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Baja November 16, 2010

Update from Natalie

Team logistics are proving to be the biggest challenge so far!!

Hola Everyone!

Well it has been near impossible to track the whole team…..

Paul has his tracking device for his bike under pwiggler and he has been really good about using it and hitting the beacons…but sometimes the spot just doesn’t update itself. He will be starting out of Ensenada as he rides the first stage of the race. To me it looked like he completed his pre ride yesterday. I believe Bernie and Bret are with him in the Dakar truck at this point.

Then Mark rides next. I do not (nor does the DMS website) have a spot for him. Apparently he forgot to send it from home and now it is near impossible to send as contact between the team is very intermittent. They all have Mexican cell phones and some phones from home but not very good reception.

Then its Nick’s turn. He prerode yesterday but not all the section (I believe half). He is going to finish his pre ride today. Nick’s van spot didn’t appear to be on yesterday and his bike spot is not working. He has lost his Mexican cell phone and the aerial has fallen off his GPS unit.

Ok, then Don’s turn. He prerode his section yesterday and that would be him and the bike you were following if you were following “Nat’s spot”. Nat’s spot is meant for the black truck but as Don’s spot cannot be found he used that yesterday.

Don was lost for about 2 1/2 hours yesterday in the dark, but somehow John managed to find him in the dark. Don was never so relieved to round a corner and there was John holding up this massive Canadian flag – shining a flashlight up on it so Don would see it. When Don didn’t come in, John was busy trying to contact team members and to call me, but he just couldn’t get through to anyone. Apparently he tried me a ton of times, I am in an okay reception area, but I guess he wasn’t. Don and John were able to call us from La Paz last night and they are fine, but tired. With the spots only working intermittent for some and the cells hardly at all it is a team logistic nightmare.

I believe that Paul and Mark are pre riding today again (not sure if all the course), Nick is finishing the section he didn’t do yesterday and Don is going to ride, but not the full thing. It makes sense he has ridden it once and they have had a pretty grueling 9 days on the road, staying in very Mexican villages along the way. The other night they were cooking over the camp grill – beans, with salmon on toast. Ugh!!

Okay, so I believe the plan for the race has been changing as they have worked their selves through the course. As of last night the plan was for Paul to start, I believe Brett Leef will be his support/chase in Nicks van. Paul will hand off the bike to Mark at Coco’s (a famous coffee shop). At that point Paul will get in Nick’s van with Kevan and they will try to follow Mark as his support. Bernie in the meantime will be rushing down to make contact with Mark where the route meets the highway. At this point they will be changing the tires. Then Bernie continues on to help support Nick. If Bernie gets to Nick and Kevan and Paul are already there then he will try to catch up to Don for some bike support. Kind of sounds like Don (at the end) may have no mechanical support except for John.

Last night I was trying to find info on where exactly in La Paz the rally ends and I found terrifying reports on one Baja 1000 site about the end section of the road to La Paz and how people in the rallies have died on this section due to the animals on the road, the speed, bus and lorry drivers taking up too much of the road, Mexicans and coronas. The article said to be extremely careful (especially at night when the cattle are on the road)…and apparently there are a lot of them on the road. John and Don almost hit one the other night at speed.

That’s the problem – speed and you come upon them fast and have nowhere to go. Don said not to worry about him and John they have already driven to La Paz and know the road, but the drive that Bernie will have to make on the finish day is going to be treacherous. No guard rails above high cliffs and that we all need to stress to him not to rush to get to Don but to take it easy. I am definitely going to give him a call on his Mexi cell and tell him to be careful.

Mac and I were so nervous (It was about midnight here and you know how anxious you can get late at night about stuff like that). Hard to sleep. We also feel guilty because we had been out eating dinner, having a couple of marguerites and making light of the team and all the male bonding going on. Then, with a moment like that you realize how dangerous it is and you really think “OMG why do they do it? Why do we let, well not really let, but encourage and support them. We both felt emotional last night over it.

When Don was telling me about rounding the corner in the pitch black (oh – and his pit lamp on his bike was not working properly) and there was John with a huge illuminated Canadian flag…it make me teary, I knew John would do that sort of thing He would get to Don no matter what. Also, feeling a bit guilty as we are in a most beautiful condo overlooking the ocean, listening to the waves hit the beach…and they all have been roughing it out there – very long days, cantina food etc;

So…back to what I know about the team. Don tells me that he and the guys figure it is going to take Paul 6-8 hours to complete his section, Mark 6-8 hours, Nick 8-10 hours and Don 8-10 hours. Also, the race starts at 6am in morning on 18th, but they believe Paul won’t get his time out until 7am.

When you do the math that means Mark will probably get the bike at 2pm, Nick won’t get it from Mark until around 9pm, Nick won’t hand off to Don until 6am ish, could even be later – we have to take into consideration that there may need to be things done to the bike in between these times. If Don gets it at 6am this means they would be crossing the finish line at early/late afternoon. Poor Nick could be riding through the dark for most of the time.

Don said he won’t have to contend with the dark but the bad part is that the race car buggies will be catching up at this point. There is absolutely no way to get out of their way….there is just nowhere to go. He got hit by one yesterday in preride and it was terrifying. Apparently the buggy caught his foot peg. Don said it was harder than Morocco. I haven’t had hardly any contact with the other guys – except a little bit from Bernie so can’t tell you their thoughts on their trip so far.

Well, after all that said…we all need to cross our fingers and send them positive thoughts to all our team. Seeing them all cross the finish line – happy with their accomplishment, in good form, body and spirit will be so wonderful. I am sure they will all have many stories to tell. Like how John caught a big (4 inches across) Tarantula yesterday while waiting for Don (it was at his feet!!!)

Well I think that’s it for now. If I hear anything further I will update you all.

..Natalie

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