Dirt Donkey's Do Baja - 2011 (Feb 14-March 2nd)
A few months ago the idea was brought up by some local guys I've rode with a few times dual sporting. At first, being the way I am, I figured it's another dream that'll never happen. I'm usually very reserved and think of reasons why I can't go, rather then why I should. Reasons like time off work, money, and dog came to mind. I went home that night and started researching Baja a bit. Reading ride reports and checking out what pictures I could find. I instantly found myself overwhelmed with excitement about such a trip. I've always wanted to do big adventure trips, but lacked the bike, time off, and money. My goal was to always ride to South America.. more on that later...
I have experience doing motorcycle trips. Since I started riding, I've done at least one trip west and south for the last 11 years on a sport bike. Not ideal, but you make do with what you have. I'll never forget the adventures and riding I've done on those trips and will not regret them one bit. This past summer was the first year I wasn't given the chance to get away... and so it started.
It just so happened I bought The Baja Bike a few months earlier. A lightly used 2003 XR650R. Hoping to make it into a local adventure/dual sport bike I found myself making lots of modifications and adjustments to it. The bike is a stellar plateform, but needs a few items addressed. One thing leads into another, but overall, a great bike.
Here it is pictured. I could try listing all the things I've done to it, but maybe I'll leave that to later. It doesn't appear to be much, but it adds up. This was all pre-baja discussions:
Jumping ahead, here I am, at work, waiting. Bike is ready to go and sets off this Sunday morning for a trip to California for the King of Hammers race, then to meet me at the airport as I fly into Yuma, Arizona on the 13th. 1/2 day for a test ride, troubleshoot, and fix any issues I find. We leave the morning of the 14th.
I appologize for the paragraphs. I'll try to fix afterwards. Copy and pasting from another forum and the posting keeps compressing the spaces.
Little bit about "The Plan".
We've rented a house in Cabo San Lucas for three days. Duration of trip is 14 days. That means we have six days riding to get down there, and six days riding to get back.
Total distance? Estimated at approx 4000 km's. That makes for some long, long days in the saddle and some very tender hind meat. ~330km of off-road riding per day.
For luggage we are almost all running Giant Loop Coyote Bags. I had talked to the Giant Loop Distributor in Canada and convinced Blackfoot to carry the line. We were the first to buy three bags off them (~$1,100) Estimated volume is around 30+liters. Let me tell you, there is only so much you can stuff inside these things. Normally I'm pretty good at packing efficiency. I have all my gear in my bag, with a fender tube on the front, and additional dry bag for shoes and MSR tent. MSR fuel bottles strap to the outside in case they leak. I will also be carrying 5 liters of water in my Osprey hydration pack. I think it's the Raven 14?
For bike prep I did the following:
- Changed oil
- Checked valves
- Added wide pegs (DRC = shat)
- 35 w HID headlight in the Trailtech 8" race light,
- 12v plug to charge helmet cam,
- Garmin Oregon GPS,
- Extra clutch cable. 2 throttle cables already.
- Extra kicker, and gear shift lever (thanks Rider Eh!)
- Spare levers.
- Complete suspension overhaul. New springs and valving front and rear with fresh oil,
- Maxxis Desert IT's. Guys I'm going with have decent tread left riding locally after 4800 kms (thanks Motokuhl!)
- The other typical bike maintenance. Bearings, greasing, loctite, carb adjustments, etc, etc.
I have already added a Clarke 4.3 Gallon tank to the beast for dual sporting. I will also be carrying an additional 2 liters of fuel in MSR bottles. This should give me a 230-250+ km range. Some say, still too short for Baja. I guess we'll find out. Thankfully some of the other bikes coming are better on fuel, and have decently large tanks to share fuel.
I'll try to list everything done to the bike up until now:
- Trailtech 8" race light
- 35 HID bulb,
- Protaper bars
- Rox risers (1.5" up and 1.5" forward)
- Revalved and re-sprung suspension front and rear,
- Maxxis IT tires,
- 12v outlet,
- Heated grips,
- Moose hand guards (thanks Motokuhl!)
- Skid plate,
- Skid plate aluminum tool box,
- My own dual sport kit with Trailtech capacitor, Trailtech regulator/rectifier, and LED signals,
- Rewound my stator myself to get around 175-200w,
- DRC LED tailight with brake feature
- DRC wide foot pegs (shatty),
- wear protection on coil plug wire,
- Clarke 4.3 gallon natural tank,
- Inline fuel filter,
- Ram mounted Garmin GPS,
- Unabiker rad guards,
I will be riding with two DRZ's, a WR450, and a WR250R. Similarly equipped for long distance desert riding.
