“The pain that is created from avoiding hard work is much more than any pain created from the actual work itself because if you don’t begin to work on those ideas that God has blessed you with, they will become stagnant inside of you and eventually begin to eat away…
I decelerated into the dusty lot in front of the little Bella Vista hotel in Valle Trinidad at race mile 110 at 8:11 am. I was five minutes ahead of my schedule. My team got me in and out in five minutes and I was gone again. The math? 807…I’m…
I took off out of my second chase truck stop at mile 74 with seven miles to go to have 10% of the race behind me. You think about these things in such a race. Doing math in your helmet is a pastime I developed in Baja, especially in the…
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within us.” – Lillian Smith I knew my knees were not great. Running was a key part of my training for these races. …
The course turned into an area called Uruapan. It was characterized by hills and whoops in the hills, and deep silty sections in the low areas. In some conditions it was fun – but not these conditions. At the beginning of the race bikes and ATV’s are clustered together on…
My first stop in the 1000 was a gas pit at Ojos Negros, a little poor dusty town outside of Ensenada. When I pre-ran this section the kids would chase after me and I always had plenty of race team stickers for them. The race coming directly through their town…
“If wrinkles must be written on the brow, let them not be written on the heart. The spirit should not grow old.” – James A. Garfield June is hot in the Baja desert. Very hot. In fact, in the 2016 Baja 500 two motorcycle riders died from the heat. Victor…
I was lined up at the Baja 1000 start. At the last minute the starting rider on the 1x team, Colton Udall, comes walking through the crowd of bikes and riders in the starting gate shouting, asking if anyone has an extra red blinker light for his backpack. I always…
“There are two types of suffering in the world; short-term and long-term. You have to decide which one you want.” I rolled up the staging at the Baja 1000 starting line with ten other Ironman competitors. Bright lights took away the darkness. It was just after 4 AM. I was…
(First race of the four-race series - the "SanFelipe 250", 320 miles, April 2018) Victor and I executed our plan well on race day. At dawn the race began on the beachfront main drag of San Felipe. I rode great but I didn’t override the course. At about mile 50,…
Chapter Eight – Barbed Wire
“The pain that is created from avoiding hard work is much more than any pain created from the actual work itself because if you don’t begin to work on those ideas that God has blessed you with, they will become stagnant inside of you and eventually begin to eat away at you. You might seem ok on the outside, but inside you will be ill from not getting those ideas out of your heart and into the world. Stalling leads to sickness, but taking steps, even baby steps, always leads to success.” – Russell Simmons
The Tijuana Challenge was a very different race than the others. First, it was the shortest. But it was a different format. They laid out a 34-mile loop of tough rocky hills, including some very challenging hill climbs and “rock gardens”. On Saturday morning at 6:30 am you race two laps – 68 miles. Then on Sunday morning, you repeat it. They’d add your times together to determine the winners.
There were only four riders in the Ironman class. The season was already taking its toll after just two races. Racers would get hurt and not return to the series. Others did not finish a race and decided to abort their season plans if they had them.
Through a lottery, I was to start first in my class on day one and last on day two. I got the green flag and raced into the dust of the bikes who started before me. It was clear I had a big problem right from the beginning. I had not pre-run the course and the other three in my class had. Two of them lived locally so it was easy for them. Pre-running was only open the weekend before, and I just couldn’t make another trip from Connecticut. Others told me that I couldn’t get lost in such a short race because it would be well worn in. I didn’t even use a GPS.
The problem is I didn’t know what way the course went and had to pause at turns to figure it out. When there was a rise ahead I had no idea what was on the other side of it and whether it went left or right. Francisco and Jose passed me and I conceded as I knew they were faster than me and knew the track. I kept the third rider behind me.
At mile 33, one mile before seeing the starting line again and beginning the second lap, I spied a very steep hill climb with single-track wheel marks up it. It was sort of an alternate line that could shave a couple seconds off by straightening out the course where there was a switchback going up a hill. The Pro riders look for any possible way to save time. I figured if they could do it so could I. I went for it.
