Back in May, Motoworks teamed up with Triumph, ICON Raiden, Ohlins and others to build a pair of killer Tiger 800 XCs fit for off-road racing adventure, and we gotta say, they turned out pretty sweet.
The first phase on our North American off-road racing adventures was our run at the Mexican 1000. While we certainly weren’t in it to win it, we came away from the event floored by just how capable the midsize Tigers really are. As much fun as we had in Mexico, that was just the warm up for a much bigger adventure that would take us nearly to the top of the planet. They call it the Alcan 5000.
First things first, though. Our two racing Tigers were brought home to Chicago for Alcan prep. Our mechanical crew at Motoworks went through them bolt for bolt, sorting out the handful of issues we’d found during the Mexican 1000. We learned a ton, but what I learned first and foremost was what a great group of mechanics we have at Motoworks. Obviously, I already knew this, but sometimes you need to re-learn what you already know. They’ll be doing 100% of my race prep from now on. After some shakedown miles and logistical prep, we were bound for the Canadian border. What followed was nearly two weeks of epic off-road adventure with the boys from ICON Raiden where I got to not just run a big rally, but I got to play stunt man for the camera.
Race Day One
The Seattle area rally start was uneventful, it was really just a side-stands-up group ride with myself, Sanders, Vigil and Levin, with Nieto and Ortiz in the gear truck behind us. We jumped off the highway and entered our first TSD section. For those who don’t speak rally, TSD stands for time/stage/distance. We knew we had the arctic in our future, but for the start the sun was shining and the weather was hot. We blew through the timing and scoring station in a pack, waving to the seemingly confused timing and scoring officials. We had our own agenda for the Alcan.
Our border crossing into Canada was uneventful, just like we like it. All of the Alcan rally riders made it across including a few with, shall we say, flavorful pasts who were a little concerned. Finally on Canadian soil, everyone was pretty jazzed to be north of the border.
The rest of that first day was a bit of a grind. We rode more than 300 miles on a scenic state highway. Towards the end of the day we hit our first dirt TSD. We were expected to follow the course and get through it at a pre-determined speed. By pre-determined, I mean slow. We didn’t read that memo so we hauled ass, took a wrong turn, ended up on the wrong side of a river and had a blast doing it. The Alcan was my first TSD rally. We were learning as we went, and having a great time doing it. Best part, our Tiger 800 XCs had been solid as a rock so far.
It’s a great group of people putting this event on, and without the efforts of those volunteers, the Alcan 500 just wouldn’t happen. They plan the routes, set up the hotels and sweep the course snagging anyone who breaks down along the way. We’re grateful for their efforts, and it’s always nice to know that a helping hand is there in case of emergency or breakdown. The road book was basic and easy to follow, and the volunteers doing timing and scoring were super to work with.
The Day One route took us from Kirkland, Washington to Quesnel, BC, including a border crossing, 479 rally miles of planned route and another 40 miles of unplanned misadventure. We rolled into the hotel around 9:00 PM to twilight and a crowded hotel parking lot. Most of the competitors had arrived a couple of hours before us. We were out having fun and trying to catch it all on camera. Good reasons to arrive late for sure.
All in all, it was a beautiful day with sunny skies most of the day that turned to some rain in the early evening. I was mentally prepared for the weather. In fact, I was ready for nine straight days of pouring rain if it came to it. A relatively dry day was a good way to start
Our bikes had been solid, but a couple of competitors had some issues. We had to put the 2014 Triumph Tiger 800 XC of Richard Broome in the trailer after a hard get-off in the final special section. The bike took a hard shot, and went upside, creating a “hydro lock” condition. Thankfully, Richard was not injured. Competitors Josh “Little Buddy” Saxe, and Dave “Dizzle” Kawistowski, got the bike running that evening.
Day One was in the books and we were ready for more. BC had been beautiful and we’d already covered a lot of miles. We also spotted our first bear.
…to be continued.