Monday, December 2, 2013

Batteries and San Felipe, Baja Blog 4

As we headed to the next rider swap in the middle of night, the battery on the Tahoe, our chase truck, was getting weaker and weaker. I knew the alternator had to be changed but there were no towns around and we didn't have time to stop. We had to be there for Kelly when he came off the summit on his first leg.

As the lights on the Tahoe got dimmer and dimmer, we pulled up the rider change area--we had made it. Now we needed to figure out how to make it to the next rider change. I would be getting back on the bike when it got there, leaving the problem for the chase crew, Clint and Kelly.

While we waited for Kelly, first thing we did was take the battery off, grab some jumper cables and find another vehicle to start charging the battery. There were a lot of teams stationed there, but as the riders would come in they would leave. Clint spent the night and the early morning swapping our battery to different vehicles. That's one of the cool things about racing Baja--most everyone has been your shoes and is willing to help.

From where we were, it wasn't a very long drive to San Felipe, one of the only larger towns on the peninsula. If there was an alternator to be found, it was probably there. I got back on the bike and left the guys to find one. “Hope to see y’all at the next rider change.”

I was doing the San Felipe section. I had pre-run it a few days before and it had just about wiped me out. It was all about whoops--Miles and miles of whoops. It's starts of with soft sand whoops, dotted with rocks and as you go it gets harder and harder. You are riding with mountains on one side and the water on the other, and whoops in the middle. These things are not all the same; I couldn't get a rhythm going.  Some you can gas through and some I had to take slow. Maybe a way to describe them would be like semi-solid waves in the earth, unforgiving and unending.

Our Baja veteran on the team, Scott, whom we had nicknamed "The desert Yoda," told me "those whoops get progressively harder as you go, just stay steady and hope for the end.” He was correct as always.  By the time I got to the last 10 miles, the whoops were made up of just rocks, and a few nice rocky hill climbs thrown in for good measure.

I tried not to think about the guys not making it to the swap because of the alternator problems. I would be worn out but would need to keep going if they didn't make it there before I did.

As I crested that last awful hill, I saw the crew.  They had made it and I was done!!! I helped service the bike and Kelly hopped back on. I just laid down on the ground for a while.

I listened to how they had made it to San Felipe, and bought an alternator and an extra battery. Not wanting to be late for me, Clint rigged the jumper cables out of the hood of the Tahoe into the cab, and to the backup battery between the driver’s legs. They had driven to where I would come out of the whoops, and changed the alternator there. You can't make this up-- those guys are awesome!!!

With Kelly back on the bike, it was time to head to the other side of the peninsula. We loaded up and headed north were we would intercept our riders around mile 800.


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