Eric Cleveland ISDE 2017 Memorial Team
El Cajon, CA
Race Bike: CRF450X
7 (NHHA) & 403
2017 Championship Contesting
AMA National Hare & Hound
2-time Baja 500 Winner
WORCS 450A Runner Up
Tecate Hare Scramble Ironman Winner
SCORE Open Pro Class Runner Up
I grew up riding with my best friend, his father and mine - starting at age 6. We rode Mad River Trail System & Sawtooth Forest near Twisp. I loved riding here because it was so tough. It took a lot of years riding over the high passes with by dad before I was skilled enough to ride my own bike through it. As a teen, I was the one leading the pack. I entered my first race in 200B at the NMA races at age 16. During those first few seasons I progressed from B to AA by 2007. I always looked up to those riders with the blue/white skunk USA helmets knowing they had accomplished the most sought after off road race, the ISDE. I decided I would make this my goal.
Riders like Aaron Wilson, Paul Neff, Brian Bennett, & Jeff Odum were the riders I looked up to. I admired the smooth riding skills of Aaron & Jeff versus the Paul & Brian that rode hard, destroying their bikes before the finish! My early racing was more like them!
Over the past few years I've started to ride smarter, not harder which has helped me win the 2013 NMA & Megacrown Championships.
I won the 2016 NORCS Series and made it my intentions to qualify for the ISDE since I just turned 28.
I cannot wait to start racing in France with the other riders representing the USA as I go for gold and try to win C2 on my YZ450FZ.
I've followed ISDE for the past few years since I've started racing off-road. Feeling like it was the pinnacle of the sport, bringing the most talents riders from around the world together in one event! I love the challenge that ISDE brings to the table, having to work on your own bike, and being physically prepared to ride for 6 straight days sounds very enticing for me.
My favorite place to ride is Ethel's, a cattle farm on White River in Southern Indiana.
My hero is Kurt Caselli
KTM 350 SC-F
Day one of the ninety-second running of the FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Brive, France saw defending FIM World Trophy team champions the USA run into troubles almost as soon as the event started. Crashing on the opening special test Thad Duvall – Husqvarna badly injured his left wrist, forcing him to retire soon afterwards.
Day two of the ninety-second running of the FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Brive, France saw all competitors complete a long and demanding day in the saddle. Competing over the exact same course as used on day one, France topped the FIM World Trophy team class as they did on the opening day of competition, extending their advantage over Australia
Brive, France saw competitors compete in dry and dusty conditions – albeit cooler – for a third consecutive day, but with a new course and new special tests. Continuing to hold firm at the head of the FIM World Trophy classification, France stretched their advantage over Australia
Day four of the ISDE saw the start of the Vintage Trophy event with 133 competitors successfully finishing the opening 7-hour day. Completing 2 specials tests, France's Simon Romieu - SWM too the win ahead of Australi'as Geoff Ballard. Maico with France's Jean-Luc Rojat - Honda 3rd.
The 5th and penultimate day saw Australia claim their first FIM World Trophy team victory. With just the final day of motocross races to be contested, France led Italy in the overall Junior Overall trophy category by a mere 28 seconds. The USA women claimed their first World Trophy Day of the event, yet still trailing the Overall results by 7 minutes.
France is the 2017 FIM World Trophy team champions, putting the finishing touches to their week-long dominance of the blue-ribbon class at the 2017 FIM International Six Days Enduro (ISDE) in Brive, France.
Team: Anthonee Gibbs, Jake Rowland, Justin Morgan
Bike: Yamaha YZ450 FX
Event: International Six Days Enduro (ISDE)
Location: Brive France
Result: 60th C2 for a Silver Medal
The race didn’t go as I had hoped but I finished and I’m really happy about that. The brief highlights of the race include food poison starting the Friday night before Monday’s race day and lasting into the following Thursday, clutch issues on Day 3-5 and a grand finale of a torn ACL and MCL on Day 6.
