Snortn' Boar Racing "FINISHES" the 41st Baja 1000!
Well, here it is, we've finished the riding, so now it's time to find our computers and finish the writing... :D
Copied from "Racing" I thought some of you inmates were missing a great adventure, had by quite a few of us. :thumb
The background can be found in various threads in 'Racing' and 'Pacific Northwet' to see how we got from an idea to a dream fulfilled. Some of those are quite intertaining themselves. :lol3
So incase you have missed this, here is the recap of the event, hope you enjoy it. :freaky
Baja 1000 Review:
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Let’s start by introducing the team: Marc Springer (The Team Captain), Daniel (his step son and The Young One), Dean ‘Deano’ (The Mechanic), Dean (The Hotshot), Russ (The Medic) and later on, Ace (Our Ace in the SF Whoops).
Pre-Running: As with all things ‘No plan survives first contact’, after an extra day off to rest from the drive down (much needed and appreciated), an early start began after 8:00 AM, on Tuesday instead of Monday. By the time, the trucks were loaded for the 70-mile drive from Casa De Boar on the La Bufadora Peninsula to RM45 it was already 11:30 in the morning. I did not yet know this would become SBR-Time for the duration of the trip, whatever time you wanted to start; add two to three hours. :lol3 We had lost a support driver (long story) so that meant we’d lost a support truck. Out of room in two pickups (one loaded with three bikes and fuel, the other loaded with all the camping gear), two of us rode our bikes from La Bufadora, sandwiched between the two other support trucks down the highway, through Ensenada and east on Hwy 3 to Ojos Negros.
New bike, new boots, new riding gear, let's ride:
After finding a good place to unload the other bikes and after everyone geared up for the first day of pre-running we got started – about 1:20 in the afternoon.
Don’t forget to pack a light even though we should have been done before the sun went down. GPS is a great thing, but GPS doesn’t know when roads are gated and closed. A few turns later and a half-mile back up the road we came in on we found the beginning of the Pre-Ride start area and the pre-running began.
Day one RM45 to RM120: First things first, start helmet camera, second time since buying the thing. Mount up boys let’s ride… Since I had the GPS going to find the start I was in the lead, set a comfortable pace and kept checking over my shoulder for the rest of the guys. Went over a small rise (enough to catch some air and found a hard right turn on the other side), no problem, but I started to think about the others, maybe I was going too fast, maybe not. Checking to make sure everyone cleared that, I was quickly passed by Dean S., and he took off into the distance. I wanted to video the guys and the trip as much as possible so I slowed up and let everyone pass me. At about RM50 Springer holed up under some trees to take a break. While we were there I decided to check the position of the camera (earlier I had it too low) to my surprise I had not recorded anything, it was on pause. While we were taking a break, Dean S., comes back to check on us. He informs us there is a tricky section just ahead and describes the trail as having two difficult sections to climb up through and over some big rocks, the first being easier than the second one. I chose to go ahead and stop to take some still photos of the guys going through this, and I never found the second section, the first was too easy and then I was on top of the hill and onto a sandy road, oh well, I’ll stop here and wait for them.
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Springer was the first to arrive, followed by Dean and then Deano and Danno. I guess they call this “El Muerto” (file photo)
Once everyone was up it was time to make some time, the road was sandy hard pack so the speeds were fairly high but still comfortable for pre-running. I spent my time trying to video each of the riders catching up to each one as necessary. By the time I got to Springer the road was ending and we turned into the <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Pine</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Forest</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> where the trail got narrow again and started meandering through the woods.
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There were a few large fallen trees to negotiate around and a few dry creeks to go through but nothing that was hard to ride through or around. Danno kept blowing through changes of direction as indicated by SCORE signs marking a hard left or right direction change (three or more stacked arrows) so it was always pretty funny to come up on him laying in a pile of dust and sand shortly after where the trail turned. I think he started to catch on to what those signs meant and things did improve throughout the pre-running. After the first part of the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Pine</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Forest</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>, we climbed up onto some plateaus and onto some rain-washed rutty two-track with plenty o’ big rocks embedded and loose baby-heads littering the trail. Deano had stumbled up one of hill climbs and fell over, then fell over again trying to get going again. This saga would repeat enough times that he was thoroughly pissed about the size of the bike and length of his legs. Since everyone passed me, (I wasn’t stopping on the hill, :wink: everyone looked OK as I continued past them to the top). When we got started, I was again behind Deano. The next hill climb caught Deano off guard and as he bounced from right to left, the bike hit a big rock and launched him off the bike. Landing hard and straight on his back. I stopped and he popped up cussing something about, “gawd damn bike is too tall, I can’t ride the damn thing, I suck at this”. After a few moments to collect his breath and pick up the bike, it was time to assess things - him and the bike. He was sore but otherwise unbroken, the bike took a really good hit on a rock and crushed the header pipe flat against the water-pump housing, thinking that we might have a problem “Houston”, I did the only thing I could. I hit the starter button and it fired right up, whew… okay, it runs but where are the gasses going, out the hole in the header pipe.
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Well, that’s OK, let’s ride, you’ll be down on power but we can keep moving to some place to affect repairs. As he pondered what was next, I rode ahead to see if the other’s had stopped up the trail, After about a mile, I turned back for Deano, and we passed each other, so I turned around again and followed him. We caught up to and passed Danno taking pictures over the first ‘wet’ creek and then proceeded through the first ‘silt bed’ on the course, man those things are a plum of dust… cough choke, cough cough. The three of us rode on until coming to an intersection where Dean and Springer had stopped to wait for us. Time to get out helmet lights and such (Dean had no headlight, and mine pretty much sucks); it was getting dark as the sun disappeared over the mountains. Helmet camera batteries were about done, it had already been a long day, and we still had a ways to go. I think we were at RM85 – only 40-miles in four-hours, man this sucks, we still have 30-miles to go…and we’re pre-running a daylight section at night, who’d a thunk it. I really didn't think things were going well, the race was going to tough, this was way off the pace we'd need to be running and we weren't going fast by any means. Well, onward and upward let’s get this done. We rode closer together and I stopped once in awhile to snap some pictures before the light was completely gone.
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We rode in and out of the <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Pine</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Forest</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>, until getting back up into higher elevations and into some twisty sandy-banked corners surrounded by Manzanita trees. Still in trail (sweep), I was pacing myself behind Deano, his headlight would cut through the night and illuminate the trail and trees, until coming to a stop in a cloud of dust, I’d get there just as he was getting back on the bike after falling off. Soon he passed Danno, who had fallin’ in a turn and I was behind Danno, until his 8” Baja Designs headlight was illuminating the inside of one of those Manzanita trees.
Hey Danno, you alright? “Yeah, but I’m stuck under the bike.” OK hold on a minute, let me get a picture of this…:lol3
Okay, let’s get you out of there, on two, ready…
It was a really nice night, the moon was full and the desert was alive. As we neared RM95 there was a farm house and everyone had stopped there to take a break. Dean had brought along some refreshments and they went down real good, Aaaaah room temperature beer never tasted so well. After that break, we started down a hill through a narrow wash of off camber sand whoops and then back out into more sandy banked turns and some straight deep sand trails. Somewhere through here, Springer was about done, cooked and tired, everyone was making small mistakes, but Springer was having a real tough time with the deep sand. I tried to explain that you have to get on top of it and that required about 25-mph, but it was dark and everyone was tired, so he went down a few times struggling hard to finish the ride. We finally got back to some hard pack sand roads and everything started to get easier again, I thought Danno was behind me as we came out of the deep sand, but it was Springer. We were running a decent pace down the road trying to get to La Rumarosa, and there were a few hair raising turns and sandy sections with rain washes in the road, but I was keeping an eye behind me for the powerfull HID light bouncing through the night. It disappeared once, a little too long, I stopped and as I waited, it came up through the night air again. It was at this time that Springer had gone down hard enough to take him out of the race and out of the rest of the ride, bummer. :cry He didn’t let on for many hours, what had happened, but by the next day he knew it was something more than he could suck up. We arrived at La Rumarosa, and onto Hwy 2. While looking for the rest of the guys we got flagged down by AKJeff in front of a restaurant and made a quick U-Turn into the parking lot. Relief and somewhat dumbfounded that it took over seven-hours to go 70-miles, this was not a good start. The beers were cold, and the food was good. After everyone was finished with long stories and eating it was time to head up the road and find a place to camp. RM120 was going to be a ‘rider-change’ and the satellite reconnaissance showed some places to set up for the night, little did we know it was the town dump.
Camping at RM120: La Rumarosa city dump, top of the grade but it didn’t matter, everyone was beat. We set up camp, and <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Austin</st1:place></st1:City> took some crazy night shots playing with lights to make ADV signs and FYYFF logos.
