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Motorcycles Riding The Big Bear Run Dual Sport Event

21:31  03 august  2020
21:31  03 august  2020 Source:   dirtrider.com

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The Big Bear Trail Riders Association has been around since the 1980s, exploring the dirt roads and single-track trails in the heart of Southern California’s San Bernardino National Forest. Their biggest event of the year is the Big Bear Run dual sport ride, which is commonly referred to as the Big Bear 200 and is part of the Beta AMA National Dual Sport series. With the Italian manufacturer’s title sponsorship, individuals have the chance to win a new Beta motorcycle from the series sweepstakes; riders are automatically entered with one entry for each event in which they register and attend.

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a group of people on a motorcycle in a parking lot: Bikes staged for the start of the Big Bear Run dual sport ride on Saturday morning. © Provided by Dirt Rider Bikes staged for the start of the Big Bear Run dual sport ride on Saturday morning. a person riding on the back of a motorcycle: Patton was the first finisher of the day. © Allan Brown Patton was the first finisher of the day.

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The Big Bear Run is not just your average dual sport ride. For 2020, it featured four different courses with only one of them—the hard loop—earning the participant a finisher’s plaque. The other three loops are referred to as advanced easy, easy, and adventure. The hard loop is normally just over 200 miles and will take the most skilled riders at least eight hours to complete. On average, only about 30 percent of the participants who attempt the hard loop complete the full course without missing any checkpoints. The advanced easy and easy courses are similar, but the advanced easy adds in a few extra technical sections and distance. This year, the advanced easy was about 130 miles. The adventure course was more of a blacktop road mixed with some dirt roads to cover a distance of about 160 miles.

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a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Riders waiting to receive their start checkpoint ticket at 6 a.m. © Provided by Dirt Rider Riders waiting to receive their start checkpoint ticket at 6 a.m.

The event kicks off late Friday afternoon with sign-up and a sponsor product expo in the Big Bear Lake Convention Center parking lot. This year, manufacturers like KTM and Honda had small displays along with aftermarket companies such as FMF, Dunlop, Yoshimura, MotoZ, IMS, and Fox Racing, just to name a few. There were also some motorcycle performance service shops like Rottweiler Performance and San Diego Powerhouse in attendance helping riders with bike setup, GPS mounts, mounting tires, and maybe having that one item you forgot at home.

Event organizers have large maps on display to review so that everyone had an idea of what to expect on each course. This is a GPS-only event—no roll charts. However, you don’t need to have a fancy GPS to participate as most smartphones are capable of getting the job done. If you are planning on using your smartphone, the Big Bear Trail Riders suggests using the Gaia GPS app, which is free and fairly easy to run. After you sign up, you are given the GPS routes based on what course you have chosen. You can review the course and plan your ride the night before. Gas stops were planned into the ride, so there was no need for a chase vehicle or pit crew. What isn’t disclosed is where the required checkpoints on the hard loop are located; a measure taken to prevent riders from finding shortcuts around difficult sections.

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a group of people standing around a motorcycle: Brandon Patton makes his way onto the course. © Provided by Dirt Rider Brandon Patton makes his way onto the course.

For the die-hard individuals, riding starts at 6 a.m. on Saturday. Riders begin to line up at 5:30 a.m. to be first in line to get their start checkpoint ticket. Nobody gets to start before 6 a.m. Some wait until the course clears out and don’t start until 7 a.m. or even 8 a.m. Since this event is typically in late June, you either want to be in the very front or wait until later to begin as dust can be a serious issue on the first technical section.

a group of people on a motorcycle in a parking lot: Bikes staged for the start of the Big Bear Run dual sport ride on Saturday morning. © Allan Brown Bikes staged for the start of the Big Bear Run dual sport ride on Saturday morning.

I used this year’s Big Bear Run as an opportunity to test the 2020 KTM 390 Adventure, riding the advanced easy loop. However, I have ridden the hard loop plenty of times in years past on a dual sport bike and want to give you, the reader, an overview of what it’s like to ride the event’s most challenging route. Without further ado, here’s what you can expect if you take on the hard loop at the Big Bear 200.

Riding The Hard Loop

a group of people riding on the back of a motorcycle: Eventual hard loop runner-up finisher Jeremy Maul heading out. © Provided by Dirt Rider Eventual hard loop runner-up finisher Jeremy Maul heading out.

