Sunday, June 27, 2010

Big Bear Run 2010...or...I Must Hate My Well Being

Hey Everyone and welcome to another exciting blog post here at the San Diego BMW Motorcycles e-circus.

Today is Sunday June 27th, 2010. It's 1340 hours and I feel absolutely HORRIBLE. Friday night Rich Amiton, Mike Moore, Gary Kepple, Chris Mohnke (certain I misspelled that), some crazy fast dude named Remus (complete with uber-intimidating Eastern Block accent) and myself headed to Big Bear, CA for the 2010 Big Bear Trail Rider's "Big Bear Run." The Big Bear Run is held every June and is pretty much the hardest dual sport event in Southern California. The BBTR guys take pride in making sure those few brave souls that enter the "A" route of their event leave with that warm and fuzzy "I'm never doing this again, not for a million dollars" feeling. As I sit hunched over on my back patio typing this I wonder to myself: How many trucks did it take to gather every single rock in the country and deposit them along the OHV GOAT trails of the San Bernardino mountains? I wonder if the residents of those other 49 states miss their rocks? Rest assured residents of those other 49 states, your rocks are living comfortably under the tires, motorcycles and helmets of those that entered this years Big Bear Run.

I've attempted this ride 3 times now. The first year I exploded the radiator on a G650XC less than 70 miles into the 180-220 mile event. It was a sad end to the day. Not surprisingly I dropped the bike on a ROCK while knocking the fillings out of my teeth negotiating a ridge near Holcomb Valley. The second year I came back on my G650 and became the first BMW ever to finish the ride. It was an amazing feeling but I was fairly sure I did not want to try EVER again. The BBTR's give you a plaque for completing the entire "A" route in under 13 hours. It's a pretty significant accomplishment given that in any given year they don't give out more than 40 plaques despite over 100 entries. But enough of this horn blowing!

My cell phone rings last Monday:
Kepple: Hey dude, you riding the Trail Run this year?
Me: No thank you. Matter of fact HELL no, thank you.
Kepple: Shoot, I'm gonna ride the 250 and was hoping you wanted to ride with.
Me: Nope.
Kepple: Yeah I got this new toy hauler so we won't have to pay for a hotel.
Me: OK sweet count me in.

Skipping forward to Friday night Rich, Kepple and I are sleeping comfortably in our pull out beds in the toy hauler. That is until Rich starts snoring. I mean, REAL snoring. Not that stuffy, intermittent, having a sinus issue snoring. In the aluminum confines of the toy hauler it sounds like god is running a Texas sized Shop-Vac and dangling the sucking hose into Big Bear Lake. Not a lot of sleep Friday night.

0500 we "wake" and get ready for the ride. The 6 of us rendezvous at the starting gate at 0600 and head for the first trail guided by our GPS's. Now it is at this point in the story that I'd usually be writing something along the lines of "Sean incorrectly reads his GPS at gets the entire group headed in the wrong direction thus adding an hour to our finish time." BUT...I let Kepple lead the way this time. I have learned from my last 35 attempts to lead riding buddies into the wilderness that a cactus wearing a helmet is more suited to GPS navigation than I am. The route takes us to the southern side of the mountain range where rocks and hills and rock covered hills await.

The first leg of the ride was 80 miles and other than losing Rich was fairly uneventful. Actually I'd say the first 80 miles were "easy" as compared to the first 80 miles of last years route. There is a reason for this that I'll touch on later. In any case Kepple and I reached the first gas stop without incident but minus one Rich. Turns out Rich's KTM sheared a few bolts off the tail section and his rear rack, light and fender needed strap tied back on. After a quick field repair Rich got back underway and made it to first gas but the bike was not up to the rest of the ride. His day ended there and he headed back to camp. Chris and Mike were still making good progress a little further back while Remus had taken off on his own. Kepple and I got back underway feeling confident and none the worse for wear.

Miles 81-140 were brutal right from the get go. No sooner do we pull off the pavement then we're greeted with a nasty, rocky climb up a ridge. At one point I lost momentum and came to a stop after chugging the engine. I looked up the hill to see Kepple spinning the rear tire and bouncing from rock to rock to rock generally pointed up the trail. Being stopped actually allowed me to take in how steep the terrain really was. My head was cocked so far back that my helmet was actually pressing against my back protector. These BBTR guys can really find some steep climbs. The next 3 hours were essentially lather, rinse, repeat of the previous 6 sentences.

