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Old 12-22-2011, 02:47 AM   #331
beechum1
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Originally Posted by pilo View Post
And notice, West Side Story style, he's standing with his gang at his sides while I am hiding behind mine...big tough guy that I am.
Be cooool boy....
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I used to say "one day" a lot. But then I got scared I would wait one day too long. So I am doing it all now
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Old 12-29-2011, 09:09 PM   #332
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News of a little different sort...

Merry Christmas. I've been busy with the holidays and intend to finish the Baja 1000 coverage. However, as an aside and a shameless plug, I just wanted to let whomever might be interested know that I finally finished my book. It is autobiographical and covers a trip I did in the mid 90's where me and 3 friends (nxdirtbag is one of them!) got caught in a freak snow storm and were in a pretty precarious situation where we were lucky to get out alive. Besides the main story there are a ton of silly and adventurous motorcycle related back stories and pictures that the ADV community will hopefully find entertaining. Amazon has Kindle Apps for almost every handheld and you can even read it on your computer with a simple download.

The book is titled "Four" and is listed on Amazon under "Phil Walker". You can find it here.

Now I need to get back to the race play-by-play.
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Old 12-29-2011, 11:56 PM   #333
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..... a recreation of the ride would be easy, I thought...

obviously foreshadowing is obvious.
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I used to say "one day" a lot. But then I got scared I would wait one day too long. So I am doing it all now
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Old 12-31-2011, 10:43 AM   #334
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Headed up into the mountains

Heading out from the pits the powerline whoops that I had ridden 12 hours earlier seemed narrower at night and it was hard to believe they were the same whoops.

About 20 minutes out a Trophy Truck came up on me and didn't give me a chance to bail by the side of the trail. I snuck up on the edge of the trail and clipped what I thought was some kind of bush (I'd clipped bushes on the edge of the trail since the start of the race), though the instant pain in my arm told me I'd hit a cactus. I softly cursed the truck as it disappeared into dust and consoled myself that the cactus pain would subside over time. With my helmet light I could tell there was something stuck in my right bicep, but the pain was only medium so I decided to just keep riding and deal with it later.

About 20 minutes later I regretted not taking Dumbgirl's advice and putting on my jacket. Out of nowhere the wind stared ripping from the south. By the time I got off of the trail and on to the road section I was cold. I passed someone on a bike with a jacket and I was envious.

On the road I motored up to the 60 MPH speed limit and tucked in to retain some heat. The road was steadily climbing and the temperature was certainly dropping. By the time I pulled off at the Bajapit I was chilled. I was not planning on stopping at the pit, but the pain in my arm was strong enough I hoped they might be able to help.

I pulled off and they started gassing me. I asked them to take a look at my arm and they pointed the flashlight and immediately the two guys jumped back and started screaming something in Spanish that sounded scary. One of the guys went off and came back with a pair of pliers and they went to work on my arm and kept yanking all of the way back past my shoulder. Some of the pain was gone, but my forearm and bicep still ached. The guy worked his hand up my sleeve and told me I had a bunch of needles stuck in my arm and that I would need to take everything off for them to get them off. I was cold and the pain wasn't too bad so I left.

I got off the road at Mike's Sky Ranch road and was happy since Frog and I had pre-run this section, but a little dismayed since I knew this was a really fast section and did I already mention it was cold?

My fingers were so cold I was having trouble holding on to the bars, and funnily enough, a few miles up the road I was wishing for some whoops to warm me up. I laughed out loud at the thought.

Dropping down from Mike's it got a little more technical and soon I was pounding through some fun whoop and tight sections, warming up a bit and having fun.

On a tight, rocky uphill the front deflected and I lost the bike on its left side. The second real get-off of the race. I picked up the bike and discovered that a single rock had found my transponder and shattered the Otterbox, spewing the transponder on the trail. So much for the tucked in protective spot. I picked up the parts and stuck them in my fanny pack and continued on. It turns out I was no more than 1/2 mile from the pit at "The Meadow"

I was feeling really good and I had none of the nightime fatigue I was expecting to feel. I think the cold was actually helping me stay alert and I was not feeling tired. I was hungry and cold but in really excellent spirits. The immensity of the event was really catching up to me though. Even though the race was less than 200 miles longer than Vegas to Reno, it really sunk in that these two races are nothing alike. I remember thinking that V2R was like Kindergarten compared to Baja. I even said something like that when I pulled into the pit. Dumbgirl laughed at me and wrote this in the log:

"4:27 AM - Phil realizes this ain't no Vegas to Reno" -- hilarious

The crew threw some food at me and Dumbgirl draped me in my jacket.


