This was a challenging, but fun race. Riding for hours, enjoying different terrain, and creating memories for a lifetime is what desert racing is all about! If you haven’t tried it before, you should definitely sign up and see what you’re made of. Or what you’re not made of!
I have seen slight variations of desert races out there and this one happened to be a Grand Prix style. This means the same loop is ran multiple times. I have ran other formats like Hare and Hound and Hare Scramble and can either be ran in a regular desert race fashion with a mass, dead engine start, or a more Enduro type start.
Row Assignments and Race Format
I signed up through snail mail an row assignments were made as entries were mailed in. First entry would be row 1 and so on. Five racers were allowed per row. I ended up being row 24 so I only had to wait about 12 minutes from when the first racers left. This made it a little safer because the terrain was pretty rocky and was also really nice because it kept the major dust down. Each row would start every 30 seconds. I had a transponders mounted to my helmet visor to keep track of lap times.
Sometimes the Enduro type races are broke into different test sections with transfer sections in between. Each test section is timed and the transfer sections give time for a break or to just cruise with friends.
I raced for 3 laps on this one. (Keep reading for more detail). Each lap being approximately 27 miles long. The terrain was definitely rocky which made it important to pick good lines and ride smooth. I was particularly worried about getting a flat but the old XR held true and saw me through to the finish line.
Race Report-Pee Wee B Class
This race was also my little boys first. He’s 8 years old. He was a little nervous at first, but once he started he had a blast. He kept the bike upright the whole time and kept a steady pace. These little kids are superstars and rode a little course for 30 minutes. Most little kids have some pretty good endurance but even this can put them to the test. All little racers are winners and it is always fun to cheer them on.
The terrain had a few rocky sections which challenged them a bit but they didn’t hold back and just blasted right through. Some little racers collided with each other, crashed on rocks and turns, but just got right back up and kept going. This is a great experience for new riders and awesome to watch, especially being a parent!
My boy said, “Dad, my hands are sore.” when he finished and I just kind of chuckled. To say I was a proud dad would be an under statement. I love seeing the camaraderie of parents, kids, and families all enjoying something they love and creating lifelong memories.
Had to get the GoPro footage. (Second from the right). Unfortunately something happened when trying to upload and lost the footage.
Race Report-Big Bike Novice
The weather was warm and sunny all morning and close to 80 degrees by the time we lined up. A little warm for race day, but no too bad. There was a slight breeze which made it bearable. I started on row 24 and was signed up in the 35 and older, Novice class. It’s been a while since I’ve ridden hard so my goal was to just finish.
I rode my old trusty, 1997 XR400. This bike is a lot to hold on to for 4 +hours, but I love how it soaks up most of the hard hits which may otherwise deflect more easily on a lighter bike. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a heavy beast and someday I’ll get a more ‘modern bike’, but this thing has never let me down. My endurance was tested for sure. After holding onto 280 pounds for that long, I was completely toast by the end. I made it through the 3 laps. Ride time according to my GPS was 4 hours and 17 minutes. The fastest guy of the day came it at 3 hours and 8 minutes. I definitely have some room for improvement.
Of course I was all charged up and ready to go for loop one. I gave the old XR all she had at the start but couldn’t quite keep up with all the bigger 450’s. I didn’t do too bad though because after the first turn I came out in 2nd out of the five of us that started together. Early on into the course I just tried to find a good pace and make sure I could ride smooth and get settled in. I knew I had a long road ahead of me.
The dust was minimal, which was really nice but the course was narrow and with all of the rocks I was a little hesitant to pass. I caught quite a few riders early on and they were great sportsman and let me pass. The tight washes were fun chasing people down and testing my stamina. Once on the open flats or roads it was fun to open it up and make a few more passes.
I managed to make it through the first loop without any major hiccups or mistakes. I really tried to focus on my technique and breathing. I really learned different ways to relax and feel a little more comfortable and I went. The main thing for me was focus. I tend to tense up too much and “forget” how to ride sometimes. I know it sounds weird, but every movement makes a difference.
