It’s celebration time for expatriate Kiwi Trent Burgess.
Although now living in Canada, the New Zealand born and bred rider has just won the solo class at this year’s Baja 1000 cross-country endurance race in northern Mexico.
His results were:
– 1st place: solo racer (18 starters)
– 6th place: Pro Class 22 Motorcycles (12 starters)
– 15th place: all motorcycles (78 starters)
– 59th place: all vehicles (278 starters including trophy trucks, etc.)
The Baja 1000 is part of the SCORE Championship Desert Racing Series that include the Baja 500, San Felipe 250 and the new San Felipe Challenge of Champions.
The Baja 1000 allows various types of vehicle classes to compete on the same course – from such small and large bore motorcycles, stock VW, production vehicles, buggies, Trucks, and custom fabricated race vehicles. The course has remained relatively the same over the years with the majority of events being either a point-to-point race from Ensenada to La Paz, or a loop race starting and finishing in Ensenada.
In 2009, Burgess raced the infamous Baja 1000 as a solo motorcyclist. He was the 2nd solo finisher, which meant 21 consecutive hours on his KTM 530XC-W, racing across nearly 700 miles of Baja’s rugged terrain.
The cult movie Dust to Glory effectively highlights the heart, soul and determination required for the few tough (or crazy) enough to take on this extreme challenge. Mostly all top-finishing motorcyclists are competing as sponsored teams, complete with helicopters and semi-trucks loaded with mechanics.
This year, Burgess entered as a top contender to win the solo class and that’s exactly what he did.
Trent takes up the story …
“I did a great job of sticking to my strategy of riding fast but conservatively for the start, and was going to stick with that up to about RM110 (route marker 110) where things opened up after descending the pass – 4000ft in 5 miles or something like that.
“Unfortunately I didn’t quite make it that far before minor disaster… At around RM100 I came into some hard and deep braking bumps a little quick, and was swapping out as I dropped into a dip with a couple of big rocks in it.
“I did some contortions and missed the rocks, but my right foot was above and behind the peg when I hit the main compression and came down super harsh on the peg. One of those sinking feelings as my whole lower leg went immediately numb in shock. Didn’t fall off, or even stop for that matter.
“I kept riding one legged until the damage assessment was in, which was ouch, but manageable. By putting the peg right under the heel/ankle joint and turning my toes out a bit and heavily favouring my left leg, riding was possible. I crashed once almost immediately before I worked out that my timing on rear brake was severely impaired! Also worked out that I was going to get a really sore butt, as sitting down as much as possible was necessary. The bummer part was that I didn’t pre-run this section due to the illness I had, and I would have taken note of this spot as it was an obvious problem.
“So, for those of you who were sending energy to me, I did take the helmet time to put it out to the universe to let me receive as much healing energy as possible. I very consciously called up and mentally directed what I could to my foot, and it did give me relief.
“Thanks everyone, and I’m sorry for any disruptions any of you might have felt while I was borrowing from you!
“On with the race. There are some super fast sections across lake beds before RM199 pit; I’m sure they stood out on the tracker! It was a good opportunity to rest (at 90mph) and get my head into the adapted style of riding. After the Borrego pit (RM199), the whoops start up, so my focus became smooth line selection, and favouring my left leg in any compressions … of which there were many.
“My pace was still good, but it was costing me in energy. The course turns sharply South at RM220ish, and heads into some lake beds again, Nice! Then, onto the Motomi wash area, a real pill. Smooth baby smooth, at least that was the theory. In reality, I was riding like a gumby and making some costly energy (and skin) mistakes. I went down a few times, mostly at low speed, as any time the bike required me to save it with my right leg, I just gritted my teeth and let it go down rather than jamb that foot.
“When I saw (my wife and pit manager) Michelle at RM323, I was a little demoralised with my performance, and had managed to break off half my left footpeg somehow (I have no idea how). But Michelle had met some awesome guys who were so all over helping, and I had the foresight to bring a spare set of pegs. They installed that for me, then they replaced the rear tire as I had managed to rip half a dozen knobs off!
“My spirits were raised also by the news from Michelle that so many of you were near computers biting your nails for me!! The next stop was RM401, where we put on the big 8inch Baja Designs HID headlight and mounted my TrailTech LED helmet lights … great timing as it had been dark for about 1/2 hour by now! The x2 headlight I had on was sufficient, but there were a few times when I was seriously out-riding my lighted vision … a few panic slowdowns, but nothing serious.
“The next section gets into the dreaded San Filipe whoop section. I was cursing hard a few times. I knew that, given daylight, there are options to the sides of the course, but one time I followed an alternative thread and ended up getting fully turned around and riding backwards on the course. Good thing someone else was coming along and I quickly realized my mistake. I was feeling for another light I could see out in the weeds from a rider lost in the dark. I hoped he could see me and get back on course.
“After the RM450 pit (this is Borrego, where the course crosses itself again), there were only 25 miles to reach Michelle where she had my night riding gear. The boys from CamFab, Craig and Chris, had a motorhome all warmed up and ready for me to change in. I decided not to change my lower body stuff as my foot was super swollen, and wouldn’t have gone back in the boot if I took it off. The temps were dropping rapidly, but I was dressed for business so all was good. Some fog showed up so I had to ride without goggles for a while, but it was short lived.
