7:00 AM day
two came very early but we were welcomed with what promised to be
a nicer day. I wouldn't have to don my "little man" jacket
again after all. We would be running course A today and from the
gossip of the night before, we knew that it would be easier than
course B, but the time limits were going to be harder to meet.
begin our turn on the first obstacle, I crossed the start line and
ran up to the ledge and began throwing rocks into a hole that had
been carved out by the previous competitors' right rear tires. Then,
I set up a cedar tree trunk for the right front tire to climb up
the ledge. Matt pulled up, but when the Chicken's right front tire
came into contact with the cedar, it just pushed the trail aid out
of the way. Instead of taking backup points to reposition the trunk,
he pulled up against the ledge. The left front tire was already
on top, and when the right side hit, it grabbed. Matt gave it some
gas, and the front end was up. I was amazed. He gassed it again
and up came the rear. The crowd cheered. With an adrenaline rush,
I ran down the trail to the hairpin left turn that required a back
up. We wanted to try something different. Matt exited the course,
and attempted a technique that he had practiced the day before.
He used a line lock on his rear brakes to lock the rear tires, moved
the transfer case shifter for the rear axle to neutral, and tried
to spin around. This worked great in other areas, mostly on rock
surfaces and in our active imaginations. This was reality though,
and this wasn't rock. It didn't work here. He had to take the backup
points to finish the turn. But, that amounted to only two points
on the entire run. We were off to a good start again.
On to the second
obstacle. We had been warned the previous evening to steer clear
of any of the trees that were marked with orange ribbon or there
would be a ten-point penalty. The Jeep sailed up the first part,
requiring only two points for a back up. We then continued down,
made a turn and went back up different part of the obstacle. It
didn't look too bad but at the top you had to turn left and go between
two flagged trees. Matt thought he could make it through without
hitting either tree and gassed it. His right front grazed that tree
(kaCHING). And when the rear came up, the left corner barely touched
a couple of needles on the tree on that side (kaCHING kaCHING).
Twenty points. Oh well.
posed no real problem for us and we completed it with zero points.
Four came and went without incurring any points. Then came Five.
Again, we pulled a zero. We were on a 4x4 high. However, the Jeep
was experiencing some technical difficulty.
Matt drove through the end gates of number Five someone pointed
out that we were leaking transmission fluid. Upon crawling under
the Jeep, we quickly surmised that the Chicken had sustained a potentially
competition ending wound. The bolts that were holding the transfer
case adapter to the transmission had backed out about an inch. I
pulled one out and found the aluminum threads from the transmission
housing on the bolt -not a good sign. We decided that if we could
find some longer bolts, we might be able to finish the event. A
frantic search amongst our fellow competitors for hardware ensued.
Matt was able to come up with one bolt that was a little longer
than the stripped ones. Shortly after, the official gleefully informed
us we had to go now or take the 50 no-show points. I frantically
put the borrowed bolt in and carefully tightened it. We were on
our way, with our fingers crossed.
The sixth obtacle
looked to be a cinch if we could keep the Jeep running. We started
out down the hill, doing OK. We came upon a little point that we
had to go up and over. Matt navigated that, and then the Chicken
decided enough was enough. We tried adding fluid into the Jeep's
thirsty transmission to no avail. We were done. As it turns out,
even with all that went wrong, we ended up finishing in the top
the disappointment had worn off and the excitement of being around
fellow 4x4 enthusiasts returned, we attended the banquet. I was
hoping there would at least be an award for the worst dressed spotter
but was soon just as content to recount our adventures with the
other competitors. Tall tales of the events of the past two days
grew taller with each telling. It seemed everyone had a bigger and
better story to add. After enjoying the festivities, the Chicken
crew headed back to the hotel for a short night's sleep. We woke
early the next morning and made the 800-mile trek back to Texas.
All of the officials
and other people working the event were very courteous and helpful.
I met many great people, competitors and otherwise. I look forward
to seeing them again next year in February. My hat is off to the
spotters. These are some very hard working, dedicated people that
have a knack for the proper placement of vehicles in hard-core four-wheeling
situations. And, they don't seem to mind sacrificing themselves
for a good score and a good time.