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2013 Mexican 1000

Race Day 1 - Sunday April 28, 2013

The bikes were scheduled to skip the ceremonial start from the Bull Ring to Salada Dry Lake (which the cars do). Bikes were supposed to go directly to Salada Dry Lake, and be ready for a 6:00am start. We wanted to be out at the dry lake by 5:30am, which meant leaving the hotel by 5:00am, which meant loading up the bike and final gear around 4:30am; and since we wanted to eat breakfast at the 24-hour cafe next door we decided to wake up at 3:30am.

First hiccup - the 24 hour cafe is not open! Breakfast becomes an energy bar instead.

While some bikes rode out to the dry lake, we (Cory, Kevin and I) decided to load the bike in the truck and drive out in order to save 20 miles of wear on the tires. Since we didn't eat breakfast at the cafe, we left a little earlier and were probably at the dry lake by 5:15am. Joel would leave after us and head to the end of the first special (racing) stage to meet me at the highway when I finish the stage.

We arrived in the dark, but it was quickly getting light. We unloaded the bike, confirmed start time (mine was 6:14am) and waited for the start.

Getting ready...

The bikes would start 2 at a time, a minute between each pair of bikes. For the first day, the starting order was by class, and then by the date of entry. The 50+ class was one of the last to start, but I was in the first pair within the class to start. I expected to get nervous for the start, but never did. I was looking forward to the racing!

6:14 arrives and were off! I let the other rider (Ken Wortman) take the lead, and I followed close behind. The first few miles were pretty choppy and beat up as they run a lot of local offroad races in the area. I was trying to come up to speed quickly with using the roadbook for navigation. I was right behind Ken for the first few miles and then he pulled over. I asked if everything was OK, and he said yes so I kept going. Passed two riders before hitting the start of the dry lake bed, and then another rider or two once hitting the dry lake bed. Things were going great!

Then all of a sudden the bike started cutting out at high revs. I would back off the throttle, and it would run OK again, and then start blubbering again as I picked up speed (and this portion of the course was all-out as fast as you could go). I pulled over and there was oil all over the back of my bike.

The oil was literally dripping off the rear shock, and I first though maybe I had blown the shock. But it looked like motor oil, and the blown shock wouldn't have caused the bike not pulling revs; so then I was thinking maybe a blown countershaft seal or o-ring, and that I had lost enough oil to affect how the bike was running.

I took off my helmet and vest, got out the sat phone and called Kevin and Cory. They headed out to meet me. I took a few more pics of the bike and the dry lake...

I saw the bikes that I had passed now pass me back, then I saw all of the bikes that started behind me pass me. And I waited!

After about 20 minutes, I see a cloud of dust in the distance. It's Cory and Kevin making their way across the dry lake towards me.

We determine that the oil is leaking from the stator cover. We take the cover off, and the gasket is broken in one spot. We don't have a spare gasket, so we unload the spare bike and try to take the gasket from it. Unfortunately, it tears too while trying to remove it. We get the gasket set back onto the race bike stator cover as best as possible - we may have slowed the leak but haven't eliminated it. I tried the bike out, and it still wouldn't pull at higher revs.

We decide that I'll ride it slowly and try to nurse it into the finish of the stage. By now the first trucks/cars have started to pass by, so I need to be careful to not get run over.

I can ride about 1/4 throttle for about 10 miles at a time, then the bike would start acting up. I'd stop and let it rest for a few minutes, then start going again. I'm keeping my head on a swivel to keep looking at what might be coming up behind me at race speed. I ride most of the way off to the side of the course. I make a few calls on the sat phone to let Kevin and Cory know of my progress; they were following slowly on course as well. It's a long slow ride!

I finally make it to the finish of the first special in 3 hours 31 minutes (which I should have been able to run between about 1 hour to one hours 10 minutes).

Joel was waiting for me at the finish (and he'd been waiting a long time). We called Cory/Kevin and found out they were towing a broken race truck out to the highway. Joel and I loaded the race bike into his truck, and decided to head towards San Felipe. We would meet Kevin/Cory there, skip the 2nd special stage and try to make repairs to the race bike.

