Enduroland Whaddon August 2010


So today was going to the baptism of fire for the newly re-furbished 450. I’d run it in for about 140 miles on the road already so in theory it should be ok for a practice day out at Enduroland.
“Take it out for two or three runs then it should be ok – just don’t get stuck in any bogs” was the advice from Kevin the supplier of the engine parts – oops, oh dear.... too late!


ready for the gentle ride around Whaddon?


In the week leading up to the 29th of August plenty of rain was forecast and that is what we got. Strange that it almost never works the other way round. Come Thursday and I had a nervous peek at the weather forecast but it was looking good for a change, even though it was a bank holiday weekend. ‘Sunny spells’ was the outlook and seeing as Saturday was a really nice day I had high hopes for Sunday as well. On second thoughts I think wearing shorts was a mistake as Sunday morning turned out to be a jeans, jacket and warm hat day, NOT a ‘shorts day’. Yep getting changed in the cold wind was a bracing affair, but like I said to Tony, nothing can be compared to getting changed in -3 sleet up near Rhyadar one March a few years ago!


Tony remembering what it was like to get changed in -3 degs!



Jordi - the only pictures i got were with this helmet on!


We bumped into Jordi (a chap of the ktm forum) as soon as we got to the signing on desk and he went out for a lap while we were still getting our gear on. He came back a while later (we dress slowly) and declared it ‘slippery’ – and that he was knackered already. No idea what he looks like as I don’t think I saw him without his helmet on all day! I did suggest that he pop over to the CHEC’s Lane End 6hr enduro next week but I’m not sure if he’ll make it.

Steve and Dan arrived just as we were about to head out so after a quick hello Tony and I headed out onto the track.

Even though the bike was ‘run in’ I decided to take it nice and easy for the morning and I sat behind Tony as well set off on our first lap. Nigel had changed the layout slightly and the start of the lap first took you in a loop around the outside of the MX track. With the track on your left we looped around until about mid point and then cut into the track down near the bottom section. Finishing off the lap you either had the option to continue on the mx track and complete a full lap of it, or you could peal of to the right and start the enduro loop Nigel had laid out.

Having never been here before Tony didn’t realise this and he went straight into the enduro part of the track. We curved down the valley keeping to the right and at the end of the field we had to negotiate a boggy section and cross a bridge. In the lead I took a straight line for the bridge through a ‘puddle’...... unfortunately this puddle turned out to be fairly deep bog and I didn’t have nearly enough throttle dialed in. Splush! The bike was half buried and I hit the gas hard to dig myself out. “Hey the engine!” cried a little voice so I jumped off into the slosh and pushed the bike out, remounting as I road over the bridge. My nice shinny new looking bike was absolutely covered in crap and mud – and I wasn’t much better either.

Much like the last time we were here with Enduroland, the track curved round to the right and once at the end of the field it followed the natural slopes and the one manmade hump as it made its way to the top part of the property. There are always a few big puddles here and the recent rain had ensured we were not to be disappointed. However I think Tony would get to dislike them as his bike konked out every time he went through the water. No he hasn’t re-routed his breather tubes – one extra job for the following week.


puddles at the far end of the track



got the hump yet?


Once through the puddles we weaved in and out of the stand of trees on a little sunken & rutted track. This part of the course was pretty muddy and about half way along there was a hole churned out so I opted to rail round on the side of the bank instead.
The rutted track was followed by a couple of runs that switched back and forth across this middle field and we ended up at the top of the grounds once again. Here we followed the hedge downhill along the top part of the property on a slightly rutted track before turning 360’ and heading back the same way on a track that has had loads of three foot high humps build into it. Not sure who designed this bit but they (the humps) are too close together and too frequent to take at anything other than a nice stead pace riding up and down the slopes.

