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· Ya, whatever.
669 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Baja 1000 experience, Jumby's post #9, Harveys' #13 and Paddys #15

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.

· New chain...Soo smooth...
930 Posts
Thanks for the update - a great read!

After watching Dust to Glory about a gazillion times, I have thought about the possiblity of doing a Baja style off-road race at some point, though I don't really have any connections, or experience with the off-road stuff. Looks like a hoot!

How long did you you have to save/plan for the trip? This is not your first trip down to Tecate I am assuming?

· Registered
2,674 Posts
"No complaints except for Jumby. He had an adventure maybe he will share."

good ole john, trust him to entertain im sure.after pulling his ass outa that ditch at nickleminds nothing suprises me. cool stuff

· Ya, whatever.
669 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
"No complaints except for Jumby. He had an adventure maybe he will share."

good ole john, trust him to entertain im sure.after pulling his ass outa that ditch at nickleminds nothing suprises me. cool stuff
By that I meant, we had no complaints with the bike, except Jumby who suffered some mechanical issues on his ride that kept him from ripping it up. He can tell you what it is like hydroplaning onto a tidal flat at 65mph though.

· Ya, whatever.
669 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
..How long did you you have to save/plan for the trip? This is not your first trip down to Tecate I am assuming?
We made a plan to go after seeing dust to glory a year ago. We did it as a test run to feel it out as we did not go in full bore expecting to be at our best. That would require much more planning, time and money. We do know now how you would want to do it to do your best and I want to give it another shot for sure.

We did no prerunning. showed up a few days before the start with a rental bike in hand. We did Honda Pits and rented a van out of San Diego. It cost each of us 5k cnd. for the bike rental, Honda pit service, hotel rooms, race fee and Score membership split between the four of us. We did have gas and food on top of that plus whatever personal gear we had to pick up and all the prep work prior to going. For me was selling a street bike and getting a motocrosser to train for it.

Chris Haines gave us a bunch of information the day before the race about where we should do rider changes and what each section was like which was a help but still nothing can replace pre running. That being said we did well for first timers going in blind outside of the mechanical issues. Just finishing is a good start.

· Registered
809 Posts
The Baja experience:

This is a brief summery of one of my most adventuress nights in my life.

So far things were going well, we got the bike from Paddy at race mile 330,, or around there, he did a good job considering the dust, the terrain, and the distance, understand that 330 miles would be like leaving Vancouver and trail ridding,,,at speed, all the way to Portland with 100 other guys kicking up dust the whole way, and sections of woops, some 30 miles long, not an easy job.

Tom took over for his leg, we headed out in the chase truck hoping we would meet up with him at Honda pit #5, 10-15 miles north of San Ignacio. While in the chase truck, Devlon ( Jayson's son) and my self wrestled with the old XCountry desert tire, replacing it with a new one that would be needed for the last leg. It's no fun changing a tire in the back of a Van while traveling down the roads of Mexico, all I can say is,, it was a BITCH! We arrived at the Honda pit#5 15 minutes before Tom arrived. I got suited up and ready for my section, at this point it was around 7:00pm, and getting cold, I was also wondering how far the Trophy Trucks would be behind me, it's not to comforting knowing there is a 800hp truck close behind you at night, and wanting to pass on a very narrow road. As I was setting up my helmet light, I was informed of the Gas tank leak. Well what do you do,, get it fixed and hope it holds, Jayson and the Honda guys pulled the tank and used epoxy to try and stop the leak, it was now a very slow drip as apposed to a fast drip, the up side was the leak was halfway down the tank, so at least it would stop once it was half empty, haha "great there goes some gas mileage". After 45 minute delay I was off, heading down Highway#1 for what I thought would be 37 miles, haha, yea ok,, it was 10-15 miles but I miss read the course map and ended up 30 miles to far, I headed back and refilled at the gas station in San Ignacio,, MY FUCK UP!

At this point things weren't too bad, I knew I could make up for lost time by really hauling ass, which I did, it was a little scary to say the least, but the adrenalin was pumping and I was really enjoying ridding fast at night . I am not sure how many people have gone really fast down a sand covered road they have never been on before, at night, not knowing what lies over every rise, and around every corner, the whole time thinking, there are trophy trucks doing 235+ KPH,, not far behind. The one little hiden dangers throughout the race are baby head size rocks lying just under the sand waiting to kick you off your bike, but let me tell ya,,, with all those little hazards it was still a BUZZ!!!!!! Just the day before our team had a meeting with Chris Haines, (he's the guy we leased the bike from) because none of us had pre ridden any of the course, he went over with all of us what to expect in each of our section. Well it seemed mine had some very nasty corners that I had to really be careful on, and as he put it "if you miss these corners you will die" NICE, I will keep that in mind, haha thanks. Well, getting all caught up in the moment tear assing through the desert I came upon a very sharp corner that dropped right down, and that's when I remembered those words " IF MISS THESE CORNERS YOU WILL DIE" so yep, I kicked it down to a pace that was going to get me home,, good thing too, because those 3 corners were NASTY cliffs,,, and yep if I missed them, it would have been all over.

