Desert racing is like no other sport. No matter the weather conditions, dirt bike riders come from all around to enjoy the excitement of racing, different terrain, and the company of friends and family. The day was stormy and rainy, but being out riding is what we were there for!
This desert race was an Enduro style. I raced an Enduro style last year and loved it! I invited my family to come and join the fun. Two of my brothers came to race, five nephews, my son, and niece, we had a blast! I’ve never ridden Wendover before so I didn’t know what to expect. Let’s just say it has some awesome terrain! The test sections were technical, but that is what made it so fun to ride. It would be awesome to go back and just ride around and explore, there is so much to see!
Row Assignments and Race Format
Everyone signed up online. We were able to recommend who we started next to, which made it fun when racing with family. For the big bikes we had 8 racers. Four racers were allowed per row. So 4 of us could be in one row and the other 4 in the next row. Every row went 1 minute apart. I ended up being row 44 so I had to wait 44 minutes from when the first racers left. This is really nice because it keeps the major dust and mud down. Transponders were not used to keep track of lap times this race, we were marked manually when we entered and exited a test section.
There were 3 test sections each lap. 2 laps total. Each lap was 34 miles each. The test sections were timed and transfer sections were not, but we were given allotted times to get through each transfer section as well. So in a way the transfers were timed as well. This kept riders moving. If you arrived late to your test section, your time already started. Every minute counts. If you arrived early to your test section, you would just wait until they allowed you to start.
The race unfortunately got cancelled after 1 lap (Keep reading for more detail). The terrain was definitely technical. I loved the terrain, but the weather and conditions seemed to amplify everything. There were steep rock climbs, lots and lots of trees (my rain coat looked like I got attacked by a bear, and my rain pants got ripped right off), mud, water, rocks, deep ravines, and sand whoops.
Race Report-Pee Wee B Class
My little boy and my niece raced in the Pee Wee class together. All these little kids are awesome riders and rode a little course for 20 minutes. There were several little crashes, tip overs, and even a few racers colliding. No one got hurt, which is the most important. All little racers are winners and it is always fun to cheer them on.
The terrain had sandy sections which challenged them a bit. It was hard for the little racers not to tip over in the deep sand sections. Parents are great help to ensure the kids are okay and get them back up and riding. Just like most big racers, these little racers would get right back on and keep riding strong until the end! Even the electric pedal bikes were going strong!
My niece was fun to watch. She was out there to win, even though no scores are held. Her brothers promised her 100 packs of gum if she won! She put her game face on and rode hard, holding nothing back. She knew where the throttle was, and how to pass, but her bike didn’t have any brakes. If you want to win, you don’t need brakes I guess! I should take a lesson or two. Hopefully she gets that gum she was promised.
My boy was excited he didn’t fall down the whole race. He was very smart and consistent in his riding. The turns were deep and sandy, but he tried to keep his feet on the pegs and speed up. I watched my boy standing up and trying to stay on the balls of his feet. Riding smart, not sloppy, is a great way to stay ahead. Unlike his old man.
Pee-Wee B Race Video
Race Report-Big Bike Novice
The weather was cold, overcast, and rainy. It was 50 degrees and pouring rain by the time we lined up. A little wet for race day, but it kept the dust down. There was a slight breeze which made it even more chilly. I started on row 44 and was signed up in the Open Novice class. Last time I raced in over 35 class, but I wanted to race against more riders this time.
I rode my old trusty, 1997 XR400. This bike is a lot to hold on to due to it’s weight, but it’ll rock climb and chug with almost no effort. That came in hand in the tight, technical stuff. One thing about my bike isn’t suited for is sandy whoops. The weight of the old XR makes it hard to stay on top and go fast. I managed to make it through all 3 test sections and finished the first lap when the race officials at the last check told me they were calling the race.
The race was called due to weather and riders getting lost. The club wanted to keep everyone safe and they made the right call to end it early.
Ride time according to my GPS was 2 hours 34 minutes. Recorded race time in test sections was 1 hour 3 minutes. I finished 5th place in the Open Novice class. I took 92nd overall. The fastest time for the day was 41 minutes 36 seconds, that is awesome!
The transfer to Test 1 was pretty open but had narrow, rocky canyon that created a pretty good bottleneck with no real way to go around. I actually got off and helped a lady get her bike up and out of the way to help keep other riders moving. There was also a pretty good hill climb that devoured several riders. I was able to make it up the first time and continue on to the start of the test.