As I finished out re-walking one of the tests on the Friday before the race I didn’t feel good. I went to all the team events on Saturday and felt horrible and knew I had heat exhaustion or food poison. I had to go to the hospital on Saturday night and get almost five bags of fluids before I left. I hadn’t walked tests two through four on Day 1 but with being sick I couldn’t do it so I studied with other riders who filled me in.
On Day 1 (HOT - in the mid 90’s) I knew my body wasn’t 100% but at least my head felt good and I was ready to go. Not knowing what the pace would be like and staring at 11:00 vs the front of the club riders going out at 9:00 I knew I’d have a beat in course. I didn’t feel I could trust everyone in the minutes around me to nail all the checks so I rode a bit faster clip than everyone and we even got a heads up that times were tight in a couple checks. I hit all the timed checks fine but the tightest one resulted in only 6 minutes after going pretty fast through some of the more technical riding all week. I needed every minute there because I tweaked my bars and bent one hand guard after two small crashes so I had to fix the bars and pull off the hand guard with not much time to get fluids and food in my body. With not having walked three of the tests I felt really good in the single “enduro” test of the whole course. I also did really well in the other tests which moved me up for Day 2. The course for the day had a small section that included some technical up and downhills but nothing too crazy where you’d have to get a second run or push the bike. Growing up in Washington I grew up riding some pretty tough stuff regularly but some other riders around me were struggling.
Day 2 I started at 9:16 I believe which was a major improvement. I had a blister which I drained and taped again and swapped to some different gloves which I stuck with the remainder of the week. I was pretty worried about the blister to start off on only Day 2 with body sore and hands hurting. We were on the same course from Day 1 this day going the same direction. A lot of the US guys moved between 9:10 and 9:25 so it was nice to see riders in the checks. I rode OK on Day 2 and it was mostly uneventful but didn’t feel as fast as Day 1. I must’ve been, at least compared to other riders, since I moved up to an even earlier start time for Day 3. At the end of the day I felt extremely tired and a bit stressed out due to the prep I felt I needed to do so I could get to sleep. I must’ve been very dehydrated because I pounded a Pedialyte and instantly felt more awake and focused before finishing prep and heading to bed.
Day 3 came around and I started at 9:11 and this day was on a new course. My hands stopped hurting and I was no longer sore. It was crazy to go from being in rough shape to feeling great. I think the food poison was starting to wear off at this point. There was threat of rain during the day which did hold off. To prepare, I threw on my solid rear rotor in the morning. The course was easier and time checks had some extra time compared to Day 1 and 2. This day was an absolute blast. Unfortunately at the end of the day in the final test just a couple miles from the paddock is when my mechanical issues began. The bike stalled as I got kicked a little at the exit of a corner. I was confused since I was running an auto-clutch but started it and when I put it in gear it stalled again and at that point I knew something happened as I had zero disengagement even though the clutch felt normal at the lever. I made it to the pre-finish and asked them to radio in and pull out my stock clutch. I loosened all the bolts on my wheels thinking I could swap out the clutch that evening and hammer out both tires in the ten minutes in the morning (I had tires dialed in with the Rabaconda). When I got in they had the clutch and I started tearing into it. We tried adjusting the clutch much more than suggested with no impact. At the point we called it quits trying to adjust it, I didn’t have much time so I put the cover on and changed an air filter with plans to swap the clutch in the morning after we chat with the Yamaha mechanic.
