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Eric Hall

Sonora Rally 2018

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If I were you, I would never think of using a mousse again, or seriously looks at the installation process you are doing.  Something is not right for you to have this many problems.  If you , an average rider, are destroying these things every race at this rate, there is no way any pro teams would touch these things.  200 mile lifespan, even racing, is totally wrong.  There are many, MANY teams out there running SCORE, BITD, and local endurance races on 2 sets of wheels.  Talking 100 to 1000ish miles.  Almost always the tires swap is done because the tire is trashed, not the mousse.  K

At this rate you are saying the tire will outlast the mousse, which is almost never the case.  Even at a Pro level race pace.  The only time I have seen an unusual rate of failure was Vegas to Reno 3-4 years ago, but that was one of the hottest years and ambient temps was well into the 100s all day.  Very high temps at one of the fastests courses of the year I can see cooking or temp related issues are to be expected, but not many other scenarios  

There is something not right with your setup.   I'd seriously investigate the issue before you blame the mousse.  

Edited by AdvRob

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Garrett installed the mousse himself.

So final stage is done! Pretty easy 127 k or so. Could have done on the 990.

Lots more pics and video when I get back to WiFi.

Skyler won which gives him a free entrance to Dakar. His first rally raid event too!

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So more thoughts on the mousse...

Like tires, all mousse are not created equal. If you know the limitations and plan accordingly, they will perform fine.

One factor is that I’m heavier than most riders. Another is I had at least 180 miles of highway transit that heated them up. But another one Skyler Howes pointed out yesterday and since seconded by Mike West is that I should have run a 120 width tire and not a 110. My traction would have been much better in the sand and the extra width would have dissipated heat better.

I do still feel I should have had two rear mousse though and should have pushed harder for that up front.

So for final results it looks like I finished 21st. I will try and estimate later my place if I’d finished the last 10k of that stage but that’s racing.

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Rally racing can be humbling too. I came across Garrett Poucher stuck on the trail with a busted transmission. I stayed for 15 min hoping someone might loan us a tow strap but no luck. He was close to a road so our crew came and got him.

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Heartbreaking too. I saw Garrett put out a lot of effort to prepare his own bike as well as my bike and the bikes of his team members. My heart sank when I saw him there. I still think he has everything it takes to do well at Dakar one day soon.

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Dune riding was quite an experience. Knowing which lines to take as well as how to crest a dune became a very important skill. A buddy of mine, Joshua Jones, came over a dune too quick and found it fell away almost vertical. He came down on his pegs and snapped his right Achilles’ tendon.

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My objective was simply to encourage other adventure riders to consider trying a rally raid event.  The story here wasn’t that I’m some kind of professional racer but that I’m just a regular guy; a 50 year old dad from Irvine who likes to ride adventure motorcycles.  I wanted to tell the story of what it takes to prepare for an event like this as well as race it from the perspective of an average rider.

What did I do to prepare?  I think I did a fantastic job of getting fit.  I started a year ago when I went back to the gym (had taken a year off due to a broken wrist).  I lost nearly 30 pounds by mostly changing my diet (paleo) but also put on a lot of muscle working out at a local gym doing mostly traditional type weights, floor exercises and cardio (HIIT on a treadmill).

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I think I could have done a lot more riding but didn’t have a truck or trailer and was getting help from Garrett Offroad Racing so I had the bike at his shop for the entire time so that limited my ability to go out and ride.  Riding long distances over desert terrain would have been really good for me.  I felt my fitness was really good but there’s certain things you get on a bike you can’t get from a gym like conditioning your hands and forearms to the standing position for long periods of time.

I am extremely grateful to have received as much help as I did from Honda for loaning me the most excellent CRF450X as well as Garrett Offroad Racing for all his help prepping my bike.  I didn’t realize just how much time that was going to take and I’m extremely grateful and feel indebted to him for all his hard work.  I learned so much from Garrett about being a better racer and I’m incredibly impressed with his knowledge and work ethic.  He wasn’t afraid to hold me accountable too and give me the hard truth when I most needed to hear it.  I really appreciate that.  Of course I got help from others like suspension tuning from Konflict, tires and mousse from Motoz, bars/handguards/pegs from Fasstco and a seat from Seat Concepts.  Those all made the bike perform much better for my size and reduced fatigue by a large amount.  I think they got their money’s worth as we’ve been able to generate quite a bit of views, impressions and reach across both XLADV’s and ThumperTalks’s forums and social media network.  We still have a lot of photos and video to share but right now we’re at about 300k in impressions just from Instagram.

