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Old 08-20-2012, 08:30 PM   #136
HalfFast
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Day 1 from my viewpoint

I had no idea what I was getting my self into when I said I would lead the Baja introduction for the team now affectionately known as Baja Boot Camp. I got off work at around 4 and drove 500 miles south to the link up point. I was the last one to arrive but was bearing gifts in the form of a sorely needed petcock for a sick KTM and some Maxima oil.

The boys were outside drinking beers and saving me the very last parking spot in the smallish lot. I knew I was already on strike one because on the ride down John called me to complain about the hotel location and lack of parking. I literally picked the hotel by looking at Google Maps and putting my finger on the hotel with the least turns to Tecate. I knew we were going to have a 5 truck convoy in the morning to Mexico and I wanted to keep it simple. I was going to be doing enough navigation once we hit the dirt.

Everyone seemed nice enough, we made our introductions, Brett and Scott affixed the new petcock and everyone was off to bed with Baja dreams in their head.

So the morning went well and we found a place to dump off the trucks in a semi-secure lot north of the border. After exchanging money at the Bancomer(bank) I led the boys to el Mejor de pan de Tecate. My fave little bakery on the way to Rancho Ojai where we all got heavenly chocolate muffins to eat before we hit the trail.

Rancho Ojai
I like to use Rancho Ojai to stage from because it is secure and also offers hot showers as well as good changing facilities and a motorcycle ramp. For 5 dollars a day and the peace of mind I get it is a good deal.

After off loading the bikes we had to change the oil in the KTM since John noticed the night before the oil was a little thin and had some gas smell to it. In hindsight this was a great catch because it probably would not have made it through the stuff we went through. that little bike had the piss revved out of it for five days straight rowing through all six gears. And it doesn't hold much oil to begin with. The ranch hand at Rancho Ojai found us a suitable container so we didn't make too much of a mess in the sand.

Now to be fully candid here I had no idea this was Scott's second time on a dirt bike. I was told he had been riding 11 months and just assumed it meant dirt (like in prep for this race!). If I had known that I would never have taken him on the route I chose through the pine forest to and through Laguna Hansen. It was only like 50-60 miles but I included any and all single and doubletrack I knew about in a winding path towards our goal.

50+ miles of rough
Our route included sand road, a few water crossings, a little rocky road, some silty-sandy uphills, some sand whoops, deep sand at the bottom of three foot gullies and a bit of trailblazing thrown in for good measure. Normally I don't stop more than once going through there and we are eating tacos in ValleT by lunch. Well, this was not a normal trip.

Baja Tested and Failed
When I was looking over the bikes at Rancho Ojai I noticed and remarked on the fact that everyone had a Moose or MSR tail and fender bag attached. I also remarked that invariably those things are lost or destroyed in Baja but to make sure they were secure and put any heavy items in the backpacks. Thus giving them the best possible chance at survival. I also introduced them to the words "Baja Tested - and Failed", this would become a recurring refrain throughout the first day as piece after piece failed. In fact, I seem to remember Scott's fender bag as well as Randy's having a duct tape reinforcement even before we kicked off the sand road onto the rocky trail.....

Crashes and heat casualties
We ended up stopping a lot more than anyone wanted to fix equipment, re-attach fender bags, pick up Scott's bike from his myriad crashes. I didn't get to see any but I heard quite a few were epic. He did say he learned something from every one of them. We were slowly winding our way through the park when Brett told me at one of the stops he was "smoked" and shortly thereafter on a long rocky uphill they couldn't quite surmount they stopped for a long rest. I got on the radio after about 5 minutes and was reassured that they were fine but were stripping their gear in the heat and taking long pulls of water. This is about the time everyone started to run their 100 oz Camelbaks dry. I wasn't really worried as I still had a bit left but that was soon given over to Randy when he informed me he was a little dizzy and had stopped sweating.

I plotted the quickest course for Rancho Rodeo del Rey knowing the caretaker there would at least have water and sodas. When the boys came upon us and were ready to roll they asked how far to water and I replied "8 miles!". Brett let me know I told him "8 miles" 5 miles ago and also informed me he wanted to punch me in the face! But also that this trip already was one for the memories. Running out of water was not good but it was still recoverable. There was only a mile or three of rough terrain before we were back on the sand road.