My next section was the tidal flats, not a very technical section, but a little tricky, it would have been easy to get stuck in the quicksand like terrain, I know because the section was littered with 4 wheelers and Buggies, haha poor guys. Through out the race there are pockets of locals camped out all over the 1000 miles of the course, for the most part they are there just to see the bikes, trucks, and buggy's, but in a few locations they are there to see the carnage. Well this was one of those sections. I was going pretty fast through some of the beach section, comming out of some woops, I saw a bunch of Locals,, so I thought I would give them a fast show, haha, I got on the gas hard ,, well good thing,, I hit this water, it was like a little lake about foot deep hiding this Mexican quick sand, well I hit it soo fast, I hydroplaned right across the whole thing, passing downed riders, stuck buggies, I almost crashed, but didn't, I was very lucky, the only time real speed actually saved me, haha.The section following the tidal flats were a mix of woops, and deep sand, it went on like that for miles,, sand section whoop section, then a short fast section, this is where the bike started cutting out. Everytime I would hit the woops the bike would die, sputtering, misfiring, it went on like this till finally I had to stop and try to find out what was happening, I pulled the float bowl off but found nothing wrong, I checked the ignition, the plug lead, then I thought, maybe the gas leak was causing it, but I found nothing. I didn't have the tools or time to go any further, it was now around midnight and I had to get going. I just rode it the way it was, but man that sucked, I couldn't keep the front tire light enough through the sand and it was very tiring. By this point the clutch was now totally gone, haha great another problem,, welcome to the BAJA!!!! I knew I couldn't hand over the bike to Jayson running like this, there is no way he could ride a technical section with no clutch and the bike misfiring like an old CZ. I just hoped that the Honda pit service could help.I limped in to Honda pit #7 where they were all over my bike like an Indy team, cool, that was nice to see, they handed me water food and anything else I needed. In an hour I had a new clutch and they found my ignition problem, it was a short in the kill switch causing the bike to shut off in the rough sections. Off again full tank, new clutch and a smooth running motor. From that point on it was rocky river bed with the occasion fast section, 80 miles of ridding. Along the way I saw riders down, broken and some, just plain beat tired.

I arrived at race check #7 but found no crew,,my team was MIA, haha, I waited,, and waited, and waited,, well after 3hours sleep was becoming a priority,,, but as soon as I got snoozing, I herd a familiar voice, haha well a miss communication between us has me at the wrong check point. No big deal, I rode 30 miles to hand off the bike to Jayson,, and he took it home form there. I will let him fill you in on his adventures. Till next year,,, (Oh there will be a next year) have fun and ride fast

· MoToSucCubUS
1,786 Posts
awesome tale, thanks for writing it up! since i discovered Dust to Glory i've watched it over and over and would really love to road trip and check out the rally maybe next year.

i figured having those buggies and trophy trucks breathing down your neck would be pretty nerve wracking, yet exciting when they do.

so cool.

My long winded version...

Baja 1000 2006 – What a great ride
November 26 2006

We arrived in San Diego to pick up the very expensive leased bike from Chris Haines. Immediately the drooling started as the XR was beautifully turned out and clearly looked like it was capable of anything we could throw at it. When we got a look at the lighting system for the first time, there was a collective mumbling sound that only grown men in awe of super natural toys can make…as Paddy said, “I got a woody just looking at those big headlights”. Not sure if he was talking about the lights or Chris’s wife Karen. Super slick set up, Chris has something like 9 AMA mechanic of the year awards and he was won Baja 12 times in his class! I guess he knows what he’s doing.

We were psyched, we were finally here, with a great bike, good friends and a big adventure ahead of us. When we got to the gong show of Ensenada it was buzzing with excitement and after several hours getting our tourist visas we decided to go for a night ride and get a look at the course and the bike for the first time. As we passed through the lobby of the hotel a large group of large men said, “Oh you must be bikers”..At first we thought how could they tell? But the giveaway was that we didn’t all weigh in at 250+ lbs each…most of the people driving the trucks, buggies and such are HUGE! Their crews are HUGE. They must have 200lbs of food for each chase truck given the size of these guys. We just smiled smugly like we were hardasses. The fact is, that the bikes were the founding equipment for this race and they still set the fastest overall times, so they have big respect and kudos from the other teams.