Joel and I made it to San Felipe and waited (maybe 15 minutes) at the Pemex for Cory and Kevin to arrive. We needed a place to wrench on the bikes, and Joel suggested Kiki's campground. On the way there we stopped at an auto parts store to pick up various items we might need (contact cleaner, RTV gasket maker, hose clamps, etc.).

We got situated under a palapa at Kiki's that provided shade, and Kevin and Cory got to work on figuring out what's going on with the bike. Joel and I made a run into San Felipe to bring back lunch.

At first we considered changing motors from the spare bike to the race bike - but that was going to be a long process and we weren't sure that we would have all the required odds and ends that we may end up needing trying to make the change. Then we spent a lot of time figuring whether we could mount the front Safari tank to the spare bike (in order to race the spare bike). For some reason, the mount on the front Safari that fit perfectly on the '09 bike would not fit the '11 bike. We wasted a lot of time trying to figure that out. I really needed the additional range that the front Safari would provide, but time was passing by quickly. We finally decided to race the backup bike as is. We pulled the number plate stickers from the race bike and put them on the backup bike, loaded up, and tried to haul ass to the start of the 3rd special (near Gonzaga Bay). We probably spent close to 4 hours in San Felipe working on the bikes before deciding to just go race the back up bike.

While in San Felipe, I had missed the 2nd special (racing) section, and I had to get to just outside of Gonzaga Bay before 7:30pm to start the 3rd special. Kevin and I hauled ass trying to make it it time. Cory and Joel followed a little more slowly behind. We made it to the start of the 3rd special just after 6:30 pm, unloaded the bike, got my gear back on, mounted my helmet light (because I'd be riding into Bay of LA in the dark), and I started the special at 6:56pm.

I'm pretty familiar with this section of the course, I was pumped, and I wanted to haul a$$. Since I was limited on fuel, I stopped at the Mag 7 Pits at Coco's corner and bummed a gallon of gas just to make sure I had enough. It's a 38.5 mile special, and even with a quick stop at the Mag 7 pits I completed this section in 39 or 40 minutes, pulling into the stage finish at 7:35pm.

What I didn't know was that they closed the finish of the stage at the same time they closed the start of the stage (7:30pm). Bummer - I didn't get scored for the stage and ended up with the maximum time of 3 hours 20 minutes instead of 39 or 40 minutes. I would have easily had a top ten time for this stage (of course I was fairly fresh while others would have been more tired from racing the 2nd special). I couldn't wait for my support trucks as I still needed to complete the liaison stage into Bay of LA within a prescribed time limit. So I made a quick call to Kevin to let him know I completed the stage, and then headed out on the 71 mile liaison to Bay of LA, arriving just after 8:30.

I turned in my time card for the day, found the hotel for the night, checked in, and was able to go down the street to get some dinner.

Kevin in my truck, and Cory/Joel in Joel's truck had to follow the course from Gonzaga Bay out to the highway (and it's pretty rough and very slow going in a non-race vehicle). They stopped by Coco's where a little party was going on after the racing ended.

Coco!   Two amputated legs, but the energy of a 20 year old, and the heart of a lion!

Meanwhile, I waited at the hotel in Bay of LA. Kevin arrived around 11pm, and then we both waited for Joel and Cory. And we waited some more, and we waited some more. Joel and Cory ended up with a blown tire that they had to change on the side of the road (very dangerous in Baja) and in the dark. They finally pullled in well after midnight (probably closer to 1am). And we had to get up at 5am to get ready for race day 2!

All in all, not a very good start to the rally. Although in my mind I completed two of the three racing stages I officially only got scored only for the first special (with the ridiculously slow time of 3 hours 31 minutes). For stages 2 and 3, I received the maximum times of 3 hours 16 minutes, and 3 hours 20 minutes respectively. It means I start dead last among the motorcycles on Day 2.

But at least I'm racing!!!


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