Scott here. I'm finally back at Brett's house and thinking of how I can sum up our bike and gear shake down ride in Baja. It was such an amazing experience. Truly a trip of a lifetime. I'm sitting here in Georgia at Brett's house wishing I was back in the saddle….filthy, near heat exhaustion, dehydrated, low on fuel, on the cusp of disaster, and smiling ear to ear.
If you've read my bio on our website (www.raceforthewounded.com
), you'll know that I'm in WAY over my head on this endeavor. I know I'm the most inexperienced rider on the team…but I think it's pretty safe to say that I'm also the most inexperienced rider in the entire 2012 Baja 1000 line up. So you're reading a shake-down report from noob…from a dude who has rode a dirt bike only once in his life…from a dude who bought his first bike (BMW F800GS) Nov 2011..from a dude who only has 2,400 road miles..and a dude who only has about 75 miles on dirt. Brett said my learning curve wasn't going to be steep...it's gong to be vertical! Hahaha.
So here's where it started...
I rode my F800GS to Brett's house from Jacksonville, Florida on 3 August. We spent that day and the next working on the KTM and Elvis the race bike. We worked fast and with a purpose. No joking around. No beer. Nothing but business.
We left for Baja on August 5th. Funny thing…we didn't realize that we left 1 full day earlier than planned until we were somewhere in Louisiana a few hours later. I guess we were so excited to leave that we left 1 full day earlier than planned. Oops. So…leaving a day early was a 'mistake' that actually helped us along the way. The KTM had a leaky petcock and fouled needle jet. We lost about 2" of fuel. So an emergency hotel parking lot repair was in order.
We stopped somewhere in Texas to fuel up the truck. We let some guy borrow a few tools to fix his car. Brett was under the hood helping this dude fix his car and I was standing there being useless in the heat, I noticed a familiar logo. He had a TCB Logo tattooed on his arm! Said it was his family motto and got it when he was 14 with his dad. Pretty cool! He was stoked to see our shirts.
The team (lite) met in El Cajon, CA at crack whore central. Allan picked the closest hotel to the border and it turns out that it's also hosting a crack whore convention that weekend. Seriously…crack whores were plentiful. We considered setting up a guard rotation for the bikes but decided to take the chance and leave them be.
While we were in the hotel parking lot Chris installed and mounted Elvis's race lights (Cyclops Motor sports). We fired them up for the first time and were definitely impressed. We did a little last minute bike maintenance and finalized our packs. We were spending 5 days in Baja with no chase trucks or sag support. Only carrying a backpack per rider and whatever we would carry in our Moose fender bags. We'd soon realize that Moose Bags were not designed for the harsh Baja terrain.
Allan, John, and Chris parked their trucks on the US border and rode their bikes into Mexico. While Brett, Scott, and Randy drove their trucks across the border. We decided to stage a few trucks on the Mexico side in case we needed them for emergency extraction. Luckily they were not needed.
We parked out trucks at Rancho Ojia and then suited up. Chris was so proud of his bike ramp. "Hey Allan, you want to use mine? You can just ride your bike off the back of your truck." 5 seconds later Chris was the first person to dump his bike. Not sure if it really counts as the first crash…but I'll count it as one. Even the Mexicans were laughing at him.
There were 6 of us riding…Brett, Scott, Chris, Randy, John, and Allan. Allan and John were our resident Baja veterans. For the entire 5 day ride, Allan was our point man leading the way while John rode rear security giving me pointers along the way.
So I suited up and kicked over my bike. Note…I didn't have an electric start. This will never happen again! We rode about 5 miles on the hardball then we made a right and hit dirt! I'm thinking…"Holy sh*t! I'm riding dirt in Baja!" It's safe to say I was excited.
After a few miles Allen stopped at our first 'hazard'. A pavement slick as ice water crossing. No big deal…no turns and no throttle. Slow and smooth.
Now let me remind you of something. I've never done a water crossing. I've never been on a dirt bike while it was wet. This water was only about 6" deep but I was pretty nervous. I was afraid that I'd dump the bike and flood something or whatever.
