By Tom Niemela
To view all my pictures, CLICK HERE!
I had slated this year’s Rat Dog to be the ultimate ride
for all entries. I was bound and determined to give everyone more than their
money’s worth, no matter what bike or route options they selected. As
usual for weeks prior,
We again wanted to lay out routes that are different than
years before and this year was no
different. When the smoke cleared,
we had three loops: a North Loop, East Loop and
Friday night had some showers which dampened everyone’s spirits for any sort of a night ride, so it was cancelled. Bummer, as the creative lighting tricks by the riders is always a treat. We all stayed up late, fed the campfire and printed out rollcharts for the next day’s ride with the Juenemann Boys’ help.
Early Saturday morning had everyone stirring and getting in
line for signup. I had rollcharts being spewed out from my printer again in fine
manner as the riders watched in amazement and appreciation that they no longer
had to cut-and-tape rollcharts with our events any longer – just one long,
continuous rollchart. The rider’s meeting then started and people were on
their way. This year I had bragged up our A and AA routes to hopefully get a few
bites from the more advanced riders in the area. These routes were NOT for the
faint of heart and were guaranteed to challenge even the most seasoned veteran.
We also had so much course that we decided to cancel the
The routes for the North Loop all went up the North Fork of
From Hembre Summit, the B/C courses lazily made their way
At Highway 6 everyone took
The C riders had a very easy puttsy taking
The A riders however had an epic adventure from the summit
of Triangulation that they would not soon forget! They descended down from the
summit of Triangulation and exited onto Barney Rubble Trail, wound back up
towards Triangulation again, then turned off towards the first A/AA split. They
then had a decision to make whether they were skilled enough to ride possibly
the most gnarly set of AA trails or continue on the very technical A trails. At
this split the AA riders descended over the edge of the infamous Bungee Jump
Trail (no turning back!), while the A riders bypassed that only to take another
famous trail titled Dick Crusher Trail. Legend has it that Barrett Brown had the
honor of creating the name, but you’ll have to ask him how! The AA rider’s
trek down Bungee Jump created many wild stories at the end of the day, as did
the A course. The Dick Crusher Trail
had one particular washout that created an awkward challenge where the riders
needed to double up and help each other through the obstacle.
After that it was a great trail that covered an old skid road. After that
split, both A/AA routes combined again on some classic trail working its way to
There was yet one more A/AA split towards the end of the
loop, where the AA riders separated and slid down another death-defying trail
named Psychopath Trail, then up the very challenging BPA Trail, meeting up again
with the A course after the A riders had ridden the South Tower Trail.
From there the A/AA riders rode the same route to the finish by taking
Kansas Creek Cutoff road, taking a couple of VERY brushy carwash-type trails and
concluded the loop with the blockbuster Briar Trail.
Then it was a very short pavement scrape up
After the North Loop, the riders that made it back before
the 2pm cutoff to start the
At the end of the day, the B/C riders had ridden some great course and Ma Nature had only dropped a couple of showers on everyone and they all still looked fairly refreshed. The A/AA riders were a different story. They looked like they had been run hard and put away wet! There were only six riders total that took the extreme AA options and they had plenty to say about the trails. Some were swearing at me, but then congratulated me on riding something like they’d never ridden before. There were tails of sliding with no brakes, seat puckers, tree bouncing and over-the-bar augers, torrential showers, but in the end they all made it. I even had some finisher plates that read, “I rode the 2005 Rat Dog AA course and survived!” The riders also were treated to a great spaghetti feed that the Barrells had cooked up, and the food went like sharks in a feeding frenzy. After the majority of people left, I suddenly realized that I forgot to hand out the $100 cash prize - doh! So with a bunch of people gathered around, we pulled names out of a hat and young Mason Ginsman was the winner! Boy was he surprised when he received it a couple days later.
Although the turnout was unusually small this year [for
some reason], everyone had a great time. I would like to give mad props out to
the people that once again stepped up to help with this event:
Unfortunately, due to the loss of return in event costs, it is questionable whether the Rat Dog event will continue. Unsure if we will do it again, create a different venue or cancel it entirely, due to lack of turnout, but we’re optimistic. Many thanks to those that did show up and continued to support our events!