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Old 07-15-2009, 09:54 AM   #1
Ciampa OP
Baja 2010!
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Joined: May 2006
Location: San Francisco, CA
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Long Road to Baja, My 2010 Baja Ironman Story

Back in 2007 I went to Baja on one of Tim Morton's Baja Bound tours. This one was specifically geared towards racing the Baja 1000. At that time I had very little off-road riding experience, and zero race experience. As usual I was in way over my head, which is how I typically like to learn. I had a blast and learned a ton during the 5 days of riding the Baja 1000 course, but realized I had a lot of work ahead of me before fulfilling one of my dreams to Ironman the Baja 1000. I decided I would wait until I turned 40 and get some more riding and racing experience before competing in the longest non-stop point-to-point off-road race in the world. I need to have goals and deadlines, it keeps me focused.

Video from 2007 Baja Bound Trip

Flash forward three years, four bikes, many private motocross and flat-track lessons, several RallyMoto races, a couple hare scrambles, thousands of off-road miles all over the country on all kinds of terrain, a couple of broken ribs, and a few trips to the emergency room.

I turned 40 on June 30th. I have about 3 months until race day on November 20th. I have been training like mad, and I feel that I'm in the best shape of my life. I still have a lot more work to do. I need to be in marathon shape, well at least half-marathon shape. Goals are good. Now that I'm creating this post I feel that my attempt to Ironman the Baja 1000 is official.

Here is my 2006 Honda CRF450X, which I found locally on Craigslist. The bike was barely ridden and didn't even have a single scratch on the clutch plate or plastics. It still had the original tires and brake pads. This is a good sign that the bike wasn't ridden hard. With a few mods it will make the perfect Baja race bike.

Here are some of the mods I plan to do:
• Applied Racing triple clamps (factory offset)
Renthal Twin Wall Handlebars (Sponsor)
- Renthal Intellilever (unbreakable clutch lever)
- Vibranators Handlebar vibration eliminator (Sponsor)
- Progrip triple density grips
- Anti-Blister Foam Donuts
- Pro Taper Aluminum Throttle Tube
• Scotts steering stabilizer
• Baja Designs 8-inch HID race light
Motoz tires
• IMS 3.2 fuel tank w/dry break gas cap
• Pro-Circuit T4 exhaust
• Fluidyne radiators
Mohard Racing radiator guards
• CV4 Radiator Hose Kit
• MSR brake saver
• MSR aluminum skidplate
• UFO plastics
• Honda subframe (I tweaked mine during a harescramble)

Combustion Junction (aka Dave Jensen) and I were supposed to go riding on Monday at area 51 but there were severe thunderstorms so I decided it was time to break my bike down and start prepping it for Baja.

I brought my bike outside to power-wash the engine before doing the valves. For longevity I'm replacing the titanium stock valves with a Kibblewhite stainless valve and spring kit. Other than that I'm keeping the engine pretty much stock. As Tim Morton says, "If you want it to rock then keep it stock." I'm just looking to finish, not break any records.

I just got my Motoz tires from my good friend Crankshaft (aka Aaron G.) who is a North American Rep. I'm going to do some testing on the Desert rear and Enduro rear and front. Gilkey and Aaron aren't big fans of the Desert front so I'll skip testing it.

Dave who owns Combustion Cycles in Durham, NC is one of my sponsors.

This is a Triumph that Dave customized. It looks bad ass in flat black with dirtbike handlebars and DS tires.

You wouldn't know it from looking at his Transalp RallyMoto frankenbike but Dave is one of the best mechanics in the Triangle. He is self taught and can fix just about anything, which is why he prefers a challenge like slapping a 750 Africa Twin engine in his 650 Transalp and keeping his beat up old Porsche 928 running.

I met Dave when I was supposed to pick up a tire from him in a crappy hotel parking lot in WV. I had talked to him once on the phone and all I knew was that he owned a bike shop in Durham, he was racing a 20 year old Transalp at Rally WV, and he had a tire I needed very badly. I was puling my bike out of my trailer when I saw a pickup truck with the Transalp frankenbike and I knew it must be Dave. We had a few beers in the parking lot and a few more after tech and we ended up drinking too many beers the night before the race.

A couple weeks later I stopped by Dave's shop and asked him if he wanted to drive to Oregon to compete in the Mt. Hood Rally. He said stop by tomorrow and ask me again. We left a week later. We drove from NC to OR in 2.5 days, we camped illegally on a farm in Missouri and on a Mt. at 9,000 ft in Wyoming. We camped at the foot of Mt. Hood when we arrived, the next day we had a drivers meeting then tech inspection. John aka Ironmtnracing and Jim were teching the bikes which was a cool surprise since I hadn't seen them since we rode together during the Baja Bound trip in 2007. After tech Dave and I got a killer pasta dinner at a local brewery and a little rest before our 12 hour race day. Then we camped, left the next morning and drove all the way to Moab Utah for some desert riding.

The stories from this trip alone would require a whole new thread, so here's video from our Moab excursion.