The scene on tech day was pretty wild…to see 800 hp trucks and buggies, hardly street legal cruising the strip, burning out down the city streets is something you don’t usually see everyday. For the locals this is obviously a big deal since they are out by the thousands for beers and partying. We cruised thru tech which was way easier than getting thru a tech inspection at a track day. They checked our helmets, put a seal on our bike to make sure the same machine starts and finishes…and that was it. We took it pretty easy that night getting ready for the big day.

So up at 3 am to hop in the chase vehicle and get ahead of Paddy. We wished him well as he had a very tough day ahead of him. Up until this point we didn’t have much beta from any other competitors which made the whole thing more of an adventure. Chris’s team had done a lot of prerunning and his team was comprised of some famous names like Jack Johnson who are legends in the race. Chris had good advice about each stage but the prime message was..”go slow, with no prerunning…you just want to finish.” He told us this was the hardest Baja course in a long time…something we had heard several times from other long time competitors.

We headed down the highway such as it is to rendezvous with Paddy at the end of his long ride at course mile 328. Paddy did an amazing job bringing it in and we were told we were in 3rd place at that point in our category. As he got off the bike he said “that is the most dangerous, stupidest and hardest thing I have ever done!”. Caught up in the moment of it all I guess…then he proceeded to dry heave on his knees. I am standing there thinking…here is a guy who is a more skilled rider than me by a ton…(he has rooms full of trophies), he trained with the US Cycling team and he is a bachelor that gets out to ride constantly!!! Bloody hell this could be harder than I thought.

No Hope

Tom jumped on and did his section with his normal perfect efficiency. I think when Tom was getting on the bike it is the first time I have EVER heard him sound nervous. He is usually so meticulously prepared and head “strong’ he never rattles. You should see him ice climb…super calm and smooth. Tom finished up no problems but too much road and not enough rough for his liking. Cracked tank…1 hour repair, still leaking and then Jumby hops on and had his epic. So by this point we had gone ahead in the chase van to get in position. Knowing I was riding last, I was trying to rest up as much as I could after bouncing down the highway in the back of a van for 18 hours. Also the stress of the last few days was pretty thick so I was just hoping I get my chance to go.

We made it into Honda Pit 14 at mile 749 north Loreto and began to wait …and wait…and wait. We expected Jumby to be there around 1 am so I suited up. It was really cool watching the trophy trucks and buggies go roaring through the pit in the dark. You could hear them before you could see them and then there was a thundering wail that only an angry 800hp V8 motor can make. The trucks and buggies screaming by was only adding to the anticipation of the night ahead. I kept thinking about how I was going to dodge those boogiemen all night. Other riders coming through the pits would just shake their head when you asked them how the trucks were.

My uncertainty continued to grow the later evening went, no Jumby. Two o’clock, 3…4…where the hell was he. With each hour passing, this disappointment meant more and more of the 4 wheeled menaces were catching up. I would end up right in the thick of them. I also started to think bad thoughts about Jumby…had he crashed and buggered the bike, has he been hurt or had he gotten lost? “Perfect” I thought, I am the last rider and I won’t even get a chance to ride…the hours ticked by as the rest of the team went on a search for Jumby. My mood getting more and more sour. Riders came and went…tired, beat, broken…but at least they were still in the race and it looked like it was all over for us…for me. What a drag.

It was a beautiful sunrise but still no Jumby and I continued to stew in my own disappointment. Left wondering what could have been…I was talking to another rider waiting for his hand off. He had pre-ridden this section three times. He gave me lots of beta which was mostly just scaring me as he told me about the 40 or so water crossings that were super deep, the brutal silt beds 30 kms long and the final “steps” down from the mini summit near the end. What could have been.

Then I see Paddy walking up the road, telling me to get ready…they had found Jumby and he was on his way in. 2nd chance! Yeehaw…

By now it was light so at least I didn’t have to worry about the night time challenges. The first 70 miles or so was a real mix of either rocks, water or silt. The pre-ride advice on the water crossings for some reason had me spooked…I kept imagining me sitting on the side of the road with a drowned bike.. but the ride was beautiful. It started in a really cool wash sandy and rocky, that crossed back and forth across the river as it went along the valley bottom. Locals were everywhere at every small farm or village. The road then climbed through the mountains, through rocky technical terrain finally smoothing out at about 30 miles into the ride. Then it was like riding at home, fast smooth gravel road winding in and out of canyons as it climbed over the mountains snaking towards the west coast.

