|10-25-2012, 02:37 PM||#1|
Joined: Feb 2007
Location: Lost in Utardia
4 Days of Dirt in Baja
The lead in.....4 days in Baja, 560+ miles, some mechanicals, no real medicals, lots of tequila...
The first week of October a group of 8 of us now residing in Utah and another from San Diego did a little dirt bike trip in Baja. We were going to do this on the plush side with two guys driving a chase truck with all the gear and to have a safety margin in case something were to happen to a bike or rider. So 7 guys riding and 2 driving (a Medic and a Mexican), meeting up each night at a hotel. There were only 5 of the 9 that had been down in Baja before, 2 fairly experienced guys and 3 that had been down a couple previous moto trips and race support trips.
The moto portion of the trip.
The trip south to California was uneventful, just hot as hell.
Leaving Mesquite NV Tuesday morning.
When we arrived in the Riverside area it was well over 100. As usual there were a bunch of stops for last minute stuff, food and to pick up the last guy. One last stop to pick up a bunch of water and we would be headed to Tecate to cross and stay the night at Rancho Santa Veronica. Due to some extra running around for a forgotten passport and radio units the two vehicles separated. The truck and trailer went on ahead and we would meet them at the Rancho for dinner. Our running around happen to coincide with rush hour traffic and pushed our crossing time back over an hour. We crossed at dusk and headed east on Mex2 libre looking for a sign to the Rancho. The turn was easy to spot and arrived around 8pm as the only guests there. The only issue is the other truck and trailer aren’t there yet! After we check in and get dinner ordered the other rig finally shows up. (Much thanks to the great staff at the Rancho for waiting for us and fixing an awesome dinner) Turns out they had gotten stopped in Tecate for supposedly rolling a stop sign in the middle of a rotary. 30 seconds in Baja and already paying morida. Great way to start the trip!
Wednesday morning the normal crap show starts as everyone is getting ready to ride. Trying for an early start is so futile sometimes. Like herding cats, only worse....and it is getting hot....quickly. There is the usual last minute maintenance, adjustments, finding the parking spot for the extra truck and trailer that will be staying here till we return Saturday evening.
Pool and Tennis courts at Santa Veronica’s
Bar and Dining area
The owner was a bullfighter in the 70’s, lots of memorabilia on the walls.
Waiting to get going....daylight is burning and it is getting warm.
After an hour plus of diddly farting around we are finally ready to ride. Today we are taking the El Compadre Road south to Ojos Negros for fuel and then from there staying east of Mex3 all the way down to Valle T and then on up to Mike’s Sky Rancho for the night.
On the El Compadre road headed south, a while after the checkpoint.
Regrouping and map checking.
Seeking shade on a quick stop as we get closer to Ojos.
After gassing up outside of Ojos.
Cabin in the woods south and east of Ojos. Looks just like some of the ones around Utah.
Shortly after this I was fortunate to see a bobcat cross the road in front of me. Very healthy animal and way cool to see it in the middle of the day. This area is beautiful and the guys that hadn’t been down before were blown away that this would exist in Baja.
As we dropped down out of the higher pine forests and into the typical desert we started getting on various race course sections as we continued south. The riding was outstanding as we were all getting in the groove of riding in Baja and riding with some new friends. I had mapped out a track using old race course, others tracks from previous trips and some from guide books. This was the only detour of the day.
We decided to tuck tail and heed the signage even though many had obviously gone before us yet the sign wasn’t new at all. We found a route out to Mex3 that was on well used roads around some fields and through Leyes De Reforma. This meant a longer pavement section of about 12 miles instead of the one or two we were hoping for so no biggie really.
After some great tacos at Taqueria El Rancho down the hill a few blocks from the Pemex in Valle de Trinidad and gassing back up we headed south on the asphalt to the turnoff for main entrance to Mike’s. As we turned west off the highway we were riding straight into the setting sun on the fun roads heading into the mountains. Everyone was stretched out in pairs riding side by side as the combination of the low sun and high dust made visibility an issue. It was great to round the corner and drop into the little canyon/valley and finally see Mike’s Sky Rancho. The case truck was there and they had brought some beer on ice and checked us in. Once again we were the only ones staying there. Day one down and everyone was fine with no mechanicals.
