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Author Topic: 2017 Baja 1000 RACE REPORT  (Read 127 times)
EZ
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« on: November 23, 2017, 01:27:06 PM »

017 Baja 1000
November 14-18 2017
1134.4 miles

Back in May of 2017 Jeremy Stevens called me asking me if I was interested in racing in the Baja 1000 this year. Itís the 50th anniversary and I turned 50 this year so it was kind of meant to be.
I said okay,Ö Iím in. We worked together for the next few months putting a team together and working on logistics. We had a team shake up at the end of July and found ourselves two team members short.
We made a bunch of calls to our friends that have been to Baja trying to find two more racers. After reaching out for a couple weeks and numerous ďnoísĒ I started scrolling through my phone. I was scrolling and then came across Scott Miller. I thought to myself,Ö why wasnít he my first phone call?
Scott went to Baja with us last year as we rode some of the most difficult trails in Baja Norte. I called Scott and within a couple minutes he was ďINĒ! It was that easy! Scott knew we wanted a 4th racer so he made a few calls and we had another racer!
Our team as of September 2017.
1. Scott Miller (Rider of Record Starts the race to San Felipe) (Loreto to Ciudad Insurgentes)
2. Eric Breien (Section from San Felipe to Bay of LA) (Ciudad Insurgentes to Santa Rita)
3. Jeremy Stevens (Bay of LA to San Ignacio) ( Santa Rita to Punto Conejo)
4. Eric Zite (San Ignacio to Loreto) (Punto Conejo to Finish)



Letís get to the pre-runÖ
Scott and Eric Breien headed down early to pre-run their sections.
While pre-running Scott melted a bib.
This was just the beginningÖ

We picked up a handful of UHD tubes to have incase this happened again.
Jeremy and I headed down on November 11th and met the guys in Ensenada.
Went through registration on Sunday, did some final prep on the bike and then headed down to Bay of La where Jeremyís section begins.
We pulled into the Villa Vitta where were going to stay the night. Was super wired but needed to sleep so I popped an Ambien and turned in for the night.
Note to self,Ö Never take an Ambien when not at home. Youíll do stupid things....

So Monday morning Jeremy and I set out to prerun his section. We head out of town and start picking up the pace. Weíre cruising along and ripping the throttle when I notice Jeremy has stopped.
I go back and find his bib on the outside of his tire. Major problem. This happened 10 miles into his pre-run.


So thatís two tire related issues and the race hasnít even startedÖ.

We muscle the bib back into the tire and tighten the rim lock and head off again.
One mile down the road it comes apart again. Weíre screwedÖ



Weíre out of options so I head back to Bay of LA to scrounge up a tube. I ask around town and have no luck but then stop by Guillermoís as I see some moto guys loading up a trailer. 3 minutes later Iím heading back towards Jeremy with an 18Ē UHD read tube AND a pump! Moto guys are great.

Get back to Jeremy and we start tearing into his when and notice the bead is busted on the tire. Not sure if this happened while installing the bib initially or while the tire came off the wheel.
We installed the tube and mounted up the tire.


Headed back to BofLA in search of a tire. We stop at a local tire shop and he tells us about a moto guys who lives nearby. We go searching and find his house but heís not home. However his wife is home and sheís super helpful. She calls the guy and he basically says ďtake what you need and leave the money you think is fairĒ We find a used tire in good shape, use all his tools, and mount the ďnew to us tireĒ and then head back out on our prerun!



The rest of the prerun goes without incident despite hitting a nasty siltbed at 60mph and almost dying.




We hook up with Chase 2 (Jeremyís family) and load up for them to take me down to San Ignacio where my race section begins. They drop me off and head back to BofLA. I settle into my room in the Desert Inn San Ignacio Hotel and start planning my prerun tomorrow. This hotel is fantastic and almost the twin of the hotel in Catavina.

I wake up Tuesday the morning of the 14th to head out solo to prerun my 225 mile race section. I gear up, put extra gas in my saddlebags and head out.
Iím following my GPS and having a great time. I come up to a water crossing. It looks deep and Iím solo on a moto in the middle of nowhere so I stop and look for a bypass.



As Iím scouting for a line another moto guy on a Honda comes out and cuts a line around the water like heís done it before.
I use his same line and it is perfect.


I am having a great time and getting close to San Juanico (Scorpion Bay).


The speeds I am riding at are insane!


You get comfortable at such high speeds you forget how fast you are actually going and I came into some corners WAAAAYYYYY faster than I should have and blew more than one.

The trail is fast and flowy with some loose nasty rock sections. I pull into town and see the same Honda guy who showed me the line around the water. I flag him down and ask him if he knows where I can get gas. We start talking then I realize heís 3 x riders Bryce Oxley. Super nice guy who points me to gas as he heads off to finish his loop.



I find the gas shack and load up of fuel. Itís hot,Ö I think itís in the 90ís.