From the start at the convention center to less than 4 miles into the 200 miles you’re going to cover, you hit the first separator—Gold Mountain. This is a well-known rocky jeep road that heads up into the forest. It starts out easy and gradually becomes more difficult. Additionally, there is dust from the riders in front of you and, for the most part, you’re heading east uphill into the morning sunrise so visibility sometimes gets down to almost zero. In a distance of only a few miles, you climb 1,500 feet.

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After dropping down the back side of Gold Mountain, assuming you didn’t crash and wreck your bike on one of the many rock ledges, you make a right turn and navigate through the desert on faster, flowing two-track with some blacktop roads. It’s a longer section that brings you back into the town of Big Bear for your first gas stop.

a person sitting on a motorcycle: Dennis Stapleton earned his first finisher’s plaque. © Provided by Dirt Rider Dennis Stapleton earned his first finisher’s plaque.

Once you fuel up your bike and hopefully your body as well, the Big Bear Trail Riders thought it would be fun to send everyone back up Gold Mountain a second time. After once again conquering Gold Mountain, you drop down the back side and this time turn left to head across some challenging GPS navigation sections that lead you into a section called Little Redonda. This is a shorter, medium difficulty trail up and over a mountain, popping you out at Big Pine Flat Family Campground. From there, the course takes you down into more desert on faster, flowing fire roads. This is a good time to relax and regroup for the upcoming fun section known as Devils Hole.

The Devils Hole trail is a very fun, 5-mile single-track trail that snakes its way over a smaller mountain and down the side of the canyon. While you can go as fast as you wish on this trail, the penalty of sliding down off the side of it can easily end your day. The real fun part comes at the end of the trail where you have to cross Devils Hole. This is roughly a 20-foot creek crossing with fast-moving water. There are rocks everywhere and the water can easily be more than footpeg deep in June. The brave ones can ride through the creek without getting wet and should be okay, but for some, the smart decision is to walk your bike through. The slightest tip-over will, without a doubt, submerge your bike in the creek.

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a person riding on the back of a motorcycle: Patton was the first finisher of the day. © Provided by Dirt Rider Patton was the first finisher of the day.

After successfully crossing Devils Hole, you are sent on some two-track and dirt roads that lead you into the town of Lake Arrowhead for a second gas stop. From there, you make your way back onto more dirt roads toward a challenging section called Redonda Ridge, also known as Malcolm Smith Trail. An approximately 9-mile single-track trail that links Crab Flats Family Campground to Big Pine Flat Family Campground, it is long with some whooped-out sections that lead into some serious rocky uphill and downhill sections. It too is the kind of trail you can go as fast as you wish, but the penalty for making a mistake or crashing could be the end of your day—again. If you are not beginning to feel tired when you start Redonda Ridge, you will certainly feel fatigued at the end.

Back on some dirt roads, you then head back down into the desert toward White Mountain. While it’s a dirt road the whole way up, White Mountain is not as easy as it sounds. The road becomes increasingly rocky as you gain elevation, beginning with what is not all that noticeable to baseball-to-softball-sized rocks. I am not talking about just a few rocks here and there; I am saying the road is paved with baseball-sized rocks all the way across. It all culminates with a very steep climb with even bigger rocks. If this road doesn’t knock your fillings out, nothing will.

Patton used a Dunlop D803GP rear trials tire for the event. The middle tread was completely worn down by the end of the 200-mile ride. © Provided by Dirt Rider Patton used a Dunlop D803GP rear trials tire for the event. The middle tread was completely worn down by the end of the 200-mile ride.

Down the back side of White Mountain entails more jeep roads leading into John Bull Trail. For the most part, this direction is mostly downhill and could be considered a very fun, advanced-level trail. Your biggest danger is the jeeps working their way up, as these are all open, public-use roads.

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You then are led back into Big Bear for the third and final gas stop. Fueling your body at this point is crucial as the best is yet to come. As you leave town, you once again travel on some blacktop to dirt roads and start to feel like this is going to be okay. At about 165 miles in, well past the halfway point and through some of the most challenging trails the San Bernardino Mountains have to offer, you might even begin to feel confident that you are going to make it to the finish.

a motorcycle parked in a parking lot: Honda CRF450Ls swept the podium with Patton (first), Maul (second), and Jason Haines (third). © Provided by Dirt Rider Honda CRF450Ls swept the podium with Patton (first), Maul (second), and Jason Haines (third).

