The Trail Of The Jack Pines

Muehlenbeck Wins Second National Endurance Title

By Eldon Ronnins, Photography by Unknown

So we turned off the nice smooth pavement onto a rutty country road. Oscar must have forgotten that we were only following the run because he “turned her on” as if we were thirty minutes late for the next check ahead. I never realized until after that ride into the trout stream how many unpadded places there are in what the boys inelegantly term a “side hack.”

There was plenty of action at the trout stream and the principal difficulty was trying to keep out of the way of it. The stream was narrow and the best vantage point for action shots was either in the water or right at its edge. But just as you would get all set for a shot, some wild-eyed rider would come “busting” over the bank and into the creek sending showers of icy water in every direction. Then too, there was one chap who “flopped” in the middle of the stream. It was a perfectly executed “flop” and it came just as I was changing films in my camera. This lack of cooperation on his part might have been attributed to carelessness, but his refusal to do it over again could only be classed as rudeness.

The next place we “ducked in” to the run was just south of Evart where Oscar said there would be some good stretches of deep sand. It was while on the way in to this spot that I learned another lesson on “How to Ride in a Side Hack and Come Back in One Piece.”

It’s quite proper for the passenger in the side car to bound out and start pushing the outfit when it gets stuck in a mud-hole. But if he pushes behind the drive wheel, he’s asking for it and he’ll very likely get it. At least I did.

But we did get to the sand hills and they were everything that could be asked for in the way of discouraging motorcycle riding. The sand was soft and deep and the sun blazed down upon the riders as they heaved and grunted and shoved and ate sand.

It was here that Oscar divulged his theme for laying out Jack Pine runs. You had to protect yourself against the weather man. If it turned off hot and dry, the sand stretches would make the going tough; and if it rained, the back roads in the farming sections would be a sea of mud. The course wanted to be tough, but not too tough, was the way Oscar put it.

When we reached Grayling that evening at the end of the first day of the run, we found that about half of the riders who started that morning had decided that Oscar’s interpretation of “tough going” was wrong. It was “too tough” so far as they were concerned.

I neglected to ask Oscar if the weather man ever crossed him up on his scheme for laying out the run. The answer came before morning when we were awakened by the sound of rain drumming on the barrack roofs.

Rain suits were very much in style as the riders left Camp Au Sable for the return trip to Lansing. A steady drizzle ha set in and the low spots in the road were flooded with water. By hitting these hard, Oscar explained, the water would fly right over our heads. And it did, all except a quart or so which sluiced up each sleeve.

When we reached the clay hills of West Branch and Gladwin, we saw that the weather man had really given the run both barrels. The mud wasn’t very deep, but it was the slitheriest I ever saw. But it was fair. It didn’t play any favorites, because the winners flopped just as ingloriously as the rest.

It was late afternoon when we drew up in the shadow of Michigan’s capitol building. I laboriously crawled out of the “side hack” and limped over to where the riders were checking in.

A bystander behind me watched the begrimed riders roll in on their mud spattered motorcycles and then inquired of his friend the amount of prize money involved.

By Eldon Ronnins
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