It was about 150 feet up and it got steeper and steeper at the top. I had ten feet to go and my bike just stopped. At first, I thought it was the steepness. My bike was pointing up at a 45-degree angle. I didn’t think I could get going again, but I had to try. I downshifted into first gear, revved the engine and let the clutch out. The bike would not move. Something was wrong.
I looked down and I see barbed wire wrapped around my rear wheel. To make matters worse, it was going off into the distance on the right, still attached to some fencepost somewhere. Oh no! In a short race like this bikes were bunched up. I heard one coming already. I did not carry my wire cutters in my side pouch because this was such a short race – what could happen? This!
Two locals came down to help me. They held the bike up and I got off. Then I see the wire is cutting through my rear brake line! A bike went by, then another. I grabbed the rear wheel and spun it backward a tenth of a turn at a time. Each time I did the bike lurched backward down the steep hill and the wire pressed through the skin of the brake line even tighter. More bikes went by.
I thought about how I had to finish this race. I was in third place in the points for the season and all I had to do was finish to be in second. There wasn’t a lot of time to be held up or fix the bike, and riding without a rear brake would be difficult. The descents on this course were so steep, that bikes and ATV’s were cartwheeling down the hills. Using only a front brake would have me doing the same.
Finally, after spinning the wheel five revolutions backwards the wire came loose. Now I had to turn the bike around on this steep hill which was ugly but I got back down to the bottom and went up the conventional route. So much for saving a few seconds. I lost six minutes – an eternity in a 68-mile race. I tried to make it up on lap two but I ran out of runway. No matter. I finished the day. Now we go to the hotel for breakfast and rest up for day two of this Tijuana Challenge race.
Who's going to stop me?
I decelerated into the dusty lot in front of the little Bella Vista hotel in Valle Trinidad at race mile 110 at 8:11 am. I was five minutes ahead of my schedule. My team got me in and out in five minutes and I was gone again.
The math? 807…I’m at 110, that’s a little better than an eighth complete. The next section is fast. 70 miles an hour – but it’s brief. Turns come up fast at that speed. A racer is always pushing to a speed where danger is manufactured and hyper-vigilance is necessary, no matter what the terrain.
I see a bike down on the left ahead, and another guy tending to him. He has a broken leg. A few miles later an ambulance is coming. Good thing we are on a graded road so they could access him. It was a road called “Mike’s Road”, named for Mike’s Sky Ranch – a motel for racers 25 miles off the paved road in the middle of God’s country.
It was getting warmer, but not warm enough to take my race jacket off and subject myself to the 55-degree wind. I was happy there was wind. It was my wind. It meant I was moving forward.
“It’s not who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me” – Ayn Rand
Chapter SEVEN – Falcon Attack
I took off out of my second chase truck stop at mile 74 with seven miles to go to have 10% of the race behind me. You think about these things in such a race. Doing math in your helmet is a pastime I developed in Baja, especially in the Baja 1000. If the answer was some difficult fraction, I’d set my sights on what mile marker ahead was a tidy one I could compute. 20% complete, 30%, 33% and so on.
This section was easy. “Easy”, or any adjective is always a relative term in Baja. The sun was high enough now not to be in my eyes and I could see the ground and all the hazards clearly. Time to go fast. Cool wind, strong exhaust notes behind me, and miles passing under me.
I pre-ran this section one extra time four days earlier, and I knew it well. We were out doing some video work with the team and waking up my riding muscles for the week when Kevin noticed steam coming from the front of my race bike that I hadn’t noticed sitting on it. It turns out he had an eagle eye. My radiator cap was missing. It was on there twenty minutes ago and now it was gone. I have never had that happen before. Good thing it wasn’t in the race!
