Monday, January 12, 2009

Spangler Hills

A return to the desert racing. Last year after starting a garage cleaning to remove unused motorcycles a snag came along. The one remaining dirt bike couldn 't bring a valid buyer on Craig's List so it just sat there collecting dust then my daughter asked me to go riding at El Mirage with a group of their friends and I rode our 125CC that I had never really ridden before and it was a blast to ride. Then the long process to get it registered with the state and after finally getting it accomplished the motor developed a serious disorder so I found a replacement ride. The new bike was a much larger 450 and going from a 2 stroke motor to a four stroke requires some learning and at my age that learning doesn't come easy. Well one thing let to another and I rode my first desert race Sunday. Actually it wasn't my first race, it was my first recent one. I started riding desert races before they started having Super Bowls as I remember a race once that was started early so people could get home in time to watch the new event on TV.

The Hare and Hound Sunday was put on by the Jackrabbits MC in an OHV area called Spangler Hills which is north of Red Mountain and south of Trona. Those are two places where there isn't any traffic or much of anything else. The race had two loops and I rode only one of 41 miles. My biggest worry was would I make the loop without running out of gas. Desert riders some time replace their stock gas tank with a larger one for longer races. Being of an engineering lean I did some testing with my GPS and a calibrated beaker to measure fuel consumption while riding in the open desert at speed. The flyer for the race said the first loop was 35 miles long and I figure my smaller motocross tank would make it without a problem. My desert racer buddy said he had never used a larger tank and I would not have a problem. Then when I got to the race sign up Saturday and found out they had changed the loop distance to 41 miles my buddy said maybe I should take a gas can to the refueling pit stop which I didn't.

So all Saturday night I kept tossing and turning wondering rather I could make a 41 mile loop on my smaller tank. One side of the brain said "no problem, you have done the calculations" and the other side said pushing a 200 pound plus motorcycle across the sand is not advisable. Well enough said, I made it around without running out even after crashing in a sand wash with a landing that wound up with a upside down motorcycle and the clutch lever stuck in my boot while the motor kept on running. My pre-race planning failed to include spillage so maybe I will get another tank or learn to stay right side up. I am not sure if I fell twice or three times during the early part of the course as one crash may have been deleted with the jarring or it is too scary to remember. The problem is not the actual crashing, it is getting hit from behind by another rider who is unable to avoid you in time or just can't see you because of the dust. In spite of what my mutant teenager says about me being slow, believe it or not their are some slower.

The drive out there was 160 miles long pulling a trailer and of course the same distance back and I hate the freeways. Not all of driving is freeway and some is just two lane desert blacktop but I am planning the next one so it must have been fun.

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