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Old 01-19-2012, 08:10 AM   #61
donnh OP
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Updates Coming

I have another update ready to upload but yesterday the site was down for the protest and this morning our power is out due to an ice storm. I don't want to be in the middle of posting the text and all the picture links and have my battery die so I'll wait until the power crews (Gary where are you?) make it up my hill. Here is a link to my Smugmug Baja photo collection if you just can't wait another minute: http://donnh.smugmug.com/Travel/Baja...0547531_cXpCfq
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:27 AM   #62
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Santo Tomas to USA

I just realized I didn't take any pictures on the last day, I guess we were in a hurry to get back.

Emma told us they opened at 7:00 AM for coffee and breakfast, since we were in a hurry to get going we were there a couple of minutes early. No one was around so we went back to the rooms to finish loading the bikes and ride them around to the front of the hotel. By the time we got there the door was unlocked but the coffee was just starting to brew and the cook hadnít arrived yet. We considered leaving when the coffee arrived and then the cook so we decided to sit down for our last meal in Baja. True to form Deby had Huevo Ranchero and I had bacon and scrambled eggs, ummm.

My thermometer said 42 degrees when we left so Deby and I plugged in our heated gear which by now I was glad to have along. John doubled up jeans under his riding pants and a sweatshirt under his jacket and insisted he was plenty warm. His bike was equipped with heated grips so I know he at least had warm hands. John seemed in even more pain than the day before, he didnít complain but I could tell he was moving even slower and he mentioned he had a rough night sleeping with sharp jabbing pain every time he rolled over a certain way, ouch.

We rode north towards Ensenada and almost immediately we were in a construction zone that seemed to go on for miles through the mountainous territory. I was glad we decided to stop when we did the previous night and not try this section as it was getting dark trying to make time to the next city. Our experience riding through construction zones was mixed, sometimes there were warning signs and flaggers and other times not. This was one of the ďnotĒ sections. There was a long stretch of the road that was closed and all traffic was routed to the dirt shoulder with no cones, flagger or other signs. There was no indication whether to stay along the side of the road or jump up on the newly graded but unpaved section. There were trucks pulling out, stopping, backing up and generally maneuvering while traffic just more or less weaved around them. We saw cars passing trucks and all kinds of crazy driving on this stretch. We just continued at our pace which was pretty good on the bikes and if the newly graded road looked better I jumped up there. Nobody seemed to care.

To break up the monotony here is a picture of my GPS mounting after I realized I forgot the GPS bracket. I tightened the RAM mount on the little knob on the back of the GPS and used a zip tie for safety. This worked great for the whole trip.



We got to Ensenada a little before lunch and negotiated our way through the city. The road wasnít well marked but between what signs there were, our map and my somewhat useful GPS we finally found the bypass around town that connected to Highway 3 which connected directly to Tecate. According to the map highway 2 might have been faster but highway 3 took a twisty route through the mountains and Bajaís ďwine countryĒ. I was aware of Johnís pain and I assumed he would have wanted the fastest route but I made the decision that a nice twisty road through the mountains would be better for him than blasting down a 4 lane road dodging crazy drivers. I think I made the right decision, the road was a blast to ride on, in excellent condition and we made pretty good time. I made a mental note to consider coming back and spending time visiting this area and some of the wineries.

We arrived in Tecate and started following signs for the border crossing. The GPS was of little help and the signs pointed in conflicting directions. After some wandering around I think we ended up at a truck crossing since we were stopped behind a long line of trucks with a few cars interspersed between them. We stopped and I started preparing myself for a long wait. There was one lane of stopped vehicles queued up with concrete barriers dividing oncoming traffic, of which there was none. I noticed vendors walking around selling last minute goods and snacks to the people waiting in line. One of them came up to me offering me some kind of bakery and after I said no he told me in relatively good English that I didnít have to wait in this long line. He signaled with his hands and told me to cut between a gap in the jersey barrier and ride to the front of the line. Well, that seemed like a good idea to me and obviously he looked to be in an official capacity to know what I should do so without hesitation I led the group of three through the barrier and we proceeded to ride on the wrong side of the street ignoring the arrows under us pointing the opposite direction. This seemed to be going pretty well until a armed solder walked out in front of me and motioned with his rifle to stop. He didnít speak English. ďAm I going the wrong way?Ē I asked. He motioned for me to stop and get off the bike, geesh, this close and now this. I wasnít sure what he wanted and I was a little worried as I turned off the bike and dismounted. Deby and John stopped behind me and waited, I was wondering if they should really just be blindly following me, what if this landed us all in jail within sight of the border. The solder motioned to my pannier and I could tell he wanted me to open it, strange, inspect my pannier for a traffic infraction? I opened the case and he poked around inside and then signaled for me to continue. Really? That was it? A final military checkpoint? Without complaint I loaded onto the bike and the three of us rode to the front of the line where we cut through the barrier once again just before the guard house. None of the cars or trucks in line beeped or even seemed to care so hmmm, maybe this was ok after all.

