Death Valley scooter race takes off from Barstow

2012-11-26 10:03:09

BARSTOW• Seven motor scooter enthusiasts embarked on a 375-mile round-trip race through Death Valley that began and ended in Barstow Sunday morning.

Hell’s Loop T.T. X-Treme Endurance Race, sanctioned and sponsored by the Motor Scooter Land Speed Federation, is billed as the only scooter endurance race of its kind in the United States.

Competitors began at the Motel 6 on Yucca Avenue and rode the California State Route 190 as far as Shoshone, before returning to Motel 6 to finish.

Along the way, they had to stop at one of any handful of checkpoints and mail a postcard bearing the Hell’s Loop T.T. logo to the MSLSF offices in San Diego.

Event organizer, Alan Spears, the president and CEO of the MSLSF, grew up and practiced law in San Bernardino. The idea for the race was born from an effort to mimic the challenge of racing he saw in Europe, where riders would go from sea level to the mountains.

“Scooters need to be gutted for certain altitudes,” Spears said. “Going from desert terrain to mountain terrain, a non-stock engine will need to operate at all kinds of altitudes.”

Spears also noted that simply getting a scooter gassed up could provide another element of difficulty for participants.

“It isn’t the size and power of the scooter, its the logistics — how you plan your fuel stops — you gotta get from point A to point B.”

The event, which Spears said attracted riders through social media and word of mouth, featured two women.

One of the women, Linda Hurley, is in her 60s and has been riding scooters for five years. She found Spears and his group through and rode in the inaugural race last year as well.

Mike Smith, 65, participated for the first time after finding event details online just three weeks ago. He is a veteran of three cannonball rallies and has logged 104,000 miles on his Honda Helix.

Before the race he didn’t seem concerned with winning.

“Today’s ride, through Death Valley and Panama Junction, should be spectacular,” he said. “No traffic, beautiful weather and great scenery.”

Approximately 300 hours went into preparation for the event, according to Spears, which included blogging, ordering trophies, souvenirs and gifts for participants, securing insurance and getting riders entered.

Entry fees were $99 per person and 10 percent of the money collected will be donated to the Wounded Warrior Project.

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