2013 Mexican 500
Race Day 2 - Saturday September 29, 2013
I survived Race Day 1. It had been a little
slower than I would have liked due to a tough and technical course, but both the
Rally Berg and I were in good shape. And I was looking forward to Race Day 2.
Race Day 2 would start with a liaison from the Bullring in Mexicali to the top
of Laguna Salada. Then the first Special (about 100 miles) would start by going
backwards on the last part of the Day 1 course, before diverging and continuing
south towards the end of Laguna Salada and ending at La Ventana. Then there
would be a liaison to the top of Laguna Diablo. The 2nd Special for the day
(about 50 miles) would run south down the east edge of Laguna Diablo all the way
to San Felipe.
Here's the course for Race Day 2...
I showed up bright and early at the Bullring
for the start of the liaison, and was the only bike there. The NORRA gals gave
me a nice "Buenas Dias" greeting...
Apparently Octavio had been there a few
minutes earlier, but had already taken off to Laguna Salada. Tibi showed up a
few minutes after me, and we began the liaison through Mexicali and towards the
We re-grouped at the dry lake and were able to
relax a little before beginning the 1st Special for the day...
Tibi, Octavio, and me...
Getting the helmets on - it's almost race
Octavio started the race, and a minute later
Tibi took off. I followed after another minute...
The Rally Berg leaves a bit of a wake at the
The first 17 miles were raced on a fairly,
flat dirt road - perfect for the Rally Bike. According to my GPS, I hit 94 mph
somewhere along this stretch. After about 4-1/2 minutes, I passed Tibi; and
6-1/2 minutes into the race I passed Octavio. I'm now leading the race, and
feeling like I'm Johnny frickin' Campbell!
After passing Octavio, I kept the bike wide open trying to put as much gap as
possible between us because I know that at the end of the first 17 miles is a
short cross-country section followed by a pretty long section of whoops. I
double-check my road book, and turn off into the short cross-country section at
just the right place, and then I'm into the whoops. While trying to take care of
the bike, I'm also trying to get through the whoops at a pretty good pace. I was
absolutely certain that I would end up seeing Octavio fly by me in the whoops
section, but I reach the end of the whoops and back onto a dirt road and I'm
shocked that I'm still in the lead!
The next 30 miles or so are on dirt roads, and I just wick it up as fast as I
can. I would take an occasional glance back, and could see a bit of dust in the
distance (either Octavio and/or Tibi behind me). After awhile, when I looked
back I couldn't see any dust at all. I'm not only leading the race, but pulling
away. I'm trying to navigate using road book only (no looks at the GPS), and I'm
making all of the correct turns. What a difference a day makes!
About 1/2 way through the Special, the route goes cross-country on a compass
bearing and I'm still doing pretty good. I'm coming up on the road book turns at
just the right times according to my ICO odometer. I'm already thinking about
winning the stage. I make one wrong turn down a sand wash, but notice the
mistake immediately, check the GPS and get back on track.
Then it's a lot more cross country, and no discernible route to follow. My road
book tells me I should be expecting a road to turn left onto. I'm pretty sure
I'm on the right compass heading so I just keep going waiting for the road. Big
Baja had experienced many of the same summer storms that hit Southern California
and Nevada. Apparently the road I was expecting had basically been washed away.
Now one of the problems with leading a navigational rally is that at times there
are no tracks to follow. I was well ahead on time (in fact in checking against
the live tracking later, I have a lead of at least 10 minutes at this point). I
should have stopped and checked the GPS and found out where I was, but in the
excitement of leading the race I just kept going waiting for the stupid road. I
finally hit a road, and take it thinking it was the right road. After a few
miles, I realize it isn't. That's when I stopped, checked the GPS and find out
that I'm at least 10 miles off course. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!
I start heading back to pick up the course, and finally find the correct route.
Part of it is still cross-country, and there are no other motorcycle tracks on
the route so I'm not sure if I'm still in the lead or not. I finally make it to
the mine road that will take me to the finish. I pull into the finish and find
out that both Tibi and Octavio had already arrived (and started the liaison to
the next Special).