Relief (somewhat)
We arrived at Rancho Rodeo del Rey and I scared up the caretaker who sadly informed me he had only one 1.5 liter bottle of water and six cokes for sale. At this point I wasn't gonna argue and I handed over the 180 pesos he wanted for them....

After a short rest we motored on through the park eventually arriving in Ojos Negros where we got gas. in fact I ran out of gas twice near Ojos... once just short of town and the second time in line at the military checkpoint. At the fuel stop it was noted that my Yamaha Wr was extremely thirsty and took almost twice the gas as a few of the other bikes. This continued for the rest of the trip. Bot sure why but it was running a little rough in the mid range especially after I ran out of gas making it necessary for me to wring the right hand a bit to keep it smooth.

Valle de la Trinidad

Once we got to Valle T I wanted to make up for dragging the team through the extreme heat all day so i made a bee line for the Tecate store and trudged back in my boots and knee guards with a frosty 12 pack. I didn't get punched in the face so I guess the beer worked.
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2012 2nd place NORRA Mexican 1000
2013 1st place NORRA Mexican 1000

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Old 08-21-2012, 04:41 AM   #137
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I think the thing that was killing us was all of the stops, it seemed like every 20 min something was braking or someone was hitting the ground. Again it didn't help that it was 115 degrees out and we all started the trip not eating enough, along with the 2200 mile drive not moving in the truck for four days and jumping into the ride with 3 hours of sleep might have been a bad call. But hindsight is always 20/20, looking back we all made it out and got a good look at just how hard this race is going to be!! When Scott and I first decided to run this race I thought it would be tuff but I had know idea just how tuff. I have been riding all of my life and never thought that it would kick my butt like it did that first day!

I have never been in riding in deep sand and didn't even know what the hell a sand whoop was..."I did tell you that Allan" The riding in Baja was like nothing like I have ever seen!!! I have so much more respect for the guys that have been running this race, and the solo guys are just nuts!!!! After some great teaching points from John and Allan, getting the rear suspension setup right, and knocking the rust off it was so much better!!! We also found that the bars needed to be raised about 3" to help with standing riding position on Elvis. We also got the GPR in now so that is going to be a big help with the sand.

After the first day everything started to fall into place, we started getting in the grove and everything started clicking for us. I would like to also add that by the end of the ride you would never know that it was only the 2nd time Scott was on a dirt bike!! It was amazing to see, every day was like a new guy on the bike!!!
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Old 08-21-2012, 01:51 PM   #138
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A few pics for ya, first Allan showing off he carb

John the Turbo Donkey working on Allan's carb

Scott and I

Taco's

The Team
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Old 08-23-2012, 08:41 PM   #139
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalfFast View Post
I had no idea what I was getting my self into when I said I would lead the Baja introduction for the team now affectionately known as Baja Boot Camp. I got off work at around 4 and drove 500 miles south to the link up point. I was the last one to arrive but was bearing gifts in the form of a sorely needed petcock for a sick KTM and some Maxima oil.

The boys were outside drinking beers and saving me the very last parking spot in the smallish lot. I knew I was already on strike one because on the ride down John called me to complain about the hotel location and lack of parking. I literally picked the hotel by looking at Google Maps and putting my finger on the hotel with the least turns to Tecate. I knew we were going to have a 5 truck convoy in the morning to Mexico and I wanted to keep it simple. I was going to be doing enough navigation once we hit the dirt.

Everyone seemed nice enough, we made our introductions, Brett and Scott affixed the new petcock and everyone was off to bed with Baja dreams in their head.

So the morning went well and we found a place to dump off the trucks in a semi-secure lot north of the border. After exchanging money at the Bancomer(bank) I led the boys to el Mejor de pan de Tecate. My fave little bakery on the way to Rancho Ojai where we all got heavenly chocolate muffins to eat before we hit the trail.