Monsters in the dust

The water crossings so far were rough but never more than a couple of feet deep. I tried to stay relaxed and smooth …my mantra repeating “smooth is fast, smooth is fast”. I had a long way to go with no idea what was ahead but the riding was superb and I was laughing in my helmet. Up to this point…no boogiemen. I passed several riders drowned in the water and a couple of buggies busted on the side of the road. . . then I hit the first silt beds. It was getting smoking hot at this point with no wind so the silt dust didn’t dissipate. The beds kept coming and I began to figure out the technique…weight back, good speed and keep the gas on. You have to really concentrate. Try to stay in the middle or find a way around if you can…but you can’t hit them too hard or you can taco a rim on the big rocks deep under the silt. Too fast and you can hydroplane like water and crash. But the beds just kept on coming…and it was so hot. I stalled it a couple of times in some deep ruts. Silt over the front wheel. First trophy truck encounter….he had a loud siren so he let me know he was behind me…I put my hand up to let him know I knew he was there and pulled over where I could. He blew by in a dust cloud that was so thick I couldn’t see for the next full mile. More silt…on and on. I would try to check behind me every now and then to see if I could see a truck but my dust cloud meant I couldn’t see anything coming up behind me. At about 15 miles into the silt I hit a bad deep section and fell over into the middle of the road. Just as I fell, right behind me out of the dust comes this truck, a Pro truck big and black. In an instant he was there and he ran right over me as I lay in the middle of the road. I could reach up and touch the bumper as I lay on my side. How he stopped in time I don’t know. I screamed like a little girl. He screamed as well. I guess he was going slower, as the dust got thicker he knew there was a vehicle he was gaining on and stopping quickly in silt is not a problem…lucky for me. He backed up so I could get up and pick up the bike. He asked if I was OK and he kept yelling, “Holy fuck, Holy fuck…are you OK? I thought I had killed you”. It was nice that he cared.

Adrenaline pumping I got back on the bike determined to not let that happen again…I kept thinking “ well that was lucky so that must be good Juju for the rest of the ride”. The Gods are on our side!
Finally I made it to checkpoint 8, Buenes Aires and the Honda pit at 855 miles…first trial over.

I asked the pit crew if they knew anything about the next section and how bad the water crossings were. “Real bad” they said. Great. The next section to Pepes was about 100 miles and it hugs along the east side of the mountains. Lots of rivers and streams which clearly had run very high with the hurricane that came thru a couple of weeks earlier. But the riding continued to be first quality, always rocky, but winding, up and down and always engaging. Still no major water crossings…some long, perhaps 100 meters wide, some deep, up to my knees while standing on the bike…but so far so good. I continued to pass drowned, stuck or broken machines and weary looking riders/drivers.

This isn’t too bad

I was at this point I was beginning to think that this “technical” riding while perhaps technical for a desert rider not used to these conditions, when compared to a day at McNutt or the normal water crossings here in the PNW….is not really too bad at all. Good thing. But the damn silt… just before checkpoint 9 at 949 miles…I had at least 20 miles of silt beds..they were endless and now it was getting really, really hot. The kind of hot that if given a choice the last thing you would want to do is to get on a dirt bike and go riding kind of hot. Here I caught up with the chase team, a little disoriented about where the pit was. Luckily Chris Haines’ crew was there and put in a new clutch. They were super helpful but down because Chris’s team was out of the race early as Jack Johnson was medivac’d to the hospital after starfishing the bike at a high speed section during the first leg. Chris was pretty bummed but he takes it as a really serious responsibility to make sure his other “teams” finish. Guess those years of being a race mechanic are always there.

New problem now is that with the delays, I was in danger of missing the pit open times. Some of the later Honda pits were going to be closing down and if that happens I am down to begging for gas along the way if I can find any. The pit folks said…”fairly smooth from here to the end…just lots of silt but you had better boogey or you won’t make the next pit in time for gas”. Not good. And so far there were very few or dangerous booby traps from the locals. Worse up north I guess...angrier locals I think. They threw rocks and sticks at Paddy.

