2006 Baja 1000 Race Day: Part 3 "The Tipping Point!"
A nice long break on the pavement was exactly what I needed for an attitude adjustment. If you are confused right now, go back to my last post and catch up. The road to Bay of L. A. is a beautiful one and for me it was magical. The sun was setting behind me and the Sea of Cortez was ahead. I can still see the glow of the sunset on the hills around me and the shadows getting longer and longer. I don’t remember the length of this pavement stretch but it was pretty far and I had plenty of time to think about what I had in front of me.
My mind was racing with ideas about quitting, persevering, why was I here, what was I trying to prove, who did I think I was? Finally, I calmed down and began to assess the situation. I was getting close to halfway done and I was still doing OK. I wasn’t having a ton of fun but the bike was holding together and my body felt alright. I don’t think it was a conscious thought but I remembered my time in Patagonia and the suffering I had done down there. That had been absolutely brutal and I had survived. I could do this!!! I came into town with a renewed will. I was going to finish this thing!
There is a checkpoint for the race as you leave the pavement heading South out of town. There are a ton of people there and that always fires me up. I checked in and headed out. The sun was down and it was dark. Until this point in my life, I didn’t really know how much I liked riding at night but it turns out that it is my favorite thing to do! It is so cool heading out across the desert in the pitch black with just a head light to show the way. It is terrifying too of course. I remember flying along at 70 mph and just catching a glimpse of a cow off to the side of the road. Fortunately, I was too focused on the task at hand to think about the fact that there aren’t any fences down there and that bovine could have stepped right out in front of me. I was finally feeling good on the bike and I think it had everything to do with my “in flight” attitude adjustment and nothing to do with the changes my buddy made on the bike at El Crucero. Then the fire-breathing monsters of Baja began to catch me.
My friends had warned me about trophy trucks and Dust to Glory had described them well but NOTHING can prepare you for the terror that 800 horsepower can bring in the middle of the night. The first hint that a dragon was coming was the light. Those machines have lights on them that are like the sun. I first noticed the light from probably a mile behind me as we raced through the mountains. It shocked me that I would be able to see it from so far away. I remembered my buddies warning, “when they catch you, get WAY out of the way!” I pressed on for a bit because he was so far back but, BAM, he was right on top of me. Siren blasting and motor revving. I will never forget the sound that those trucks make. I can’t accurately describe it but imagine the biggest V8 motor you can, mix that with anger and nuclear power and that is what you get. It haunts me to this day. I pulled off the road and let the spaceship by. The cloud of dust that they leave in their wake is blinding and it hangs on the course for what feels like forever. I eased along for what felt like a mile before I could see again. To add to my plight, I was only running an 8” halogen light off of a weak stator (the thing that makes electricity on a motorcycle) that would dim to 1 candlepower if I let the bike get anywhere near idle. I also had no helmet light so every turn was like riding by brail. I would try to rev the motor up with the clutch in to keep the light burning but I still couldn’t see around the turn. It was comical, looking back on it.
As I forged on through the night more and more trucks caught and passed me. Then, as if I was dreaming, I started to catch a 4 wheeled vehicle. At first, I figured it must be a local (the roads are open to local traffic during the race, which adds excitement) but as I got closer I could see that he had a number and way too much light for a farmer on his way home. Then as I neared the truck I realized it was a trophy truck and it was coming to a stop. What the heck?? I don’t know why I did what came next but it was another massive emotional boost. The truck pulled off to the side of the road as I approached. I rolled to a stop next to the drivers side and looked in. The two guys in their fancy schmancy, scrillion dollar truck were screaming and fuming. I leaned over and said “Can I help you with anything?” Bwahahahaha, they exploded into more yelling and screaming. They were pissed. I fired my bike up and headed on down the race course laughing in my helmet. I giggled about it for the next 20 miles out to the road that lead into San Ignacio. That moment was the tipping point of the race for me. I was already determined but passing that truck and giving those guys a hard time was what I needed to press on.
My chase crew was waiting for me in San Ignacio and I knew that my last visit with them hadn’t inspired confidence. I knew I needed to come into this pit stop with a more positive attitude so that they wouldn’t worry. As I took my helmet off and sat down, a trophy truck screamed by the pits. I looked up at my boys and exclaimed “You know, every time I get passed by one of those I just think to myself… what a weenie. Anyone can do that, try racing a bike.” We all laughed and the tone was set for the rest of the race. I think that at that moment, all of us knew I was going to get this done one way or another. I just had 500 more miles to go!
Thanks for joining me again! What is something crazy you’ve done?? I know I’m not the only moron out there. If you feel inclined, share this thing and give it a like on social media. We are half way to the finish of the race but just beginning my journey to salvation and entrepreneurship!
What three things are you grateful for today? For me they are, Snow in the high country, God’s word and cuddles with my wife!