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Old 11-12-2012, 07:30 AM   #1
nomad5326 OP
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Joined: Feb 2012
Location: San Diego, Ca
Oddometer: 305
BMW F650GS Dakars Xplore Baja Norte (OCT 2012)

Started with 6 potential riders from San Diego and Orange County and the list dwindled down to just my brother and I (family and work always take us from our adventures dont they!), but it was great as my brother (let along my brothers) and I don't get much time together as it is. Brian (my brother ) planned to fly out from East Tennessee to San Diego and do the ride with me. He drove from East Tennessee to Nashville (4hrs) to find his flight cancelled and was rerouted. Supposed to be here at 230pm and finally flew in at 1030p (a long day of flying for an East Coaster). He showed up, we hugged and for the remainder of the night he and my daughter (until we put her to bed) went over the rough route, pre-checked and packed the bikes bikes, drank beer and ate pizza until 1 when we called it quits and crashed hard. Woke at 630 to get my daughter to school and he and I did final reviews, ate breakfast, loaded up on coffed and were out the door by 0900 (with no-one else but else I dropped the 0830 wheels up at the border thing!). Headed down the fwy 5S (I had to constantly tell him it's OK to ride 80 on the fwy, he was killing me but reluctantly kept up. By the end of the trip I couldn't keep up w/him ;-)

Fri: Left Carlsbad on 5S to the Tecate border, rolled through and headed East to the turnoff for Compadre Trail. Stopped for a quick taco or 2 and to look at the map. Ill be honest here. Ive traveled the world and besides Thai food, roadside Baja food is the most delicious food in the world and this would be our staple for the entire trip!

Was initially going to take Laguna Hansen near La Rummarosa but with a late start and shortened daylight hours we took the closer route.

Loved the route, we could go fast, slow and didn't see a single person (this would be the theme for the weekend) for over 3 hours until we hit a Federale Checkpoint. Brian was up front and since I knew he would be a little freaked out to see armed guys in the middle of no-where I backed off to enjoy the show of them opening his pockets, bags and asking him questions while he mumbled in TN Spanglish words that even he couldn't understand…
Were having fun and got a bit sidetracked and followed the route back up into Constitution Nat Park/Laguna Hansen for about an hour (or so......) before I realized we bypassed our turn. Turned back south and hit HWY3 just before dark. Found a lady selling gasoline from her place, rolled in, honked and filled up w/3gal each (we had a gal in reserve) and headed west another 30 miles to Mikes turnoff.
Pitch black by the time we hit the turnoff and w/no aux lighting the 22mi road to Mikes was a bit slower than we thought but we rolled in at 7. Mike met us at the front and told us he'd get our room and dinner rolling (why can't I get this service at home?!). Dropped gear, showered and rolled into the bar for a beer and dinner. GoBajaRiding was there w/a 8 man group from LA and ATL and one additional guy from LA (INHO - B4thenite on ADV) headed somewhere South on his own grand adventure. He's new to riding dirt- 4months now I think- and riding solo. WIsh we had time to join him as we loved the people we met on this trip. Anyway, ate dinner, drank a few more Tecate's and was in bed and asleep by 1000pm. Looked at the map and was amazed that we spent an entire day on the trail and hadn't traveled all that far. Man I
must be getting old…

Brian (Left), Me (Michael-Right)....I'm the old one.

Sat: Mikes west on dirt to hwy 3 to VDT for gas and a Red Bull and then south on dirt to HWY1. We missed the road in VDT so took a parallel road (I have this thing with going back) that ended up being SAND/SILT for close to 2-3 miles.

SAND!!!!!!!!!!!!!! When I learn to tackle this w/confidence at any speed I will then be king of my own world!

I love this picture and played with it. Sand looks SO SIMPLE..until you are on a heavier, laden bike and then it becomes your Nemesis! I have two weak points on my ridding and it is Sand and rocks. My brothers is flat land speed, maneuver and whoops. He crushes me on rocks and sand and I cannot for the life of me understand why he cant ride fast!
He had the camera for most of the trip so rest assured his bike was eaten by sand and rocks too but definitely not as much.

Sliding into Home Plate.....SAFE!

Took some sand lessons that felt like I was chasing chickens and flipping tires all day and then found a perpendicular route to link us up with our initial track.

Headed through the hills on a beautiful road to HWY 1 where we headed south to Camalu. Hit Camalu and went straight to the coast and road coastal up until is was getting a bit dark.

