Injury

Turns out that my crash at BRS did more damage to my knee than I thought.  I will need fairly major reconstructive surgery. Recovery time is looking like 6 to 9 months.

This means the Tuareg rally next March is out.  I probably won’t be doing any racing until next summer.  This will certainly affect my Dakar plans as well.  I suspect it will take a full year to recover and then get my riding skill just back to where it is now.

I hope to be able to start physical therapy as soon as possible. Staying in shape through this will be a challenge. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Not sure that applies to a 41 year old guy with a knee injury but I am trying to have that attitude about it.

This wasn’t part of the plan but it is part of my journey none the less.

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Not as planned.

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Stage 1 went great.  Stage 2 not so well.  I broke my rule of not riding faster than what I can see.  Came over a blind rise into an off camber right hand curve.  Went wide and hit a tree.  Thought #1 was get back on the bike.  When I had trouble getting up I realized that wasn’t happening.  Thought 2 was the rest of the bikes might crash into my wreak due to the blind corner.  Hobbled up the hill 30 meters or so where they could see me.  Wasn’t until I sat down again that the pain really started.

X-ray shows no break.  I think my knee braces saved me….. money well spent.  They put me in an immobilizing brace and gave me a prescription for some serious pain killers.

Did not look too close at the bike but did see the front wheel was badly bent.  Hope that is all.

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Ready to start

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All lined up for the start.  Bikes and cars are on display in Croghan NY until the start.  So a little more sitting around until the start.

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Ready for day 1

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Slept well and stayed dry in the van.  After the rains last night the weather looks good.  It might get a little chilly but dry.

We don’t start the transit to stage 1 until 3:30 so I have plenty of time to check the bike over to be sure everything is ready.

Today we have 9 race stages.  It will be 3 roads that we will run 3 times each.  First time around will be in daylight.  2nd will probably be around dusk and the final pass will be in the dark.

This will be the first real chance to check out my new Baja Designs led headlight.  Thanks to Renazco Racing for the great deal on that!

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Registration and tech

Made it to Harrisville and got through reg then checked in at the campground. Just waiting in line for tech inspection and I should be all set to race.

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Tech for bikes is usually fairly quick.  They check the lights on the bike (turn signals, brake light etc.) And they check the rider’s personal safety gear.

Problem is it takes much longer for the car tech so will be in line for a bit.

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Black River Stages Rally this weekend

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I have the van all packed up and ready to head to upstate NY for BRS.  Now that I have my new phone my plan is to try to post updates during the rally.  Keep watching here or FB for news.

This is the 3rd and final round for the Atlantic RallyMoto championship and I have a good shot at the “Dakar” class championship.

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I am in Cycle World.

Check out page 84 of the October issue of Cycle World. It is brief but I got mentioned!

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Tuareg Rallye!

The time has come to move another step closer to the long term goal of the Dakar.  I have been looking into options for doing an overseas rally for some time and have been talking with Dave Peckham and Charlie Rauseo of Rally Management Services working out some logistics.

I just sent a deposit to Dave to secure my spot in their shipping container as well as for support during the race and I will be entering the Tuareg Rallye in Tunisia next March!  The Tuareg is a 7 day long rally race in north Africa.  This should be a great next step for me and is a major goal in itself.  This will give me a chance to experience a real rally and truly decide if the Dakar is a reachable dream.

Going to be one hell of an adventure.

 

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Vegas to Reno – endurance

From where I was I could see the pit that I had just left across some open desert.  Just as I got back on the bike I heard the first trophy truck pull into the pit.  I knew they would have a quick pit stop and catch me very soon so I kept looking over my shoulder.  Sure enough it was only a couple minutes later when they were coming up behind me so I got well out of the way.  Being only mile 150 or so this was still early in the race for them so the trucks and buggies were not separated by a lot of time.  Each time as one would catch me the dust had barely settled before another would be right there.  I was spending more time pulling over to let them through than making actual progress.  In order to keep moving forward I would often go back to the strategy I had done in the silt early on and ride 20 or 30 feet off to the side of the trail.  Slow progress but it was still progress.

When these things start to catch you your day gets worse quick.

During the rider’s and driver’s meeting the night before Casey (the main organizer) had mentioned that he had talked with the TV helicopter pilots and asked them to look for riders being caught by the trucks.  They would then get ahead of the bike as a warning that there was someone faster coming through.  This worked great!  Several times I had no idea I was getting caught and seeing the helicopter gave me plenty of time to find a good spot to pull over.

Even when there wasn’t a helicopter most of the trucks have police style sirens they use when catching someone slow which gives you plenty of warning.

But occasionally…. very little warning, no place to pull over, and I would get passed with little room to spare.  Kind of scary.

By the time I reached pit 5 at mile 192 my average speed was suffering but I was still feeling OK.  My beer can gas cap had stayed on but this did slow down the pit stop.  As we were putting the beer can back on some guys who were pitted next to us noticed it and found a better solution, they had a plastic cap from a spray can which turned out to be a good fit.  We stuck it on and held it in place with some duct tape and I was off again.

I was still getting caught by a lot of trucks but the spacing was a little better now.  The really fast guys were past me.  The trail however was starting to get chewed up from all the traffic.  It wasn’t bad to ride in as long as you stayed in one of the ruts but there would be large soft sandy berms on each side.  The problem was when I needed to get out of the way of faster traffic this was sometimes difficult to get out of.  Several times I dumped the bike in the process of getting off the road, always out of the way of traffic so no danger of getting run over but picking the bike up out of the sand and silt took even more of my energy.  In a lot of areas the sides of the road was littered with bowling ball and larger sized rocks which made getting off the road even more hazardous.

