View Full Version : Tecate Enduro 2010 Race Report

12-30-2010, 07:53 PM

Dec 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of the Los Ancianos Motorcycle Club. Though the club had not run the Enduro format in about 13 years, they decided a return to their roots was appropriate for their 50th anniversary. The club says this is the last time the Enduro will be run, due to the amount of manpower and land use coordination required to execute such an event. I'm a sucker for once-in-a-lifetime opportunity type races, so even though things are a bit tight for me, I decided that I couldn't miss it.

Originally my plan was to go down with my wife and stay a couple of days at Rancho Santa Veronica and a day with my parents in San Diego. Due to some last minute issues my wife needed to stay home, so I hooked up with some local fast guys who had also decided at the last minute to make the trip down.

Thursday the 2nd I hooked up with Greg Gillian, Cory Pincock, and Brad Strong, and we headed to St. George to meet up with Bert Bradford. Greg is a former ISDE Trophy Team member, Cory just got back from the ISDE in Morelia and is also a former Trials Des Nations competitor, Brad is a former Utah #1 as is Bert. The plan was to stay in Vegas then head to San Diego to pick up Shawn Strong, current Utah #1, NHHA #10, and Morelia ISDE competitor.

Due to a late start we didn't make it in to Vegas until about 12:30 am local time. We stayed at my sister's place in Henderson NV and got about 4 1/2 hrs of sleep before hitting the road for San Diego.

It was great riding down with such a group of riders. Cory had some funny stories about the Trails des Nations and Greg had all kind of stories about east coast races, GNCC, National Enduro's, and also the 3 ISDE's he's participated in.

We arrived in San Diego to pick up Shawn and we looked around and thought maybe we should just stay here. Shawn was at his sister's place in Cardiff by the Sea, about 100 yards from the beach and just about perfect weather. "Livin the dream" Bert says.

We met up with my parents quickly to deliver some stuff I had brought down for them, and my mom set us up with two big bags of pumpkin cookies. Sweeeet. From there we headed to the Tecate border crossing which went smooth, and we made it in to the pits at about 3:00.

Bert and Paul clearly having a good time

As a Martian on planet Earth, Greg suffers from random facial contortions any time a flash goes off

We hit sign up and got all our stuff, then I headed out for a couple of laps on the test loop. Even the test loop was great fun, it was nothing but nice loamy singletrack. Everything looked good. The guys were all camping at the pits while I had a room about 9 miles away at Rancho Santa Veronica. I hitched a ride with a couple of guys named Grant and Scott ("Mr. Alpinestars" according to Grant), driving a Honda truck. Grant rallied that truck all the way to RSV and we made it in under 20 minutes when it was taking everyone else about a half and hour. I thanked them for the ride, checked in to my room, and headed to the bar for dinner.

The bar was full of great riders past and present. While standing in line I looked behind me and Malcolm Smith is right there waiting his turn. I saw Charlie Mullins, Russell Bobbit, and Destry Abbott as well. I'm sure most of the other pro's were there too. The turnout of high calibre riders was awesome. Zip Ty's Husky team was there, Taylor Robert, Justin Soule, Jimmy Lewis, lots of ISDE vets like Jordan Brandt, Brian Sperle, etc. The club only ran 3 classes on all three loops so I was in the vet class with about 10 Pro's, 10 super fast guys, and the rest of us... 51 competitors in all.

RSV was packed and their generators couldn't quite handle the power demand, so the lights went out about every 5 minutes or so. I ate my dinner at the bar with a few dos equis to wash it down and headed back to my room. I had forgot to bring a watch (really dumb since it was an enduro - timed event), and my cell phone didn't get any service so I had no idea what time it was. I figured it was about 10 because it was pitch dark outside... I asked my neighbors and they said it was quarter after 7. lol. I had arranged to meet up with Dustin Walcher in the morning for a ride back to the pits, so I set my cell phone to the correct time, set the alarm for 5 am, and crawled into bed at about 7:45. Due to the lack of sleep the night before I fell asleep pretty quick.

I had a dream that Dustin's dad Warren had come to my room and said it was time to go, and that I told him I wasn't going to go, didn't feel like it or whatever. Then I woke up to the sound of my phone alerting me to a text message. I got up and checked it and it was a system message from Sprint saying "welcome to Mexico". While looking at the text I noticed it says "message received Dec 4 @ 7:45 AM". I was freaking out thinking I had slept in, my start time was 4 minutes ago and I was still 30 minutes away from the pits without a ride! The Walcher's didn't know what room I was in so I figured they left without me! I started grabbing all my stuff and then opened the door and its pitch black outside, not a soul around, and very quiet. I am totally confused by now so I check my programmed time on the cell phone and it says its 11:30 pm Dec 3.

It was pretty hard to get back to sleep after that, because I had no idea what time it really was or if my alarm would go off at the right time or anything. I did eventually fall asleep, and my alarm never did go off, but I woke up at 5 am anyway. I got ready to go and went outside and the Dustin was waiting for me all set to go.