I get asked a lot about a few things. Mostly the following:
1) Are you having support in a chase truck?
What fun would that be?
2) Aren't you worried about what's going on in Mexico?
No. Not the least bit. In general Mexicans are extremely friendly people.
3) Do you speak Spanish?
No. This worries me a bit, but I'm sure we can work out the basics. Food, gasolina, aqua? Some other stuff is doctora, etc. Who knows if those are spelt correctly.
4) What happens if something breaks down?
That's the adventure part. It will happen. Tires can be patched and tubes installed. We're packing enough tools to mostly disassemble anything minor on our bikes. At the end of the day, we're probably going to one of the best places for if something happens, the local people are most likely able to fix it. That's what Mexican's do. They don't go out and quickly buy the expensive anodized orange parts.. That being said, we aren't going through very populated areas, often not even seeing villages for 100's of km's, let alone towns. Adventure.
So here's the trusty steed. All packed and ready to roll. I load up tomorrow and wish it farewell until I'll see it one weeks time.
View from the cockpit:
I sit here reminiscing about the trip trying to think of a witty title for the trip. My mind scrolls through ideas, but I can’t settle on one. This isn’t because the trip wasn’t good. In fact it was fantastic; however not one title could contain the experience I had while riding through Baja. For this reason, we’ll leave it at Baja – 2011.
So by now you know what was required pre-trip. Reading it over it doesn’t sound like nearly the work it was, but you get the idea. Lets move on to the good stuff. How the trip started.
Woke up at the ripe hour of 3AM. Sleepiness wasn’t a factor because I was on holidays and stoked to ride in the dead of winter. I grabbed my gear and started the truck. Once at the airport I ran into Dwayne who purchased the same flight tickets to keep things simple.
Flight was uneventful and drastically boring. Milling over a dirt bike and snowboard magazine I vowed to never buy another magazine again. I’m way too cheap to pay 5-8$ to leaf through crappy ads and poor reading material. What a let down.
Time crawled by and we eventually landed in Yuma, AZ. Walking off the plan onto the tarmac was like a breath of fresh air, mind less the diesel and jet fuel exhaust. The warm air and beaming sun made the boring flight soon forgotten.
It was here when we met the rest of the gang who was so kind to pick us up from the airport. That being said our stay in Yuma was limited. Here is about all you need to know:
- Frozen yogurt shops are a good idea,
- Yuma is filled with old people. Like lots of old people.
- Americans are rude.
- Yuma’s unemployment rate is 27%. It didn’t show.
Ok. So now you know Yuma. Onto the more important stuff. We soon loaded our gear onto the bikes and suited up for a test ride. I’ve never ridden sand before so I was stoked, yet worried.
Dion lead us on a test ride to start. There are riding areas just on the outskirts of town. We blasted down the road aways passing quads and cruisors dawning helmetless pilots. I can’t help but wonder what their thinking, other then them wondering who are these retards wearing full gear on a warm day..
We pull off the highway and I get my first taste of sand. Everybody said it’s similar to snow. Lean back, keep on the gas, and skip the brakes. Easy. We bailed off the highway at speed and soon I was in a sink or swim scenario. We’re doing around 60-75 entering a modestly whooped out sand road. What a hoot! Luckly I remember how to swim and made out ok. The last thing I wanted to do was bail before the trip, and with a highway traffic as an audience.
We rip over to the local riding area and find more KWADS and the like riding carelessly through sand hills and desert type terrain. Dwyane was nearly missed by a kwad rider right off the start. I wonder to myself how the kwad rider would make out in that accident without a skid lid…
The rest of the afternoon was spent putting around the sand hills and up some mountain trail which was a good test of skill and bike set-up. All was well and we decided to head back to BS with the rest of the gang.
The next morning we awoke from our hotels, grabbed some grub, and went to suit up. In traditional fashion, this took way longer then it should. We were soon in a rush to get ready and make some miles. The Mexican border was waiting..
