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“Tucker’s Up Texas Creek”
RMTA Trials Series
April 18, 2010
Texas Creek, Colorado
By Ron Pocher
Photos By Herb Jonke
You can find Texas Creek somewhere on the map between the considerably larger Cotopaxi and what would be called a thriving metropolis if compared to these two, Cañon City. Texas Creek is more widely known as a riding area, but it’s actually a real, live town – there’s a sign on the highway and everything. There’s “Barry’s Den”, the little local café that is simply outrageous, a rafting company, maybe two homes, and a continually changing population of mule deer and bighorn sheep that regularly occupy the community. That previously mentioned roadway is none other than the beautifully winding US Highway 50 that makes its way along the Arkansas River and through the Bighorn Sheep Canyon, before dumping out in Salida. Highway 50 is the only thoroughfare, not considered an interstate, that travels the length of the nation from coast to coast, and this fifty mile stretch through the middle of Colorado would have to be as pretty as any of them.
The RMTA has hosted three NATC nationals at this location throughout the years, and as if the various boulders found on site weren’t enough, the traction on the powdery sand and granular hard pack known to this region is always a dicey proposition at best. Texas Creek boasts one hillside of massive rocks that alone could house pro-level trials sections “til the cows come home”.
The Trials Masters for this years’ opening round were most certainly a scurvy collection. TdN teammates and longtime sweethearts Keith Wineland and Sarah Duke; the father and son outlaw squad of Jeff and Stephen Marcus; and the man who needs no introduction, Stan Hensley; all put their best foot forward to help ensure that their fellow club members would put many feet down. The event was a perfect mixture of challenge and enjoyment, although maybe a tad more difficult than the typical first rides of an RMTA series. Barb Hensley, Jody Hutchinson and Miss Duke seemed to have a handle on the sign-up fiasco.
As usual, a good time was had by all in the Junior ranks. The Junior A class saw quite a battle between a couple of lads with noteworthy lineage. Evan Manniko just edged Garrett Stokes 18 to 20 with Sir Stokes managing one more clean in the contest. Jackson Lewis nudged Mia Manniko 23 to 27 to claim the Junior B gold with Zack Bunge (30), Chase Bright (36) and Luca Wood (38) all on fine form.
The Novice gang had a pretty tight tussle as well. Ray Plumb only had to plant one appendage during the day but Jay Stevenson was right there with his 3-card. Both riders dropped their pants, I mean points, on the first loop. Chuck Distel and Madison Leigh each finished with 7 marks lost, but Distel got the nod on cleans, 28 to 26. Chase “Burger” Abbott rounded out the top 5 with his 8-point tally.
Jody Hutchinson and John Clement would have been hard nuts to crack, if some other nutcrackers would have just bothered to throw their cards on the table. Hutchinson snatched the Womens class while Clement, and his pudding bowl helmet, walked away with the Vintage A honors. The Vintage A class rides the Amateur line while the Vintage B division competes on the same course as the Novice plonkers. These are two newly installed classes in the RMTA for the 2010 season and attendance hasn’t lived up to expectations as of yet.
The Amateur division boasted the day’s largest contingent with 13 entries, but only one of them, Bevin Sharpe, didn’t require viewing from the corner of your eye and from a distance. Al Bunge seems to be getting along well with his brand new, second-hand bike as he scooted to the top rung with just 20 marks dropped. John Taylor carted home the silver with his 22-card while Sean Duncan’s 25-point tally reaped the bronze. Scott Sears and Adam Faleck had quite a scuffle, finishing with 28 points each, but Sears got the nod on cleans – 17 to 15.
David Keorwitz and Tom “Colonel” Klinker were each reaching deep into their bag of tricks for whatever distractions they could muster to help deter the other’s progress in the Senior Amateur class. I guess Dave’s cedar log to the head trumped Tom’s cactus to the seat of the riding pants as Keorwitz escaped with the gold 14 to 16. Both steer wrestlers managed to clean 23 traps.
New member Ian Leeming manhandled the Intermediate class on his way to posting the best intermediate level ride for the day with his 25 points and 17 cleans. RMTA results secretary Pete Helfter managed to put himself into second with a 49-card while Darren Myers filled out the podium with 61. Travis Hyslop’s 66 and Eric Krall’s 67 completed the top five in this 9-rider skirmish.