Bullshit’n by the pool at Mikes. Water was cool but felt great after 140 miles of dusty riding.
Happiest dog in Mex!! He would drop the ball in the pool and then woefully look at me to go get it for him. “Stupido Gringo, I have you wrapped around my dew claw!”
For those that haven’t been to Mikes before it truly is a great place to stay. The grounds are very well kept and staff is great too. Dinner is served family style with everyone getting the plate of the day and the generator truly does get turned off between 9:30 and 10:00 pm. The darkness is impressive. Many beers were consumed and a good nights sleep was not far behind. The next morning we had the same 3 ring circus as everyone was doing maintenance and gearing up.
I had a route planned out the back of Mikes to the observatory road and then down to Vicente Guerrero but chickened out as none of us had done it before and didn’t know the land issues in the area even though it was used as race course back in 2007. We decided to head to the crossover road from Mike’s instead and then west out to the coast on race course that a couple of the guys thought they could remember and follow out to the coast south of San Vicente.
High point on the Crossover road, looking south
Looking west and seeing the ocean way out in the left side of the photo.
The Crossover road was uneventful and fun. When we popped out on Mex1 we did a fuel check and found that one rider was getting low already with no extra fuel with him so we hopped on the pavement and headed north to San Vicente. I guess I have been lucky in Baja so far and I haven’t been skunked on gas...until now. We roll into the Pemex only to find them out of fuel!! Two guys go off in search of some fuel while we wait and eat an awesome watermelon and watch the world go by.
Supposedly a dancing horse. We ended up giving these guys gas to make it to the next town
At this point we remember we have satellite phones to be able to talk with the chase truck! They had just finished the crossover road as well and were with us in half an hour getting us all gassed up to make it to San Quintin for the end of the day. We rolled south on the highway again and then turned west towards the coast just south of the crossover road. The first silt beds of the trip were soon being plowed through and the new guys were fully feeling Baja!!
This is also where the first mechanical happened. One bike had a hard time in the silt and it took a good half hour to get it back up and running......for all of 10 minutes before it was puking oil out the airbox and its ride was over. We ended up using the Sat phones for the second time that day to have the truck come back north again as they were in Colonet dropping clothes off at the orphanage there. A fairly quick tow out to the highway and the rest of us were blasting south down the asphalt heading for Colonet to top off and get back on the dirt. It was fairly easy to find the quick way out to the coast from town with some help from the Pemex attendant.
Finally we are at the coast and the temps are quite nice for riding. Slight breeze is helping to keep the dust to a minimum for the riders behind. We want to keep moving as all the little delays are adding up and we have some distance to make before dinner and a few beers at Old Mill south of San Quintin. We stayed up on the bluff and away from the ocean for a few miles skirting defunct farm fields on dirt roads, finally dropping down and through a large drainage and further south flying past Shipwreck as we were planning to be back here tomorrow with more time. We continue south on the bluff over the ocean and drop onto the beach at the Pirate Bar.
We start making our way south along the beach,slowing and respectfully past all the people enjoying the end of their day. We get past all the people and open it up having some fun. Some guys are getting out into the edge of the water and horsing around. I am pretty sure we have to get up onto the bluff again at some point but can’t recall how soon as 2 guys go blowing by in full hooligan mode! The chase is on....... and the beach is getting narrower and narrower........and then nonexistent as we are riding in the shallow waves on firm sand. All of a sudden Rick’s bike all but disappears as he finds a deep spot and instantly we are all in the same hole, ploughing through. I make it out the other side and the “Aw Shit” light goes on and I immediately shut the bike off and start pushing the 8-10 feet towards the steep cobble that is now the shore, all the while a set of waves is coming in and I am hoping I haven’t sucked any water into the motor. While cursing in my helmet and breathing heavy from fighting the bike, waves up to my knees and the cobbles I can hear some other bikes running. Once on the rocks I try to start my bike and luckily if fires right up and I finally get the bike up on the dry rock and more or less facing back where we came. I turn around to see on bike another 30 yards further past the deep part and he is doing the pin it and spin it in place routine with a water roost going 10-12 feet in the air. All I can see is his number plate and top of the seat! He manages to keep it going and makes it back to dry ground with the other two ‘smart’ guys, a good 100 yards back on the dry beach watching all of this.
