Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pre-Running, Baja Blog 1

Bro Clint helping keep my neck safe
When you race the Baja you get to check out the course. You can study the terrain, pick out direction markers, and try to make mental notes as hazards fly by. There is really no way to memorize your section in a few days, but the pre-run was a big help. The guys that are really good at this sometimes have been down here for months.

I didn't really know what to expect. We all loaded up on Sunday morning from the campsite in Ensenada and began our first pre-run about 20 miles outside of town off Hwy 3. We pulled the bike out of the trailer and got her going. The bike I was using we had nicknamed "The Blob" because of the large fuel tank we would need to get the miles in without pit service.

I headed down this fast dirt road for 5 or 6 miles and felt pretty good, thinking "this ain't so bad" and then…it got bad. The road ended and dropped into some pretty narrow soft sand with not much room for making a mistake. Rocks kept popping up here and there; I tried to stay calm and just stay steady. The people that are good at this are probably going twice as fast as me, but haven't seen anyone behind me yet. About that time and trail opens back up and I get to go a little faster. Not a lot of elevation change, but some. Mainly soft sand, some whoops, but this stuff is tough. I make it back to the highway where Scott, our Baja veteran who was nicknamed "Desert Yoda", is waiting for me. My time sucks but I made it through my first section.

Made it through my pre-run
Scott and I load the bike up and head down the highway to where my brother Clint is going to come out when he is done with his section. As we wait for a while, a local guy from a pit company is there with a trashed out VW bug begins to talk our ears off. As we waited for Clint that little dude talked and talked.  Our only reprieve was when another racers would come by and he would stop to talk to them.

Clint finally showed up and I decided to ride the next part of his section with him. Felt a bit like mine but more hill climbing. It's a tough section and he will probably be doing it at night. It was good to ride with him, always good to pre-run with another person.

We came across a guy in a bronco who has hit a huge rock that looks like a seal sticking up out of the sand. The dude in the bronco probably never saw it coming. We pop back out to the highway. Clint found the guy’s Chase crew and let them know where their buddy was.

I headed down and did my first section again. Thinking I could knock some time off since I had done it already. But, I was slower the second time...Maybe because I was getting a little tired.

We packed up and headed towards San Felipe where we would start pre-running again the next day. When we got there, the guys had already set up camp. New charge of this campground was the side of the highway, and right next to the racecourse. Clint cooked up some killer soup and I was out as soon as my head at the pillow.

The next morning I would be the only one pre-running and I would be doing the San Felipe “whoops.” Whoops look like waves in the ground; some small and some very large. Most are littered with rocks, and some are made of just rocks. It never failed that whomever I'd talk to back in Texas about Baja that they’d always refer to this section as brutal---Miles and miles and miles of whoops. With numb hands and worn out legs I made it to the end.

My last day of pre-running was actually the morning of the race. They opened up the first 30 miles so we could see how to get out and back into Ensenada. I did it with Clint. One of the cool things about that morning was seeing all the kids lined up on the streets out there cheering us on, getting us ready for the race. 

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