Except for a few glitches, Team USA is finally ready to go for the start of the 87th International Six Days Enduro in Kotka, Finland. Officially (as of Saturday afternoon when entries closed), 356 competitors from some 30 countries are anxious to leave the starting ramp beginning at 8:00 A.M. Monday, August 8, embarking on a six-day-long endurance test covering over 900 miles of what promises to be physical race with an abundance of rocky as well as sandy terrain on the southeastern corner of the country, not far from the Russian border.
Technical inspection prior to impounding the bikes once again provided lots of nervous moments. This year, the sound test sent rider after rider back to lower the noise level of their machine, the FIM having instituted a new method of checking output that has the engine on the rev limiter with the sound meter sitting a little over six yards away. Team USA's Destry Abbott set what must be an unofficial record for number of failed attempts, finally passing on his seventh try. It seemed that even the Europeans weren't prepared for how stringent the test would actually be since even some of the rental bikes didn't pass the first time. One of the keys seemed to be getting the engine nice and warm before the test by riding around on the streets next to the portside parc ferme complex.
But that was probably better than Six Days veteran Jeff Fredette's prolonged attempt at retrieving his luggage, which he last saw when he checked into the Chicago airport last Monday. Since then, no one at the airline seems to know where exactly his gear bags are, though the best guesses seem to center around London's Heathrow airport. As a result, he's had to borrow everything from bike parts to riding gear, though one thing that he wasn't able to get for his KX450F was another Rekluse clutch. He'd planned to use that in order to reduce the strain on his forearms, which are still recovering from surgery to alleviate his carpal tunnel syndrome as he attempts to complete his record-stretching 31st Six Days.
So, Fredette, like many others, spent Sunday doing some sightseeing, though he'll undoubtedly see a lot more things over the next six days here in Finland.