The roads opened up on this section. High speed but with lots of surprises…these dips where the flood rivers cross..some smooth, some rough. And bad sections of really sharp bed rock. Without the mousse in the front wheel I would’ve had a dozen pinch flats and a buggered wheel at least a few times. So I just opened it up as fast as I dared go. Again my mantra…”smooth is fast”. Damn it was hot…and just as I was settling into my pace, out of nowhere a god damn trophy truck blows by me at mach 10. I am not quite pinned but showing 90+ on the speedo…as fast as I dare go…and this dick blows by me at 40 – 50 mph faster about 2 feet off my handlebar in a shower of fist sized rocks and dust. You are instantly blind and all you can do is hold on and hope you stay on the road until the dust clears. Instant heart rate spike. I have never experienced anything like it…totally crazy. I just get over that…get back to my rhythm again for another couple of miles and BRAAHHHAH!! A buggy blows by…even closer this time…what a bastard! In the dark, in the middle of nowhere this would be even more intense although at night at least you get some warning from the headlights. These guys are a total surprise because there is no way you can hear them. I spend the next 100 miles trying to look over my shoulder every 3-4 miles. Crazy.

At least now I am starting to think I have this thing licked. I am really enjoying the riding and along the ocean the roads are sandy but firm and fast. Very little traffic now too after a couple of trucks and buggies….just damn hot and dusty. The terrain turned rolling with washes at the bottom of each roll…rocky and rough, some silt but mostly sand. The track wound around and through these rolls, big cactus and bushes. I had been going about 6 hours at this point and although tired, I was feeling really good…smell the barn door and all that. Throughout the day I had to keep checking myself…because you start going faster and faster and then you remind yourself you have hundreds of miles of unknown terrain ahead and now is not the time to screw it up buy being a too aggressive. Keep the margin for error reasonable. Back off if you can’t see what is on the other side.

I made it to the rest of the Honda pits with time to spare …gas, water, a thanks and a thumbs up and you blast off again. More and more people are lining the course and as I started to tire it really helped to see so many people waving, cheering and smiling, urging me on. Very surreal as you feel all alone in your helmet out there for hours and hours and then in the strangest places there are these people cheering you on. Very cool.

Almost done

The sun was getting low in the sky with beautiful dusky glow and the long shadows of the big Aroyyo cactus stretched across the track. Dirt bike heaven…I caught another guy and we rode side by side for a mile or two, it seemed almost silly to still be “racing” at this point…the race was with yourself since the delay the night before put us out of any serious running. I picked up my pace as the road continued to be a joy, feeling bad about my dust cloud behind. I could tell I was getting closer to civilization because there were more and more people building along the course. My mantra became…”don’t crash you idiot…don’t fuck up with a silly mistake”. Then the final checkpoint 10 at the mini summit. It is here that you see the lights of La Paz and you really feel you have made it. All downhill literally into the finish. But the course had one last surprise, the steps, which are like North Shore drops 2-3 ft rock steps…on and on for probably two miles. Cool to ride, just like mountain biking as you try to keep a good pace but tiring after such a long day. Easy to crash on. Then these ended in whoops. Bloody hell, my arms and hands were now really done…blisters on both hands even with the Compeed and the duct tape…trying to go fast but not wanting to fall. More people…more and more. Cheering and yelling, fists in the air….must be close. I popped out onto the highway…more people cheering….then on the highway the last 6 miles towards town. I close in on a buggy…at first I am just cruising thinking the cops or whatever…but then he boots it so the last three miles was this crazy rally with this buggy at 100 mph down the highway. Flying by the crowds lining the road all the way in. Couldn’t help it…I got all teared up in my helmet. What a day of ups and downs. So much planning and money, and sacrifice, selfish interest from family, …more people cheering thru the finish up on the podium. Bike off. I just sat there.
I will never forget that scene or that feeling. People wanting to take your picture, your autograph, they want your gloves, your goggles…The local tourism official came up to me, shook my hand and asked me how it was. All I could tell him was,” it was great and thanks so much to the people of Baja for their support and hospitality…they really helped”. Lame perhaps, but I meant it and he seemed very pleased with that response and handed me an ice cold Tecate beer. A perfect end.

My section total run – 298. 4 miles/495.34 kms
Total running time – approx. 9 hours
Avg. running speed – approx 40 mph/60 kph
Number of teams entered = 431
Number of teams finished = 234 finished
Percent chance of not finishing = 47% DNF rate
Number of MC racers hit by trucks and DNF’d = 2
Number of spectators killed by Trophy Truck collision = 1
Number of years the Baja has been run = 39
Number of trucks sunk in river requiring emergency exit by driver and co-driver (at night) = 1
No of vehicles lost along the course picked up later – Est. 70 – 80
No of days it takes to sweep the course - 4
Robby Gordon’s trophy truck avg speed = 54 mph
Hengeveld teams’s MC avg speed = 57 mph
Number of MotoX stars to burst into flames – 1 Travis Pastrana
No. of spectators along course = +300,000
Our place = 21st of 54 in our division
Overall placement – 173rd in 33 plus hours, without mechanicals...we did real good.