Most of the guys were still asleep when I got to the pits, but they started getting up and we made some breakfast. We went to riders meeting where they gave us some free hats from Klim, and headed back to the trailer for bagels and oatmeal. The temperature was about 32 degrees so there were fires going everywhere. Sounded like it was pretty cold, Bert actually got into the truck in the middle of the night and ran it for about an hour to keep warm. The other guys said they felt bad for him once they saw that Little Mermaid sleeping bag he brought.

Shawn's all set for the next day's ride

12-30-2010, 07:54 PM
At 7:01 the first row left, and the start of the course came right by the trailer. I started getting dressed while watching the first rows go out. Ivan Ramirez came by looking like a man possessed and it wasn't even a special test section.

I rode on minute 41 while the rest of the Utah guys were back on minute 58 due to the late entry. There were supposed to be four guys on my row but one didn't show up, so I rode with George Pennington and his son Tyler from Colorado. George is a pretty fast guy and I thought maybe I'd be battling with him during the test sections, but they both let me take the lead every time.

My minute came up and we hit the trail. What ensued can only be described as the most fun epic trail I have ever seen. The dirt conditions were perfect... it had rained pretty hard a week or so before the race, and all it took was a couple rows of bikes to get down to the good stuff. It was a little soft, so the corners already had perfect berms formed. Despite 160 bikes going through before me, the trail held up phenomenally well. Some braking bumps formed and there were a few whoops here and there, but for the most part it was simply perfect.

Loam, sweet loam

I had never ridden a National Enduro (restart) format, so I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I didn't have a watch and I didn't bother writing down the time schedule since I had no watch to compare it to. I figured I'd just ride kind of fast and see what happened. It ended up working fine, the club used flip cards at the start of the test so you knew when your minute was up and you didn't even need to know what time it was.

About three miles in I came around a corner and a competitor was there telling me to slow way down. I did and I saw that there was a downed rider off the side of the trail. I rode by real slow and couldn't really tell what was going on but he looked like he was unconscious. I didn't really understand how you could have a problem there, it was an easy and fun trail but you couldn't go fast enough to have a bad get-off that would hurt you. Unfortunately it turns out the rider, Desmond McDonald, suffered an apparent heart attack and passed away while riding. I didn't know him but he sounds like a great guy who really loved the sport. There is a tribute thread for him on the advrider forums. Rest in peace Des.

At the first test I lined up with George and Tyler, and when the flip card went my bike took awhile to start. I took helmet cam footage and you can hear me yelling at it on the footage. Got it going and took off, and just started making more mistake than the last 3 races combined! Blowing corners, getting off balance, it was ugly. I thought I could hear George right on my tail so at a corner I looked back to see if I should let him by but he wasn't there. Unfortunately while looking back I rode right off the trail and crashed, and as I was picking myself up he went by then. I got going again and I guess I needed to get the crash out of my system because I rode much better after that. George let me back by on a short road section and I finished the section 7 minutes off of key time.

Team Green Kawasaki (Destry Abbott, Taylor Robert, Justin Soule, and the legend Larry Roseler) were on row 38, 3 minutes in front of me. At every test when there is a reset I got to see them and watch their line start the test. It was pretty sweet to watch 4 super fast guys battle it out bar to bar in Baja, for the 2 seconds you could see them at least. At the second test we talked to Destry and found out that each of them had dropped about 3 minutes in the 1st test, which means it took me 4 minutes longer than them to complete the test. I am still blown away at that, it wasn't that long of a test and I really can't fathom doing it 4 minutes faster than I did.

Test 2 was fast and super fun. I felt good and was determined to put in a more respectable time and really hit it hard. A short way in there was a hard left that I thought looked kind of weird, it just seemed out of place. It immediately went up a difficult technical wash and I passed 3 guys in it who were struggling, only to come out on top and see no evidence of trail whatsoever. I rode around for a bit looking for ribbon before turning around. Turns out the trail didn't turn left there it all, it kept going straight. I have no idea why it had been burned in so hard to the left, but as a result I lost a bunch of time there. I did manage to keep it on two wheels in this test so that was good. I can't remember my time here, but I was a few minutes off of key time at least.

We then had a short transfer section to the gas check. My bike started running really poorly and I was afraid I was having an electrical problem but it turns out I was out of gas on the main valve and had to switch to reserve. That surprised me because I normally have a 60 mile range and the loop was only 30 miles. I switched to reserve and everything worked great after that, and I dumped the 2 1/4 gallons in that I had there.

At the start of test 3 I was talking to Taylor Robert and asking him how they did in test 2. Taylor said he dropped 43 seconds, Justin said he dropped 59 seconds. They both took the wrong left turn as well. Unbelievable! They essentially finished on their minute, key time, which means they kept the 30 mph avg in that test. It was a fast test but I would say most of it is impossible to keep a 30 mph avg. There was one long singletrack straight away where you could really open it up but still.... those guys are inhuman.