It was cold - look at Dumbgirl.


Jeremy offered some fresh coffee. I took it like a 5 year old ripping through candy at Halloween. I also made some comment about if it was brewed or instant...I think this picture is in the middle of me talking about how "here at the Baja 1000 we've secretly replaced our brewed coffee with Folger's crystals. Let's see if anyone notices." I was feeling pretty good.



I love this picture. I'm getting ready to go and Frog and Jeremy are listening intently. I thought the left handguard was bent so we needed to fix it. It turned out, and you can see in the pics, that the bars were actually rotated back in the clamps. It was 70 miles later before I figured this out and stopped to fix the bars.


Tools for fixing...


Getting ready to roll.


With that, I was off headed through Valle De Trinidad.

Bajapit #12 RM 512 In: 4:20AM Out: 4:39AM Avg: 24.3MPH - I guess the crash and cactus extraction took longer than I thought!
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Old 12-31-2011, 01:09 PM   #335
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Race thoughts

"this ain't no Vegas to Reno"

I love it Phil. This really is putting the race and your effort into perspective. Amazing journey !
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:06 PM   #336
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I really enjoyed your story !

Thanks for putting in the time and effort and CONGRATS !

you have good taste in bikes.. I also have a 450x and 990s
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Old 01-06-2012, 06:07 PM   #337
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I am looking forward to hearing the rest of your story, but for now, Dakar!
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Old 01-07-2012, 11:53 AM   #338
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Tell me about it! I'm caught up in all of the action going on down there that I can hardly remember my own story.
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Old 01-07-2012, 06:50 PM   #339
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Originally Posted by pilo View Post
Tell me about it! I'm caught up in all of the action going on down there that I can hardly remember my own story.
Seriously, what an amazing race. I have always thought I could pull off the Baja 1000 with some training. But, i am pretty sure that Dakar is out of my league. What do you think?
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Old 01-07-2012, 07:44 PM   #340
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$10,000 for Baja $70,000 for Dakar. A little difference in cost.
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Old 01-07-2012, 08:15 PM   #341
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After this past year, the prep, training, navigation, fatigue and even the racing don't really scare me. I think I could figure out most things I don't already know and get myself ready to go. I'm 100% sure, however, that I'm no where near the financial and time commitment in both the prep and the racing. I really enjoy riding long distances. Dakar is a whole different beast though, one that will have to sit solely in my dreams.
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Old 01-08-2012, 10:51 AM   #342
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Almost there

I left BP13 heading east knowing I was not going to see my team for a long time. I was kind of cold, a bit foggy-headed from the fatigue and lack of sleep and cautious since this road heading east was that place where Frog had gone over the edge a few years prior and needed a truck with a winch to drag him up.

It was still pitch black running through the mountain road and I focused intently on the beam lighting the road. I was on the pegs weighting the front tire, but for some reason I was feeling really uncomfortable in the standing position. It was a strange feeling and I though perhaps my back was getting weak or my wrist positioning on my right wrist was catching up to me and causing me fatigue.

The road through the pass was moist and the air was super heavy with moisture. I was glad to have my jacket on and was getting warmer despite the increased speeds. The road was smooth and even with the thick air I was able to keep a good pace and even caught a couple of riders. The passes were clean and no one 22 hours into the race is interested in racing for position after they’ve been caught.

Less than an hour into the section and I came around a left hand bend with a wall on the left side. It was a decreasing radius turn and though I drifted wide to the right, the truck (#600) I saw off the cliff to the right had not made the turn. He was about 25-30 feet down of the road plowed into the side of the mountain, lights still blazing. I slowed to see if I could offer some help, but soon spotted a light to my left which was the truck’s driver swinging a handheld light as he pressed himself up against the dirt wall on the side of the road. His expression was clearly one of irritation and when I stopped to ask if he was okay he let me know he wasn’t hurt. I kept going.

