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“Hot Footin’ at Turkey Rock”
RMTA Trials Series
June 6, 2010
By Ron Pocher
Photos By Herb Jonke
Although the RV crowd just loves the area, there’s really only three things to do in the quiet little community known as Howard. If you’re into fly-fishing, which you should be if you’re not, the stretch of the Arkansas River, running through Howard, is pretty hard to beat. The only draw back to the awesome angling found in this run, is that it’s all private property – you have to know somebody to fish there, and luckily, I do. I regularly thank the fishing gods for being blessed with such a privilege. The trials riding, thanks to that magical spot called “Turkey Rock”, is every bit as spectacular as the fishing. You can stick whatever you want in that third slot.
You could ride at Turkey Rock for the rest of your days and never come close to discovering all of the potential sections. Salida optometrist Larry Lund has been doing just that, for better then thirty years now, and he’s still eyeballing new stuff. Some other locals who have had their share of fun at this challenging venue include Herb Jonke, Kevin Busch and youth trials stalwart “Mr. Bill” Markham. Markham has done as much as anyone for the feet-up youngsters’ benefit through the years. Jonke now considers himself a professional angler and woodworker while Busch has both a Howard-based body shop and a liquor store in nearby Swissvale, “Busch Liquors”, to contend with. Pretty catchy name, huh?
For the second-straight year, the Howie brothers – Greg and Pat, were chosen to entertain the upper level classes. The Howies were able to add another experienced Trials Master to their group, when they acquired the help of Mr. Tim Willbanks. Lund, David “Kong” Koerwitz and Jordan “Air Jordy” King set the ten sections that the support class clan had to deal with. Two grand dames indeed, Melissa Howie and Evelyn Peacock, handled the score table duties with admirable ease.
Trials nuts are always wishing for two-day events, but this was probably one of those rare occasions when a single day’s worth of fun was more than enough. It wasn’t just hot Mildred, it was like “Africa hot”. It was like “fived three sections in-a-row due to missed split cards hot”. Busch hit the nail right on the head when he said: “We always run the upper level classes in the morning, thinking it will be cooler for the more difficult traps, and then the afternoon clouds roll in and the support classes actually get the better conditions”. The more talented group definitely had the tougher trial, due to the un-mountain-like heat. A bit of delirium, here and there, wasn’t all that uncommon.
Keith “El Gato” Wineland quickly set the mark for his Championship class cohorts with an impressive first loop 8-card. Bailey Tucker wasn’t far off the pace with his 14, while Steven Deines found himself sitting in third, although with a bit larger gap, at 29. Dustin Hedwall was right behind Deines with 33 marks showing while Wyoming’s Shad Petersen was trailing the pack with 36. Wineland chopped his loop one card in half, with a 4-point ride on lap 2, while Tucker comfortably held on to second with his 17. Hedwall leaped up to third with his 30-point, second loop effort while Deines and his 37 were pushed back to fourth. Petersen tweaked his ankle pretty badly during this second go-around and felt that a tender joint, coupled with the desert-like heat, wasn’t the best recipe for pro level trials and wisely retired. The temperature was obviously a factor as the entire class, excluding Hedwall, punched their highest loop scores on the final circuit. Wineland was able to pocket the gold with his 22-point total while Tucker claimed the runner-up silver with a final tally of 64. Hedwall held on to third with his 94 while Deines took fourth with 109.
The Expert division saw its usual topsy-turvy tussle, but Kyle Deines and his rock exercises proved most heat resistant on this sultry morn. Deines wrapped things up with cards reading 18, 15 and 21 and snatched the gold with a final sum of 54. Defending class champ Chris Hertrich, had his typically consistent rides on the first and third loops, with 12 and 19, but that lap two 30-card proved to be his demise. Hertrich rolled home in second with 61 marks lost. The Busch brothers, Keith and Kevin, whose argument over finishing order was a little more heated than usual, battled to the end. Keith headed into the final circuit with a 4-point edge but Kevin posted his best score of the day while the younger sibling unfortunately punched his worst, thus missing out on the bronze. Kevin ended play with 67 while Keith had to settle for a 73-point fourth place. Ben Wehling was certainly in the hunt with matching 17-cards, for the first two laps, but failed to reach the score table (with his loop three card) in the allotted time and suffered a dnf.
The Advanced class saw a first time winner when Aurora’s Stephen Marcus handed in the lowest total, 54, of a bunched-up field. Marcus, who has snared other class medals, just nipped the irrepressible Sarah Duke in their race to the first RMTA gold. Duke had to settle for silver, only two marks back at 56, while Ian Leeming rounded out the podium with his 66. Ryan Lindeman just missed third with 67 while Jon Greenleaf, in his first advanced level ride, posted a respectable 74. Billy Burgener seemed to have things pretty much in hand with opening loop scores of 11 and 12, but ran out of time on his final circuit.