After a short cruise down state Route 38, the GPS signals you to turn left onto a small, rocky road. At first, it seems like just another rocky road with some switchbacks heading up the mountain—until you see the dust cloud in the distance. You approach a checkpoint with an official who explains you are at 38 Special. This is a steep grade with rocks the size of bowling balls—not round ones, but jagged, pointy rocks that have been slammed together over many years. The goal is to ride up the roughly quarter-mile hill, find the box with the tickets that could be anywhere along the trail after the halfway point, and ride back down to present the ticket to the checkpoint official and receive your checkpoint ticket. It averages a 20 percent grade with some sections above 30 percent. The fun part is there are riders going in both directions pinballing everywhere. This is by far the most challenging section of the entire day.

Assuming you completed 38 Special and your heart rate is back down below 200 bpm, you can begin the home stretch. The last 25 miles or so are mostly dirt roads leading you up Clarks Grade and into some fun single-track. You pop back out onto blacktop roads and realize you’re in sight of the checkers. At that point, you pick up your last checkpoint ticket and begin to head to the pit area. Dusty, exhausted, and probably bruised and blistered, you turn back into the convention center parking lot. The Big Bear Trail Riders team is there welcoming you with water and smiles. You hand in all your checkpoint tickets and anxiously wait as they are counted. The scorekeepers then give you your finisher’s plaque (assuming you didn’t miss any checkpoints), a big thumbs-up, and it’s over.

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a person sitting on a motorcycle: Dennis Stapleton earned his first finisher’s plaque. © Provided by Dirt Rider Dennis Stapleton earned his first finisher’s plaque.

At that point, you head back to your truck, van, motorhome, or whatever type of vehicle you use as home base for the event and get cleaned up. As good of a job everyone does designing this fun course for multiple levels of riders, they do just as good of a job with the dinner and awards ceremony. Missing that would be similar to cake without the icing.

Try Again Next Year

a motorcycle parked on the side of a dirt road: There is no shortage of epic views on all four routes of the Big Bear Run dual sport ride. We used this year’s event as an opportunity to test the 2020 KTM 390 Adventure. © Provided by Dirt Rider There is no shortage of epic views on all four routes of the Big Bear Run dual sport ride. We used this year’s event as an opportunity to test the 2020 KTM 390 Adventure.

Overall, it is a rewarding feeling for those who finish successfully, reaching every checkpoint on time. For those who spend the entire day riding some of the most challenging trails the San Bernardino National Forest has to offer and not finish is rough. Luckily, the Big Bear Trail Riders have been doing this for a long time, so there’s always next year. I am surely looking forward to the 27th annual Big Bear Run; I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Riders waiting to receive their start checkpoint ticket at 6 a.m. © Allan Brown Riders waiting to receive their start checkpoint ticket at 6 a.m.

2020 Big Bear Run Hard Loop Finishers

a group of people standing around a motorcycle: Brandon Patton makes his way onto the course. © Allan Brown Brandon Patton makes his way onto the course.

Position Rider Number
1 Brandon Patton 165
2 Jeremy Maul 131
3 Jason Haines 232
4 Kevin Dejongh 51
5 Todd Snieder 197
6 Thomas Dunn 227
7 Justin Morgan 148
8 Jaime Huerta 95
9 Andrew Cecere 262
10 Joel Leighton 234
11 Andy McNally 132
12 Tyler Nicholson 155
13 Dennis Stapleton 199
14 Jason Kott 116
15 Eric Hanson 230
16 Robert Youngs 226
17 Josh Schaecher 188
18 Brad Pace 253
19 Ben Meza 141
20 Brendon Crow 41
21 Cody Marion 130
22 Allen Morales 147
23 Chad Nielson 156
24 Alex Mansfield 128
25 Daryl Tarpey 207
26 Brandon Brewer 26
27 Brett Kohl 113
28 Braden Banfer 14
29 Mike Colvin 263
30 Brian Daigneaul 41
31 Jason Ingerswoll 96
32 Trevor Mann 127
33 Alex Gledhill 75
34 Trent Wilson 223
35 Nathan Sterbentz 202
36 Sean White 259
37 Dave Redmond 174
38 Aaron Pfister 168
39 Ryan Brockbank 27
40 Krister Terito 228
41 Chris Rice 177
42 Derek Winship 225
43 Terry Shedden 190
44 Drew Reid 175
45 Paul Medina 136
46 Christ Turk 210
47 Paul Helm 90
48 Mike Froelich 70
49 Parker Arnold 269
50 Alan Foster 69
51 Mike Thompson 209
52 Matt Stratton 203
53 Jeremy Griffin 155
54 Korey Kaup 107
55 Kevin and Michelle Busch 34
56 Marty Haak 84
57 Jeremy Kilborn 109
58 Neale Aulakh 12
59 Rudy Henderson 285
60 Keith Higgins 270

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