Back to the story…Allan, Chris, and Randy went through without any issues. It was Brett's turn to cross. And yup…Brett dumped Elvis right after he cleared the crossing. It was a minor dump but Elvis's first time laying horizontal.
Lets fast forward 5 hours. 25 miles of deep sand whoops. Silt. 114 degree heat. Miles and miles of baby head rocks. Single track deep sand. And by noon everyone was out of water with no hint of water refill any time soon. This was the "Black Diamond" route. The "expert" trail. The GD hard way! Around noon we had to stop and cool off. 4 of the 6 riders almost went down as heat casualties. It was insane. I think it was about 75 miles before we stopped for water at the ranch.
This day was the single hardest day I've had since Mountain Phase of Ranger School. I was completely exhaust and on the brink of heat exhaustion. And it was only noon the first day!!
After we cooled off and discussed our situation, we headed for the closest ranch (Rancho Rodeo del Ray) that sold water. It was about 20 miles away. We pull up to the ranch and my entire body is twitching on the brink of a full body cramp. All I wanted as a giant bottle of water. At this point, I'd drink tap water in Mexico.
This is when Allan found out how inexperienced I was. He thought I'd been riding dirt bikes since last November. He didn't realize this was my 2nd time ever riding a dirt bike. He felt like an ass for taking me out on the Black Diamond route.
Funny thing…the dude at the shop only had 1 bottle of water left for sale. Seriously…1 bottle of water for 6 dudes near heat exhaustion. We split the water and drank Cokes. At least the sugar in the Coke would get us to the next water stop.
After about 30 minutes on my back at the ranch, it was time to go. I tagged the ranch with a Wounded Warrior Project sticker and moseyed on over to my bike.
20 miles later we came across another shop on the side of the road that sold water. By the time I found a place to lean my bike on (I didn't have a kick stand either) every one else already had their helmets off and were drinking ice cold refreshing water. This was the time my entire body decided to cramp up. I was kneeling down getting some rehydration salts out of my pack and my entire body locked up…both quads, calves, entire back, hands, forearms, everything. It didn't really hurt but I was stuck like a statue exactly where I was. It was actually pretty funny. If I wasn't in pain, I'd be laughing at myself. No one realized that I was stuck immobile because they were drinking water and laughing like maniacs about the route we just took. After a minute or two Allan realized that I was still kneeling down and brought me some water and helped me up.
We stayed there for about 30 minutes then pushed on….10 more miles to the hard ball. And yup…more sand. I kind of figured out sand by this point. I was cruising along at a pretty good clip when I passed Brett coming out of the bushes with Elvis laying on his side about 10' away. He later told me about his spectacular crash. Said the bike went sideways then he flew over the handlebars.
I crashed A LOT on this 5 day Baja Boot Camp trip. I liked crashing in sand the best. So when I passed Brett I knew he wasn't too badly hurt. Sand is very soft. And besides, my hands were cramped around the grips and I didn't want to stop and pry them off. So I motored on.
After we hit the hardball we filled up on gas and headed for our first hostel in Valle de la Trinidad (I think). We arrived at the hostel, licked our wounds, and had our first meal as a team together with some ice cold Tecate. I fell asleep the moment my head touched the pillow. Then got up to pee 10 times because I drank about a gallon of water with dinner. Despite how exhausted I was…I was having the time of my life. And this was only day 1.
Scott arriving at Brett's house...time to get to work!
Putting gas in Elvis for the first time while Rocco the quality control manager glares with approval. 1st beer. Thanks again Taco Lu's!
Somewhere in Texas on the way to Baja. Saw a familiar logo. TCB Baby!!
At the crack-whore hotel in California. Brett and Chris installing Elvis's race lights from Cycloops.
Crossing the border!
This is where we had to split 1 bottle of water per 6 dehydrated riders. This is where Allan realized how inexperienced I was. This is also where I realized how hard this race is going to be.
I have a hours and hours of GoPro footage to follow along with the story. I'm still traveling right now and will upload some very soon.
Thanks for reading and I'll be posting "Day 2" in a few days!!