We looked for it but had to give up. We rolled into Ojos and split up to find a radiator cap so we didn’t have to waste two hours or more going back to Ensenada. Ojos Negros did not have an auto parts store – or a department store or much of anything except dusty little places to eat belonging to families trying to survive.
Victor and I saw a Sportsman team support van on the side of the road just as their three-man team of military veteran riders rolled in. They were from North Carolina. It has been my experience that in desolate hostile places on earth, people become more friendly as they instinctively know their life may depend on it. Ok, this wasn’t life and death – this time. They were great guys and I am sure they would have helped us anyway. They gave us one of their own radiator caps. In return, I gave them advice as I was a Baja veteran and they were racing their first race. They knew me from our YouTube movie “Into the Dust”. It turns out they would not finish the race. I do not know what happened to them.
As we proudly screwed the radiator cap on, Kevin and Bobby and Arturo pulled up with another one! They asked a local with an old truck where they could find one. He exited the truck, opened the hood and scalded himself getting the radiator cap off his own truck! Ten bucks and it was a deal! How did they know it would fit a 2010 Honda 450X? Arturo just knew – and it did!
Later that day we were shooting vlogs alongside the Baja 1000 course. I’d ride my bike up to Ted, take my goggles off and do a “Video Think Daily” message. Jesse had the drone up shooting some video of me on the course in the whoops. That’s when the attack occurred.
Falcons and hawks eat other birds. They circle at high altitudes looking for flying prey. When they see one they dive bomb it and pluck it right out of the sky. Apparently, our new $1700 drone looks like a bird.
The blades shredded off the drone and it fell to the desert floor. When they told me I looked up on the ridge and saw the culprit. He was probably wondering what the heck was going on with his food supply these days, and his feet were probably dinged up I am sure.
We couldn’t fix our drone there, but all agreed that we needed one. The race was in four days. Jesse and Ted found a place to buy one in California and we had Javier, who hadn’t come down to Mexico yet pick it up. The images we shot were well worth it.
Chapter SIX …One Step Back
“I soon realized that no journey carries one far unless, as it extends into the world around us, it goes an equal distance into the world within us.” – Lillian Smith
I knew my knees were not great. Running was a key part of my training for these races. Running a long time. Afterwards my knees would be quite sore inside where the bones from my upper and lower leg interact.
I run in Spartan obstacle course races. In April I ran a Spartan Sprint. Last year Tanner got me to run Spartan races in the Elite class with him. Not because I was an Elite runner, but because when he finished, cold and wet and tired, he didn’t want to wait around for me to roll up hours later in the Open Class where I might start a couple hours after him and finish maybe three hours after he did.
I went to this race in Massachusetts alone on a gray morning. At 7 am I took off in the Elite class, getting to the top of the first hill dead last. But, like ‘the little engine that could’, I started passing guys who fired all their energy off too soon. At each obstacle I passed guys doing their 30 burpees for not completing the obstacle. I tried to use my head in these races and learned the obstacle techniques over many races, and I did not fail any of them. I would never be the fastest, but maybe being smart with my abilities would make up for a good measure of my physical limitations.
I finished in the middle of the Elite class and inside the top 3% of all 6000 runners for the weekend. While my knees weren’t impressed, I was feeling very good about my fitness for the upcoming race season.
Three days after the successful Baja 500 race in June I ran a 5K race in the woods. It was going great until near the end I felt something wrong in my right knee. I limped across the finish line. “It’ll be better in a few days” I thought. A few days passed and it was not better – it was worse. A few more days and a couple weeks…no improvement.
I could not run or squat at the gym. How could I work out? In Baja, the limiting factor is your body. The next race, the Tijuana Challenge was in 90 days. I went to a knee specialist and got an MRI. It was a torn meniscus. I scheduled surgery for July 3. Would I have time to recover? I did not know.
Luckily, it was the longest break between races of the season and I was injured at the beginning of that break. Ten days after the surgery I was in the gym. “I’ll go easy” I said. It was probably premature, (maybe stupid), but I needed to try to balance my knee getting better with losing my edge that I had worked so long and hard for.
