The On-Going Adventures of
2014 Mexican 1000
Race Day 3
early morning. Some peanut butter and crackers and chocolate milk for
breakfast. The guys are checking the bike one last time to make sure
it's ready to go. No liaison to start the day today - it will start
with a 175 mile racing Special right from downtown San Ignacio. The
first 20 miles or so will be pavement, before hitting the dirt. We will
be heading west towards the coast and then south towards San Juanico,
before turning back East and towards Loreto.
It's the longest
racing Special for the race, and I won't see my pit crew until the end
of the Special 38 miles north of Loreto. I'll need to get gas at the
pit stop that NORRA arranged for near El Datil.
Everybody starts gathering at the start in San Ignacio...
Stickers are still popular...
Finally it's time to get the helmet and glove on, and line up for the start.
I'll be starting 7th this morning...
So far I was
feeling really good about my race. Outside of having to deal with a
flat front tire the previous day, my race pace was in the top 5 and I
was easily ahead in my class. Today would end up to be bittersweet -
one of the best days of racing I've ever had, but with an unfortunate
About the first
twenty miles of the road from San Ignacio to the coast was paved, so
everybody was bascially hauling ass. Just about where the road turned
back to dirt, I caught the first of the riders ahead of me. I was
riding well, passing a few more ahead of me, and about the time the
road turned south towards San Juanico I found myself behind Carlos
Gracida - one of the truly fast racers competing in the event. I ended
up passing Carlos, and I think had worked myself up to 3rd place. That
was short-lived however as I missed a turn, and Carlos was back in
front of me.
The course is
pretty fast in this area, but very sandy in spots. I kept right on
Carlos's tail until we hit the gas pit that NORRA had set up. Since
this Special was 175 miles in length, I decided to stop for a gallon of
gas; but Carlos kept right on going. After getting gas, I headed off
again and was riding really well. I was slowly catching back up to the
three riders ahead of me. We finally hit a fast dirt road heading
south, and I really wicked it up. Unfortunately, however, I hit a sharp
cross rut really hard and ended up with another flat front tire.
Again, I'm forced to ride very slowly on one of the fastest parts of the course. I ended up riding about 15 miles on the flat front until reaching San Juanico. I detoured quickly into the village to find a llantera (tire repair shop) where I could get a stand to lift the bike up on, and compressed air. After asking a few of the locals, I found a llantera, and pulled in and quicky pointed to a stand I needed for the bike. I got the bike up on the stand, got my tools out and had the front wheel off the bike quickly enough. I got my tire irons out, and worked to get the punctured tube out of the tire. In went the spare tube I carried, and I was able to use the llantera's compressor to fill the tire and seat the bead. Got the wheel back on the bike, all my tools put back on my bike and in my pack and I was off again. I figure it probably took me about 30 minutes to change the tire, during which I kept hearing other racers pass by on the course.
The course is back on pavement out of San Juanico for a short bit, before heading up a hill and back into the dirt. It's a chewed up, rough dirt road with a lot of washouts, but I'm riding really well and making up time again. I pass several riders before the course hits pavement again in the town of La Purisima. Just outside of La Purisima, the course leaves the pavement again and heads on to a very rocky road, which lasts for miles. It's extremely rough and rocky, and there are a lot of pretty severe washouts where what is supposed to pass for the road is completely washed away. I keep up a really fast pace, and I'm probably riding better than I ever had. Things are just flowing, and I'm adapting to the course and finding myself riding faster in this part of the course than I would have ever imagined. I pass a few more riders like they are standing still. Finally I look at my roadbook, and I can see that I'm just a few miles from where the course finally turns into a smooth dirt road into the finish. I hit one bump, and got bounced to the side of the course and tell myself to slow up and let's just ride to the finish. So I intentionally slow my pace, knowing I only have about 5 to 7 more miles to go.
Then I come around a turn, and just down the course I see where the helicopter (that was being used to film one the racing teams) has landed by the side of the course. There's just a pretty simple right turn, and then a left turn up a short rise. After this the course is almost dead flat for about three miles into the finish - so this little rise is the last real obstacle on the course (and not much of one). I'm not sure if I was distracted or not, but as I made the left turn to go up the little rise I must have hit a rock that I didn't notice, and the bike gets a little sideways as I'm cresting the rise. So I hit the gas, which straightens the bike out but now I'm headed directly for the videographer that was set up on the right hand side of the course (and who I hadn't noticed before).