Baja 2007 – Tijuana to Cabo San Lucas – 1500 miles! Sign up now!

Trophy Truck madness - http://video.google.ca/videosearch?q=baja+1000&so=0&start=20 - imagine this bearing down on you from behind...

Photo links
I have my album at Photobucket some video too.
http://s5.photobucket.com/albums/y166/harveymushman/Baja 1000 2006/

hey i checked out Dust to Glory. great movie. makes me appreciate what you guys went through even more. there must be lots of stories crazy things the fans watching do.

Paddy's travelogue - first section

EPISODE 9: “Where do I start?”

Well, it looks like I have gone from doing one episode a month, to one episode a year. The PADDY WHITE’S NOT DEAD YET series has been taken off the Kona website, but since I am being asked by everyone about my experience at the Baja 1000, I figured I’d save myself all the return calls and e-mails with another episode for you “special” people.

As far as the past year goes, I raced quite a bit of motocross and a handful of other off road races. I also did the World Masters MTB Downhill Championships again since it was only a few hours drive away this year.

Of all things, I started motorcycle road racing this past year. All I can say is that it is like being shot out from a cannon while trying to thread a needle. The amount of concentration needed when you start going speeds of that nature for the first time is incredible. The first time your knee gently kisses and glides on the asphalt as you lean the bike to the limits of the tires, you are hooked.

“Motorcycle road racing makes heroin addiction look like a mild craving for salt.”
-Peter Eagen

The finale for the year was racing in the Baja 1000.

Honestly, I don’t know where to start when asked about doing the Baja 1000 for the first time.

It all started when 4 guys watched a movie called “Dust to Glory” about the Baja 1000 and decided they wanted to do it themselves. At some point one of the original riders in their plan had to drop out, so they were looking for another rider. Friend of friend sort of thing happened and they got a hold of me to see if I would be interested.

Why not? Could be fun.

If you have not seen “Dust to Glory”, and you have any interest in what the Baja 1000 is about, you should see it. It is something of a documentary, but it is a bit over dramatized for my tastes. However, the filming is good and it paints a pretty close picture.

First interesting story of the trip was when we picked up our 12 passenger van at the San Diego airport. As I opened the side door and stepped in, an overwhelming odor pushed me right back outside.

“It’s a bit funky in here”
-From the movie ‘Snatch’

There were fresh smears of dog shit on the floor in the back area of the van and the warm sun was really bringing out the flavor. Get what you pay for I suppose. I had a good time making up songs and poetry about canine feces and rental vehicles, but my teammates were beginning to wonder about me.

We then picked up the bike from Chris Haines at his shop. I won’t say too much here, but the bike was awesome. Couldn’t have done better and anyone doing the Baja for the first time would be crazy not to get a bike from Chris.

Driving into Ensenada and getting a tourist visa is a true testimony to the lack of organization the country of Mexico wallows in. 5 hours of back and forth and back and forth between 3 different offices really makes you question whether you want to race in another country again.

“Stupidity is like hydrogen, it is all around us.”
-Frank Zappa

The scene before and after the race is like a cross between a carnival, an NFL football game, and an AMA National. Or, like one of my teammates said, “It’s like a country version of Formula 1 racing.”

It was decided amongst the group that I should be the first rider out since I had done over 30 motorcycle races in varying disciplines since April. The idea was to get as far in front of the trucks and buggies as possible. The attrition rate is high in this race and the further ahead you are, the fewer trucks and buggies are likely to pass your riders toward the middle and end of the race. That also meant that I had to do the first 333 miles of the race before handing the bike off to the second rider since that was the only place we could do a rider exchange with only one chase vehicle.

The worst part of being the first rider out is bearing the pressure of whether or not the other 3 riders get to ride at all. If I crash the bike, or am unable to get to the first rider exchange for any or whatever reason, the race is over and their chance to ride is over.

The night before/morning of the race, our chase van driver and other team members departed around 4am to ensure that they would get to the first rider exchange in plenty of time before I did.

They talk about “The other race” when you come to the Baja 1000 and they are not kidding. Chase vehicles are for the most part paralleling the off-road course on the only paved road running the length of the peninsula. Their “duties” include anything from transporting riders/drivers to assisting with repairs and parts replacement. Our driver Maurey is anything but a “reserved” driver and he was constantly being passed by these modified chase trucks that were going over 100 miles an hour on narrow winding roads at night. We nearly decapitated a cow at one point and dealt with stray donkeys, overturned semi trucks, dogs and drunk drivers. Nuts.