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Sonora Rally was truly an amazing experience for me.  The organization is very well run and the terrain was just fantastic.  The dunes and the open desert tracks we rode were so much fun.  There was really very little that I look back on and think “that wasn’t fun to ride” even though there were a few things that were tough to get through.  I was told it’s not as technical as Baja Rally and I’d agree with that.  The course is more laid out linearly with longer sections between turns.

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Reviewing each day, day 1 was the prologue and I ended up doing extremely well, coming in 9th (provisional results).  It was a short simple stage and I did well simply because I navigated properly and kept moving.  There were many guys faster than me but they made the wrong turns so I ended up beating them.  This is the essence of rally raid in a nutshell.

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Day 2 was special stage 1 where we got our first taste of the dunes in two sections.  Section one was pretty challenging.  I found myself with waypoint 48 showing about 300m ahead which I judged to be beyond a large dune.  I went down in the bowl and actually picked up the waypoint but didn’t realize it so I was going to go around the right side of it and try to get to the other side but ended up stuck in another bowl for about 20 min.  I should have trusted the Rally Comp which was showing waypoint 49 was next, meaning I’d already picked up waypoint 48 but my problem was I wanted to start my hunt for waypoint 49 from waypoint 48 so I went back on the course a bit (not that far).  So I resumed my race and finished 17th which I was still very happy with.  The second dune section went very quickly I think because I paced behind a side by side and it was helpful to see the lines it took and what the other side of each dune looked like from what I saw it doing.  If it looked like a sharp drop then I’d slow down but a smooth descent had me staying on the gas.

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Day 3 was not just more dunes but EXTREMELY large ones!  I ended up getting over only bout half of them and going around the other half (maybe 15 really big ones in total).  What really could have helped me here in retrospect was a 120 width tire instead of the 110 I was running.  The bike had plenty of power but I found only pinned in third gear did I have enough momentum to get over the biggest ones.  I came over one and was just floored to see about a 1,000’ drop straight down!  It was like a sand avalanche so I just pointed the bike down and rode with my ass on the back all the way down!  My heart was in my chest of course but it was fun.  I got to the gas stop about 1:10 before the 2:15 cutoff and was just spent.  They wanted to check my bp and hr and said it was high so they kind of talked me out of continuing.  I don’t really regret that.  But the 75 mile or so return on the highway and the 110 tire contributed to the reduction in life of my rear mousse.

Day 4 was flat desert and long at about 190k of the special stage but had a lot of pavement liaison sections that further degraded my rear mousse.  I came out of the gas stop and felt a thump thump thump and realized it was on its way out.  I nursed it for about 60k and just 10k short of the finish it melted and the tire came off the rim and was not rolling due to it hitting the chain and swing arm.  I got a ride in from one of the crew that night.  I also got a bit lost on the course earlier and opened a few waypoints but when I got there they weren’t at road book notes so I still wasn’t exactly sure where I was until I spotted another rider (Gil Shoham) and asked him.  Had I finished stage 4 (edit: and stage 2)  I think I’d have been closer to 15th overall.

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Day 5 was short, fast and pretty easy but I just wanted to take it easy.  Garrett loaned me his rear wheel off his spare bike and I didn’t want any drama.  I just rode conservatively and finished with Kent Choma.  I got a bit off course early but quickly back on track then followed another rider who took a wrong turn and then I ditched him and got myself back on track again.

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In hindsight I would have done a few things differently.  I’d have ridden more long days, run a 120 width tire and brought another rear mousse and changed after 3 days.  I will defend my Motoz mousse still because like any tire, you have to be aware of the positives and negatives and plan accordingly.  I am a heavier rider, was running a narrower tire and had more pavement than I thought so I should have changed the rear mousse.  They do this at Dakar all the time.  There are other mousse out there that last longer but they also contribute to a “dead” feel (Motoz is very supple) and I know Michellin mousse needs extra lube to keep it from drying out.  I wished I’d also run my foam “grip buddies” grips like I did in Baja.  No blisters thanks to my Klim Dakar gloves but they were still a bit sore and the foam would have helped a lot.

I’m really just grateful to have finished and met so many wonderful people along the way.  I don’t have even a single bruise on my body and while I did lay the bike over many times in the dunes, I never wrecked and there’s not a scratch on the bike.  I just have two blisters on the second knuckle of my thumb from the grips and my knees and hands are a bit sore but not even as sore as they were after Baja Rally.  That’s saying a lot right there!

