Info on Racing baja for 03'
Posted May 13, 2003 - 04:46 PM
I live on the east coast, but spent 2 weeks in Baja last year. Just me and a friend on a DRZ (I am on a 650R of course!) rode from Ensenada to San Ignacio alone, unsupported. We learned a lot and rode most of the BAJA course from the 2000. We rode in Jan 01. Riding from San Francisquito to San Ignacio was Awesome! What a ride! Well...since then I have wanting to go back and race the 1000! My goal is a succesful, safe ride, and I just want to finish (but not last!)
I have a ton of questions and know that many of you can help me through your own experiences. Being a woods racer, I don't have much saddle time in the desert. I race in the A class for Harescrambles, select GNCC's and Enduros.
I don't even really know where to start so many questions.
Is there any one place to go for all the info that I need?
What classes are there? and how do I sign up?
How many people do I need, right now I have 2 to ride and 2 to Chase.
How many bikes? I was planning on just using my 650. Building her up now. Are Baja lights needed? Or would a rewind and powerful aftermarket lights be okay. I am thinking of Bob Bell to set up the suspension?
Aside from the bike though...because thats a Honda and I know she'll come through for us...
Mainly I need some overview on the whole event.
I heard that Honda will pit (gas) for around 300
How many times can you switch riders? Can we do it with just 2? I know most use 3+
And forgive me on this one...the race is non-stop right? 24hrs?
I there a good book out there on racing baja?
What do think for a total cost? and time commitment.
We'd most likely drive out, pre-ride then race and in one fell swoop. I was think a month. Money I have no idea on?
I know that this a lot to ask...but I need to get the ball rolling here. Still an idea at this point, but I think my mind is made up...I want to make this happen.
Thanks for any help guys...with any luck I'll be there in 03'! I know I left some gaps and I'll have more questions as I really start digging into this...
Posted May 13, 2003 - 09:22 PM
After 32 years of riding bikes in Baja, and a growing number of race efforts, here's 2 pesos worth:
First there isnt any chat place for this type of racing-so yeah its hard to get good info. Try getting a copy of "1000 Miles to Glory" by Marty Fiolka (Piolka?) its a book about racing in Baja. Other publications needed :goofy:are the AAA map for Baja, and the Baja Almanac 2003 (www.mapworld.com). For a general info read on Baja history, culture, sea of Cortez, geography--try Ed Derrick's "Wind Water Sun"
If you dont mind coughing up some cash, you can contract out for full support services for the bigger races in Baja-certainly the easiest way to go-- many east coasters, Japanese, and Europeans do just that-its a very good way to go for first timers. Contracts range from just pit support (Honda) to turn key deals where someone in a really nice Pick-up truck picks you up at the airport and you go straight down to Baja with a shiny XR in the back for a week of practice and then a fully supported race-and of course, anything in between can be arrainged....I suggest you contact Rob or Denise at www.barnumspro.com if that is an option for you-- they have room for 3-4 more race teams in Novembers Baja 1000. They have racers coming from as far as Europe for next Novembers 1000. Last year they had racers from England and Sweeden (check out www.rallyprincess.com and click on Baja 1000 for a testimonial from Sweedens hottest female desert racer!!) ---Barnumspro supplied the fully race prepped BRP, support, etc. For first timers from the east coast that might be a good way to go.
If you are more of a damn the torpedos kind a guy then hears some advice for what its worth:
1) Fly to San Diego and help pit for us (#251X) in the Baja 500 June 1st. It'll get ya up close and personal. We always need another person in the chase trucks. Seriously--if you are a creep/smell bad, we will leave you in TJ on the way down, otherwise you will have the time of your life. Email my personal accout here if interested.
2) Look at www.score-international.com for all the sign up info. SCORE does 3 baja races. Also www.bitd.com does one race, and Los Ancianos MC does one. There are also several smaller races put on by Mexican racing organizations. Not many gringos run them- they are probably very fun.
