With little to no idea what to expect, things couldn’t have gone much better when a group of local motorcycle riders travelled to Ensenada, Mexico in November to race in the Baja 1000.
The Baja 1000, a long distance off-road race featuring various classes on the same track including motorcycles, buggies, trucks and more, stretches across Mexico’s Baja California peninsula for nearly 1,100 miles. It’s widely considered one of the craziest off-road races in the world.
Not only did Tatla Lake’s Patrick King, Lars Satre and Bing Satre and Williams Lake’s Ryan Epp finish, they finished fourth overall in the 450cc and over class. Combined, the group rode for 30 hours and 19 minutes straight.
“It started with Bing,” King said. “He’s been looking for guys to do the race and he’s wanted to do it all his life but no one’s ever really committed to it. He asked me and I thought about it, and told him I’d be in for sure. Then Lars Satre joined the team — he’s Bing’s nephew — and Ryan joined up when I was at the Overlander XC in Williams Lake here.”
King said the group arrived a few days early in order to get acquainted with the area.
“No one’s really been down there, none of us had raced Baja before and none of us had even rode in the desert before so it was a totally new experience,” he said, adding they’d been given a pre-run course map to help them get familiar with the track.
King, who was slated to ride the first 350 miles of the race, decided to test out the team’s 650cc over the first section.
“It didn’t work very well,” he said. “I was carrying two jerrycans and a back pack, didn’t know where I was going, when one of the jerrycans cracked and started leaking all over me. Plus, the bike was draining fuel. It wasn’t a good start, and I was kind of wondering what we were doing out in the desert.”
It took King 11 hours to get through the first 350 miles of pre-run — leaving little to no time for the rest of the team to pre-run their sections of the race.
“We decided to go with the 450cc — which was a Honda CRF 450x — and it was a lot lighter and worked out,” he said. “But we didn’t even make it half way down the peninsula because we had to drive back to the start to get ready for the race [Nov. 14-17].”
With no goals in mind other than to complete the race, the group set out with King riding the first leg. He added each rider faced a unique challenge in each of their sections of the race.
“We went down there with no expectations, really,” King said. “We just wanted to say we’ve done it. Our game plan was to ride smart, consistent and fast — within our level — and everyone did that really well. No one had any crashes and no one had any bad accidents. They all finished great.”
Adding to the challenge for Epp and Bing was riding at night on a course they’d never been on before.
“For how unprepared we were it couldn’t have gone any better,” Epp said. “Lars and I were completely blind.
“I rode a 50-mile section right after Bing, and then Lars got on for a bit, and I rode from about the 780-mile marker to the 1,006-mile marker, then Bing got on to ride it in. It was just under 300 miles, the section I rode.”
Both Epp and King described challenges in each of their sections of the race. The most obnoxious came in the form of ‘whoops.’
“Both Patrick and I had like 30 miles of whoops, which are just like four to five feet deep,” Epp said. “Just the monotony of it was tough. It goes on forever, then you see a mile marker and realize you’ve only gone five miles. You’ve got to ride what you can see and not worry about the rest of it — just focus on the 10 feet in front of you and don’t think about how much further you’ve got to go.”
Epp added the highlight for him was seeing all of the locals cheering the racers on through all hours of the night.
“That was pretty cool,” he said. “I rode from 4 a.m. until about 10 a.m. and they were up at 4 a.m. still cheering you on. It was crazy.”
In order to communicate with the team King’s girlfriend, Jessica Boomer, followed behind the team in a pace truck while the rest of the team rested. Back home at Tatla Lake, King’s mom Audrey was relaying the team’s progress through an online GPS tracking system.
“Everyone did awesome in the race,” King said, noting plans may already be in motion for next year’s race.
“But this was kind of a trial run. Next year our plan is to take it a notch up and maybe try to get a little bit better.”