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Thread: 24 Hour Challenge and the X650 Challenge

  1. #1

    24 Hour Challenge and the X650 Challenge

    Bobby Wooldridge (BMW Atlanta) invited me to hang out in the pits as Helli Kornton (of Max Moto... the Remus guy) rode a right-off-the-showroom-floor X650 Challenge in the KTM-sponsored 24-hour Challenge at the Perry Mountain Motorcycle club in central Alabama.

    I needed a short trip on the HP2 to test whether it was possible to camp with the thing without saddle bags. It is not. ~50 pounds of gear hanging off the ass-end just doesn't cut it, handling-wise.

    After arriving at the track with about 4000 other fine people, I stumbled my way through the pits until coming across a very spiffy BMW of Atlanta set-up.

    True enough, Bobby had taken a bike off the showroom floor, put on some knobbies, a skid plate hand guards and precious few other acessories and put the bike out on the track. It really attracted quite a bit of attention... there were a LOT of KTM riders coming by to take a look.

    For those who don't know him, Helli is an excellent rider from the west coast. I first met him at a BMW event held in the Ocala National Forest back in 2003. He impressed me then as the ride leader... we were smokin' down a dirt road, my speedo read 85mph and Helli was standing up on the pegs, **looking backwards** to make sure the group was all following.

    At no more that 140 pounds soaking wet, the X650 really looked large as he stood next to it.

    Most riders were on teams of 4 or more riders... each taking turns to ride their team bike for 24 hours straight. Helli chose to ride the Ironman Open class... 24 hours off-road all by himself.

    The start was typical endurance-style... the riders running to the bike, kicking and hauling ass. An electric starter was very handy.

    The southeast is under drought and track conditions were brutally dusty. So, imagine our surprise when Helli completed his first 12.4 mile lap covered in mud.

    Turns out they watered a section of MX track that was being used for the event and another over-eager rider took Helli out from behind under braking. Damage was a bent hand guard, and worse... a mangled pinky finger. 23 hours to go, and this. We got Helli and the bike fixed back up and sent him back out to eat more dust.

    The dust was so bad we were replacing foam air filters every lap. Thank dog Bobby came prepared, as the vendors on-site sold out of foam air filter cleaner and oil about 2 hours into the race.

    Let me tell you, 24 hours is a really long time. As night fell, we were saying... almost halfway.

    Bobby installed a very nice HID light and powerpack from Niterider on Helli's helmet. It worked a lot better than I thought it would, judging from it's looks.

    The breeze that had been doing a bit to help the dust situation died at sunset, and the dust just hung there, making for very dangerous and challenging racing conditions.

    At about 10pm, we were halfway into the race and I was exhausted. How Helli kept going is simply beyond me... I am not worthy!

    So, I could not take the dust any longer and headed for my tent. Bobby had the air-conditioned trailer... and Helli, well... let's just say he is a true ironman.

    Through the night the race went, air filters every lap, Helli was in 7th place in the Ironman open and judging by the comments made by other racers and teams, he was doing way better than expected. The bike was too stiffly sprung for his weight and was pounding him hard... what he really needed was a 250. I think he would have won with the right bike.

    Dawn came, Helli slept *maybe* an hour, and the race ended with him finishing 6th.... very impressive. Only a bent shift lever from a close call with a tree stump.

    The rider himself was exhausted...

    But after a quick splash-down, we packed the trailer and off they went to the Atlanta airport to get Helli on a plane for his return to SFO. Amazing.

    Bobby ran a super well-organized pit. I really had a great time, met some great folks and will never attend this event again. 24 hours is a really long time to be eating dust.

    Thanks for the good time, Bobby...

    Go soothingly through the grease mud, as there lurks the skid demon.
    __________________________________________________ __________________________________
    '67 Trail 90 || '86 R80 G/SPD+ || '97 F650ST || '00 1150 GS || '07 Xchallenge || '13 CB500X || '14 Grom

  2. #2
    Great story and pictures.
    What a ride!
    How many other riders did the 24 hr ride themselves?

  3. #3
    There were about 70 Ironpeople (yes, there were a couple of women solo riders), about 30 in the 250 class, 17 in the Ironman Open and the rest in Ironman 40+

    I honestly do not know how they do it.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Statdawg View Post
    Very impressive not only on the human level but the endurance of the motorcycle under prolonged conditions.
    I know where you can get a good deal on a dirt bike... only used for one day...

  5. #5
    Wow - fantastic report! Very cool of Atlanta BMW to support such an event. Thanks for taking us along Ian!!

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