2006 Baja 1000 Race Day: Part 2 "The Wheels Are Coming Off!"
Relief! If you haven’t read my last post, go back and check it out because it's funny, embarrassing and leads into this well. So I was finally finding a groove and riding my dirt bike like I knew how. The terror of the start had worn off but so had the adrenaline. I was starting to notice all of the rocks and bumps in the course. Not just the big ones, EVERY one. I figured that I would settle down and that would go away and it must be in my head right? Nope! The bike was beating me to death and I was only a couple hundred miles into this odyssey. I remember somewhere past Coco’s Corner thinking to myself that there was no freaking way I was going to finish this thing with the bike handling like it was.
Suspension up to this point in my riding career hadn’t meant much to me. I had always ridden in the mountains of Colorado on relatively slow trails and I was slow so it didn’t matter as much. Things didn’t hurt if your forks weren’t right. The consequence of a poorly tuned shock wasn’t an 80 mph get off in the desert. Well, now it was becoming PAINFULLY clear that I should have paid more attention to my boingers before racing one of the most grueling races in N. America. The miles went by so slowly in my mind. I couldn’t think of anything except getting to my chase crew at El Crucero and getting off of the bike for a little bit.
El Crucero is a crossing (crazy I know) of a couple roads that are close to the main highway so it is absolutely nuts during the race. People are everywhere and my crew was buried in there somewhere. Because we were such novices we hadn’t planned exactly where they would be and just relied on me finding them in the craziness. As I rolled into the area I was scanning the hundreds of people and teams and finally saw my friends for the first time since 4:30 that morning. I was ecstatic to get off the bike and take a little rest and get something to eat. I looked like death warmed over. I knew the boys could tell I was already coming apart and I was only 360 miles in. I asked my buddy to make some changes to the suspension settings for me to soften everything up and sat down for a snack. I will never forget what happened next.
My buddy Mike came over to me and in a sheepish tone asked me if I knew where our other set of wheels for the race bike were? Uh… No! I am kind of racing right now. I was a bit pre-occupied by this little desert race and had no freaking clue where the wheels were. He then informed me that they didn’t have them and couldn’t find them. “They must be in Ensenada.” CRAP! I didn’t need those wheels now but they were my tire change later in the course. We had planned a wheel change at the halfway mark to give me fresh meat and now that wasn’t going to happen. I was going to have to hope that one set of tires would last 1000 miles. I don’t know exactly what I said or what I looked like but I know I was broken inside. Our plan and my race were falling apart and we had just gotten started really. “Oh well, I’d better get going,” I said. I jumped back on the big girl and headed down towards Bay of L.A.
The conversations I had in my head on the long pavement section weren’t good. I was pissed and worried about my body and my suspension. I started telling myself stories about how I would break it to the boys when I decided to quit. I came up with great reasons why I should stop. It was for my safety, the bike was terrible and was going to kill me, I got in over my head! There were a million reasons to quit and I was having a hard time finding ONE reason to keep going. But fortunately, I had 200 miles to go before I would see them again. I couldn’t stop yet. I needed to dig down and find a way to get to San Ignacio. I had to find something in me that I didn’t even know I had. And that would come on the stretch between Bay of L.A. and San Ignacio. My resolve would strengthen and the tide would turn!
Thanks for reading. I know it's a cliff hanger but I need you guys to come back and read more. I really appreciate every one of you reading this. I can’t tell exactly WHO reads all of these but I can see through my analytics how many people are reading and where you are all from and I am blown away. So THANK YOU for real! I have heard from some of you through email and comments but I would love to hear more. If you feel so inclined, comment below or email me at email@example.com and let me know where you are from and what you like about this blog. I will be getting into the more personal and human stuff after the race so if that was what drew you in please stick with me.
Thanks again and remember to write down your gratefulness list today.
Bag pipe music, comfy slippers and God’s grace are my 3 today!