Baja Solo: My birthday present

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

  1. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Day Three December 24th: Choices. >100 miles

    It got a bit chilly in the hammock overnight. To save space I only brought a 45F bag and a fleece liner, I guess this was a poor choice! Still what a great way to wake up to this view:

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    It really is a beautiful area. The hot spring rise up out of the ground and them channel them into little tubs they’ve build at each campsite. Really a neat place, but at a thousand pesos (~$55) it was the most expensive place I stayed in Baja! Riding into the campground in the dark my first night in Mexico I did not try to haggle though, so a better deal might be had?

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    Adam from San Diego walked up while I was packing up and introduced himself He was done from San Diego on a GS1200 riding with another guy on a seriously overload WR and two ladies one on an XT and another on the little brother to my bike a KLX250. We had a nice chat, although the gentleman on the WR was a bit dismissive of my kickstart only KLX300. They were not aware of a route south to San Felipe and raised concerns about gas consumption and my ability to make it out that way. My plan was to head South-East and gas up before heading back west on MX3 to Mike’s Sky Rancho or Coyote Ranch. Talking with them made me doubt this plan and ended up changing my whole trip around. Not a bad thing because of the people I would meet!

    I headed back out of the canyon and played around on the race courses and practice tracks between the mountains and the lake bed (Laguna Salada). My plan now was to head back to MX2 as according to them there was gas relatively close. From there my thought was to head west towards Tecate and hole up for the night in a hotel before cutting down through Ensenada and back towards Mike’s.

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    I played on the racecourse, wishing the whole time that I didn’t have these stupid saddlebags so I could ride it the right way! Overly conscious of running low on fuel I cut my fun short and headed back to MX2 and west to my first military check point. The young man seemed amused that I was riding the highway on a dirt bike but didn’t ask too many questions as Mi Espanol es muy mal!

    Both the bike and I were hot from playing in the sand and I missed TDC to kick start it resulting in a bit of embarrassment when I had to push it to the side and wait a minute or two to re-start it. From there I headed west only to hit some of the most delicious twisties I have ever ridden! I was having too much fun to stop and take pictures. Again, I was wishing that I wasn’t on a DOT front knobby with some chunked side knobs as I was a bit scared to lean it like I wanted to. I grabbed the image below from Google Maps. The squiggle part climbs several hundred feet (maybe a thousand?) and is breath taking.

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    I kept on trucking west to Tecate and then consulted my phone for a hotel. I ended up finding a place just past town on the way to Ensenada on MX3. It was the Hotel Tecate Inn, wifi included for something like $30 US. You pull through and archway to gain access to the hotel park in a courtyard right in front of your room, it felt very secure. The restaurant at the hotel was closed because it was Christmas Eve so I hustled north after checking in and ate at a little Taqueria that had the best tacos I had the entire trip! I’m dreaming of that Carne Asada now <drool> Three tacos and a real Coke in a returnable bottle for less that $4. Sweet! Turns out they forgot to turn on the heat in the room so I just grabbed my sleeping bag and was cozy.

    Picture stolen from the internet because I forgot to take one:

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    I was not thrilled with riding as much pavement as I did, and was a bit upset about chickening out of riding toward San Felipe on the dry lake, as I did have a 1L MSR bottle full of fuel. The problem was I have never really figured out how far I can go on a full tank, how much riding in sand would affect mileage and how mileage would be affected by riding at close to sea level instead of >6000 feet! So that night was probably the low point of my trip, I did not enjoy feeling like I had been persuaded to do something that I did not really want to do.