3) Honda pits cost $1200 at last Nov's 1000- contact Bruce Ogilvie at American Honda in Torrance, CA. Space is limited!Others offer pit services for less- again www.barnumspro.com is a good choice-they offer pit service for bikes and they are cheaper and more accomodating/flexible than Honda. Other groups that offer pits for bikes are Mag7 and BajaPits. Both have good rep's. Other than the 1000 its not so hard to pit for yourself.
4) For the 1000 dual lights are a must. Helmet light is a good idea. For the other Baja races lights arent needed-with the possible exception of slower riders in the 500.
5) The bike needs to be prepped by someone who has Baja racing experience. Probably not your local WORCS expert. Again Rob Barnum is probably the best choice for Baja-ing the XR650 - he's race prepped our teams effort for several Baja races with the best of results and VERY flexible/customer focused effort (he's r and r'ing our 500 bike this week), but certainly others can help out. Precision Concepts, Race Tech, XR's Only, Baja Designs, etc. all have something to offer. I've dealt very positively with each of them.
If you want to do it yourself...Set the suspension soft, gear it up, rewind the stator, big tank, and a steering dampner are a MUST-but thats just the beginning... There are several SCORE specific modifications you will need as well (flashing rear light, stub can for checkpoints).
6) During the race stuff happens- it rarely goes as planned...finishing means adapting to the circumstances-a bit like mountain climbing...pits for gas will be every 50-70 miles, rear tire changed after 250-300 miles. Oil change after 500 miles, air filter every 200-300. The races are monitored by BB radios (not CB!) and its a good idea to have at least one radio in your effort (they are expensive!). Many teams have satelite phones as well-sat phones can be rented by the day or week... I know the teams that contract with Barnum will have both-very important in the case of injury or broken/stranded bike. Communication is really difficult in Baja. ATT cell phones will work in many Baja towns. Other pit contractors dont help much with communication-if at all- they just poor your gas, and change a tire if they have time!
7) Normally there are 3-4 riders on a 'first time' team and or Sportsman Class team and 2 or 3 on a pro team. There is no limit on the number of riders for SCORE races-although there is a fee for every rider after #4. BITD allows only 2 riders at their Baja 300. There are two strategies- one is to race 2-300 miles and hand off to your partner and then meet them at the finish line. The other is to break it into several small sections, so each team mate might ride 2 or 3 times during the 10- 20 hour race. The later takes a well coordinated chase crew with sound knowledge of where they are supposed to be and when, but its a lot easier on the racers.
Well thats about 1/100 of what ya need to know, but the contacts above can fill in the blanks.
Baja racing the BRP is incredible, its hard to over state the life-satisfactin that comes with the experience. I've climbed in the Andeas, traveled the length of the Nile, partied in Bombay, driven to Nicaragua, even smoked cigars in old Havanna--for me no other adventure compares to racing the 1000. GO FOR IT! Not long ago a good friend told me of a chance encounter/conversation he had with a retired construction worker guy-just a stranger he ran into--and the old dude was talking about his life--he reportedly told my buddy Ed that having a child and racing the Baja 1000 where the highlights of his life!!!!
Posted May 14, 2003 - 05:08 AM
Best of luck!
Posted May 14, 2003 - 07:41 AM
I've raced 16 Baja 1000's (my first one when I was 16 years old, 36 now) and 16 500's and it's always exhilarating and interesting.
I also think it's a good idea to try and be out here for the 500 just to take a look and learn before racing the 1000. Just being out here to watch one race you'll triple your preparedness.
I have seen so many guys (not from the southwest) come out to race and their bikes are not prepped well at all. It totally makes sense to have someone who knows help you with that.
As for pits, it's sounding like Honda won't be offering pits anymore. Maybe they will for the 1000, can't say at this point. It's actually cheap to have any of the pit clubs help you out.
My company also offers 650r's prepped to race, pre run bikes, and support if needed. Rob's a good guy too.
Signing up is simple. If you guys are A class back there then I'd suggest you ride Pro out here. Either Open, plus 30, or plus 40 depending on your ages. I really don't see any reason to ride the sportsman class as it's only a bit more cash to ride pro and the pros aren't really much faster than the top sportsman teams (disregard the factory teams).
Use as many support people as you want, use as many riders as you want, stop as often and where ever you want.