(Photo by Ratty2Austin)
Dean and I sent Jeff back into town to find some more cold one’s and after he returned we sat up drinking and getting to know each other. It was a good night, and afterwards I slept well.
In the morning we took the beer cans from the night before, a hacksaw and some well intentioned ideas and set out to make repairs to the header pipe that was crushed the day before. In the end though, Springer said he wasn’t riding today and gave up the race bike for Deano. We loaded up Deano’s bike in the truck, packed up camp and headed back into town for breakfast.
Day #2 (Pre-Ride)
Day two RM120 to breakfast (broken chain) to RM220: The day began with a beautiful sunrise over the dump, it was the best looking dump I’ve ever slept in. :lol3
The little black dog that showed up the night before had found somewhere warm to sleep and as the day let on it became apparent that an early start was not possible. After we got Deano’s bike repaired and put back together and then it went into a truck we were getting farther and farther behind schedule. Jimmy and Mike showed up and we loaded the truck with the camping gear and then drove/rode into La Rumarosa for breakfast at the same restaurant as the night before. Huevos Mexicanos was much better than Huevos Rancheros but the pancakes looked pretty darn good too. :dg After we had all gotten our fill, we returned to the parking lot. Dean was standing there and just by chance was looking over his chain to check the slack. Whoa, that ain’t right, there were two separate link fractures about six-inches apart. Stress failure from something. We got on about fixing it, but then thought better of that and I had a perfectly cut chain to replace his with. It was a bit confusing to count the master links needed after a hardy breakfast and we had such a long ride ahead that it was better to put on a new chain and keep his for spare sections. At least we’d still have a bounty of master-links should we need them. Anyway, it could have been a disaster waiting to happen going down the La Rumarosa grade.
(file photo - blue line is race course)
Straight down a zig-zag of 180-degree switchbacks dropping 4000-feet in five-miles, with sheer cliffs on one side and jutting out rocks and cliff on the other side, don't forget to throw in lots and lots of rocks.
(File photo from Google Earth - And I think this is one of the better parts of the course - 'read' less challenging)
We topped off the tanks and headed back through RM120 and then down the mountain. So far the day before Dean and I hadn’t crashed yet, it was my turn coming up or is that down… After stopping to give everyone a chance to make any last minute fixes, we started down the trail. I was setting a comfortable pace about 27-32mph and getting into a zone, the others were setting their own pace behind me – a bit slower. As we got further apart I decided to stop and video the guy’s coming down the leg over me, this wasn’t such a good idea. The second time I stopped and then got started again, I was not in the zone. I hit some big ass rocks about 200-feet later and the rear end swapped out, I couldn’t get on the gas to correct it and the damper was set to high to get the front from burying itself into the rocks (adult heads). Choosing the better of my options at the time, I just went ahead and crashed on the trail. It’s a great video sequence of rocks grinding along my head, feet, arms and legs flying through the air, and a cloud of dust. The new bike is not new anymore. I had to stop after banging the bark-buster back into position and loosen the triple clamp to reposition my handlebars. I could not ride down that hill with the way they were. After that I slowed up a bit, but then got back into the zone chasing the guys down the hill, video taping as we went.
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Just so you know, the trucks and buggies can’t make the 180-turns without backing up, but the bikes have no problems.
(This is the new section Hwy 2 'Toll Road', but you should have an idea of what the terrain is like dropping down a mountain of rocky sheer cliffs with a 4X4 only trail cut into the side of it.)
As we neared the bottom, the trail got more like a rough hard pack rock, ‘fools gold’ and there was good traction. Danno, had found a small short cut and the rest of us followed him. Shortly thereafter, he was rewarded for his decision. Following Dean at a pretty good pace the front wheel locked while braking into a turn. The rock covered trail had some deep rain grooves cut into it and the wheel tucked under hard and he went face and chest spread-eagle over the top. Again, a great video sequence of impending pain. This mountain was kicking our arse, and we weren’t even done with it yet. Danno, got up a little dizzy and his jersey is ripped to shreds, thankfully his under-armor protected him very well, ‘cause that’s the only thing that kept his chest hairs intact.' We rested for a few minutes until he was ready to continue. I told him 'jokingly' that was for taking a short cut, at least he laughed. :lol3
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We rode slowly down to the bottom and then got back to some flatter faster roads down in the wash. I should have been paying better attention to this section because although it was fast there were some dips that had a bucket load of baby heads strewn about. (I didn’t know at the time I would be racing this part… more later.)
We got through it and over a slight rise to the highway underpass at RM130. The mountain had taken its toll,
but we were all good and still riding. The team was waiting there under the bridge and shot some photos as we railed under it, then stopped for refreshments and a rest. After a bit of time, we each started back out onto the course after a few more photo sessions for <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Austin</st1:place></st1:City>. (It was very hard for the chase vehicles to follow the race course, so take ‘em when you can.)
(Photo by Ratty2Austin)
The next part of the course was fast sandy whoops and sections of deep sand. It was dusty so keeping good separation was necessary. This was also the beginnings of hitting buried rocks at forty and fifty miles an hour. They blend in with the surrounding sand and before you know it you’ve pounded a few of them. If you see me looking down at the front wheel it's to see if it's round and still holding air. :evil Danno, made a mistake entering a fast corner and biffed. He was alright but the Baja Designs spare race light had a new configuration to it, it pointed left…and the rock shield was toast. Danno was getting frustrated with his effort and was time to back it down a lot.
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Again, maybe we were riding too fast, don’t know. Deano and Danno took a break and I went to chase down Dean. The sand went away 200-feet past where Danno had crashed so I came back to tell them, they were through this part - for now. Then I took off again, I caught up to Dean, half-undressed under the second underpass near RM145 (it was hot maybe in the low 90s)
and we took a break waiting for the other two. A couple quads went by, and someone on an unmarked Honda, dropped in off the highway to run the course into the dry lake. He was smooth and fast and running the parts he wanted to. Don’t know who he was, but he ran into the support team later, I think it was one of the factory guys 1X or 2X.
Danno and Deano arrived a short time later.
and we all got underway again. I found a liking to this section, carving through the sandy berms and the low whoops so come race day when I was going to ride, I was ready. We got to the top of the first dry lake and opened it up a bit, but not all the way, it was nice to ride over something close to the “<st1:place w:st="on">Bonneville Salt Flats</st1:place>”. However, that didn’t last long. As we neared the edge of the mountains the trail turned into rock covered and baby head loose rock whoops. There was the occasional arroyo that would drop four-feet, go across a small wash, and then climb back up a four-foot embankment back into the whoops. Danno was out front, followed by Deano, and Dean and I were riding side-by-side in the left and right tire tracks, it was a good day, each of us feeding off the other and giving space as needed. After an hour or so, we had all stopped along a wash that had shady cliff, and rested a bit. Watched a TT team pre-race with a Pre-Run truck and then got started again.
This river wash was the deep large granular sand that just sucked the power out of the bike and kept you bouncing off big rocks and small rocks before it got back to a distinguishable trail again. Nearing RM190 we encountered a long silt bed, and had wait for each rider to get through it before following. Then it was back out over a service road into the dry lake. I ran out of gas through here, but knew I was close to the support team, I thought I should chase down Danno, and let him know I was running low just in case I ran out behind everyone. After we got back onto the lake I wanted to see how fast the bike would go, so I opened it up. 97.5mph not bad. Then I passed the ADVrider sign and had to double back for a picture.
I ran out of gas before reaching the support team, and dumped my extra liter in, not tempting the mud field we stuck to the graded road. We got to RM220 and filled up, it was decided that we would all head down the highway (5) into San Felipe for the night and bacon wrapped shrimp.
Got on jackets as the sun faded over the mountains and beat feet at 65-mph down the highway… 70-miles of highway and Dean was running without any lights next to my pitiful 35-watt headlight. The military checkpoint could care less about what vehicles pass through and this time no one was checked. By the time we got to San Felipe it was very dark.
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Day #2 (Pre-Ride) San Felipe R&R
San Filipe R&R (Rest and Repair): After arriving in SF we got hotel rooms, secured the bikes, and took showers; boy did that feel refreshing. Then we all walked over to the beach
and found a restaurant that served up something Springer and company had experienced before – Bacon wrapped large Shrimp.
The waitress was a little overwhelmed with drink and food orders, but managed to get it all mostly right.
During dinner, we discussed what had been going well, and what areas needed more focus on. It came up during this discussion that we could forgo the 50-miles from RM220 to RM270 but Dean and I were hesitant to agree to this. We were here to pre-run the course and if that meant driving/riding back 70-miles on the highway to do it, that’s what we’d do. The plan was to return to SF that night, so we were going to be doing the longest day so far – 130-miles from RM220 to RM350. Deano wasn’t real happy to run the bikes on the highway, and they all needed some TLC before we departed in the morning. Returning to the hotel, a few of us bought another 12-pack of carbohydrates of the “Tecate” variety and polished those before hitting the sack. In the morning, bright and early for some, later for others, we set about cleaning air-filters, checking oil, and checking for loose nuts, and bolts.