Soon I noticed the road definitively losing altitude and the night sky had the slightest tinge of gray. Dawn was coming…

I made it off the mountains and through the hills and fields south of San Vicente. I was still feeling awkward on the bike. The sun was rising and my head must have been clearing a bit. I hit a silt field and had trouble getting the right position, and then it dawned on me…my hands were too far back. Being tall I tend to be pretty sensitive to bar height and position and with the bars tweaked back I couldn’t get forward enough on the bike when I stood. The get-off back at RM510 rotated the bars back in the clamps and we must have missed that at the pit (You can see it in the pictures from the previous pit – hand guards are pointing up a bit). I pulled off of the course, got out my tools and loosen up the clamps, rotated everything back in place and tightened it all back up. Hooray! My first 100 yards on the bike confirmed all was great.

Within about five miles something amazing happened. Dawn broke and the terrain turned very ‘Utah-like’. Harder pack dirt, fast whoops, and rocks half-buried but solid. Suddenly I was not only grooving, but riding really fast. I had a flow going, and for the next 50 miles, in some ‘twilight zone’ happening, all of my aches, pains and fatigue (besides some intense soreness in my right foot) disappeared completely. I mean completely went away. Who knows how fast I was really riding, but I felt like I was riding as well as I have in my entire life. I swear it was a magical moment. The only time going north along the beautiful Pacific I lost the Cheshire grin on my face was when a buggy passed me pegged without nary a warning. I had no idea he was behind me and a huge rock popped up behind a bush on a high speed speed straight. I rapidly adjusted a foot to the left to avoid the rock, and the buggy passed me HAULING at the same time. If I had to jog to the left two feet instead of one there would have been a collision. Besides that moment the rest was amazing and it was here that the I distinctly heard the voice in my head say “I got this…” Up until that point finishing was still a mysterious, foggy thing that even in the dead of the night I was not sure I’d see. There were a million things that could happen so I hadn’t ever been sure. At this point I was sure. I knew I had the stamina and confidence to see it out for the next 200 miles, no matter how hard the terrain became. It was a fantastic feeling.

I stopped at BP#14 to grab my goodie bag Frog had dropped off with them a day earlier. I also shed my jacket and had them help me stuff it between my Camelbak and fanny pack. It occurred to me that the heavy jacket sitting on top of the fanny pack might block the signal from my SPOT tucked in the top of the fanny pack though I didn’t have another place to tuck the jacket so I pushed the thought away.

Near the ocean the course was wonderful with roads cutting in and away from the water and some excellent, technical hill climbs squeezed in between. Of course the locals had stacked rocks to send us towards the most difficult parts of the climb. Fortunately I made it through without any issues.

When we finally turned east from the water I said goodbye to the Pacific and blasted on the dirt roads over the mountains. With the bike still running amazingly I popped onto the last speed control section before the end of the race through Santo Tomas.

This pavement section was an eye opener. The rest of the pavement in the race was two lane, open and easy. This section was an active twisty mountain road with construction areas. The traffic was stacked behind semi-trucks and I was passing wherever I could. I even passed through the construction zone dirt while the workers were cheering me on (I figured when I got to the end they’d be pissed!) Hands were waving out the windows as I passed. It was a cool experience, but it kept going through my head that I was on the race course and passing on the double yellow to get around the every-day traffic. Nothing even remotely close to that would happen in the US.

I rolled off the pavement into a cloudy BP#15 at RM 619. I grabbed my care package, downed some food, took a leak behind the tent (sorry some children for the scare) made some small talk with the #275 crew who I had been swapping with for the past 24 hours. They’d had some mechanical issues but were intent on getting the race finished. They were swapping riders at this pit.

As a lot of people know, the mountains on the way over to Ojos Negros are steep and silty. Going through there after the trucks means the climbs are pretty challenging and crazy loose. More than once I struggled to get traction and barely made it up the hill. The silt was past the footpegs in many places and brutal to find traction. I stayed on the pegs and tried to keep my weight over the bars in case the rear caught some sudden traction and I wouldn’t loop out. The funny thing was the only thing that kept going through my head was how in the world did the class 11 VW Bugs make these hill climbs. I could not imagine how they did it. I’ve looked but have not seen any videos of them in the climbs. I’m sure it would be an education in momentum to see how they do it.

After the silt, the next 30 miles or so into Ojos was fast, sweeping, rocky two-track. The terrain was super fun and I was so jazzed to be getting close to the pit with my crew. I was not sure exactly how far out I was until I saw the BP sign since my GPS had run out of battery power 10 miles prior.