“Over to the pacific side where amigo/amiga Stan and Dev met me with hot cocoa and toasted sandwiches! Stan gave the bike a thorough looking over, and then off to the coast for me. I also had not pre-run this section, so it was a surprise to me that it was so technical. Mostly off-road and choppy all the way through to North of Erendira, where I thought it would be easy running. Back to Stan and Dev at Santa Tomas before heading into the last major difficult section.
“The trucks were breathing down my neck by now, and three caught me in quick succession halfway through that last major mountain section. My tactic was to ride until basically I was spotlighted like a deer in the headlights, then just run up on the side of the course and stop to let them pass. Sounds easy, but the section is particularly narrow through here. Finding a place to get off required some timing. All worked out well.
“I met Michelle at the last pit (RM656), and was getting a little vague in my coherency, but passed the ‘look me in the eyes and repeat after me’ test.
“I wasn’t able to stomach any more food by this point, and it was time to fly the energy plane into the ground for the last 35 miles. I passed 15x stopped on the side of the course at RM 660. He had a dual 8″ headlight system that was busted up and not working, and was down to the end of his battery power on his last helmet light. We hooked up and rode side by side, using my lights for the last 30 miles. He managing to witness a last couple of crashes I had from the front wheel sliding out and me not willing to put down my right foot. He was understandably patient with my slow pace as I was providing a lot of light for him!
“Lots of support from the locals and not too many booby traps on the way into town.
“No getting lost this year, and into the finish line we went. Michelle was waiting there with loving anxious arms, although she was highly perturbed about leaving her phone back in the truck and not getting the finish line update to those of you patient enough to sit up most of the night doing a vigil for me! Sorry!!
“Back to the camper and, after some coaxing, I got my boot off to survey the damage. My foot was black and blue, swollen and very sore. It is difficult to bear weight, and I suspect there is something broken in there. I’ll head in to a clinic and see if I can get an X-ray at some point today.
“Lots of icing and elevation for now. Looks like I will be sitting with my foot up and sipping a margarita here soon, and that somehow seems ok! And, I suppose Michelle will get a rigging bitch out of it when we hit Los Barriles. My riding buddy, Stan, is also winged so I suppose we’ll convalesce together.”
PRO MOTORCYCLES, CLASS 22 (450cc or more)—
1. Kendall Norman, Santa Barbara, Calif./Quinn Cody, Los Olivos, Calif./Logan Holladay, Buellton, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 14:14:25, 49.51 mph;
2. Shane Esposito, Lake Elsinore, Calif./Robby Bell, Menifee, Calif./Steve Hengeveld, Flagstaff, Ariz./Bobby Garrison, Hesperia, Calif./David Pearson, Panaca, Nev., Kawasaki, KX450F, 14:24:55;
3. Colton Udall, San Clemente, Calif./David Kamo, Caldwell, Idaho/Timmy Weigand, Valencia, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 14:31:10;
4. A.J. Stewart, Jamul, Calif./Donald Stanley, San Clemente, Calif./Justin Morgan, Alpine, Calif./Corey Freeman, Fallbrook, Calif./Kevin Johnson, Boulder City, Nev., Honda CRF450X, 17:00:59;
5. Francisco Arredondo, Guatemala/Nicholas Burson, Ridgecrest, Calif./Justin Morrow, Pinon Hills, Calif./Ryan Dudek, Long Beach, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 17:13:24;
6. Trent Burgess, (New Zealand/Canada) Hood River, Ore., KTM XC-W530, 21:28:24;
7. Felipe Prohens/Jaime Prohens, Chile/Chris Ridgway, Apple Valley, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 21:53:50;
8. Jim Owens, Scotts Valley, Calif./Arik Swan/Eric Pucelik, Santa Cruz, Calif./Bobby Bartholomew, Watsonville, Calif., Husqvarna TXC450, 22:00:22;
9. Rory Sullivan, White Salmon, Wash./Joey Lancaster, Troutdale, Ore./Miles Warren, Olympia, Wash/Anthony Cenitti, Corbett, Ore., Honda CRF450X, 23:20:53;
10. Jack Lundin, Anaheim, Calif./Lukas Lundin, Canada/Peter Lofuerius/PG Lundmark, Lake Elsinore, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 23:21:55;
11. Craig Bowman, Kelso, Wash/John Bredfield, Castle Rock, Wash./Ace Nilson, Reno, Nev./Ken Wortman, Canada/Anna Cody, Lancaster, Calif., Honda CRF450X, 25:28:34;
12. Thomas Barnabic, Silt, Colo., Honda CRF450X, 28:18:48.
(12 Starters, 12 Finishers)
Top 5 Overall Finishers (Pro Cars & Trucks):
1. Andy McMillin/Scott McMillin, National City, Calif., Ford F-150, 14:51:36 (47.11 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
2. Nick Vanderwey, Phoenix/Curt LeDuc, Cherry Valley, Calif./Larry Vanderwey, Litchfield Park, Ariz., Chevy Silverado, 14:54:11 (46.97 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
3. Bryce Menzies, Las Vegas/Ricky Johnson, Encinitas, Calif./Larry Job, Las Vegas, Ford F-150, 14:55:40 (46.89 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
4. Mark McMillin, El Cajon, Calif./Daniel McMillin, LaMesa, Calif./Chuck Hovey, Escondido, Calif., Ford F-150, 15:19:53 (45.66 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)
5. Clyde Stacy, Bristol, Va./Juan Carlos Lopez, Tecate, Mexico/Justin Matney, Bristol, Tenn., Chevy Silverado, 15:40:38 (44.65 mph) (SCORE Trophy Truck)