Two weeks before the race I had my doubts if my knee would be healed enough. Would the race destroy my knee if it was too soon and kill my Baja 1000 bid?
There is no negotiating with Baja. None.
“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” –E. H. Chapin
The course turned into an area called Uruapan. It was characterized by hills and whoops in the hills, and deep silty sections in the low areas. In some conditions it was fun – but not these conditions. At the beginning of the race bikes and ATV’s are clustered together on the course. The ATV’s and faster riders would be coming by me. I was Ironman, and I had a plan. I needed to be the Energizer bunny, not the roadrunner. I had 31 hours ahead of me.
As ATV’s came through and passed me, they’d fill the still air with silt that blinded me. I had to slow to a crawl or just stop and wait to see again. I was a smarter rider and I had a rule – do not ride faster than you can see.
Bikes came by me. Mostly Sportsman teams. There were over 20 of them and on average a rider would go a couple hours and hand the bike off to their teammate. Their dust slowed me down considerably. Then Liz came by. I stuck to my plan – don’t ride into the dust. Sometimes you get away with it, but one crash and my entire year could be over. It was a gamble I did not have to take.
Rick Thornton came by me and a minute later he crashed on rocks. I stopped and asked him if he was ok. His flat black helmet visor was broken. I wondered how scuffed up or injured he really was. About twenty minutes later the visibility again was very bad. A Sportsman rider came by me and as he did he rode into a giant gnarly desert bush and crashed right in front of me. More evidence that my plan was smart.
I pressed on as the sun came up right in my eyes, making visibility even more difficult. I was looking for mile 74 to see my crew. I was happy to see them. I would always be happy to see them. They were always happy to see me. It meant I made it through another section. It meant I was still in the race that half the teams do not finish. It was their race too. The last thing they wanted was for it to be over too soon.
They were ready for me. Each had a job and what they needed in their hand or at the ready. It was a positive sign. It was 7:06 am. I was 7 minutes ahead of my plan.
It was working.
“And the purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Chapter FIVE – Early Drama
My first stop in the 1000 was a gas pit at Ojos Negros, a little poor dusty town outside of Ensenada. When I pre-ran this section the kids would chase after me and I always had plenty of race team stickers for them. The race coming directly through their town was big excitement for them. Heck, it was big excitement for much of the peninsula, with 300,000 fans coming out to watch, many of them camping out. Even schools close for two days for the race.
For the 1000 we needed three chase trucks. Javier and Oscar would be in one truck. Javier Gonzalez was a mechanic from SoCal who chased Tanner and me when we won the Sportsman Class in 2015. Oscar Hale was a rider from El Rosario in Baja who has been riding down there for 42 years! He is 57 years old and has competed in the Baja 1000 before. Oscar pre-ran the course with me for three long Baja days. When you do that with a guy, you’re bonded. He is a tough and wise rider and I have a lot of respect for him.
Oscar’s family has a famous restaurant called Mama Espinosa’s. The inside of the restaurant is a shrine to Baja desert racing. In the first Baja 1000 in 1967, there were no pits set up. Racers would stop at mile 66, Mama Espinosa’s. Mama was Oscar’s grandmother. She would give the racers food and gas and tell them to “go quick”. She and her restaurant (and hotel) became part of desert racing history. She lived to be 109 years old.
In another chase vehicle, the van, were Victor and Arturo. Arturo was another Baja native and racing veteran. He competed in one Baja 1000 years ago and won his class. He is an encouraging gentleman and I can tell he really cares about the people around him.
Last, but far from least, was an SUV with my friends Kevin Koval from Albany New York and Bobby Miles from Cincinnati Ohio. Bobby chased on both previous Ironman attempts, and Kevin on the first one. They both got to see something I missed – Tanner finishing the 2016 Baja 1000 Ironman.
