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2016 Baja 500 Race Report 262x

nickybobby333

Well-Known Member
A couple smalls goals I really wanted to implement into my life in the beginning of 2016 was that I wanted to get out on my bike and race more, and I wanted to document it and give the play by play of the races that I do and everything involved with it for the friends and family that doesn’t get to see that side. I thought it would be interesting explaining the race in the eyes of someone who is not pro, and does this as their hobby. This sport is something that I have been around since before I was able to walk and has been something that I have grown to not only love, but to obsess over. I didn’t get a great start on doing race reports throughout the year, as the 500 is the 4th race of 2016 for me. With that being said, this race has had more than enough stories to fill my race report with enough detail to attempt to explain the chaos that happens on the first week of June south of the Border.

This is the second year my Dad, brother, and I have had the juevos to enter this race, in the handlebar class. Over the past 4 years we had ran some Best in the Desert races to get our feet back into Off Road racing and we finally decided that we had enough experience, patience, and longevity to be able to compete in the sportsman moto class and finish. We ended up finishing in 5th out of 10 entries with a time a little over 14 hours. The goal had been reached and we had finished out first major Mexico race, and the addiction had kicked in. We all three immediately start talking about what we learned, what we will do differently, and how well prepared we will be for the 2016 500. I decided it would be a good thing to get into a small race series so that I can be competitive on the bike on a more frequent basis. This along with my gym training would make time pass pretty quickly and I would be more than ready when June came along.


PRERUNNING:

One of the best benefits about racing the 500 and in being in Mexico is the ability to prerun and see the course before you go out and race on it. It is also a great time to spend with my brothers, dad, and grandpa. Both my grandpa and my dad have lots of experience in Mexico racing from previous years, so it is always nice to have them around, especially for the stories. We decided to go down the weekend of Memorial Day and would head down to Ojos on Saturday. We got down there and Tyler and I started getting dressed to do his first leg from Ojos to the road crossing at RM 70. We ended up meeting the boys at the road crossing where I would be getting on the bike and starting my section from race mile 70 and take it to race mile 200 in the desert at Borrego. We took off again not having any problems and again met the Chase at the bottom of the summit for gas which was about RM 102. The plan was to meet them at Borrego (rm 200) and we would determine where we were at in the day and go from there. Tyler and I again took off and continued my section. The first 5 miles of this section was up and down the summit. I have heard stories of how crappy this section is and how rough it is on a dirt bike. By the time we had gotten to the top, we meet a 1 car team prerunning in their ranger and they offered a beer to both of us, and being in Mexico prerunning, we happily accepted. After chatting it up about where we were going to meet in San Felipe later that night, we started our decent down to the Valley. Going up the Summit was rough, but manageable. Going down was a complete nightmare. Rocks the size of basketballs and constant small drop offs made going down a struggle that I have never ridden before. By the time we had gotten down and through the sandy wash we had gone about 20 miles in almost 3 hours. We were both beat, dehydrated, cramped, and ready for signs of life in the middle of the desert. We were able to keep motivating each other and pushing until we got to Baja Pits in the middle of the lakebed, which was set up for their pit duties all week. We were able to fill our camelbacks, and they sold us some gas so we could continue. At this point it was about 5:30 pm, we had been on the bikes for almost 8 hours, and we had about 3 hours of sunlight left and 40 miles of rough, rough desert to go. Since my bike didn’t have a light and we had exhausted most of our energy on the previous 8 hours of riding, we decided it would be best if we rode 5 miles to the highway, and then took the highway down 50 kms to bypass the desert section to get to the boys at Borrego. This was a wise decision, as we pulled up to the trucks after our highway journey, it was going on 8 o’clock and the sun had already set. After catching up with the guys and giving a rundown of what happened throughout the day, we started heading into San Felipe. We ended up going straight for food at Los Generals since we didn’t really eat anything, at least healthy food, all day. After eating almost 30 tacos, we went out to try and find out where we will be sleeping that night before going out for day 2 prerunning. We knew we weren’t going to find any rooms at that time, and after going to every hotel in town, we were able to convince the kid running the gate at the El Cortez to let us park in the parking lot. We pulled in about midnight and were all so exhausted, we quickly got as comfortable as we could. I decided I wanted to sleep in the bed of the truck between the bikes, and my grandpa lent me his sleeping back and small pillow for padding. I laid there for long enough to notice how amazing the stars were and just being thankful we are all in Mexico together. Quickly falling asleep, we were all awoken around 2 am by a Mexican band playing right in front of our trucks blasting the trumpet and tuba. They went on for hours, and after every song, I would just hope that they were finished and would let us finish the morning of sleep until the sun came up. After about 4 am they finally quit, and the sun popped its early morning face around 6 am. We had all rested up well enough to go out and attack day 2. We head into town to eat and then found RM 250 in town, which is where Tyler would be getting back on to go to RM 320. This section was a blast, and Tyler ended up running out of gas in Diablo lakebed about 8 miles from the road. I ran up and met Chase at the road, and filled up a couple of Gatorade bottles to run back to Tyler. After we finished out his section, we went down the road back to Borrego where the end of day one finished. From there my dad and other brother Brandon, were to prerun from RM 200 to 250 where it goes back into San Felipe. They delivered great news, that after they dropped us off earlier that day; they went back to the El Cortez and were able to get a room for us that night. We all headed back to San Felipe, where Brandon and my dad would meet us in town when they finished up. We immediately showered, got out of the clothes we were in for the past 36 hours, and headed straight to the Malecon for fish tacos and margaritas! Day three went very smooth, and we were able to finish the last 40 miles of my first section and the full 70 miles of my section. Towards the end of the day, we ran across Kurt’s memorial. I have a picture of Kurt doing a wheelie on his KTM as my background on my computer, and consider him as a legend and hero. Being able to let the area sink in and realize that I was in the presence of one of the greats in Mexico was a once in a lifetime feeling. We took a few pictures and finished out the remaining miles of my section and met the Chase back at the road. We changed, packed up, and started heading to the border, only to wait for 5 hours before crossing back into the states. We ended up getting back to San Marcos around midnight, knowing in a few days, we are heading back down for the real deal!