    Next up, Christmas a Mike's...
    #21
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  2. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Off the top of my head, so I might be missing something but roughly:

    Three t-shirts, three pairs of socks, three pairs underwear, one pair ski socks, one pair Nike shorts, one pair jogging/warmup pants, stocking cap, warm gloves, extra riding gloves, a Broncos cap, hand towel and toiletries. I wore Nike shorts and a wicking t-shirt under a motocross jersey and pants and my Joe Rocket armored jacket with a liner I removed whe it got warm. I accidentally left my heavy Under Armor sweatshirt in the 4Runner:(

    In the other bag I carried a 45F Northface sleeping bag and a fleece bag liner, a camping hammock, an inflatable Mattress, a camping candle lantern, front and rear heavy duty tubes, tire irons, some protein bars, tuna, trail mix, charging cables, GPS, and a pair of flip flops.

    I carried a camelback with water, my tool roll, reading glasses, a 1L MSR bottle with extra gasoline and room for my jacket liner when it got hot.

    I had a one man bivi tent that I strapped across the top of the two saddle bags tha t I never ended up using.

    I took no cooking gear as this wouldn’t fit and would have required wearing a back pack or strappin on another bag.

    Thinking back, I really missed the sweatshirt and tennis shoes I left in the car and did not need the bivi tent as I quickly decided it was colder than I had prepared for!

    I took about the right amount of stuff, but could have used a slightly different mix, it was colder than I had planned for.

    The guy from Utah that I ran into at the hot spring campground carried more stuff than I would use for a trip to Argentina, so I guess we are all different. In my experience backpacking and traveling, we always tend to overpack. Most times I end up unpacking clean clothes after a trip!

    Hope this is helpful.
    #22
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  3. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    They are coming, if a bit slowly!
    #23
  4. Blakebird

    Blakebird pew pew pew

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    :lurk good stuff :nod


    For future reference (I'm guessing you'll want to go back) - you can head south out of La Rumorosa and ride south in the piney woods thru the Parque Nacional to Laguna Hanson, and continue on to MX3. Gas up in a village, get off MX3 onto a previous course of the B1K, come back to pavement just north of Lazaro Cardenas (food, gas, and lodging if you find the right folks :D) - not far from the turnoff to Mike's.
    #24
  5. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Thanks for following along Blake! Yeah, I was aware of this and had some tracks for it. My dilemma was that the days were MUCH shorter than I had anticipated and I didn't want to get caught by darkness in the National Parque and have to camp because temps supposed to drop into the low 30's that night. In retrospect this would have been the better choice, but like you say NEXT TIME!
    #25
  6. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    Yeah, local went to Baja! Lets see some more
    #26
  7. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    Woot...looking forward to reading & seeing day 4. The hot springs campground sounds frickin' awesome, something like that is the perfect destination after a day in the saddle.
    #27
  8. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Day Four December 25th: Beat feet for Mikes/Coyote on XMas ~180 miles.

    I woke up early took a hot shower and headed South along Mex3. Nothing was open due to Christmas until I found an OXXO where I got coffee and donuts and refilled my Gatorade and water. From there it was a pleasant ride through a huge number of vineyards. Traffic was very light and the first Pemex I found was still closed due to Christmas, but the next one was open, fuel concerns allayed for now. I hit Ensenada and rode all the way to MX1 and down before turning back East on MX3. Once again I was a bit concerned about the lack of signage. I stopped twice to be sure I really was on MX3 and not simply being led to the middle of a barrio. Eventually I hit the right connector and headed uphill and out of town. I would have liked to spent a bit of time in Ensenada, but I was again feeling rushed about getting to either Mike’s or one of the Coyote’s early enough in the day.

    Once I was headed East I was amazed as how isolated and lonely this “highway” really was. I would ride for 30 minutes without seeing another car?! Holiday or not that seems like awfully light traffic.


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    The military checkpoint was uneventful as they waved me through. I stopped at Lazaro Cardenas for fuel and ran into a group of four dirtbikes from Los Angeles. They asked about my trip and where I was headed. When I told them I was going to head south toward Coyote they advised against it saying it was very technical. They recommended that I instead take the main road south from MX3 to Mike’s. Just before they pulled out I asked where they were headed. Their reply? “Were going to San Felipe to hit the strip clubs and party all night!”