Then we loaded up the two CRF450X’s and departed on SBR-Time out of town.
The "Ball Buster" is coming up... :deal
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Day #3 (Pre-Ride) (Part-One)
Day three RM220 to RM350 (Flat tire day): Dean and I rode back up to RM220 and waited for the guys who had stopped for fuel and water. After everyone was back on the ground and ready, we took off and blaze of glory across the dry lake, hitting top speed in short order and pinning it all the way. It’s really a sight to look over your shoulder at a dust wake rising off the rear tire to over 20-feet into the air. After a few minutes of this I swung a big loop out into the lake and video taped the other three go past, then settled into the sweep position again for the day.
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Soon after getting partway across the lake it turned south back towards the mountains and we were greeted by the beach, well not really but the sand and sand dunes reminded me of beaches; deep soft powdery sand.
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This turned into a hard pack dirt rocky road, which eventually turned into this black, course sand, almost like coal. The bikes really sank into this and it was difficult to maintain direction without allot of body control and throttle. Scattered about were sharp-edged rocks and the arroyos again, where you drop in, climb out and there was cactus and scrub brush dotting the sides of the trail. I found Danno once just having picked up the bike in sharp descending corner that caught him off-guard. Shortly after that we came upon Deano who stopped after an arroyo (bike in trail) and sitting in the shade.
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Dean had parked his bike Baja style (burying the back tire) and was walking towards him.
Nothing serious, just the first flat tire we had had so far. It was mid-day and hot, so I think he was just looking for a place to change it.
We got to work changing the flat front and being tired and hot led us to pinching the first try.
We then patched that tube, waited for it to dry and then were more careful to get it done right. Holding air and mounted up, we got under way again. This lasted about 20-minutes, Dean and Danno, were gone upfront and Deano and I stopped to repair the second flat of the day.
The patch or the glue didn’t work so we opted for the last new tube carried. Deano and I were real careful to install everything right, but in the conditions we still managed to pinch the tube with the short tire-irons. I tried to call ahead and let them know what we were working on, as we only had about 20-miles to go to get to RM280 “Borego Pits”. Dean worked on the tire after we patched it and made sure everything was good, (this was now two flats requiring four attempts to fix) then we got it all back together again and headed off. Deano is riding much better now than the first day, and I unfortunately had my head up my arse. Remember that get in the zone, stop and wait to get back in the zone, well? I wasn’t paying enough attention and although I was riding quite fast and carving the sandy turns through this canyon, I wasn’t looking for the big ass rocks. As I entered this little canyon of boulders I miss read the turn, went over a big rock the rear kicked up and front nose-dived into the sand, and I launched myself over the bars endo style into the gravel. My leg caught my GPS, rotated it fully forward on the mount, and bent some of the substructure. Later I found out I also pinched the power wire and it was running on battery, well shit. It was getting to be a long day and we had only gone 30-35 miles. Towards the end of this run, the course began to go up and down some rather large ridgelines and into the washes below. One particular hill climb was this badly whooped out rocky hill and as I was climbing up it, weight forward, steady on the throttle and rolling the whoops I got center punched in the groin (pelvic – pubic bone) by my GPS, ouch, that hurt like hell for a week afterwards. We got to the top and another climb like this one and then we were descending into the Borego Pits area. The team was there and offered us cold water and some snacks, and I had to get out the first-aid-kit and doctor up Deano’s hands from the blisters. I think he really likes “New-Skin” antiseptic (there was a picture of it somewhere on here) :lol3 These 50-miles we were going to bypass turned out to be much more difficult than anything we had done, so we were all glad we did it. If anything it builds character and flat tire changing experience. :evil
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Day #3 (Pre-Ride) (Part-Two)
With that behind us, and restocking on flat tire repair kits, Dean and Danno took off into the desert to finish the last 70-miles. They left about 20-minutes before Deano and I were ready to go, and it was thought that we’d catch up to them at some point. Making good time from RM280 to Checkpoint 2/4 we had a chance, until Deano pulls up and says, guess what? I’ve got a flat tire. Arrrgh. No rocks ‘round here, lets find a place to turn the sand into a bike stand or just lay it over.
He insisted on changing this one himself and with the sun setting over the mountains I had other things to attend to.
As Deano changed out the tube, and yes we looked to make sure the tire patches held up, they did, we could not find out what caused this flat only that it was a slow leak. We restocked on new tubes so that’s what went in and Deano got done about the time, I had cut and spliced my GPS power cable to the new uncut length into the ‘power-let’ plug, and got my helmet light mounted up and ready.
Off we go into the night. The southern leg of the SF loop was nice two-lane-wide road with concrete bridge over culvert, so we were running a good pace. (Oh, small important piece of information; the tire didn’t set the bead, right where the rim-lock goes, so I said just ride it for a while and then after it sets we can put the nut on and tighten the rim-lock. This would bite us in the ass later.) Deano and I were having a really good ride up to this point and although we were running about 50-60mph I noticed that the light pattern was changing behind me. I looked over my shoulder and saw two bright ass lights, at first I thought is was a reflection in my goggles, so I checked again, same thing, then I turn the opposite way and saw that one set of lights had four or more, shit a truck or buggy is coming up behind us. We pulled over and stopped, and the guys in the buggy were really cool as to not dust us right away, but the road in front of us turned into a cloud of dust you could not see through. There were two of them and they both passed in the same fashion. As we got further South, the road turned into a trail and the trial turned into two-track which turned into climbing up and down gradual hills. This wasn’t before Deano came thorugh a uphill right-hander and fell over in the change of terrain. (Later we found out that Danno had missed again those three or four stacked arrows at RM310 and went flying off the end of the road – somersaulting and cart-wheeling the bike into the desert. At this point the headlight was toast, as well as Danno’s confidence level.) A short time later we started riding through silt beds that were long and winding, you can either ride side-by-side or one (usually me) would have to drop back a long ways. The lights and helmet light just reflect off this dust and it becomes a brown wall. Nearing RM325 we dropped down into the river wash going East, this was a fast section as the trail through the wash was very distinguishable and the trees and scrub easy to see in the dark. I was in the groove and carving from turn to sweeping turn (Ace has a special moment in this area IIRC – he was racing a TT through here back and forth for position). The occasional high-speed buried rocks no longer bothered me as the wheels had taken much more abuse thus far, so hitting one was no longer an issue of did I just flat spot something or get a flat tire. There were a few sneaky hairpins as the wash ran right up to the rock walls and would shoot back into the open wash but you could see that fairly well ahead of time. I would wait up for Deano to catch up and then hammer it through the wash some more.
About RM330 and onward I was looking to see if any ADVrider’s were camping early but didn’t see anyone. I caught up to and passed some guy on a 4X4 Quad and then got to a rock wall with S-Curve over a rock obstacle. I waited for Deano and talked with the quad guy, he was a little lost and wondered if this was the way to San Felipe, I said yes. Deano caught up and I took off over the hump, Deano started then bobbled and fell over, they guy on the quad laughed (Deano did’t care for that) but he got up and got started roosting the quad guy as he passed. I passed a big ass boulder in the trail and stopped to make sure Deano saw it before continuing. We entered the sand whoops from RM340 to RM345, then, I ran out gas, (main) that almost caused me to face plant in the whoops - brrrrrrrrrrp brrrrrrrrrp brrrrrrrrrrp bluuuuuuuu. Later it did, but it was a combination of events. I was riding at about 25-30 just banging through one after another then my bike sputtered, I got crossed up and surfed down one side and up the other, then I lost it in the sand and pile drive’d the next one hard. I was just getting myself and the bike up when Deano arrived. There had to be some consolations for Deano to finally see me on the ground. The bike would not start, I wasn’t sure if was out of gas or just flooded. We waited; I also broke my helmet light off the chin-bar so in the meantime of waiting for the bike to cool down, it became a handlebar light with some zip-ties. (Oh yeah time to interject something – my headlight had developed a problem. It would work as long as the steering was perfectly straight or more than a little off center. Therefore, with each steering adjustment the light would flicker off and back on, very distracting but the HID Headhunter was more than ample to overcome the flashing headlight.) Finally got the bike to fire up and we got started again. Only I could not turn to the right. The force that I went down had twisted the steering damper rod on the headstock so it was binding. We took the mask off and reset the damper rod and then the bike would not start again. I guess it was out of gas. I dumped my liter of gas into the tank and finally got the bike started again, we were off and running, only a mile or later we would be back on hard pack roads and seeing the lights of San Felipe come into view.
