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n 1916, Floyd Clymer won the first Pikes Peak Hill Climb on an Excelsior motorcycle in 21:58.410. There were no motorcycles competing between the years of 1917 to 1953, 1956 to 1970, 1977 to 1979, and 1983 to 1990. An American has won every year except 2016, when French rider Bruno Langlois piloted his 2015 Kawasaki Z1000 to victory in 10:13.106. Santa Barbara’s Carlin Dunne has won it four times, most recently during the latest running, June 24, 2018. He was the first to go under 10 minutes, posting a 9:52.819 on a Ducati Multistrada 1200 S in 2012, when the course was fully paved to the top. The following year he took his third consecutive King of the Mountain, posting a 10:00.694 on a Lightning electric motorcycle. His record held until 2017, when Chris Fillmore crossed the line at 9:49:625 on his 2017 KTM Super Duke 1290 R. Ducati decided it wanted to reclaim the KOM with Dunne in 2018, and it did, despite the 35-year-old suffering with a head cold and altitude sickness the week leading up to the race. While his time of 9:59:102 didn’t eclipse the record, it maintained Dunne’s 100-percent victory percentage. I spoke with Dunne from his Santa Barbara home a week after coming down the mountain.

"I was dirt biking as a kid but my dad never pushed motorcycle racing on me. I think he knew the hardships that came along with it, as great as it is. I mean, you're risking life and limb, especially back when those guys were like cowboys, battered and broken without the miracle of modern medicine to save them. Motorcycle racers dying back then was just the norm. So naturally I wouldn't imagine you'd want that for your child, or the financial hardships that came along with it. He taught me how to ride when I was a little kid, just around the yard. But it wasn't until I'd met a kid down the street whose uncle was a motocross racer that I actually started racing motorcycles. I had this clapped-out XR75 that we had gotten for free when I was 5 years old. It had a broken crankshaft, and the uncle taught me how to rebuild the motor as a project together. I imagine it must have drove him crazy to teach a 5- or 6-year-old to reassemble an engine.

"The kids down the street had YZ80s and RM80s, so we started sneaking out and going to the racetrack. I didn't tell my parents; it was only after I got a little blip in Cycle News for winning an intermediate race on a XR75 that my dad actually figured out I was racing motocross, and things evolved from there.

"At about 13 he asked if I wanted to try roadracing; he was an instructor for the Willow Springs motorcycle club. So we ended up getting this junkyard Honda MT500 Ascot, basically an XR500 motor in kind of like a street flat-track frame. Pretty neat little bikes that there was a singles class out there was heavily contested, and that's what all these guys rode. There were SR500s, but my $600 junkyard machine was the bike to have, and that's how I started roadracing. At 13, I went through all the ranks, 600 Supersport, all that stuff, until my early 20s when I shattered my femur at Daytona. I put a stop on my roadrace career. To recover from that I started riding mountain bikes, just to get my leg strength back; I couldn't even walk but I could ride a bicycle.

"I'd been really good at BMX at a young age, and that led to a full career of downhill mountain-bike racing and freeriding. One of the reps for Kona bicycles just happened to be out at the dirt jumps one day and I was riding my entry-level bike, doing 360s and all sorts of tricks. I was a cocky 19-year-old, and he told me I was gonna kill myself on that junky bike; he loaned me one from fleet and that began a seven-year career as a professional mountain-bike racer, traveling the world on someone else's credit card. It was the coolest thing I've ever done; I felt like a rock star. All my sponsors were motorcycle companies like Bell, Fox, Alpinestars, so I would do double duty for those guys.

"When I wasn't racing mountain bikes and doing freeride events, I would race Baja and do other motocross stuff; whatever I could finagle, maybe a supermoto here and there. In 2007 I retired from mountain biking and invested in Ducati Santa Barbara. Ultimately that gave me stability and a day job that many professional motorcycle racers don't have, plus the freedom and kind of motivation to go out there and race, because what was good for me was good for the shop. I could still do what I was passionate about, but essentially not rely on it for a paycheck, which was the hardest part of being a professional racer. So I did everything; Baja, trials, anything with two wheels. I was fortunate to know people who were really good in all these different avenues of the sport. That's been my life for the past 10 years, getting to dabble in every aspect of motorcycling.