Although Rick Daniel, with the aid of smoke and mirrors, has been able to win intermediate level classes in both California and Wyoming, he claimed his first RMTA victory in the Senior Intermediate division at this opening round. Rick’s 43-card bested the 54 point total of group rival Neil Pieper and Mark Berry’s 67. New class member “Gentleman” Jim Plumb posted an impressive first ride with only 74 marks dropped to come home fourth while Mike Kunz and his 78 were good enough for fifth.
One has to be fifty years of age in order to compete in the RMTA’s Veteran division. A couple of “youngsters” have just moved into the class with designs on dethroning the 63-year-old four-time champion, Mike Buchholz, but it turns out that “Buckwheatz” was not as cooperative as his classmates may have liked. While the group was hoping to spot signs of the old geezer slowing down, he won again with his 28-card. Rob Deines and Mike Stokes had a rather heated battle for second, with Rob needing one less dab through the thirty sections, to finish up with a 33 to Mike’s 34. Don Reedy (41) and Jeff Payne (43) were also slapping each other around a bit while another cat who can’t seem to act his age, Larry Lund, was right there in the hunt as well with his 46-card.
Colorado off-road legend Ron Schmelzle made his return to the Rocky Mountain trials scene with an impressive victory in the Senior Advanced ranks. Schmelzle only needed two dabs on the opening loop. Two-time and reigning class champion Tracy Zentz, ran into a few more spots of bother than usual, but still claimed the silver with his 15-point total. When play had ended, RMTA icons Ron Gardner and Rod Tomson sat all knotted up at 18 marks apiece, but Gardner nabbed the bronze on cleans – 20 to 16. Ken White (20) and Mike Wehling (24) posted scores that would have completed a rather rowdy rumble, if Mr. Schmelzle would have just stayed astride his enduro mount and left his Beta idle. No such luck, ladies.
Greg Howie, who has been knocking at the door with a vengeance, finally reached the top step of the podium in the Advanced class. Billy Burgener was almost able to extend Howie’s dry spell by finishing in a flurry with his two-point, class-best, last-lap card. Greg’s 11-point tally topped Billy’s 12 while John Sinks ended his day just three marks adrift with his 15-point total taking the bronze. 2009 class champ Adam Leute, must have been a tad rusty as his 23-card found him in fourth place when the dust had settled, while new Sherco dealer Bill Haskell rounded out the top five with his 40.
Reigning class champion Chris Hertrich, was the “cat’s meow” in this opening round’s Expert division. Hertrich had that group’s ride of the day with a 4-point third loop contributing to his ending total of 29. Kevin Busch posted the second-best loop card when he finished lap two with just 8 marks dropped and his 41-point tally helped him pocket the silver. Keith Busch was able to continue his streak of third place finishes with his 53-card, but finished arrears of his older brother for the first time in many moons. Tom Headwall and Brian Keorwitz had their own little scrap brewing, but Tom was able to improve with each circuit while Brian failed to match this trend and bowed to Mr. Headwall – 64 to 60. Joey Hamilton and Al Duke squared off for sixth, but Duke couldn’t quite make up for that first loop 29 and his 78-card succumbed to Hamilton’s 74.
Former NATC High School National Champ and Ute Cup winner Bailey Tucker, took a decisive win in the Championship class. The Cotopaxi High School Senior showed improvement throughout the day with his 13, 12 and 6-point cards, to wrap up the event with 31. Section 8 gave Tucker (and his cohorts) the most grief on the ten-trap layout, as five of his last-loop marks were dropped at that exact locale. Dustin Hedwall made his return to the RMTA series, after an injury-filled ’09, and seemed quite pleased with his 52-point, runner-up ride. “That was my hottest loop in quite a while” said Hedwall, in reference to his final lap 9-card. Steven “Stevo Knievo” Deines seemed to be adapting rather well to his brand spanking new 2010 Gas Gas 300, as he was just a few beats off the mark with his final total of 67.
This will be a weekend that the young Tucker shouldn’t soon forget. Not only was he able to claim his first Pro class gold in over a year; but as of the previous Friday, he had received word that he would be attending the prestigious Colorado School of Mines on an academic scholarship beginning next fall. The multi-talented Tucker was obviously enthused about his latest win on a long list of trials victories; but Mom, Dad and Gramma Marcy were sporting Texas-sized grins long before the feet-up festivities ever began.