Now we're on loop 2 and the trail is getting a little tougher. Test 3 was full of rocks and it was hard to keep your momentum in places. I went down in this test again and dropped several minutes. On the bright side I seemed to be keeping a pretty good pace, I was passing 7-12 riders in front of me in every test, some of which had started 7 minutes in front of me, and I had not been caught by any riders that started on the minutes behind me. The Husky team was on minute 50, so even though they were 9 minutes behind I felt pretty good that I could stay in front of them. Some of the tests were long enough that I certainly thought it was possible. Unfortunately I was keeping the streak alive of having some kind of problem in every test.

After test 3 the trail was the best. We got up into the high desert with some pine trees, and the trail flowed really nice and you could keep a good 3rd gear pace on it with some berms you could just huck the bike into.

Front tires do not belong on the ground

Test 4 was again pretty rocky but I felt good until the final corner when I washed out and went down again. Keepin' the streak alive, man! From there we rode a fairly long (comparatively) transfer section and arrived at the second gas check. At the second check there was about a 1 hr reset, where the club fed us lunch. What a sweet race. In line for lunch, the first thing you get is a hot towel to wipe off your face. The next thing you are presented with is a cooler full of beer. Then you have the nice ladies with the club asking you what you want on your sandwich! I tell you, this is the way racing was meant to be.

12-30-2010, 07:54 PM
The lunch break was long enough that I finally got to see Bert, Shawn, Cory, and Greg. I sat down with them for awhile and we all bench raced over lunch. It sounded like they were having a blast racing each other all day. I think it was here that Bert called Greg the Martian... he hadn't ridden in about 3 years but was just killing it. Both Cory and Shawn had some minor mechanical problems which they were able to repair at the lunch break.

Cory rockin' it in a transfer section

Test 5 was only about a mile after the gas check and had a killer long flat start with a sweeping left hand corner. There were lots of spectators at this one and after I hit the trail I could see spectators darting off the trail to get out of my way. Once again I felt great and was keeping what I thought was a pretty good pace, but it was a pretty tight trail and my big 505 was starting to tire my arms out in the corners. Naturally I went down again before the end and dropped minutes as usual. We had one more short transfer section before the final test.

The final test started right next to the pits, and was a 15 mile test all the way to the finish. Brad was there waiting for us and he got me some water since I had just drained my camelbak. Lots and lots of spectators at this one.

This is what 51st overall looks like people!

The first 5 miles of this test was killer, more fast and flowy singletrack and some spots where you could really open it up. After that it went up into the mountains and it got pretty tight with some steep spots and some technical rocky spots. It was a long test and it was hard to keep pushing 100% through the whole thing. I felt great and made a lot of passes, I think all the way up to minute 32. I knew I was getting near the end so I was pushing hard in some whoops when I saw something flapping on my bike out of the corner of my eye. I look down and its my right-side radiator, barely hanging on by one hose, and its just smacking the head pipe over and over.

I thought my race was over, can't ride without a cooling system and I figured there was no way my radiator survived such a beating. Without even thinking I just grabbed it and forced it back into the top hose (the thing is scorching hot by the way) so that all the hoses were connected. Then I rode the rest of the test, slowly, while sitting high up on the tank and squeezing the radiators between my knees so it couldn't come out again. It worked and I made it to the finish, but in this test the Husky guys finally caught up to me and two of them passed me about 1/2 mile before the finish. They looked a lot faster than I have ever felt. I think it was Garrison that got me first, I was able to get out of his way easy. It was then either Cory Graffunder or Nick Burson who came by next and I tried to move off the trail but I didn't know he was already over taking me there. I ended up pushing him way wide on the corner as he's yelling “whoa whoa whoa!” at me the whole time. Sorry about that!

At the finish there were tons of spectators taking pictures, and here I am going 2 mph holding my radiators in and looking like a total goon. I made it and the club had another cooler full of cold beer waiting for us. Take note USRA, beer at the finish = awesome. I had a smile on my face so big you could see it from Salt Lake City. The course was 95% singletrack, and the roads that were there had only been used by dirtbikes in the last 10 years so they were practically singletrack too. The temperature was perfect, about 60-65 degrees all day. All I could think was this was by far the funnest time I have ever had at a race, and I've raced about 50 times in the last few years.

I finished 51st overall and 16th in my class (of 51 riders). Not too bad but I felt I could have done better of course, had I not crashed, got lost, got tangled in some barbed wire, helped a rider who crashed, and most of all if my radiator hadn't fallen off! The club did an excellent job with everything, laying out and marking the course, a great mix of tight, fast, smooth, and technical terrain, lunch, pins, shirts, hats... everything. I hope they reconsider and do the Enduro at some point in the future, I don't think anyone who raced this would miss another one.

Below is a video of all the helmet cam footage I took. I tried to record every special test but the tests were so long my battery ran out about 30 seconds into the final test. I'm a total novice at video editing but I hope you enjoy it.


12-31-2010, 12:51 PM
Hi there.

12-31-2010, 04:52 PM
Very nice report and video Paul! It sure looks like it was an awesome race.