Rick keeps his bike going and gets back as well. I turnback to see Chad struggling to get the bike facing back the right way. As I get back to him he mentions that it wont start. Oh Crap. He says the kick starter wont move. Double Crap. We start pushing it towards the others.
We all regroup on drier ground and assess the situation. Now wet and sand covered we have around 30 miles more to go to get to the hotel. One bike obviously has a water locked motor. We are way down below the top of the bluff......and the sun is now setting.
We tow the bike back a half mile to where we should have gotten off the beach in the first place. With 4 of us pushing and one bike pulling we get the dead bike up on firm ground, most of the way up the bluff. We decide that two (one without a headlight) should ride the roads the rest of the way to the hotel and send help if they haven’t heard from us yet. The remaining 4 of us undertake draining the bike and trying to get it to start. I have to say that I have never worked on a bike in a more beautiful location.
We get the spark plug out and the bike tipped over to watch a whole bunch of salt water pour out of the motor. We checked the oil and it didn’t look too bad. Thank goodness we had a few headlamps between us to make this all possible, and that combined, we had enough tools to work on the bike. We kept trying to get it started without any success. We could only use the kickstarter and electric start as it had a auto clutch so push starting wasn’t an option. We finally concede to the fact that we aren’t getting it going here and decide to try and get the bike to somewhere the chase truck could come and get the bike easily. With much effort we get the bike the rest of the way to the top of the bluff and onto a much better, flatter and solid dirt road. We wait it out in the middle of these agricultural fields at an intersection of some well used roads. The chase truck shows up and as the dead bike is being loaded the three us still on bikes hop out onto Mex1 and head south to Old Mill. Riding the roads in Baja is scary enough on a bike but doing it in the dark is even lower on my to do list but we make it in one piece and just barely under the wire to get dinner at the Old Mill restaurant.
Some of the guys decide to head out to the local bar but the rest of us are so tired we just drop in bed and fall asleep. The next morning the wrenching begins on various bikes and trying to keep the damage from the salt water to a minimum. The water locked bike is worked on a bunch more and several oil changes and a couple hundred kickstart atempts later is good to go!!!!
All the wrenching and slow hungover start gets us rolling out of there around noon. At least this day is a shorter one up to Coyote Cal’s in Erinadera. We roll north on some dirt roads through some unused fields and then northwest towards the coast. We pop out on the beach and ride north for about 15 miles, staying well away from the water!! As we are peeling away from the beach we look up the roads we will be taking around this development and there are 25+ guys on bikes sitting on the top of the hill. (They were just off to the right of the photo)
Turns out it was the Rip to Cabo crew on their second day headed south. We pass most of them and catch the sweeps and talk to them for a second before we all roll on our separate ways.
The route kept heading north and back through the sunset workshop on the bluff from the night before and back down on the beach. It was a fun and quick ride up to Shipwreck with no issues other than Rick looping out from too much traction and whacking his elbow on the hard sand and getting a good hematoma. After a few minutes of collecting himself we were back on our way.
The group pressed on north staying within sight of the ocean for a long time. Passing several of these kinds of little collection points. If you ever wondered where your pretty grey landscape cobble comes from that you buy at your local Home Depot, here it is!!!
The riding got really good for while as we were on old race course so not many photos for the rest of the afternoon. We arrived at Coyote Cal’s and once again had the place to ourselves.
