Bronze Medals In The Silver State
Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Harlen Foley
After a disappointing result at the Parker 250 a few months ago, Hayden Hintz and I were looking to get back up to speed where we felt we belong, much closer to the front of the pack. With a few months in between rounds, we were able to make some improvements to the bike in a small but significant way. A stiffer shock, a working rear brake, softer grips, different sized mousse’s, and a larger fuel tank were all improvements we made to help resolve our issues we had at Parker. Having success at Silver State last year, we were hoping to find our groove and run up front for the 300 miles around Alamo, NV.
Our original plan for this race was to ride the same sections as the year prior, with me riding Start – Pit 2 and Pit 4-6, while Hayden would ride the other half from Pit 2-4 and Pit 6-Finish. However, we were now equipped with a big 4.5 Gal IMS Fuel Tank so we could extend our range quite a bit and skid some pits, which could change our plans. Starting at 6AM, we awoke at 3:45AM to get dressed and over to the start line. I left the start line at 6:01AM, third off the line and into the dust. The first 35-40 miles were very, very high speed, and the dust lingered in quite a few spots, slowing my progress and allowing the leaders to get away. Coming into Pit 1 at RM19, I could see the N2 bike ahead of me and it looked like I may have closed in a few seconds. Again, I set back out into the dust and tried to catch the bike ahead of me. Leading to Pit 2, I was having a blast ripping through the mountain roads through the trees, and the overcast skies helped tremendously with the sun and dust. As I neared Pit 2, the dust started becoming thicker and thicker, and I could see I was catching Nic Colangeli on the N2 bike. However, as I was racing up a sandwash, a bird came out of nowhere and struck my helmet, unplugging the helmet radio we had set up. A little shaken, I pressed on and continued to push. A few miles later, I cut a corner a little too tight and clipped the handgaurd on a tree branch, breaking the zip-ty holding it in place causing it to flop around. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but I knew it needed to be fixed to avoid putting pressure on the front brake lever at high speeds. Coming into Pit 2, I saw Nic right ahead of me and knew it’d be close on time for me to skip the pit and try to pass them.
As they were finishing dumping gas, I was able to squeak by and take over 2nd place physically. Racing out of the pits, I was dust free and could start to ride my own pace. The terrain was probably the most fun terrain I had ridden up to that point, with really fun fire roads and sandwashes through the mountains and leading into Caliente. A little over halfway to Pit 3, I came down a fast 70MPH+ fire road and approached a turn grabbing the front brake, only for it to squeeze into the grip with no pressure. I looked down and saw the lever bolt had backed out due to the flopping handguard, and I was seconds away from losing the bolt and the lever. I managed to make the turn, then spent the next 1-2 miles trying to thread the bolt back in with my hands without stopping. Luckily I was able to do so and continued to race forward, though I had to keep tightening the bolt by hand every few miles until the pit.
I made it to Pit 3 without any other issues, and we were able to lighten the bolt back up and get a zip-ty around the handguard to re-secure it. Leaving Caliente, the terrain was still all new to me, but continued to be a lot of fun. I felt the best I had ever felt in a BITD race, and was glad to not see anyone’s dust coming up behind me as of yet! With having no breakfast and no water since the start of the race, I began to feel a little depleted and started to make some minor mistakes with around 25ish miles to go in my 140 mile/2.5 hour stint. Around RM125, the bike started acting up. Shortly after a 100MPH road, the bit started bogging and eventually died as if it had run out of fuel, though we had plenty in the tank. Luckily, it started right back up and I was able to continue racing, though I backed it down 10% until we got to the pits. Unsure of what caused it, Hayden jumped on the bike about 5 minutes behind Nic Garvin physically, and ~1 ½ minutes ahead of Syler Howes physically.
Hayden put in a really good ride with just a minor tip over being his only issue in the last 140 miles of racing. Leaving Pit 7, Hayden was 45 seconds up on Skyler on track, but 15 seconds back on adjusted time. Despite his best effort, we ended up finishing 3rd O/A on time, just 19 seconds behind Skyler, and a little over 4 minutes behind Nic Garvin. In the end, it was one of our best BITD races to date, and only a few mistakes and mechanicals held us back from having a perfect race. Next up is the Tonopah Hare and Hound in just a few short weeks!
The big question is, what was our bike setup for this race? First, we ran Kenda tires, though not ones you’d expect. We stuck with the Washougal II up front as we have for the past year. The durability is very good, and it works well under all conditions, from braking to turning and in hard-packed to sand. In the back, we ran a Kenda K270, a dual-sport tire. The durability of the tire is very, very good, and looked much better than any other tire we saw at the finish of the race. However, it does work quite well for these types of races. Us young guns have had trouble keeping rear tires under us, and last year we wore down a Parker DT to literally nothing, with holes going through to the rim. The K270 works well and hooks up on the hard-packed fire roads that we see in this and at Vegas to Reno. It suffers a little bit in the sand and under braking, but we feel it works well enough that it is worth the trade-off (though not Jimmy Lewis approved!).
Finally, we got our hands on an IMS 4.5 Gal Fuel Tank for the race. It adds about 1.5 gallons of fuel, and in this terrain, the added weight helps more than it hurts. We’re both fairly lightweight riders, so getting some weight on the bike helps add stability in rougher and rockier terrain. Plus, we can skip some pits comfortably and avoid stopping, which was huge as we passed a rider early on to race dust free to the end.
Thanks to those who support us!
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