RACE:

Saturday morning, I woke up pretty easily, since I had gone to sleep around 8 pm the night before. I ate a few bananas and started drinking water bottles like it was going out of style. We said our goodbyes to Tyler and everybody staying around for the start and heading to RM 70 to get ready for me to get on. Ty got to us about 8:15 am, Brandon poured gas, I plugged in, and took off. The first 5-10 miles were a little rough with some deep whooped out turns, but it would eventually lead into some fast stuff. I was on good pace and felt my hands and body getting loosened up more and more. I pulled into the Mag7 pit (Mag7 is a supplemental pit service that can be in spots, we are unable to reach), in a quick fashion, and immediately 4 guys surrounded my bike and started working, while another guy handed me two waters. Smooth as ever, I was filled up and took off. Now this was the hard part, the summit again. I told myself after prerunning that I was going to run hard to the summit, and then get up and over it and then try and push hard again in the desert. I was able to get to the top at a smart but consistent pace, avoiding rocks and keeping my balance. As I started going down, I came up on a few guys here and there, and instantly started cramping, and realized it was a lot hotter on this side of the mountain. I crawled the bike down the mountain and got to the sandy wash and started to push again. At this point, I realized I am in the desert and it is hot! Over the next 20 miles I keep a good pace, avoiding hidden rocks in the sand and dodging tree branches that are sticking out. I had pushed a good pace and pulled into another Mag7 pit in the lakebed about RM 155. This pit, was a little slower, as I was just trying to re-hydrate and stay focused knowing I had another 40 miles to get the bike to my dad in Borrego. They dumped a bottle of water down my neck, and I was off. The soaked jersey only lasted about 2 miles, and it was back to being scorching hot. I came through the silt beds about RM 170 and was able to get through easy enough without having to overheat my bike. I pushed on checking down the 5 mile markers as I passed, 165, 170, 175, and then 180. About RM 185 is when it really starts to get difficult, as there is a real rocky section that requires a lot of energy. My camelback at this point was like drinking hot tea, and my seat (black) was like sitting on fire. Up until this point I had only passed a few bikes throughout my section, but now I was coming up on them ever mile or two. I would stop by and make sure they were ok before I would continue or at least get the thumbs up. A lot of them were under bushes in the little shade the grueling desert would offer. I was completely exhausted by the time RM 195 came, and any time I had a real technical area, my calves and hamstrings would cramp up to the extent that I wanted to just keel over and lay down. My main motivation to just keep pushing was that I didn’t want to get stuck out in the heat like the guys I had just passed and knowing I had less than 5 miles to go, was the only way I would get there. I pulled in at Borrego at a snail’s pace completely overheated, found my pit, and dismounted the bike. Everybody started assessing the bike and fueling it up while I sat underneath the tent, with ice towels on my head and neck trying to figure out what was really going on. I had forgotten every single number that I had passed and spent the remaining energy drinking water, Gatorade, and pickle juice to try and get myself rehydrated for my section later in the day. Someone had mentioned that they clocked the temp at that time and place, at 123 degrees. My dad took off to get the bike to Tyler at RM 250.

