Rookie Mistakes In Parker
Story by Trevor Hunter, Photos by Harlen Foley, Trevor Hunter
A wise man once said “The only time you can have too much gas in the desert is when you’re on fire.” Well, we learned that the hard way at the opening round of the 2022 Best In The Desert championship.
After two successful years winning the Open Pro championship, Hayden Hintz and I are back in the desert again with hopes of going for a three-peat. Using the same platform as last year with minimal changes, we felt fairly confident in our setup and thought a win could be in the cards in Parker, AZ.
The race weekend started off with Hayden qualifying 2nd Overall, merely one second off of Justin Morgan’s time and giving us the 2nd starting position. The following day we went through tech and contingency and had everything squared away for Saturday’s early morning departure.
For this year’s race, the BITD crew reversed the course direction and gave us the “long course” that the Parker 425 uses. The idea of this appealed to Hayden and I as we both aren’t overly excited about the terrain that covers most of the short course. The longer course sections that were added for 2022 were much smoother, sandier, faster, and less rocky — right up our alley and more similar to the terrain seen at the other rounds of the series.
Bright and early, Hayden started the race off for us. His first 60 miles were pretty uneventful, staying close to SLR Honda rider Justin Morgan and only losing a small amount of time to Parker local Jeremy Newton. Our pit strategy is always to stop as little as possible, and the 70 mile distance from Start to Pit 2 seemed to be within range on our 3.0 Gallon IMS tank. Around mile 65, Hayden felt that dreaded loss of power, with the bike ultimately coming to a stop a few feet later. After laying the bike over to get every ounce of gas over to the fuel pump side of the tank, he was out of luck and stranded on the side of the course ~5 miles out from the pit. One-by-one, racers zoomed past and we began losing a lot of time. Luckily, a course worker happened to drive by and stopped to help, but we had lost well over 20 minutes by this point. From here, we knew the race was over and the goal was to just get to the finish without taking any big risks.
Finishing out the last 50 miles of his lap, Hayden made some passes and got back around some of the other classes but all of our competition was long gone. At the end of lap 1, I hopped on the bike and settled into a comfortable pace. Going backwards along the goat trail and through the rocky, nasty whoops was tremendously better than years past and I was able to enjoy my time on the bike going this direction.
Soon after the rocks as we got into the faster terrain, I started getting into dust as I caught back up to some other Pros. Quickly thereafter, it was like a wall of dust as I could see a group of three all just ahead of me but making it very difficult to navigate. Coming into Pit 1, I was able to get right on an Ironman Pro and I hoped to make a pass on him as we pitted, but I missed our pit guy and accidentally rode by him. Knowing I couldn’t make it on gas, I had to go back and get a splash of gas, losing probably another minute or so in the process.
As I got going again, I was back out of the dust from being so far behind, but I started to have a lot more fun leaving midway and hitting the faster terrain. Within a few miles, we were ripping up these fast and flowing sand washes with nice berms and some moisture in the sand. Zero bumps, zero rocks, and a lot of smiles as we made our way up to Butler Valley. Again, I started to hit some dust and caught the Ironman Pro ahead of me. Luckily, the dust was pretty minimal in some of the sand and I made a big push to get around as we raced up a narrow, 80+ MPH sand wash.
Just a few miles later, I caught the next two riders, though the dust was pretty thick and making a move was near impossible. I had to hang back for a minute before picking it back up as the dust settled and we neared Pit 2. About a mile out of the pit, I was able to make a quick pass on the first rider and just after I made the pass, the only other rider ahead blew a turn and went off into the desert.
A splash of gas and I was back off to finish the last 50+ miles of the race. Like the terrain leading into Pit 2, there was another really fun, twisty sandwash that led onto some smooth high speed roads. I was feeling really good and having a lot of fun not pushing the limits and just taking my time with the course. All the way to Pit 3, the terrain was a blast and I was starting to think this may be the best BITD course I’ve ridden.
Leaving Pit 3, everything changed. We started to hit the normal 250 course and Osborn Wash and it was the roughest I had ever seen it. Constant chop down the rocky wash mixed with some bigger whoops made it a miserable last 30 miles. It was difficult to even hold onto the bike as it jarred every little bone in the body and the little SXS chop wreaked havoc on us dirt bikers. With nothing to gain, I kept it pretty mellow and just cruised into the finish to score some valuable points as we start the year. We learned a valuable lesson and hopefully we’ll always have plenty of gas in the desert, unless we’re on fire…
Our bike setup is very similar to last year. TCS Powersports is now doing our suspension work with the KYB valving in the stock WP shock and Pro Circuit linkage. For tires, we ran a single Kenda Parker DT rear tire and a Kenda Triple front tire. The front looked great at the end and the rear still had some life left in it this year. Our gearing of choice with the 6-speed tranny was 14/48 and it pulled it just fine all the way around the course. A 15T countershaft sprocket would have been a bit tall and tough to pull in most areas on this course.
Thanks to those who supported us!
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