After some milling around, we were finally on the highway heading to Algadones border crossing. Temperature was already warming but we were all excited to get there and get this trip on the go. Once at the border we got to the gate, stopped, and after a couple seconds the magical light turned green and the arm lifted. No border guards or people to be seen. We were thankful and scurried into Mexico. Here we had to stop and get our temporary visa permit. This was a delightful process. It involved standing around in a hot office then walking over to the bank that was donning a teenage boy holding an assault rifle. We discovered the bank had one teller which resulted with us sweating our ass’s off in the sun, then walking back and having it stamped by the authorities. Overall, very simple but when you see Mexicans hiding in the shade you know it’s pretty damn warm already.
After what seemed like eternity, we were off! We weren’t sure of our route through town, but thankfully navigation can be fairly simple consider you take whatever road looks most well used. Lets call it Mexican nagivation.
I’d just like to comment on the crossing itself. Whenever going over borders it always amazes me how things can change so drastically crossing an imaginary line. Well, in this case a huge fence, but you get the idea. Once you step into Mexico, it’s completely different then anywhere in the states, or Canada for that matter.
The first day was mostly uneventful. We were tourists taking in the sights and smells. Oh! And what smells you find on the highways of Mexico. Dead animals, the common stench of burning garbage, and a heavy hanging odour of oil burning cars. Ahhh, Mexico, you just wouldn’t be the same without the smell.
We head just south of Mexicalli, then join onto the highway that’ll take us to San Falipe. On this highway you find lots of straight slab with the odd turn thrown in for good measure. It’s flat. Really flat. You cross the salt flats and that’s all you see in the eastern direction. Sandy clay that goes on forever and meets the blue sky.
Malcolm showing us some riding skill and scenery:
My bike parked by some scenery other then posted above. It was rare, but I enjoyed both types:
We get to San Falipe and find Rice and Beans to which we lunch. Our first taste of the Mexican cuisine. At the time we thought it was amazing, but later found to be not-so-great. Much better could be found in the smaller towns of Baja.
Some of our food:
Back on the bikes we’re heading south and looking for some adventure. For most, San Falipe is the starting point. From here on in, it’s Baja. Less Mexico, and more of that special spice that only Baja has.
Riding west of San Falipe:
Heading south of town we decided to take a sand road. On Google maps it looks shorter then the highway, and hey, it’s not the highway. Sounds good right?
Well it started off good, and then we hit a dead end. No problem, take another and road back north, join another road going west, and then head south again. Bingo. Rolling down the sand road putting my newly found sand skills to the test. I was railing the whoops and doing wheelies over sections. What a blast. All was going well until we found real whoops. These aren’t normal bike whoops. There is no mistaking bike whoops for “real” whoops. Bike whoops are fun and relatively easy. Whoops made by 700 HP Baja Trophy trucks aren’t bike whoops. We were soon in it quite latterly up to our necks. We’re talking 3-5 ft deep whoops spread far enough apart that wheelieing them is dangerous, and riding them is painful and very tiring. If this wasn’t fun enough, the soil type was either deep sand, or worse, deep pea gravel with the odd fixed rock in there. After about 10 km’s of this we decided to cut ties and head back to the highway. We weren’t making good time and we what time we had left was dwindling quickly.
No picture of the "real" whoops, but here is a pic of my bike taken when I was letting the dust settle:
Back at the highway we changed goggle lenses (We got REAL good at doing this), and busted down the highway. The sun was setting and we had miles to make. Our goals were set on Puertecitos
About now I should discuss some of the rules riders always stand by in Baja. Well, I could review a few others, but the main one was:
DO NOT RIDE AT NIGHT IN MEXICO.
We were all aware of this from our pre-trip research.
So droning down the highway taking in the view of the setting sun, it was clear, on day #1, we were going to break the golden rule of Mexico. We were full understanding of this and pushed on.
Now, I could understand other’s concerns. Riding at night isn’t safe at the best of times. Riding at night in a foreign country not known for its signage and road upkeep? In either event, I sure felt good knowing I brought the sun with me. That 8” race light may look silly to some, but you flick that HID on and it instantly warms the soul, and probably a few road side donkey’s and cows. I love it!
So busting ass down the highway with the sun setting. Another thing you learn in Baja is the sun doesn’t set for long. It’s setting, and then it’s black. Just like that. We’re now riding down a perfectly smooth highway discovering their “rock falling” signs should be taken with more then a grain of salt. Normally there is rock on the highway, and sometimes a lot of it! Not confidence inspiring when you are breaking the golden rule.