After the crew had left the hotel, I could not get back to sleep. I got up and started to gear up and put a little food and water in my system before the long ride. For the first time in probably 7 years, or at least since I can remember, I actually got butterflies from the nervousness that morning in the hotel room. As soon as I stepped out of the hotel and towards where the bike was being readied, I was fine. It was showtime.

Just like in the movie, the race promoter Sal Fish shakes the hand of each starting rider/driver at the start line. “See you in La Paz, good luck.” I thought I heard him chuckle as he went to the next rider. Whatever.

The countdown, the green flag, and it’s a mile or so through the crowded streets of Ensenada at 7:30 in the morning. Down into the flood canal and over the artificial “photo” jumps. Clicking through the gears, the big XR650R growling right along begging for more throttle. Eatin’ up real estate on two wheels and the wind singing in your helmet. Nothing else could ever feel so good.

“Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles Bubba…”
-Hunter S. Thompson

Back out onto the streets briefly and then into the surrounding hills. Here is where the shit hit the fan, vaporized, and turned our world into a cloud of dust so thick you could sell it.

The next 40 miles of riding is probably the most dangerous thing I have ever done in my life. We passed through gullies and hillsides in dust that would not settle or blow away. On top of the hills and flat sections the sun was directly in our eyes. At best moments, I had 50% visibility. Other times I could not even see the handlebars of the bike. A few times I simply stopped dead until I actually felt hands on my arm guiding me back on the course. Nearing Ojos ******, you could barely see the sides of the dirt road where it opened up to a fast dirt road and you really had no choice but pin it since there were stacks of riders ahead of you and behind you. 50-80 miles an hour in 30-50% visibility.

Finally the riders got spread out enough and the course got into some areas where the wind would get rid of the dust and allow better visibility.

Started to get into the first of the mild whoop sections. These were the milder, soft sand versions that are actually fun as the trail winds through the brush.

Riding whoops is like dancing. It’s all about rhythm. Just like there are different ways around a dance floor, there are different ways you can do whoops whether it be jumping multiple faces, manualing, or simply skimming across the tops. Usually it is a combination of the techniques as you ride through the section. Always reading what is in front of you, choosing your technique and piecing your timing, body position and acceleration in order to gain the most ground in the most efficient manner. Get it right and you can really gain ground on your competitors. Get it wrong and you can really loose ground and usually end up on the ground.

Just before Honda pit #1 around the 50 mile mark there were the first of a few short silt beds. Fortunately for me, I had a gap and not much dust in front of me at that time. I passed a rider who was laying on the side of the trail with just half of his handlebars and part of his gas tank sticking up out of the silt.

Up over a few rocky hillsides and it was back into some fun tight trail with soft whoops.

Onto a short stretch of pavement and back onto a trail that mostly seemed to be in a dried out creekbed until we came into Valle de Trinidad at racemile 111.

It was around racemile 100 that I had the big scare. The course was bending right and going through a short section of steep 4 foot whoops. I was doubling the whoops when the front wheel came down on the backside of one of the landings and hit a hidden rock. The bike immediately veered left as I was accelerating hard up the face of the next whoop and I shot straight up into the air, hard left, and off the course.

As I sailed over a 5 foot high bush I said to myself calmly “Well that’s it, the race is over, no way I’m getting out of this clean.” The sides of the course are littered with rock piles, boulders, cactus and these things the Mexicans call “bushes” that are more likely green and brown bundles of steel cables wrapped in barb wire.

For some lucky reason I landed right in between all the hazards and had a straight path for just enough time to get the bike slowed down. You don’t realize just how fast the big 650 goes in the desert until you need to slow down. I got lucky. Real lucky.

The big man upstairs had a chuckle, gave me a wink, and did a “high five” with Buddha. I was back on course and eating up real estate once again.

I had a flashback from my childhood at that moment. I was probably 13 years old and had told my father that I just went 50mph on my little Yamaha DT100. He became livid and told me he was going to have me stand in the trail while he rode the bike by me at that speed and for me to imagine I was a brick wall. He never actually did that, but I got the point. Did I learn? Of course not.

Shortly after that I saw some kids all along the side of the course throwing things. Just as rode by I felt a small branch bounce off my chest protector and a rock ping off of my helmet. Didn’t hurt or anything, but I was like, “What up Amigo?” I heard later of riders and drivers being urinated on by spectators and having fireworks shot at them. For the most part the locals and spectators are helpful and very encouraging. In fact, if it wasn’t for most of them, most of us would have no direction through over 80% of the course as they are almost always pointing us in the right direction at any intersection, crossroads, or fork in the trail.