    In retrospect, I probably should not have taken advice about how technical a trail was from guys on sparkling clean bikes with tires that didn’t look like they have ever seen dirt. :dealTheir plan was very, very different than what I came to Baja for! Either way I took their advice and stayed on MX3 until I hit the turnoff. Unfortunately the little luncheria was closed and lunch was protein bar.

    The road to Mike’s

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    Riding in was a blast! Lots of little spur roads off this to play on. I could see dropping gear at Mike’s and spending a day or two using it as a base to play from. Not another car or bike until I hit the water crossing at Mike’s I waited for a truck and a bike to film each other crossing and then made it across cleanly this time unlike at Guadalupe.

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    Required shot of my bike under the roof next to the pool!

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    Don’t know if you can tell, but the pool needed some love! I was the only one there and they seemed genuinely surprised when I showed up. The room he put me in initially had not heat and it got VERY cold. By the time I went looking for dinner I was half frozen and had to thaw myself out next to the heater in the dining room. By then another couple had shown up from San Diego in their 4Runner, Michael and Cynthia. We had a great conversation and our host warmed up to us and offered to move me to a different room where he had already started the heater. Good thing or it would have been spring before my lifeless body thawed out! The next morning I commented to Michael and Cynthia that I wouldn’t be surprised to see them again this trip….I saw them twice more, in San Felipe and Gonzaga Bay!

    For those wondering, yes every window is still covered with stickers!

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    #28
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  9. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Day Five: Now we are having an adventure! >150 miles.

    Love the roads in and out of Mikes, lots of high speed fun! I played for a while on some of them, but didn’t mess around too much as I had a higher mileage goal for the day. I also had to keep reminding myself that the consequences of an error are much higher than at home! I Had to chase several cows and a herd of horses off the roads, a vivid reminder of what happened to Kurt Casselli not far from here, Slow it down and bring it home. I finally hit MX3 and headed East. There are several miles where some of the San Felipe 250 race courses parallels the road, it was very tempting to play on this as well, but again fuel and the number of miles and wanted to travel that day kept things to a sane level. I also played on the race course a bit South of San Felipe, but let’s be honest, deep, soft sand is not as enjoyable on a bike loaded down with luggage!

    I reached San Felipe around lunch time but was still full from breakfast. So I walked along the Malecon for a bit, called home and checked in and let my parents know where I was and how I was doing. Just as I had predicted I saw Michael and Cynthia again on the Malecon as well!.

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    I decided that I could make Alfonsonia’s as it was only about 100 miles down Mex5, but by now it was 1:30 or so. I headed south on the highway which was in pretty poor shape to Puerticitos, you have to be aware that at any moment there could be a nice rim bending pothole anywhere at anytime. Once you pass Pueticitos though the pavement improves dramatically. I made good time, but it was much cooler and vibe-ier than I had planned for. As the sun hid in clouds and dropped towards the mountain it became pretty stressful. I ended up tucking down and following a minivan from Utah the last hour or so to the turn off for Alfonsonia’s. I finally hit Gonzaga bay and gassed up at the Pemex on the highway and promptly headed down the wrong road toward the resort. It turns out you can drive on either side of the airstrip. The road on the southside looks much larger, but takes you more towards Punta Finale, the smaller road on the other side of the strip takes you into the resort. Either way, I missed the entrance saw where people had dropped off the road and onto the beach to get to the right road. I followed and ended up doing DEEP sand for a few hundred yards. This was the softest, fluffiest sand I have ever been in. The bike immediately sunk to the axels. Not full with loaded saddle bags.

    Stopped to take a couple of quick pics before I went to look for a room and a meal.

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    When I got to the resort where the adventure really took hold. Outside I saw what looked like three pizza delivery bikes and nodded to their riders who had drawn a crowd. I went inside to get a room customer service was shall we say cursory at best. I finally got someone to help me…and they are full!