At breakfast John asked us if we had our Visas. Huh? Visa? Yes, John and his group all stopped at the border on the way in and spent almost an hour going to various windows to obtain tourist visas for their trip. John thought I would have to show it to someone to be let out of the country. I had heard various stories from other riders we met. One rider told me you only need a visa if you are in the country for over two weeks, we were. Another told me you only need one if you go to the southern part of Baja, Baja Sur, we did. Yet another person told me you only need one if you take the ferry to the mainland. Well, at least we didnít do that. I was told we would be asked at a military checkpoint for our visas and then if we didnít have them would have to pay a fine. I read somewhere on ADVrider where I get all my legal and immigration advice that a visa wasnít necessary so I never bothered. Up to now no one had ever asked to see my visa so I figured either I was correct and I didnít need one or I scammed the Mexican government out of roughly $60 for the two of us.
I guess Iíll never know. I knew from travelling to other countries that most countries donít care who leaves and the bigger issue is entering. I expected crossing into the US to be no different. Does Mexico really care who wants to leave and whether they had a visa? Of course not, but these thoughts were crossing my mind as I approached the booth. The US Border Patrol person asked how long I had been in the country and if I had any problems. I told him two weeks and that we not only had no problems but had a fantastic time. He took a glance at my passport and waved me through. I heard from Deby and John that they had similar experiences. The whole border crossing including the stop by the Mexican solder took about 10 minutes.

We gathered at the gas station on the US side to top off our tanks, John went to exchange Pesos for green backs and we headed off to Highway 94 and the nice twisty ride to Sweetwater Springs Self Storage in Spring Valley, CA. The lady at the storage place asked if there was some kind of motorcycle event going on in Baja because she had an unusual number of bikers requesting a place to park. No, I told her it was just me promoting her on my ride report. She seemed impressed, I felt like asking for a commission. Maybe next time.

My shop when I got home


Three minutes later - glad I wasn't under it



Conclusion
If youíve read this whole ride report you probably figured out we didnít set out to tear it up in the single track sand whoops but were more interested in exploring Baja for the first time, make notes of where to go back and generally get a couple of weeks of warm weather before heading back to snow, rain and cold. Our choice of bikes was perfect for what we wanted to do, gravel road exploring with side trips to the ocean, sea of Cortez and sites of old Missions. I found out there are sites with cave paintings I would like to check out next time, most of them only accessible with off road motorcycles. The bigger bikes allowed us to make good time in relative comfort on long stretches of pavement. We saw pretty many KTMs, three 990s and the rest smaller, a bunch of KLR650s and a couple of big BMW 1200s. Mine was the only F800 and for sure Deby had the only G650XC. Twice we saw people on Harleys. A Harley could easily run the roads south to Cabo but I would never take one on any of the side trips. I mean, it could be done and others have but it would be a lot of work.

As far as danger goes we had absolutely no problem. Everybody was friendly even at the military checkpoints where they were all very professional about their jobs. It seemed like once they were past the search stuff they opened up and became more friendly and ready to answer questions. At the restaurants, roadside stands and hotels everyone was friendly and helpful. The biggest danger we faced was cattle along the road.

Iíll try to get one more post in the next few days on our riding gear and equipment we packed. After my last few big trips I got into the habit of writing down everything as I take it out of my bag and make a note if I used it or not. Then I make a list of what I which I would have brought. This trip is the third iteration of packing and I think we mostly did pretty well but there are a few areas for improvement.

Stay tuned.
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2010 Sasquatch Ride 2011 Utah Ride 2012 Baja Ride Report 2012 Rocky Mt Ride 2012 Sasquatch Pictures 2013 Seattle to Buenos Aries BLOG Follow Me
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Old 01-19-2012, 11:49 AM   #63
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Nicely Done

I really enjoyed your RR, thanks for taking us all along with you. In 18 days I leave for my own three week adventure south of the border, can't wait!!!!!

