From the beginning, we knew the day before race day would be mostly a waste. There is only one road up the mountain, and its the race course. Due to the logistics, if you want to watch the race live, you either need to camp on the mountain, or ride up when the gates open at 4am. If you camp, you need to be there between noon and 6 pm the day before. Since there aren’t any actual campgrounds on the mountain, if you are camping, and want one of the few level spots for your tent, or few power hook ups for your RV, you need to get there when the gates open to campers at noon. So we did. We set up our tent, and then basically had nothing to do all afternoon and evening. Except be entertained by the wide variety of hardware (lots of people watching a race means lots of interesting motorcycles, cars, pit bikes, RV’s, tents, etc.).
Our camping permit for Glen Cove, which is at about 11000 ft, is also where the brake check for those driving down the mountain is located. The mountain is still open to the public today. If you are a tourist driving to the peak, you are required part way down to stop for a brake check. The ranger has a pyrometer, which he points at the brake disk and caliper on your car to read the temperature. If it exceeds 300 F, you are asked to pull over and wait ten minutes for your brakes to cool down.
This was surprisingly entertaining to watch. I would say at least 1 out of every 8 drivers is completely ignorant that their brakes could fail. The brakes on one minivan were visibly smoking they were so hot (how can they not smell that?). Kevin and I agree that the park ranger probably saved those peoples lives by making them pull over. Those brakes surely would have failed before they reached the bottom. I can only assume that some people do not ever use engine braking, and have no idea what the lower gears are for. (Another reason I wish more people would learn to drive a manual). Riding the brakes down the mountain is just stupid. Kevin and I were mentally composing a pamphlet to hand to these people, explaining how and why to put their vehicles into a lower gear. I’m just glad the check is there, as there would undoubtedly be more accidents if it weren’t. (The record temp for brakes at that checkpoint was 700 F. 700 F! Apparently some foreign tourists just rode the brakes the whole way down. Yikes.)
That’s pretty much it for today. Other than talking with veteran spectators about the best locations to watch the race, we’re just looking forward to tomorrow, and trying to stay warm. I typed most of this while hiding inside the tent avoiding one of several small hailstorms.
This is the view from the tent when its not raining or hailing. While there are a lot of other tent campers, we’re the only moto-campers at this location. An RV would be ok tonight.
08/11/2012 – ? miles. Oops. I forgot to record the odometer today. Probably around 90 miles or so.