I wanted to be in Erindira by nightfall so we played as long as we could on the coast then turned back to the fwy and raced up to the turnoff to Erindira.

We ran this Baja road at about 65-75mph and were having a blast going back and forth from this dirt/gravel to the sand/dirt road on the inbound side. Pretty proud of ourselves until a guy on what must have been a comet flew by us sideways in the air and left us in his dust. When his dust cleared he was nowhere in sight. Met him later at the hotel just up the road on a Baja Prepped 450F bike. Dude could ride!

Found Coyote Cals by 730 and was rushed to rooms (I lucked up with the Crows Nest) and dinner which was already being cooked by Ricks wife (Thai = Delicious Curries). Met three guys on 1200GS"s from LA who where there to fish and a younger guy from NZ on a really cool '84 650XL. KInda an artists' bike w/a leather jacket seat, old Triumph headlight, and some other really artistic touches. He was headed south to SA but was nursing a sprained ankle. Sat by the fire and drank beers till 10 and was again out cold. Beautiful place in a really cool place. Get the Thai massage if you go. worked out all the aches and pains even if it's forced yoga!

Sun: Left Coyote Cals at 9am and headed North along the coast enroute to Punta Santo Tomas. This was some of the most beautiful traveling other than the route from Camalu. The first hour found us in some thick sand trying to link up with our route that had Brian up to his axle (this is a theme, he drills down to the axles and I just throw my bike down)
in the sand.

Tide was coming in and the dropoff was a good 4ft so we had to ride over the shore rocks to some harder sand before we linked up to our route. Saw this beautiful hill leading up into the mountains so sped up it. Got this awesome shot and wish we took some more. We climbed up in the hills then back to the coast where we were flying down beautiful roads with ice whoops and turns.

Probably our best riding and really pushed the bikes this day with lots of speed, rocks, whoops and some smiley faced air. Met back up at ST on HWY 1, had hand made tacos and then pushed up to Ensenada.

Culture shock in Ensenada (not used to cars and people by now) and got through there as fast as we could. Hit the coast again and pressed on to La Mission where we had a few at La Fonda's then on to Puerto Nuevo. Rolled into town and got the usual swarm of restaurateurs throwing prices at you but went to our old favorite Chellas where we used to take our family and friends (been 6 years since I've been back to Baja). 8 ˝'s for $16 and they were small. Restaurant was empty, service sucked but we ate, drank a bit and then rolled next too to the Grand Baja for a room ($60). Unpacked, showered and rolled back into PN this time going to Ortegas for a beer where Brian ordered another batch of Lobsters 8 ˝'s for $14 and they were MED/LG and way better!

Chilled, told stories and drank till 930 and back to our room where we were both snoring by 10.

Mon: Original route had us back to Ojos Negros and Laguna Hansen home but wanted Brian to have some time w/my family so w chose to do the Lobster Run to Tecate.

Beautiful route and it started off really fast with open terrain and beautiful hills. Slowly turned into the little rocks and then some baby head sized rocks that slowed us down a bit.

I dropped my bike a couple of times until the last time my crash guard bolt head sheared off and pushed the guard into the radiator. Patched it w/some JB weld while Brian went scouting. Ran into a another Xpat rider (Kevin I think from Rosarito who followed us to a farm just shy of Ponchos' where we got some water and plotted a new route out through Otay Mesa. We hung out a while, and decided the bike was good to ride as long as we could keep air flowing over it so Kevin led us to the Otay border and bid us an adios amigos and off we went. Can't thank him enough for his time and leading us back on some shortcuts.


Hit some hi RPM stuff but temps stayed down. Beautiful and fast route out to the fwy where we were met again w/culture shock of the ugliness of TJ and surrounding area.
I cannot say enough for the friendliness and hospitality of the men and women of Baja. Always giving you the shirt off thier backs, gas from their vehicles and food and a place to stay should you need it. We should take note and be less suspicious of everything. Reminds me of growing up in TN. I miss that sense of community even in the desolate areas.

Left the ranch and sped to the border, worked our way up front, and were through in 15min. Pressed to Imperial Beach, grabbed some Radiator Sealant (not sure why I didn't have it welded in Mx) and headed to Coronado to my local bar (Danny's) for a beer, then home to my GF in Del Mar and the kiddos.

Tues: Woke up, rode to Carlsbad, unpacked the bikes, showered, helped Brian repack, his cloud 9 shuttle came and I trailed him south and waved by as I headed back south to Coronado to go to work. No time to sit around and tell stories and bit lies for us. Brian had the camera most of the time but rest assured he dropped his bike too!