Half hour later, rolling down the dark road and listening to my engine drone I see a tire in the middle of the road. I barely get the chance to think to myself that “this is odd” when the perfectly smooth slab pavement ends and it drops you down onto a beat up rough section of “gravel road”. Whoa!
Some more explaining of Baja. Gravel roads aren’t what they are here. Most of the roads are indeed gravel or sand, but hidden in such roads are either extremely sharp, or big rocks firmly planted in the ground. On a motorcycle, a sure threat to pinch flats. Always remain on your toes when riding “gravel” roads down here. If that’s not enough, the abundant road signs on the highways don’t make it to the gravel roads. There are no signs. If you are lucky there is a tire stuck in a drainage rut, or a tire to notify you of either a huge hole, or an abrupt end of the road. In Baja, a drainage rut can be large enough to swallow a bike and rider with ease. I’ve seen a few that had to be over 7’ deep.
We roll into the entrance of Puertecitos and stop for some discussion. We passed a truck unloading supplies in what appeared to be a small convience store 200 meters back. It was discussed that they think the town was just over the hill, and I respond I think we’re in the town. Nobody believes me because there wasn’t a light to be found. Sure enough, driving back to the guys unloading the truck assured that we were, indeed in Puertecitos and that there are no hotels, only camping. Being that we had a rather long day and it was late we decided we wanted a hotel. This left us with one option, push on for another 40 miles to Bay of L.A where situated is the hotel by the name of Alfonsinia’s. A well known establishment for motorcycle and offroad enthusiasts.
Keeping the story short, after a grueling ride in the dark we surpassed the rough gravel road and made it close to our destination. I was leading at this point and saw what appeared to be a flashlight waving in the distance. I figured that was rather odd. As I neared it turned out to be a military checkpoint. Now, I don’t know if it’s just me, but I felt no issues regarding safety or my well-being. I don’t know if that was my general regard to any Mexican, but they have proven over and over to be the nicest people. I roll up to the young military soldier and explain the situation the best I can. Said we’re coming in from Yuma, heading to Alfonsinia’s and plan on riding all the way to Cabo. He chuckled and bit and said we’re crazy and let us through. 5 min down the road we finally made our destination to unpack, unwind, and relax.
Once there we met some other riders. The only other two people at the hotel. One riding an older GS, and the other a Sherpa. These two had some amazing stories of their adventure, and past rides. This was the starting point to some of the experiences we had in Mexico. Every rider you meet shares that common bond. They know your doing it not because it’s easy, but for the adventure and experience. You’re instantly one of them and it shows with how people come up and talk to you, and the stories begin.
Up at the crack of dawn, I was the second one to rustle out of bed. I was eager to see the sun rising and get on with the adventure. I’ll confess, Malcolm’s snoring and other bodily functions helped the situation.
Getting on my shoes and wondering outside I discovered the scenery that surrounded us. I walked down the beach to check out the lowering tide and to see if I could spot anything cool. I’ve always been amazed by the ocean.
During my walk I took these pics:
By the time I got back from my stroll down the sand bar, Demi, Malcolm, and Dan were up and about enjoying the rising sun. After awhile we were all out of bed and eager for some breaky! As usual, the food was fantastic and consisted mostly of tortias, beans, eggs, ham/bacon, coffee and orange juice. If you come to Baja those are your standards along with sea food, and taco’s/enchiladas, etc. No complaints from this guy. I couldn’t get enough!
We were off to a slow start, but soon enough we were back on the road. There’s something confidence inspiring about a full tank of gas. It’s a good feeling in Baja.
Busting down the gravel road we soon catch our newfound buddies slowly bouncing along. They were no doubt jealous of our bikes and youth, however the real credit goes to them. The roads they were doing, with what they were riding, and at what age they were was inspiring. Good on them for traveling the road less traveled. It was not the last time we’d bump into them.
Shortly after I passed Dan I stopped for this picture:
Awhile later we arrived at the world famous CoCo’s Corner. Anybody remotely in tune with offroad racing in Baja knows of CoCo and his place. His good buddy was looking over the property while CoCo was getting another surgery on his amputated leg. I can’t recall his name, but have seen him in pictures before and he proved to be very humorous and friendly. We signed the guest book, had a beer or two, relaxed a bit, and then Dan and Co came thumping down the road. We visited once again and said our fairwell. We had miles to make and the day was only getting warmer!
