Well got back the other day from the 39th annual Tecate Baja 1000. We did a four man team on a rented bike with no pre running outside of a 60 mile section we each did to run the bike in and check its set up. We entered sportsman class and were drawn 219x.
The team was Harveymushman, Jumby, Paddy White from Bellingham and myself. Our we had a driver, Maurey and Harveys son came along to check out the chaos.
The Bike was a 07 XR650R with full Baja prep done by Chris Haines. The bike was awesome. A HRC cam combined with a custom Pro Circuit megaphone exhaust gave a solid mid range with tons of grunt. The suspension was done by Race Tech with Race Tech triple clamps and Scotts steering stabilizer. A Clarke 4.2 gallon tank gave 70 mile range at race pace with IMS dry break filler for fast pit stops. A scott disc fin kept the rocks off the rear disc and moose inner tubes on the front kept us from getting flats. The lights were done by Baja Designs with a 100watt halogen for the day light and the night set up was two 8 inch lights, one 100 watt halogen and the other was a 100w HID. The gearing was 15 47 with Renthal sprockets and DID chain. We were given a complete front wheel and two complete rear wheels for spares and fast wheel changes though only used one front tire and two rears. No complaints except for Jumby. He had an adventure maybe he will share.
We did Honda Pits and that was good though pricey for gas and possibly mechanical work, depending on the pit you were in. We did get some good assistance though.
With one chase vehicle and no pre running we were limited to rider changes at points that we could access without affecting our ability to make the next rider change. That meant rider changes at Race mile 333, 540 and 749 which were at Honda pit #6, #10 and #14. I had the second ride from 333- 540.
Paddy who started at 7:15ish and ran until 2:36 was whooped from his section. He rode hard and probably got us up into the top twenty from starting at 83rd off the line. We did a rear wheel and filter change and I got on the bike at 2:47pm.
It took a wee bit to warm up and get into it but shortly after starting I got into some big sand whoops that gobbled the front tire and I was struggling until I got out and ran on single track weaving in and out of the cactus for a few miles. I hit the first paved section after a bit and had 25 miles of 60mph speed limit riding ahead of me. This was a bummer as I had a short section and it finished with another 22 miles or so of pavement.
Once through checkpoint 5 in Bay of LA at 377 I was onto some long graded gravel roads for a while. This was fun and quite like blasting up the Elaho river. You had to choose between the left or right tire rut as the center and sides were loose gravel. A lot of rocks were in the tire ruts which the pre running trucks and buggies had exposed keeping it real while pegged in sixth.
Dusk was difficult light as my goggles were getting dust inside, the light was dim and the lights were not yet penetrating the night. The terrain had changed and I backed off a bit as I was adjusting to the road and I got passed by a guy to my left and when he was 20m in front, a deer ran out and almost right into buddy's line, stopped dead in his tracks right in front of me then turned and darted before I passed. I was probably doing 50mph at this time and was hoping that was the last of any animals for me. I did have some rabbits and desert mouse playing dodge the bike but I was not too concerned about being taken down by them.
Once it was fully dark the lights were great. It was hard to outrun them and I got into a good groove. The course kept changing but never got to technical. I had some rocky sections with some steep uphills and descents that dropped me down to second gear going over the mountains and back towards the interior but this was followed by some nice 4th-6th gear sandy whoop roads with a bit of silt for good measure until I joined highway #1 at RM512.
I had a good run with locals partying around bone fires for about five miles around Vizcino just before I hit the pavement again. It was a blast with tunnel vision from the lights, people all about cheering you on and keeping you on course at turns. During this I was chasing down another bike until I got him in the silt where he went down as I passed and I almost clipped him as he nerfed it into the side of a hidden rut. This kept me from thinking to much about the eminent trophy trucks and class one buggies that would be fast approaching.
The pavement was a boring finish to a good ride and I got to Honda pit 10 at 7:15 at race mile 540. When we gassed it up, Paddy noticed gas was leaking from the tank. We lost 45 minutes patching up the tank with epoxy before John got the bike.
Jumby took off at 8:00pm and we headed down the highway for a four hour drive to wait at Honda pit 14 for the next rider change. Hnaging at pit 14 was an experience as the trophy truck and buggies started to rip through. What a roit listening to 800hp in the desert night and watching them blast through with 20 HID's turning the night into day in front of them. At least I did not have them on my tail.
I had a blast and we were doing well considering we had no pre running under us. Going WFO in the desert is a gas and I would love to do it again. I have used up all my brownie points at this time and may have to wait a year or two or find some way to accelerate a toddlers growth or hit some brownie point jack pot but I would love to have a proper go with pre running and dialed rider changes but until next time I can only continue training by ripping it up in the dirt.
I will let Jumby and Harveymushman tell their stories of Baja adventure.