Rancho Ojai
I like to use Rancho Ojai to stage from because it is secure and also offers hot showers as well as good changing facilities and a motorcycle ramp. For 5 dollars a day and the peace of mind I get it is a good deal.

After off loading the bikes we had to change the oil in the KTM since John noticed the night before the oil was a little thin and had some gas smell to it. In hindsight this was a great catch because it probably would not have made it through the stuff we went through. that little bike had the piss revved out of it for five days straight rowing through all six gears. And it doesn't hold much oil to begin with. The ranch hand at Rancho Ojai found us a suitable container so we didn't make too much of a mess in the sand.

Now to be fully candid here I had no idea this was Scott's second time on a dirt bike. I was told he had been riding 11 months and just assumed it meant dirt (like in prep for this race!). If I had known that I would never have taken him on the route I chose through the pine forest to and through Laguna Hansen. It was only like 50-60 miles but I included any and all single and doubletrack I knew about in a winding path towards our goal.

50+ miles of rough
Our route included sand road, a few water crossings, a little rocky road, some silty-sandy uphills, some sand whoops, deep sand at the bottom of three foot gullies and a bit of trailblazing thrown in for good measure. Normally I don't stop more than once going through there and we are eating tacos in ValleT by lunch. Well, this was not a normal trip.

Baja Tested and Failed
When I was looking over the bikes at Rancho Ojai I noticed and remarked on the fact that everyone had a Moose or MSR tail and fender bag attached. I also remarked that invariably those things are lost or destroyed in Baja but to make sure they were secure and put any heavy items in the backpacks. Thus giving them the best possible chance at survival. I also introduced them to the words "Baja Tested - and Failed", this would become a recurring refrain throughout the first day as piece after piece failed. In fact, I seem to remember Scott's fender bag as well as Randy's having a duct tape reinforcement even before we kicked off the sand road onto the rocky trail.....

Crashes and heat casualties
We ended up stopping a lot more than anyone wanted to fix equipment, re-attach fender bags, pick up Scott's bike from his myriad crashes. I didn't get to see any but I heard quite a few were epic. He did say he learned something from every one of them. We were slowly winding our way through the park when Brett told me at one of the stops he was "smoked" and shortly thereafter on a long rocky uphill they couldn't quite surmount they stopped for a long rest. I got on the radio after about 5 minutes and was reassured that they were fine but were stripping their gear in the heat and taking long pulls of water. This is about the time everyone started to run their 100 oz Camelbaks dry. I wasn't really worried as I still had a bit left but that was soon given over to Randy when he informed me he was a little dizzy and had stopped sweating.

I plotted the quickest course for Rancho Rodeo del Rey knowing the caretaker there would at least have water and sodas. When the boys came upon us and were ready to roll they asked how far to water and I replied "8 miles!". Brett let me know I told him "8 miles" 5 miles ago and also informed me he wanted to punch me in the face! But also that this trip already was one for the memories. Running out of water was not good but it was still recoverable. There was only a mile or three of rough terrain before we were back on the sand road.

Relief (somewhat)
We arrived at Rancho Rodeo del Rey and I scared up the caretaker who sadly informed me he had only one 1.5 liter bottle of water and six cokes for sale. At this point I wasn't gonna argue and I handed over the 180 pesos he wanted for them....

After a short rest we motored on through the park eventually arriving in Ojos Negros where we got gas. in fact I ran out of gas twice near Ojos... once just short of town and the second time in line at the military checkpoint. At the fuel stop it was noted that my Yamaha Wr was extremely thirsty and took almost twice the gas as a few of the other bikes. This continued for the rest of the trip. Bot sure why but it was running a little rough in the mid range especially after I ran out of gas making it necessary for me to wring the right hand a bit to keep it smooth.

Valle de la Trinidad

Once we got to Valle T I wanted to make up for dragging the team through the extreme heat all day so i made a bee line for the Tecate store and trudged back in my boots and knee guards with a frosty 12 pack. I didn't get punched in the face so I guess the beer worked.
Good report Allan. I'll be posting up day 2 in the next few days.