After about 45 minutes of cooling myself down with multiple iced towels from the coolers, we were able to get packed up and head down the road a little bit to meet Tyler where it starts to head back to Ensenada at RM 320 for me to get back on. After waiting in the truck in the AC for a few hours, dozing off to try and catch some Zs when I could, we received a message from the weatherman that Ty had pushed the mechanic alert button on the bike about 40 miles from the pavement. We sent one chase group, consisting of my dad, grandpa, Brandon, and cousin Dakota to go out to retrieve or fix. During this time we had not had radio contact with the bike in a few hours, and we received the terrible news about both 6x and 232x. Both had accidents and had passed, and the news sunk into all of us in a very weird way. We were not sure the condition of Tyler and hearing the news of these two competitors, one being in our class, was very unsettling. Luckily, the Chase was able to get to Ty after about 3 hours of leaving us and assessed that he had gotten a flat, and shredded the tire completely off the rim. They got a spare on and sent him on his way to meet us 320 and radioed in to us what had happened. Since my dad was hours out into the desert, I would be the one that would have to finish the remaining 150 miles, and at this time is was about 8:30 pm, and we had been racing for over 13 hours. He finally got to RM 320 around 10:30 pm, and the bearing on the rear wheel they replaced was nonexistent and had melted the axel to the swing arm. At this point being down for so long, the best decision was to call it quits while we were still up. We packed up the trucks and waited for the desert chase to get back to us before we headed back into Ensenada. This was one of the most difficult drives back into town, as we were all facing exhaustion, disappointment, and emotions over the events that had happened throughout the day. Tyler, Danielle, and my fiancé Lynnette, all fell asleep pretty quickly and I spent all of the remaining energy I had to make sure we got back to Ensenada safe. So many things went through my head on the drive home, listening to XM comedy channel just so I can listen to people talk to help me stay awake. The thought of the families of the two guys that we had lost that day, how easily it could have been us out there with that news, and how quick I decided that I was going to get back on and go off into the night to finish, even after hearing everything transpire hours before.


POST RACE:

We ended up getting back to Ensenada around 2:30 am and grabbed tacos from whoever was still open, showered and went to bed all thankful we were still together and that the worse thing was that the bike was broke. We woke up at 6 am and didn’t start heading to the border until about 8 am, where we waited for 4 and a half hours again. We got to my dad’s house in San Marcos, unloaded everything, and reloaded back into my truck, and started the journey back to Phoenix, not getting there until about 11 pm. During the tons of driving, I was able to do a lot of thinking and recapping the weekend and week prior. Everything in racing happens so fast, and as it happens you really do not have the ability to think about what is happening, you only have to ability to react. Even with prerunning, you have to act on a decision within minutes of it being presented to you. If we didn’t decide to take the highway we could have been stuck out in the desert to the early hours waiting for someone to find us. If we didn’t decide to send a chase out to Tyler when the mechanical button was pushed, he could have been one of the ones we were talking about over the weatherman, as he was down to his last few drinks of his camelback and was stuck out there for almost 5 hours before they got to him. Some, or shall I say most, people I talk to about this type of racing call me dumb, or stupid for attempting this challenge with the proposed risks. My only response to them is that this is something that I dreamed about since I started following my dad and grandpa when they were racing, or when I was old enough to remember the stories that were told by all of the racers around the campfire. Hearing the bikes start off at first dawn and then watching the cars and trucks race out in plaster city are some of the most fondest memories I have to offer. This is a sport that I not only love, but admire, and obsess over. I want to be involved in any way possible, and if I care so deeply about this, then I am will to accept the consequences that go along with it.

Words cannot explain how saddened I am for the two fallen riders, and to the little boy and their families. This is a very dangerous sport and us as racers accept this responsibility for the love of the sport. We all have times where it becomes a surreal moment for us or our race teams, but yet people with still line up to go racing throughout the year! My deepest thoughts, prayers, and regards to everyone involved in the accidents on that Saturday.
 

Fourstroker

Well-Known Member
Nice writeup. Bummer you didn't finish but sometimes coming home in one piece with your family is good enough.
 

Hayward Racing

Well-Known Member
RM 15-20ish



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Baja_Seve

Well-Known Member
Great read, sorry you weren't able to finish but you made the right decision. All your team is safe, that's what's important.
 
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