My Other Life, Part One

My lack of posting is the result of working on the 2007 Stihl Timbersports Series held this year in Dubuque Iowa, Decatur Alabama, and last week in Stillwater Minnesota. It will air sometime in November on ESPN II.

Except for a representative from each country going to Germany in October - I won’t - the season here is over for this national event – and none too soon - as I am beat from driving the truck back here 1,400 miles from Minn.

My “job” at the series is, along with driving the wood and stage materials to the event is to set up and tear down, along with all things chainsaw. I don chainsaw chaps and make all the cuts to any competition wood. I also set up a staging area and bunk for the Stihl technical guys to adjust the competition saws before each race.

This year I could not cut a straight line to save my soul. When it goes down hill it just keeps going. And no one else wants anything to do with taking this particular job. I can’t blame them. A chainsaw never makes a perfect cut like a cross cut saw can.

There is only so much competition wood available at an event so my job is to square up each saw race block with minimal loss. What is normally a simple task ended with small crowds surrounding me offering advice on what was going hay-wire. Add to that a thousand people in the stands watching along with two boom cameras and a multitude of shoulder-operated cameras staring at you as well. And on top of it my “receiving criticism” skills need some brushing up.

No pressure there.

I put on a new saw chain, cleaned the bar, tightened the chain, filed the chain, moved my feet, I even tried several stances and grips. There was no problem cutting straight lines in the warm up wood we had plenty of, which was baffling. I eventually borrowed a new model 660 from the Stihl guys, cranked that chain as tight as possible and ran that. It helped a bit but by then I had tried so many solutions everything was out of sync.

And then what happens?

With eight competitors we wound up with a tie for first place and between fifth and sixth place. Each competitor gets four inches to make two cuts and we only had two blocks of matched wood left - short blocks at that. Ties are broken by stock saw races with a Stihl 660 saw on 16" wood.

This means two more races in the type of wood I was using up trying to cut a straight line. We had to, in the end, toe nail the remaining competition wood, which was now in short pieces, to dummy blocks set up in the standard holders. Each time a race begins the judge makes a chalk line on the wood using the cut face I make as a template.

The last cut I made had a small tilt in at the bottom you could see from my side, which was the side the competitor was looking at. The tie was between David Bolstad and Jayson Wynyard, both competing out of New Zealand. Bolstad looked at the block I just cut and said he would take it, sparing me having to make another cut. The stocksaw race was for $18,000 and first place and a new Dodge pickup truck. Bolstad won by a hair so I lucked out.

Now it is back to the drawing board to find out what the heck was making me cut crooked.