As we arrived at RM350 the GPS was showing go right even though the course went left at an intersection. Deano informed me at this time that he had – guess? Another flat tire…Out of gas, running a flat tire and tired from 130-miles of sand, rocks, and whoops, we doubled back and followed the GPS as we couldn’t see where or how we’d get to town. (Later I found out Dean and Danno went left and they had to go all the way to the ‘Zoo’ road to get into town - about 15-miles). We made it a mile or so down to Hwy 5 and my bike promptly ran out of gas again. Time to call the cavalry less than two-miles from SF. They came out with a truck, loaded up Deano’s bike and gave me some gas, I followed the truck back to the hotel. Dean was sleeping in a chair (on guard duty) but I didn’t know he was passed out. I pulled up in front him and wacked the throttle – he damn near jumped out the chair and called me an A-hole. I probably deserved much more, but I was happy to be somewhere, and happy to be drinking a cold beer and talking about the day. The only food available this time of night was a ‘hot-dog’ cart on the beach. The best damn ‘hot dog’ I ever ate - three of them. Good night. :norton
P.S. Oh yeah the rim-lock it broke off inside the flat tire and munched itself. :huh
P.S.2. The third flat of the day right after Borego Pits, was caused by two cactus punctures, just bad luck. :evil
P.S.3. My headlight issue was a worn wire from the steering damper - fixed.
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San Felipe R&R day #2 and heading out again.
Repair day at San Felipe and Camping at RM410 (Double Fines Racing): After the long day with four separate flats on Deano’s bike, we woke up and found that Dean had experienced his second flat of trip (first one self-inflicted at Casa De Boar). The bikes had been abused the day before and most of the rider’s were recovering from three-days of Baja abuse, so it was decided to take most of the day off and get things back in order before going over the mountain to the Pacific. Everyone worked on bikes, changed oil, checked everything, cleaned air-filters, lubed chains and made needed adjustments.
We also spent some time repairing flat tubes worth saving for spares. Folded them up and stuffed them back in tail-bags or backpacks. Even showed the guys how to cut a tube in half tie-wrap the ends and inflate it like a wiener dog balloon. We also reconfigured and restocked how we would fix flats, since the CO2 cartridges were running low; we chose to carry the electric pump.
By the way Deano looked like this after three days: :eek1
we readied ourselves to depart it was getting costly to stay in SF so it was time to go. Departing early in the afternoon to knockout 50-miles from RM360 and ride the famous whoop section North to RM410 or so, where we’d camp in the desert for the night. Fueled up, full and hydrated, we took off out of town and down the trail known as ‘<?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Zoo Road</st1:address></st1:Street>’. There is no zoo, but I guess on race day the local animals’ come from everywhere to watch the entertainers perform and see what tricks they can do when someone rolls a tire across the road or digs a pit trap in the road. Basically, it’s the main road to the city dump. Starting about RM365 the whoops begin, monsters – three to four-foot deep valleys between even to unevenly spaced deep sandy whoops with the occasional rock stuck in the ground or sitting middle of the valley. I could hit and wheelie through about 20 of them, but they go on and on and on for 15 to 20-miles, slight right turn and continue for another 15-miles. The four of us explored the tertiary routes along the edges looking for smoother trails, but they only lasted so long or the cactus and scrub would force you back to the whoops. This game of find the best route at least kept us entertained and on our game. Towards the end, Deano was slowing down a bit and that allowed Dean and Danno to get far out in front. At one point, Dean and I made eye-to-eye contact as he was following a trail down the right side and I was to the left. The course veered left and I lost contact with Deano. It will be noted that a mysterious magnetic field existed that would draw Deano to the intersection of Hwy 3 and Hwy 5 and this was only the beginning. After waiting a few minutes, I rode ahead slowly, and waited again longer After losing contact with the two up front and not having contact with Deano, I doubled back from RM390 looking for Deano. I got pissed, but mostly blamed myself for not including in a briefing somewhere along the way that we’d all go no farther than 10-miles or so without know where everyone was. Knowing that I didn’t have the gas to spend a lot of time looking, I turned back to RM390 and waited and waited. Deano comes along bouncing down the course and says, shit I don’t what happened, but ended up on this really nice road and cranked the throttle, then I saw the highway and said, I’ll bet I’m not on the race course, doubled back got corrected and finally caught up to me. I was immensely relieved, as it was beginning to get dark. (For those of you who watched the race, does this area sound familiar? Only it was coming down the course from RM260 that Deano was attracted to this phenomenal behavior and got off course. :lol3 ). We paired up and I was using Deans super light to make up time, without stopping to fit my helmet light. The course meandered into and out of a sandy river wash and dusty two-track and we were trying to get on the highway having ridden much of this the day before. We were finally able to get on the road, but not knowing exactly where the support guys where, we dug out the radio and made a call. Got a general idea and some Lat/Long coordinates which I programmed into my GPS. Buzzing down the highway, we found the turn-off and rode down to meet the guys at an intersection at about RM408. I’ve got to say that Deano was really becoming proficient at riding in the desert and handling the bike, nothing like the first day. He was a full on desert racer now! Also, all of us were accomplished night riders by this point. It was starting to become a team of racers and folks were finding their strength and weaknesses the hard way – doing it hour after hour and day after day.
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After a bit of time to get comfortable and change clothes, introductions to our kiddy-corner guests the “Fines Double Racing Team” from <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Colorado</st1:place></st1:State>, who had the royal setup. They had a full sponsorship by Arctic Cat to race a new Quad ATV and a budget to get it done right. Apparently, nothing was spared and the 35’ toy hauler was completely covered from nose to tail with graphic designs. The FDR team was great and hospitable offering us their beer, (big mistake :slurp don’t offer a bunch of drunks with a riding problem alcohol it only gets better :beer ) and the comfort of their huge fire and warm conversation. :kumbaya We learned a lot from them this night, and learned that we had been making some critical errors. Many we could do nothing about, at least on our budget and experience. A few examples: What, you’re riding the race bike, your f’in nuts. Hey we’ll give you a brand new stock 1000cc Arctic Cat Quad to finish your pre-run on, hell we’re camped just down the road from you near La Bufadora (Punta Banda). Bring it buy when you get back. So, who’s going to start the race, wrong… put your best guy up front. That is the most difficult, most dangerous, and most challenging part of the racecourse. If you don’t make it through the first 50-miles it’s over. Game over – <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">uR</st1:City></st1:place> – done. Everyone is jockeying for position and there is a lot of passing going on. If you are passing people, you are wrong, you’re going to fast – slow down. The locals are there to mess with your head, build booby traps, change course markers to get you lost, and make the jumps bigger. Just go slow. These guys were definitely speaking from experience 5<SUP>th</SUP> in Pro-Quad points and fifth time racing the Baja 1000. We listened; I took notes. Springer took notes too. It was enlightening and very informative, and we are glad to have met them. It was nearing midnight and I was tired so I went to bed before the others. Tomorrow would be a long day whether I knew what was in store or not.
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Day #5 (Pre-Ride) Day I'll never forget -
Day Five (interrupted): Morning came, I slept well, but I never sleep long (Army Training Sir, :devildog :lol3 ). As the light illuminated my tent I awoke to a new sunrise over the desert,
The sun was coming up but the moon still shown brightly,
Some more early morning pictures:
It was a magical place, I enjoyed it! :thumbup (Don't mind the beer cans, we picked up after ourselves)
I love those things; especially coming from <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Washington</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">State</st1:PlaceType></st1:place> where it’s always grey and gloomy most of the time. I was ready for a crack of the dawn start; maybe just maybe we could break with tradition and put a lid on SBR-Time… :wink: This was going to be our last day and no matter what, we’d all be back at Casa De Boar to make final preparations, work on the bikes, and make plans to finish the last couple sections of pre-running. Time was working against us, by now, the extra day off at the beginning and the slower than expected pace thus far. We had a race to prepare for. Getting everyone up was fairly easy, getting everyone going proved more difficult. Let’s just say that some priorities were neglected when time was allotted, and now had to be addressed (well not really) but who’s to say… we got on the road a couple hours later than we could have but we got on the road. Leaving RM410 Austin was able to take a few more staged pictures (it's a camouflaged :fyyff )
(Photo by Ratty2Austin)
before we headed down another whooped road. Crossing a steel cattle grate at the end and next to Hwy 3 we turned West finally and entered a sand wash paralleling Hwy 3. Dean as usual was out front setting a good pace, followed by Danno, then Deano and then me. Running along about 30-40mph, carving through the sand banked corners I could see ahead that Deano had gone down briefly but was back up, and holding the bike up. I didn’t think much about it at the time, I was in the zone. I entered the corner and lost sight of him due to the bushes, I held the inside line thinking it would be a good line to ride by him. Well, when I came out the other side and saw him standing in one track and the bike in the other track, I grabbed a bit too much brake and the trail went from sandy to rocky just like that. I went down hard, grinding away at my helmet and flipping forward of the bike and rolling. Deano, professed to say he was sorry, but it was my own entire damn fault. I got up dusted myself off, but had sand everywhere it didn’t belong: down my shirt, down my pants, and in my boots. My helmet looked like it had gone through a meat grinder, the visor was broken, the helmet cam case was scratched – but did it’s job.
