My favourite day of the year isn't Christmas, it isn't New Year's, St Patrick's Day or even my birthday. No, without a doubt, my favourite day of the year is a Thursday. This year it was March 30; some years it's a Thursday a week or 2 later. What is so special about this seemingly random day? Well, every year on this special Thursday, I leave the ice and snow behind. I leave my home in Calgary, Alberta and start driving toward Odessa, Washington. It's a pretty unremarkable farming town with a population of only 910 but for 3 days every year, the population swells to over 6000.
For several years, the StumpJumpers Motorcycle club has been putting on the Desert 100 race just outside of Odessa. Every year, over 5000 dirt bikers travel there for one of the biggest races in the country. A steady stream of pick-up trucks and RVs roll in on Thursday night and continue pouring in until Sunday, race day.
I found out about the race when a video from Touratech popped up on my YouTube feed in 2012. I don't own a dirt bike, what makes this event so cool is that they have a ton of different race classes including one for ADV bikes. Fantastic.
The 2017 Desert 100 was my 5th year in a row racing the ADV class. I raced my highly modified BMW F800GS 3 times (with 1st, 3rd and 6th finishes), my KTM 1190R (8th place) and this year I raced my Honda Africa Twin.
Racing big bikes is a ton of fun and it gives me a chance to really test out our products in a very harsh and demanding environment. This year, I was continuing testing on our recently released high fender kit for the Africa Twin. There were also a couple other things on the bike that will be announced in the coming months.
Last year was muddier than normal and had a few sink holes and my 1190R seemed to find every single one of them. This year the course was full of bogs and deep ruts. It was muddy enough that after I rode a few laps on the test loop, I decided to abandon my Michelin M12XC desert tire and install the ridiculous Terraflex mud tire. The only reason I even had it with me was to give it back to it's owner who lent it to me for the 24hrs of Starvation Ridge race in October. During this race it was quite obvious that I had made the right choice!
Here's a video of my day. Heads up, explicit lyrics in the background music!