Thx again, ADV Fool
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Old 01-19-2012, 05:36 PM   #64
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Thanks for taking the time to keep us informed of your trip. I enjoyed it.
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Old 01-19-2012, 08:01 PM   #65
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Thanks for taking us with you! This gets me one step closer to pulling the trigger on Baja

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Old 01-26-2012, 09:37 PM   #66
donnh OP
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Wrap Up

I'll try to summarize some of the gear and packing techniques I used. I don't have this down pat by any means but for my last few trips I made it a habit of writing down in a notebook everything I unpacked and noting if I used it or not. This has helped reduce the amount of things I pack since I found out I never used most of the things I brought along on those early trips.

I had two panniers, I used the small one for my clothing and toiletries and the large on held all this stuff-----


- Tool case - more later
- First Aide kit - soft case on left, didn't use but glad to have
- 17" Heavy Duty inner tube wrapped in plastic wrap and duct tape. Hmmm, didn't think that it looks like a block of drugs
- Rain pants - didn't use but glad to have
- Extra Liter of fuel - didn't use
- A 21" and 18" tube in original box.
- Hand tire pump and jiffy stand wrapped together. Used the tire pump on someone else's bike. Didn't need jiffy stand but glad to have
- Two packs of compact backpackers towels. Didn't use but I've been glad for them in the past.
- A length of tow rope. This is a really strong nylon flat line that I got from a friend who is a lineman for the power company. They use this stuff to pull long wires up power poles. Didn't use this trip but have used in the past.
- A length of tubing for? First time I brought this on the advice of many ADVriders. It could be used for siphoning gas in a pinch.

Tool Kit B&W Outdoor Case Type 10

http://www.amazon.com/Outdoor-Cases-.../dp/B005XCRQZC

Inside


Details


Most things in the kit should be self explanatory. The "Monster" box originally held some sunglasses I got at a trade show, I used it for small stuff I didn't want rolling around and packed it with some vinyl gloves to hold the contents in place.

I used bicycle inner tubes to hold things together and keep them organized and from rattling around.

I only used this once to tighten the loose bold on the G650XC. I kept a multipurpose tool, vice grips and screwdriver with multiple bits in my tank bag. I found I used those frequently for tightening things and it was nice to have the easy access to those most common tools.

Tire repair kit - didn't use


I found the box at a hobby store for a couple of bucks

Inside


I put patches and glue in an old Altoids tin, a Stop and Go electric tire pump and two large CO2 containers. I had three ways to pump up a tire when you include the hand pump. I suppose that' why I didn't get a flat. I packed everything with more gloves so it wouldn't shake to bits.



I got the innertube idea from a video by Helge Pedersen of Globeriders fame. The problem with just packing tubes in their original boxes, or worse, in no box, is that they bounce around and rub on other things and after a few thousand miles will have holes worn in them. If you look at the tubes in boxes further up you will see the boxes are pretty worn after only two weeks. The idea is to wrap the tube with plastic and then a thicker layer of duct tape. The plastic makes it easy to remove the duct tape. I didn't totally wrap the tube in duct tape because I realized it looked like some type of drug block. It's amazing in about 20 stops by the military in Mexico they never found this.


For those of you with Trax Panniers I found this case at REI that fits perfect. I used it for toiletries. I think I'll attach some velcro to make it hold in.


Inside of new pannier when I got back


You can see all the shaking around on the washboard roads starts wearing through things. I put a rubber bottom in to help this a little. I can see the advantage of Deby's Wolfman side bags which of course did not have this problem.

Technology
From previous trips I knew too much technology is not a good thing so I tried to carry the minimum needed to try to compose a live ride report in a foreign country. Here is what I brought.

Camera- A cheap point and shoot Casio that has taken a beating all around the world and keeps working. One cool feature is I added a EyeFi card (http://www.eye.fi/) With that card I could wirelessly transfer my pictures directly to my iPhone. I kept the camera in my jacket pocket but wished I had a good way to take pictures while I was riding.

iPhone - I kept it in airplane mode to avoid all international charges. I have a Smugmug app that let me upload pictures to Smugmug from my phone. I tried to do that every night. I could check e-mail and stuff through WiFi and I have an app (similar to Skype) that let me make calls using the wifi connection. Lived in my jacket pocket.

iPad - I used this for most of my web surfing, watching the SPOT locations of some fellow riders, checking e-mail and stuff like that. Strange thing. I tried to stream a video on Netflix and it came up in Spanish, what? I kept the iPad in my tank bag with just a simple cover and it held up fine.

