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Excuse me, which way is the Baja 1000?

Excuse me, which way is the Baja 1000?

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Excuse me, which way is the Baja 1000?

253 pages
1 heure
May 7, 2012


“The everyday man out in the working world does something incredible and against all odds and advice. No one expected him to go through with it, everyone tried to talk him out of it, and NO ONE except Andy expected him to make it this far” -Brennan Dates

“Excuse me, which way is the Baja 1000?” is a story about seizing the moment, pushing back the hands of time, and chasing a dream. It’s about an aging working man, an avid motorcycle enthusiast, who finds himself with one more chance at real adventure. With off-road riding skills developed as a teenager but unused for several decades, no desert racing experience, and a general purpose motorcycle suited more for commuting and dual sport rides than off-road racing, Airborne Andy throws caution to the wind and reaches for the brass ring – the longest non-stop, point to point, off-road race in the world – The Baja 1000!

The story unfolds as the author dives head first into the challenging and dangerous world of off-road motorcycle racing, overcoming obstacle after obstacle along the way, and learning as he goes. With limited skills and a less than competitive motorcycle his chances for success look bleak. But, a stubborn “never say die” attitude and an unquenchable thirst for adventure keeps our unlikely hero in the hunt as he tenaciously pushes forward to realize his dream.

May 7, 2012

À propos de l'auteur

Andrew Vela (aka Airborne Andy) is a motorcycle adventure enthusiast

Lié à Excuse me, which way is the Baja 1000?

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Aperçu du livre

Excuse me, which way is the Baja 1000? - Airborne Andy



The Baja 1000 is the longest non-stop, point to point, off-road race in the world. It is an internationally renowned event that has taken place annually on the Baja Peninsula of Mexico since 1967. Many consider it the pinnacle of off-road racing, and it is open to anyone from inexperienced amateurs to seasoned professionals at the top of the racing world. But, for many off-road enthusiasts it is simply the adventure of a lifetime.


Hello. My name is Andy, and this is my story about pursuing a dream to race in the Baja 1000. I had just turned 47, and although I’d been physically active most of my life, I had begun feeling old. I found myself at a point in life where my physical abilities had begun to decline noticeably. For the past few years I’d suffered from plantar fasciitis (a painful ailment in the arches of the feet), and at times I could barely walk. I felt old and decrepit, frail and weak. And, it appeared that there was nothing I could do about it. I had done some pretty exciting things over the years, but now it appeared, my life would change drastically. The excitement and adventures of my earlier life were soon to be only fading memories.

So, I decided it was time for one last adventure – one last hoorah before I faded into the sunset of my life and started acting my age. But, what adventure could I undertake with my waning physical abilities? For many years I had thought about traveling to Alaska on a motorcycle – perhaps I could do that! It wouldn’t require too much physically! And, I had plenty of experience, riding motorcycles on and off since age 11. All I needed to do was buy a motorcycle. The decision was made – this would be my last great adventure: Alaska by Motorcycle.

First I needed a motorcycle. I found Suzuki DR650 Dual Sport motorcycle with only a few miles on it. Then, with a whole month of vacation scheduled and no real plan, I headed north. I rode from Southern California to the Yukon, the Northwest Territories, all over Alaska, and back, covering over 11,000 miles in 25 days – a fantastic last hoorah, and an incredible adventure. But, when I returned home, something was different. I felt more alive! A funny thing happened on that trip. I lost nearly 20 pounds and my plantar fasciitis disappeared – I felt 20 years younger. Wow!

Ok. What now? I’m on a roll. So, I started thinking! While I was in Alaska, I rode several thousand miles of dirt and gravel roads. The Dempster Highway is a 450 mile long gravel road that starts near Dawson City in the Yukon Territories and goes up passed the Arctic Circle to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. And, it is the only road in, so if you go there, it’s 900 miles of dirt and gravel, up and back. And, the Dalton Highway in Alaska is about the same. After riding both of these and a number of shorter dirt roads during my trip to Alaska, the thought of entering in the Baja 1000 had crossed my mind more than a few times. The Baja 1000 had been a dream of mine since my days of riding dirt bikes as a youngster. The Baja 1000! I think I can… I think I can!

Chapter 1 - The Adventure Rider Website

Before my Alaska trip, I had searched the internet for information on riding a motorcycle to Alaska. That’s how I discovered the Adventure Rider website (www.advrider.com). I found lots of helpful information, stories, and even pictures, from people who had already made the trip, and the help and camaraderie I found there was just what I needed to prepare myself and my bike for the adventure ahead. In fact, I even posted my own Ride Report on ADVrider (L.A. to Alaska – by AirborneAndy).