It was a total bucket list adventure and I’d highly recommend any decent adventure bike rider try something like this too!  Heck, I’ll even pit for you!  I know there’s a lot of riders out there better than me too, so I’m confident they will do well; even top 10 potential.

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On 3/19/2018 at 8:29 AM, Eric Hall said:

Short day today with tech inspection and a 27k or so prologue. Saw Jerry and Tiff pitting for another rider, Avi.

I also see a Tiger 800 someone rode here as well as a MS1200. This guy’s going to do the prologue today and zip back home for a client meeting tomorrow and miss Special stage 1. He said he already paid to ride and wants to keep his client so you do what you gotta do. That’s when you know someone loves racing! emoji23.png

The Tiger was probably my friend Kim from Santa Fe, NM who was wrapping up her week long Baja big bike trip with a gaggle of men and had timed it to crew the Sonora Rally for her friends Jim and Dave Pearson.

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Let me bring you up to speed on some drama surrounding my performance at the rally.

Two of my Facebook “friends” (now past tense) thought they’d skip the congratulations and question how I could claim the “glory of 21st place” because I DNF’d two stages? Huh? My response was simply take it up with Sonora Rally; it’s their rules and I was only reporting what they said I placed.

I had another co-racer unfortunately come after me personally over at another forum and he got a few of his more colorful posts deleted. I told him also to take it up with Sonora Rally and might have thrown in a “gfy” too.

What follows is from what I posted on the other forum:

So sorry about all the unpleasantness. This has been very disheartening to be attacked for simply racing an event and reporting the results.

While I think Hari (the butthurt co-racer) has an interesting point for discussion, I also think his frustration is misdirected as well as inappropriate. I think it damages the spirit of competition and the fun that was racing this rally.

I mean, we go ride motorcycles to get away from this right?

So I was pleasantly surprised to get another well thought out response from Scott Whitney, a volunteer with Sonora Rally, that I thought I’d pass along.

“I generally agree that a stage DNF should put a competitor at the bottom of the overall. At the moment it does put competitors at the bottom of that stage result. But I have little sway on the rules, that's Darren's thing. I'm a volunteer now, like so many others. Also, one could use the same argument for opening or skipping waypoints. A competitor could ride through the start, skip a bunch of waypoints and ride straight to the finish, thereby avoiding a DNF while also avoiding wear and tear and a bunch of other risks. I myself would consider putting even higher penalties on skipping or opening waypoints, because they also take away from the accomplishments of the others who did 100% of the navigation, and 100% of the course. Hypothetically, who should be higher in the overall results, a guy who rides 95% of the full course and doesn't open or skip waypoints but DNF's the last 5%, or a guy who "finishes" every stage, but skips significant portions of navigation and/or significant portions of the course by opening or skipping waypoints? I myself feel that skipping or opening waypoints is a form of DNF since that allows a competitor to avoid doing the full challenge. Depending on what portion of course these infractions occur in, it might be more unfair to the "DNF" guy than the "skipping/opening waypoints" guy if "DNF" is always at the bottom. It's a tricky business trying to weight each type of infraction, and apply an appropriate penalty so it's fair to everyone. One thing I'm sure everyone will agree on is that in Sonora Rally a stage DNF or skipping too many waypoints does not result in exclusion from the remaining stages as occurs in Dakar. I know Darren is looking at all these issues carefully and may make adjustments for next year.”

So whatever they decide on doing is really up to them. I’d just rather not be attacked or have my performance diminished by people with butthurt.

Can you believe someone might actually suggest that I dnf’d on purpose so I’d gain the “glory” of 21st place vs. 25th?

I’ll be riding my bike in the desert for the next three weekends and I’m sure by then I will have forgotten all this.

Still to come is a video on prepping your bike for rally raid racing as well as a video featuring scenes from the actual rally.

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I did a live broadcast last weekend on our Instagram feed talking about the Sonora Rally experience and someone asked if I could do a video going over all the bike prep so here we go!

 

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@Joshua Jones just posted this video on FB from another racer we met, Jason Lan.

 

 

My comments: "I really enjoyed meeting Jason and Saito, etc... at the rally. Saito is quite a rider! He passed me quite a few times. I also like how Mark Vanscourt was there at the end to greet Jason; that shows he takes care of his racers. This video is really what I love most about the rally experience. Skyler Howes won it and he's a great guy too but the rally is SO much more of an obstacle to overcome by guys like Jason and I that I think it's a much more interesting story. He tells it well!"

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