My bike was now decorated with “Baja Tattoos” on both sides, and the steering damper rod had been moved again as well as the handlebars in the triple clamp. Gee’s I gotta stop doing this. I was OK, the body armor was earning it’s price tag and the Leatt Neck Brace had already paid for itself twice over. We got the bike back together and got underway again. The trail progressively got better rolling along next to the hwy and through another roadside dump. (by the way, Sunday is trash day, and Monday is burn the trash day, at least this was Saturday. :lol3 ) Danno had taken off and Dean circled back on the highway to see where Deano and I were. The three of us rolled into <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">San Matias</st1:place></st1:City> a small grocery store and restaurant near RM420. We looked for Danno, and figured he’d come back after waiting up ahead a few minutes (we didn’t know Springer was stopped up the road and didn’t expect him to be there) so the three of us got some cold Gatorade and I got undressed on the concrete to knock the sand out of my pants and boots.
When Danno still had not shown back up, we mounted up and rode down the highway to where the course made a left turn to head up towards “Mike’s Sky Ranch”. When I saw Springer’s truck I knew why Danno had not returned. We pulled in, didn’t really need anything, gas was good for the day, but why not top off while we have them. As I pulled up, Springer comes over to me as I dismount the bike, and says “Russ, I got some bad news. Your wife had a miscarriage.” I looked at Jeff and only said, “Top it off.” Springer filled me in on the details of the phone call, (while Jeff filled the bike) and that my wife was with the girls and that Jimmy and Mike had returned to the house. My wife had already been taken to a local hospital and was resting at Mike and Judy’s. My boy was shaken from the events and a little stressed, but otherwise doing well in the care of Dean’s wife (Lisa) and Mike’s wife (Judy). (Thanks you gals, from my heart :raabia ). I thought about what all this meant, I thought about my wife, and what she must be going through alone and without me for several days, and thought about my boy. I actually thought about giving the guys my SPoT tracker, and then dismissed that as quickly as it came. I wanted to go now, (I’m a very experienced medic, probably better than some Mexican doctors, and I wanted to be with my wife, nothing else mattered at the time, I knew what needed to be done) I got on the bike and hit highway 3 north to Ensenada as fast the little 530 would go without cooking the tires or blowing up. It was a hundred miles or so to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Ensenada</st1:City></st1:place>, but I never passed a gas station, and then another 30-miles or so to the house. Only in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region></st1:place> can you break every traffic law on a dirt bike and not even get a second look from the people or the police (well maybe they didn’t see me). When I got to traffic, I passed everyone wherever I could, the right side, the left side, straight up the middle. I didn’t ride on the sidewalk but it was close. When I got to the two-lane road out to La Bufadora with all the speed bumps (Topass) I either flew over them at 60 lifting the front wheel, or passed everyone on the dirt frontage road along the side. I even cried a few times on Hwy 3, before getting myself in check, I had to be strong for my wife although it was I, which was happiest to be having a second child. I arrived at the house and my wife and I shared a few moments, my son was asleep next to her. I got the comfort I needed from almost strangers a week earlier, that now had become dear friends, they fed me, and gave me a cold beer, and then; I was promptly booted out of the house and told to go take a shower before I could come back. :nod I will never forget many things about Baja, but I will never forget the compassion and honesty in these people. Thank you, thank you so very much. :feelgood :bow You are my hero's!
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Returning the States - Temporarily
Emergency medical departure: After getting back to La Bufadora and making sure everything was okay, it was late enough in the day that departing for the border was not a recommended option and my wife needed to rest more. We made plans to depart first thing in the morning (on Sunday) and follow Mike and Judy up to the Tijuana border crossing as they had an Emergency Medical lane and I had no idea where to find it. Mike was going up anyway to pick up Judy’s daughter. I packed up everything my wife owned or needed because she might not be coming back, hell, I didn’t know if I would be coming back. We also, decided to bring <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Austin</st1:place></st1:City> and his broken bike back to States so he could get it fixed and pick up Noah. We departed at 8-O’Clock in the morning and headed North to the U.S. Getting to the border was easy, although Mike and Judy got a thorough search at one of the military check points. They waved the race support (looking) truck through the bypass lane, but since Mike drives a nice large SUV that was dirty, it met the requirements for a drug-running vehicle. Arriving at the border Mike showed me the EVAC lane and I pulled into it. The Mexican official asked me some questions, and I explained that my wife needed to see a doctor and we were going to a hospital. We showed him the papers from the doctor she had seen the day before. He asked me for a card or some other piece of paperwork that I did not have. Said some other things and pointed me towards a hospital looking building back in town. I said no, in America, and then he directed me through the gate and down the lane (the lane Mike had just drove down) telling me turn right, turn left and follow the road signs to San Diego. Well, that landed us about five vehicles behind Mike and Judy, shit. It took us almost three-hours or to get through the border, and my kid was going crazy, Austin did a great job of keeping him busy, as my wife was about to scream at someone. It was boiling outside and I was trying to keep everyone comfortable, until the A/C started to struggle with the high engine temperatures, I had to start shutting off the truck and the A/C, and restart just to move forward a half car length. If you didn’t do that someone would cut in front, thinking they might get somewhere faster, that did not happen. Six lanes of traffic, crossing back into the country of fear, they were broadcasting on a big screen TV that out of >700,000 people that legally cross the border everyday, they had apprehended 1200 people with outstanding arrest warrants this year, WOW, this was November already, what a f*cking waste of resources. Moreover, they were proud of it, as if they were defeating terrorism or something. I believe the Coast Guard intercepts more tonnage of drugs monthly, than the U.S. Border Patrol had confiscated all year, but hey what am I paying my taxes for if not to be treated like a criminal for visiting <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region></st1:place>? It was frustrating to say the least, but the local’s handle it well, walking up and down the line of cars selling everything from souvenirs and blankets, to ice cream and food – even the prepared in the middle of the road cooking cart: Taco Pescado anyone? We finally arrived at the border and answered the usual questions, NO! We got Austin dropped off at the bike shop and then made way for the Navel Base Hospital, which I was told was on Coronado, it wasn’t. My wife began bleeding again, and I should have just stopped in the road, called 911, and had an ambulance find me. After some quick questions of the gate guard at the SEAL (<st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Special</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Navel</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Warfare</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Center</st1:PlaceType>) compound, we were going over the bridge to <st1:City w:st="on">San Diego</st1:City> and <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:PlaceName w:st="on">Balboa</st1:PlaceName> <st1:PlaceType w:st="on">Park</st1:PlaceType></st1:place>. The rest of this not really <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Mexico</st1:place></st1:country-region> or race related, but suffice to say showing up the Navel Base ER on Sunday was an experience in frustration and problem solving 101. They took care of my wife and said that everything was and should be OK, even that she could return to <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Mexico</st1:place></st1:country-region> if she wanted, but needed to rest as much as possible. (Four-hours in the ER.) Funny thing happened on the way to my brother’s house. They prescribed her Vicoden for pain relief and that you could take it on a full or empty stomach – HA :lol3 , my wife almost never takes anything stronger than one (half dose) of Tylenol and she took one of these 500mg capsules right after we left the hospital. 10-minutes later I’m rushing down the highway looking for a place to buy some food before my wife gets so stoned she can’t breath…we were between <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Escondido</st1:City></st1:place> and Temecula there is nothing there… I knew this wouldn’t kill her, but it was interesting listening to her describe being high and loopy. We stopped at Carl’s Jr. and got some food in Temecula and continued to my Brother’s house in <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:City w:st="on">Riverside</st1:City></st1:place>. This being the second time through here now, the first was bad enough for my son who developed a severe allergy to something in the house. This time it was worse, he couldn’t breath, his face flushed and swelled up red, and his eyes would drive him into fits of crying and screaming. At 3:00 AM I had had enough and carried him out into the cab of the truck and cradled him to sleep, after the wheezy crying stopped he fell asleep, I placed him in his child seat and covered him up with the only blanket. I slept in the passenger seat until my wife and sister-in-law came to get my son. Apparently, my niece came out to leave for work at 05:45 or so and went back in the house to tell her mom, that Uncle Russell’s sleeping in his truck. My wife and kid then went to sleep in her room, and I got some much needed sleep back on the sofa. After a few discussions, we decided to leave for <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:country-region w:st="on">Mexico</st1:country-region></st1:place> at the earliest possible time, and prepared to accomplish this. It was mid-afternoon, and I just wanted to be south of <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Tijuana</st1:place></st1:City> before the sun went down. That we did. Picture taken just North of Rosarito (Islas Coronados)
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I hope that sharing this with you all wasn’t too personal, but I wanted to express the enormity of the emotions and personal hardships that come with racing and racing the Baja 1000. This may be a once in a lifetime event for me, the financial costs and time now pale in comparison with the emotional triumphs and heartaches that came with all that has happened. My wife and I are very appreciative of the heartfelt warmth and consolations sent to us by all of you and those we have met along the way. Thank you. We lost the new baby long before the journey began, she was pregnant for 12-weeks, but the baby never made it past 5-weeks. It is all for the better, and we have been blessed with one miracle already – and he’s a handful.
