5 AM alarm again but his time it’s just me riding. No Kyle. I get my route tracks and everything handled.
I was still going with the idea of just doing the easy way. I still had part 2 of the trip – the CA BDR to do.
We all had breakfast and then walked over to the Boy Scout lot to get our bikes.
It was dark when I was getting dressed so I had my clear lens goggles on my helmet. Just at the last minute I realized they would be good for only about the next 10 minutes and then from there on it was sunlight and I would be needing my tinted goggles. Em helped me swap out the goggles and it was time to go!
The start is a ceremonial gate in the hotel parking lot that you can take a pic in. With the race organizers busy loading up their trailer, I might have snuck in a small wheelie or two. Nothing to get me red flagged. I did the pose, the start, then circled back looking for the next riders – so I could follow them and not turn on my ipad. It was 6:34 AM.
I knew from watching videos that we hit the dirt right away and that we also went straight into the sun. I followed a couple of guys and we did a zig and the a zag and there suddenly was dirt and a hill to climb – right into the sun! Literally!
As I am following this guy up this rutted out hill, I am also trying to see and ducking my head to shield the sun with my visor. I look up and the guy I’m following is stopped sideways! Instead of t-boning him I hit the brakes and fall over. I’m laughing at myself. I’ve done 1/4 of a mile and I’m already on the ground.
The bike has it’s wheels up hill so before I can lift it I needed to drag it around 180 degrees. (wheels on the downhill side).
Another rider happens to motor past, stops and then helps me pick up the bike. Nice guy. I actually had it turned around so it was an easy lift but KUDOS to him for stopping! We lift the bike up and he says,
“Well at least we’re now warmed up for the day!“.
The route does a cool little dance in the dirt for a few miles before dropping us back in Barstow (the older section) where we motor through town and then over the bridge across the rail yard.
I was happily following a bunch of guys with about equal speed. They turned left and so did I. What I didn’t realize at the time is that we were now on the HARD section.
Here’s the routes from the organizers:
And here’s my Tracking:
So that was cool. I only knew it was hard when I pulled it up to write this post. I had done a HARD section and came out unscathed. Almost. Near the very end of that we were on a rocky road heading towards the freeway.
The trail dipped down into a drainage ditch, turned left and then parallel to the freeway. I dipped down into the drainage ditch, mostly turned left, hit the up embankment and then tossed the bike into the barbed wire fence.
Dirt Nap #2 for the day. With nobody around I had to pull the bike from the wire and then get it upright. It tore one of my straps on the Mosko 80’s I was running. Also since nobody was around I had to take my own picture.
The next section was fast and fun. Fast flowing gravel roads that you could flat track. I was following a group of guys and we really made quick time of it. I would go just fast enough to be on the back of the rider in front of me’s dust cloud. That might have been my favorite section. It was a combo section so all the riders were on that path.
Everything was going great! In the next section, I was following a few bikes that were about the same speed. We came up to this railroad crossing that I’ve seen in the videos.
I can’t remember if they crossed or went right but the riders I was following at the time went right and so… Well, so did I.
This turned out to be Sec 5 – 6 HARD and once I had gone a few miles into it I had to see it through. This was 15 miles of the deepest sand I’ve ever ridden. It follows a dry river bed. Quite a few times I had to dig my bike out as the rear wheel had dug in too far. Yet, there were a few bikes that floated on top and rode by with great speed. That was very disheartening.
It wiped me out. My forearms were fully pumped and my hands weren’t working. I stopped a few times and jokingly considered hitting the helicopter button on my InReach.
I finally hit the end of the sand, went under the railroad tracks and crossed the freeway. It looked to me like we were done with the sand. I stopped with a few others and took a break. While we were there I remember this guy going by on a big KTM. As he passed us he looked glorious, he looked all pro. All the gear, the riding attitude, the wheel spin.. It was just like a KTM commercial with Chris Birch.
Rested, I started again. This portion was alongside the Freeway and rocky with a few ups and downs. I came over this one hill and saw a yard sale of parts strewn everywhere. That guy that had passed us and looked so fabulous? Turns out he wasn’t so Chris Birch after all.
I get off my bike and he’s laying on the ground. He’s groaning and not making sense. Hey, I’d be groaning a mumbling too. A few other riders stop as well. We are calling 911 but the guy waves us off. He’s coming back to his senses. He sits up, then stands up. He’s still very shaken. He takes off his helmet and he is Asian. I’m asking him all sorts of questions like “Do you know where you are?” “What’s your name?” “Where are you from” and honestly it’s really hard to make out what he’s saying.
Justin, a guy I was riding with on a T7, called the incident in to the race control, didn’t get a hold of anyone so he left a message. Someone made out that he was from Finland so there might have been a language barrier too.
