By Tamra Lyn – Free Lance Writer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Have you ever gone through a set of truly relentless whoops and just when you thought your arms were going to fall off and your body was going to crumble, you notice another long stretch of even more whoops? At some point you ask yourself if it is possible to survive that type of physical and metal brutality. Have you ever wondered if there was truly any way to actually enjoy riding through whoops?
Well, for some, there is. Meet Jonathan McVay. A man with a special love in his heart for blasting through whoops. Thanks to his years of heart pounding practice and his full race quad built from the ground up with several upgrades such as the Dura Blue X-33 axle, this pro-desert rider eats whoops for breakfast! If given the choice, he will take a whoop section over a straight away any day. So when he got the call from one of his riding mentors, Jeff Hancock, to join the Hancock team in the Baja 250 San Felipe race in March 2009, he jumped at the chance. He knew he would be given a section of the race that was well known for having some of the roughest whoops. That just excited him even more! Here was his chance to fly through some of the most intense riding he’s ever experienced and truly find out how important it is to have to right kind of axle that would hold up to the abuse of the Mexican desert terrain.
And it didn’t take long for his opportunity to express the importance of a good axle. Jonathan showed up late Wednesday afternoon to get settled in and rested for his big day of pre-running the next day. Thursday morning came quickly and as the sun was slightly peaking over the horizon, Jonathan and the Hancock team headed out to the remote dust bowled desert and began the grueling preparations for the Baja 250. They pre-ran their sections from dust till dawn, each wearing out 150 miles of sand and ruts trying to look for better lines and faster strategies.
At about mile marker 70, Jonathan watched in fear as Jeff Hancock, their main rider, wadded his quad up in the dusty sands. By the time Jonathan was able to get to him, Jeff didn’t even know they were in Mexico. Luckily, having years of experience, the Hancock team came prepared with a satellite phone and they were able to call for help. With Jeff now safe, Jonathan continued pre-running his section of inconsistent whoops of up to 4ft high, on a flat tire, thank goodness for tire balls. Upon further investigations, it was confirmed that the reason the quad wrecked and Jeff was sent flying through the air during one of his fastest sections, was because the competitor’s axle on his quad had broke right at the wheel hubs.
It was 4 o’clock in the morning when Jonathan woke up to get ready for the big race. The team was still concerned for their main rider, Jeff Hancock, as it had only been 2 days since his accident. They took Jonathan to the first pit at mile marker 32. The plan was to have Jonathan ready just in case Jeff needed him to take over that section as well as the section he was scheduled to ride. As Jeff came barreling into the pit he jumped off the quad, made a minor suspension adjustment and jumped back on and took off. He was feeling fine and ready to ride more. With team Honda 1a about 5 minutes ahead of him, Jeff was anxious to catch up to them. At that point Jonathan was rushed to the next pit at mile marker 54 just in time to see team Honda 1a blaze by. And much to the teams surprise, about 60 seconds later, Jeff showed up and handed the bike over. Jonathan threw his leg over the bike and took off. What a dream come true! Only 60 seconds behind the fastest desert race team in the world and about to go into a section of whoops that were meant for trophy trucks and class 1 cars, not quads! Needless to say, Jonathan was hard on the gas and ran his section flawlessly with the exception of a couple of whoops that almost through him over the bars.
As he continued his journey he remembered a section coming up that was very dangerous. It was a wash out in the middle of the road that wasn’t very visible, especially with all of the dust from the riders in front. Jonathan mentally prepared for the wash and noticed a rider in front of him that must not have known the wash was there. Jonathan flew into the air knowing it was coming up soon and proceeded to slow down as the rider in front of him stayed hard on the gas. The rider hit the rut out so violently that Jonathan swears he saw the numbers on the bottom of his motor. That’s not a good thing to see! As Jonathan made his pass he realized that the rider didn’t bail or get injured so it was back to the fury of attempting to catch team Honda 1a. The section was very rocky and was some of the roughest terrain Jonathan had ever experienced. But by keeping the front end of his quad light through the whoops, he was able to get the bike to another rider on the team, Josh Edwards, unscathed.
The team came in 4th on the Honda TRX450R with a time of 5:32:47. The axle scare wore heavy on their minds as they made their way through the whooped out desert. At the end of the race, Jonathan suggested they look into a different brand of axle than the one that failed Jeff earlier that trip. He suggested, Dura Blue’s X-33 axle. He has used Dura Blue’s axles for 9 years and has never had one of their race axles break on him, ever. He says that the X-33 axle has also helped him demand respect from the whoops as it absorbs more of the abuse from hundreds of miles of unforgiving desert terrain. So the next time you’re barreling through a bad section of whoops at speeds your mother would not want to know about, remember to give thanks to your X-33 axle for taking on a lot of the pain and pressure you would otherwise have to endure and for staying dependable through it all. And above all, be safe and have fun.