It’s been too long since an update, my bad. I will be posting the race reports from the team members as posted on ADVrider!
First installment from Rick Teegarden:
4-27-12 Plane to San Diego (with Loud Al), met up with team, lunch at Bunz. Go to bank for Pesos, some prep work and route planning for race.
4-28-12 Drive to Mexicali in early morning, one of the few mornings with coffee! Hotel parking lots were jam packed with trucks, buggies, bikes and chase rigs. Paul (Sr, we call the team owner Paul Fournier “Sr” and we call Paul Susbauer “Jr” as he is our youngest member) was concerned about chafed fuel lines, so I decided to replace those before they were forgotten in the general chaos and all of us were working on either gear or the bike, just trying to burn off some nervous energy. Met many of our ADV friends; Doug C, Andrew F, Chris V (and wife Kelly), Mark V & Dana, looked for Crankshaft (Aaron) & Gilkey, did not actually find them for a few days, but met or talked to many, many people including Team Lameco (our competitive rivalry soon morphed to friendly rivalry and by the time we reached Cabo had evolved into friendship). In afternoon Jr & Sherry head to San Felipe. I rode bitch with Paul over to the bull ring for tech inspection, more happy pandemonium, everybody friendly and a great vibe. In the evening we returned to the bull ring for a drivers meeting. Back to our room to talk strategy, review maps and make prep for next day.
4-29-12 Day 1; Up early (4 AM) and got moving. This will be the pattern for rest of the event, up early and working late. Not for wimps! Throughout my narrative, although I talk mostly about the bike, bike repair and maintenance and riding, I would be remiss if I did not say how much effort was put in by our chase crew, Sherry Cook and Al Leahy, they drove and drove every day to make sure the tools and spares were where they needed to be and if we needed anything, were at the ready to hunt down a part, a tool or even food or water as needed. Al also took thousands of photos for all of us to enjoy and reminisce with. We also think Al should win a “Baja Tough Butt” award, for having ridden over 4,000 miles in less than two weeks. That is a story we will leave for Al to tell. Thanks guys!
T1 Sr; 6:19 AM Sr leaves start area in front of bull ring, as soon as he is gone Luke and I head to the truck to make our way to the end of the first special at the end of Laguna Salada.
SS1 Sr; Laguna Salada ~ Sr and many other racers, some of them multi time Baja vets, lose the trail and then find it, but shortly after regaining the proper course Sr shreds the rear tire, riding it that way for the last 50 miles , came into pits an hour overdue, riding sideways, and after a 15 minute pit stop I’m on my way. In those 15 minutes we changed the rear wheel (including sprocket change), checked bike over, & topped off the oil & gas.
T2 RT on highway and as in all my transits from here on am going over the bike mentally, noting any noises, vibrations or hints as to condition. Everything feels 100% and as I will do many times over the four day rally, pat the old girl on the gas tank and give her praise.
SS2 RT; Laguna Diablo ~ I had made a mental note of what Sr said when he got off the bike at Laguna Salada, that it took him a while to realize that the GPS arrow was not where you are at the moment, but pointing at the next way-point. Even with this information, there were so many gradual turns or divergent paths, that even being careful I took many wrong turns, and would not realize this until the arrow started pointing perpendicular to my course. Then I would turn around, find my error and proceed. I was mostly alone except for a big old blue Suburban, who seemed to be having the same navigation challenges I was experiencing. I had heard people talk about navigating by dust and I did look in what I thought was the general direction of the course (S, SE) and could see plumes of dust, so in addition to the GPS pointer I used that as well. Soon I came to a long series of whoops and it was here that I finally saw a few other vehicles. I was only passed by a couple of vehicles, most notably Snortin’ Nortin’, who was moving just a tick faster than the old twin. There were also a few pop-ups & lawn chairs and people with cameras, and again thinking back to the advice of my fellow riders, slowed down and took care whenever I saw a crowd. The little kids were quite enthused and I honked the bike’s horn at them just for fun. I finally came to the garbage dumps outside of San Felipe and knew I was getting close, and then the finish line with Sr & Luke waiting.
