We had many more pictures, but unfortunately my briefcase with all the cameras flew out of the back of the truck, and two cameras were destroyed by being run over on I-80. On the bright side, I now have one of the few road-rashed Coach briefcases in existence...
Well, we finished the race.
My ankle was questionable, so I was to do a short leg to determine if I could ride. The ankle was ok, but I crashed hard (in deep rutted silt at about 80mph). Landed on my right shoulder and hurt it pretty good. Does not appear to be broken, but hurts like hell. I gathered myself up, spit out the mouthful of dirt, and carried on, only to duplicate the exact same crash, landing on the same shoulder, less than two miles later. Only difference was I was only doing about 40-50mph when I crashed the second time. Picked up the bike again one handed, and carried on, knowing I had to get the bike back to the pits. Got the bike back and passed it off. My race was over.
Mike and Charlie were heroic, each riding over 240 miles total, and each riding over 60 in the dark. The conditions were much more brutal than I think we imagined, and the bike was not set up as well as it might. No steering dampener meant most of the race the bike was tank slapping. Poor front tire for the first half meant no front grip. We bought another front tire from Kawasaki and changed halfway, solving that problem. However, the tank slapping continued.
Mike had a particularly brutal section after dark, where it took him (and most others) about an hour to travel only 18 miles. He also had one nice moment when he was hauling ass uphill at about 80 and the headlight ground lead came off, shutting off the light!! Charlie had fun for most of the race with a hurt knee. He had crashed early on and hurt it. What he did not find out until after the race when he took off his gear was that his kneepad had lost a rivet, and that rivet had snuck around and was inside the kneepad, drilling into his kneecap. Every time he crashed on that knee (several more times) it just hammered itself in some more. He had to pull it out when he took off his gear.
Charlie finally brought the bike home at about 1am, giving us a total estimated race time of a touch under 17 hours.
Kudos to Mike and Charlie. I was unfortunately not able to contribute as I had wanted, but they were able to bring it home. We have no idea where we finished, but just finishing was better than a lot. Many bikes never made it, some were even totaled before the second pit. As the race went on, more and more bikes were dead by the side of the road, their riders walking or waiting.
Also, big thanks to Gary, who volunteered his time and his truck to be an integral part of the team (probably more integral than me!) and escort us all around in style in the huge Nissan crew cab. Thanks G.
Anyway, it was a hell of an experience, and I just wish I could have ridden more.. Oh well.