Boy - did I have mixed feelings! I clearly rode well enough to win the stage,
but a giant navigational error kept me from that. I was trying to use road book
as much as possible, and 95% of that went really well. But it was stupid of me
to not have checked the GPS when I could have. Apparently Octavio and Tibi had
followed my tracks off course for a bit, but realized the mistake much faster
than me, and then cut over to the finish. Oh well - lesson learned for me.
Tibi ended up winning the Special in 2 hours, 46 minutes. Octavio finished in 2
hours and 50 minutes. I ended up finishing in 3 hours, and 5 minutes. I went
from leading by 10 minutes to losing by 20 minutes.
Here I am coming into the finish stretch...
This is Octavio at the finish...
After the finish, Cory got the bike gassed up
and Chris checked it over...
I ate a powerbar and drank some water...
Cory took off to meet me at the start of the
next Special. Joel and Chris would travel straight to San Felipe to meet me at
the finish of the next Special.
There's more racing to do!
I have to admit that the 1st Special of Race
Day 2 was a little disappointing. Although I rode really well and 95% of my
navigation was spot on, one big navigation error had cost me the win. And it was
due to inexperience and being too stupid to stop and double-check my bearings
when I should have known that I passed the turn I needed to make.
So after a short rest and some refreshment, I headed on to the liaison stage to
make it to the start of the next Special. The whole time on the liaison I was
thinking about how I should have won that stage. I reach the military checkpoint
at the Hwy 3 and Hwy 5 intersection, and they wave me through and I keep
motoring on to the start of the Special.
I arrive there expecting to see Cory waiting for me (he had left several minutes
ahead of me to reach the start), but I don't see him. So I go ahead and check in
for the start and as I'm waiting for the green flag I remember there was another
vehicle in the next lane at the military checkpoint but I had never really
glanced over to take a good look and realize that it must have been Cory.
I was really focused on the start, and thinking about hauling a$$ again and
trying not to make a navigation mistake, so I didn't even realize that Cory had
pulled into the start area right behind me. He probably thought I was a little
crazy at this point, and maybe I was - I was certainly mad at myself.
The green flag drops, and I take off in a cloud of dust...
The first several miles is a long dirt road,
and I'm flying down it as fast as the Rally Berg will go. As the road reaches
the dry lake bed of Laguna Diablo, the road veers left. I'm pretty familiar with
this area, and I know that there are always several washouts on the right-had
side of the road, so I keep really aware and stay to the left. Usually the race
courses will drop onto the surface of the dry lake bed, but it's still wet from
recent rains (and not so dry). So the course stays on the road skirting on the
east side of Laguna Diablo. About 1/2 way through the stage, the course gets
into some sand washes and a little bit of cross country. I'm following the
navigation really well, and eventually hit the road heading east towards San
Felipe. It's Rally Berg time - and she's liking the fast pace.
The route takes us on part of the SCORE Baja race course - about a 5 mile
section of trophy truck whoops before the San Felipe dump area. I try to take it
easy through here, but I really want a good time for the stage and I do my best
to maintain a good pace through this section. Then it's back to dirt roads for
the final miles into San Felipe.
As I'm approaching San Felipe, I miss a right-hand turn and slow down to turn
around; and I notice that Octavio is coming back towards me as well. Apparently
he had made a navigation mistake as well. So now I'm trying to ride the last 2
or 3 miles and stay ahead of Octavio. We drop into a sand wash to cross under a
road and I miss another turn and Octavio gets by me. I end up following him into
the finish by about 20 seconds.
Here I am just before the finish...
I pull into the finish right beside Octavio...
just won a stage of the Mexican 500!
I ended up with a time of 59 minutes 30 seconds. Octavio finished in 1 hour, 8
minutes. And Tibi had apparently had some navigation problems during the stage
and finished in 1 hour, 51 minutes.
I was completely stoked!!! The old man (me) had done it!
It was a pretty good day!
Rather than stay at a hotel in San Felipe, I
rented a condo on the beach just south of the marina for the team. It made for a
great, relaxed stay in San Felipe.
As soon as we arrived, Chris got busy cleaning the bike, and prepping it for the
next day's race...
It was a very nice condo...
The caretaker and his wife fixed a great
dinner for us...
A great way to relax - one more day of racing
Race Day 1 Race Day 2
Race Day 3