06-02-2012, 10:32 AM
Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Toronto, ON
The Baja Incident Part V: Post Mortem
Sunday Rider, I didn't take many more pictures for the rest of Baja (ok, a few here and there) until some good conversations over beer which Len mentioned above. In fact there are no pictures in this update, just a post-mortem of what had happened.
I know veteran Baja riders are rolling their eyes right now at my desert n00bness. I'm not new to riding -- even raced GP bikes in my younger days -- yet up to this point I was very inexperienced "off-road": I've ridden many miles of gravel, a little mud, but almost zero sand and certainly not on a fully loaded bike.
It would be easy for me to "blame the bike" for my woes. Too heavy; Not enough clearance; Street-oriented; Etc. Yet I can say with certainty that my F650GS was/is more than capable for trip, at least with a more skilled rider on board.
I made several mistakes due to my inexperience, including:
Ignoring local advice. Enroute to San Felipe I had met a couple Mexican riders who were back-tracking to Ensenada because they knew the road conditions south of Puertecitos at that time were poor. Conditions change all the time in this part of Baja, and I'm not surprised if the sections I had trouble with are beautifully paved today. About dehydration
Tire pressure. I should have lowered my tire pressure for the sand. I didn't, based in part from conflicting advice about TKC80 off-road pressure. Or more likely, my incorrect interpretation of what was being discussed. I think not airing down was a significant factor affecting the handling of the bike.
Leaving too late. I ended up getting stranded during the hottest time of the day, in the hottest month of the year. Leaving late also meant that I skipped breakfast (and later lunch since Cowpatty's was closed) -- robbing me of energy when I later need it most.
Unpreparedness. I brought enough water for minor trouble, but not for the "worst-case" scenario.
While I recuperated in San Felipe that evening, I got a nice follow-up email from an EMT/paramedic at Global Rescue. He cautioned that my headache and exhaustion might be the result of mild-to-moderate dehydration itself.
He also mentioned that other symptoms of dehydration include extreme thirst, confusion, and fast heartbeat. Check, check, and checků exactly how I felt in the desert. Yet I wasn't drinking -- I was rationing the little water I had left, while in reality I was already well behind the dehydration curve, and I didn't recognize the symptoms. I think the old saying is true: drink before you get thirsty.
SPOT Messenger SOS service
I have mixed feelings about the SPOT / GEOS Alliance SAR service performance. Pressing that SOS button is like a big leap-of-faith. I didn't know if GEOS even got my distress signal until I received a voicemail from them that evening, back in San Felipe (I guess they tried to call but I missed it.)
GEOS did call my emergency contact, and notified her that they had spoken to the Mexican Navy -- after it was all over apparently. So they were able to tell my friend that I was safe and sound, which is good.
I stayed in San Felipe for an extra day. I hated, truly hated the feeling that I had failed to reach my goal. Lots of people ride the east coast of Baja without incident, why not me? Gonzaga Bay, Alfonsina's, having beers with Coco, were high on my to-do list.
I was keen on trying again, making a second attempt. Of course I knew that would be stupid, to push my luck too far, and a disservice to everyone who had helped me yesterday to get back safely.
So with my tail between my legs, I rode back west to Ensenada. I was gutted.