If it’s anything that helps a rider out, its the support behind them. I was blessed enough to have my awesome wife and kids there, and my brother and niece. When I came in to pit, my wife took pictures, my boy gave me a drink, my brother filled my gas tank, and my niece wiped my goggles off. Even we could give Nascar a run for their money. It was awesome! They were there when I came in from loop 2, and there when I crossed the finish line. Best support ever!
I could feel myself getting a little slower during loop 2 but managed to catch a few more people and keep a decent pace. I was definitely slower but still rode pretty good. The course got tougher with so many bikes beating it down. The corners got super soft and unpredictable but again, it gave me a good opportunity to learn some new things and how to handle different challenges.
I made it through loop 2 with minimal mistakes and was still feeling pretty good. Loop 3 was the true test!
I knew going into loop 3 that I would just be in survival mode by the end. I had to keep my focus or I knew I would be in trouble if I went down and had to pick up my bike. I hit a few rocky sections and hill climbs that had been completely blown out and turned to ‘moon dust’ we call it. That’s where it took complete focus for me. I knew if I made a mistake there I would be in trouble. The rocks were hard to see and the ruts were pretty deep and up hill.
The nice thing with being able to run the same course was I knew which sections to conserve my energy. I hit a couple big holes on the back side of some whoops and almost lost it because I hit so hard. The ol’ XR doesn’t take hits on the front very well and it’s too much of a pig to really get the front end off the ground so you just have to take it as it comes.
About half way through I started feeling a little sick (too much Gatorade) and just had to continue to find ways to relax and keep my muscles from cramping. I managed to close in on a few more people and make a few more passes (which didn’t really matter because I was racing the clock any way) but it was fun to still see people. Each loop it seemed I kept seeing less and less people.
I managed to finish in one piece and didn’t get a flat or have any bike problems. I had my family there to congratulate me when I crossed the finish line and great course workers as well to take my stickers. When I finished, I just had to sit down and simply rest for a while. Needless to say I was exhausted and wanted to drink more but still felt sick. I had loaded my Camelbak with Gatorade and water and it was not a good combination. I normally just do water and am fine after a race but this time was different. It took me a good while to get my appetite back. Lesson learned!
As I was finishing packing up, my wife went back to the sign up tent to see where I had placed and I won! I couldn’t believe I won my class. There were only 3 of us in my class and I managed to pull it off. I was pretty stoked but couldn’t really celebrate because I was too queasy. It was a lot of fun because my wife and brother had been texting and messaging back and forth the whole race of my progress. My boy and I had a whole support crew behind us, even though they weren’t all able to be there. That made all the difference in the world and is ultimately what kept me going! The same is true in all aspects of my life. I’ve always had an awesome family and especially my wonderful wife who is always supportive of my craziness and insanity!
Moto Community and Clubs
If you ever want to feel a part of something. Go to a desert race. The clubs are all volunteer and many people give so much of their time and resources to helping others enjoy this great sport and they do an amazing job. Countless hours, days, and weeks are spent to put on an event like this. Please be sure to show your appreciation.
I love reading countless stories after each race of how someone helped someone else and they didn’t even know them. I’ve read reports from racers where they’ve thanked “whoever” over social media and didn’t even know who they were. Riders come in to pit and they are by themselves and someone notices right away and rushes to help with no thought. I’ve been that guy before. It’s pretty awesome. I even read one report from a guy who got in his truck and it was dead and needed an alternator and some people changed it for him, into the night, and got him on his way. These are the kinds of people at these races and that is why I continue to go back and give back wherever I can. Until next time!
Here I am taking my gloves off just before pitting to get a fresh pair.
Here’s a buddy of mine tearing it up on the start. (29D)
Here are some things I recommend if ever doing any desert type racing:
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Recommended Gear and Equipment
If you need some ideas on how to get ready for a race, check out my post- Checklist for Race Day