We needed three vehicles to be sure they could see me at all our stops at the bottom of the course. There were sections where I would go faster than the chase truck and beat them to the next stop. By having multiple chase vehicles they could leapfrog each other to make sure I had coverage everywhere I needed it.
I can say I have a special bond with each of my support team members. We have been through a lot together. I know these guys will do everything in their power to get me across the finish line.
After pre-running, I made a detailed plan. I will go this many miles per hour on average from here to here. I will arrive here at this time. I will turn right and meet you on the left side of the road. I will need this and this and to change goggles from clear to tinted here. Every detail was planned. We reviewed the plan at a long meeting before the race. We went over things many times.
“A simple plan, executed perfectly and calmly.”
That was our motto. We said it a dozen times together. This is exactly why Victor was shaken when the plan seemed to fall apart before I ever got to the first stop at mile 33.
Victor called to Javier on the radio as he drove away from the start line towards where he was supposed to be. “Ok, we are nearing mile 33. You should be there right Oscar?” “No, we are at mile 16.” “You should be in front of me at mile 33”. “No, me and Arturo decided to go here.” “What? That wasn’t the plan…” “No, that’s what we are supposed to do.”
Back and forth it went and Victor was horrified when he thought that everyone had changed a finely tuned plan on the fly. Then he figured out what was going on. He was talking to another race team, 721x, who was using the same frequency and also had an “Oscar” and an “Arturo”! What are the chances of that! It was a huge relief for Victor when he figured it out.
I never knew anything was happening out on the race course. I looked for the big yellow sign that read 714x, at mile 33 and there it was. I pulled into the truck, saw Javier, told him everything was great and went on.
Seventy miles an hour now, into the darkness.
Chapter Four – Father and Son Strike Again
“If wrinkles must be written on the brow, let them not be written on the heart. The spirit should not grow old.” – James A. Garfield
June is hot in the Baja desert. Very hot. In fact, in the 2016 Baja 500 two motorcycle riders died from the heat. Victor and I had a plan to keep me cool and survive that we were perfecting from the San Felipe 250 race in April. Ice in my hydration pack, staying wet when possible, ice cold cooler water cloths on my neck at chase truck stops, etc.
My son Tanner, who had already finished the Baja 1000 and had nothing more to prove, did not want to make the big commitment to race the whole season. But, he did bite at the Baja 500. It was a different distance, and he wanted to see what he could do. We flew out to pre-run it and the course was stunningly beautiful. It had the tough 80-mile Borrego Loop but went up into the mountains in areas we had never seen before.
We flew home and two weeks later we came back for the race. We were in for a surprise. We were nearly the first ones to pre-run the course. By race day pre-running racing trucks and race vehicles of all stripes had chewed up the course so bad we hardly recognized it. In places, you could say they destroyed the course. It was much more technical and difficult for motorcycles now.
Both Tanner and I had our plans and we both executed them perfectly. Victor and Arturo took great care of me during the race, and I clicked off section by section. Starting at 4 AM and finishing at 1 AM, I finished in 21 hours. Tanner finished in 17 hours. There were seven starters and five finishers in the Ironman Class. I became the oldest finisher of the Baja 500 Ironman class, and Tanner and I became the first father and son to ever finish an Ironman race.
We made history at the Baja 500, and I left there feeling great about my prospects for the Baja 1000. What I did not think much about was the season points championship. I was in third place after two races. I also learned of a prestigious award called the Milestone Award for any vehicle that finishes every mile of every race in the season. Two races left and a new reason to finish the Baja 1000.
Sometimes we say no when we could say yes. Some people say “no” as a default. They take themselves out of things before it even starts. I am not some expected desert motorcycle racer. I am a 54-year-old entrepreneur and father from the northeast, a world away from any desert. I said yes one day. Then I said yes again. Then again.