Back on the scoots and bouncing down the rough roads we passed some beautiful scenery and some interesting riding. At times it was hard pack and rough, then sandy through the washes, then gravel, and then we got into a real wash. The gravel was deep, and then it turned into small puddle and stream crossings. At times even some clay based mud. Definitely a switch from the riding we experienced so far on the trip. We were riding down a valley with steep rock on either side. At this point it was hot. Really hot! I’m sure everybody was feeling it. Here’s where my hands got so hot, my gloves became moist from sweating causing me to get blisters under my half formed calices. I know that doesn’t sound great, but it sucked. Every time I stopped the pain would return and holding onto the bars became difficult.
Shortly after the water sections we came across a rarity in Baja. Shade. We took full advantage of it and stripped some gear off to cool down. This gave us a time to refuel with both water and power bars and check out the surroundings. Here’s where we came across the Choea (sp?) cactus pictured below:
These little cactus spikes are so sharp it’s ridiculous. The lightest touch and they would easily stick into the hard rubber soul of a MX boot. We feared one of these would make quick work of a tire and tube.
Once cooled down to the best of our ability (notice all the black gear combined with +30 temps and no shade?), we took off one at a time. Conditions weren’t improving and we were once again behind schedule and feared more night riding might have to be done. The effort required riding through this type of terrain and moving speeds we maintained weren’t great.
Saddled up and off I go. I was the last to leave which is a common thing. Soon faced with extremely deep rutted sand and pea gravel. The going was tough, but it was going. I was just starting to get some flow when I rounded a corner and my heart sank. In the midst of a deep gravel whoop section was a rider down, and others surrounding, bike still on it’s side. Not something you want to see at the best of times, especially in a foreign country 10’s of miles away from any “roadway”.
[Day 2 – Continued]
As I closed in, it became apparent the downed rider was Malcolm. His KLX was on its side at the top of a whoop. Evidence of his crash was apparent from the rut his tires left in the deep gravel. By now he was limping around. Obviously in pain from his get-off. After review it was apparent he flew off his bike and slammed into the next gravel/sand hill. Complaining of pain on the right side of his body. Slightly understated, we were just glad no “serious” injuries were a result of his get-off. Broken arms, dislocated shoulders, etc are always a worry of mine and I knew Malcolm had an issue with his right shoulder being dislocated in the past. In fact, I first met him the day to go riding with a group of friends when he was on his way to the hospital with a shoulder out of joint…
Damage assessment complete, we were back on the bikes, be it a little slower. Eventually the deep gravel and sand gave way to mostly hard pack stretches of trail with the odd whooped out sand/gravel sections. To our delight, this was a lot easier riding then what we just went through. We were now out of the wash and riding down the flat lands towards the highway. Passing cactus the size of large trees and all the other shapes a cactus can take. There’s always a lot to look at in Baja. Things are just so different from here.
Dion riding out of the wash:
Malcolm resting his sore hip:
Some of the sand trails we were riding:
We had a quick break under the shade of a tree near the highway. Once again making best of what little shade could be found in desert. After another round of power bars and water, we were off. Once again, the last to get ready. As you’ll find out, this isn’t always a bad thing. I kick the XR650R over and get on my way, however within 100 yards I catch up to Demi and Dwayne stopped at the side of the highway. I figured they are waiting for me to catch up to them, however once closer and notice something’s not quite right. Their arms were down and staring across the road. I ask “What’s up?” Dwayne goes on to explain that Malcolm, who was already having a piss poor day, was in a near miss with a truck on the highway. Apparently while Malcolm joined onto the highway, a speeding truck came around the corner and it looked as though things were going to turn real ugly. It was explained that they couldn’t explain how it wasn’t worse, but at the same time appeared they touched. Eventually after slowing down enough they both went into the ditch. Thankfully there was that opportunity and truck didn’t roll. In any case, Malcolm was taking a cool down as I arrive and the truck was driving up the ditch to get back on the road. Thankful to have 7 lives left, Malcolm eventually got back on the highway.
A short distance down the road we jumped back off the highway to take a “short cut”. This turned out to be a great road and included everything from smooth sand road, to large rock foundations and treated us to a happy ending with 2 km’s of untouched, fine, powdery sand. The view was fantastic with the late day sun, mountains off in the distance, and rock formations overlying the land.
From here it was bogey time. The sun was going down and we had some miles to make to get to town in the Bay of L.A. The highway was perfectly smooth and followed mountains, valleys, and eventually broke way to this beautiful decent down to the coast where we’d meet some fellow Canadians, see the largest lobster I’ve ever seen, and some great tasting margaritas. After all, we deserved it. We even had the pleasure of bumping into Dan and Co who were staying at the motel down the street.
