Baja Solo: My birthday present

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by MaParkerColo, Jan 7, 2018.

  1. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Colorado
    This is my own summary of a seven day solo Baja trip. I am posting it partially for my own edification, partially to help others considering such a ride and mostly as a way of saying thank you for those who either gave me advice, encouragement, companionship or most importantly assistance along the road! If you get some enjoyment or useful information from it terrific, if not my feelings won’t be hurt. Since I tend to go heavy on riding and light on the pictures may not be the most visually stimulating, but it may give you a taste of what is involved. At the end I plan on giving a summary and some advice for those considering something similar.

    A bit of background, this trip was thrown together in about three weeks on a whim. My wife and I were walking the dog when she asked me what I wanted for my birthday. At some point she made a comment about “Wow, you’re really getting up there!” or something similar. Keep in mind that she is only four years younger, but claims it’s more like 10 or 12. My reply to this was something along the lines of “Well maybe I should doing something that I always wanted to do before I get to old and decrepit!” “Like what?” she said. “Ride my dirt bike in Baja?” I replied. “Ok, you don’t care about being here for you birthday or Christmas go ahead.” Upon hearing this I began to tell everyone I could think of so that I couldn’t back out J

    The only issue was as a professor I had to survive the last week of classes, final exams and all the grading involved before I could even really prepare for the trip. This resulted in a bit of a rushed and ill-prepared pre-trip plan, but I simply told myself that I would be flexible and not have any set itinerary so that I could adapt as the situation demanded. The most planning I did was to find a used Gamin Nuvi and load tracks on it kindly provided by Big Dog. His blog Bigdog Adventures and threads here were a huge help and inspiration too. Thanks Mark!!!

    Day One Friday Dec 22

    - Stayed up until the wee hours finalizing grades and packing during my breaks. Just some final bike prep and I would be off. You should never plan on fitting a new tire as the last thing you do before leaving on a 16 hour drive to the border. Cue the Benny Hill music: You should also not leave the new tire in the house to get warm while you use a rock hard old tire as your base for removing the new one. You might spoon on that tough as can be old tire by accident and only realize when you flip it over to put the tube in. :devildog These antics (and a few other poor plans) caused me to depart about four hours later than I had hoped. I just kept telling myself “Don’t stress out you are going to Baja!” I decided to use the hitch carrier rather than pull the little trailer, just less wear and tear on the trailer since I would be running over 2200 miles in the truck just to get to the border and back. This ended up being a good choice as I was able to run 80+ mph for much of the trip, something I would not have done pulling the little Harbor Freight trailer.

    - I wanted to stay east of the mountains because of a predicted storm so I took I25 all the way to Albuquerque and then headed West on I40. My 4Runner and Siri did not agree on the best route and I ended up trusting my phone, only because the phone was showing a road closure the truck didn’t pick up on. This led my through some really scenic country in Arizona…unfortunately it was too dark to really see anything. I grabbed an hour of sleep in the back of the truck until I got too cold, didn’t want to unpack my sleeping bag since I had managed to crush everything down into two saddlebags.

    Day Two December 23: Mexico baby, on my birthday no less! Approximately 75 miles.

    - I made it to AA parking by lunchtime only to sit in their entrance with six or eight other cars for half an hour before I finally got someone to admit that they were full! Grr… I hightailed it over to Parking De Valle along with another gringo. Interesting place: parking/forklift service/wrecking/wrecking yard, I think I paid $16 for the week. They had me remove my license plates and store them in the car which seemed a bit sketchy, but it worked out fine and they were nice as could be. They were closing soon apparently, so I rushed to mount the luggage on the bike and get going. This rushing lead me to forget my sweatshirt and tennis shoes in the truck. I also managed to break a luggage strap kick starting the bike. I hit the money changer and it was packed with people returning to Mexico for the Holiday weekend. Calexico is interesting, it is still in the US, but it definitely had the feel of being in Mexico: almost no English being spoken, different driving style, traffic flow, etc. I crossed at the West crossing at Calexico and immediately pulled over to get my FMM. There was parking marked off with cones that the helpful gentleman directed me to. I was going to stay longer than 7 days, but ended up just getting the shorter stay to save a few bucks. This ended up being fortuitous as it had me heading North at the right place and time when the serious adventure began.

    - I have driven Mexico before, but it took a few minutes to adjust to the immediate change of driving for 18 hours in the US to immediately almost being run down at an Alto sign because I actually Alto’ed!? Signage is another issue. I have become used to being able to rely on road signs to drive almost anywhere in the US without relying on the GPS in the dash, on my phone or the little Garmin unit…not so in Mexicali. I say ONE sign of MX2 with an arrow and then drove for what felt like miles…I kind of panicked and ended up pulling into of all places a Walmart parking lot to consult my GPS. I had taken the correct exit from the roundabout, but two days removed from the shortest day of the year the sun had that going down feel already, not comforting.