Day 4 I still had a decent starting minute having only one test with a major malfunction costing me around a minute or less. We dug into the clutch in the morning having a few different ideas of what happened. After pulling the hub it was tough to get the grooved thrust washer out. As soon as we got it out we realized that was our issue. We had to take time to file down the washer which had melted itself to the basket and deformed itself. We put in all the clutch plates and when we were tightening the hub we realized we didn’t have enough clearance still, likely due to the deformed washer. We filed more and had to throw it together with Locktite and head out. I received three route points here and just as I started the bike to take off I realized the clutch goes to the bar even fully adjusted. I rode past the required starting point and pulled over to tighten up my wheels and yelled to everyone I had no clutch. I thought my Six Days was over right here. The mechanic helping me on the clutch told me we would have to get to check two because of the short distance to check one. At this point I was another six to eight minutes down from the riders on my new minute so I took off at a good clip. I had to ride test one with no clutch and made it with about six minutes at check one which wasn’t enough time to get an oil change. I rode fast again to check two to get the most time possible to work on my bike. I ended up with 16 or 17 minutes and tore into it with the Yamaha mechanic for our team by my side who was staged at the check two. We realized the basket was also froze to the shaft so I had to beat on it for a few minutes to free it up as he filed the washer more since we couldn’t find a thrust washer, anywhere. I put it together with the nut still not all that tight so it wouldn’t bind up. As I put the clutch together I realized we somehow also had an extra friction when I put the stock one in during the morning. I have no idea how we missed this the Day 3 evening when we prepped or Day 4 morning when installing. After getting it together, I HAD A CLUTCH! I gained one route point here and got to check three where I spaced out with the times being yelled out and my new minute. I burned a minute into check three bringing me to five route points for the day which was frustrating but I was still moving. During test five again, I ended up having the clutch go to the bars. I figured it was the nut coming off or things melted together again. We tore into it at the end of the day after changing a rear tire and we were quickly able to get the nut on and do a couple things to try and lock the nut on there.
Day 5 I started WAY back. I was the last US rider of the day by about a half hour. I think my start time was about 10:40 due to all the route points. I changed a front in the morning and took off knowing I just needed to finish this Six Days. I had a ton of fun Day 5 since everything seemed to be working and I was just riding by myself. On the third test of the day it started to downpour right as I started the test. None of the other US riders had to deal with the rain since they were 30 minutes or more ahead of me. I loved it and was railing the test (for it being wet). I was passing guys left and right thanks to the mud riding I’ve experienced here in WA over the years. I had a couple slide outs trying to get around guys by going in the main line but still loved it. On my way to check four my nut came off again just before the toughest section of the entire loop. Luckily I have a really low first gear and I timed it well so I made it through with not too many issues. I got it tightened up real quick and didn’t drop any points but overall my day was slow with the wet test and I hadn’t been riding as fast as I hoped.
Day 6 I was almost able to get the holeshot, which I really wanted since I had nothing else to lose at this point. A guy from the inside came in and we hit and went down causing a decent pile up. I got up and took off pinning it trying to catch up and was having a blast. It was like bumper cars out there though, with everyone. I ended up going down a handful more times just because I didn’t have the line or rubbed a tire and got stood up. On the fourth lap (of 5) I got stood up in a corner and jumped off the bike and landed on my left leg. It collapsed and hurt extremely bad. I instantly knew I tore ligaments but wanted to finish. I hobbled onto the bike which was still running and waited for the leader to lap me before going through the checkered flag.
After getting home I had it all checked out and as expected, I tore my MCL and ACL. I head in for surgery later in September to repair it. I will be off the dirt bike for a while as I heal but the race was worth all the struggles. I enjoyed the race and happy I was able to make it across the finish line. I learned a lot about the event and will take that knowledge with me as I continue in my racing career.
If you’d like to check out the daily posts I made to Facebook during the race they can be found on the Eric Cleveland Memorial Team site. They did a great job updating the site and promoting our bios and the team overall. It was such a great team to be a part of from the support we received from the team with fundraising along with the other two amazing riders, Jake Rowland and Justin Morgan.
Thank you to all my 2017 sponsors as well as those who helped support me on my way to France. Big shout out to my girlfriend Karissa, Mother Diane and Brother Alex for coming with me to France to take care of me and get me all set up.