I hit the local store and buy some water because Iím about out. On the way out I once again get hit up for stickers by the local kids. Iím out of stickers but I loaded up on race bracelets. One little kid looked sad so I gave him one. I told the teenage girls with him I was out as I like to give them to little kids. As they were walking away I saw one of the girls take the bracelet from the little boy. I shouted over to there and told her it was for the little boy and that she should come back to me. I gave her a bracelet so she would let the little boy keep his. Now the other teenage girl was looking sad as she didnít get anything. I got her attention and called her over and gave her my LAST bracelet. She was friendly and they were as happy as they skipped away.


I left the store and headed to the beach to see the famous Scorpion Bay. It was beautiful with long rights peeling off and going on forever.



Iíll have to get back here someday but today Iím here to MOTO!


I head off on the race course towards LaPurisma. Lots of cool water crossings, hard embedded rock and loose rocks as I go through the mountains.










As I come into La Purisma the kids must be getting out of school and they are high fiving me by the dozens. One kid winds up and hive fiveís me and about breaks my hand. I look back and heís shaking his hand like a Polaroid picture. After that I stopped slapping hands with the kids and just did wheelies through town instead.
The next stage of my prerun was smooth and a blastÖ. Until I got into the silt around race mile 790-800. As I pull up prerunners are sprawled out everywhere. A couple of the Banning guys recommended that I avoid the silt beds but since Iíd have to hit the VCP during the race I push on through it. Itís not so bad after all and I head off towards Loreto. The last section into Loreto has everything,Ö rocky tight twisty hills, rocky washes, silt beds and some fast flowy two track. This section is fun but I think itís going to get torn up over the next few days.

I pull into Loreto and get gas. Sitting there Iím trying to find a ride back to San Ignacio but everyone is staying the night or heading south. So,Ö I head out on the moto and start up the highway. The weather is getting nice and the sun in getting low so I have to get on the move. I make it back to San Ignacio and see that Iíve logged 405 miles for the day. Iím tired but have the day off tomorrow as I wonít see the bike on race day until Thursday afternoon.


Wednesday is a chill day so I head down to the square in San Ignacio and check out the Mission.



While there I run into Bryce Oxley again and we talk for a bit and meet his dad. What a great bunch of guys!
The mission is an amazing building thatís been around since around 1786. I spend a couple hours at the Mission and walking around the local square. Itís warm so I grab some ice cream before heading back to the hotel.


Race day is upon us.
My buddy Tom who is Chase 3 arrived today and brought my wife with him. Itís nice to have Gina here for her first time in Baja. We grab some dinner and make it an early night. Iím riddled with anxiety and have to force myself to go to sleep.
I wake up at 2am and check Scottís tracker. Heís moving and the race is on. I go back to bed and try to sleep. CANíT SLEEP. I watch the tracker for a bit until I nod off again. I wake up and grab breakfast with Tom and Gina. Weíre getting messages that Eric Breien is having issue with the rear tire and is limping into meeting Jeremy. Jeremy hops in his Prerunner and heads out to meet Eric early on the course and change a rear tire. Jeremy hops on and starts heading my way. Iím going crazy with anxiety and trying to chill while waiting for my turn on the bike.
Jeremy has some epic silt on the last portion of his first leg and hope he comes in with the bike in one piece.

I am going crazy waiting for the bike and can't sit still.
I keep going to the chase truck and checking the tracker...



Well,Ö he shows up and the bike is BEAT.


The subframe is broken, Stella is broken, GPS is broken and both the foot shifter and rear brake lever have been replaced. Duct tape is everywhere and there is an inner tube taped to the rear fender.


Jeremy tells me I should change the rear wheel but I was confident it would hold out.
This was a huge mistake!
I need to listen to my team members.
I screwed the whole team by doing this.

My wife GZ telling me to ride smart as I'm about to head off on my first section...



I hop on the bike and head out on a 20 mile pavement section before I hit the dirt.


I am over psyched and use this speed zone to calm down and eat some calories. I follow the signs and hit the dirt. Itís on now and Iím ripping pretty good. I come up on the deep water crossing and there is a huge crowd! Hundreds of people waiting for the carnage. I love disappointing them as I take the bypass around the water and literally ride through the crowds as they part like the sea for Israel. I pick up the pace but careful to avoid the hazards I remember from my prerun. Iím laying down the miles and approaching San Jacinto. This is a high-speed section and Iím getting up to 80+mph in the dark. I feeling great, the bike is pulling like a rhino on steroids, and Iím passing guys left and right. Iím feeling optimistic as I make the left turn from San Juanico heading towards LaPurisma.
As Iím clicking off miles I feel the rear end start scooting around. Iím hoping itís just slick ground but reality tells me the tire is failing. I get into the mountains and start hitting rock sections and itís obvious the rear bib is done. Thereís nothing around me and its pitch black out. I look ahead and see a fire up ahead so I push on to the fire. As I pull up I see a family of around 10 people watching the race. They all run over and see if I need help. My Spanish is VERY limited but they understand Iím going to change a flat so they help out big time. Itís night time in Baja so I am wired up like a Borg from Star Trek. I unplug my hydration line and my helmet lights and start digging in my bag for tools. Two guys hold the bike as I pull off the rear tire and confirm that the bib is done. The family is holding flashlights for me handing me tools as I need them. I pull off one side of the tire and the bib comes out in pieces. Not one piece bigger than 2 inches. Since Iím throwing in a tube I need to pull the tire off the rim and put on some new rim tape. I clean it all up, tape the rim, put the tire back on and pump up the tube. Did I mention that itís about 80 degrees out and the fog is so bad I can only see about 10ft. The humidity is strong and Iím literally dripping in sweat.

