Monday, June 25, 2012

2012 Mexican 1000 - Day 4 Stage 1.1

Day 4 started early.  Rhonda and I checked the car over as the sun rose (we'd been a bit too exhausted to look it over the day before).  Even though we were tired it was a beautiful morning.


Ned Bacon's "Killer Bee"
It wouldn't get out of the lot until noon because of an electrical gremlin(?).
Even with the delay he'd finish second in class.

For this last stage of the Mexican 1000, Norra would throw a bit of everything at us.  Straight fast gravel roads, horrible whoop dee doos, traffic, towns, highways, straight stretches along the Pacific Ocean, hilly dirt roads, sandy washes and some of the narrowest steepest mountain roads of the race.  Add to this the cars left in thre race were a bit beat up after the previous three days.

The Zuercher/Norton Bronce showing surprising little wear from it's roll onto it's side.
Arwen, Mary and the kids came down to send us on our way.

Stage 4 would be  a 17 miles of transit from the hotel to the start and then140 miles off road from La Paz to San Jose del Cabo.  The cars started to line up and the zebra land cruiser (which had now become “A Land Cruiser”) would be at the back of the pack with the handful of other DNFers. 

Most of the Broncos were at the back too, so it made for good company.  We lined up, started and were immediately stuck in traffic.  It was a Wednesday morning in La Paz  and the 17 miles to the off road starting point was heavy with traffic.

We made our way across town with Brutus and another buggy eventually finding the turn off to the dirt road and the start of the fun part of the race.

The first section was  pretty easy to drive but harder to navigate.  The roads were well used which meant a lot of turn off forks, and small towns to get lost in.  

We learned to go wherever the locals pointed.  This wasn’t the sort of race where there was much misdirection and, being at the end of the pack, I think people were rooting for an underdog.

As we moved along the plant life got larger until it was a literal cactus forest.  I really didn’t want to go off the road.  We hit some sand and gnarley whoop dee door.

I’d gotten the hang of it but it was still annoying.  We were passed by many and passed many along the road.

Eventually we got to the Pacific Ocean.  Long strips along the ocean of beautiful road that would abruptly end in a 90 degree turn.  This is where we lost a bit of time.  On a paved freeway the land cruiser maxes out at around 70mph.  On these straight dirt roads we were consistly doing 60-65mph but most of the other cars were cruising at 80+mph.

We hit the northern edge of Todos Santos and made a hard left up into the hills.  Cutting through a semi deserted development and a totally different environment.  We’d climb through brush until the GPS and some orange ribbon told us to go right and off the road.  A thin trail, that looked like it was made for this race, took us down a steep embankment and onto the highway.

1.2 coming up!  featuring mountain adventures! right here!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 Mexican 1000, Day 4 Part 1 - Video Update!

Here's a video of the first half of day 4.  La Paz to the Pacific Ocean.

and the text part of the adventure continues here

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

2012 Mexican 1000 - Day 3 - Stage 2

May 1, 2012

We finished stage 1 and headed down the freeway.  At the Pemex we filled up the tank and ran into the Stroppe Bronco team.   We told them that we had seen their car by the side of the road but that’s all we knew (see 1:58 on the Day3 Stage1 video).  It would turn out they were having electrical problems.

Arwen and Mary hadn’t caught up, so we left a note at start of stage 2.  We’d heard that the start was going to be horrible.  “4 feet of silt” was the term that was thrown around and awful mountain roads.   Rhonda and I talked about it and decided I should drive.  I was really getting the hang of the zebra and she was getting better at juggling the map book and GPS. 

The Mexican 1000 is an unmarked.  It keeps people from messing with the course, or driving on it, but it makes navigation a challenge.  Before the race I hadn’t realized how important it would be to have a good navigator.  Rhonda’s combination of being a flight instructor and super bike training made her exceptional. Oh and Arwen had told Rhonda not to let me kill myself (or her), so she kept me from getting too reckless.


We started the stage --- no silt.  It seemed the “four feet of silt” didn’t exist, it was miles of straight flat road.  Which was great, but also a little tense when you’re expecting it to be horrible.  Finally we started to climb and the road got interesting.


At 31.3 miles we came across a jeep, car 8.  The welds on the cross member that held the tops of the rear shocks had broken.  So, basically the rear shocks were gone.  To top it off they’d worn a small leak in the fuel line.  The driver was going to remove the shocks, patch the leak and limp on to the Mag 7 pit.


We headed up the road and continued to climb.  It was beautiful.  Deep canyons, weird rock formations, wild horses and the occasional oasis.  We made good time and Rhonda tried to keep me focused on the road and not the amazing environment.

We eventually ran into Sol Saltzman, Justin Rivera and Big Oly. 

Saltzman has built a duplicate of the original Parnelli Jone’s Big Oly Bronco.  They’d been shorted gas from their pit and were dry.  We had plenty but getting it was a challenge.  The roll over flap on the fuel cell made syphoning difficult.  Rivera tried to disconnect the hose from our carburator but the mechanical fuel pump only gave a trickle.  

Finally I pulled the feeder hose and we syphoned straight from the tank.  We gave them three gallons and everyone was on their way.  Good karma.

Spreading some of my dad's ashes by Big Oly

As we went on the roads got rougher and the views more spectacular.  There were boulders that were fuzzy and green from the copper  deposites.  Small ranches and moments when you thought you were driving through the 1800s.  I swear we saw Don Quixote with a horse and albino mule.

We reached Mag 7.  Big Oly gave us 5 gallons of gas.

We passed the Stroppe Edsel with one of it’s back tires off.  Luckily it’s chase crew had caught up to them and they would eventually finish the stage.

Then we started the climb.  Narrow roads and steep cliffs.  We didn’t get any pictures because we were focused on the road.  We also came across a new phenomena, the random concrete road.  Some of the steeper sections had been coated with concrete.  It could be a patch that was about as wide as our car, often with deep pot holes.  Or it could be an array of rocks cemmented together in the form of a giant unruly cobblestone.  It was odd and a bit unnerving.

We climbed and then eventually started going down towards the see of cortez. 

Going down a steep grade in the land cruiser is kind of nice.  The first and second gears are so low you really don’t have to use the brakes.  Just put it in gear and slowly roll down the hill.


Toward the bottom we ran into truck 19.  Their fuel pump had gone out and their spare pump wouldn’t pressurize.  We couldn’t really help them, so we gave them some water, wrote down their information and were on our way.  

Within a half a mile we ran into car 203.  They’d lost their steering.  We gave them our extra power steering fluid and once again were on our way.  There was one last steep climb and then we dropped down and starting racing along the coast.  It was beautiful


Until the car start lurching.


My worn out brain decided we were out of gas.  Rhonda knew that with our 32 gallon tank we couldn’t be out of gas.  Then Big Oly came by.  They offered to syphon some gas but they were still in the race.  Their times were good enough they might place, so I told them to go on and take a message to Arwen and Mary.  As soon as they left, I looked at the fuel filter….it was a mess. 

Luckily I brought a couple spares.  We changed it and were on our way.  The last thirty miles of the race was fast and smooth and we finished to 161 mile stage with a time of 4 hours 51 minutes (not bad but not great).


We made it to the hotel just as Mary was gathering up stuff to come get us.  Had some dinner, took a swim and headed down to the beach for a bonfire and some excellent tequila.

to continue go here

Monday, June 4, 2012

Mexican 1000 - Day 3 - Stage 2 - Video Update!

 I haven't had time to do a written update but here's an 11 minute video of the 4 hours and 51 minutes we spent driving stage 2.

adventure continues here