Next we get back to riding motorcycles. :freaky
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The retrun to Pre-Riding -
Pre-running the Pacific (RM510 – RM595): Very early in the morning on Tuesday (like, I got up at 03:20 got dressed and drove out to Casa De Boar to be there at 05:00 so we could load the truck with two bikes and drive down Hwy 1 to RM500 and began where the team left off earlier. I got to the house and not a soul was awake. Springer woke up when I came through the door, and shortly after that, Deano got up and came out to the garage. I was making some adjustments to my bike and preparing my gear for the days ride. Someone went up the hill to wake up Dean and shortly thereafter, he was down and getting ready. (Hey I didn’t decide on 05:00 :lol3 ) We were loaded and on the road by about 07:00, that’s an early start so who’s complaining. :oscar It took about an hour to drive down the highway towards San Vicente RM500 but stopped at RM510 as we didn’t need to pre-run the highway. After getting the bikes unloaded and suited up, Dean and me took off down the dirt road. (Behind the front of my truck):
And followed the lower mountain side (in the silt) above Springer's truck: (in the distance)
Following the race markers we started out on some off-camber silt beds a short time later, this silt had rocks buried in it and I still had the steering damper set hard for the sand whoops: aaah shit, poof, at least it’s soft. I couldn’t turn the front fast enough to correct for the back tire in one track and the front tire hopping over the crown into the other track. HA this was going to be great day, I could feel it. Well, after that warm up exercise it was. I caught back up to Dean who was waiting at a fence crossing; one of many this day where we had take down and put up barbwire gates to pass through. After the second field, we got on a service road dotted by fences and farms (think <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:State w:st="on">Colorado</st1:State> or <st1:State w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Kansas</st1:place></st1:State> rural farm roads). We were riding fast and just offset in trail. I was video taping Dean finally while he set the pace and navigated. We blew right by the course signs and the only thing I remembered seeing was a “<st1:Street w:st="on"><st1:address w:st="on">Wrong Way</st1:address></st1:Street>” marker, not the orange course marker. Three miles later I hadn’t seen any markers, and my GPS was just beginning to tell us to make a U-Turn… er uh I think we passed it back there where the “wrong way” sign was… back we go. This was about to be a special ride, not only was it (originally) going to be my part of the race, but it was after all the riding in the desert and at the end of the road we were currently on, the Pacific Ocean would be in our lap. For anyone who’s seen ‘Dust to Glory’ this is the beach scene where I think – Johnny Campbell races down the beach and Andy Grider races down the course. It was a personal highlight moment. Dean and I are about equal in riding talent and both of us were having a great time. As we neared the ocean, the course had a few split trails. Dean and I would start riding whichever one the other didn’t. Well, on one I got so far ahead that I passed Dean, even though he had been in front of me. After taking the next split left, I was down at the ocean and sitting there on the bike when Dean showed up. We talked about the split right at the top of the hill, and decided we both would ride back up and take the other route. What a mistake that was on a bike. Yeah, it was shorter by a long way and a straight line, straight down a whooped rocky grade that if you made a mistake day or night could lead to broken arm, or a broken bike. After getting to the bottom, Dean exclaims, “Who the F*ck, would ride that, when you can just ride down the road a little farther and lot faster.” I couldn’t agree more. That’s what pre-running is for and we were both happy to be doing it. We rode out on to the beach and down to the water, and asked each other how far the tide has to go out before you could hook the beach like the movie, today the water was lapping the rocks that overhang the ocean, so that question would have to be answered later or never. We got back on the racecourse and began putting miles behind us, the ocean on one side, rolling hills on the other jutting down to the water. The trail bifurcates many, many times over the next several miles and each time we’d take the other route and see who’d come out ahead, most times Dean would, as he’d take the hard rough hill climb and I’d try to race the course around the ridge or valley. Otherwise, we were either handlebar to handlebar or with 20-feet of each other charging along. We passed through a couple villages, and then the course swings far to the east before coming down a big hill into Erendria. We got stopped in a small street and the kids came out looking for steekers, having a small handful we passed some out, and then more kids came running, time to drop a gear and hit it… it would be bad to run out of steekers this far from home. :lol3 We entered a river wash that was deep sand and I almost outran my vision – I almost pile drived a washout in the wash, no jumping over this, no going through it. I had to do and emergency brake-check in the deep sand. Getting started after burying the front and back wheels up to the axles was hard on the clutch, but I could only envision the kids chasing after us yelling “STEEKERS, STEEKERS Meester you got steekers” (just kidding they were a long way back by this point). Shortly after that I found a road out of the wash and followed a fenced playing field back down to the ocean. Dean was there waiting for me. We followed that fence down the trail and then there was this gawd awful looking section of baby heads piled into whoops along the ocean and the fence, only one way through – over them. This was only about 500-feet, but man was that a tough section, everything just rolled around under the tires and balance was key to burping the throttle through each rise and fall. At the end of that the racecourse just ended in a grassy spot. We looked around and finally found a race marker that took us through another gated field with cows and horses. (I heard from someone that during the race a truck spun out in here on the wet mud and made a real mess of things for the follow on bikes. Broke through the fence and all.) Once past this we were back on main surface rock/gravel roads until getting to Santo Tomas (well there was the one odd silt section going up a hill), but Dean and I just put on our happy face and cooked whatever was left of the tires.
I did stop for one snap shot and I'm damn happy for that:
In Santo Tomas, we found the support team in front of a small gift shop/restaurant and they handed us both a cold beer, ahhhhh. I made a huge mistake but don’t understand why (electronically). I disconnected the helmet camera from the DVR before turning it off and it locked up the DVR, I lost probably the best two-hours of video and the run to the ocean. Feck! :becca After breakfast and fuel, Dean and I took off to finish this run. Up the highway to RM555 and then back into the mountains. This would prove to be one of the hardest sections of the race course, as every turn up the mountain was a deep silt bed and everyone of them seemed to be off-camber and full of buried VW Beetles with lots of baby and adult head rocks strewn everywhere. We passed some people in Baja Rail that were surveying the course by foot, trying to find the best line through a steep ravine and up through one of these sections. Shortly after passing them and chugging up the hill. Dean was following me and decided to see what happens when you ride into a brown wall of dust, and just gas it. I turned just in time to see another big poof of brown dust plume into the air over anything I might have created. I stopped and shortly after that, Dean comes exploding out the cloud. He pulls up and tells me what he thought was a good idea at first and we laughed. (I wish I had a picture of him) This lasted until about RM565 and then it was a real nice trail ride over the mountains and through the woods to grandma’s house down by the creek. Well, grandma left a while ago, by the abandoned-ness of the site but someone lived here before. It was a good place to stop and take a piss. The guys in the buggy came screaming through and we waited for them to make it down through the creek and blast on by.
Highway speed is 60mph per SCORE that's what we did.
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Once the dust settled we got back to business. This was a fun ride with lots of elevation changes on a hard pack sand road with areas of rocks thrown in here and there. After we climbed the last hill and passed what would become Check Point Six, the trail was hard rock for a mile or two and then descended into a sandy road climbing and falling sharply through the ‘Garden of Rocks’ big ass boulders some the size of school busses lining the road. This was a very scenic place, and would make a good short ‘Adventure’ excursion if just to get off highway 3 at the “Alligator” and find a place to camp overnight. We finished up the last 120-miles at Hwy 3 RM595 and beat feet for <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Ensenada</st1:place></st1:City> and gas (Ojos Negros – this gas station is key and well located, now if they could only get the ‘RED’ stuff.) We arrived in <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Ensenada</st1:place></st1:City> and topped off with premium, Dean noticed he had a flat front tire but it was a slow leak. Then we took a detour by the hotel to check on the wife. I told her I’d be back in a couple hours, that lasted more like three and half-hours. We rode out to the house and I just had to change my oil, both engine and transmission while the motor was warm. It was pizza night, and everyone was involved in the party before we got back to the house. I got the oil changed as the next morning we would be pre-running the first fifty-miles from the start line to RM45. Then made my way (in the truck) back to <st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Ensenada</st1:place></st1:City>.
