The race is over. I have had several days to reflect on the race. Immediately after the race, Kim asked if I would do it again. I said no. The fear of the Trophy Trucks was still in me. As the days wear on, my resolve to never compete in the Baja is starting to wear off. The Baja is an addiction. Once you have been and experienced it, it can be very difficult to shake off.
We had a good plan, we were reasonably well prepared, and we executed the race fairly close to our plan, (except for the bit about falling over). We had the right people riding the right sections. I was not the worst rider on the course, but I was far from the best. If I ride again, I would like to have many many more hours of time on a bike. I was going to say seat time, but I think Dan would suggest otherwise.
I will be forever marked by the Baja. In Disneyland a helicopter flew low overhead. My instinctive reaction was my heart sped up, and I looked over my shoulder for the oncoming Trophy Truck. The first truck that passed me was the race winner - Larry Ragland. I had met Larry the year before, and he is a no nonsense guy to say the least. People on the race course started pointing behind me off in the distance. I looked back on saw a helicoptor over checkpoint four. Talk about motivation. I was coming into a small canyon with some narrow sections. I needed to get through that before the truck caught me. I was moving, looking back over my shoulder with my heart pounding. I rode for about 3 or 4 minutes before the truck caught me. I found a pullout, and stopped the bike a few seconds before the truck caught me. As he went by, Larry waved his finger at me, warning me not to try to get out in front of him. Even having seen a trophy truck in action, I was not prepared for the fury when experienced at close range. He came out of the corner at the bottom of the gully moving very fast, probably 100 km/hr, sideways, with the truck pointed at me. I don't think he ever lifted off the throtttle, but he straightened the truck, passed me with about a foot to spare, and the back end swung towards me as he accelerated up the hill. I was engulfed in a huge cloud of dust, from which softball and larger sized rocks were being thrown at me, at about 150 km/hr. The acceleraction rate of the truck was incredible. As the first rock passed by my head, I put my head down and hoped that my helmet was enough to protect me. The sweet smell of high octance gas hung in the air as the dust slowly settled. I was shaking and it took a few seconds before I got back on the bike and moved onto the course. I was passed by 6 other trophy trucks along the course. All of them were similar. Each time it was terrifying.
The Weatherman calls out race numbers as people clear the check points. He calls them in batches of 5. I was listening to him prior to getting on the bike. He called 4 trophy trucks and one bike through checkpoint one. His comment was, "I bet that is one scared motorcyclist". After my section on the beach I know what he meant.
I had a great time. It was an inforgettable experience that will only get bigger with the more beer I drink. Don't be surprised to hear me tell stories in the Hook and Ladder about how I duelled it out with Steve Hengeveld for 500 miles, losing out only when I crashed at high speed while being passed by a trophy truck. In a few years from now, I will have been riding with a broken arm, not just a sprained thumb.
Some additional pictures and stories
Our last pre-run day we rode from Ensenada to Ojos Negros on the highway. We were going to refuel at the Pemex on the highway. We got there, but they had run out of gas. No worries, there is an entrepreneur who sells milk jugs of gas on the road side, in Ojos. We rode there, but he was sold out. Finally he communicated to Brent that in another 3 blocks was someone else who sold gas. We stopped and got gas here, while this little girl chatted non stop to us about "motos". I got very little of what she said but she was sure happy.
Then we stopped to visit Ramona. She lives about 10 km from Rancho El Rayo (RM100 (RaceMile100)). There is a small community of 4 or 5 small houses, with an open well. She sold Premium gas for $5.00 per milk jug. We had a coke from a freezer in her yard, that some how had ice in it. Ramona has an open well and a sat phone. This is Ramona's husband. They were pouring Tecate from a quart bottle into cans, and having a great time, blitzed in the afternoon.
Less than 50% of the entries finished the race. I spent many hours at RM320, watching people that started ahead of us, fight their way through the fog and dust. We were doing well compared to them. RaceDog came by long after I was showered and fed, however he was still riding, something I was not.
This is a picture from Off-Road.com to prove that RaceDog really exists. He has been following our blog and posting comments from time to time.
Here is a link to some race wrap up.Off-Road.com
Things I have learned in Baja;
If you get all 4 wheels off the ground in the GMC truck, it takes a long time for the CD player to reboot on landing
3 guys living in a truck can really make it smell bad.
You don't have to stop at stop signs.
Everything is negotiable.
If you spend less than $600 at a ______ bar, you probably didn't have a good time.
Ride it like you rented it....with the insurance
There is no I in team, but there is in Bad Attitude
If it is upside down and burning, you were probably driving too fast.
If your motorbike is wrecked, a Canadian was probably riding it.
Final Cost for the Baja;
New Honda XR650R - $7,700
Helmet, pads and other gear - $2,200
Truck to haul the gear to Mexico - $18,000
Gas and expenses for a year of practice - $6,000
Trip to Mexico to Race the Baja - $2,500
Having your bike pushed through checkpoint 4 by a group of Mexican Nationals, while race photographers capture the event to be brought up by your friends for the rest of your life - PRICELESS
Thanks for following our blog. It sort of mushroomed way beyond my expectations. On Race day we had over 300 hits. The frequency of posts will decrease now. I have posted a bunch more pictures on the photo album. I will try to update the descriptions once I get home. We are at Dan's right now recuperating.
I have some pictures from Disneyland for later, and then things will probably slow down until we start training for the Outdoorsman Challenge - "12 guys, 2 days, 36 cases of beer"