His bike was a KTM 890 R and the whole front end was missing. His gas tank was also leaking as was his radiator. It was probably totaled. It certainly wasn’t going to continue. My only guess is that the bike hit one of these wooden sign posts. I know it was exactly at 35.083261, -116.379952 and you can see this sign post from Google Street view.
After a while he was up and doing better. He was calling a friend. I decided to head in to the gas stop at Baker and let officials know too. I headed back up to the freeway and then jumped on it into Baker. Even though this section was listed as Hard, it wasn’t that hard but I needed a break myself.
In Baker, we’re supposed to check in at the “Thermometer“. I honestly didn’t see it it but I found the organizers (right at the thermometer) and relayed the information. He was Rider #171 and when she looked him up he did have an Asian spelled name so we were confident we had the right guy.
It was just 11:00 AM and Baker wasn’t lunch. Heading out of Baker I was on the S8 Route which was for all riders. Lunch was across the border in Nevada at a place called Sandy Valley. Before that though there’s a place where the LAB2V route had to cross paths with the CABDR route. That turned out to be right here.
Lunch was at a complex in Sandy Valley. Here’s an aerial view of it with my tracking. This spot exists for the riders as it’s the only way to make sure everyone has enough gas to get to Vegas. So what they do is bring a tanker full of gas to this spot and fill everyone up.
It was really well set up. You pulled into the front of what turned out to be the local Fire Station. They had a message board that listed what to in simple terms a dirt biker could understand.
- Check in.
- Get Bike Washed
- Get Gas
- Get Lunch
- Get to Vegas!
I didn’t have to check in as there was already someone on me reporting Rider #228 was in. Next up were two firefighters with small line hoses washing the dust off bike wheels mostly. It wasn’t really a bike wash but it was cool. Around the corner was the gas truck and he was filling up bikes two at a time. I didn’t even ask what grade gas it was. Next I parked my bike with all the others and around the back of the fire station they had a lunch line run by what I assumed were fire kids.
Pulled pork sandwich, macaroni salad, a cookie and a bottle of Gatorade were handed to me. From there I sat down on one of the park benches and ate my lunch with some others that happened to be there. We were sharing stories of the day so far and talking about this guy that did this, that guy that did that.
One of the guys starts telling about how at the very start, he had to help this KTM Adventure bike who fell over at the very first hill. I smiled and asked him if he said, “Well at least we’re now warmed up for the day!” – and yes he did! It was me! He shut up immediately and I could see him wondering just how much trouble he just got in. I told him not to worry about it. Told him what happened. It’s all good.
Oh and I almost forgot. Opposite the food line the Fire Momma’s were selling Fire Fighter T-shirts. I had to buy one for me and one for the wife!
Here’s the front:
And here’s the back. How cool is that?
Thank you Sandy Valley F.D.!
I pulled into lunch at 1:27 PM and left at 2:03 PM. Like doing a double century, I think the right move is to minimize stops and just keep moving. So that’s what I did.
After lunch, I loaded up and it was a looooooong washboard gravel road for miles.
In tracking it shows that I took the easy route which is exactly what I was looking for. I would be happy to try Red Rocks on any other day, but I was just a little tired, a little sore and I had a week of CABDR yet to do.
When the dirt hit the pavement I had a feeling it was for the last time and I was right. It was 35 miles of divided hwy down into Vegas.
Next time I’ll opt to do that final Hard section in Red Rock as I hear it’s epic!
The videos I’ve seen of it look great too!
So we zigged and zagged through traffic in Vegas for a while just following the map. It brought us to the finishing hotel (The Orleans) from the south. We had to come around to the back and enter into the Garage area to get to the finish line.
I was tired. I was beat. I was ready to be done. No where did I see what was coming next…
There, at the finish line was my whole family cheering loudly for me! I knew my daughters, Travis and Kyle would be there but I had absolutely no idea that my wife had flown in just to see me cross the line! They were all wearing their Pinhead Racing shirts too!
Suddenly I had tears streaming down my face.
We took a few pictures,
then it was over to the official finisher picture with the Casino Show Girls and Santa. Kyle jumped in with me for that pic (as he should).
I parked the bike and everyone helped get me going. Megan already had a room and we headed up, I took a shower and then we all booked it to dinner. Tracking suggests I finished at 3:26 PM. Almost 9 hours of riding.
After dinner it was back to the hotel for the awards banquet. It would have been boring for those not directly involved so it was just Kyle and myself. Actually Megan started with us and quickly bailed for Keno I believe.
Cheesy smiles are ok if you rode like we did.
One last thing, I brought along a button from Ernie’s Memorial Service with me. I didn’t want to lose it so it was tucked in my tank bag the whole ride. It didn’t come unscathed and I think that’s ok. You did it too, buddy!
SCORECARD: I turned on tracking at 6:32 AM in Barstow and finished in Vegas at 3:34 PM. 6 Hours on the bike!