The tire is mounted and holding so I put all the tools away, plug in my lights and plug in my hydration system. I mount the bike and push the started button,Öand nothing happens. It wonít start! AHHHHHH come onnnnnn!!!!!!!!

I unplug my light and hydrations system and pull my back pack off again. I pull the jump box out and plug it into the bike. She fires right up! Now I can breathe again. I once again plug my lights and hydration back in and head out. Now Iím riding on tire that has been abused with a tube in it and no spare tube. I ride gingerly for a mile and then just pin it. Itís a rocky nightmare through here but Iím feeling good to be moving again. I hit Baja Pits and pick up some gas and a spare tube then head out again. One mile after Baja pits the rear tire goes flat. Itís darker than Wesley Snipes out so I head back to Baja Pits to do the tube change. I pull in and the pits guys jump into action. These guys are really going at it. My rear tire is done. The side walls are cut from riding the flat tire through the rocks for the last mile. I find a 120x18 Dunlop D739 in good shape lying in a stack of tires. I grab it and we throw it on with a new tube. We are almost done and Iím gearing back up but thereís a hitch,Ö they canít find the axle bolt. ? LOL what the heck is going on? We literally spend 5 minutes looking for the axle bolt. Looks like one of the guys carried it off when he went to get a wrench out of the tool box. The axle bolt was in the tool box! WOW,Ö
I grab another spare tube and strap it through my chest protector and head out!


All these tire issues have cost me hours! But,.. Iíve got a new tire, new tube and a spare tube. Iím good to go.
I head out and work my way towards mile 800 and the silt that I know is there. I just rode this a couple days ago but as I pull in the silt is beyond terrible. I throw caution to the wind and grab a handful and dive in. I hit a silt bed and cross rut the bike as it stalls. It wonít start,Ö itís dead. Thereís no way I can get the bike out of the rut. Hopefully no one comes along. I once again have to pull the jump box out of my pack to start the bike. I hook it up and ,Ö no start. It wonít start,Ö it wonít start,Ö it wonít start. I unplug the jumper and plug it back in again. This time it starts! Thank you Husqvarna! I gear back up and get going again. Only running one light from now on.
I muscle through the silt and get into the hills and washes before dropping into Loreto. The bike is solid, Iím feeling great so I power into Loreto and give the bike off to Scott for his second leg.
We load up and I hop in Chase 3 and head off to Punto Conejo where Iíll get on the bike for the last time and race the bike into the finish line in LaPaz.
We get to Punto Conejo and canít find the Baja Pits location so we set up the rider exchange just off the course and wait for Jeremy to come in.
Jeremy comes flying in like a trophy truck is on his tail, but he was so fast he was never passed.
Heís in a great mood and high on adrenalin and asks me if Iíd let him take the bike to the finish. I couldnít do it as I had just pumped myself up and was ready to rip. I hop on the bike and pray there are no trophy trucks chasing me down. Itís amazing how much motivation you can get when you donít want to be killed by a 5000 pound desert monster.
I stay on the gas and the locals are pumping me up in a way I didnít think possible. I am in the zone and ripping the fast sections and railing the huge berms built up by the other racers. Iím doing great then I hit ďThe StepsĒ. The Steps are not so bad but you have to watch your speed. I made it to the top then started into the HUGE sand whoops down into LaPaz. These whoops are no joke. They suck your energy and destroy your moral.
I made it through and then turned onto pavement. Realization hit me that we had made it. I started to tear up in my goggles. The crowds were crazy and I snapped into celebration mode and started ripping wheelies through LaPaz. I made it to the finish line and wheelied up to the podium coming to a complete stop before going up on the ramp. Roger Norman walks over and kind of gives me crap for the wheelie and then said they had a big accident earlier where people were hurt. I blow it off and ride up on the ramp for my live interview.

Interview Ö I have no idea what I said but I hope I didnít come off like a total goofball.



So I drive down the ramp and Iím looking for my team. No one is there.


They show up a few minutes later and we start taking pics.



We made it!
306x 4th place in 30+pro
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EZ
2007 KTM 990 Adventure
2010 KTM 530 XCW Six Days
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Jim Mccain
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« Reply #1 on: November 24, 2017, 11:59:42 AM »

Good job .. makes me feel I was riding with you .. one of the best messages I've seen
thanks for posting
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xtreme6669
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« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2017, 09:05:31 PM »

Super cool EZ. GREAT report.
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Nick Fouts #116
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« Reply #3 on: November 28, 2017, 06:16:39 PM »

Great write up.   Funny how you ride all those miles looking for La Paz, and when you get there you wish for just a few more miles!  Congrats on the finish!
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fisharizona
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« Reply #4 on: November 28, 2017, 10:50:24 PM »

Awesome story. Thanks for posting
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