Last day's Pre-Ride the Start 50-miles -
Pre-Running the first fifty miles: I drove out to Casa De Boar early the next morning (The first day of running the start, Wednesday the 19<SUP>th</SUP>) and picked up and Dean and Ace, (who had just arrived the night before, and was dying to get on a bike).
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A little update, for those of you who knew what the original ‘concept’ was, so you can see a clearer picture of the ‘new’ plan. I would be starting the race, Dean would be finishing the race, and Ace was going to ride the San Felipe loop. Danno and Deano, were going to fill in the spaces in between with a chance to take a short break between rides (or leapfrogging). This is what developed during all the pre-running thus far, and from the information, we learned along the way and the difficulty of various sections over others. It was a solid plan, and one that would see us to the finish line.
Getting back to the hotel, we unloaded bikes, topped off the tanks and departed – looking for the starting line. That proved a bit more difficult than it sounds, but I knew where the river wash was, and so we started there.
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By default, we entered it from a few of the first few paved turns and roads. The wash was busy with construction and the building of the “Red Bull” jump. Traffic still had the ‘right-of-way’ on about four major thoroughfares so crossing the roads was something to watch for – cars and trucks. A couple buggies went passed us and they cleared the traffic ahead better than we could, so we followed them until we were clear of the traffic that crosses this wash. I figured for race day they would be controlled or closed – they were. This wash goes straight up the middle of Ensenada for about two-miles, and then you exit to a paved section of town, make a few turns and then head out of town at the East end.
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Here is where following the racecourse gets tough. There are numerous trails and roads crisscrossing up and down the hills, you are riding through quarries, houses, active construction sites, and channeled by fences and the terrain for about five-miles. This is where all the locals come out to play on race day. And, by playing I mean watch the race, and try their best to participate in the race, by adding a little unscripted action of their own. Getting you lost, causing you to crash, burying things in the road, or making jumps a little to allot bigger than they would be today.
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After we got through this part the roads open up some and wind through the hills, past some villages, and then into the mountains East of Ensenada towards Ojos Negros. It’s more of a dirt roller-coaster ride as you go up and down into and out of the valleys and hilltops.
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There was this one turn, that can, and will sneak up on you, and it did take Ace down and into a draw or ravine. It’s a downhill 90-degree right turn following a few high-speed rollers. Ace went over the edge and down into the bottom of this 75-foot drop. :eek1 Thankfully, he wasn’t the first – a buggy or truck had preceded him and turned the whole place into a motocross track, knocking down all the vegetation and leaving some discernable trails leading down and back up. I had to remember this turn on race day! Once, we got clear of the rolling hills about RM20 we were riding down some more typical Baja service roads. The muffler clamp fell off the bike Ace was riding (Deano’s bike) and Dean stopped to retrieve it. I slowed to a stop, and Dean says the muffler will be next to come off – picking up the ‘carbon fiber’ bracket from the trail. I put it race mode and chased down Ace.
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This was good, as it cleared the cobwebs of pre-running (at a moderate pace) and gave me some better understanding of what I could be doing out here on these roads. Ace was hauling butt, and was almost a half-mile in front of me. It took some time and distance but I caught up to him and waved him to a stop. Dean arrived shortly after and we did a roadside repair to reattach the muffler with 6mm seat bolt and zip-tied the seat and number plate on. While repairing the bike, we noticed a helicopter flying along the course low and following what sounded like an IRL (Indy car), about the time the helicopter was over us, a full-on pre-race buggy was tearin’ it up coming down the road. Mang, that thing sounded sweet! A four seater to boot. We got back out after the dust settled and continued on our way. The next little hill climb had a concrete wall with a big iron gate in the middle of it where the road exited. On the other side you were to make a 90-degree left uphill turn. Dean kinda missed this and rode straight across to a big empty lot on the far side of the gate. From there it was more of the lane and half dirt gravel road until beginning a descent into the farm lands of Ojos Negros. The little trails got more sandy and winding and eventually we had to open and close some wire gates to continue. After the last gate, at RM30 we had reached the farm roads: Straight ass hard to semi-soft sand roads with the occasional peaks that would go for a half-mile to over three miles, and only changing directions at intersections dividing the property lines. There were a few shorter sections that had hard 90-drgree left’s or right’s and on race day a few riders missed these and went off into the fences. The last one of these was the main road leading into the north end of Ojos Negros and was a wide open throttle hold on to your seats for a few miles kinda road. We arrived at the intersection near RM40 and stopped. A few other races came through, some going on to RM45 and others going straight through and in towards town. I was a little confused and the GPS couldn’t give me the straight scoop as to where highway 3 was, but after we took off towards RM45 I remembered being on this the first day when we got turned around at the start. We made a U-Turn and headed for the highway and gas. (Remember I said the Ojos Negros ‘Pemex’ was in a key location, this would be the third time I needed gas here.) We topped off and headed back into <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Ensenada</st1:place></st1:City>. After getting to town, we broke up, Dean and Ace headed for La Bufadora and I headed down the hill for the hotel.
I tried something new with my helmet camera, raising the resolution from 3Mp to 5Mp, unfortunately that ate up the 4Gb SD card before the batteries were dead. I have all of the start until I was chasing down Ace for the muffler clamp issue. Would have rethink race day footage.
I was very happy with today’s ride, Dean and Ace are comfortable riding mates and we set a good pace without too many issues. I felt the team was capable of making it through the hard parts with experience and through the other areas with fresh riders. I was really beginning to believe we had a damn good chance to pull this together and get it done. (That's not saying that Double D'os had not improved greatly from day one, they had, but anything can happen and it happened to them a lot.)
This would be almost the last ride before race day. Dean, Deano, Danno and me, we’re done. Dean would be the only one to ride the entire 600-miles from start to the finish of the pre-ride. I missed Mike’s Sky Ranch and Valle De La Trinidad, and Double D’os would miss the last two days from RM510 and the start 40-miles. Ace had one more pre-ride in store. The next day he, Whitney and George departed for the San Felipe loop at o’-dark hundred and returned later that afternoon. Ace had to see it once before the race, and apparently kicked some ass. :D (Having just returned to Ensenada)
I love that kind of dedication. We were a team, all six of us, plus the support folks who came down. :clap :wings (Oh, did I mention this is a team of drinkers with a riding problem? :photog ) :lol3 (Except Danno, he's too young... :D )
I’ve got a few more installments and then the race to recap. Stick around it’s not over yet! :nod
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Great pictures, great story telling!
Rode a lot of the same stuff in late October (and learned a LOT!!). Stayed at the same motel in San Felipe and drank beers where you were doing the bike servicing :1drink
Looking forward to more.....
Very cool report. Thanks for doing a great job and posting.
'Tech-Day' Thursday, November 20th - One day before.
Pre-Race Inspection and Preparations: Thursday, November 20<SUP>th</SUP>, was here already: one day before the biggest race in all of our histories and lifetime. There were many things needing to be accomplished on this day: Registering, tech-Inspection, rider’s meeting, and being a part of the greatest spectacle in these parts of the racing world. <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /><st1:City w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Ensenada</st1:place></st1:City>, was in full-blown party mode. In overnight influx of more than 100,000 people had shown up. The hotel I was in filled to capacity with the VW sponsors’ of the Baja 1000. The parking lot was full or Tourags, and there was no leaving or coming in as the road out front was closed. The level of excitement started around 3 O’clock in the morning, when race trucks, buggies, Beetles, and quads began lining up around the blocks in the tech-inspection parade. After the line grew longer than the road in front of the hotel it quieted down just a little, we were now wrapped in a sea of vibrant colors (race vehicles) and anxious people waiting for their chance to see what they hadn’t done and what they would have to fix prior to Friday.
I saw this kid who had broken both his arms during pre-running but he was still part of the team...
I thought this was pretty cool.
A race quad waiting in line:
We had agreed to meet about 09:00 at the San Nicholas hotel to get everyone registered. I only found Austin and Noah waiting in the press-corps line. They needed a sponsor from a race team, and I sufficed to meet the requirement. Then I got myself registered, the line was small and moved quickly. Then the waiting game began. Where is the team, where is the bike? Traffic around this part of town was in gridlock there were no places to park and people were everywhere, walking, partying, buying T-Shirts and everything else. I tried calling but my phone couldn’t get out, I found some locals, and borrowed their cell phone, but the lines were still overwhelmed and couldn’t get out. Finally, while wandering about I saw some of the support team and friends back at the San Nicholas and then Springer showed up. We unloaded the bike from the truck, and I gave some suggestions on where there might be parking – on the racecourse in the wash. After explaining where Tech was, I pushed the bike over and shortcut the line, (we had been advised by JCR to do this, as bikes were different and given some special considerations.) I waited a bit for the team, but it was evident they were not making headway or got distracted with other events.