"Film has been a big thing my entire life. I went to film school and was the head of the film club in high school. I always envisioned myself working in the film industry, either as a second unit director doing stunts myself; anything where I could be creative at the onset, doing something different every day. And so I started to pursue those avenues a little bit more once I stopped racing full time and met Dana Brown and pumped out On Any Sunday Revisited, we did a short Yeti Coolers film called Lost and Found: Baja with my three closest friends, and we rode down from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas and documented the whole journey. That was kind of a test run for Dust to Glory 2, and what I had wanted to do and what I had put out there to these guys was to solo the entire SCORE series. To solo the Baja 250, solo the 500 and solo the Baja 1000. That's a daunting task with a massive investment of time, energy and money, and you've got to really want it because there's no glitz or glamour; you're lucky if anyone even says your name but you lay it on the line. That's probably one of the riskiest moves you could ever do on a motorcycle, and one of the most demanding. The Lost and Found: Baja movie was such an amazing trip, it really lit the fire inside to go back and try to solo this race and then make the second Dust to Glory movie.

"That's basically what we had been working on from 2014 till December of 2017. It was an arduous journey but we had a big theatrical release in December. We sold out 700 theaters across the country; Magnolia Pictures just bought the distribution rights to it, so hopefully it will make its way out there in the next couple of months. There are some hang-ups because some people were getting a little fussy, so it's taken about six months longer than it should have to actually see the light of day. But it's a real good picture.

"When they did the original Dust to Glory, Dana didn't really know the subplot, they really didn't know the people so they just went over the top and he took like three rockstars: Johnny Campbell, Robby Gordon, you know all these main guys that everybody knows, the Red Bull athletes, and then added a couple of substories, adding in some family and that's really his magic formula, finding the family attributes. He's able to ask the questions and be close with these people immediately so he can get these heartfelt answers.

"Over the years Dana has been in contact with a lot of these people and he's still kind of in touch with the whole Baja community. And so he's been able to mine out these deeper stories and so Dust to Glory 2 is kind of a story of the every man. You know, the family taking the second mortgage out on the house, the second and third generation raising families, the father and his daughter. The ordinary man doing extraordinary things on the weekend, but sitting in a cubicle during the week. It's a lot more heartfelt than the original. That's a little different. I'm stoked for it to come out; that's taken up a lot of my time. Then last October Ducati's Jason Chinnock and Claudio Domenicali both asked me if I'd be interested in racing Pikes Peak after Chris Fillmore had broken the record.

"My first year racing Pikes Peak was 2011, but I went there in 2009. Paul and Becca Livingston from Spider Grips were sponsoring Greg Tracy on a Ducati Hypermotard; back then the course was still paved and dirt, and the open class had just started. Ducati Santa Barbara had just built a really bitchin' Hypermotard and we got a little press online. Becca gave me a call one day at the shop and said, 'We're racing Pikes Peak; ever heard of it?' I'm a motorsports fan, but in all honesty I didn't really know what it was.

"Until you experience Pikes Peak you have no idea. And so they bought the bike, and asked if we could modify it to get more out of it for Greg. We really didn't do too much to clean things up, and coming from a dirt and street background, I looked at what the course entailed so I just made some adjustments. He rode it and liked it and they asked if I would join them at the race. I had no idea; it's so funny, in hindsight I was so oblivious to the grandeur of what this event is, and it's just a perfect example of how funny life can be. You know I kind of had my life figured out, then Pikes Peak changed it so dramatically, and it wasn't even on my radar at the time. I completely fell in love with it. And I was like: 'This is my race, this is me. This is what I do.' There's nothing else like it, absolutely nothing like it. So I was a glorified umbrella boy that year for Greg but I vowed to come back the following year and race.

"Due to financial and other reasons it just wasn't in the cards. I ended up by the skin of my teeth able to borrow the cash and pull the demo Multistrada off our showroom floor with minor modifications, and in 2011 went to race. That's how Pikes Peak started for me.