The Senior Advanced group only had two entrants on this steamy occasion with Ron Gardner reaping his second gold of the 2010 series. Gardner and Rod Tomson had quite the scuffle going, with Ron leading by just four after two, but Tomson became the third upper level contestant of the day to fall to a time-related dnf. Mr. Tomson’s heat index understandably rose a few degrees on a day when some additional time may have been in order.
Mike Buchholz, whose meticulous precision borders on tedium, was able to add yet another Veteran class gold medal to his “ridonkulous” collection with a final tally of 28. I hope you’re getting as tired of reading about the gifted one’s prowess as I am of writing about it – oh wait, it gets better. Ron Pocher was able to somehow make off with his first ever RMTA intermediate level medal when he scooted home in second with 38 marks lost. Jeff Payne almost kept Pocher waiting a bit longer when he just missed the silver with his 39-card. Rob Deines and Don Reedy both had trying second loops, of 20 each, and finished fourth and fifth, respectively, with 42 and 50-point totals. Deines punched a class-best 5-card on his final circuit.
This day had a grand amount of degree in more ways than one as several first time winners made their way to the top step of the podium. Mr. Mike Bolas was certainly part of this joyous group when he escaped with the gold in the Senior Intermediate division. Bolas punched continually improving scores of 21, 15 and 10 for an ending total of 46. Bill Niemiec’s cards were also shrinking, for the better, and enabled him to take second with 59. Jeff Marcus wrapped things up in third with 81.
Just winning the Intermediate class wasn’t enough for twelve-year old Alex Tucker; he decided to go ahead and turn in the intermediate level “ride of the day” as well. At still four years shy of a driver’s license, Mr. Tucker may be as humble as any man in motor sports. Let’s just put it this way – nobody’s going to mistake Alex for NASCAR’s Kyle Busch anytime soon. The younger Tucker finished with just 25 points dropped, but you won’t hear it from him. Pete Helfter lifted the silver, with his 36-card, while Eric Krall had yet another top finish with his third place 40. Jason Todd was able to post his best intermediate level ride to date with his 57-point, fourth place outing.
After taking the ’09 series off, Mark Doyle didn’t take long in returning to form and ended up on the top rung of the Senior Amateur ladder. Doyle finished with 17 points and 22 cleans. Roy Abbott, who finally signed up for the right class, didn’t miss the mark by much as he finished with a 27-card. Abbott’s scores improved with each circuit. Chuck Moline ended play just five marks adrift of “Red Bull” with his 32.
The Amateur class boasted the day’s largest contingent, with nine fully clothed sunbathers taking to the traps. Lund’s daughter Erika and her husband Tony, who recently introduced their first son – Thomas Allen Danger Keady, rode exhibition and had their own little sparring match. Sorry Tony, but it looks like Erika hasn’t lost much of that turning skill that she inherited from Pops. Ray Plumb won his second meet in-a-row with the help of his fine 30-point performance. “Trophy” Ty Lindeman topped Miss Kjelen Jacobson on cleans, 16 to 15, after both youngsters had finished with just 37 points. Roy Moline was fourth with 38 while Madison Leigh tied her best Amateur class finish with fifth at 59.
Here we are half way through the season and the Vintage classes are still coming up rather shy in the number of entries category. Come on guys and dolls; roll out those trusty steeds and let’s make this thing happen. We don’t want this to turn out being one of those “you’ll really miss it when it’s gone” ordeals. Reliable stand-bys John Clement and Ed Peacock captured the Vintage A and Vintage B awards, respectively.
In the Novice division, Joe Frei came out on top with his final total of 10. Frei was able to sandwich a second loop 8 with a couple 1-point go-arounds. Micah Hertrich mined the silver with his sterling 15-point ride while Chase Abbott, who had been on a hot streak, cooled off on the warmest day of the year and slipped to third with 18.
Evan Manniko won the Junior A class, again, with his 37 while his little sissy, Mia, showed the way in the Junior B ranks with her 22. Jackson Lewis steered his way to second, with 28, while Coen Fricke notched third with a happening 45-card. Luca Wood was also on fine form with an ending tally of 48.
Choosing between trials riding and fly-fishing, for me anyway, is always a difficult decision. When you substitute the word riding with competition, well that suddenly makes the choice a little easier. On this weekend, the nearby Arkansas River was flat roaring in full, early summer run-off mode. If you would have tried fishing in these conditions, and fallen in, you would have ended up somewhere near Pueblo with a couple of pieces gone. To borrow a quote from Ron Schmelzle, and add a bit if I may – “Trials (like fishing) is good for the soul”.