Packing The Parker Podium
Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Trevor Mark Kariya/Trevor Hunter
We’re starting off the new year with a bang racing the opening round of the Best In The Desert Series, the infamous Parker 250. Hayden Hintz, a former DBT tester, reached out over the holidays looking for a partner for the Parker 250 and possibly the rest of the series and I was the chosen one. Once we decided we were going racing, it was time to get a race bike and thanks to 3 Brothers Racing, we got our hands on a new KTM 450 XC-F. With only a week until race day, our testing time and prep was very minimal. An hour on the bike the weekend before was all we got before heading to the line. Luckily, we had some suspension dialed in for a KTM and we threw it on the bike just to get the first race out of the way. Next, it was a mad scramble to get parts in to “bullet proof” the race bike and ensure it can go the distance. We’ll have a separate feature focusing on the bike in the coming days.
For race weekend, we arrived Friday mid-day, went through tech and the riders meeting, then awoke for an early and cold race morning. Hayden started for us, 7th out of 7 Open Pros, and we had our work cut out for us due to starting last in class. The start was less than ideal heading directly into the sun and with freezing temperatures hovering around 33 degrees. Hayden had a fairly smooth rided before I got on the bike at the alternate pit (mile 28) and would ride a full lap back to the alternate pit to hand it off to Hayden again. Leaving the pit, we immediately jumped on some high speed fire roads and I quickly began to struggle with my riding. About 10 miles in, I caught and passed the N3 bike which gave me some confidence, but I still continued to fight myself and the bike and didn’t have the comfort and confidence needed to win. The high speed nature of the course mixed with rocks and some rough sections caught me off guard and I found it hard to go as fast as I wanted/needed to go to be competitive. I made it to the main pit with only a few eye opening moments and when looking down, I nearly ran out of gas entering the pits. I got a quick splash of gas; however, our dry-break stuck open after pulling it out and my pants and the bike was drenched in gas. Luckily everything felt fine and the bike started running normal before the end of the pits and I was back on to the race course!
The next 28 miles to the alternate pit was fairly fast and mostly contained to a sand wash and a fast, whooped out road paralleling Shea Rd. I started to gain a little more confidence and felt like I was riding better, but far from my potential. Around 20 miles in, I started catching some dust from the next open bike ahead of me and just like that, I found myself hit the ground in a minor but costly crash. Luckily myself and the bike were ok, but I lost some valuable time and Nick Stover on the N3 bike was able to get around me as I picked the bike up out of the sand. I remounted and got the bike to Hayden where he’d make a full loop of the course.
After some bench racing in the pits with Nick, we waited anxiously and kept the tracking updated to see Hayden’s progress. We could see he made it up to 4th O/A physically but for a brief moment, he stopped updating and we thought he had run out of gas! A few minutes later, he popped back up and returned to 4th on the trail and headed our way. 30 minutes later, he rolled into the pit right on N95’s rear wheel. We lost a few seconds fueling up and fumbling with our dry-break and I headed out to complete the last 50 miles in the dust of the rival Kawi team ahead. I stayed pretty close for the first 10 miles riding just outside the dust and feeling much more comfortable than the first go-around. As we hit some of the rocky sections, I lost touch with the dust but felt my speed was enough to keep them within our time allotment due to starting 3 minutes behind. I continued to catch some dust and believe that I was on the rear wheel of the N95 bike only to catch and pass a lapped rider each time. Finally, I hit the infamous long asphalt road next to the river and crossed the finish line with a healthy bike and body.
We crossed the line 4th overall physically and soon found out we had beaten the Kawi team by just over 1 minute for 3rd Overall. We also won $500 for the final podium position which we and mostly our dads were stoked on! Overall, it was a good learning experience and a fun race as we both tackled the Parker 250 for the first time. We plan on chasing the entire series and will continue to keep you guys updated on the races, what we encounter with testing the bike, and will provide you with the best info we can.
Thanks to our supporters for helping us get through the Parker 250!
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