During my trek to follow the Baja 1000, I saw Brian briefly at Tortuga Road. He was waiting for the bike to arrive. Unfortunately I had to dash off to try and catch up to the lead bikes and only got to say a quick howdy to him. Even though it was already near dark, his Baja adventure was just beginning.
The Baja 1000 is one of the biggest off road races in the world. If you ever get the privilege to participate in the event jump at that opportunity. A couple of my friends, Bobby B., and Arik wanted redemption from their performance from the year past.
They assembled a team of friends from the Santa Cruz Mountains. Going to Baja is not about yourself it is a team effort not just riders, but also your pit crews, and chase drivers. We had a wily bunch with riders Arik Swan, Bobby B, Trevor Danka, and Myself. Are chase crew was Joel P., Eric Montanella, Kyle (no mickey mouse) Krause, and Pancho Villa. I don’t know Pancho’s name as if you said his original name you had to take a shot of tequila. Without these guys there was no way to get it done.
Joel was my chase driver. We left a few days behind the rest of the crew as I was trying to make some cash for this adventure. When we arrived in Ensenada at the Flamingo Hotel there was a note telling us the crew was down in San Felipe. We had a bunch of prerunning to do so this was going to work out.
Originally, I was going to start, but every thing changed as I started figuring out how large of a scale everything was. I preran mile 40 through 150 into San Felipe. Loaded up the bike and started heading south down Hwy 1 threw Coco’s corner back out to Hwy 3. This Hwy was half pavement and half dirt. With there being no road signs basically Joel and I where just driving through the desert on some unknown road in the middle of the night with soft ball size rocks for like four hours, good for the van. Finally we hit the other end. Time to pull out the swags for a night under the stars.
The next morning we started heading south down the highway to ride my next section and find the pit locations. This is when reality hit. First, the highway is super dangerous and the Baja peninsula is huge. We didn’t even get halfway to where we needed to be, before having to turn around to drive back up to Ensenada. Abort mission, time to rethink the logistics.
Joel and I got back to the Flamingo and the rest of the crew was waiting for the report. Time to get your game faces on guys this is real. Not just for the riders, but also the chase drivers. They are on the road in the middle of the night and the roads are crazy dangerous. We spent the next couple days finalizing our new logistics and prepping the motorcycle.
The new plan is Swan the first 80 miles, Trevor 80-150, Swan back on at 150 down to 350. Bobby 350-550, Brian 550-850, then Bobby again 850-950, Trevor 950 -1050, and finally Brian again 1050-1126 to the finish.
Baja is such a unique race. I was not starting until mile 550, it will be dark and the race will already have been going on for 10 hours or so. It was a seven hour drive to mile marker 550. So Joel and I headed out a day early. 7x was ready to start racing. Swan starting the race. Being 7x he was right in the middle of all the action. A nice 30 second burn out and he was off. The first 80 miles is through towns and, some nice two track roads. It gets pretty rough with it being the trails close to town. Trevor was next to get on the bike. The next 80 miles it also some nice two track road through the mountains.
Swan got back on the bike in San Felipe this next section is just brutal solid whoops for like 100 miles with soft ball size rocks doing 90 mph. Swan ended up getting a flat tire leaving Coco’s corner and ended up riding twenty miles on a flat tire. When he showed up at the pit he was on the rim with no rear fender. When the tire shredded it tore the back of the bike all up. Also the fork cap ended up coming loose loosing all the air in the forks.
Thank goodness for our pit crew and an extra bike at the pit stop. They tore down the extra bike and got 7x back on the trail. Bob took over from there and headed out to the Bay of L.A then back to Ignacio. Bob started in the daylight and rode into the sunset. His section was relatively fast and open.
I then got on the bike and headed out into the night. The first 50 miles was all silt beds witch was quite interesting at night. I would be going along at about fifty or sixty and all of a sudden “poof” big all silt bed, crazy. I then got some gas in Ignacio and headed out for a 250 mile section. It shortly went bad for me from there.
I had a long pavement section, then a left turn off into the desert. Well, I missed the left turn and continued down the pavement until it turned to dirt. I did not see any markers but the course is mark so poorly, I figured I would continue to the first intersection then make my decision. I realized I was off course so I started heading back and then it happened. The bike sputtered to a stop.
Damn, out of gas! At this point, I could see the course. At least see the lights and hear the engines. No problem I thought, I will push it back to the course. Yeah right! It was like a desert mirage. I pushed for eight hours!! I pushed for four hours straight until I ran out of water and my legs started to cramp. I then would proceed as far as I could then curl up and rest, get cold and push some more. It was a long night to say the least.
This all started around 9:30 at night and lasted until 5:30 in the morning, when a Mexican came driving by. He had no gas but was in a truck. We threw the bike into the back and headed for the course. We came across a spectator in a 4 runner. He pulled out the trusty Mexican credit card. A 3 foot long rubber hose, and siphoned some gas into the bike. Boom, six in the morning and I am ready to go again. I was pumped, but still had 200 miles to ride.
This section to Loreto was rocky, desolate and fast. The end of the section was through some nice canyons with some good river crossings. I was sure glad to see the crew that next day, as I am sure they were to see me. We did some small maintenance on the bike at the pit. Off Bobby went.
I jumped in the van and headed to my next spot on the bike. Hey its Baja, got to keep on going, it’s not over till you hour out. Bobby’s next section was little slower back through the mountains out to the coast through some sandy whoops. Trevor got back on the bike at the 950 mile marker and rode it too me at 1050. His section was a lot of whoops and high speed roads along the coast line.
I then got on the bike to take her to the finish. This last 60 miles was awesome. It was along the coast with some real nice fast roads. I averaged 54 mph the last 60 miles. I was flying. It was nice coming into La Paz knowing we had finally made it to the finish after 34 hours.
Well we finished in the same fashion that we started, with a big smoky burn out. I had the crowd going wild, Jersey style fist pumping in the air. The boys showed up and we all lit up our stogies. We were so tired the party was out the window, time for some rest. The hardest part was not the race or pushing for eight hours, the hardest part was after all that racing, loading up and driving for three days to get back home. Right after the race, it was like a terrible case of jet leg.
I will say after my twenty years of racing everything from ISDE, GNCC, Hare Scrambles, Enduros, Hare & Hounds, there is nothing quite like Mexico. Baja has it’s special place in your heart. If you have been and experienced it, you know what I’m talking about. Special thanks for the crew for making this happen and Cycle Nano for their support to make this happen for me. Baja Baby!!!!