Story And Photos By Adam Booth
The JCR Honda team made up of Colton Udall, Ryan Dudek, Tim Weigand and David Kamo has won another John Burr Cycles/ Glen Helen 24 Hour Endurance race, but this year the notorious event wasn’t as easy as it has been in the past. The Precision Concepts team of Robbie Bell, Chris Hollis, Justin Seeds and Ty Renshaw lead a large portion of the race after the Zip-Ty/ Bonanza squad (consisting of Mike Brown, Gary Sutherlin, Ty Davis and Bobby Garrison) had some fuel injector problems, giving up the lead.
The JCR crew had to battle back from a seven-minute deficit after a failed front brake master cylinder at the beginning of the race had them scrambling in the pits. They rode a strong night portion, and as day broke the JCR team snuck into the lead, passing the Precision Concepts bike after spending all night shrinking the time gap. Well-planned and careful pit stops kept the Precision Concepts team from making any time back on the JCR team. The Purvines Beta team, racing the expert class, finished strong with third overall.
Two Bikes And (Almost) Six Riders
A good idea can go south quickly and usually the good idea to race the 24 Hours of Glen Helen goes sour about the time the sun sets and the motivation level plummets. Ad in one of the most brutal and beat up courses in the history of the 24 Hour and you quickly find your teammates aren’t springing from their comfortable chairs for a chance to beat the fillings from their teeth at 2am. I’ve raced the 24 Hours of Glen Helen quite a few times and this was the dustiest, most brutal and hacked up course I can recall. Of the 10-mile loop there was about five percent that was actually enjoyable. All the blame can’t be put on the designers of the racecourse; Southern California hasn’t seen more than a drizzle in nine months. There was some awesome single track downhill canyons that were a blast to carve and weave through, distracting from the harsh (literally) reality that lie at the bottom. There was rarely a time when I wasn’t riding in some density of dust and at times I had to come to a complete stop and wait—I couldn’t even see my front fender! The saying it was “real, it was fun, it just wasn’t real fun” rings loudly now that we are done.
Dirt Rider assembled a very loose crew on short notice to race at Glen Helen. The core of the team was Quinn Cody, Michael Allen, Jesse Ziegler and myself. In the expert class you can use six team riders and two bikes so Mike from Corona Motorhome Rentals came out and spun some laps aboard the 300 after dropping off a 40-foot diesel pusher RV for the team to use as basecamp. Then we had a rock star appearance from previous 24-hour Ironman class winner Alexander Smith, who came out once the sun went down to burn some fuel in the dark. Alexander would be practicing for the Baja 1000, which he is going to solo in a few short weeks. Being the extra nice guy, Alexander rolled back into the pits about 10 minutes behind normal lap times without his helmet light. He had stopped to donate his to an Ironman racer who was out on the course without any light. After searching for Mr. Smith for his next time slot on the bike we received a text that simply said, “that was fun, thanks, talk to you guys soon!” We’re guessing that he wasn’t a huge fan of the dust, either.
At about 10pm the Dirt Rider team was back down to the core four and the KTM 300 XC two-stroke we rode during daylight was parked and the KTM 350 XC four-stroke was doing night duty. We chose the 350 for the night because in stock form, the KTM stator puts out 196 watts, plenty of power to run the Baja Designs Squadron X2 light setup we had picked. We also wanted to compare the two-stroke to the four-stroke in the same brutal Glen Helen conditions. The “in it for the fun” Dirt Rider team completed 50 laps and five hundred miles, finishing 7th in the expert class and 21st overall. The best part about the conditions being nasty and mean for the 24 Hours of Glen Helen is that it made for great testing conditions and next year, unless we never see rain again it has to be better, it can’t really get any worse! As with any endurance race, as the days pass post race, the memories of the event grow fonder. Of course, I’ll be back next year, ready to wake from a dead sleep at 4am to head off into the night with lights a blazin’!