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Baja 1000 experience

2247 Views 15 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  Thumper 8
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.
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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
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