[Day – 3]
The start of a new day! I was excited. Once again, up at the crack of dawn to see the sun rise over the town and go for a stroll. I sat outside on the rock fence taking it all in. Cars were driving by waving, and dogs were running to wherever they had to be. I imagine they were looking for breakfast.
Sun coming up:
View down the street:
Where we stayed. Victoria was the owner:
The sleep was great, but with Mexico comes the common occurrence of dogs barking and fighting at night. At one point it sounded as though it was getting serious, but then died down. I imagine the losing dog backed down and the reigning dog walked away battered and bruised, but still the alpha dog of the area.
Today we planned a long day. We were heading to El Arco, passing through San Ignacio, and onto Santa Rosalita, or Mulege.
The roads started off with the typical rough gravel road. Decent speeds can be maintained, but along with speed comes focus. Those rocks will make quick work of rims if you aren’t on your toes.
Our first taste of beach riding!
Eventually we hit an intersection that splits San Fransico, and El Arco. Unfortunately on this trip I would have to miss out on San Fransico. It was one of the places I’d like to have seen. Turning west we got onto a sand road. The road was fun, but eventually hit sections with rocks buried in the sand. Not so fun. It broke way to more sand and rock form and joined up with the super highway. Ok, I’ll confess, there are no super highways in Baja, but this was the Baja equivalent. The road was sand, but it was wide and smooth. Time to twist the throttle! I can’t quite explain it, but it was an adrenaline rush. At times I must have been going 130-140km’s hr. Some hills and oppositely banked corners I was catch air and then drifting around the slower corners. This road was FUN!. I loved every minute of it! At one point common sense chimed in and I slowed down to a more reasonable 100ish KM/hr wheeling over hills and sliding out of corners. A much more respectable speed but still fun.
Just before the sand road:
Eventually we bounced into El Arco. Following up the rear I ride into the abandoned town to meet Dion stopped at a Y intersection. Looking down at my GPS informed me were to be going southbound here, but it appeared the road that goes straight through continues on west. Dion confirmed and within a few minutes Malcolm who was traveling third realized the same thing and turned around after not being able to catch Demi and Dwayne.
We had a few issues with keeping track of eachother up until this point, and we kept the same rules you follow here. Turn around or stop every once and awhile to confirm the rider behind you is still following.
We thought we lucked out when a truck stopped while were sitting at the Y-intersection. At this point we were here for maybe 10 minutes. We explained to the lady our two friends kept riding, and that if you seen them, to please tell them to turn around and come back. We were to head south to Viscano for fuel. Off she went. We thought for sure we’d be in luck.
As time went by we further judged the situation. All of our bikes did not have the fuel range to make the long way if we were to consider going west to catch the other two. Dion went in search of fuel at the nearly abandoned mine site. After 10 minutes he returns with a tank full of fuel. Mexicans are always willing to help.
By this time approx 1:45 minutes passed. Something wasn’t right. We decided to make way west and follow the path Demi and Dwayne took. The unfortunate thing is neither of them had GPS or knew our route. Quickly, we head down the perfectly straight road towards the highway. 20K in and my bike runs out of fuel. I pour in my two extra liters, flip Malcolms bike, and continue on. I stopped one or two other times to flip my bike over to gain the last of the fuel I had in my tank. Eventually getting to the highway I was pretty much fresh out of gas and the other two weren’t anywhere to be seen. We filled the fuel bottles and dumped some in both our tanks from Dions. We now had to trust they went the right way and turned south towards town. We had another 60K to go. After running out of fuel a few times each and having to do the typical flipping of bikes, we arrived in town and at the gas station where we met Demi and Dwayne. At this point people in both parties were a bit worked up. They explained the lady told them to go to town and we were going to meet them at the gas station? Neither of us could understand where she got this from considering she spoke very good English. In either event we were all here and ok. I guess Dwayne did some riding around to determine which way they had to go at the highway and also ran out of gas. All was good besides a few wasted hours and nightfall ahead of us. We were now forced to ride at night. Because of this we decided to crash in San Ignacio vs pushing on to Santa Rosalita.
The highway was fairly uneventful. A few donkey’s in the ditch and some donkey drivers, but all was good. Ironically the donkey drivers are usually American….
