Running NORRA with GPS alone is one thing, you have less to concern yourself with, just follow the blue line. But to do that you have to constantly look down at the thing to see the next turn or trail change. Often it’s hard to discern between a bend or a connecting trail you need to turn onto. Last week when using GPS along I overran three turnoffs on just one 73-mile section. I felt fast just like training at home where I know all the tracks but here I didn’t know the track. How much does it slow me down by missing turns? Once it was a bitch to turn around. And also, how dangerous is it not knowing the bad stuff ahead?
Is racing NORRA using racebook and GPS faster or slower than using GPS along? After two M1Ks I do not need to know. I dig the racebook and all the skill you NEED to develop using it at speed. It’s a rhythm, a chant inside your head. When you turn to the next racebook entry, a turn, a rock field, water crossing, ditch, big jump or whatever the chant begins “28.4 hard right downhill at 215” Meaning when your odometer says 28.4 miles I need to turn a hard right going steep downhill at 215 degrees. Using colored highlighters to mark the racebook helps.
For a standard turn onto a new trail I use Blue,
For a danger-1 mark ‘!’ I use Pink to highlight the danger.
For a danger-2 mark ‘!!’ I use Pink or Orange depending on the danger. A ditch or big rocks get the Orange.
For a danger-3 mark ‘!!!’ I use a lot of Orange highlighting the danger.
For Silt Bed warning a solid Bright Red. And now I’m learning put a Red mark before the Red marked spot. Sometimes I get in a flow like when the trail looks straight for a while, and your just trying to ride hard and not crash, sometimes I fall behind in the racebook and miss an item. And if that’s a Silt Bed warning ‘Ouch’
I’m trying another color this year, Green for when the trail is good to go. I read FirePig does this. This may be OC, like cry wolf and cause me to not pay attention to any color. We will see, this must be a discussion in Ensenada with the FirePig himself as well as Hipster and others
I’ve never ran a racebook scroll through this new scroll chart reader I built let alone try it on the bike. The time is now. I practice colorizing the chart. I’m experimenting with Green this year.
I'm trying to find solutions for the mistakes I’ve made the past two NORRAs. Highlighting the section’s mileage is a start, it's nice to know. I may write it in red a few spots along book. The elevation profile is something cool, it may help to pay attention to it. The plan is to make a personal mark on the racebook when the elevation is about to climb big or go down big, especially when it corresponds with an Up or Down Arrow on the page. Another problem I've had is not knowing how much time I have on the transit sections. Maybe circle times in the book reminding me to start my wristwatch timer. Otherwise I need to get off the bike and look at the time written on my fender race sheet, which I believe is my actual final start time for the special. I believe the only times I ran into time trouble is when I stopped for tacos or ham and eggs. Now that Hipster is chasing with a pickup truck this year I have to see if he can shuffle me some food and drink along the way, like Tim's BajaBoundMoto team does and others. Several times I've gotten food from other teams just because I'm talking with them. Super nice to get a PBJ sandwich or cheese and crackers mid race.
Race logistics and strategies are ramping up. My older sister GoMom needs a photo of the bike with graphics, she’s says she needs to get those t-shirts going. The young kids love them at the finish lines. Cavegirl and my sister are finalizing their support plans for Cabo
. Wild Heidi III
Ready for some racedbook training. I have day-5 of the 2017 racebook loaded, GPS tracks loaded -> Go
Forsure the iPhone Rally app dies 10 minutes into the ride. The USB power connector popped out I assume before I even started. I need to make sure that can’t happen during the rally.
This is the first real test of the scroll chart reader, apparently I never cranked down the bolts let alone loktight them. This is what I expected I guess, I didn’t want to crank everything down until I knew it works
Again, I’m glad I carry tools, and this proves servicing the scroll box is easy.
The goal today is to run the last two sections of the 2017 NORRA day-5. This is mostly fast terrain with sections of technical navigation challenges, perfect for racebook training.
Another paradise way off the beaten path that’s recently been discovered.
I turn around and double back here, 9 miles before the finish line in San Jose del Cabo. This is where it gets real nasty. I need to preserve bike and body at this stage in the game. And plus I'm alone, I need to constantly remind myself of that.