A fast run with a slight detour around a tree took us right down the valley and up the other side there we headed further away from the pits before looping back around to the left riding up and down the natural slopes a few times along the way as we made our way back to complete the lap.

flattening the reeds



the first few made it



We stayed out for several more laps and each time the boggy bit by the bridge got a little iffier, and they were starting to direct people across the section to the left through the reed bed. That looked a bit dodgy so I went to the original crossing again and a guy was down on the other side of the bridge. I paused for a moment to get a route across sorted in my mind and went for it. There were holes dug out on either side of the bridge by this time and this made it a whole lot more tricky, but I made it through ok, just – but gave the other bike a glancing blow as I passed. Seeing this Tony and Jordi turned tail and went the other way. I sat there waiting for them to come through (camera at the ready) but after a while it became clear they weren’t going to try it so I completed another lap on my own.

some didn't !


while some had it harder... but others had it ever harder still...read on!


I met up with Tony back at the pits and we set off on another lap. This time round the bridge route was gated off and there was no option but to tackle the reed bed. The route to the right had swallowed a few bikes so a buggy was riding back and forth across the reeds to flatten them down slightly. Nigel was urging riders to cross so I thought I’d better give it a go and headed across. Everything was going swimmingly (well it was deep water) and then the bike’s front wheel dug in and made the bike swerve to the right dramatically, I opened it up a bit more and dug my way out. Dropping into the road on the other side I propped the bike up on the bank as I sensed a photo opportunity coming up. Quickly pulling the camera out the bag I headed back to the crossing point.


some quick film i shot on my small clicky cam


The next few bikes made it across without any trouble and I filmed Tony with the clicky camera as he crossed – getting stuck momentarily but managed to get going straight away. That is when things took a turn for the worse for several riders. As it was getting more and more churned up you needed to have more speed dialed in to make it across – some just didn’t open it up enough and dug straight in. The lucky ones got the rear end stuck but some unfortunate riders went head over handlebars! I managed to catch one mid flight as his front wheel dug in. Lucky for him the reeds were fairly hard around him and he didn’t get too wet or muddy – unlike another chap who decided to cross more to the left. He managed to hit a hole and his bike stopped dead throwing him clean over the bars and into a deep puddle!



is that a pound coin on the floor?


pull !!!!!


Finishing up the lap we head back for a sandwich and a cup of coffee. This is when I suddenly noticed I was missing the last two inches of my brand new tailpiece! What! How the hell did that happen? It didn’t take long to figure out. I’d ‘over jumped’ a couple of times on the mx track and I must have bottomed out the bike. Seeing as I’m not running a rear light the tyre’s knobs had grabbed hold of the lugs and ripped off the end of the tail piece – gutted.
It was drizzling by now and a bit miserable but it didn’t last long. We popped over to chat to Steve and co and Steve wasn’t having a good day. He’d managed to pull his back on the very first lap in the same spot I dropped into the water by the bridge and he’d sat out the rest of the day. Hope you are better for this Sunday mate.

Once the rolls had gone down we headed out again to get some more practice in but got separated somehow. Getting to the reed bed the bikes were being urged to cross in the middle. I stopped to eye things up a bit and seeing as some other bikes were making it across (many were stuck) I lined the bike up and pinned the throttle. Revs sky high I hit the reeds and kept it full bore in what turned out to be an easy crossing.



this guy went head over heels into the water!



Back at the pits I pulled up at Ford n Ellis’s van to have a chat and Ross was just about to head out so I tagged on to the rear to have a bit of fun. Still on the back loop before the mx track he lost the front on the grass and took a tumble. I stopped and Pete on the other 450 suzuki enduro bike pulled up as well so we set off in an impromptu race. Ross must have been pissed off for falling as he was really giving it some. I was third in line behind Pete and I had a little chuckle as we passed Ross when his bike stalled again on a very slow slippery bend leading to an uphill slope.
I’m not sure where or how Ross got past but I sat behind Pete for a lap or two and then got past in the end and set about trying to catch Ross. I pulled some time back on him but by now after three or so laps at speed I was knackered so I ducked out onto the enduro loop again.


Completing another lap I pulled up at the Ford N Ellis van once more as Steve was there and while we had a chat Pete offered me a go on his bike round the mx track.