Shortly after I returned from Alaska, I decided that I wanted to race the Baja 1000 and again sought the help of fellow motorcycle enthusiasts on ADVrider. This would prove to be one of my wisest moves. There was a forum, specifically for racing, with lots of experienced racers eager to share their experiences and advice with a racing newbie. Of course there was a good deal of skepticism about a rider with no racing experience entering the longest, non-stop, off-road race in the world. It didn’t help that I was planning to use the same bike I had ridden to Alaska, which was not really an off-road bike let alone a racing machine. And, I had decided to do this just 2 months before the race.

I grew up riding dirt bikes in the 70’s but hadn’t really done much serious off-road riding in the last 25 years, and dirt bikes had changed a lot in that time. Nevertheless, I chose an appropriate title and posted my request for help in the Racing forum on ADVRIDER.COM.

Here is my original post:

Excuse me - which way is the Baja 1000?

I've decided to race (I use the term very loosely here) the Baja 1000 this year. And, having never been to Baja, I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction. I purchased a DR650 a few months ago and rode it from LA to Alaska and back. Now I think I'm ready to take on the Baja 1000 - which I have thought about doing since I was a youngster.

Go ahead! Call me crazy! But, I'm doing it! So, I'm looking for any help and support I can get to prepare for and run the race. Like I said, I've never been to Baja before so I can use any help, advice, direction and encouragement, I can get.

(In the appendix, you will find a link to the complete original thread in the Racing forum of the ADVrider website. It has been awarded 5 stars out of a possible 5 and it is quite an entertaining and informative read as it includes the interactions between all those who posted to it.)

Many of the responses I received were understandably skeptical, while some were a bit cynical and a few were even downright comical. But, I guess I asked for it. After all, I was a racing newbie looking for help preparing to enter the longest point to point off-road race in the world, on a motorcycle that was not even a real off-road machine, with only two month left before the race.

These responses, and the others that would follow in the weeks to come, were incredibly helpful. After all, I didn’t know what I didn’t know! What I did know was that I would need a little help if I was going to tackle something this big. But, I really had no idea what I was getting into or how much help would be offered to me. From this first post I received an offer for pit help from a guy who organized one of the ADV Rider pit crews. I was also given info on where to go to find out about entry fees and who to talk to about getting a real off-road racing bike setup for the Baja 1000. I had no idea who these guys were at the time. But, I would later find out that some were pretty big names in off-road motorcycle racing.

Of course they thoroughly warned me about the dangers of off-road racing and suggested that I try a shorter race first, which was sound advice but not the adventure that I was looking for. I had run the Los Angeles Marathon, twice. And I'm not a runner - in fact it was the first and only running event I had ever participated in. For the first one, I started training 9 days before the race, I hit the wall at mile 16 and limped, walked and even walked backward just to keep going. But, I did finish the race - albeit in a pitiful 6:05. The next year I trained for a month and finished in 4:58. But it was the event, The Los Angeles Marathon, more than the run, that I wanted to experience. And the Baja 1000… now that would be an event to experience! Some also suggested that I go down and just pre-run (ride the course for practice before the race) and help out in the pits this year. And, wait till next year to race. But, I was on a roll and didn’t know if I would still be up to it by next year. And, most suggested a different bike as the DR650 is not really a dirt bike - it's really a basic, general-purpose motorcycle and it is quite heavy compared to a real off-road racing machine. Again, very sound advice! But, I wasn’t convinced – I thought that my DR650 would be just fine. And, they suggested that I may want to join a team as most Baja 1000 racers do – they run a relay, handing off the bike to the next rider. But, I hadn’t thought about riding with a team – I didn’t even know anyone else who wanted to do it. And, a team would require a lot of planning and coordination (two things I was not very good at). I figured it would be much simpler for me to ride solo. So, I made plans to go down to Baja the following weekend just to get my feet wet and see what I had gotten myself into.

I checked out the Score-International web-site for more information and found some GPS files from one of the previous Baja 1000 races. GPS? Hmmm! I had never used a GPS before. And, someone had suggested that I learn how to navigate thru the desert at night with a GPS. So, I did a little searching on the web and found the Lizard Lady selling GPS tracks and a guidebook, of riding

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