Yes, it's non-stop.
Cost is a very difficult answer. So much depends on how involved you want to get on the bike prep, how many total in your group, if you're slumming it at campgrounds or popping for nice hotels each night, how much time you want to be in Baja, etc... You can spend between $6000 and $20,000 (that narrows it down....)
This years 1000 will be a Ensenada to Ensenada loop (as opposed to racing to the tip). This will make it much easier logistically and more affordable. Time wise, plan on only needing to be in Baja for about 10 days. This will give you enough time to scope out your sections, the pre race stuff, race, and post race. Plus with your travel, you might be looking at just over a couple weeks.
Irondude Mike, Rob B., Myself, Mainjet (on this board), and more are all willing and reliable sources. Feel free to ask f you have any questions.
Posted May 14, 2003 - 08:55 AM
Tim, I guess you used to ride with Dick Bettencourt from up here in Mass. ? I am pretty close to the Bettencourts and race for them out of their shop. We haven't talked other than just is passing, but I hoping that Dave B is going to help me out with some of the costs. We'll see. So because of the history between Bettencourts and you Tim, I'd like to use your services for Pits if possible.
I am going to look into the book and links that you included ironman. The bike is coming out nice so far, just freshening up the top-end now, new SS intake, exhaust valves, new stnd piston,rings, smooth out the runners on the head, stage II cam, Ed QS carb, Big Gun header into a XR's only tail. DID ERV2, ironman sprockets (haven't decided on gearing yet..15-47?) 2 rim locks, batwing in the airbox, scott's t clamps, cr high protapers, handguards, scotts stabalizer, works connection perch and lever (with decomp), lengthened clutch arm by 5mm, HD clutch springs, and the bike is a 00 so I updated that clutch bushing too and got rid of that judder setup, back to just all plates, new wheel bearing, trued wheels (stnd did)Fresh brakes...everything is loctited and safety wired. I have to get it all back together and test the new cam, carb exhaust etc, but from what I hear the QS is easy to tune. I already have her set up with the IMS 4.7 (no dry break...do I need one?) and 1.6 rad cap...with engine ice. I still have to set up lights and rewind the stator, and need to do something with the suspension. It is stock now and all soft for the woods. Somewhat harsh in the midstroke in the fork. I am 90% that I will send it to bob bell. I don't have any extra rims or anything, maybe I can get Dave B to loan me some? You think I should? I am confident in my ability to setup the bike...what spare parts should I plan on? Shifter, brake pads, levers, CS seal, tires (Dunlop HD deserts or that new Michelin desert?) Tubes or bib mouse?
Should I mount my GPS to the bike? or is the course good and labeled? If so can I download the waypoints of the course somewhere? Someone mentioned BFG did this?
Communication: What is the least expensive way to comm with my chase team? Satellite phone? Or radio?
For travel, I will drive out, stay in AZ with some friends, then head out to Ensenada for the event. We'll be winging it at campgounds and what not...some hotels thrown in.
Thanks so much for help...keep it coming. I am going to go to the shop tomorrow and talk with Dave B and see what details I can work out. You guys got me all pumped up now. Anyone selling any of the dual lights? Or should I just go through baja designs? Tim what would it cost for a complete bike setup from Baja Bound, soup to nuts, for the prerun/race from you and would it be equipped similar to mybike? (PM me if you want with that if you don't want to post it) After I sort things out I will call you. I'll call Barnum pro too, I just got the Edelbrock carb from them.
Thanks Guys I really appreciate all the feedback. Keep it coming! -John
Posted May 14, 2003 - 11:53 AM
For pit support I would suggest that people try the Mag 7 group. They apparently are going to have 8 fully equipped pits for only 150 dollars plus gas. Sounds like a god deal to me. Call it insurance.
Anyhow, should be a fun race. Let me know when you are all pre-running, it would be fun to get a group together up there. Safety in numbers.
Talk to you all later. Happy racing!!!