Eventually the tech-inspector was like let’s go. To be honest in all the time before this, I had not ever handled the race bike. I didn’t know its quirks, like, I didn’t know the starter button had developed an itch (the steering head had to be turned for the switch to work). I could have really used Deano, as every wire behind the headlight was unplugged. The inspector looks over my battered helmet, with an outdated M2000 Snell rating, and I explained that while I had a brand-new helmet in the bag, I was hoping to race the abused one. He said it’s good, and puts the inspection sticker on it. Then he looks over the bike, when he gets to the tail light, “I need to see if this works”. I turn on the gas, and hit the starter button, nothing, I began looking for an on/off switch (but knew there wasn’t one) feeling stupid at the moment in an awkward position. I immediately thought the battery might be dead, so in flip-flops I’m jumping up and down on the starter. Bang, she comes to life, the taillight comes on, and then I hit the on/off switch for the headlight, it burns bright. I hear an OK, and then the other inspector comes over with a purple armband and attaches it to the left fork-tube. I sign some checklist sheet and away I go. Wow, tech inspection is done, and I still don’t know where the team is. I ride around the block (shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops, and two helmets – one on, one in hand) and go by the hotel St. Nick, no one is to be found. Oh well, this is done and it was going in the room, (remember I said it would be nice to have a room downtown – well the bike and myself would be at the starting line first thing in the morning, no matter what happened the rest of the day). I secured the bike at my hotel, then walked back to find my wife and look for the team. Eventually everyone was tracked down,
and the two handheld radios would be our network for the day; cell phones were becoming worthless. The rest of the day the team got everything done, the lines to registration got longer and longer but eventually we were all ready to race. I suppose let the party begin.
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At 7:00 PM the Rider’s/Driver’s meeting began and the whole team plus others were there.
Sal Fish began with introductions of the Mexican hosts and then National Anthems were played for both countries, then the invocation. After that, Sal got to business with describing the course and the rules. It was very nice to hear such a detailed explanation to the race truck/buggy drivers that motorcycle and quad guys don’t have three thousand pounds of steel safety cage wrapped around them, and tagging was not allowed.
Robby Gordon gave his side note on passing and others chimed in as well. It was an honest exchange amongst professional in a dangerous sport. Many questions were fielded and answered by Sal Fish or someone from SCORE, then the meeting wrapped up. Afterwards (just to meet the man) I walked over to Robby Gordon and said, that while I understand your position on passing, as a rider, I try to know which way the wind is blowing and stay up-wind of the dust. So, that would most likely be the side that a rider would (should) go to. He helped me understand that during the race, rider’s of quads or bikes, are usually so focused on the trail ahead, that they rarely know anything behind them and then freak out and look like a rabbit that’s about to get run over (I would find this out the next morning). Andy Grider was there (part of Gordon Racing), and helped both of us through the thought process of the discussion. Here I am, with Robby Gordon and Andy Grider, shooting the shit like old friends, how cool is that! We shook hands, and I departed to catch up with the team. I don’t know when they left the city, but I was about done. Time to get some food and some sleep.
Austin and Noah getting some quick shots in:
<o:p>My friends gave me a very cool Baja 1000 KTM shirt:</o:p>
My wife, didn’t follow doctors orders very well, so she had returned to the hotel hours ago. I met some friends for dinner and we all gorged one more time. Pasta, or Mexican, it all tasted so good. Even the three ‘gay’ amigos’ :lol3
Good night all, it was about 10:30, tomorrow would be a big day! :freaky
Pre-Race Jitters - No, not me...
Sleepless nights and distractions: This is quick synopsis of sleeping with a 20-month old and a wife who was experiencing great pain. I did get to sleep shortly after 11:00, it had been a long day, and a longer two and half weeks. By about 02:40 in the morning my wife was up and down and going to the bathroom frequently. By 03:20 I was laying in bed saying I might as well get up, there is no sleeping to be had, and I was going to be up at 04:15 to begin with. I started watching the video of the start (first 25-miles) I recorded on Wednesday and began the mental checklist to laying out my gear. I took a shower, and started getting dressed for the race. Everything was still a bit damp from washing the day before, and my wife had used the hair-dryer to dry some of the more personal contact items. For those of you not familiar with motocross or desert racing, getting dressed requires layers of body armor from head to toe, and each piece comes with or requires a comfort layer underneath. I had upgraded several pieces of armor before this event and had been wearing all of it everyday for the last couple of weeks. It was beginning to be a part of my ‘RoboMoto’ body. As I put on my new Asterisk ‘Germ’ knee braces, one of the pull cords snapped off the end of the laces, “Jesus Christ, why now, can anything else go wrong today”. I found the piece and put it back on. One layer at a time, one pant leg, one boot at a time. I can tell you that with each pull, push, tug, and buckle that was fastened I was thinking, this is the day – you are getting ready to start the biggest race of your life. I was still watching the video on the TV and that helped me to relax, seeing each turn, hill climb and canyon again. My wife was having a really bad morning, and the aftermath of her condition was alarming to say the least. At least my kid was sleeping through all of this. Between worrying about her and getting dressed, the time was ticking by faster than I had imagined. It was after 05:00. I was laying out and going over my backpack, what do I need in here, what have I been carrying around for two-weeks that I don’t need. Believe me, all the survival and rescue stuff got taken out; I didn’t need it. By the time I was done, there was a full bladder of water, four Hydrolyte drinks, a couple Cliff-Bars, my tool pack and my camera (DVR). It still weighed a lot, but was more compact than earlier. 30-minutes, where is Springer and the guys? They said they’d be here at 05:00 it’s almost 05:30, it doesn’t matter I’m leaving at 05:45 they can find me. Oh and lets change what you’ve been doing the last two-weeks when it comes to video taping the helmet cam. Lets take it out of the waterproof box and use the line with the microphone, that should be cool. I had already charged all the batteries, and made sure I had clean memory cards, the 8Gb SD went in the camera and everything was assembled for use, just need to plug in the batteries and push start. It’s 05:40, Time to kiss my wife and son and tell them how much they mean to me, and thank them for being a part of this whole event. I really couldn’t do it without their support, and knowing that if she had not been there with me, I probably wouldn’t be here at all right this moment. After that I opened the door and pushed the bike out onto the sidewalk. About this time, Springer, and Austin show up and more of the team are walking into the courtyard. I put on neck brace and give my wife another kiss. Then my helmet and gloves went on and we push the bike out of the hotel parking lot. I started it up this time with the ‘magic button’ and rode over to the staging area. The team found me, and we worked on getting all the electronics working: IMO trip computer, IRC tracker, GPS power (didn’t work) and what ever else was there. I remember asking Deano, if the bike had ever been jetted for 104-octane ‘Race Gas’ and he says, “Uh NO” Why, do you ask? Well I just thought if we get race gas from JRC ‘Honda Pits’ how’s that going to affect the bike, should lean it out a bit right? He’s in full on panic mode now, then we got word that they were using the same ‘premium’ 92-octane that we’d been running and all was good again. I also, didn’t have a full tank of gas, but it was pretty close, close enough to make the first pit. SCORE was marking off each bike number on the ground, and it went from the bike before us, to a class above us. Where are we? A SCORE official said I’m working on that, just give it some time. So we started our own little pre-staging to the staging area and all the 2XX numbers lined up behind us in the middle of the road. I kept looking for 201X but he never came. (We would find out after the race that he withdrew) Eventually we would have the second “Pole Position” across the street from the 1X bike of Robby Bell, right next to the starting gate. That was a little freaky but we got to watch each racer push or ride up to the starting line and get a hand-shake and words of encouragement from Sal Fish. NBC Sports was right there too, interviewing rider’s as they approached the start area. So I’m sure there will be some footage on December 14<SUP>th</SUP> when it airs. Both my friends and Airborne Andy rolled up in front of us, and we could wish them luck before they left. It was pretty cool to be standing where we were. I couldn’t stop thinking about my wife, what we had gone through the week prior, my son, my future, our future, how it all changed in the course of a week. Every once in a while someone would ask me if I was doing OK, or remind me that I was about to start the Baja 1000. I just simply said, “Yeah, I’m doing OK.” It seemed like the race was in another part of my head, and was so distant from the thoughts I was going through, that I was completely relaxed: I felt no anxiety, I felt pretty much nothing. My heart rate was normal, my breathing was normal – I was somewhere else, besides standing 50-feet away from the “Red Bull” Tacate Start line of the Baja 1000. I watched the rider’s and the bikes go past, I watched the people milling about, and I talked with my teammates. It was all so surreal – it’s just that I was somewhere else at the moment. Funny how that works, I wish I could bottle that in a “Non-Stress” formula, I’d be a rich mother f*cker… :lol3
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The race is next, let’s see how it all turns out… :pynd
Man that looks great!! :thumb
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