At pit 6, 220 miles in I recall mentioning to Dad how hard that section had been and if there was a lot more of that I didn’t think I would be able to finish.  This pit was a little slow again since we had to pull the duct tape to get the cap off and re-tape it but I welcomed the break and had something cold to drink from the cooler.

Leaving the pit I was on a really good fast road which was a welcome break.  I was able to once again open it up and cover some distance.  Of course this didn’t last.  A few miles later it turned back into the rough, chewed up, rocky desert.

I believe it was around mile 240 when I made the decision to give up.  My head had started to ache over the last few miles and I was in a narrow canyon, wide enough that there was plenty of room for me to get out of the way but the sound of the high reving unlimited buggies flying past echoed off the walls and made my head fell like it was going to explode.  I had had enough and at this point my only goal was to get out of the desert.

This was the lowest I had ever felt when riding a motorcycle.  The worst thought was that if I can’t finish this one-day race how would I ever survive the 2 grueling weeks of the Dakar?  I felt like an idiot to think that I could ever do this.  I had given it a shot and I had failed.  I was already making plans to sell the bike and give it all up when I got home.

The next 20 miles took an eternity.  I had no desire to push myself to ride fast but I wanted out of this damn desert.  It felt like hours later when I reached pit 7 at mile 262.  I just shut the bike off and said to Dad “don’t put any fuel in, I am done”.  He could tell by the tone of my voice that it was over.  I pulled off some of my gear and he handed me a cold bottle of water and I just sulked for quite some time.

Looking back I am glad I made the attempt, but it was brutal.

 

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Vegas to Reno – things go downhill

Continuing my Vegas to Reno story….

I had been riding down a good fast road for quite some time and was happy that I was making good time and bringing my average speed up. when I realized I had not seen a course marker in a while.  The put up at least a mile marker sign every mile but I had noticed through the day that a few had gotten knocked over so I convinced myself I must still be on the right road for a bit.  After a while I couldn’t deny it anymore…. I was lost.

I slowed down to pull over and glanced in my mirror to see a quad behind me.  Then in the process of pulling over and looking in the mirror I hit some rocks on the side of the road and fell over.  Not a big crash or anything but I looked and felt like an idiot, oh well, no damage.

I recognized the quad rider as someone I had seen pulled over to the side of the road just a couple miles back.  I suspected he had pulled over due to a mechanical issue or something but he gave me the thumbs up so I kept riding and didn’t think much of it.  After I stopped he pulled up and said he had pulled over because he suspected he was lost and when he saw me he followed thinking I knew where I was going.

I did have the course on my GPS however I had not been looking at it since the tiny screen is difficult to see in the sun and the course had (until now) been well marked.  I couldn’t see the course on the screen so I figured I had something set wrong, either way it was obvious we needed to turn around and backtrack along the road we had been on.

Luckily there was good visibility along this road so back tracking wasn’t too dangerous.  I suspected if the two of us had missed a turn it would be likely that others behind us might miss it as well.  As we were backtracking I noticed tracks in the road from several other bikes who had turned around.  Looks like several bikes ahead of me had missed this turn, but they realized it much more quickly.

A few miles back up the road we met up with one of the UTVs heading toward us.  They stopped and I pulled up and asked if their GPS showed them on the course.  They then realized they were also off the course and said they missed a right turn just a little ways back.  So now the quad, UTV and I were riding back up the road, found what we thought was the turn we missed and took it.

About a 1/2 mile down that road it came to a dead end…. we were still lost.  The UTV guys were sitting there playing with their GPS and I left them and the quad and once again back-tracked up the road.  Once I got back to the main road I pulled over and really studied my GPS and was able to find where the course really was.  When I found the turn we had missed I did check and sure enough, there was no sign or any other markings, even the turn itself was a bit hidden, I had not even noticed it the first time through.

After the race I downloaded my GPS track and found the location where I missed the turn to see how much time I had lost.  At the time I estimated it at over 30 minutes but according to the GPS it was only about 20.  I was frustrated to loose time even if it was only 20 minutes.  Loosing 20 minutes now meant the trucks would catch me 20 minutes earlier and 20 minutes less of daylight.  Even so I was back on track.

Things went smoothly to the next pit at around mile 150.  Dad mentioned that a lot of the pit crews for the trucks and buggies had arrived so they would probably catch me before too long.  We had a good quick stop and off I went.

This is where things really went wrong.  Just about a mile out of the pit and I suddenly smelled the overwhelming smell of fuel.  I looked down to see there was no cap on the gas tank!  The tank was completely full so fuel was sloshing all over me and the bike.  I immediately pulled off to the side of the road causing even more fuel to get sloshed around.

Considering how much fuel was sloshing about I figured I must have lost the cap just moments before I noticed it so I took a walk back up the course to look for it.  It had to be there, it must be there…  I was on a straight stretch of road and when I didn’t see it I figured it must be at that last corner so I kept walking.  No luck.  As I turned around I noticed how far I had walked from the bike, in full gear, close to mid day in the Nevada desert.  This was really the only time through the day where I had noticed the heat.  Oh well, nothing to do but walk back to the bike and keep looking for the cap.  I walked along the opposite side of the road and kept looking.  I didn’t find the cap but about 1/2 way back to the pit I did find an empty beer can lying in the desert.  I could make this work.

I got back to the bike and pulled out a pocket knife and cut the bottom off the can.  It was a decent fit over the filler neck of the tank.  A couple of zip ties to tighten it in place and off I went.  My race was not yet over!

Note the custom beer can gas cap.

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