The legendary Monkey Wrench

Tharon Cessalli of Barriere compete for the second year in the “legendary” Monkey Wrench Hare Scramble.

By Sandy Cessalli

On the July long weekend Tharon Cessalli of Barriere travelled to Lytton to compete for the second year in the Pacific North West Motorcycle Association (PNWMA) Off Road Racing Series (ORS-C (coast)) “legendary” Monkey Wrench Hare Scramble.  Tharon commented what makes this race one of his favourites is the unexpected race design and the smooth operation of the entire event.

In the same format as last year, The Monkey Wrench came through with swag and prizes for most the participants as well as some promo items for the spectators.  The race coordinators chose to start the race divisions with the riders face down on their idling bike handlebars while they anxiously waited for the notorious cannon gunshot.  At the sound of cannon each class took their turn to launch from the start which was once more located at the base of the steep hill.  As the intermediate class exploded from the start and up the hill, due to the reporting angle and the crest of a hill obscuring the view, it was impossible to determine if Tharon was first or second through the hole shot due.

The Monkey Wrench was a long enduring race with a stretch of the course occurring on deactivated forest service roads inundated with more water bars than Tharon cares to remember.  While many kilometres of the race held up to the tradition of being dusty, the section of the route near the small meandering creek had riders pass over several narrow wooden bridges, through an overhead suspended teeter totter, and into black and sticky mud holes. At one mud hole in particular, many riders chose avoid the mud by jumping over logs and taking a narrow slippery trail above it, while others bush-whacked their way on the other side through small shrubs, hidden stumps and slippery logs, but on occasion, a few took the plunge only to become mired in knee deep mud.

Tharon was having a great race and by his calculations was possibly in second or third place.  By the final lap many riders were sapped of energy and a steep loose gravel hill proved to be too much for some.  As Tharon approached the hill he seen the trail was blocked by a rider that was stopped dead and unable to make it any further.  Tharon dismounted and fumbled up the slope to assist the rider and to clear the way for him to move.  While Tharon was helping the rider out of the predicament another rider approached and stopped at the base. Tharon waved her upward indicating he would help her if she needed it.  As she approached him she too powered out, but between the two of them they got her to the top of the slope and she was again on her way.  Tharon was fully aware that helping this latest rider would put her immediately ahead of him as they both competed in the same race class.  Tharon rushed down slope as fast as he could in his stiff bike boots and gear toward his bike parked at the base of the hill.  As he glanced upward to one side he noticed a rider taking an alternate route that avoided the hill and he recognized the helmet to be that of another competitor in his class, he now knew his good deeds on the hill had cost him at least two levels in today’s race.

Although Tharon would have been elated to bring home the second place trophy he was still satisfied with his fourth place standing, after all this was the PNWMA series and he knows that any position in the top 10 is a bonus.

The Monkey Wrench marked the last race leading into the summer break until races resumed in late August.  Tharon went into the break knowing he had secured third place overall in the Okanagan Hare Scramble Series (OHSS) but with two fall races ahead of him he had to make some tough decisions. During the break decided against participating in several other off road racing series events scheduled in the Cariboo, Okanagan, Boundary and Fraser Valley, instead choosing to conserve his bike for one more PNWMA race in Kamloops in late September the final OHSS races in October.