Bike-urious does the Baja 1000 – Part 6

In Travel by Abhi5 Comments

A month later and I was back in Los Angeles, so Nathan and I decided to do our first race together. It did not go well.

Following Nathan’s DNF at the last round of the 2015 Hare and Hound, we thought it’d be smarter to go with a shorter race. Luckily, there’s always plenty of options for off-road racing in SoCal and that weekend was the Prospectors Grand Prix at Gorman, an 8 mile course at an OHV that we were somewhat familiar with.

So that week we prepped, managing to make our usual mistake of leaving too much work for the night before. Of course, this meant we didn’t get enough sleep the morning of.

Changing our first tire.

Changing our first tire.

Heading to the race in the morning:

As we had never done a Big 6 race before, we misunderstood the schedule – the way it works is that there’s a preview race in the morning for each class, and then the main event in the afternoon. We arrived late for my race (classes are set by age so Nathan and I are in different ones), so the only option was to have Nathan do his preview race, give me a scouting report, and then we’d both race the main event.

Nathan gets warmed up:

We spent some time in the pits noting what other riders were doing, watching other races start, and making sure we met the rider with the Four Aces team that helped Nathan the previous week when he ran out of gas.

Eventually, Nathan’s preview race was on, and I found a vantage point to cheer him on and get a couple of photos. Here he is, entering the track:

And getting lined up at the start grid:

Here he goes by on lap 1 of 3:

Several minutes later, the leaders went by on lap 2, and I got setup to take more photos of Nathan. I waited, waited, and waited some more…and then the leaders went by on lap 3. I didn’t expect that, but maybe he got lapped? After all, we were beginners.

The worst case scenario to me was that he had crashed and hurt himself, but I was already near the medic tent so I decided to wait it out a little longer. A few moments later, he walks up to me and lets me know that he did indeed have a little crash. I don’t know what it is about motorcyclists, but it seems that post-crash we’re always more concerned about the condition of our bikes than of our own bodies. True to form, Nathan talks about how his front tire washed out, and how the rim is probably tweaked, how the handlebars might be bent, etc. The fact that he’s got some hefty chest pain? No urgency to that comment at all!

Part of the course included Gorman’s MX track, including a nifty hillclimb that’s normally not open to the public. Here’s Nathan at the top:

What goes up, must come down, and that’s where Nathan had a slightly violent case of what he later determined to be target fixation. He gets bonus points for parking the bike upside down:

Nathan told me that he initially felt he was coming in too hot, so he was planning on bailing to the right. As you can see from the video, it wasn’t clear that the ‘runoff’ area was a tiny wall until it was too late. Unfortunately, Nathan wasn’t the only person to fall victim to this – it took a few other people to wreck here for things to change, and I heard that they eventually smoothed the area out later in the day.

Nathan went to the medic tent to get evaluated, and I went to grab his bike. It did not look good:
Nathan KTM Wreck

The medics said that Nathan had possibly broken a rib or three, and that he’d have to go to the hospital. It was our choice if he went in an ambulance or his truck, so I drove him over to Henry Mayo Hospital in Newhall. A visit to the ER resulted in an X-ray but results were inconclusive. Either way, the treatment was the same whether or not the rib(s) were broken – rest, ice, and getting shit from your friends that don’t ride. While we were waiting, we obviously both missed the main event – another day, another DNF!

We were joined by at least 2 other racers at that hospital a little bit later, one of whom had broken his tib/fib in pretty much the exact same place on the course that Nathan had his off.

Nathan eventually got a CT scan back in LA that confirmed his broken ribs, so he unfortunately had to sit out while I ran the Halloweenish Hillclimb the next day. He rested up so that he’d hopefully be in good enough shape to tackle our first long ride – LA to Barstow to Vegas!

Oh, and one more time…in slow motion.

Missed Part 5? Check out Nathan’s perspective of his first race.
On to Part 7 – Day 1 of LA-Barstow-Vegas!