Hertfelder July 2018 Feature

Boring? Not Really

Duluth, Minnesota’s Andy Goldfine is a long-time business partner of mine. When he asked me to help celebrate the anniversary of his Aerostich business at what he called the Very Boring Rally #2, slash, National Championship Trial, I, once again, canceled that two weeks in Maui and cashed in my credit card airline miles.

Since I wasn’t mentioned in the early Boring Rally notices I imagine someone on his planning staff pulled my name out of the hat some time later and said: “Let’s make it really boring and get Hertfelder.”

And I’m ninety percent certain the instigator’s initials were Lynn Wisneski.

The venue for the Boring Rally was the square mile of grounds and big chalet at the Spirit Mountain ski resort. The three days of the Rally were also the last three days of the North American Trials Championship series.

The riders; I counted ninety-two, were spread over eight classes and were required to make two passes a day across the twelve scoring sections. Every section was super Championship rated with seemingly impossible climbs up and over sheer-sided rocks the size of shipping containers. Most sections required a full throttle climb then an immediate sliding stop then a ninety degree turn on the far from level upper surface on the leaf-covered boulders.

I caught myself holding my breath as the exceptionally talented riders worked their way out of the seemingly impossible situation they found themselves in.

Many riders wore headsets inside their helmets to receive suggestions, encouragement and, I suppose, occasional threats from their nearby coaches.

I was reminded of a Mercedes-Benz racing team manager, in the days before helmet headsets, threatening drivers who wouldn’t follow team instructions by holding a heavy caliber sporting rifle overhead. 

The six woman riders in their skin tight riding gear were ogled unmercifully by the old goats like myself among the spectators.

Following the form follows function rule, modern trials motorcycles are very hard to tell apart: Gas Gas, Beta, Montesa and Sherco machines appear identical even to the initiated.

Pat Smage, the 17 year old from Elkhorn, Wisconsin, clinched the North American Championship that year on his two-stroke 290cc Sherco. A close second was Cody Webb, 20, from Watsonville, California, running a four-stroke 320 Sherco.

Hertfelder July 2018
Artwork by Mr. Jensen

I only broke away from the trials action twice: once to cover my own time slot and second to hear Andy Goldfine’s presentation. Andy mesmerized his overflow audience with the story of building Aerostich from almost-junked sewing machines and his own imagination and perseverance.

Andy Goldfine’s “people” scheduled me to talk in one of the smaller rooms—not the smallest thank Christ—for a three o’clock start time to bore the troops on Saturday afternoon.

The speaker preceding my time slot was billed as a six-time Iron Butt finisher and I sat-in to hear him because I always admired these exceptional long distance riders.

Some friends of mine rode the very first Iron Butt out of Montgomeryville, PA, and I saw them off and was also asked to speak at the awards dinner at the finish.

I remember that most of the finishers instantly crapped out on the grass around the “finish” checkpoint but Suzie Mann, Dick Mann’s former wife, checked in on her BMW and asked: “Ed, where is the nearest Laundromat, I want to do my laundry.”

An absolutely amazing lady!

That preceding Iron Butt speaker never did show up but the entire front row of the patiently waiting audience, and part of the second row, filled up with a platoon of Iron Butt finishers who waited a long time before taking matters in their own hands and got the show on the road themselves.

A “long time” to an Iron Butt competitor, you might like to know, is between seven and nine minutes.

Seated alongside me was Jean Copas, a lady Iron Butt finisher herself.  She stood up and ordered, ordered, Paul Glaves and John Ryan to get up on the speaker stand and get this ship away from the dock before the tide goes out.

They didn’t argue and pulled off the finest “inside” story about the Iron Butt I ever heard. Their topics centered around the important worries like sleep, food and fuel. John Ryan’s comments on food were especially meaningful because he is a diabetic and must eat small amounts of food almost constantly. He demonstrated to us just how he managed to eat dry-packed tuna right out of the package at what might be a considerably faster rate of progress over the posted maximum speed recommendation.

The audience laughed out loud when I raised my hand and asked John what brand of tuna fish he preferred.

I wasn’t trying to be funny because I carry snack packs of tuna myself, and I was pleased to learn that we both prefer the Bumble Bee brand.

Paul Glaves fielded two of the common questions from riders who believe a three hundred mile day is pure purgatory and completing such a feat should certainly make the local six o’clock newscast.

The questions were; what kind of special seat do you use on your motorcycle and how often do you have to stop to pee?

The second question is a good indication that the questionnaire has trouble riding past a “cold beer” sign alongside the highway. There is speculation that riders of one certain brand of motorcycle suffer from this affliction to a degree approaching epidemic proportions.

Paul patiently mentioned all the various seat manufacturers then told us the motorcycle manufacturers hired a team of soft butted riders to test ride any new design.

Paul finished with the comment that the newer stock seats aren’t too bad at all and are used as-is by many Iron Butt riders.

The question of peeing he sidestepped neatly by telling us he controlled his water intake with very small occasional sips on his water tube and rarely has to go at all when riding at speed.

When asked if Iron Butt riders ever exceed the posted speed limits Paul simply said: “Never.”

This might not be necessarily true.

The impromptu meeting broke up when the fumes from the lunch area indicated the hamburgers were on the grill.

When I returned to the Hillside Room to do my thing I was overjoyed at the almost full audience drifting in. Unfortunately, my usual question and answer format didn’t do as well as I expected with the Boring Rally crowd, but we got thru the full hour with little loss of blood.

At one point I spotted Lynn Wisneski among the “standees.”

She was counting the house and smiling.

If, by some chance, the Bumble Bee tuna brand feels it necessary to send cash compensation for the endorsements by myself and John Ryan, my address follow can be gotten from CityBike. 

Get Ed’s latest book, 80.4 Finish Check on Amazon.com.

This column originally appeared in our July 2018 issue.