Dave, without having taken this to a conference conversation with the Board/Committee, I can tell you that right now.....the riders will be allowed to leave from the Start Hotel...dropping their rider # poker chip into the barrel before they leave, at 4:30 am...at the earliest, and up to 7:00 am, at the latest.
Start will be 4:30 am at the earliest, and 7:00 am at the latest.
This was designed with the Lukeville, AZ border crossing in mind.
It is a 63 mile ride from the Start Hotel to the Lukeville, AZ. border crossing border.
The speed limits in Mexico are lower than what riders are used to north of the border. It should take approx. 60 minutes, to 90 minutes to get from the Start Hotel to the Lukeville, AZ. border crossing.
I know that last year, I was rider # 1 (as usual) to arrive at the Lukeville, AZ border crossing, and it took all of 1 hour for me, and my faithful followers to make that commute.
The border will not open early. And given the size of that border crossing, it is up to the border agents as to whether or not they open a second booth. In 2017.....when we were leaving Mexico, they DID open a second exit booth. I know that for a fact. So there were indeed TWO border crossing lanes opened at 6:00 am.
Anyone that leaves the Start Hotel at 4:30 am, and rides to the Lukeville, AZ border crossing, will have to wait for it to open, at 6:00 am. The wait is not that bad. When they opened the border exit gates at 6:00 am this past year, there was probably 30 riders in line, along with 4 cars/trucks.
Ultimately, here is the smart money choice:
Those that leave the Start Hotel at 4:30 am, will be in line waiting for the border crossing to open at 6:00 am.
Those that leave anytime between 5:00 am and 5:30 am, will arrive at the border crossing and find a line in front of them.
Those that wait to leave the Start Hotel....from 6:00 am up to 7:00 am, will most likely find no lines in front of them, or a very short line, as the other vehicles will have been processed and gone.
Tip: Leave the Start Hotel at 4:30 am, missing any breakfast at the Hotel, and be one of the first 30 bikes in line waiting for the border crossing to open at 6:00 am.........or.......
Have a nice breakfast at the Start Hotel, leave there after 6:00 am, and you should have smooth sailing through the border crossing.
Unlike the much larger border crossing that we have gone through 30+ years ago, i.e. Mexicali, where they have 6 to 10 lanes, and we were able to request one special lane to the far right that all the TFC riders zoomed through at 25 mph....without having to stop and show a passport......things have changed in the world of International Border Security, most especially between the USA and Mexico.
Final note, and polite reminder: This is not a race, nor an IBA sanctioned event.
Despite having 30+% of the motorcycles in the parking lot with an IBA license plate frame on their bikes, the Three Flags Classic has never awarded a prize for being first, at any Checkpoint, or at the Finish.
Keep asking the questions, folks...that is what I am here for, so don't hesitate to ask.