I set off on the pre mx track loop at speed and immediately felt comfortable on the bike. On the back grass bits it felt like it made good power - similar to my bike. The bars were a little twitchy but only because I’m used to my damper, they never got into a slap or felt like they would at any point.
Entering into the mx track I found that the pickup right down low (just off a closed throttle) was still slightly woolly compared to the rfs engined ktm 450 but once into the lower midrange it pulled nice and smooth with loads of traction. But now I was into the mx full swing and kept it pretty much full taps whenever I could. I experimented with gearing down early into bends to get the rev high to pull out the bend, but I think it likes to be slightly lower in the rev range to make the best of the engine. I kept it at race speed for the rest of the original ‘half lap’ then carried on going to complete another full lap. I over jumped the big one and managed to bottom out the front but landing on the rear wheel on the other jumps didn’t knock through. I must say that the pipe is rather fruity on Pete’s bike and I’m not sure if it’s standard or not but when on full bellow it does scare the slower riders out the way! There were no quirky handling traits to deal with and it does put its power down well coming out of bends. So all in all I was impressed with the 450 Suzuki but then again it was on an mx track being ridden at speed, so bare that in mind. However on the one slow section (tight turn and slippery slope) it also behaved itself so should be ok. The clutch was fairly heavy but then I don’t tend to use it on a fast track but in a woods you’ll use it for most tight bends, so that is worth keeping in mind. The second ‘however’ though is why does Ross’s bike stall and Pete’s doesn’t – and what do you do if you get one that stalls when on a closed throttle or going into slow bends? Pete said on the ktm forum that they prefer to run low idle revs and that is the cause of the stalls. Anyone else got one and feels like making a comment? Email me and I’ll add it to this report.
A nice bike and one I felt comfortable enough on to go flat out straight away.


it's wet out there!


During lunch it started to bucket down and we took shelter in Steve’s van for a while.
I decided to dig the helmet cam out after lunch as the clouds had blown over and it was looking fairly clear now. Tony headed off while I got rigged up so I was alone for the first lap of the mx track. Bloody hell it had become so slippery after that downpour during lunch. Getting used to it I tiptoed around then on the second part of the lap I felt a bit more comfortable and sped up.


marshal doing a rain dance?


The crossing of the bog had now moved to the far right again, almost under the trees. I got through fine but my goggles and camera were covered in crap so I stopped to clean up a bit then carried on where I found Tony cleaning his own goggles near a slope on the RHS of the field. I stopped to allow him to catch up then we headed off together again. At the manmade jump/hump he skirted around to the right but I and another bike went to cross over the top. The second bike was having a load of grip issues and managed to spin and drop it 180’ across the track. I waited until he got it half up but slid back down the slope before chugging the bike over the top. I caught up with Tony in the pits and we set off for one more lap. Once again I got covered in the bog crossing but this time it was by another rider that came in from the right while I was following Tony and got in between us – then slowed down – only to open back up and cover me head to toe in slurry like mud/churned up reeds.

I followed Tony down the top part of the track and pulled to the right hand rut to overtake. I’d pulled this move earlier in the day (knocking bars in the process) and it had worked fine. Unfortunately the rain that fell during lunch made the ruts too slippery to climb out of so I was forced to overshoot the turn and spin the bike around, Tony was gone by then.


Helmet cam video to be inserted here but it got corrupted - so it'll have to be reloaded to youtube tonight

something still wrong with the video - sound is U/S - i loaded it twice already so no more ideas!


By now it was 3pm so we stopped and I got ready for the timed sprint test being held at the end of the day. I was almost at the back of the queue and it took ages to run through the two dozen or so riders. It was a dead engine start and the bike fired up fine and I set off at full speed trying for a quick time. It was all going great up until the part where you skirted the tree. The whole day we’d been going straight on here so I made a mistake as I think they’d reverted the track to the course that was run early in the day. Anyway whatever happened I cocked up, blundered through the tape and had to be pointed in the right direction by a marshal. I’d lost enough time to ensure a win was out of reach so even though I tried hard to make it back up, I knew it wasn’t going to be enough.

So ignoring the broken tailpiece and failed attempt at the sprint it was a good day. I was just glad to be back out on the bike after the enforced lay up while the bike was being repaired. I just hope I was imagining the noise in the engine on the overrun.

video by dizzychoonz



If you enjoyed this report and would like to be notified of new reports or web site updates then join the mailing list. To sign up to the list just click HERE>> and send me an email.

©2010 John Muizelaar