More whoops, a long fast 100mph section across a dry lake bead, and typical desert racing as I got into the garbage dump at San Felipe. Imagine riding 10 miles through a dumpsite. Ah, the memories I will have.

At this point I was thinking to myself, “This is NOT a tough race compared to some of the Enduros and Hare Scrambles I have done in the Pacific Northwest.” It was certainly dangerous, fast, and fun, but tough?

Then I hit the infamous 28 mile whoop section sometime just out of San Felipe. These are not the normal whoops that I had been riding up to that point. These are not that big at all, but the spacing and compound are the worst. Black and gray gravel that is so loose it will bury your wheels if you slow down. Top that off with mixed cabbage head sized boulders that are and are not visible and you simply cannot get a good rhythm for any length of time. I was dehydrating badly to top it off. I managed to pass 2 more riders in this section, but it was taking its toll on me. The Baja was starting to kick my ass.

Finally the section ended and popped me back out onto some fresh pavement. Just a bit up the road was the next Honda pit.

At Honda Pit #4 I did a short television interview with SpeedVision while the Honda pit crew changed my air filter and refueled the bike. I can’t recall a single word that was asked of me or what I said, but it was friendly and every one was smiling. I knew I was badly dehydrated at this point so gulped down a liter of water that was offered.

Sometime after Pit 4 the pavement ended and the rocky dirt roads started again. The ocean was to my left as the rough road meandered along the rocky hillside. I believe it was near Puertecitos I could see little islands just offshore and the water was beautiful. It would have been a spectacular view had my tongue not been dragging 5 feet behind the bike. There were some tall flat rock outcroppings with spectators perched up on them along the road and it was sometime along this road that I noticed a very nice looking woman dancing naked with nothing but a blue thong and a large silver wig on. I am still trying to find other riders that did this section to confirm that they too noticed this and that it was not a mirage. I had to slow down and give some applause of course. Wouldn’t you?

I continued on the rough road at a very reasonable pace for quite some time as the effects of the dehydration and effort of the section after San Felipe had really taken it out of me. I still could not quite recover. A couple of bikes in the other classes that I had passed earlier passed me back during this time simply because I did not have the energy yet to get on the gas hard.

Ever heard of the “uvula’? It’s that dangly thing in the back of your throat that is also sometimes referred to as the puke stick. Anyway, mine gets irritated when I do long dry dusty races. It swells up to the point where I can trap it against the roof of my mouth with my tongue. Feels like the world’s biggest lung nugget stuck in your throat that will never cough up. Had I not experienced this in my life before, I would have been really worried. It felt like it was the size of quarter at this point.

At Honda Pit #5 I refueled and downed another liter and a half of water. My hydration system had already been empty for a couple of hours. Soon after that I started feeling better and recovered. Popped the bike into top gear and pulled the wire. Flat out. Let’s grab some more ground quickly.

At race mile 300 I came into what is called Coco’s Corner for a checkpoint. Lot’s of guys standing around the checkpoint that looked like Coco, but they all had both of their legs. Hmmm…

Some fast winding roads, a little double track, more whoops and into a creek area that still had some water.

I knew at this point that the end was near for my part of the race. No need to conserve my energy anymore. Forget the fatigue, lean forward and pull the wire.

“Every man must be tempted to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
-H.L. Mencken

The last section I rode into Honda Pit #6 was actually quite fun. Tall eerie cactus all around me and nice flowing whoops in soft sand. Breathing was starting to become difficult with my uvula swelling more and more, but the speed, the flowing of the trail, and my effort were putting me into a kind of trance.

And there it was. Honda Pit #6. Racemile 333. My day was done. Bike up on the stand. Transfer the tool pack to Tom. Collapse onto my knees. I must have drank 2 liters of water and Gatorade and I was still dry heaving.

Bit of a blur after that. Hopefully some of my teammates will have stories to tell of their own rides. Rider #2, Tom, came in with a crack in the gas tank that we had to fix at his last pit stop/rider change. Rider #3, John, had a hell of night with getting lost and having the clutch go out on him. All in the middle of the night. Rider #4, Jayson, carried the flag in to the finish in some of the worst heat I can imagine riding in.

The race started with almost 500 teams entered. Almost half of them never finished the race. We finished 21st in a class of around 80 teams.

Would I do it again? Probably. I’m still waiting for the “dust” to settle…..

· Still defying gravity...
2,853 Posts
Great stories - great thread. Stories like this make this site worthwhile - many thanks.

I have watched 'Dust to Glory', and spent some quality time in Cabo and surrounding areas and grew up on dirtbikes, and I have often wondered what it would be like to race the Baja - I think I now know.

Congratulations on finishing first time out :thumbup
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