By John Basher

It?s been somewhat of a forced dream for me to compete in the 24-Hour race at Glen Helen. I was a spectator last year and thought it was interesting to ride that long through unpredictable weather patterns and a gnarly track, but I was apprehensive about the whole idea. When I say forced dream I mean pressured, in that I had to uphold my manhood. Off-road junkied that I work with kept asking me if I wanted to compete in the race. I responded, “Sure, I?m up for it. What do you think I am, some kind of pre-pubescent teenaged sissy?” Inside, however, I trembled just like the pre-pubescent teenaged sissy that I was.

By nature I?m a motocross racer, but by no means do I like to limit myself to one specific form of motorcycle racing. Just a few weeks before I competed in an off-road race (Race Around the Lake), then a Supermoto race the following weekend, and then raced motocross on the third weekend. The 24-Hour race was next in line for extending my racing open-mindedness. After all, why not hit a grand slam and compete in the 24-Hour race? I convinced myself to compete, using the whole premise that it was something I can tell my children when they?re growing up. Just imagine, starting out my story as, “When I was your age…” just how my parents started their hokey stories. Little did I know that I had gotten in way over my head. Racing the 24-Hour was somewhat like calling Mike Tyson a girly-man in a bar and expecting to come out the winner of a losing battle.

24 hours of riding? That?s about a billion motos (more like 72 motos at 20-minutes apiece). If I?m hazy headed, tongue hanging in the spokes tired after just two motos, how was I going to be able to pull my weight during the endurance race? It was an easy solution, if you really want to know the truth. I?d like to beat my chest and announce my manhood. I?d like to tell you how tough and grizzly I was, but it?s not the case. Let me just say that the 24-Hour race for me wasn?t about how fast or slow I rode, but instead whose team I was on. When the checkered flag had finally flown at 10:00 a.m. Sunday, it turned out that I was on the best team.

The five-man team consisted of Benny Breck (an amazingly fast 17-year-old kid who has tons of energy, is consistent, and will be going places in his career), Adam Booth (of Dirt Bike and BMX Plus! fame, a rider who should be given the nickname of “Iceman” because he doesn?t buckle under the pressure), Shon Hepler (Adam?s friend, who could probably climb up an 85-degree angled hill), and Wade Sparowl (another one of Adam?s friends, a guy who could probably Ironman the 24-Hour race if he wanted to). Then there was myself, who had zilch off-road experience, nevermind riding in the night or on steep pitched ridges. I was the odd man out. My hope was to add support, to keep the Honda CRF250X in tip-top running shape, to provide relief to my tired teammates when they needed it by riding a shift to give them a break, and to help on rider changeovers. After all was said and done I had crashed the bike twice, got a flat rear tire, and slept more than anyone else on the team. To my credit I did help on rider exchanges and gave support.       

The biggest pre-race news was that Travis Pastrana was fielding a team. The kid who dabbles in anything having to do with two or four wheels, TP wanted to give the 24-Hour race a shot. He shouldn?t have. Instead of completing 24 hours, he finished about 24 minutes before smashing himself to bits. However, instead of Team199 forfeiting the race, teammates Brian Deegan, Ryan Morais, and Gregg Godfrey soldiered on without their star rider. Despite their best efforts, the team finished outside the top three.

The whole name of the game for doing well at the treacherous 24-Hour race is to keep your bike fresh, running well, and not battered. To be perfect and not have any problems whatsoever, be it lighting defects, flat tires, or engine problems, is almost impossible. Our team got away with only a flat front and rear tire. By 24-Hour standards we were in great shape. Other teams weren?t so lucky. Johnny Campbell?s Honda team blew an engine and had to split the cases. The Pro Circuit/Honda team with Andrew Short encountered a broken rear sprocket and took forever to get the bike back to the pits. Even the winning team of Ty Davis and Nathan Woods had difficulties. After a complete day of racing up hills, over baby-sized boulders, and through deep whoops something is bound to break.

As the clock struck 10:00 a.m. Sunday I was relieved, happy, and disappointed at the same time. Relieved that I hadn?t broken any bones or died during the race. Happy that the team won and pulled together. Disappointed because I didn?t do as well as I wanted to. Looking back I?m glad that I competed, I enjoyed the experience, and I had a great time with my teammates. The 24-Hour race isn?t for the faint of heart. I did prove to myself that maybe I?m not the pre-pubescent teenaged sissy I thought I was. I can already see it now…”When I was your age I raced 24 hours straight (even though I didn?t), logged lap times just as fast as the pro?s (even though I didn?t), and was part of a winning team (the only actual truth).”


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