Eventually we pull into San Ignacio where we are waved through another military check stop. Pulling into town we crash at one of the first hotels we see. We were all interested in getting our eat on so off to town square we go to enjoy some amazing food and hand out stickers to the Mexican kids.
Ear plugs allowed me to sleep well this night.
Just to give a better idea of the area, the church above was behind me when I took this.
The common trend on our bike trip is to make miles. We’re up again in the morning and getting ready. Some of us playing with the local dog rather then getting ready, but still making an effort of some sort.
We review our travel itinerary and decide it’s best to boot it the hour or so to Santa Rosalita and stop there for breakfast. Everybody agreed and off we went.
The ride today consisted of all highway. Admittedly my anticipation was rather low, but soon after hitting the road it picked up. The fresh cool air was inviting and the scenery was great. From here it only got better. The temperature came around and the chills disappeared, the scenery dropping down to the ocean side became fantastic and arriving in Santa Rosalita proved to be an interesting little town. You enter past a few mining industry buildings which were rather old. Some buildings strangely looking out of place and possibly past their service limit. Either way, I enjoy all types of scenery. Soon enough we were in the towns center and stopped for breakfast at a great little restaurant where we had the pleasure of the patio to ourselves with great food.
The view could have been worse:
Restaurant on the left where the bikes are, Pharmacia on the right.
Miluge grabbing some gas. It’s funny how the gas ranges from normal colour down there to a very dark red. After this we walked up the street and grabbed some ice cream! Yumm..
After breaky/lunch I had to run to the Pharmacia to find some contact solution that so handedly leaked in my back-pack. After some Iphone Spanish lessons I managed to find an optometrist a few blocks up the street after visiting two Pharmacia’s. More importantly this search for the solution gave us a chance to walk some local streets. I think we all enjoyed it and took in the experience.
Back at town’s square we were suited up and ready to ride out. Onto the highway and along the coast, the curves and scenery helped the miles tick by. It actually was a fantastic ride. All the time I still can’t imagine how well dirt bikes do in the turns. It’s ridiculous how right they feel.
Ripping down the highway towards Loreto:
Rolling into Loreto, we rode the main strip along the sea (seen in Baja – Part 1 video) and returned to a restaurant a few blocks back. After eating we kept on rolling. We knew of the place we wanted to make, but weren’t sure what was there. In either event it was only about 50 min outside of town, which proved to be about right looking at the sun coming down. Once at our destination we found out it consisted of a closed gas station, harbour with boats, abandoned house, and abandoned hotel project. Turning around and up the road we found our resting ground for the night. A hotel just off the road with a nice swimming pool and restaurant. We got two nice double bed rooms side-by-side in front of the pool. Once settled in the WR450 received an oil change and rest of us proceeded to hit the very potent margaritas.
Restaurant where we ate:
Our home for the night. Nice place, bring your wallet. Be prepared to have the rich and fancy look at you like you don’t belong. At least that’s how I felt by the few residence there.
In! For another view of Baja.
Nice -keep it coming!, red font is a bit hard to read though. :deal
Morning ritual begins. Get ready, eat breaky, and get on the bikes. Not that I didn’t enjoy the riding, it just became the routine. All good. I was excited every day to ride.
Today’s route was mostly unknown by me. Dion revised the route last minute and sent me the GPS tracks. I trusted his judgment, loaded the maps and didn’t even look. IMO, GPS removes some of the adventure. Too much information, not enough “whatever”. That being said our strict time schedule and limited fuel range required them. 200-260K/tank is not enough to be all willy nilly.
To my surprise, today’s ride will turn out to be one of the best. Amazing scenery, riding, and culture intake. Seeing some of these remote villages really puts you into place. Where families live with the basics: some farm animals, a small shelter, and whatever they have in their surroundings. It’s really quite interesting. Once again, makes you wonder if what we’re doing in “developed” areas is the right thing, or better then what these people have. I guess it can be argued on both sides. I didn’t take pictures because I thought that would be disrespectful. We did manage to fuel the kids imagination of the “developed” world with stickers.
The road started off on a gravel road. Nothing out of the ordinary, but then suddenly crested a hill with a sharp turn with nothing but cliffs and an amazing view in front of you. Baja always took me by surprise with how things change in an instant.
The road down to the coast:
You don’t want to miss your turn.. This was concrete for a reason.
