afternoon with six Gung-ho throttle jock's and one cool camera man.Unloaded all our gear/bikes only to find my front tire completely flat from just installing a set of tubliss tires.My good friend who was riding was on his way,stopped by Canadian tire for some tire sealant which fixed the problem...Thank-you,...ok it was time to relax,and take in the endurocross.After watching the top riders I just had to lift my jaw back up,smooth and fast was the theme here.From there it was back to our pit section and set up our tent awning as we were certain to get some showers...Yeah right...o.k. Off to our serene cottage tucked in the woods off one of the many lakes about 20 minutes away for some food,stories,and most importantly rest for the Saturday ride.A healthy serving of Oatmeal,banana,and water Would have to keep us going in the day of adventure to come...arriving at our pit we are treated with our tent on the verge of collapsing due to all the rain build up.I just so happend to be directly in the path of water that was being pushed up from under the tent from the Guy's...I was soaked before my first water hole!

    Feeling good and focused,but wet, it's our turn to que the podium,minute 22...so cool that they announce everyone's name before the start...I dunno it's just a nice touch! Make it through the endurocross without troubles,feeling good!through the transfer sections...man look at that water,visions of my failed attempts enter my mind as those years were "drown outs".. Turns out the Yamaha is a submarine and doesn't miss a beat,feeling good!
    Special test,a decent time of 13 minutes or so,was it me,or was it everyone..the front end was all over the place,by the end of the test I had a death grip on the bars..no good...stopped and took some air pressure out...but still feeling Good!
    Ok,time for some Gas at the stop,not knowing I was now entering the "War Zone"...from memory my first real problem came at a decent into a water crossing with logs as a bridge..this line was to the left,before getting to the log section my plan was to get the front end up slightly...but noooo...there was a nice hole there that foiled my attempt! In trying to get out I buried my rear wheel in the slop..this thing was stuck,1 rider helped,no luck...I had to have a total of 4 of us to free the rear wheel which had a suction effect in the ground...The riders that helped ...all I can say is Thank you for getting me on my way.Next up was the valley of Death as "old kdx rider had described" ( i thought I was dreaming,and was riding a "Romaniacs type event")approaching the terrain I could hear carnage,2 stroke,4 stroke screaming for HELP! I dismounted and approached the section with a trials like mentality...3 god awfull lines to the right was not for me as I figured I could not keep momentum on the 144,decending the downhill I squeezed a line to the left,stopping at the bottom and pointing the front tire STRAIGHT up a narrow section...watching the Husky rider in front of me making it half way up,and amazingly pushing his way to the top without help...this Guy was tough with Super human strength! O.k. My turn...butterflies,and nerves are stirring...I pin it,up to 3/4 of the hill and the trail becomes narrower,I launch and ghost ride between two trees where the bike wraps around a tree which is hooked to my peg.I'm totally spent...figuring it was a pretty good line,some great guy's gave me a hand to the top...I in turn waited for there turn returning the favour...again Thank-you for all the help who ever you may be? Feeling good...not anymore...but hey this is the CORD!
    Time to keep moving,obstacle after obstacle I come upon a ktm rider(4 stroke) who is buried in the mud,I offer my assistance to get him on his way,he offers to help me through..but tell him I need to take a breather and for him to go...He thank's me and tells me to take the left line..I get through unscathed!
    I feel time is of the matter here,and approach 5 riders trail side...apparently we are less than a kilometer from the finish...we are all dog tired with hanging heads! A road is in our sight with riders approaching on it heading for home,one of the guy's in our group calls out to them.They stop and say a kilometer to go...but not easy!,or you can follow us back...quickly a decision was made as we all figured we had houred out,and the thoughts of a nice ride on that road was just too tempting for our depleted effort to continue on! Soaked and a good 20 minutes of roads I rode into the community center completely FROZEN,dismounted and headed for the enclosed trailer for dry clothes...problem...body seizing up,did all I could to just get my legs up into that trailer...the best,hardest,most rewarding experience of my time on a dirt bike!
    My experience of the Cord is one that requires to have you and your bike well prepared,skill,good line choices,and some good ol luck.Many thanks to the organizers,volunteers,and all the riders who attempted this event...will be back for next year...Rain or Shine!