Posted May 14, 2003 - 07:04 PM
I again offer to take ya on board for pit/chase role in the 500 if you are into it. We will be driving down to Ensenada on Thursday night-the 30th - bring a sleeping bag, eat tacos. Everything else taken care of. I5 gets within 1-2 miles of San Diego airport on the way to Tijuana....Thursday night the 30th around 8-9pm! Feel free to continue asking about bike prep, etc., etc. To answer some of your questions- I've converted to the Michelin Desert with HD tubes. Lights--the technology is now in transition from Halogen to HID. Rickystator.com has Halo for $250 or so, but they are easy to make also. HID is really expensive from BD- wait a few months and see if there arent cheaper HID lights available-- I know people are working on it. Your engine mods sound good. Most do run dry brakes, but if your tank doesnt have one, and you arent trying to win your class, then its not a must have item. Tims right about racing Pro class- ya start earlier, so less dust and more time until the trucks catch ya...getting passed by trucks is an email in itself. 15/47 works well down there- I'm impressed by the ironman sprocket. No need for GPS in my opinion although a few try it. The course is surprisingly well marked , and more important the pre-running really sets a dominant 'track' through the tangle of Baja ranch roads by race day. A camelback is of course mandatory, as well as matches!
Sunny- sorry i missed your call. Hectic day. Try again! We will be pre-running-- arrive next Thursday PM Ensenada, riding Fri, Sat, Sun--will do the entire course. Join us! So far there are 4 XR650 racers going, all older/mello racers- its gonna be a blast. Anyone else out there in Thumpertalk land gonna be down there?
And Sunny get that third racer-its gonna be good times-if you need someone maybe i could race both teams?!
hasta, Iron Mike
Posted May 14, 2003 - 07:27 PM
I will try again tomorrow on the phone. Hopefully I will have a little more luck. I appreciate the offer for pre-running. I just might take you up on that offer. It should be a great time. Will figure out the details over the phone.
Posted May 15, 2003 - 07:24 AM
About running Sptsmn or Pro, I don't think the Sptsmn get any respect either. They don't even get called up at the awards (for what I've seen). The first couple Sptsmn are actually very fast too. They would totally be competitive in the pro classes. Trust me, in most cases only the top couple open pros are really fast, and some are actually quite slow. like Mike sez, riding pro can put you farther out front at the start and that's nice.
Yeah, your bike does sound like it's getting done right, good job. You really need a spare front wheel and a couple spare rears. I'd suggest running a solid tube in the front and good tire in the rear with ultra heavy tube. Since wheels will be at a premium then tire choice is super critical. This subject is something I don't want ot discuss openly, but Mike made a good suggestion. You need a tough tire that will last as long as possible. Hooking-up is not really the point when it comes to a good rear tire in this situation.
Sometimes you can find used XR wheels here on TT. Buy a set or at least a couple rears.
Spare parts needed will really depend on who's doing the pits. With Honda it's so stinkin easy that all I ever carry in my fanny pack is a pair of dykes, a crescent, and small vice grips. Basically, "run it!" If Honda's not doing pits then being prepared and having parts will be very critical.
Screw the GPS, a total waste of space. I hate GPS, never have used one, and firmly believe that if you need one then you aren't much of an explorer (I'm going to catch hell from someone for saying that). Like Mike sez, the course is well marked. Sometimes guys make wrong turns or get lost during these races, but that just means they aren't paying attention and are not well prepared. Car and truck guys operate differently than bike guys. Some of them do use GPS but then again some of them are driving the entire route solo. They also have the luxury of being able to read a larger display than a biker does without the fear of crashing hard not looking at the road. I know some car guys that race with GPS "rally style" with the co-driver telling the driver what's up ahead. Fine for them, not us.
Satellite phones and radios - I like radios, but you're limited on range. Sat phones are nice but are a total pain. I really feel that if your trucks have 55w radios and each rider has a handheld that's the most simple and effective. Plan on doing the race without any communication and you'll be all set. Then, if something (reception) actually does work you'll be stoked. All this communication nowadays has taken some of the drama out of the entire experience.
Precision Concepts rocks.
Complete bike set up (for the 1000) from us runs about $7K. New bike all set up, spare wheels, halo lights, etc... Basically it's turn key. Prerunning help and bikes, hotels, and everything else also available.