Saying “yes”, I’ll try it, do it, go there, experience it, see what it’s about – well that’s a life of adventure. No is a life of self-imposed limitation.
“It is magnificent to grow old, if one keeps young.” – Harry Emerson Fosdick
Zero minus one
I was lined up at the Baja 1000 start. At the last minute the starting rider on the 1x team, Colton Udall, comes walking through the crowd of bikes and riders in the starting gate shouting, asking if anyone has an extra red blinker light for his backpack. I always used them, but this year it was a rule you had to have one. The 1x would not have to worry about getting run over by a race truck that would be released like hounds catching up to the bikes 5 hours after us, as they’d stay ahead of them. But they wouldn’t let the 1x bike go without the little $3 blinker. “Colton” I yelled. I had two and I gave him one off my pack. He gave me a bro hug as I saved the team starting on time. In that class, seconds count.
They released bikes every thirty seconds. I rolled up, ten feet each time. Three, two, one…green flags go up in front of me, and I roll the throttle open. A few city blocks, down into a river wash where I passed Liz. I knew I’d likely see her again – she was tough. Through the city, pop up onto streets again and out into the desert. I took advantage of the sugar high of the start, knowing it would wear off soon enough. This was it. A whole year of preparation, and here I was, rolling, in the race.
As with any big goal, after all the pondering, planning, dreaming and goal setting, in the end, you have to do something – take action. That time was now!
It was a relief. I didn’t want to wait any longer. I knew how to ride well and I was at home on the bike. When you’re racing, you don’t have to think about preparation and planning. You don’t have to worry about working out or eating well or staying healthy. You just stay on course and focus on one thing – finding your next stop. It’s either a gas pit called “Baja Pits”, your chase truck, which I had planned to meet 16 times in the race, or a checkpoint. Most times there were two or more of these at the same place.
Racing the whole season was a good move. I felt more prepared for this race than ever before because of it. I was a Baja veteran now as this was my seventh race there. People knew me from our movie which most every race fan and participant had seen. I knew many parts of the course really well. I had lain in bed and visualized nearly all 806 miles in my mind. I had finished this race in my head many times by now. This was just another run through it – with much higher consequences.
“You’ll see it when you believe it.”
I really believed I could do this. Especially after we made history at the Baja 500 in June.
Chapter Three “…or die in the attempt”
“There are two types of suffering in the world; short-term and long-term. You have to decide which one you want.”
I rolled up the staging at the Baja 1000 starting line with ten other Ironman competitors. Bright lights took away the darkness. It was just after 4 AM. I was a Baja veteran now. I knew how it worked.
There is an emotion when you line up for the Baja 1000 Ironman. The emotion had a story behind it, the last two years. Fear makes the wolf bigger. I let go of the story. A year ago I had decided I would beat Baja, or die in the attempt. I would come back over and over and over until I finished. In a strange way, the outcome of this race mattered less than before. If it wasn’t to be this year, I’d be back. That was already decided. I was calmer than before. Adrenaline is your enemy – especially in the Ironman class.
I looked my competition over. There was Jose Carrasco, a local who had finished well in this race before. Rick Thornton, an American who lived in Baja. I pre-ran with Rick last year. He did not finish last year and wound up with rhabdomyolysis – a condition long distance athletes may experience where your muscle tissue dies and release their contents into your bloodstream and pollute your kidneys which could lead to their failure. It’s very dangerous and he was hospitalized. There was Boe Huckins, who had won the Ironman Class one year and did not finish another year. There was Francisco Septien, who was a local that had a motorcycle shop in Ensenada where we were starting and finishing the race. Francisco had won the Ironman before and had many different class championships to his name.
Then there was Liz Karcz – almost the first Ironwoman. She is a 32-year-old trauma nurse from Albuquerque New Mexico. Her dream was to finish the whole race series. She is a great rider and doesn’t quit. She’s really tough and her competing was no joke. Being a woman, she gets quite a bit of attention. Many were rooting for her – including me. I started 7th out of ten, behind Liz.
