DBT Race Report: 2020 24 Hours Of Glen Helen

24 Hours Of Glen Helen 2020 Style

Story By Trevor Hunter, Photos By RevD Photography/Full Throttle Photos

With the annual 24 Hours of Glen Helen being one of my favorite races on the calendar, I couldn’t resist when the Kilmartin Racing | 3BROS KTM Team asked if I wanted to ride the Open Pro class with Colton Aeck, Nick Stover, and Brandon Gravley. Arriving Saturday morning, we all gathered as a team and prepared for a long day and night at the races. 

This was Colton’s first 24 Hour appearance, but he rode like vet with consistent and fast laps.

Colton started the race off for us with a mid-pack start but he had made his way up to 3rd O/A heading out on the fourth and final lap of his first stint. However, as time went by and we knew he should’ve been in, we began to worry. A few minutes later, he came pushing the bike back thinking it was a faulty fuel pump. While it was fuel related, it wasn’t the pump… we ran out of gas! Apparently, we never thought to check how much gas was in the bike before the race started! We refilled him and he went back out to where he had to pull off of the course. We lost around 7-8 minutes but were hopeful that we had gotten all of our mechanical issues out of the way early with an easy fix.

We started the race off with less than half a tank of gas and almost made it to the scheduled pit, but almost didn’t cut it.

Nick then got on the bike and put in some solid laps for his first stint. Following Nick, Brandon hopped in and set out for his first ride. Brandon was clocking in consistent times the first two laps, but he went down hard on his third lap. Luckily, it was right at the end of the lap so he limped it through scoring and into the pits. The front end was all mangled up and we straightened it out the best we could in a hurry but didn’t get it all that great. I jumped on the bike and took off with bars pretty tweaked but tried to make the best of it. 

Brandon had some bad luck in his first 24 Hour, but will be back for redemption.

Immediately, I was thrown way off and struggled to adjust to the tweaked cockpit. The course was also slightly tricky with not a lot of flow in the singletrack up on the ridge. As each lap clicked off, I slowly adjusted and started dropping my lap times a little bit. Still, I wasn’t all that happy with how I rode for my first stint. The four-rider rotation came to an end which meant Colton jumped back on the bike. Everything went smooth through Colton and Nick and they pushed us back up the leader board a bit. Once Nick finished, it was time to put the lights on. We also decided to swap handlebars since we had close to 18 hours left in the race. Swapping bars took some time with all of the buttons modern-day four-strokes have mounted up, but we got it done in a fair amount of time. However, it turns out the bar mounts were tweaked a lot more than the bars themselves so we still didn’t have an ideal cockpit. During this pit, we also swapped rear wheels as the Dunlop MX33 on the back was getting worn down and the bike would be stopped for a few minutes. Once complete, Brandon headed out to complete his four laps.

We changed rear tires roughly every 6 hours with MX33’s on the back. MX53’s may have been a better choice since a lot of the course was hard packed and slick, not the usual silt fest.
We used MX53 front tires and were very impressed. The tire worked really well for around 3 hours, then deteriorated to work at about 80-85% for the next 15 hours. We could have gone the distance on one front, but no rider was complaining when it was changed.

Once Brandon got off, I jumped on the bike and started spinning laps. This time out, I felt much more comfortable and actually improved my times from during the day. I was running 18:00-18:15 laps and felt effortless doing it. The bike was handling better and overall I started gelling with everything. Once I got off, Colton again started laying down solid consistent laps as we tried to claw back towards the leaders of the race. Colton came in halfway through his stint and said the bike was barely running. He thought it was an air filter and we quickly ripped off the filter skin we were running, but the bike wouldn’t fire back up. We came to the conclusion that it was the headlights drawing too much power and the battery was drained. We then had to swap batteries out of the backup bike, and for the rest of the race, we only ran one of the two headlights. Colton went back out and finished up strong before handing it off to Nick who also had a good run going. At this time, we believed we were sitting 2nd or 3rd in class. 

We struggled with lighting issues early on, but eventually settled on only running one Baja Designs headlight instead of both to conserve the bike battery.
Colton had never ridden at night before, but his lap times improved each and every lap and was setting some of the fastest laps at night.

Brandon was up again and riding well until a freak accident occurred. We got a hole in the brake line and lost the front brake. We aren’t sure what caused it, possibly rubbing on a spoke because of where it formed, but we can’t say for certain. We swapped brake assemblies and got Brandon back out to finish his ride. The new brake system actually worked slightly better than what we started with, so it wasn’t all for nothing. 