I think there is a defense mechanism in my brain that is actually keeping me from remembering exactly where the "Devil's Punchbowl" was in the ride but the mileage is unimportant. We exited an exhausting stretch of single track the wound along the mountainside at a creek. The creek had dammed up at the exit of the trail and there in front of us is a collection of 20 riders, their bikes and one very excited photographer. 18 of 20 motorcycles were in some stage of disassembly/reassembly. Some riders had their fuel tanks off and were pouring water out of them. Other riders were walking around pouring out exhaust pipes full of the Devil's "Punch." Still others were going from stranded rider to stranded rider asking to borrow spark plug sockets, towels, bibles, etc.
Kepple attempted crossing the 4 foot deep lagoon first. Engine revving, tire spinning he bounced along the rocky bottom like a gas powered Plinko chip until one fatefull rock in the punch sent him over the left side of the motorcycle. As though it were in slow motion I watched as he attempted to keep the bike from falling over, failed epically, thus completely submerging the machine in the drink. Kepple disappeared beneath the surface and the 250 followed. A second later he burst to the surface wild eyed and frantically trying to get his steed topside. It was too late, the bike's engine had coughed to a stop and there was water gushing out of the tail pipe. The entire cove fell silent for a moment until one particularly witty rider yelled out "You're doing it wrong!" Many laughed including myself...Kepple only dragged the bike step by step from the drink, leaned the swamped Husky against a tree and took a seat on a rock. Now, it was my turn.
Having been fortunate enough to see what line NOT to take I navigated the crossing more slowly even though that meant keeping both soaked feet paddling along the bottom from rock to rock. All went well until I was about 5 feet from the other side and I chugged the motor and the engine quit. Lucky for me the punch was shallow at this point and I was able to hold myself upright until I could get the engine lit off again. Once running I just dropped the hammer and rode to a shady spot to take a breather.
I walk over to Kepple and the amphibious 250.
Kepple: Dude, I don't have a spark plug socket for this bike.
Me: Oh that fails.
Kepple: Yeah, we have an award for this sort of thing.
Me: Dude, we WILL get that bike running. (I point to and incredibly steep, not surprisingly rocky stretch of trail that is the ONLY way out of the punch bowl.) you see that hill? There are no rescue trucks coming down that hill. So unless you have a helicopter pilots license we need to make that motorcycle vroom vroom.
Kepple: Did you see me fall in?
Me: Yes, it was awesome. Did you see me NOT fall in?
Kepple: Bite me.
Long story short we stood the bike up vertical on the rear wheel and watched water run out of the exhaust. Then we removed the air filter and watched water run out of the throttle body and air box. Then Kepple rang out the air filter like a sponge. Then we kicked and kicked and kicked and pressed the starter and kicked and kicked while pressing the starter. Then we said the f-word 5 or 6 times a piece. Then we did the Hokey Pokey and turned it all about. Then FINALLY the bike lit off stayed running.
Me: That sucked, lets not do that again.
Kepple: Yeah I'm kind of tired from that.
Me: Kind of tired? If you shook my hand right now it'd feel like I handed you a dead fish!
Kepple: Your handshakes always feel like that.
Me: Bite me.

OK, in an effort to save time I'm going to summarize miles 140-165. Rocks, climb, rocks, downhill, rocks, the seat on my bike is beginning to feel like a 2X4, rocks, why has Phil Collins "I Can't Dance" been playing in a loop in my brain for the last 2 hours? Rock, WATCH OUT FOR THAT SQUIRREL! Rock, more Phil Collins, rock, I wonder if I remembered to zip my tail bag shut...who cares I can buy more tools, rock, DAMN YOU PHIL COLLINS, rock, haha Kepple fell over again, rock, I just fell over again, rock, Iiiii can't dance. Iiiii can't talk. Oooonly thing about me is the way I walk... Rock, haha Kepple fell over again, rock, I just fell over again trying not to run over Kepple, rock...

Mile 166. Kepple and I stop for a breather next to some official looking guys on Japanese 450's.
Kepple: You guys with the Big Bear Trail Riders?
Official looking guy #1: Yup.
Kepple: I think that asshole at the start lied, there's GOTTA be an easier way to the convention center.
Official looking guy #2: HAHA. You've still got your sense of humor! That's good, you're gonna need it.
Kepple: Why? There should only be about 15 more miles until the finish?
Official looking guy #1: That's right chappy. But there are a LOT of rocks in that 15 miles. If I were you guys I'd get as much rest as I could on the fire roads cause the trail gets really nasty in about 2 miles.
Me: Wow, how very Big Bear Trail Riders of you.
Official looking guy's #1 and 2: Cheers.
Kepple: OK Sean, I know I told you friends till the end. Well...this is the end.

I've run marathons. I was in the Marine Corps for 5 years. I once got hit by a car, not like I was in a car that got hit by a car, I, I once physically got struck by a moving automobile. I've skipped across Lake Erie like a flat stone after falling off my water ski's going 45 MPH. None of the aforementioned brutality made me feel a fraction of how bad I feel right now. And 90% of how bad I feel right not is because of the last 15 miles of the 2010 Big Bear Run. Without question, beyond all doubt, all kidding aside, the HARDEST thing I have ever done on a motorcycle. And you know what? That is EXACTLY why Kepple and I will be entering the 2011 Big Bear Run.

Rich's day ended early on a mechanical failure. Remus finished on his own from what I've gathered. Just after mile 160 Chris got bad info that Mike had crashed and was hurt. After turning back he found Mike very much OK but another hurt rider begged the two of them for help back to camp. Had it not been getting dark I'm fairly certain the two of them would have told the rider to wait for the sweepers and completed all 183 miles. But, being the better men they got the injured participant back to camp safely and you really can't fault them for that. You CAN however rub it in their faces that Kepple and I got finishers plaques and THEY did not.

Thanks for reading.
-Sean DeAngelis

1 comment:

  1. Good Job Sean. Glad you enjoyed your thorough butt kicking. You are a quality and sick individual and I applaud you for those characteristics.

    I'm surprised that you save the last 15 miles of the ride were the worst. The last section of the course was just going back up and over Gold Mountain in the opposite direction from earlier in the day. But after an exhausting day, going over Gold Mountain and all those loose rocks with little soil between them, can be enough to break a man.

    You are truly twisted and should be proud of it.

    Former Big Bear Trail Rider and course creator,

    Joe Meyer (BigBearJoe)