"Where are you guys at?"
"We're ok. Scott's back here making love to a bush." hahah
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:44 PM   #140
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Team TCB Shake-Down / Baja 1000 pre-pre-ride notes - DAY 2

Day 2 started out painful. I woke up being sore in places I didn't know could get sore. I may have underestimated how physically demanding this endeavor was going to be. But there's no time to be sore so jumped out of bed and started the day.

We all decided since day 1 was so difficult that we'd all sleep-in and have an 'easier' day. I try but sleeping-in doesn't really work for me and I was up at 0630. Everyone else mosey'd up shortly after me and we then waited for the adjacent restaurant to open. It gave me time to stretch and re-pack my backpack. I ditched some 'extra' food I was carrying…ounces equal pounds.

While we were waiting for the restaurant to open, it gave Allan time to work on his bike. He got ahold of some bad gas or something.

We ate breakfast at "Mi Pueblit" and I tagged it with a WWP sticker before we ate. If you stop and eat there…tell Claudia I said hola. I've never wanted to be able to speak Spanish more than that moment right there.

So Allan put his bike together and we packed up our bags. We rode mostly dirt roads through the mountains to Erendira. It was a pretty cool route. Lots of sweeping turns with ruts and 'ball bearing' size rocks. Pretty slippery stuff. But I'm good with ruts now.

About 1/2 way through the ride, Brett almost had a head on collision with a truck going too fast around a blind curve. The truck was gong WAY too fast and came to a sliding stop in the middle of the road. Luckily Brett kept the bike on the road and upright. It would of been a long fall otherwise. It was pretty sketchy. But that's Baja riding I guess. Strangely…this wouldn't be Brett's only head on collision with a motor vehicle that day…wait for it…

We stopped at a road side taco stand for lunch. It turns out that they have some excellent Mexican food down there. My bike didn't have a kick stand. I usually just leaned it against one of the other bikes. I had just taken my Fox armor off when I saw my bike and Randy's go over like dominos. I was imaging seeing all of the bikes going over like one of those cheesy biker movies. So embarrassing… I tagged the taco stand with a WWP sticker and we were off.

The last 2 miles of the route were amazing. It would be the first time we rode next to the ocean. There were 100' sheer cliffs dropping off into the ocean. Really pretty stuff.

We ended the day ride at the legendary Coyote Cal's. Lulu greeted us and put us all together in the basement room. If you haven't been to Coyote Cal's, you need to check it out. A really cool place.

After everyone was settled we busted out a map of Baja. We did a map recon of where we think the course is going to be this year. We talked about rider change locations, pits, and which sections we'd be riding. Allan proposed one of my legs be along the "Cliffs of Death." The cliffs were immediately re-named to, "Fuzzy Bunny Cliffs.". The "Fuzzy Bunny Cliffs" sound much less intimidating.

We ate dinner at Glorias in Erendira then hurried back to Coyote Cal's to get ready for our first night ride. At dinner we ran into some family members of McMillan Racing. Very nice people. We rolled out of Coyote Cal's at dusk and planned to ride north for about 30-ish miles along the coast. This was my first time riding at night and admittedly I was a little nervous. Only a few of the bikes had lights. I had my Cyclops helmet light…which was ridiculously bright.

Riding at night was pretty cool. I almost think I was faster at night. Since I couldn't see all that well….I just stayed on the throttle more then I should of. Probably should of rolled off the throttle more than I did. But since I couldn't see I just motored on.

I was cruising along at a pretty good clip when I hit the uphill silt bed. I'm thinking, "I know how to do this." Get as far back as I can in the saddle, throttle throttle, head up, and steer with your feet. I was about 1/2 way through the silt and the bike just wanted to lay down. I think it was tired. I fell A LOT the first day but none of it really hurt that much. This fall hurt pretty bad. I fell into a ditch and got a mean charlie horse on my quad. It also knocked the wind out of me and I lost my 'good time' for a moment. After I gained my composure, I picked my bike up and kicked that silt's ass.

I rode another 100 meters and everyone was waiting for me. The fog was getting extremely thick and we decided to turn around. I'm thinking, "Great…I had to go back through the silk that just almost broke my leg".