Dunne pinning it in on America's Mountain in 2012
Carlin Dunne pinning it in on America's Mountain in 2012, the year he piloted the Multistrada under 10 minutes. The record stood for five years.Ducati

"During practice the road conditions this year were actually pretty good. The course came in a little loose on the top but the course came in throughout the week. And on the last day of practice I beat the bottom sector time by three seconds. So I thought we might have something going on here with everyone trying to beat that record, riding so hard during practice and that bike was so good. I mean I was riding a bike that was being developed for a couple of years at that point. People were just expecting the record to fall, not realizing what it really takes to break a record you know; everything has to be perfect. A million things have to fall into place to make it work, not only because our machine has to be perfect, but I have to be perfect and the road conditions have to be perfect, which up there is a frickin' crapshoot like being in the dark with a blindfold on. Every day a storm is coming in, and we deal with microclimates; you never know what you're going to get.

"It was getting up to where we were running record sector times toward the end of the week and everyone was pretty optimistic about breaking records. On Friday afternoon after practice a giant storm came in and just completely saturated the race course. Heavy wind blew dirt, pollen—you name it—all over the course and then it snowed and hailed heavily up on top. All that stuff kind of melted away, but the course kind of had a skin on it, like the first day we rode there. For a smaller bike it's not a big deal because you're not as reliant on the grip. On a smaller middleweight bike you're not dealing with tire spin and pushing the front; you're pretty much on rails the entire time just trying to be as smooth as possible. On big bikes, like the Multistrada, you have major wheel spin and you're sliding the thing sideways and then you have these big inertia slides because you're carrying so much more weight that if you're not getting traction, that same lack of grip is keeping you from stopping. So here you are locking the front wheel of your locking wheel up in both tires you just basically locked and shattered and you're not slowing down.

Pikes Peak
The long wait for the racers to descend Pikes Peak after a long day of racing.Gaz Boulanger

"Waiting at the top of the mountain for hours after racing up for 10 minutes could be pretty tough at times. Out of the whole experience, which I love so much, sitting at the top of a mountain is the worst. Inevitably there are time delays and mechanicals; people go off course, whatever it is. And we don't get to go down until the whole thing is said and done. I mean you're sitting up there for sometimes six hours at 14,000 feet with less-than-spectacular food in a tiny cramped gift shop at the top of the mountain. And hopefully you won because that puts you in pretty good spirits. But you kind of run out of stuff to talk about after a while. Think about being crammed into a gift shop with some of the best car drivers and motorcycle racers in the world. And you're all equal!

"Am I thinking about going for a record-tying six victories or more? That's something I gotta do some soul searching for; like Baja, Pikes Peak demands so much from you emotionally and physically and financially. It's such an investment of yourself that you really have to want it so deep, because that's the difference. When you know all these guys are good, and they all can ride, everyone's done their homework, everyone's got good equipment. What's going to differentiate you from the others in wanting it more. Eating and sleeping it. The desire has to come alive and almost consume you. You don't need to be like that to just go ride it. But if you really want it, you need to grab it with everything you've got.

2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb
Dunne lays it on the line toward victory at the 2018 Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.Ducati

"Hopefully we'll get some more opportunity with Ducati. You know we have a good relationship and a phenomenal team there. Hopefully that materializes into something. But right now it's a little too early to tell. Would I want to get a couple more titles and put my name in the history books? That would be cool, and it would take a lot of hard work.

"When you talk about Pikes Peak that's been paved over the course of a decade, you have 15 to 20 different types of asphalt on a course that all react differently to weather and temperature changes. I mean it's highly complex trying to manage all the different tarmac up there, the different amounts of grip. You're reading the asphalt like a dirt bike rider reads moisture on the ground.

"You look at color sheen, you're hypersensitive to feel, every little bit tells you a story of what's coming up next. You don't know until you're already in it and if you didn't choose your corner speed properly that could be it.

"I think now that my head cold is going away, the weight of what we did is finally starting to dawn on me. It's really hard to describe. It's thick and tangible; you feel the tension, you feel the worry. You see the looks on people's faces while they're waiting for a time to show up. It takes its toll. It really does. And going back to what I was saying earlier to just think about doing it again. Yeah, I'll need to do some soul searching to see if I want it bad enough. How that affects the people around me. What are we doing? What's it for? Do I need to stroke my ego? Do I need to do this for somebody else? There's a whole process that you go through and then at the end of the day, when I'm an old man and I look back on it, how do I want to remember my life?"