    - I headed West along MX2 worrying about my saddle bags rubbing, the gearing on the bike, the accessory plug that I had wired into the cobbled together DC system I have pieced together on the bike, the lowering sun, being killed by crazy drivers, etc. etc. Not the most relaxing initial ride. In my rush to throw this thing together I had neglected to purchase a handlebar mount for my GPS. This necessitated keeping it in a pocket or saddlebag and then pulling over to consult it. Not the most useful technique when attempting to dodge potholes, topes and the mostly wrecked cars which pass as transportation in much of this area. I am fascinated by the Mexican maintenance plan that many subscribe to: 1) If it comes loose, drive until it falls off. 2) If it falls off and the car is still moving, it wasn’t that that important anyway.

    - I finally made the turn South off MX2 towards Canon de Gaudalupe. Note the already failing light…

    -[​IMG]

    - Finally! What I came for Baja dirt! I hammered along passing a couple of Gringos in SUV’s like they were parked and made the turn West at full sunset. I rode the last few miles into the campgrounds in full dark. Took the turn to the left side of the canon, dabbed in the water crossing :dirtdogand picked a campsite in the dark

    [​IMG]

    - I hung my hammock between two trees right next to my own hot spring tub and enjoyed a dinner of tuna and a protein bar while soaking in the warm water. “Ah, Baja!”
    #1
    USCGC130, Kmack, Steve G. and 16 others like this.
  2. JoToPe

    JoToPe JoToPe

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Oddometer:
    156
    Location:
    Burleson, Texas
    Ah, Baja! I’m in!


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    #2
  3. borscht zanetti

    borscht zanetti Pura Vida ! ... eh?

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2008
    Oddometer:
    730
    Location:
    Castlegar, BC Canuckistan
    Me too ... in!
    #3
  4. Cabrito

    Cabrito Busted Up

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    326
    Location:
    415
    I've been waiting for your to do your ride report, and it's not disappointing...


    This cracked me up!
    -
    #4
  5. CanadianX

    CanadianX Oh!? That is deep.

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,705
    Location:
    New Brunswick
    My wife and I are headed to Baja in Feb and thought about visiting Canon de Gaudalupe early in the trip. I read that motorbikes are not allowed at the campground is this correct?

    Also, spooning on the old tire...bajahahahaha :lol3
    #5
  6. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    28,956
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    I think there is/was a sign saying no dirtbikes...as in wandering in, looking around & then leaving.

    They will of course love for you to visit, pay & stay. Many have.
    #6
    Cabrito likes this.
  7. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    495
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    In, can't get enough Baja reports...especially this time of year in the PNW.

    Good on you for getting out to do this on your b-day, that's awesome :thumb:thumb
    #7
  8. RiderRick

    RiderRick Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2013
    Oddometer:
    263
    Location:
    Southeast Minnesota
    Great start to your report, I will follow along.
    #8
  9. CanadianX

    CanadianX Oh!? That is deep.

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,705
    Location:
    New Brunswick
    Great! Thanks for the confirmation.
    #9
    eakins likes this.
  10. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    28,956
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    #10
    billmaxx97 likes this.
  11. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2009
    Oddometer:
    17,621
    Location:
    Edmonton, Alberta
    You have my attention. :clap
    #11
  12. advrockrider

    advrockrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    822
    Location:
    Norcal
    More, more more! I'm not headed down until March....
    #12
  13. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    744
    Location:
    Colorado
    I’m glad you enjoyed my mistake, I certainly didn’t! That thing was a nightmare to get off again. :bluduh

    The ‘no motorcycles’ sign refers to ridding them around in the campground. They try to keep it quiet and peaceful, no bikes, no loud music, etc. They welcome motorcycle travelers, there were at least 5 bikes there that night.

    Hope to have day two up tomorrow...
    #13
    eakins and CanadianX like this.
  14. CanadianX

    CanadianX Oh!? That is deep.

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2010
    Oddometer:
    3,705
    Location:
    New Brunswick
    Laughing only at what I imagined the look on your face might have been when you realized the mistake. Thanks for the info regarding bikes at the campground. We'll be 2up on a GSA so I'm wondering how hard it will be riding in over the lake bed. Did you make a reservation or just show up?

    Look forward to your next installment.
    #14
  15. C5dad

    C5dad Man on the Run!

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2015
    Oddometer:
    99
    Location:
    Arizona, fer now
    Cant wait to read more!
    #15
  16. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    495
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Sorry for the quick off-topic reply, MaParkerColo, sorta related though...lol.

    Thanks for the link, I'll be down there riding at some point in the near future...need the logistics to work to get our bikes down there and convince my in-laws to fly down with our boys. It'll happen :thumb

    Looking forward to day 2 :ricky:ricky
    #16
  17. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    28,956
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    We need pics!
    #17
    disconnected likes this.
  18. 29andSingle

    29andSingle Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2009
    Oddometer:
    543
    Location:
    Littleton CO
    ^ What he said......
    #18
  19. Cabrito

    Cabrito Busted Up

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Oddometer:
    326
    Location:
    415
    Your gear looks really compact. I'd love to see a list of what you brought with you. That's a small load for a week long trip.
    #19
  20. KingJeff

    KingJeff Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 18, 2010
    Oddometer:
    69
    Location:
    Front Range
    I'm in! I've been wanting to do a trip like this for a while now.
    #20