|Pro Caliber.com, Bell, Fusion Baja 1000 team "Our Race"|
|Written by Joey Lancaster|
|Monday, 05 December 2011 19:24|
The Pro Caliber.com team sits down to tell their Baja 1000 story. Each rider runs through the race to give you a idea of how the race went for them. They finished 9th this year with a hard fraught finish after a mechanical put them back. As a team they showed the world how northwest riders never give up.
Rain in the days leading up to the morning of the race really help cut down on the dust on the west side of the peninsula, which was nice for our vision in the morning light. I started for our team at 6:34 a.m. and was amazed by the huge number of spectators lining the course at that hour of the morning. The conditions where really good and I was having a blast, but was riding fairly conservative not knowing what to expect as far as the infamous booby traps and course changes from the locals. Booby traps are usually just poorly made jumps, but can also be holes and other obstacles made for the enjoyment of the local spectators.
I made it RM 80 to hand off the bike to Miles Warren. At this point, we were in fifth place and happy to have the race in motion after so much preparation leading up to this monumental day. We filled our Clarke Manufacturing gas tank and I did a few adjustment to our EVO industrial(?) suspension. After just these few checks and changes, Miles was on his way. I jumped in the team chase van and headed to RM 199 where the bike would be handed off to Anthony. We arrived and set up the pit stop and soon started hearing that something had happened to Miles about fifteen miles into his section. Details were few and far between. Hours later, Miles arrived at RM 199 and all of us where happy to see him in one piece. We looked over the damage to the bike and realized there was significant damage done. We went to work on switching out the left radiator. I think we were all bummed that we had such a massive setback, but we know that’s racing and we just needed to focus and keep moving forward. We got Anthony on his way and our race was back in motion.
I'm really happy that we didn't give up as a team and we pushed hard all the way to the finish line.
Once I got out of the van and put my helmet on, I started to feel much better. Rory got the bike to the checkpoint where he made a few minor changes to the suspension and then I was off. The first 20 miles of my section were pretty smooth and at times, it almost seemed like it was freshly grated terrain. At RM 95, I was clipping along pretty good when I collided with a good-sized rock that caused me to crash into a large patch of cactus. I was hurting, and so was our bike. In the crash, I broke the radiator and was impaled with what felt like thousands of cactus spikes. So now, I was sitting there with a broken radiator and a sore body but I knew that I needed to get the bike fixed and get it to the team all the way at RM 200. I was able to repair the radiator but it took about an hour and the fix only lasted about 20 miles where I was lucky enough to pull into a pit and get it fixed with a ton of quick dry epoxy which took about another hour. At this point, I was pretty bummed out but I just wanted to
The drive south down to RM 320 was a long ride, but we arrived and waited for Anthony to come in. When Anthony rolled in, we bolted on the big dual 8-inch Trail-Tech light and I took off and headed into the dark. Anthony could have used this light earlier, as darkness had already started to fall. I knew when I took off, the trophy trucks were not far behind me. Knowing this made me nervous but I just tried to keep up a consistent pace and ride as smart as I could, all things considered. My goal was to get to the checkpoint at RM 404 where I could get off the bike before the trophy trucks caught me. This section went pretty well for me. I was able to make good time and keep myself off the ground. I came up just short of beating the first trophy truck to RM 404. They passed me about two miles before the pit. It was pretty gnarly to see how fast they could go through the rough terrain. Once I got to the team at RM 410, I was very happy to get off the bike and get back in the van to head north. The Baja 1000 was an awesome experience for me and I am very thankful that I was able to go and compete with an awesome group of guys. I can’t wait to give it another try in the near future...
I ripped off into the first Baja 1000 race of my life and was focused to get the bike back to Miles at RM 322. I rode confidently and tried to keep a good pace, not wanting to push it too hard and hit the ground. I knew the team was depending on me. The first twenty miles were pretty whooped out. The next twenty were the fastest of the race through the dry lake bed. It was at this point where I topped out the Pro Caliber bike at 94 miles per hour. My first Baja Pit was at RM 245, where I made a few clicks on the rear shock and adjusted my fanny pack that was so painfully uncomfortable, it was felt like it was wearing a hole through my lower back. The next 45 miles where pretty whooped out, but there were lines
As I was leaving the wash roughly around RM 302, the daylight was about gone. Because we had to swap the radiator, we were behind on our estimated time and we didn’t think to put the lights on the bike for me. What a rookie move! So I just pulled the goggles on and kept soldiering on. Two spills later and feeling my anger level rise, I came up on a dude with a light and rode side by side with him to the rider exchange at RM 322. My next section was from Zoo Road at RM 415 to RM 450. All whoops in this section big and nasty. By this time we, were being passed by trophy trucks. That was crazy to deal with, but that’s how Baja works. I got the bike to Rory in one piece and quickly got myself to a delicious taco! Baja was fun, scary and crazy but was a great time with my friends. Oh yeah, I want redemption!
I would start my race at Race Mile (RM) 540 and take it all the way to the finish, which was 160 miles ahead of me in pure darkness. I was to run the coast side back to the finish which put me on the opposite side of the race from everyone else. All I could do was listen to the radio and watch our cell phone for information on how the team was doing on the other side of the Baja Peninsula. My expected time to get on the bike was between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. With the radiator change out and lighting problems that we had, my Baja 1000 racing experience was pushed to 12:45 a.m. That’s when I finally, eagerly and already exhausted, jumped on the bike and took off to race my section.
I would start heading to the Pacific Ocean and run north up the coast. It started as a two track jeep trail and turned into a fast gravel and river rock mountain road. With us behind schedule, I was now racing with other sportsman bike teams and ATV teams. But more importantly, there were the Trophy Trucks. Its hard to not shake a bit when the earth is lit up behind you like a UFO is about to abduct you while 800hp rumbles the earth and your eardrums. I knew that riding smart and keeping and eye out for lights was how I had to run the race. With the first 80 miles down, at RM620 the course turned into a tight mountain jeep trail that would take me first back to Ojos Negros and then back to Ensenada to the finish. This was a very chopped out and over used section of course that made it hard to keep focused. The hours of pounding the bike off of sharp
Now at RM660 and the last 30 miles through the outskirts of Ensenada's farms, neighborhoods, gravel pits, river wash and city streets, I pushed to the finish line. This section was the same section used in the start and was cut in, but super slick as the rain began to fall up in the hills around town. I still smile thinking about all the people yelling and screaming for me to race to the finish at four in the morning. The people of Baja absolutely live this race and cheer on everyone like you are winning it. As I make the last mile through the mud holes and rain water ruts, the rain had stopped and all was calm. I made the last right-hand corner and crossed the finish line. We finished the race 23 ½ hours after Rory got the green flag.
Thank you to all that stood behind the Pro Caliber.com Bell Helmets, Fusion Graphix team this year. We held our heads high and pushed hard as a team to show the world how northwest riders finish races. We never surrender to a course that will undoubtedly swallow you whole.
Photos: Justin Silvey