We took a trip to Cabo for Baja supplies; Home Depot for a long beefy chain and three large padlocks for the Suzuki (didn't like the three cables and locks I have), Walmart for bulk Mexican food and tequila, GNC for protein powder and food bars for the race. I like to down a protein shake at the end of a race day and first thing in the AM. The food bars are for mid-race when there is no real food food available.
The last thing we needed is a communications device for Tom C in the chase truck. I pickup an inexpensive and nice AT&T smartphone, just $7.25/month for unlimited talk and 3.5G bytes internet, plenty of data for the chase truck to follow our NORRA race tracker and chase to bike communication when there is a signal. Heidi and I are testing everything out, the chase trucks phone connects to our US AT&T phones here in Mexico and our phones connect to the chase truck phone here. And we just tried Tom C in the states and that works also! Alright, this will do
198 Days until Fun!
Reset - Reload - Go... I've always felt one of the best parts of an adventure and competition is the preparation and planning. Your mind virtually journeys through scenario after scenario until a good plan is formed. And the closer the date the more the visions clarify and the more the plans change. It's a constant evolving process, a protocol, an adrenaline rush, an endorphin high or spiritual moment. Whatever, your mind and body go through it and it's one of the happiest feeling on earth. Adding Baja racing on a motorcycle to this formula only multiplies the joy. Is there something wrong with me
Yes, it’s disappointing hearing the NORRA 1000 is postponed, especially after taking a four month leave from my full-time job to prepare in Baja. Oh Boohoo, we still have our Suzuki, a local gym, the beach and tons of mountain hiking opportunities to continue training on. That worked for about a week then we stopped going to the gym based on virus numbers and recommendations in the media. Family and friends are now asking if we are coming home. We don’t understand, the USA is exploding with new corona cases and Baja Mexico has less than ten. When the border closed between the USA and Mexico we take another look. Still we are seeing no advantage to crossing back into the USA having two months in Baja to go.
WOW so much can change in such a short period of time. Along with everyone on this planet we are now feeling the tension ‘We should not go out at all’ ‘If we do go out, we are risking getting other infected and they could get others sick who could die’ We 100% respect that and are doing everything to comply. No more going out for street tacos or anything else. Going to the purified water store and grocery store is the only thing we do that’s risky now. I carry a rag soaked in bleach for the pen to sign the grocery bill. Now it’s just running and hiking and lifting stones away from others. We are dealing and still feel super lucky. The way we look at it, staying at home and having a great is all we got, so that’s what we are doing and we are doing it with gusto! What other choice do we have!
Hang in there everyone. Smell the fresh Spring air, listen to the birds, see the moon and enjoy friends and family like you have never enjoyed them before. This will pass
ALRIGHT! I didn’t want to post anything until covid was over, but that is not working. We are still planning on racing a vintage motorcycle in the NORRA Mexican 1000. So where did we leave this? -->Here We Go! (This is all just for fun)
Heidi and I have our rental in Los Barriles paid for through the first week in May, enough time to chill after completing the 2020 NORRA 1000, which never happened of course. Anyway, time to pack up for the drive back to Wisconsin and prepare for the re-scheduled race in October. Oh Yeah, can do!
We’re up early heading out of town before anything opens. There are only two people manning the Los Barriles covid roadblock. All we get is a wave to proceed on. It’s obvious we’re booking out of town not to return.
It’s a 1,000 miles up the Baja peninsula then another 2,000 across the USA to get back home, an absolute ideal road trip with almost unlimited route and enjoyment potential. But this time it’s different, we’re traveling during ‘lockdown’ The word is motels in Baja are closed and roadblocks are up preventing entry into most towns. Heidi is concerned about rooms. I try to assure her we always have our tent. That doesn’t help. We reach out to a friend who has local knowledge, Tim Morton of BajaBoundMoto. Tim just talked with a friend who recently drove the peninsula south to north and had no problems. Sweet but I still make a call to our favorite motel in Santa Rosalia, our potential first stop. I spoke nothing but Spanish and was told they are open and have rooms, great.
There are roadblocks going through the bigger cities with huge boulders blocking entrance to side roads. Every checkpoint encounter is brief and polite. We suppose it’s easy to see we are gringo racers trying to head home, and everyone here wants us to do that. One of the military checkpoint guys asked if we’re leaving because the beer?