What would I change: Not much.
Route: Nothing really. We concetrated on being off road so completely missed out on some of the missions, etc we could have seen. But, the route was completely adaptable and enjoyable. Next time I want 8-10 days.
Terrain: Rocks....I think that GOD took all the ugly rocks he didn't want and threw them in SOCAL and Baja. There're huge ones and small ones, all ugly all bring some sort of pain....! Sand, I will get this one figured out. I've ridden smaller bikes in the sand for years and still figureing out my Dakar in the silty stuff. Fun none the less.
Bikes: I love my Dakars. I have three (1) with a KYB and Wilbers upgrade - LOVE IT; and (2) with Hyperpro front and rear spring upgrades w/heavier weight in the front (10WT). I took the KYB and my upgraded stock bike on the trip and every bike handled awesome. We couldn've taken lighter bikes but they are all I have and they run forever, climb like pack mules and handled everything we threw at them.
Packing: We packed to camp but didn't and I had food and water for 4 days. Could've gone lighter but whats a tent, stove food and bags weigh? Still would've brought rotopax gas/water. Radiator stop leak would've helped but so would've checking my bolts every morning.
Tires: TKC's on mine, and I put Kenda Big Blocks on my spare (Brians). The BB's are now at less than 25% usuable. They wore fast. my TKC's are at 50% or more usuable. Both were brand new.
Never blew a seal, bottomed out (resprung/heavier oil), got a flat but had all to change if necessary. If just for this trip I would just use 606's again.
Comms: Made the trip easier if not more humorous. Im running Midland cause it's cheap but ran on CH15 which is GRMS and race radio capable. Got to talk to a couple guys on ATV's and the GBR guys.
NAV: A borrowed Etrex 30 because my Rino 130 wouldn't synch w/my Mac was doable but SMALL! I really hate updating tech, I like what I like. But may move to the new Montana.
Bags: Had we not prepared to camp I would't have brought them but my Wolfman expeditions took a beating and not a tear. Same for the racks and rotopax.
Gear: Standard MX kit w/armor but I cannot say enough about my Ogio Flight vest. Didn't run a tank bag so the vest as usual made everything easy and all accessible. We kept all the tools, spares, camera, SPOT, water and snacks in it and loved it. Didn't even know it was on. Gives you a easy layout when needed and has room for everything but a spare tire!

Great trip, thanks to all for who helped with linking tracks and will definitely do again! Cheers.

nomad5326 screwed with this post 06-26-2013 at 01:29 PM
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Old 11-12-2012, 09:59 AM   #2
Baja Ho
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Joined: Jul 2007
Location: Central Coast, CA. USA & Cabo San Lucas, Baja Sur
Oddometer: 796
Nice report, great that you got to ride with your brother. Have not made it to Coyote Cal's yet, one of these day's.
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:12 AM   #3
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Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Korea Town, Los Angeles,
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very nice!!!

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Old 11-12-2012, 02:13 PM   #4
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Joined: Feb 2006
Location: Kamloops, BC
Oddometer: 908
There are never enough Baja RR's..... welcome to Baja...

Ged Schwartz
Kamloops , BC

Baja '05 , Baja 06/07 , Baja 08/09 , BC Alpine Single Track

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Old 11-12-2012, 07:06 PM   #5
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Joined: Mar 2010
Location: Arizona
Oddometer: 968
Nice report, Baja is a special place.
I like the photo with the silt running between your fingers.
Eating_goat_with_the_Cartel , Never_ventured_never_gained
oncostaricantime , boundlessbooger , 1998xr400buildwithe-start
Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment - Mark_Twain

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Old 11-12-2012, 07:42 PM   #6
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Joined: Sep 2011
Location: Upland, CA
Oddometer: 617
Confused. How did you report on a ride that has not happened yet? November 26-30 has not happened. That's the week I'll be in Baja.

Stop trying to steer the bike in the sand. Very light grip, hug the tank with your knees and let the front wheel "ski".
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Old 11-12-2012, 10:33 PM   #7
nomad5326 OP
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Joined: Feb 2012
Location: San Diego, Ca
Oddometer: 305
Ha! I didn't even realize the "November"- thanks; the ride was in Oct but I do have a time machine!!

Still learning the sand riding on bigger bikes-thanks for the tips, and believe me I had a VERY TIGHT GRIP!

nomad5326 screwed with this post 06-26-2013 at 01:24 PM
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