I decided I would not compete against anyone – I’d help them. I told them if they needed any help out there to flag me down or look for my chase vehicles and 714x signs. I told my crew to help any other rider, including Ironmen. (Not that they wouldn’t anyway…)
There was only one person I was competing against in this race and he was sitting on my bike.
Broken bones and bloody needles in the dirt
(First race of the four-race series – the “SanFelipe 250”, 320 miles, April 2018)
Victor and I executed our plan well on race day. At dawn the race began on the beachfront main drag of San Felipe. I rode great but I didn’t override the course. At about mile 50, number 702x, Tony Gera came past me. He had won the Baja 1000 Ironman a couple years earlier. About 30 minutes later I saw a bike down on the left side of the course and a rider laying on the right side. I stopped and went back.
“Are you ok?” I saw his race pants were torn open at his thigh. Race pants are really hard to tear.
“My leg is broken,” he said to me.
“Is it your femur?” I expected him to say yes as that’s where his pants were torn. Broken femurs can be life-threatening.
“No. It’s my fib/tib” he said.
There was nothing I could do.
“I’ll tell them at the next pit” I promised.
Five hours later, a little past midway I pulled into a pit and it was nearly 100 degrees. I did not expect Chris Haines, the owner of the support team and Baja racing legend to tap me on the shoulder as they were quick fueling my bike. “Do you want an IV?” “No” I said. “Are you sure?”
Last year Chris’s team won the pro motorcycle championship in Baja – a goal he had been chasing for 20 years. This year, his team would have the #1 number plate. So at our home base hotel it was 1x and 714x, me. (A three digit number starting with a 7 means Ironman class, and x means motorcycle, since there are more than twenty classes of four-wheel vehicles in these races).
The pro teams are in it to win it and they have a chase helicopter with radio communications to the rider. Well, the 1x helicopter never showed; it broke down. To ride in the chase helicopter, Chris gets a Navy Seal medic from San Diego. Why? These Pro riders are hanging it all out there and when they crash, it can be spectacular – and I do not mean that in a good way. I suggested that Chris hire a helicopter from a race truck crew to at least follow the 1x bike for the first three hours, since the motorcycles get the green flag four hours before the trucks did. When the helicopter had to drop the 1x team’s medic and go back to follow their own race truck, the medic got in the 1x chase truck. That’s how they happened to be there at that pit to see me.
I thought about the IV. It was very hot, but I was drinking a lot from my pack, and at chase truck stops Victor would put a washcloth from the cooler water on my back and saturate my jersey with water before I left. That would make the next fifteen minutes much cooler from evaporative cooling until I was dry again. (In a race, I’d sweat, but never get wet during the day because of the fast evaporation rate.) But I did want to see how an IV would make me feel. Some Baja 1000 riders got IV’s in the middle of the race to rehydrate them and ”wake them up”.
“Ok!” I yelled over my engine. Jimmy Holly took the bike from me as I got off it and I followed the Seal Medic behind the truck. He stuck a needle in my arm and put two bags of saline with a little sugar in me. It took ten minutes or so, maybe a little more. When he was done he took the bloody needle out of my arm and threw it in the sand. It was like a war movie or something.
I hopped back on my bike with a new rear tire the mechanics had put on in the meantime, and I was off. I didn’t feel anything. Not worse, not better. Would I have felt worse later without the IV? I can’t say for sure. But I knew now what was involved.
The race took me 12 hours. There were 12 Ironman starters and seven finishers. I was seventh. If I knew how close I was to sixth, I could have skipped the I.V. or one of the last breaks with Victor, but I just wanted to finish. I was racing my race, not against anyone else.
When I pulled into the finish in San Felipe I realized it was the first finish line I had ever seen in Baja. In 2015 Tanner had finished the race that I had started. The next two years of Ironman attempts I never finished. It was a great feeling and something I wanted more of.
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