Monday, December 7, 2015

Father and Son Win the 2015 Baja 1000 in 25h-39min-28sec

Father and Son Win the 2015 Baja 1000 in 25 hours  39 minutes and 28 seconds

In gear wiith bikeIt was hours after sunset and somewhere in a remote section of Baja California that the front tire of the 2009 Honda CRF450X trail bike that 20-year-old Tanner Janesky was riding hit a rock, which instantly slammed the wheel into another rock. The impact dislodged the front brake caliper, leaving it dangling by the brake line and potentially stranding him in the pitch black desert 35 miles from assistance.
“He thought we were done,” said Tanner’s father, Larry Janesky, recalling the mishap that nearly ended their chances of finishing the grueling Baja 1000 off-road race in Mexico last month. However, Tanner kept his wits. After first trying to extract some tough fiber strands from the leaf of an agave, he ripped the sleeves off of the jersey he was wearing, used strips of material to tie up the brake assembly, and nursed the damaged bike to the next stop on the route.
Larry Janesky, left, and his son Tanner
“He used to watch ‘Survivorman’ and he’s really good with tools,” said the 51-year-old Janesky of his son’s race-saving aplomb. Splitting the riding, the father and son team from Middlebury not only finished the Baja 1000, but they won their division in their first attempt. They beat nine other competing teams. Only five of the 10 teams that entered in the Sportsman Motorcycle category even finished.
The Baja 1000 also had another competitor from Connecticut – Tyler Gagnon of Sterling. Marc Allard did a story about his adventures for the “Norwich Bulletin.”
While many fathers and sons may be content to toss a football in the backyard, the Janeskys are more daring. “We’re both avid riders. We’re both expert riders. This is what we love to do,” said Janesky by phone earlier this week.
The idea of competing in the 48th Baja 1000 dawned of them during an earlier recreational riding trip to Baja California. “Tanner wanted to do it and I followed right behind him. We’re always up for challenge. We believe in our abilities,” said Janesky, who is CEO of Basement Systems, Inc. in Seymour.
The race begins and ends in Ensenada, Mexico, and runs from just past sunrise one day to after sunrise the next. This year’s race began on Nov. 20 and, as usual, covered a variety of treacherous terrain. In preparation for the race, the Janeskys pre-ran 90 percent of the course over four days and sussed out three particular challenges.
“The terrain is constantly changing over 822 miles. Silt was the worst. I don’t mean just dusty ground. I mean 18 inches deep of basically baby powder.  It sucks you right in. It comes up over the front fender. All you can do is to keep going and get out of it,” said Janesky.
“The second hardest terrain is rocks. The course is over rocks – as big as milk crates. There’s no sand or dirt. It’s brutal on the tires and on you. The third worst is the whoops, waves in the sand three-feet deep. They’re very tough on the body,” he said.
Larry Janesky rides through some whoops during Baja 1000 practice
Janesky explained that while the whoops in motocross competition only comprise a short portion of the race course, in the Baja 1000 “there’s 110 miles of whoops in a row. It’s just beyond comprehension.” Hitting them at 3 a.m. makes them even more difficult because the race has already been running for nine hours.
Their game plan going into the Baja 1000 was for Larry to start the race and for Tanner to finish it. They’d ride alternating legs and split the whoops. Unlike other teams, which had five or six riders, which allowed each rider to only ride one leg, it was just father and son riding for Janesky Racing. “We were a two-man team so we didn’t have fresh riders all the time. That’s a big disadvantage,” Janesky noted.
Tanner’s brake problem came with nearly 400 miles to go. Their mechanic pilfered a brake assembly from a spare bike and had the Honda race worthy again in 15 minutes. By this time it was 10 p.m. and Janesky, who was due up in the saddle, had already been up for 18 hours. There were three other teams in their class ahead of them and they were 45 minutes behind the leader.
Janesky said he had a realistic goal in entering the Baja 1000. “I just wanted to finish,” he said, acknowledging that it does sound “a bit uncompetitive” for any racer to not declare victory the target. “As the race progressed, it became clear we were actually in the hunt to win it. It wasn’t until during the race that we changed our goal to winning from finishing.”
Tanner Janesky, left and Larry Janesky receive their Baja 1000 medals 
And win they did in a time of 25 hours, 39 minutes and 28 seconds, averaging 32.01 miles per hour. The runner-up was more than 36 minutes behind.
What was the biggest surprise for Janesky in running the Baja 1000? “Obviously, that we won the toughest race in the world in our class. That’s still sinking in,” he said.
Janesky did recall some bad moments in his life that helped him face the Baja 1000 challenge. In July 2014, his family’s 12,000-square-foot mansion in Middlebury burned to the ground, a year after a two-story barn he owned in Newtown suffered an identical fate. A week after the house fire, his father died.
Family hug at the finish
“After battling the adversity, no matter what happens in life, you can deal with it. The Baja 1000 was just another example of that happening in my life,” Janesky said. And the end result was much more pleasurable.
“The funny thing is I wasn’t sore after the race. It was just a relief that we had finished and had won. My body didn’t protest at all after all that,” he said.
Does this mean a return to Mexico in 2016? “I would love to do it again,” Janesky said. “Next year it may be longer – 1,200 miles.”
With bike
Tanner Janesky, left, and father Larry
Photos supplied by Larry Janesky(Originally published in the “Republican-American” on Dec. 5, 2015.)Father, Son From Conneticut Win the Baja 1000