Bike-urious does the Baja 1000 – Part 8

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Here’s the 2nd half of the LABV story – I finally got to join Nathan and the rest of the riders for our quest to get dirty on the way to Vegas.

The checkpoint in Barstow opens at 6am. We didn’t get a bad start – we were there by 7, cold but excited.
Bike-urious Does Baja - Start of Day 2

I like to sleep in – sunrise shots are not a common occurrence:

We met a gentleman named Doug at a District 37/LABV booth at the Long Beach motorcycle show earlier in the year, and his advice was to skip all the hard detours in the morning so we’d have plenty of time for the last difficult section. Because I didn’t get any riding in the day before, we decided couldn’t skip the fun stuff if we had a chance. We got to a rocky section to find 6 guys on the side of a hill – turns out a rider on a R1200GS took a bit of a tumble beforehand and it took a team of guys to bring it back up. I don’t know if the bike was able to continue or not, but I heard that the rider was fine:

After the spill, riders were a bit more sensitive to this section, so one guy would take a minute to act as a safety net. Here a kind soul ensures Nathan doesn’t tumble backward:

This choke point started to cause a bit of a backup:

But once you got through this rocky bit, the terrain flattened and the speeds clicked upwards:

A bit down the road, we noticed a little hillclimb that wasn’t part of the route. What could go wrong?

Well, that’ s me dropping it up there, and Nathan dropping it down here. Oops.

Well, us goofing around so much meant we missed the time cutoff for a water crossing, and we were forced to cover some miles on pavement to catch up, which was a bit of a bummer. We caught back up with the main route at a checkpoint in Baker:

photo from Ellen Olvieira

photo from Ellen Olvieira

Then we got to soldier on back in the dirt. There are some sections where you’re limited to 20 or 25 miles per hour as you’re in protected land for the desert tortoise, but there’s also plenty of sections where you get to let it rip, flanked by power lines:

The organizers had a lunch planned at a local school – but first you have to stop and get about 1.5 gallons of ‘free’ gas and a water bath to prevent the transfer of certain types of vegetation:
Bike-urious Does Baja - Wash

Lots of riders, all stopped for lunch:

The bath did not get rid of a message someone left on my bike:

Nathan takes advantage of this break to catch up on life.

After lunch (which consisted of pork BBQ and other stuff I can’t remember), we were re-energized:

A few miles later, we got to a point on the roll chart that was…shall we say, confusing. We ended up going the wrong way a few miles, which caused us to miss a detour. At the end of the trip we found out that this detour had some snow, which would have been fun to ride through. Oh well.

Thankfully, we didn’t miss the highlight of the trip – the last hard section, which takes you through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It was beautiful, and part of me regrets not stopping to take more photos – I just know I’m bad at that when I’m riding with someone else.

Heading towards the rock garden:

The rock garden would have been a bear on something like a R1200GS, but it’s not a problem on smaller dual-sports like the KTMs Nathan and I had. Here’s a few moments from inside the National Conservation Area, and eventually pulling into Vegas:

Someone’s got an interesting taste in passengers:

The last stop is inside the parking lot of the Orleans, where two poor dancers had to stand outside in high 40s/low 50s weather so a bunch of goofballs could take pictures with them. Nathan and I just felt bad for the ladies, so we took the opportunity to meet our girlfriends. Ellen had obviously driven along, and Vy flew in to meet us. We ended up skipping out the LABV final dinner/party/extravaganza to get alone time, so I don’t have much to report there.

For what it’s worth, right after we had finished, both Nathan and I didn’t feel like it was worth doing again. Part of this is because neither of us care all that much for Vegas, so it’s hard for us to get excited about the destination. Kudos to the organizers, who must put forth a tremendous amount of work to make this happen. Because it’s taken me so long to write this up, I’ve had some time to reflect on the event and I believe if I was to do it again with a larger group, I’d enjoy it a bit more – so maybe I’ll have to try to round up some of guys and gals for next year. The limitations of an event like this mean you don’t get many opportunities to have fun by challenging your skill set, so it should be more of a social event. Deus had the right idea for this angle of attack – they had a support Sprinter following their riders (on pavement, of course) and they constantly meet up, check in, and relax during the day. In conclusion, if you’re on the fence about doing LABV for the first time, I’d say go for it. Take your time, enjoy the scenery, and socialize. Oh, and make sure you know how to use a roll chart!

Remember the stolen GoPro? Turns out the thief was indeed shown on the security camera, and it was the friend of an employee. Apparently, word got back to him that he was busted on camera and the next morning, Nathan’s GoPro was at the front door of the dealership. Unfortunately, all the footage was deleted, which is why you had to use your imagination instead of admire photos/videos for parts of Part 7, but at least Nathan’s got the camera back!

Missed Part 7? Nathan and I (well, Nathan) take on the first half of LABV.
On to Part 8 – We tackle our first race in Mexico.