Changing the front brake system was a little costly, but luckily we had an entire assembly ready to go.
All hands were on deck to fix the brake, including the riders.

On Brandon’s last lap, he ended up clipping a rock buried in the sand in the dark and busted the chain guard, and derailed the chain. In the mishap, it locked up the rear wheel and the rear end had to be carried back. Luckily, some spectators helped Brandon carry it back and we were able to get to work. With how the chain jammed up between the case and frame/swingarm, we couldn’t get it unstuck. That left us with having to take off the swingarm to get the chain unstuck. Once we got the chain out, we had to put the entire rear end back together with a new chain, chain guide, and rear wheel. Since we had to swap chains, we didn’t have one cut or stretched so we had to cut it, adjust it, then later re-adjust the chain. Overall, we lost quite a bit of time with this one but we fixed it as quickly as we could with everyone pitching in to help. Also to note, after the race, we noticed the lodged chain took out a good portion of the case around the swingarm pivot leaving it exposed. Luckily, the left side of the frame and a minimal amount of casing on the right side case held the bolt in place for the final 12 hours of the race.

This engine case has see better days! The chain wreaked havoc on it, but it lasted the 12 hours to the finish.
The chain issue was the biggest of the night, but the whole team rallied together to get it fixed right.

Brandon was pretty wrecked after carrying the bike back and since it was his final lap before giving the bike to me, I jumped on to finish the last half a lap before doing the four laps of my own. I had a mind blank when I jumped on the bike and headed down pit row rather than out onto the course. Luckily, I remembered just as I jumped onto the start straight so I turned around and headed to where Brandon exited the course. I did what I could for the four laps and maintained about the same pace as most of the others in our class. By this time, around 11-12, the track had deteriorated a lot due to the breeze. It was dry and slick and cupped out with no moisture in the ground, making it a challenge to ride mistake-free and fast. 

 

I finished my ride giving the bike to Colton as he went out into the dark again. I finally was able to get away and attempt to get some sleep at 1:00AM in the morning. By the time I cooled down and fell asleep it was just past 2:00AM. I was awoken just 45 minutes later. I’ve never been able to get much sleep at this race, especially when doing four-rider teams, and this year was no different. Tired and weak, I hopped back on the bike around 3:45AM for another 1 Hour 18 Minutes on the bike. This time around, my hands were wrecked and I was having trouble holding on to the big 450. I also dealt with never-ending dust as I’d get caught in lapped traffic on every ridge on every lap. My times slowed considerably, but the competition also had slowed so I didn’t lose much time. 

After I jumped off around 5:00AM, we pulled the bike in for the last major stop of the race. We swapped the front wheel for the first time and the rear wheel for the third and final time. Colton then went out and laid down some blistering laps. After four fast laps, Nick jumped on and rode another four fast laps for his final ride of the race. Brandon was feeling the effects of the race, and with an injured back, we decided it’d be best to let him heal up and not push the issue since Colton and I were feeling strong enough to finish out the last couple of hours. After Nick jumped off, I went out and rode my final stint. We were unsure of how many laps were left in the race, so I decided on finishing out a fourth lap before handing it off to Colton to finish. Luckily, I did my four since Colton just missed the checkers and was forced to ride a fifth lap at the end. 

Colton finished off the race for us to earn 4th O/A against some heavy competition.

At 10:20AM, we reached the finish of a long and hard-fought 24 Hours of Glen Helen in 4th Open Pro. We had our fair share of mechanicals this year, but the team overcame the obstacles and pulled through when needed. Big thank you to everyone who helped in the pits and made this possible for us to reach the finish in a grueling race!

The aftermath.

Check out some health stats from the 24-hour long endurance race. Each stint, I’d burn around 1,000-1,200 calories. My max heart rate is around 200 BPM, and it was interesting to see the differences between day and night riding. During the day, I maxed out at 183 BPM and averaged 170 BPM, pretty typical for motorcycle riding for myself. However, I maxed out at 170 BPM and averaged 155 BPM during the night.

For a light setup, we used two Baja Designs lights, one XL Pro, and one XL Sport, with a Modified Machine Works bracket. The team did this to minimize draw on the battery. The stator was rewound to produce more output. In theory, it should’ve given us 80W to work with after accounting for the power the bike draws to run itself. The XL Pro draws approximately 43W and the XL Sport draws approximately 26W. The bike should’ve made enough power for this setup, but we ran the battery down and were forced to stop using both lights at the same time. Once we did this, we had zero battery issues.

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