Champions Crowned In Cal City
Photos by Harlen Foley
Coming into the final round of the ‘21 BITD Series, Hayden and I were looking to finish out strong and grab our first win of the season after letting one slip away in Laughlin. A last minute change going from the BlueWater course in Parker to a whole new venue in Cal City left us unsure of what to expect, but our goal never changed. A close points race for the Overall championship and a three-way tie with the two Factory Beta teams for the Maxxis Triple Crown purse was more than motivating to earn that win.
With two 90 mile days scheduled, we determined Hayden would ride all of Saturday and I’d take the bike Sunday. A last minute change on behalf of the BITD crew saw us start single file, which is ultimately the safest way to start with how the course was laid out and since we carried the points lead, Hayden was first off the line Saturday morning. The first lap Hayden made up some time on the N3 bike, who was our competitor for the Open Pro championship, even split Joe Wasson, and lost a little bit of time to Zane Roberts who started 4th off the line. As the racers came around for the second lap, Hayden put in a really good ride and made up time on all of the teams and sat about even with Zane Roberts heading into the final lap. When the checkered flag flew, Hayden had done his job and pulled out a 21 second lead on Zane and a couple minutes each on Joe and the N3 team.
Following the race, we watched the rest of the UTV, Car, and Truck classes have their turn at the course. As they clocked their laps, the course quickly deteriorated and became a silt fest.
Come Sunday morning, we lined up single file again, though in order of our finishing positions from the day before. This set Zane right behind me and knowing the speed he had the day before, starting further up front would only help his chances. As the light turned green, I took off and headed into the wide open desert. Barreling into the first high speed turn, I immediately hit the silt and was on my way. Feeling pretty comfortable despite not knowing the course, it didn’t seem to be in as bad of condition as I anticipated. The bumps and holes were all manageable and it was mainly just deep silt pockets for the first half of the course.
As I raced further into the lap, the terrain started to get trickier. The two-track silt ruts were deep and endless and played my luck in just riding the center berm every chance I get trying to avoid hidden rocks and holes in the main lines. Around 15 miles into the lap, I started catching dust and was quite confused. Starting first off the line and knowing I hadn’t been passed, I couldn’t determine who was ahead and why the dust was so thick. As I closed in, I saw a set of rear tail lights from a car who was still finishing their final lap from the previous race. Luckily, I didn’t spend a ton of time in their dust, but I spent enough and was a little frustrated. The rest of that first lap was pretty smooth as I just tried to learn the course and pick good lines. As I finished it off and came through pit row, the team had told me I only lost 10 seconds to Zane that lap. I felt confident I could pick up the pace quite a bit for the next lap and was hoping to stretch the lead back out. Everything felt pretty smooth and I had a good lap going until I didn’t. Near the end of the lap, I started catching my first lappers and it happened to be a quad AND a three-wheeler battling for position. To my luck, I caught them in arguably the worst section I could catch them in. It was some of the thickest, dustiest silt and was in a rocky area making it pretty tough to push through the dust. As soon as I hit the wall of dust, I had to back way off and almost come to a stop not being able to see the tip of my front fender. After 30 seconds or so, I was able to get past Patty Blais on the quad but still had a 50 yard gap to the three wheeler and plenty of dust. As the silt and dust continued to get worse, I had to slow down even more as I tried to get past him. Finally, I got a glimpse of clean air and bolted past the three wheeled vehicle and was on my way after wiping an inch of silt off my goggle lens.
Frustrated again, I came into the pits and saw I had lost 20 seconds to Zane that lap and we were now 10 seconds out of the Overall win for the weekend with one lap to go. Heading into the final lap, I knew I had to put it all together and that a win was still possible. The final lap felt like my best lap yet as I had slowly started remembering the course and figuring out which lines were safe to use. However, the ruts were at their deepest and it was easier than ever to make a costly mistake.
Nearing the end of the lap, I knew I had a good one going and was pushing hard to make up as much time as possible. Racing through the unknown that was below the silt, I hit a pretty good set of holes coming out of a slow speed corner and got kicked over the bars, doing a flying W only to just barely save it and avoid crashing. After that, I backed it down ~5% but still continued to push for the win. I got caught up in some more dust in the final miles, but luckily I was able to get through it fairly quickly. As I raced through the finish, I gave it my all then immediately started counting seconds to see when Zane would arrive.
We all sat at the podium with the stopwatches counting down and it looked like it’d be very close on time as he got nearer. Racing through the finish, we suspected we had just won the race by 1-2 seconds at most. With it being this close, the celebrations were held off until the BITD crew could figure out who had just won the race. 10 minutes later, they announced we had just won the race by 0.2 SECONDS. While it was way too close for comfort, we were ecstatic that we got the win for the weekend, wrapped up the Open Pro championship, and won the Triple Crown championship all in that fashion.
The Cal City Desert Challenge was a crazy way to end the season but we wouldn’t want to do it any other way. We successfully defended the Open Pro class championship and won the Triple Crown for the second year in a row as well, beating some pretty fast racers in the process. With another successful year in the books, we’re already looking forward to 2022 and the new season in a quest for a three-peat.
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