We arrived back at Coyote Cal's and immediately started drinking beers at the Barefoot Bar. We lit a campfire and this is when I learned about Brett's 2nd head on collision. Brett and Chris both had the same bike lights from Cyclops. They are insanely bright. Somehow Brett and Chris had a (low speed) head on collision. It was ridiculous. They were literally the ONLY other vehicle for 30 miles. I guess the bike lights were like tractor beams because those two idiots ran right into each other. Brett has it all on GoPro and Chris went over the handle bars…and flies over the camera. Hope is uploads it.

A little later on that night was the (non-riding) highlight of the trip for me. If you don't know Lulu, she's the caretaker for Coyote Cal's. Brett saw a guitar behind the bar and made her a deal. He told her that he'd play a song if she'd sing one for us. She agreed. Brett tuned up the guitar and strummed a few Zeppelin songs.

Then Lulu got ahold of the guitar… She sang us the most beautiful song I think I've ever heard. Her voice is angelic. I was hypnotized. Maybe it was the alcohol. Maybe it was my aching, throbbing leg. Or maybe it was just the whole experience. I have no idea what she was singing about but I was speechless. I am quickly falling in love with Baja.

After a few more beers I pounded a few glasses of water and went to bed.

ok ok ok….I was going to leave this story out but I think it's too funny not to.

I only brought 1 pair of board shorts, 3 pairs of underwear, and 2 t-shirts with me. And everything was in the washing machine. I spent most of the night wearing a towel and a t-shirt. No one really seemed to notice or even care. When it was time to go to bed I just took the towel off and slept in a t-shirt. I was thinking that I better at least wear a t-shirt. I didn't want to be completely naked sleeping in a room full of dudes. I kept the towel handy in case I needed to get out of bed.

It's 3 or 4am and I've gotta pee like crazy. I didn't feel like getting out of bed so I tried to go back to sleep. I couldn't fall back to sleep. It was just too uncomfortable. I'm thinking, "Damnit…I have to get out of bed." I'm on the top bunk with Randy sleeping below me. The beds were all very very close to one another. Unnecessarily close.

I try to put my towel on and shimmy off the bed but I just don't have the room or right angles. I'm also so sore that I can't move all that much. I felt brittle. So I ditch the towel idea. I can't lower myself off the bed like a normal person because it's just way too tall and I'm way too sore. So I have to lay on my stomach and slide off the bed…feeling with my feet for the lower mattress or floor.

I'm thinking, "Oh God, please don't let Randy wake up." My manhood is literally dangling right in his face as I'm reaching for the floor. And don't let Allan or John wake up either…they are in the bed next to me. My bare ass is eye level with them as I'm reaching for the floor. Could of been a somewhat awkward encounter. It seemed like an eternity before I found the floor.

Allan working on his bike at our first hostel.


Restaurant attached to the hostel. Fantastic food.


Tagging Mi Puebli with WWP sticker


Roadside taco stand.


Gear off...still 1,000 degrees.


Just arrived at Coyote Cal's




Chris...


After our night ride and before Lulu's song. I'll try to get her song uploaded soon.
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Old 08-24-2012, 05:26 PM   #141
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We ate breakfast at "Mi Pueblit" and I tagged it with a WWP sticker before we ate. If you stop and eat there…tell Claudia I said hola. I've never wanted to be able to speak Spanish more than that moment right there.
The onion is an "O." Pueblito... Jusss sayin
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Old 08-25-2012, 12:07 PM   #142
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The onion is an "O." Pueblito... Jusss sayin
Oh yeah... I guess it'd help if I knew Spanish. Thanks.
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Old 08-25-2012, 12:56 PM   #143
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Lulu's song...Day 2


wittyusername screwed with this post 08-25-2012 at 12:57 PM Reason: working out the bugs
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:39 PM   #144
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So it looks like you had a good trip and a nice introduction to Northern Baja. But, I have to ask, why didn't you go to the east side of Baja where the race will be running?? You may have seen a wee bit of race course in the Valle de Trinidad area, but it goes due east from there and then south through San Flippy, Gonzaga, Coco's etc. It is much, much different than the Pacific side where you were.
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Old 08-25-2012, 04:54 PM   #145
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It was too fucking hot on the sea of cortez side. We were suffering up north with cloud cover. It was hot in Valle T, it would have been 115+ down san flippy way. We wanted them to come back for the race.

