The 38th annual Soboba trail ride took place on February 26th, 2017 on the Soboba Indian reservation just outside Hemet, California. I got a text from Malcolm Smith's son Alexander a few weeks prior to the event asking if I was interested in joining him on the trail ride. Of course I said yes, especially since Southern California had been getting an unusual amount of rain which meant conditions would be epic. Around 11pm the night before the event the skies opened up which became apparent as I woke up and loaded up the Dirt Rider 2017 Honda CRF450RX along with my cold weather and rain gear. After meeting Alexander at his house, we loaded up his sprinter and headed to the reservation, on the way we were both ecstatic about the rainfall and talked about how prime the dirt was going to be. He explained that it had been since 2004 that the Soboba trail ride had wet conditions like this.
Once at the event we got our gear on and prepped our roll-offs for what was shaping up to be a muddier than normal trail ride. Before the start, Alexander said a few words over the loud speaker and wanted to let everyone know that Malcolm was sad he couldn't make it, but he was busy "working"/adventuring in Mexico in his UTV. Just before they let us off the line, a cannon was fired off (which scared the coolant out of me) then the banner was raised for the first three riders, Alexander, one of his employees, and myself. They continued to let three riders off every 30 seconds until all 200+ riders had started. The 30+ mile loop was designed to take the average rider 3 hours to finish if he or she took all the hard loop options, but Alexander had different plans. From the get go, he took off like a special test at Six Days and I took chase, soon realizing that a very powerful 450 in very slick conditions was a handful.