    Stunned, I took a step back and the pizza bike guy steps in and asks too. Same answer. I am at a bit of a loss and getting worried when Pedro introduces himself and says with his Brazilian accent “No worries, there is a plan B!” (WARNING: CS&M type material here. Skip ahead to after the parenthesis if you are offended by someone mentioning religion! I am a Christian, I teach at a Christian university and see every day that God can work in people’s lives. He did that here. He put exactly the right people together to bless all four of us through our sharing a meal, a room, our time together and our shared belief in Him. Back to your regular programing.) Pedro tells me that at the market on the highway they told him they rent rooms. So he said “Come with us! We’ll figure it out together!” Pedro is nothing if not enthusiastic. So we go out and for the first time since I have owned it I can’t start the bike. I assume that I am flustered and have flooded it. Was this a foreshadowing of things to come?

    “No problem!” says Pedro, “We’ll take care of finding a place to stay and meet you back here soon for dinner!” So, I take my gear off, and wander around taking pictures for a few minutes.

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    It is a truly beautiful place that has become a bit of an ex-pat location it would seem. Everyone we ran into seemed to be American with a little place in this enclave.

    Eventually I went back and kick the bike to life with one kick. THAT’s the KLX I know and love! Made it about a ¼ mile before it started to die because someone had shut the gas off when I flooded it <DUH> Waited bit and got it started, met up with my new companions and we had dinner together at Alfonsonia’s They had negotiated a small condo for us to share for a very reasonable rate. Pedro’s two sons played the ring-toss game to decide who got the couch…I told Lucas the secret to the game and he nailed it first try putting his older brother Peter on the couch for the night! Sorry Peter. Thank you again boys, you are terrific young men and it was a pleasure hanging out with you!

    Now this is only my own opinion, but later on in my saga I met some SERIOUS Baja guys who shared it. If you are heading this way, skip Alfonsonia’s, it is not what it was. The service was bad, the food was the worst I had in Baja and they could have cared less that we were trying to give them our money. Apparently the word has gotten out and they are so busy that they don’t feel the need to care much about their customers. My friends from later in the week told me that they have stayed there multiple times a year for many years, but will never go back. If you want to see the bay I recommend stopping at the market on the highway and getting a place from them instead. YMMV

    I bought us all dinner to the tune of maybe $35 and they covered the cost of the little condo we shared.

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    The “Pizza Bikes” with the KLX in the background. The boxes they used carried all of their gear and were lockable and weather-proof, what great solution!

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    I tooled around on one of the Italik1 125’s a bit and it was terrific! A perfect bike for Baja roads: light, easy to ride, easy to fix and that Honda clone will probably run forever. It might be a bit small for me though…

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    Views of the bay in the morning light.

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    Pedro is originally from Rio and is now a long time Resident of Redmond Washington. He has traveled extensively by motorcycle including a 13,000 mile trip from Redmond to Rio on a Vstrom. In fact, he currently owns more motorcycles that I have owned in my entire life. It took Pedro and both his sons to compile a complete list of all the bikes he has! The reason for Mexican made 125cc pizza bikes? To show his sons that you don’t need a $30,000 motorcycle and $2000 in Klim clothing to tour by motorcycle, a really terrific thing. His point was that you just need to go do it! When we were having dinner at Alfonsonia’s a father and son walked in decked out head to toe in Klim gear and Aria helmets, riding brand new “Adventure” bikes. They probably were rolling with six-figures worth of gear and bikes. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with that, if you can, then consider yourself blessed and enjoy. BUT, Pedro had outfitted himself and both his sons for about the same price that those gentlemen had in the riding gear! I bet the experience was every bit, if not more special, for Peter and Lucas as it was for that young man on the brand spanking new African Twin. Pedro is teaching them to live their lives, truly amazing. It was one of the high points of the trip sharing room with them, a true joy!


