Ben Kelley proved to be plenty tough enough at this year’s Kenda Tough Like RORR Intense Off-Road Race organized by the Reading Off-Road Riders near Tamaqua, Pennsylvania, June 30 – July 1. After getting off to a midpack start in Sunday’s Tough Like RORR main event, the Trail Jesters Racing KTM rider took control of the race about two miles into the opening lap and never relinquished control. After three-and-a-half hours of racing in near-100 degree weather, Kelley claimed his second “TLR” win in three years and pocketed a hefty $5000 prize for his efforts.
2018 Tough Like RORR Results
“It feels really good to win,” said Kelley. “After winning in 2016 and then missing the podium altogether last year because of mechanical problems, I really wanted to win this race this year and it feels good to get it done.”
The two-day event is similar in nature to most “knockout” events, where a large entry is whittled down to a smaller one for the finale. Tough Like RORR features two races on Saturday and one on Sunday designed to trim a field of 200 down to a total of 50 riders for Sunday afternoon’s main event.
Held in an active mining pit just outside of Tamaqua, the race utilizes the seemingly endless rock gardens, nearly vertical climbs and treacherous downhills, testing the riders’ ability to navigate the most treacherous terrain possible.
Once in the lead, Kelley used his long legs and rock-riding experience to pull away from the competition. Other than needing a second run at one of the steep uphills, Kelley ran a relatively mistake-free race.
“This was definitely the hardest one of these yet,” said Kelley. “They added a few new sections to last year’s course and it was relentless. I grew up riding in the rocks in Connecticut and with my style I tend to stand up a lot, which is an advantage in this kind of stuff.”
Last year’s winner, Josh Toth, finished second behind Kelley. Like Kelley, Toth rode KTM’s new XC-W TPI model.
“That bike is perfect for this kind of race,” said Toth. “There’s always traction because it’s always adjusting for the conditions.”
The FMF KTM Factory rider pointed to the long rocky section nicknamed “Route 409” when asked what about the most difficult sections of the course.
“Route 409 is supposed to be like Karl’s Diner at Erzberg and I imagine it’s probably just as tough,” said Toth. “The whole track was brutal, but 409 really tripped me up on one lap.”
Tely Energy KTM’s Grant Baylor rounded out the podium in third. Due to a broken chain he suffered in Saturday’s morning’s qualifying race, Baylor was forced to start the main from the second row, which started 15 seconds behind the first row.
“Breaking my chain really threw me in a bind for the main,” said Baylor. “By the time I got to the first big uphill there was riders stuck all over it, so I was about last by the time I got through that mess.”
Baylor managed to work his way up into third by the last lap, but it was not enough to catch Toth and Kelley.
“It was so hot and the track was so rough that it was really brutal out there,” said Baylor. “It’s good to get on the podium again, though. This race is so tough that just making the final three is a big deal.”
Beta USA’s Jordan Ashburn led the main event from the start, but settled into fourth at the finish, ahead of KTM rider Zack Nolan. CN
- Ben Kelley (KTM)
- Josh Toth (KTM)
- Grant Baylor (KTM)
- Jordan Ashburn (Bet)
- Zack Nolan (KTM)
- Logan Lowrey (Hus)
- Nick Fahringer (She)
- Stephen Edmondson (KTM)
- Ed Emery (Hus)
- Ryder LeBlond (KTM)