Going through the wash below:
We took a short detour to this wicked beach. It was actually our alternative camp area. Off the beaten path, population: 1. My pictures don’t do it justice. Really amazing. (It was incredibly hot at this point)
Dion talking to the only person living here:
Back in the small town that I failed to get pictures off out of respect. This lady was from Nelson, BC, Canada. She tried to help us find gas. Very nice lady. Kids chasing Dion for stickers.
Following our tour through town, we backtracked to where the GPS said we were to go. In actuality, it was dried river basin. Full of DEEP sand and rocks. After some hiking we determined we could rustle our bikes through the sharp trees and cacti to find our intended route. BTW, this route was known to have some nasty hill climb to get back out of the mountains…
So after a few K of bush wacking we eventually found there was path. After a cool down we jumped on the bikes, booted it up the river basin/path, and to the hill. The hill was inviting, but tricky. Felt good to be doing some technical riding, but clearly showed that our bikes were weighted down and making things slightly more difficult for us. Some clutch slipping, wheelies up hills, and tire spinning and we made it out. Pictures don’t do this justice. The hill was filled with amazing switchbacks up the ravine.
Already up the tough section:
Climbing out of the ravine:
I wouldn’t travel this “road” at night:
From here the road took a drastic turn. It eventually made it to a small village where we bought some gas out of a pail. After this, the road became straight and relatively boring. Only to end up entering Ciudad Constitucion through it’s garbage dump. Ironically, a common occurrence in Mexico. For this I believe when in doubt, ask the locals where the dump is, then take any road leaving it. Always a sure bet it’ll be a good one eventually.
I also suggest if in the area, you do everything you can to avoid this city, and the highway to La Paz. Not much to see, crazy drivers, and HOT.
We eventually arrived in La Paz, at night, and stuck on the strip along the ocean packed with traffic. There was some Harley gathering. People were everywhere. Some of group enjoyed the attention of the local ladies, but after a few blocks of this we were all wishing we had a hotel, shower, and A.C.
Our plan for Day 6 was to ride the coast down to Cabo San Lucas where we had our house rented. My expectations were limited thinking we’d just be going through community after community of extremely wealthy people who put unnecessary speed bumps to slow traffic. Little did I know this wouldn’t be the case. The ride started with a spectacular switchback up a mountain with great views of the lower lands below. The switch back was actually the highest in elevation we’d get to on the way down. I believe it was 2200 ft.
From there the tiny gravel road would carve down a drainage valley and eventually spit us out on a cliff where there was a mountain on one side and a cliff dropping into the ocean on the other. This made for spectacular views and great riding.
Demi doing a switchback:
Eventually the ridge ride had to end. We dropped off the mountain and back onto the lowland flats. Here’s where we encountered some miscommunication and ended having to search for people and wait around for a bit. Partially caused by Dion and my tendencies to ride the beach whenever possible…
Once all parties were accounted for we found a small town to eat breakfast under a tarp. Malcolm did his best to eat a weeks allowance for a Mexican.
Back on the road encountered some minor detours through some small towns, along a open drainage ditch, and had a few dogs chasing us. Eventually we made it onto the proper road. This road turned out to be a wickedly fun sand road. It had great turns to bust slides around and one section that had some fairly aggressive hills where you caught air over the tops. Dion and I tried to set land speed records on this section. I wish I had my helmet cam charged (left it on in the hotel the night before), because watching us catch some serious air doing 110+ down this sand road was a great rush!
With our super sonic speeds we found ourselves actually ahead of schedule. We decided to spend this newly found time bumming around on a beach. The area we rode through was like a ghost town. Abandoned homes, or homes for sale with beach front property, big development areas empty, and mile long beaches without a soul. Times were hurting here and it showed.
Times were tough for little Puff:
Unfortunately all things didn’t go without issue here. While Dwayne was working his way onto the beach and digging-in/parking the bike he managed to dislocate his knee. I don’t know much about joint issues, but I know once damaged they tend to be fairly fragile. We eventually got the knee back into place leaving Dwayne limping and fairly sore for the rest of the trip. Thankfully the issue would not re-occur and we were lucky enough today’s ride was followed up by a few days of rest/healing. It goes without saying his skill in the saddle helped get him back to the states without issue.
We finished off the day with some great sand roads through little communities. Highlight here was both the riding, and first spotting whales just off the coast. Later to find ourselves in a concrete jungle with lots of cars, lights, and loud people. Cabo was not really my cup of tea.
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