I managed to not take up too much time getting to Test 1 but I did end up a minute or two late so I had some work to do to make it up. I felt pretty good and ended up just removing my goggles because visibility was so bad. It took a bit to get used to the sandy terrain but I just tried to keep my feet on the pegs and my speed up.
I managed to catch up to my brother who started in the row before me. Just as I caught up to him, I noticed other riders diverting from the course and going a different directions. Apparently when I was so focused on catching my brother, I had missed a turn. Luckily, I saw the other riders and I actually backtracked a bit to confirm they were going the right way. I’ve gotten lost before by following other riders and I did not want to do that again.
Without too much time lost I was able to find my way back on course. Other riders were not so lucky and actually continued on the path which led down a ravine and back onto the start of Test 1. It got a little sketchy because riders were then riding toward each other.
I was able to continue on and catch my nephew who rode a CRF150R on the big bike course! He was an animal. I managed to finish test 1 without any other mistakes and ended up coming in right behind my brother.
I struggled on this test. I don’t think I’ve ever hit so many branches, or even fell over so many times in a race. The course was tight through the tress with a few up hills and a couple rocky sections. The rain beating down on us, was not letting up. Every downhill was a small stream right where all the previous riders went. I was feeling pretty good and actually caught up to another brother who was chasing down someone.
The trees were so tight it was difficult to pass when a rider wouldn’t get over. I was impatient and made the mistake of trying to go through some trees. I ended up getting stuck. Shortly after that, I caught up to the same person who finally got over and then I hit a tree and fell over. I managed to keep the bike going but 20 seconds later, I hit a soft spot and down I went again.
By that time I was frustrated and couldn’t focus. I went down one more time and ended up tweaking my bars out of alignment. I had to stop AGAIN to get them straight. It was too sketchy to try and dodge so many trees with crooked bars. One thing with those trees, they were big branches that didn’t like to move. I ended up ripping my rain suit to shreds because it got snagged so many times.
I managed to finish the test, soaking wet, but still in one piece despite having made so many mistakes. At this point, I was still mentally preparing for another loop so I needed to keep my pace and not wear myself out too much.
Test 3 was little more technical and had more rocky sections. The rocks were a bit sketchy because they were so slippery. I fell over once in some soft stuff again, but nothing too major. I caught up to a couple riders making a good pace so I just tried to hang with them and stay consistent.
One rider didn’t even have a seat. Come to find out he had lost it on the first test section and had been riding the whole race with no seat! I’m not sure if it was his but I actually remember seeing a seat on the ground early on. Hats off to him. I actually passed him a couple of times because of my mistakes in Test 2. I’m sure he was thinking, “What is this guy doing, I keep seeing him,” Well, I was just trying to keep it upright.
The rain continued and we kept pushing on and I actually managed to catch my brother again towards the end of the test. When we got to the check point, the course workers mentioned we were finished and we should transfer back to the pits. I was a little bummed, but a little relieved as well. I was able to just cruise out with my brother and head back to the trucks. Our whole family was there to welcome us back. They were glad to see us in one piece.
We had 7 of the 8 of us back at the truck. My 16 year old nephew was still out racing. The course workers radioed out and told us he had just come through the last check and was on his way in! This was awesome to hear because this was his first desert race ever and his first one on a big bike. We were all pretty excited when he came rolling in. We all started cheering and congratulating him. My other nephew on his CRF150R finished with a flat tire and didn’t even look tired. They are both great riders.
We had all 8 of us back at the trucks and grinning from ear to ear with enough stories and pictures for a lifetime. That is what it is ultimately all about. We had an awesome support crew of our wives, children, friends, and other family all there to support us. The rain continued to come down and the storm intensified but we managed to get some dry clothes on and packed up and headed for home.
We’ll definitely be back to enjoy the country. Hopefully when it is dry, then we can take in all the beautiful creations around us. We are very fortunate to have what we have and I am grateful every day I’m able to do what I do, with the health to do it. Once the soreness wears off we’ll be ready to do it again!
Wendover Big Bike Race Video
Here are some things I recommend if ever doing any desert type racing:
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Recommended Gear and Equipment
- Hydration Pack
- Hand guards
- Action camera
- Tool pack
- Skid plate
- Rain gear
- Slime for tires
- Air compressor
- Extra tire tubes
- Extra chain links
- Mircofiber rag – for goggles
- Extra goggles
- Tear offs
- Extra clutch levers
If you need some ideas on how to get ready for a race, check out my post- Checklist for Race Day
Other race videos