Netbook - I really wanted to leave this at home but it's the only way I can communicate with my GPS60CS and the most practical way to upload a ride report. Since I could upload my pictures any time I was in a hotspot like at a restaurant with my iPhone the ride reports were easier since the pictures were already uploaded. Also, I tried to at least write some every night in a Word file so I wouldn't forget and then I just had to cut and paste when I could get online. I kept the netbook in a "sleeve" in my pannier with my clothes and it survived fine.


Ok, this post is getting a little long so I'm going to wrap it up for now. I'll try to post another on our riding gear.
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2010 Sasquatch Ride 2011 Utah Ride 2012 Baja Ride Report 2012 Rocky Mt Ride 2012 Sasquatch Pictures 2013 Seattle to Buenos Aries BLOG Follow Me
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Old 01-28-2012, 01:02 AM   #67
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Donn, great RR and very detailed. Been following along, we should arrive in San Felipe around 2/11 and unload to ride from there.

What kind of bike pump is that? It looks nice and short and it has a hose, the 2 things I'm looking for. Also your double ended socket wrench, do you know where to find it? thanks.
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Old 02-05-2012, 06:33 AM   #68
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I had the pleasure of riding with Deby&Donn and here is a few minutes of some of the riding we did.




lexluther11 screwed with this post 02-06-2012 at 07:15 PM
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Old 02-23-2012, 08:58 PM   #69
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[QUOTE=lexluther11;17914008]I had the pleasure of riding with Deby&Donn and here is a few minutes of some of the riding we did.

LexLuther - thanks for posting, I love the picture and video, wanna go again next year? I have your September ride blocked out on my calendar - looking forward to it. Had a fantastic time riding with you and am looking forward to doing it again.
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Old 02-23-2012, 09:03 PM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snooker View Post
Donn, great RR and very detailed. Been following along, we should arrive in San Felipe around 2/11 and unload to ride from there.

What kind of bike pump is that? It looks nice and short and it has a hose, the 2 things I'm looking for. Also your double ended socket wrench, do you know where to find it? thanks.
Hey Snooker, enjoying the Baja report..... it's too late now but it's a pump I bought at REI for about $25.00. I can't remember where I picked up the ratchet.... Sears?
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KTM 1190R, F800GS, WR250R ,ZERO Electric Bike (dead), 73 Norton Commando, 1969 Yamaha Trailmaster. Wife rides (dirtbikegirlrider): G650GS, G650XC(sold), DR200
2010 Sasquatch Ride 2011 Utah Ride 2012 Baja Ride Report 2012 Rocky Mt Ride 2012 Sasquatch Pictures 2013 Seattle to Buenos Aries BLOG Follow Me
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Old 02-24-2012, 09:24 PM   #71
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Hey Don, I met you at Costa Del Sol in bay of LA. I was the guy on the 990. Johnny wanted to say thanks for helping him get home! I'm not sure if you had a chance to read my ride report (riding big pigs in Baja) but you can see Johnny pre crash! I enjoyed reading your report!
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Old 11-29-2013, 02:46 PM   #72
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Laugh Bump

Great report time for a bump

Heading there in April, got some good info from ya.
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Old 11-30-2013, 08:25 AM   #73
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Enjoyed reading your RR. Thanks for taking the time and effort to share it with us. Looks like you had a good initial scouting report trip, sounds like you will be going back.
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Old 12-16-2013, 11:41 PM   #74
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Excellent ride report. I have been reading so many things about riding in Mexico that I have been scared away from even trying it. You presented it in a way that I though it should be. In a month I will cruise down from Washington state and cross the border.
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Old 12-17-2013, 07:12 AM   #75
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Originally Posted by siclmn View Post
Excellent ride report. I have been reading so many things about riding in Mexico that I have been scared away from even trying it. You presented it in a way that I though it should be. In a month I will cruise down from Washington state and cross the border.
Thanks for following! I sent you a PM, Deby and I are leaving in a week to return to Baja. Looking forward to another adventure.
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KTM 1190R, F800GS, WR250R ,ZERO Electric Bike (dead), 73 Norton Commando, 1969 Yamaha Trailmaster. Wife rides (dirtbikegirlrider): G650GS, G650XC(sold), DR200
2010 Sasquatch Ride 2011 Utah Ride 2012 Baja Ride Report 2012 Rocky Mt Ride 2012 Sasquatch Pictures 2013 Seattle to Buenos Aries BLOG Follow Me
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