After I run to a liquor store in Mulege’ I suddenly understand the severity of the beer situation in Baja, there is none!
To minimize exposure we deploy only one person per task, if possible. Heidi goes in for the first motel check-in. El Morro, a sweet old style motel right on the sea of Cortez where we’ve stayed before. The first question asked in Spanish “Do you live in Mexico?” She needs to think fast and answers “Si” then she's asked the address… Without hesitation she fires out the condo name, street name and the town of our rental, in Baja Mexico. Whoosh, we’re got the room.
Santa Rosalia is beautiful as always. We get supplies at the general store just before town, again no beer. Right next door there’s a ‘top notch’ taco establishment. Heidi goes in for tacos para viajar.
Enjoying an evening eating tacos, playing cards and drinking margaritas on the balcony overlooking the sea of Cortez. So far so good.
Wasting no time this trip, normally we like a week or two for the peninsula run. It’s still a great drive, we have fun talking about all the places we pass and have never been to. Someday we will explore that road…
A favorite taqueria south of Guerrero Negro is closed. Tim Morton turned me onto this place and now it’s a must stop. The hottest and best taco sauce in Baja, but you need to ask for it
Unknown delay in the middle of nowhere, everyone is parked and walking around.
A semi-trailer apparently blew a tire or worse and launched off the road. We commit to safety and continue on.
The rumor is true the road between Guerrero Negro and San Felipe is finished and paved. We take that road and land in SF with enough sun to enjoy the day.
Today is Mother’s day. San Felipe tries to be normal.
The town in general feels like a ghost town, especially what we are used to. We grab a pizza to-go for pool side back at El Capitan. Weird not having fish tacos in San Felipe but the malecón is completely closed.
The plan is to get to the US border at Los Algodones before noon so we have plenty of time to cross, the word on the street is that the border hours are restricted in Algodones due to covid.
We only spend ALL DAY in a slow line to the US border but to be turned back into Mexico six cars before the US border closed. Say What!
Alright! Life goes on, all summer long all Fall all Winter the theme has been "WE are doing the 1000 in April"
This summer was a blast getting ready for the 2021 NORRA.
Time for some final bike adjustments and modifications. These are all things I planned to do but wasn’t going to finish before the race. Now there are ‘No Excuses’ --> A bright amber LED flasher with a simple switch on the rear fender sounds good. On, Off or flashing, just like the Baja buggies.
I do some killer 200+ mile rides through the Chequamegon national forest and nothing falls off or has problems. SUPER! Glamor shot - ready for Ensenada tech inspection.
I continue the restore on the 1975 Yamaha DT250, my main dirt bike for over 35 years. I’m almost done with the restore so I continue to hammer on it, I say “for training” but down deep it‘s because I love this bike and I know I will get rid of it eventually. The technology is just too old. it’s still faster than snot and scars the H out me too many times.
Paradise in the boathouse.
Working on the 250 Working on the Sportster Working on the 400. The DR350 is done and ready to race. Life is good (evil grin
The 2002 XR400R is my main Baja race trainer. It’s fun comparing the DR350 with the XR400, the suspension, the punch and the handling in diversity. I like them both. I seem to get less beat-up with the DR350, but the 400 has more punch. I have the pre-load almost maxed on the rear of the 350, because I hear it is soft. I like that feel. The 400 with less pre-load is more ponding. Just thinking out loud.
I'm surrounded by ATV trails, fire lanes, county and national forest, just fantastic I never need to trailer anywhere, nice.
I dig working on the Sportster, this is the same bike Heidi and spent over a year on riding to Panama and back on. I had it all ready for us to ride to Sturgis this year. I even had reservations at a nice resort in Deadwood, opposed to camping at the Buffalo Chip. Heidi deserves that at least.
As August gets closer we knew because of covid this was not going to be the Sturgis ride we know and love, so we decided to cancel and just hang local. We can deal...
We like to ride far but until covid is over we at least have tons of riding here.
Chequamegon National Forest - NORRA training grounds of the North
Alright! We are standing by. All good, sights are focused on the next NORRA Mexican 1000, maybe the wonderful Mexican 500 also. So many decisions, so much fun to be had.