05-31-2012, 09:57 PM
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Toronto, ON
Shortly after Puertecitos the paved road abruptly ends. Thankfully the dirt section is very nicely graded due to ongoing construction activities. My TKC80s grip well and it's easy to go fast.
I find myself at a junction of several desert tracks. There are no road signs in the middle of Baja. Trusting that all will (eventually) lead to the same place south, I pick one trail and hope for the best.
The graded dirt section slowly disappears and I'm riding on soft sand. It's tough going and I see that I'm on the wrong trail; there's a nice, hard-packed road parallel to where I'm riding.
I turn towards the road but the heavy bike sank in the sand. I'm stuck!
I try to power through the sand and only manage to dig the bike deeper into the sand. I try to pull the bike out but it wouldn't budge an inch! I can't believe it!! I'm stuck in the middle of the Baja desert.
Oops!! Dumbass move.
The heat was getting to me now. I'm expending a lot of energy -- and drenching in sweat -- trying to free the bike. I'm thankful to rehydrate from my camel pack.
Suddenly I see a pickup truck on the parallel road. A couple guys jumped out from the truck and asked me in Spanish if I'm ok. They see that I'm stuck and the three of us finally pulled the bike out. Awesome!!!
The two guys went back to their truck and I just remember to take a (late) picture. Thanks guys!!
I get back on the bike and manage to get on the road. A few miles later I see a sign for Coco's. I'm relieved to be in the right track.
Muchas gracias amigos!
It's apparent that a lot of heavy construction vehicles have been on this sandy road -- there are huge ruts and it's becoming difficult to navigate.
Coco's Corner -- 54 km, that way
The ride becomes rougher and the bike now feels very unstable, constantly swerving hard left and right, nearly throwing me off each time. I try riding at different speeds but in this sandy terrain the heavy bike is nearly out of control.
I gingerly coast down a hill. Near the bottom -- not wanting to lose all momentum -- I cracked open the throttle. The rear instantly breaks traction, the bike throws me off and I'm eating dirt.
Aargh!! Well, this is Baja riding; First crash of many, I am sure.
Helmet cam action footage
I try to pick up the bike. My feet slide in the sand and I can't generate any lift. I use all my strength to lift the bike and only manage to move it around the sand. WTF??
Normally (on pavement) I can pick up my bike -- fully loaded -- in about 10 seconds, but it's just too heavy to pick up in the soft sand.
The sun is so strong and I feel like I'm being baked alive. I'm still fatigued from trying to free the bike from the sand earlier; Now the heat plus the physical exertion are starting to overwhelm me.
I decide to completely unload the bike, hoping it will be easier to lift in the sand. I also know it will take a lot of time to unload the bike, pick it up, then load it back up.
There's no other choice; I'll have to endure the oppressive sun and "just do it". I manage to pick up the bike and strap everything back together. It probably took me 30 minutes; I lost track of time.
Bike partially unloaded
Exhausted, I remount the bike and continued on south. Once again the steering feels very unstable. I'm really struggling now to control the bike.
I took a sip from my camel pack and to my shock, there's no more water!! I only have a small container of water left in reserve, perhaps less than a liter.
I'm thirsty and a bit disoriented. I glance at the GPS to gauge how much further I still have to go. I intuitively know that I can't afford another crash in the sand, but the odds are stacking up against me.
I made (the fateful) decision to turn around, back towards Puertecitos. I make a U-turn, and promptly dropped the bike!!! This time in deep, deep sand.
I'm unhurt but I'm in sheer disbelief. I stare at the bike and realize I'm in huge trouble now. I tug at the bar handles but I know my actions are futile.
The sun is punishing me and I'm running out of water, in the middle of the Baja desert.
I decide to pitch my tent's fly-sheet as shelter. Usually I can pitch my entire tent in a few minutes, but for some reason, I can't do it now. I look at the tent poles and the fly-sheet in confusion.
My skin is stinging from the sun burn. I discard the tent poles, tie two ends of the fly-sheet to the bike, and crawl underneath.
The sun is oppressive
Now I have to deal with the hot sand but at least I'm shaded from the direct sun. I look at the thermometer on my digital watch and it registers 45.6 deg.C (about 114 F) -- in the shade.
They say that in the desert, a man can expect to live for up to three days without water. I guess the earlier mishaps had really exhausted me as I am in poor shape already. My lips are chapping and my skin blistering.
The sun is relentless and I try to conserve the little water I have left.
Crazy Baja temperature
I'm really hurting now, but the photographer in me wants to keep snapping pictures.
I am defeated in the Baja desert. I grabbed my SPOT satellite messenger, and pressed the SOS button.
peekay screwed with this post 05-31-2012 at 10:35 PM