2006 Baja 1000 Race Day: Part 5 "So Many River Crossings"
It’s hard to accurately describe how you feel after riding a 300-pound dirt bike for 24 hours straight. If you haven’t done it, the best I can do is to have you imagine being inside a giant washing machine that is running full tilt in a tornado that is inside of a tsunami for 24 hours. Yep, that’s close.
Leaving Loretto and heading up into the mountains is amazing. The road winds up and up and the views are amazing. After a while, I passed the San Javier Mission that is perched way up in the mountains and is absolutely amazing. I hadn’t pre-run this next section and I had NO IDEA what was coming. As I rode away from the mission heading west the road began to deteriorate. “No big deal,” I thought. I love rough terrain on a bike. Then the road began to cross the river back and forth.
Initially, the crossings weren’t too bad but they got worse and worse and longer and longer. And the stretches of road between crossings got rougher and rougher and shorter and shorter. What the heck happened to this road? I began to just pray that I would make it across each time. You couldn’t see the bottom of the water so rocks would magically knock the crap out of you with no warning right in the middle of the crossing. Off balance and beat tired I would hang on, gas it and hope for the best. One of the most memorable moments of this section came when I got to a crossing that was about 40 yards across. It looked like the ocean to me so I stopped at the edge and looked at it for a bit. Just when I was about to forge out into it a buggy came up behind me and headed across. They were doing ok and then suddenly it sank a little more and was stuck. They had the wheels spinning like crazy in both directions and nothing would move them. It was a wonderful gift because now I knew where NOT to go. I launched out into the river and, with feet like outriggers, I bounced and chugged across to the other side. I was ecstatic, that was a close one.
On the other side there was a guy on an XR650 like mine but he was waiving to me. I pulled over and he asked if I had a spark plug wrench. “Huh, you don’t?” “No, and I drowned my bike out there and I need to get the water out of the motor.”. I opened my tool kit for the first time in the race and handed him my spark plug socket and ratchet. “I have to go, but I need this back,” I said as I fired my bike up and headed out.
The rest of that section until I met up with my chase crew again was torture. Someone counted the number of times that the road crossed the river and it was something like one million times. After that there was silt. I can’t describe silt. It is the most miserable terrain to ride through, especially after a ton of high horsepower trucks and buggies have been through it. It is like liquid dirt. It comes up over your fender and it hides massive rocks and roots and ruts. I can say without a doubt that I hate silt more than anything else on earth. I would rather french kiss a black mamba than ride a dirt bike through silt! When I saw the boys again I was whipped but excited that section was over.
I don’t know what I looked like after that kind of beating but I can imagine it wasn’t pretty. My guys could see that I was hammered and tired but not broken. I was determined to finish this thing and I only had 100+ miles to go. I took a pretty long break at the last place I was going to see them before the finish and then threw my leg back over my steed for the final push.
OOOOOOHHHH man, its getting exciting now! Thanks for reading again and like always, share if you feel like it!
Three things I am grateful for today are: Small group meetings on Thursdays, the ability to get up early and work, the weekend on the horizon!