2006 Baja 1000 Race Day: Part 4 "The Long Night"
You’ll remember from my last post that It is dark, and I was about halfway finished with the race. I got something to eat and suited back up. The bike was still running well and I knew I had a few miles of easy gravel road coming up. The stretch from San Ignacio to Scorpion Bay is one of the most fun sections of the whole race and I was excited to ride it.
I headed South past the old mission and into the night. San Ignacio is next to a big lagoon so the air was moist and cool and felt good after a long day of dust and heat. I settled into a pace that was comfortable and then I saw a red light ahead of me. What was that? Was I catching someone? Then dust started to obscure my vision and I realized I was catching a bike. I couldn’t believe it. Since the morning melee, I hadn’t really passed anyone except the broken trophy truck so I was stoked to see that I was actually going faster than someone. It is a race after all! As I got closer and closer, the dust got thicker and thicker and it became a little sketchy. I’d see his taillight and then it would dart one way or the other and the road would follow. Ahhh!! I’d make it around the turn and then charge back after him. Thoughts of backing off crossed my mind. I could just slow down and take it easy and get out of his dust but that wasn’t why I was here. I was racing damn it! Finally, I decided that I had to pin it, regardless of the risk because the dust was terrible. Normally dust is tough but at night it’s worse because your light reflects off of every particle, effectively blinding you. So after the next hairy turn, I twisted it open and prayed for the best. I will never forget breaking through his dust and having the entire world come clear all at once. It was glorious!!
That feeling and experience is a lot like life. You finally get some focus and start to make headway on something and then things get fuzzy. Bumps turns and ruts try to take you out as you focus on your goals. You might be catching a goal or a competitor and the closer you get, the harder it is to pass. You feel like backing off to alleviate the trouble but you realize that if you do that you’ll always be eating dust. You know that there is clean air up there but how in the heck do you get it? Well, in life, as in racing, sometimes you have to just pin it and hope for the best. It doesn’t always work out but every now and then you break the dust and the world comes clear!
I was STOKED! I was making progress and living the dream that I had come up with years before. I was actually RACING the Baja 1000! The rest of the way to Scorpion Bay went well, I remembered the course and was able to pass quite a few bikes and even a few 4 wheeled things. I remember coming around a dune down next to the ocean and seeing a class 1 buggy off to the side, missing an axle and wheel. Holy crap!!! I raced through the night and was headed towards Loretto and my chase crew again. I will never forget how I felt as the sun started to come up on my second day of racing. At first, I was so excited to see it then all of a sudden I was BEAT DOWN TIRED!
I hadn’t really been tired up to this point. I had been beaten up and physically exhausted but now I was tired like I WANT TO GO TO SLEEP tired. You wouldn’t think that you would have to fight sleep while riding a dirt bike through rough terrain but you do! At a particularly drowsy moment somewhere around 6 in the morning, I was riding through some whoops and I just crashed. No explanation, no big mistake, I just fell down. Fortunately I wasn’t going very fast and I didn’t hurt myself at all. In fact I was kind of excited to be laying down. It was comfy down there. As I laid there considering the thought of a quick nap I heard the familiar sound of a V8 motor. NO!!! There was a trophy truck coming and I was laying in the middle of the course on the backside of a turn. He was going to run right over me! I jumped up and with super human strength, grabbed my big pig and through it and myself out of the way just as the truck rounded the turn. It was close! No exaggeration at all, it couldn’t have been 2 feet from hitting me. I was renewed with energy for some crazy reason and jumped back on to get to my chase crew.
I pulled into the pits just outside of Loretto and found my guys. I was so excited to see them and take a break. My buddy Jeff made me some food and Rog and Mike checked the bike over and removed my race headlight since the sun was now up. I also got to talk to Ruth on the satellite phone which was great! She wished me luck and told me to get after it! After a short rest I jumped back on and headed towards the mountains West of Loretto for what would be the hardest section of the race!
Thanks again for taking time to read this! I hope you are still enjoying it as much as I am. This is so fun re-living this race. If you are enjoying it and think you know anyone else who might like it, please share it around and give it a like on social media.
The 3 things I am grateful for today are Jon Acuff and the Finish Course, cozy pj’s to write in, and getting to go to California racing in a couple weeks!