The owner brought us a hose to wash down the bikes and get the salt off of them and a bucket of beers was quickly handed out as we rinsed the bikes off. They wisely stuck us in the downstairs bunk rooms and we quickly began consuming beers and getting the grime off from the day.
We can’t say enough nice things about Coyote Cal’s. They were great hosts and several of the guys got massages while the rest of us drank and bench raced after a great Thai curry dinner. A group of 3 guys coming down from San Diego to go fishing were staying somewhere close by and had come over for some beers and added to fun of the evening.
The last day of riding was going to be around 140 miles to get back to Santa Veronica’s, hopefully at a decent time, load up and then cross back into the States. We got rolling slowly again after a great breakfast and some more wrenching.....can you sense a trend?
Rick, the one with the hematoma decided not to ride with the sore elbow so the blown motor guy was back in the saddle. The ride up the coast and then inland to Santo Tomas was easy and a good warmup for the rest of the ride. We gassed up there and then continued northeast at Uruapan, staying to the south side of the major drainage and climbing up into the mountains again.
Working our way all the way to the Ojos Pemex again. After a good but really long lunch in town we were on our way for the last stretch. We were all strung out because of the dust and pretty much hauling the mail back along the El Compadre road.
The day was getting a bit long in tooth as we had burned so much time getting going and a long lunch stop and getting closer to the border none of us really wanted to be riding this road in the dark. As luck would have it Blown Motor guy whacks a rock with the front wheel of the borrowed bike hard enough to get a flat, even with slime in the tube. There is probably 2 miles between all of us because of the dust but when we hear the news over the radios we all turn around to help out.
I haven’t pinched a tube when changing one in 15 years, but between two of us we managed to pinch 3. Are you friggin’ kidding me? We are close to the end of the ride and we have one tube left and the sun is getting low again. Thank goodness the last one worked. We roll the last 10 miles back into Santa Veronica’s and load up the trucks and change clothes and boogie out of there towards Tecate.
The border crossing is about a 45 minute wait when we get there. One of our trucks is 3-4 vehicles in front of the one with the trailer while we wait in line, creeping forward. We are in and out of that truck talking with other people in cars, street vendors and using the conveniently placed porta johns. I am sure it was an amusing sight for the people around us as only the driver stayed in the vehicle the whole time. The other truck was almost entirely asleep.
The Federale’s are wondering around at the bottom of the hill and separating the lanes a bit with the candlestick type road cones. As we get down the hill and close to the head of the line we hear over the radios...
“They aren’t letting us go....”
“What did you just say?”
“The Federales are saying we hit one of their cones with the trailer and we owe them a new one”
(turns out they had hit one with the edge of the trailer fender but it stood back up or another Federale stood it right back up)
Stunned silence as they wave us to proceed forward and enter the US. We roll forward.
“Are you messing with us?”
“No, now they have 3 cones surrounding us so we can’t move and they are holding up the whole line.”
We are now pulling up to the border crossing booth and hand them our passports. We tell them the issue that is happening behind us back in Mexico. They are equally as stunned as we are.
“Will they take money for a new cone?” we ask over the radios. We even asked if we could take one of the cones there on the US side and chuck it back through the security area. That didn't go over so well being government property and all.
“No, they say we owe them a new cone and won't take money.”
We sit at the booth not wanting to move forward till we know that they are ok. The 3-4 vehicles that were between us are no waiting in no man's land behind us and I can see them getting visibly aggitated. We talk with the immigration officer about their options and another supervisor that comes out from the main building to see what is up. After about 10-15 minutes of this the other truck calls over the radio and tells us that the Federales are taking all their information but will be letting them go. Relieved, out truck pulls out of the crossing and stops at the first possible place to wait for the other truck. No one can believe it after it is over. It just seems so strange.
We intended to stop somewhere north of San Diego for the night but we ended up getting stuck in the traffic jam at midnight caused by some guy ramming his Lamborghini into the center divider, splitting it in two and bursting into flames. By the time we got rolling again we just pressed on through the night back, making it back to Utah mid-day. Another Baja Adventure in the books! Can't wait to go back down.
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