Russell Bobbitt claims his 2nd Moose Run Victory

4-time National Enduro champion Russell Bobbitt tackles the infamous Parts Unlimited OMA Moose Run
Bobbit Creek © John Gasso
By Jerry Bernardo

 A smiling single track assassin from Georgia loaded up his truck with only two things he felt he would need to slay the Moose: one pristine Husqvarna FE-350 and a really good pit strategy. 4-time National Enduro Champion and last year’s reigning OMA Champion, Russell Bobbitt knows all too well how to thread the needle in dense woods. He is able to ride all day long, [no matter what the conditions] cross waist-high logs and even crack open a bottle of champagne if need be. Having won the Parts Unlimited OMA Moose Run once before Bobbitt arrived well prepped and quickly slotted himself amongst the other pros lined up for the two 40-mile loops of heaven…or hell.

All of this would depend on what sort of mood promoter Bill Gusse was in when he laid out the course; he can be just plain mean when laying out the race track. Quite often he feeds off the suffering of the weaker riders and relishes in the fact that everyone may possibly hate him after the race--that is--if you even finish.

Russell Bobbitt passed up his usual spot on the USA Trophy Team at the FIM International Six Days Enduro [being held right now in Argentina] to come out and frolic in the timbers of Morrison, Illinois.

Six days racing compared to one? How bad could it be?

Mony Gusse Bobbitt © John Gasso

Where’s the mud?

“Thinking back to just last year at this race it was a lot muddier. This time of the year up in Illinois it gets really cold and I remember it was about 20 degrees or so--at the time I was still racing a two-stroke. I set my bike up with the fattest jets I could run just so I wouldn’t blow it up. It was muddy as hell and the wind was so cold that your tears would be freezing inside of your goggles on all the fast straight-aways. Earlier [in the race] I must have sucked a little bit of water and got some dirt into my carburetor, in turn my throttle was sticking wide open on the technical terrain and the cornfields. I attempted to ride a couple gears in the tech stuff so when the throttle stuck it wouldn’t launch me into a tree. For the blazing fast fields I just let the throttle stick until the end when I would chop the throttle a few times to try to get it unstuck--I was just hoping for the best!”

Bobbit Cornfields © John Gasso

Leave your weapons at the barn

“This was the first year that I racing was on a Husqvarna FE-350 and it was so much fun to ride,” Bobbitt begins.

“Racing along out on the long cornfield sections I would just listen until the valves began to bounce so I would know when to shift--it was awesome! There are so many things about the Moose Run that set it apart from other races; this is definitely not your average race. The course is two loops around a relentless 40-mile track. The first time through is really difficult as the majority of the gnarly leaf-covered trail is tough to follow and read, that can be pretty hairy at times.

“Once the race starts you just follow arrows and hop over endless huge logs, go through ravines and cross really deep creeks. If you’re not trying to go the fastest way there are a few ways to get around the more technical stuff, unless it’s the infamous big log—that’s where all the spectators hover. There’s no way around that bad boy, you’re either going to have to shoot your bike over it or make it clean in one shot.

“This year he [Gusse] took the nice little dirt kicker away from the base of the log, there was no cheater entrance. The log itself was almost as tall as your hip. Bill really puts you to the test--nothing at the Moose Run is easy.” Bobbitt insists.

Stiff competition

“My main competition would be last year’s winner, Nick Fahringer and 6-time OMA Champion Paul Whibley. I knew they would be tough, but I had a good pit strategy in effect today: I figured everyone would be gassing at the first gas stop, I knew that I could go further [on fuel] than that so I skipped it. I opted to use the virgin trail to my advantage. The goal was to get out front and gap them to where they couldn’t follow me. Sometimes [in this race] the first lap becomes a conga line and everyone else just lets the leader break trail. That is until you blow a corner and get passed-- then they may get stuck on another obstacle and you pass them back.

“I wanted to get out in front, pull away and not let them follow me--in the end it all worked out to my advantage.”

Bobbitt The Log © John Gasso

Brain fade

“This race can take it out of you; for me, the mental side is the hardest. You have to be 100% on your game when you are going along in sixth gear pinned, wide open on all of the cornfield sections. Some of them are cross-plowed and have huge clumps of dirt here and there. You have to be able to read terrain correctly at speed and decide if you can hit things pinned and not g-out or get bucked over the bars. Factor in trying to remember what’s on the other side of a blind rise from the first lap as well!"

Postcards from Argentina

“My mechanic, David “Hollywood” Cripe, had my Husqvarna set up perfect today and the bike ran flawless all day long,” Bobbitt shares. “I also want to thank Husky for giving me the right equipment to help me get the win today.

“I was thinking about my buddies on the USA Trophy Team on the ride home; I’m usually competing in the Six Days, but from the photos I’ve seen of all the special tests over in Argentina are crazy rocky and dusty. I’ll be sending luck to Team USA and hope they pull off a history-breaking win for my dear friend and past Six Day Team Captain, Kurt Caselli (who passed racing close to one year ago). Though I do miss my team mates I think that I made the right choice to come here to the Moose Run and let Bill try to beat me up again!”

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