There were a ton of people at Ojos and finally I spotted the van. The crew was sitting down and certainly not expecting me. Frog jumped up and asked his regular routine of questions and then said that the spot was not updating. He pulled it from my pack, turned it off/on and stuffed it back in. I ate an apple, dumped the GPS with the crew, got some body go juice and headed for the finish. When Dumbgirl told me she’d see me at the finish line, I couldn’t believe it, I was 45 miles from the end of the Baja 1000.


Waiting at Ojos early in the AM



Another view



Frog wondering where the hell I've gone.



Dumbgirl getting serenaded



Buggies coming through



Notice the 'Baja Mod' hair-do I'm sporting. Looks like I just rolled out of bed.




Frogger working his magic on my goggles while I eat the forbidden fruit.



Heading on in...







BP#16 Ojos Negros


Time in: 10:15
Time Out: 10:25
Avg Speed: 24.4



Dumbgirl notes: "Bastard is still in a good mood!" Ha ha...how could I not be, I was 35 miles from the end of the Baja 1000!
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Old 01-08-2012, 03:49 PM   #343
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Matt is AWESOME...when you have the Frog in the pit he takes control... you had the right crew chief behind you!
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Old 01-30-2012, 09:11 PM   #344
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Homestretch

Whew...now that the ghost of Dakar has died down I can get back to winding down this story. I'm not sure it's even relevant anymore after the Nedscapade, but desire to finish the story like I finished the year of racing, here it goes.

After pounding down the apple and losing some weight with the battery-dead GPS I motored away towards Ensenada thoroughly enjoying the sandy soil near Ojos. I passed the big water and mud holes and soon was blasting along the ridgelines. I'd missed most of this view on the way up from the mist and likely my tunnel vision, but now I was able to enjoy the ride and the views. The view of the ridgeline trails seemed to go on all of the way to the ocean. The drop down into Ensenada was easy to perceive.

At one point the 600 truck that I'd passed off of the side of the mountain road back in Trinidad passed me back. I wasn't surprised to see a truck go by, but when I realized it was the 600 truck I blanked for a second as I tried to figure out how he made it back onto the race course. At that exact moment the course turned sharp to the left and dropped off a couple of feet. I blipped the throttle, but the landing had a covering of silt and the front tire buried. I chest bumped the bars but didn't fall over. I cursed myself a bit for losing my concentration and likely being a little too far over the bars since I was dreaming about the truck. It had been a while since I'd actually crashed so this was a bit of a wake up. I shook my head a little and told myself to stay focused until the end...I was so close (cue foreboding music here).

I noticed the ridgeline roads had gotten very slippery in 24+ hours since I'd last been through. The dry weather and hundreds of vehicles had packed the surface down hard, but more importantly, the trucks created a fine layer of dust on the packed surface. I noticed in more than one corner the back tire would slide on accel and the front tucked in multiple times.

I came up over a ridge and began accelerating down the left side of the road. Up ahead I could see the road continued straight so I rolled on the throttle...4th gear came pretty fast. Suddenly I saw a small rain rut beginning in the middle of the road and increasing in size and running ahead of me off of the left side of the road. The rut got bigger very quickly so I had no clean line to get across to the right. The road faded off so I was not able to see the end of the rut but I hoped it cut more sideways as it got closer to the edge. You've all been in this situation...in the slightest percentage of a moment you need to decide, brake and pound through it or gas it and hope to make it across.

I's let of the gas for just a moment until I saw for sure the rut went to the left but was very parallel to the line of the road. I grabbed the throttle, cleared with the front but the rear caught and slid to the left. I pirouetted in sort of a slow motion 180 and then came off the bike backwards going down the road. In a weird moment of life going slowly I totally recall thinking, "keep your head from the road...you don't want to damage your helmet!" What a silly thing to go through your mind while you were crashing.

I hit the ground on my left arm and back and heard "CRUNCH!" Immediately I knew what had happened. My LED backpack light had exploded and I feared the Sat phone in my pack was squashed beyond identification. My ambiguous Sat phone contract popped in my head and I was irritated I was on the ground 20 miles from the finish. I checked my body and bike though, and everything seemed to be mostly in order, so I dusted myself off, swept of the parts of my LED light and motored back down the road. Bars/forks were a little tweaked, but everything was still operational. Onward!
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Old 01-30-2012, 10:36 PM   #345
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We're still here; of course we want to hear the whole thing, so thanks!
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