Dave has been kind enough to let me use his shop to build my race bike. I'm basically a hack when it comes to bike mechanics so Dave helps me with the more difficult tasks. It's a great learning experience for me. As a college drop-out I have always been self-taught in my career as a Creative Director and pretty much everything I do.

Next I need to remove the suspension to send to the Baja suspension gurus at Precision Concepts in CA, they do the suspension for the Honda factory teams. They come highly recommended from pretty much everyone I have talked to who has raced Baja.

I'm still working out the support details with Tim Morton of Baja Bound and will most likely use Honda Pits.

To be continued...

Ciampa screwed with this post 07-20-2012 at 03:23 PM
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Old 07-15-2009, 11:08 AM   #2
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Old 07-15-2009, 01:31 PM   #3
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Go Keith Go

Looking forward to reading more!
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Old 07-15-2009, 02:08 PM   #4
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yeah me too :)

gaspipe screwed with this post 07-15-2009 at 03:11 PM Reason: crazy embedded script in post
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Old 07-15-2009, 02:44 PM   #5
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Old 07-15-2009, 07:35 PM   #6
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good luck Keith

Luis Figueiredo
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Old 07-16-2009, 10:45 AM   #7
Ciampa OP
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My manager, personal fitness coach, and biggest fan.

My girlfriend Liz grew up on a farm in South Dakota where she rode a quad to school and got her hunting license when she turned 14. She will probably make me do extra push-ups for telling you that she was also the 1994 South Dakota Snow Queen. After she gave up her crown and moved to the big city to go to college Liz became an advertising account executive, which comes in handy for putting together my sponsorship presentation, budgeting, and PR.

She also records my daily training and diet regimen. Yes mowing the lawn qualifies as exercise.

Fitness is essential if you plan to ironman the Baja 1000. It helps with fatigue and Endurance during the 20+ hours of racing. If you are racing on a team relay style you could probably get away with getting in shape with some weekend riding and 20oz. curls.

I try to ride at least 3 times a week, but my bike is now out of commission while I rebuild it so I will have to take a short break. I wish I could afford a second training bike, but unfortunately I got laid-off my job six months ago and have been freelancing, which is a little slow. Given the state of the economy and my job situation the easiest thing would be to wait until next year to fulfill my Baja dream, but I've come too far and I'm not going to give up that easily. Where there's a will, there's a way.

Ciampa screwed with this post 11-14-2012 at 01:26 AM
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:10 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ironmtnracing

Looking forward to reading more!
Thanks John!

Good luck at Vegas to Reno. I'm looking forward to hearing about your adventure too.
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:13 PM   #9
Ciampa OP
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Originally Posted by fig650
good luck Keith

Luis Figueiredo
Thanks Luis! Are you still planning to do Vegas to Reno with Aaron? Good luck with that. I wish I could be there with you guys it sounds like it's going to be kick-ass race. Maybe I will see you at Black River Stage, NY.
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Old 07-16-2009, 12:31 PM   #10
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Oh! I love it already!
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Old 07-16-2009, 01:24 PM   #11
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Go get em Keith!
Best of luck to you and have fun!!!

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Old 07-16-2009, 02:10 PM   #12
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You do understand that if you do it at 40, you will probably want to do it again at 50.

Good Luck...
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:07 PM   #13
Ciampa OP
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My Inspiration

My 7 year old daughter Julia lives most of the year in Sweden with her mother (who is Swedish), but she stays with me for the summer, during winter break and I usually visit her as much as I can during the rest of the year. I love her so much it is really difficult to be away from her. I am looking forward to the day that Julia decides to live with me, my girlfriend Liz who she loves to death, and her dog Olivia so she can go to school in America.

In 2003 when Julia was 3 years old we went to Sweden for what was supposed to be a temporary stay for her mother to finish her studies at Göteborg University. After six months in Sweden Julia's mother and I got separated and I found out I couldn't leave Sweden with my daughter even though she was born in Boston and a US citizen. Since we were in Sweden for 6 months it was considered her primary residence, and she was under the jurisdiction of the Swedish courts.

I went through a long and difficult international divorce and custody battle in Swedish courts using a translator. I stayed in Sweden for 2 years. I hired a US and Swedish attorney, I tried to get help from the US State Department and even filed a case with the Hague Convention. I had no idea something like this could or would happen. I was so naive. I was eventually awarded joint custody.

This is when my obsession with racing and my dream to Ironman the Baja 1000 started. It was the only thing that took my mind off how much I missed my daughter. Plus it's cheaper then therapy and it keeps me fit and young.

Running the loop around Duke University today with Julia, Liz and Julia's dog Olivia. My whole family is helping me get in Ironman shape.

Ciampa screwed with this post 07-20-2012 at 03:48 PM
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Old 07-17-2009, 07:14 AM   #14
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Great work Keith! I'm glad you're able to share your work on this thread, above all of the training and preparation for Baja.
"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today" James Dean

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Old 07-17-2009, 07:50 AM   #15
buried in the sand...
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sad story about what your ex-wife put you through...

can't wait to hear the AWESOME story about Baja!
Richard Bryan | Clinton, NC
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