Striking Out In The Silver State
Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Mark Kariya/Trevor Hunter
Just like that, the 23rd Annual Best In The Desert Vegas To Reno is done and dusted and the DBT Pro Team is racing away from the event happy, but yearning for a little more. At the line, we came across 4th O/A physically and on adjusted time after 505 miles and 8 hours, 54 minutes, and 28 seconds of racing. Now, lets get into the nitty gritty details and explain how we got to this point.
After several late nights working on bikes and getting everything ready, we left for Vegas Thursday morning in order to go through sign ups, tech inspection, a riders meeting, and to finalize our plans. With all going smoothly in the 100+ degree temps, we hit the road for Beatty, NV close to 8PM where our motel and start lin awaited us. On the road, Nick Stover’s van started having issues, and a temporary fix was the solution, yet a sign of things to come for the race the next day…
With the race starting at 5:45AM Friday morning, we had a 4AM wake-up call scrambling to finalize everything and make sure we were set for the long day ahead. We arrived to the start line a few miles from the motel around 5AM with just enough time for Nick to get his gear on and our crew to finish the bike and logistics talk. We set the air pressure in the forks, warmed up the bike, and sent Nick off on his way as he started 2nd O/A one minute behind our friends, the N33 bike. Both chase crews immediately took off before the start in hopes of reaching the first pits in time, and the pit 2 crew made it with just minutes to spare. From there, Nick was running 2nd still and sitting about one minute behind the leader. Through pit 3, he gained a little more time and coming into pit 4, he got very close to the leader, only to have a small tip over. In the process, he sheared the front brake lever off completely at the pivot. As he came into pit 4 in Goldfield, NV, we frantically changed the lever as I got on the bike for the first time at race mile 126. From that point on, our front brake started working marginally at best, and in a fast race like this, the front brake is your lifeline.
After getting on the bike, I felt very comfortable through the first miles of my 113 mile stint and had hopes of regaining some of the lost time on the N33 bike. The speeds were high right out of the pits and the dust was off in the distance. About 10 miles in, after a quick highway crossing, I headed towards one of the fastest parts of the race. Picking up speed, I reached close to 90mph before a donkey ran out of the bushes and onto the race course. A million things went through my mind in the few seconds I had to think, but everything worked out best case scenario. The donkey was running at a bit of an angle, and I slid the rear end around as I was braking only to bounce off of it and into the bushes. In a miracle, I rode it out, and luckily, off the side of the course was pristine desert terrain with no rocks in sight. After thinking about what had just happened, my leg was in a lot of pain from crushing it between the bike and the side of the donkey, but I knew I had to keep going on. Luckily, I had a 10+ mile straight fire road where nothing other than holding it wide open was required and I could do my best to recoup myself.
With the pain not getting any better, I had fears of a broken leg, but riding wasn’t out of the question. I informed our pit crew at pit 5 of what happened and how I was doing, and we had Nick ready at pit 6 in case things went south. After leaving Tonopah and pit 5 the course got rockier and standing up was needed a bit more, This is where I struggled the most, but I was still able to ride at 80% without too much trouble. In the meantime, Skyler Howes, the overall winner, blew by me on his solo effort and his dust was quickly fading into the distance. I regrouped once I got out of the rocks and started riding a bit better, but still losing a little time to the two teams ahead and the N66 bike that was coming from behind.
I came into pit 6 and immediately took off knowing I only had another 32 miles to go before handing the bike off to Nick. Most went smooth and fast, but the last 8 miles was a rocky, virgin sandwash that proved to be a little difficult for myself. Once into the pits, we changed the rear wheel and brake pads, and I handed the bike off to Nick who would take it from race mile 234 to mile 364. I hopped in his van with our pit crew where we headed to pit 8 so I could hop in the other chase truck in order to get to pit 10 for the rider swap. After a few miles on the road, the van went into limp mode, only to find out that it had been doing that every 30 miles all morning long. The issues made making it to each pit on time a bit tight. Luckily, they never missed one and the van kept chugging along all day long.
As we roll into pit 8, Nick comes in around the same time with another brake lever broken off. This one after a high speed crash, we robbed a lever off one of the spare bikes we had and threw it on. At the same time, the front rotor had been bent, making the front brake really tough to rely on. We sent Nick out and I was off to pit 10 in Gabbs, NV.
Stover again handed the bike off to me, and I set out to do the next 90 miles to pit 13 where Stover would again get on to finish the last 45 miles. Our original plan was for me to ride into the finish, but after the morning’s incident and the rocky terrain leading into the finish, we decided it’d be best if Nick rode it in… if he could make it to the pits on time. I hopped on and raced at high speeds all the way to the remote pit 11 (which we skipped) and onto pit 12 where it got a little rockier before dropping into some sand washes. Leaving pit 12, they informed me that Nick may not make it to the pit in time and if so, I’d be riding into the finish with enough gas in the bike. High, high speeds led me all the way to pit 13 where as I pulled in, Nick was jumping out of the car racing towards his helmet — perfect timing. Nick hopped on and rode to Dayton, NV where the end of the 505 mile journey ended. While we had hopes of finishing better and certainly being closer to the competition on overall time, we were happy to make it to the finish line given everything that happened on race day. With experience on our side, maybe a run in 2020 will be possible…
Special shoutout to our pit crews for making sure everything went smoothly, my mom and dad, Kali Shatto, and Trevor Hoffman. Also, a big thanks to everyone that supported this effort – Prairie Dogs MC, 1-800-Dent-Doc, Shaw & Sons Construction, 3 Brothers Racing, STI Tire, IMS, TM Designworks, Bullet Proof Designs, FXR, XC Gear, Mika Metals, DT-1 Filters, ASV, Scotts Stabilizers, Nitro Mousse, Desert MC, Maxima, and RAD Custom Graphics.
Hop on-board with Trevor from Pit 5 in Tonopah, NV to Pit 6 in Millers, NV ~
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