The On-Going Adventures of
2013 Mexican 500
September 28 - 30, 2013
Having enjoyed racing the NORRA Mexican 1000 earlier in the year, I made the decision to race again - this time it would be the NORRA Mexican 500, a 3-day Navigational Rally, to be held on Sept 29 to Oct 1. Instead of a peninsula run, the Mexican 500 would be held as a large loop race in Northern Baja California. The first day would race from Ensenada to Mexicali, the second day would race from Mexicali to San Felipe, and the third day from San Felipe back to Ensenada.
The rally involves racing stages, called Specials, which are the timed racing stages - go as fast as you can while trying to stay on course. Trying to stay on course can be a bit tricky because there are no (or very limited) course markings. The basic idea is to navigate by road book, with GPS tracks as backup. The racing Specials are almost exclusively on dirt roads, trails, or simply cross country off-road areas. In between the racing Specials, and sometimes at the beginning or the end of the day are Liaison sections. Liaisons are typically on paved roads, and used to connect the off-road racing Specials. There is a time window for the liaisons, which are typically set at the time required to traverse the Liaison at the speed limit plus a 1/2 hour window. You get penalty minutes for arriving either early or late to the end of a Liaison section, but otherwise they do not enter into the overall scoring which is based on overall fastest time through all of the Specials.
The road book is an approximate 5" wide scroll of paper with the instructions to navigate the course. Each rider needs a road book holder mounted on their motorcycle, which can be used to scroll forwards or backwards through the route instructions. Most (me included) use an electronic road book holder that uses thumb switches to control the road book. If you want to know a little more about road book navigation, you can check out this link.
I'm racing a 2009 Husaberg FE570, which has been prepped as a Dakar type rally bike. You can check out the bike build here.
For this race, two ADV inmates (Cory Johnson and Joel Paez) volunteered to help drive chase vehicles and provide support, and I was also assisted by Chris Martin - who along with his Dad, Les, built my race bike. It definitely takes a TEAM to pull this kind of race off!
Pre-Race - Friday, September 27, 2013
Cory rode his Honda Transalp down on May 26 to meet me in Las Vegas. And the next morning, we were up early to drive my chase truck over to my mechanic's house to pick up the race bike and my backup/parts bike (a 2011 Husaberg 570).
Bikes are loaded in the truck:
Getting gas before leaving town...
Then Cory, Chris, and myself are off to Ensenada! We stopped at the Husaberg dealer in San Diego to try and sort out the fuel injection mapping on my race bike, but found that I already had the FI map that I needed installed, but learned that my Berg simply did not like the 100 octane fuel I had been trying out. So later we dumped out the 100 octane fuel for just regular unleaded.
By about 7pm on Thursday, we arrived at our hotel in Ensenada - The Hotel San Nicolas!
The San Nicolas is also the headquarters hotel for the SCORE Baja Races, and is well known throughout the Baja racing community.
We got our gear into the hotel; and Cory and Chris got the truck and bikes covered up before we retired for the night...
Next morning (Friday) we had breakfast in the hotel...
Then it was time to unload the bikes and get ready for Tech Inspection...
Some of the car guys came over to check out the Rally Berg...
Then it was off to Tech Inspection...
After Tech, we were ready for some lunch - street tacos!
And some churros...
Chris found a hat he liked...
Joel drove down on Friday afternoon, and met us at the hotel.
Then it was time for the Rider's Meeting...
Finally, we got the race bike placed in a locked, gated storage. The backup Berg was in the chase truck, night was beginning to fall, and the next day will be Saturday - Race Day 1...
(BTW - almost all photos throughout this ride report are from Cory or Joel)