We will cover the course when we prerun in Nov.

-John
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Old 08-25-2012, 06:08 PM   #146
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It was too fucking hot on the sea of cortez side. We were suffering up north with cloud cover. It was hot in Valle T, it would have been 115+ down san flippy way. We wanted them to come back for the race.

We will cover the course when we prerun in Nov.

-John
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Old 08-26-2012, 05:28 AM   #147
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Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
So it looks like you had a good trip and a nice introduction to Northern Baja. But, I have to ask, why didn't you go to the east side of Baja where the race will be running?? You may have seen a wee bit of race course in the Valle de Trinidad area, but it goes due east from there and then south through San Flippy, Gonzaga, Coco's etc. It is much, much different than the Pacific side where you were.
The big thing for this trip was just to see what Baja was all about. We did get to ride sand whoops, silt, babyheads, deep deep sand, and some hills. I think it was a great introduction to riding in Baja, gave us an eye opening view of the massive landscape, and diverse terrain we are going dealing with. I thought that I had a good idea what it would be like, but I was wrong!!!!

We are going to get back down for the pre run early so we can spend more time seeing everything and running our parts to get an idea of what we will be racing. I am sure that it will be nothing like the race after the TT's finish pre running, but it should help us out some.

John is 100% on the heat, it was 115 the first day at times and it was killing all of us. I think that if we would have went down the east side I don't think that we would have been able to ride as much and would be taking a chance on someone dropping someone due to heat. We did run into a few guys riding, it was their 2nd day and had lost two rider on the first day.

Brett
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Old 08-26-2012, 09:22 AM   #148
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Originally Posted by Cornbread82 View Post
The big thing for this trip was just to see what Baja was all about. We did get to ride sand whoops, silt, babyheads, deep deep sand, and some hills. I think it was a great introduction to riding in Baja, gave us an eye opening view of the massive landscape, and diverse terrain we are going dealing with. I thought that I had a good idea what it would be like, but I was wrong!!!!

We are going to get back down for the pre run early so we can spend more time seeing everything and running our parts to get an idea of what we will be racing. I am sure that it will be nothing like the race after the TT's finish pre running, but it should help us out some.

John is 100% on the heat, it was 115 the first day at times and it was killing all of us. I think that if we would have went down the east side I don't think that we would have been able to ride as much and would be taking a chance on someone dropping someone due to heat. We did run into a few guys riding, it was their 2nd day and had lost two rider on the first day.

Brett
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Old 08-26-2012, 10:15 AM   #149
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As the leader of the Baja Boot Camp ride I did have plans to go down the East side built in but with all of the heat issues and the trail tech vapor saying the air temp was 114 in the Valle T area those plans were soon scrapped. I had us going down to at least BOLA but safety and common sense prevailed and we opted for the cooler coast.

And Strongbad is correct....... You ain't seen nothing yet. The sand gets deeper, the rocks get rockier and the silt gets siltier for longer distances. We are planning on pre-running ten days so everyone will know their sections well.

But it will be much cooler in November!
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2012 2nd place NORRA Mexican 1000
2013 1st place NORRA Mexican 1000
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Old 08-27-2012, 03:14 AM   #150
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You ain't seen nothing yet.
I think that us running our sections day and night is going to be the key. This ride we all got to know each other, a good taste for riding in Baja, and good idea on what sections that each of the riders would be best suited to ride. We didn't get to talk to much during the ride on our strategy. At the end of each day most of us just got a beer, found a corner and got in the fetal position

The right rider on the right section, and all of us not trying to race other riders is going to be the key to a finish. I know that something can happen to any of us at any time, we are just trying to eliminate anything that we can control that might be a problem. Allan, and John talked to Ed after the ride about each of the riders and what they thought for sections. They are the ones that have been racing in Baja and know what it takes to get to the finish. If the race is the route that they think it is going to be, I think that we have a good plan to help us get to the finish.
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