Chance meeting in the mountains
You’ll remember that I had just watched Dust To Glory and told my wife that I was going to solo the Baja 1000. This was a Lofty goal of course but I had no idea how much that decision would impact my life and still does. Of course, immediately it did nothing. I just headed back home to Gunnison and went about my life but there was something burning in me that I couldn’t quench. Shortly after coming home an XR650R (the un-contested KING of the 1000) came up for sale at a shop in town. I knew that it was THE bike to race so I bought it. I'm not sure but I think I bought it without even telling Ruth. This was a pattern that continued for a long time. One of the many ways I wasn’t communicating and slowly distancing myself from my amazing wife. Remember, this story has ALL of it. The good, the bad and the VERY ugly. But those moments are yet to come. Buying a bike on the sly pales in comparison to some of my later mistakes.
So now I had a bike to race in the 1000 and still no clue at all about how that is going to happen. I began to do some research on the race and found out that it happens in November every year. Good to know Morgan! I also found out that every other year it is just a loop from Ensenada back to Ensenada and isn’t actually 1000 miles and that this year (2005) was a loop race. I wanted no part of a shorter, Baja 1000. If I was going to solo that race, it HAD to be the full meal deal!. So that means I had over a year to prepare. This was probably the first thing that God snuck his hand into. At the time I was bummed because I wanted to go racing RIGHT NOW or at least that year but due to things completely out of my control (but maybe in HIS control) I would have to wait for over a year before I got to give it a shot.
Ok, I’m not going to race in 05’ so why don’t we take a vacation to Mexico during the 1000 this year and check it out? I did ask Ruth about that and she agreed that it would be fun and a good time to get out of Gunni as the weather turned colder. We booked our flights way in advance and continued with life. That summer I was riding a lot up around Taylor Park and Crested Butte. I spent a ton of time on those high mountain trails and one glorious summer day I was sitting at the top of Star Trail waiting for a friend to battle his way to the top of that gnarly single track when an older (at the time not much older than I am now I think) guy pulled up on an XR400. He wasn’t dressed in the newest gear and his XR looked like it had a ton of miles on it. He politely asked me “How’s that trail?” Pointing down Star. I immediately judged him on his looks and bike (another character flaw) and told him that it was probably too hard for him and his equipment. He said “ok” and then got off of his bike to rest. He was waiting for friends too. We began to chat about bikes and Colorado and I found out that he was from California. “Oh cool, where?” I said. “Southern, down near San Diego.” We talked about what kind of riding we liked and then, because I was such a hot shot, I told him that I was going to race the 1000 in 2006. Bob looked at me with a look I can only describe as surprise mixed with concern and a healthy dash of "laughing at me" and said: “You ever been to Mexico on a bike?” Nope, I hadn’t. His face then brought out more of the concern as he explained to me that he had raced the 1000 over 10 times and that I NEEDED his help.
I thought to myself, “yeah right, I got this old man.” Oh how desperately wrong I was and how brilliantly right he was. About that time our friends all showed up and Bob asked if he and his buddies could follow us back down toward where our trucks were parked. “Sure man” I spouted in a flippant tone. I figured there was no way the guy was going to keep up with me. I lit my bike up and took off. As I began to wick it up a bit I glanced over my shoulder to see that Bob was on my butt. I mean right on my wheel! I turned the screw a little harder and I couldn’t shake him. On top of that, he looked relaxed back there. Like he could have been smoking a cigarette and doing all of this. I was humbled! We split ways and he asked me where I worked. I gave him the name of the shop and told him to come and say hi before they left town. He said, “Oh I will.” Huh? OK.
That Tuesday, as I was working Bob, walked in, lifted up his hand and dropped two massive bolts with washers and nuts on them onto my counter. I can only imagine what my face must have looked like. He then took out a business card and set it next to the bolts. “This is your first project for the XR of yours,” he said. “The right foot pegs break off the frame on those bikes and this is how you fix it. Give me a call when you get that done and I’ll tell you what to do next.” “Oh and if you are coming down this year to watch, let me know. I’ll show you around and introduce you to some people you need to know.”
That meeting and conversation would end up being the most important factor in me finishing that race over a year later. Bob Wadlow and his generosity were the keys I needed to unlock the mystery and magic of the Baja 1000 and I believe wholeheartedly that God placed him in my life at the exact right time. The connections and knowledge that would come from that chance meeting at 11,500 feet in the mountains of Colorado helped me accomplish that massive goal which in turn set me up for everything to come!
Thanks again everyone! How do you like this part of my journey so far? Give it a like, share or comment if you feel inclined. Follow me on the Twitters at @tmospradling for some of my day to day ridiculousness.
Have a great day and remember to be thankful! Comment the 3 things you are grateful for below! Attitude is a choice and its YOURS to make!