Disclaimer - I don't know if this qualifies as an "epic ride," a ride report, or even a ride for that matter. Please have patience the first 3 days dont include almost any riding. Skip to the second post if all you want is motorbikes and no backstory. Since Ive posted very little on ADV, a quick bit about me first. Im 29, live in a vineyard in the middle of the Napa Valley, work in the wine industry, and essentially do nothing but work and ride motorcycles. Ive been riding and traveling my whole life, but its been about 8 years since I owned any kind of dirt machine. I bought a brand-new WR250R in early December with the intention of crashing back into my sandy, rock-strewn, single track roots.<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o></o> My grand plan was to do this Baja trip in early spring, and I certainly wasnt ready to go on short notice. When I left on 12/22, the WR had only 200 miles on it, and was still missing the requisite 4.7 gallon IMS tank needed to survive in Baja (or anywhere, for that matter). My original plan was to ride all the way to Cabo, super-light camping style. But, being a corporate pawn, things change, and I found myself with only 10 days at the end of December. When my wife had to go back to Seattle for a family emergency, I called an audible: load the bike into my truck, toss in some ramps/firewood/beer, and be off to the tropics. Use the truck as a mother ship, ride to some interesting places, and wake up every morning with a hangover under a cactus. <o></o> Then I stumbled onto a problem: I dont own a truck. Nor does anyone I know willing to let me drop 3,000 miles on it in a foreign country. So I did what any financially-conscious 29 year-old would: I bought a truck. No research, no shopping around, just a quick run to Marin for a chariot to drive me to my desert dreams. No need to bother checking if the WR would fit in the bed right???<o></o> No hyperbole hereI bought the Ranger 48 hours before I was planning to leave at 4am. That afternoon I had ramps, a Coleman stove, a 5 gallon gas can, and some maps overnighted to me. I spent almost 3 hours of the first night getting the bike in, the tailgate closed, and the ramps to fit. Its literally a by-a-millimeter proposal. I knew right away it would cause fits once I was out there, and brought a hacksaw just in case. I could've used the Dremel while I was still home but hey, all adventure is built on uncertainty, so caution to the wind. Cooler packed, will signed, credit cards readywere off to the races. <o></o> <o></o> At 3am on 12/22, I was startled awake by my entire house shaking. This is earthquake country, and in my sleepy haze I figured the whole thing would crumble and Id die before I had the chance to get murdered. I jumped up, only to see a flash of lightning and hear the crack of thunder about a half second later. Those of you in other parts of the world will laugh at this, but Ive lived here 3 years and never even seen lightning. It was never mentioned on the weather report the previous night, so it was a bit surprising. Satisfied with the knowledge Id gained, I hopped back in bed, turned up the heat, and listened to the rain pounding against the window. Then I made the worst mistake possible: I thought, I should just leave now. So I did. <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> Day 1: Oakville to Ensenada <o></o> <o></o> To say this was a boring day would be a disservice to the word itself. I drove through the Valley in the gnarliest rainstorm Ive ever seen, cruised I-5 to San Diego, saw a Bentley being towed, drank a record five Amps, and ate 3 bags of sunflower seeds. I saw two accidents, crossed the border in Tecate (absolutely brilliant), and got a Tourista card I wouldnt need, ever. Stopped at a bar and grabbed a (what else?) Tecate to celebrate my arrival in Meh-hee-coe. Dashed on through Mexican Wine Country (LOL) and into Ensenada, further into Baja than Id ever been. Despite Ensenada being a complete and utter dump, dont listen to Greenpeace because you really cant ruin the ocean: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> I pressed on into the darkness, eventually pulling into a seemingly abandoned waterpark/massive campground. Maybe I missed the rapture? I drove through hundreds of sites, and eventually just pulled into one and hopped out. Brewskie open, stove lit, beef stew for dinner. I was immediately shocked by two things: how cold it was (shoulda brought that jacket ), and how luxurious it was to camp out of an actual vehicle. Its been about 20 years since Ive done that, the rest has been backpacking and motorcycle camping. I drank about half a bottle of tequila to celebrate. Contemplating the best way to write a shitty ride report when I got back: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> Oh yeah, and one of the accidents from earlier in the day: Day 2: Ensenada to Bahia Concepcion <o></o> <o></o> This was "the big one." I wanted to make it all the way to La Paz..in one day. Oh, to be naïve. Then I discovered that MEX 1 is not I-10. Other than the shoulders being covered in trash, they have nothing in common. I drove like a maniac all day, tires squealing, body rolling, tail sliding aka I fit right in. Who knew Mexico was a giant raceway? I gave a local a 30 mile ride in the bed of the truck since his Ranger (ominously) had broken down. He lay down on the roof at one point, while we were going about 50 mph. Gotta love third world countries! Here's my buddy in the bed of the truck: <o></o> <o></o> Back to the Pacific near El Rosario: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> My first boojum sighting: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> Now this is Baja: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> Just because you can, doesnt mean you should??? <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> An outrageous sunset near La Joya: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> I once again discovered that sunsets are immediately followed by darkness. Very, very darkness. I drove on and on in the pitch black, wishing nothing more than to have high beams that were actually brighter than the low beams. They say dont drive at night in Baja, and they mean it (more on this later). When I finally spotted a little cove called Playa Santispac, I was ready to drive into the ocean just to end the madness. I could see immediately that this would be an epic campsite. I was right, and went right to work on boozing and playing with longer exposures: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> At some point I went to sleep. In my tent, surprisingly. <o></o> <o></o> Day 3: Bahia Concepcion to Playa Conjeo. <o></o> Despite my consumption habits, when Im on the road I waste no time and always wake up before sunrise: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> I was shocked by how peaceful and pretty the bay was. Absolute silence in the early morning calm: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> Wait, screw the early morning calm! Im supposed to be in La Paz. Throw everything in the truck (so much easier than packing a bike!) and hit the road. To Conejo by noon, facing my first experience with Bajas specialty: the washboard. 10 miles of juddering and creaking to make it to the beach. I had to stop and check on my poor truck: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> I had crazy cabin fever at this point and immediately unloaded the WR and fired it up. Well, not before I drank an Air, met some other campers, and took a nap. Nice place to do that: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> I woke up feeling refreshed, and the moment had finally come. Time to rip. Slithering through deep sand to get out of my campsite, I had to stop a half dozen times to regain my composure and relax my sphincter. And since I hate sand so much, off to the beach itself! To get stuck. About 10 times. One of the rare moments when I had actually been moving: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> Exhausted, I went back to camp and gave great consideration to whether this trip was a good idea. I didnt feel unsafe at all (apparently Mexico is violent?), but my off-road skills were nothing like riding a bicycleI couldnt seem to tell my ass from my elbow. Given the adventurous plans I had, I could only hope Id survive. Or at least hope I didn't get a flat that I wasnt sure I remembered how to change. Then I discovered something: Mezcal heals all wounds! Sipped on a little while watching the sun set: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> Then sipped on some more while chilling by the fire: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> That new WR whip, under a Van Gogh: <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> <o></o> That's a "Starry Night" reference, by the way. Stay tuned.