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    We shared breakfast together at the Mercado on the highway and with a prayer for the motorcycle traveler that their wife/mother had written we went our separate ways.

    Next time, I pet a whale?!
    #29
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  10. Blakebird

    Blakebird pew pew pew

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    Those little 125 clones are a very cool idea, I'll bet they get fantastic mileage.


    ~ten years ago the pavement ended not far south of San Felipe - dirt down to Puertecitos and beyond. The 'new' pavement you encountered has been ongoing in bits and spurts for years, and is probably most of the way to Coco's by now. It was somewhere past Gonzaga Bay turnoff last time we were there - which has been too long ago!

    Takes some of the adventure out of it....but honestly, that old dirt road beat the crap out of anything less dirtworthy than an XR600 :D
    Lets you cover some ground faster though - look forward to more, bet the shorter days made a difference in miles/day covered.
    #30
  11. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    That pool looks like that in every pic I've seen in RR. Can't remember where I read it, but there is another place to stay not too far away that people say is now a better option than Mike's.
    #31
  12. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Last it read on various Baja boards is the construction is well past Gonzaga.
    It's alignment is west of Coco's and thus Coco's will be a dirt side road when the paved is completed.
    #32
  13. Cabrito

    Cabrito Busted Up

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    So much win in post #29 -


    This is a great story. You and they guys on the pizza delivery bikes have the true adventure spirit in its purest form. I like your observations and that you're not judging anyone for doing things their own way - good on you man!


    This report is making me get real anxious for my Baja trip in a few weeks...
    #33
  14. liv2day

    liv2day Been here awhile

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    Already been said, but I want to say it again - the story about Pedro and his adventure with his boys is simply outstanding. So cool that you met someone like that along your journey, ended up sharing meals and getting a place to stay together. There's something special about folks who ride.

    Enjoying the heck out of this report!
    #34
  15. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Yep, they could ride all day and barely use any gas. Realistically with the type and quality of roads they were absolutely perfect, you could easily go as fast as was prudent and still be perfectly comfortable.

    The road is absolutely a mess in the construction zone, the detours are apparently random and signage is pretty much nonexistent! It feels like most of the bridges are done, but that they willl be a long time getting it completed. They have completely routed around Coco’s and if you want to get there you have to either know where to go or head back Northeast off one of the detour sections. To be honest I had a blast riding them though, the KLX just ate the rough and I was able fly along. A couple of flat-bills in their four wheel drive trucks thought they were all that with chips and wouldn’t let me by for miles. WhenI finally found a place where I could pass them it was almost comically how quickly they disappeared in my little mirror despite their best efforts. Wrong tool for the job fellas.

    The days were SO much shorter than I had anticipated and it definitely cut into my mileage and comfort.
    #35
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  16. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Yep, it is a ways south now. I didn’t think to mark it on my gps though. Coco’s is no longer even on the route and you have to put in the effort to go see him. I did not ask him, but the impression I got was that he is not happy about it!
    #36
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  17. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the compliment and for reading along. Yep, Pedro and his son’s were a highlight and I was honored to sp nd the time I did with them!
    #37
  18. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    I’m sure you will have a blast . What bike are you taking?
    #38
  19. MaParkerColo

    MaParkerColo Been here awhile

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    Probably either Coyote Ranch or Meling Ranch, apparently they are owned by the same family. That was my original destination and would be on a return trip. I think Mike’s maybe surviving off of history and reputation at this point. I mean who does want a picture of their bike next to the pool?!
    #39
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  20. Cabrito

    Cabrito Busted Up

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    It's my thrid year with a group of friends. I take my XR400 and we trailer down to Bahia De Los Angeles and do a 1000 mile loop with most of it being off-pavement.

    I was thinking about what you were saying about the sand with luggage.. I've really only done it with luggage so I'm used to it, but I bet it's actually fun on an unloaded bike.

    Looking forward to more of your report... It's getting um, interesting with the teasers..
    #40