Man, you guys are making me want to go to the 500. I was totally over it a month ago.
But this year we'll be racing the same weekend up in Idaho at the ISDE Qualifier. Never done a Qualifier but I've done 18 Baja 500's (I recounted) so this will be a new experience.
I'll be outta town for a few weeks while you guys are gearing up for Baja so I'll have to read all about it after the event.
Have a total ball and ride very safe!
SunnyMex - Did the Dos Mares take place yet? If so, who won?
Posted May 15, 2003 - 08:56 AM
Posted May 15, 2003 - 10:18 AM
The Dos Mares was on May 3-4. Pepe Viacaino won again. He finished in just under 5 hours. Averaged just over 60 mph. We were gunning for him but didn't make it very far. My teamate had the first leg and the rear tires sidewall just shredded apart on him. I think that we had a falty tire. I think from now on I am going to stick with either Michelin's or Dunlop. I never liked Bridgestone now this gives me even more of a reason to hate them. Next year hope to do better though.
Rokatt, get your stuff together. Should be a great race.
Anyhow, I am looking forward to the 500. Should be even better.
Posted May 15, 2003 - 08:29 PM
The Dos Mares was on May 3-4. Pepe Viacaino won again. He finished in just under 5 hours. Averaged just over 60 mph.
Is that "Pepe" the same as Alejandro V.? If so, that guy is pretty damn fast.
He's a good example of a really fast rider who was riding Sportsman class in the Score races. He should be riding Pro in Score.
Holy smokes, 60mph! That's faster than most Score races. I know most of the route from the Dos Mares and averaging 60 means they were on the gas.
Bummer you guys had troubles.
Posted May 16, 2003 - 05:23 AM
Posted May 22, 2003 - 09:55 AM
Remember, you don't have any excusses anymore, come down and ride the Legendary Baja. If you don't, you will always look back and tell yourself why didn't you do it.
Posted May 26, 2003 - 07:54 PM
Just got back from 3 days of pre-running the Baja 500. Met up with Sunnymex-we met on TT. Very cool experience to meet someone here in cyberbikespace, take a chance and meet up for a ride down in Baja. Excellent! That guy is fast!!
If you are into BRP desert racing ya might want to check out www.off-road.com next Saturday for real time race action and results from Baja. Its gonna be the battle of the TTers with 251X (old farts) and 261X (young guns) battling it out for Sportsman bragging rights...of course Steve and Johnny will beat us by a couple hours.....
Riding the BRP in Baja is amazing...if ya havent down it-give it a try sometime.
Posted May 27, 2003 - 06:16 AM
Posted May 27, 2003 - 12:44 PM
Posted June 02, 2003 - 02:13 PM
Anyhow, just thought that I would fill you in on the finishing of the race. It was a little demoralizing not finishing, but at least there is always next year. Believe me that there will be another chance to redeem ourselves. I think that next will be either the Baja 300 or 1000. I will let you all know how that one goes.
Talk to you all later.
Posted June 02, 2003 - 02:20 PM
Posted June 18, 2003 - 07:52 PM
Not sure what is wrong with the bike yet. I just got back from a 2 week trip. Have not had a chance to get it looked at. I made a few calls and people keep giving me several ideas of what it could be. The deal I guess is that I will really have to pull it apart and see what is going on in there. Might be good to re-build the engine just to be sure and confident that it will not do the same in the next race. What is even more frustrating is that we were in solid 3rd in the 500. Oh well, next time.
As for the blue bike, not sure yet. Still waiting on a few things before I go ahead with it. I do not think that it will ever replace the 650. I have a very special relationship with that bike. Even though it didn't come through for me in the Baja 500, it is still one of the most amazing bikes out there. I gotta tell you that bike is built like a tank and can take some pretty intense beatings. It is definetely a Baja bike made for Baja riding.
Anyhow, if anybody out there has any ideas about what could have gone wrong with my bike, give me your 2 pesos as irondude would say. Pretty much just lost power and in the end began pinging. Decided to call it quits before it really went bad. Let me know what you think.
Talk to you all later.
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