It felt pretty good to accomplish my first ride without any big setbacks. I handed the bike off to Luke, we checked it over, gave it some gas & oil and he was off. Paul handed me a cold beer and boy was that sweet! The rest of the day was a long drive with RT & Sr, passing thru Baja icon Coco’s Corner and heading to Guerrero Negro (so that we could meet up with the bike on day 2 near Vizcaino. Throughout this day and the rest of the trip, we were in constant contact with our dispatcher extraordinaire Alex, who provided us with invaluable information on the location of the bike or chase trucks as needed (frequently) via text messaging. If I remember correctly the rest of the day was scheduled like this; T3 Luke, SS3 Luke and T4 Jr. I am a little embarrassed to admit that over the course of the week, riding assignments became somewhat blurred as I was focused on either taking care of the bike or thinking about how I would ride when it was my turn. Great logistics and planning by Sr & Luke were a big part of the team’s success and since they had such a great handle on the logistics, it allowed me to do what I do best, turn wrenches. Day 1 ends with the OSR crew in Bay of LA, Sr & RT in Guerro Negro. Whew!
And more from day one from Luke:
The leadup to the race was a bit of a blur for me. The weekend before, as everyone else was rushing to prepare for the race, I went to a two day harescrambles. It was way too hot for me: 80F, which did not bode well for riding in Mexico. You know it’s bad when falling over in mud feels good. Oink.
After getting back, I stuck my nose in a laptop for a few days. The GPS tracks had been released, and I was converting them into routes. Grand plans for having everyone practice navigating with the GPS never went anywhere, so I was worried that the method would be confusing and cause trouble. I put a lot more detail into the routes this year than last, and was hoping it would pay off. The end result was that it all got done- in the hotel in San Diego the night before.
The de rigueur last minute route change was minor, and added into the gpses in Mexicali.
The support plan was much more complex this year than last. We had two support vehicles this year and were trying to swap around four riders. We also didn’t want to have anyone driving down narrow highways at crazy speeds at midnight, again.
As part of the plan, Sherry and Jr drove south to spend the night in San Felipe, so they could leave early and be waiting for the bike at Chapala. By the evening, we could see from their Spot tracker that they were in place.
The next morning, Rick and I saw Sr off at the ceremonial start, then drove down to Laguna Salada to wait for Sr. Now that’s a big word there, wait. We got there early, and the first waiting is good. It’s knowing that you did your job right and you’re in place, ready, for the next part of the race. Then the first bikes come in, and we’re thinking that it’s going to be at least a half an hour before our bike comes in, which is fine. But that’s a long half hour. And then that’s gone, and then we started thinking something was wrong. And that’s the bad waiting.
At about this time, a flood of texts came through from Alex. First was that everything was great, and that Sr’d started. Then bad, that he was off course. Then a little better, that he was back on course but moving slowly. That’s bad, but waiting with a hint of trouble is better than waiting with no clue.
Bikes were still trickling in. We kept looking. “Is that him?” wait “Maybe” wait “No.” repeat.
Eventually we see him. It’s not like the others, a headlight leading a dust cloud. This headlight is flickering, badly. And then it gets close enough to see the bike, and the whole bike is fishtailing wildly. The flickering is from the handlebars turning hard back and forth.
The problem: a very very flat tire.
At the truck we replaced the wheel. It certainly wasn’t the fastest wheel change in the history of racing, but it was in a transit section and we got to the end of the transit on time, so it was fast enough.
We sent Rick on his way. The bike was only smoking a bit. At the intersection of 5 and 3 we all stopped and refueled/oiled the bike. Rick went on his way up 3 to the race course, and Sr and I continued south on 5 to San Felipe.