Oh $hit! I crank
a turn to the right to avoid the camera and videographer, and now I'm
heading for one of the largest cactuses I've seen on the course, and
little time to react. I think I might be able to blow right through it
(which I thought might be better than simple crashing on top of it).
Bad idea!! It must have had one heck of a strong root system because my
front wheel hits that cactus, immediately stops and simply pitches the
back end right over the front end, and throws me flying into the air
for about 20-30 feet - a classic "endo." I remember thinking as I flew
through the air that this is going to hurt.
After landing, I
sit up and see a couple of guys running over to me. One is the
videographer, and the other turns out be be a doctor that was also
flying in the helicopter. The videographer is thanking me for missing
him. The doctor starts asking me questions (what day is it? where are
you? what is your birthday?); I think he's trying to determine if I
have a concussion. I don't think I actually passed out, but knew I had
hit hard. I answer the doctor's questions, and explain that I don't
feel too bad except for a sore right shoulder.
Knowing I only
have a few miles of relatively flat road to go, I tell the doctor that
I plan to get on the bike and ride into the finish. Although my
shoulder is sore, I don't think it is that bad. He explains how
sometimes shock and adrenaline might be masking the pain, and asks that
I just stay seated for 10 or 15 minutes and then make a decision to
continue or not. Well, after about 10 minutes, the pain doesn't get any
worse - just a sore shoulder - but now I can tell that my collar bone
is broken, and that it's not just cracked. I can actually feel the
bones moving around when I move my right arm. It's a pretty wierd
feeling. Not super painful, but I can tell that it's completely broken
and feel the two ends of the bones moving against each other. Well that
convinces me that my race is over, and there's no sense in trying to
ride to the finish.
Tim Morton took
a photo of a picture of me that was being displayed on a laptop at
NORRA HQ later that night. You can see the camera equipment that I was
able to avoid in the background, and also the cactus that I demolished.
From this picture you can tell that my bike had basically just flipped
end over end upon hitting the cactus and thrown me in front of it.
So it's the
"walk of shame" instead to get into the helicopter to be flown the 3
miles into the finish. By this time, other racers had passed me by, and
alerted both the NORRA officials at finish and my pit crew that I was
down. My pit crew is obviously concerned, and watches closely as they
see the helicopter flying towards them. They're figuring that if the
helicopter keeps going then it's probably very serious and I'm being
transported directly to a hospital, so I think they're somewhat
relieved when the helicopter circles and lands near the finish line.
Here's Cory talking with me and the doctor.
My fellow racer John Volkman finishes, and gets me set-up with a temporary sling.
Then Joel and I
head for Loreto to check-in with the NORRA officials and go to the
hospital. Meanwhile Cory and Robbie go to get by race bike. Here's
Robbie riding it into the finish.
for the doctor to meet Joel and I at the hospital, and we head on over.
We arrive before the doctor, and do our best in trying to explain the
situation to the hospital staff. I'm not in much pain at all, which is
good. Finally they take me in for x-rays and confirm that the
collarbone (clavicle) is broken.
speaks just a little english and he explains the break as best as
possible. The two ends of the bone are overlapping. One option (the
recommendation) is to have the bone reset and plated, but that will
require a surgery. On the other hand, it allows almost full use of my
right arm after only about 2 weeks. The second option is to let the
bones just heal themselves, but it could take months to heal and would
never be in the correct alignment again. The problem with Option #1 is
that the hospital in Loreto cannot perform the surgery.
So we head back into Loreto to find our accomodations for the night at El Tiburon Casitas, which is a great plac to stay in Loreto. I'm planning on trying to arrange a flight back to the US, and to go ahead and have surgery to fix the collarbone. Unfortunately there's no flights available to fly back to the states for a few days. But luckily, the owner of El Tiburon (Liz) is there. She's a US ex-pat, and a world-renown horse surgeon, and has been back and forth between Baja and the US for many years. She convinces me that the best oprion is really to go down to La Paz and have the surgery there. She explains that the hospital is La paz is really good, and in fact many Americans travel there to have orthopedic surgeries performed.
So we have a
fantastic dinner of fish tacos at El Tiburon, and later that night walk
over to the Malecon in Loreto where NORRA is having a party for the
Here's Cory, Robbie, and I enjoying the music from a local band.
Then it's to bed, and get up the next morning to drive to La Paz.