Baja, the Long Way

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by HardWorkingDog, Feb 19, 2013.

  1. AZ TOM

    AZ TOM Long timer

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    Great stuff HWD. The WRR looks right at home down there.
  2. SFMCjohn

    SFMCjohn 13

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    Hi HWD,

    Great stuff ... what did you learn about the differnece between a dirt road and random tracks? Anything other than don't take random tracks? Ha. :ear

    Someday I'll try to head south from the hot springs, but I'm usually with Cary and I've read enough "Bermuda Triangle" ride reports that we just head back north ...

    see you around the campfire,
    -- SFMCjohn
  3. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

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    Yeah, it's not an adventure until shit breaks. :D

    And DRs NEVER have problems with clutch baskets.... LOL... my wife's was making a funny noise, and when I took it apart, I could wiggle the clutch basket on the transmission input shaft about 1/8"!!!!
  4. rnrdozer

    rnrdozer Been here awhile

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    Chico, ca.
    Al, I attended one of Paul Thede's seminars last summer and got the book! Great job on the book! I even enjoyed the humor thrown in here and there.
  5. LittleWan

    LittleWan You can do it!

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    up on the pegs, in CA
    :lol3

    I love that clip!

    ¡Hola amigo! ¿Qué ondas?
    We got back last night. :D Reading your RR (and mrdozer's) is keeping me from starting mine...
    Wow, looks like you and the pup sure found some adventure!

    Anyway, I'm looking forward to reading more...

    :lurk
  6. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Yup. It was great. The DR has a lot of good things going for it, but the WRR is on my son's list now...

    Hiya John--a bit more on that in the next installment. It's not a big deal unless you're a Baja noob, like we were.

    Hey, my link-bait actually worked! :wave

    Glad to have you along, but give me a break and wait awhile longer to start yours so I don't get too discouraged and just give up. There's only 4 weeks to go...


    :jive
  7. Roadracer_Al

    Roadracer_Al louder, louder, louder!

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    Very cool! The seminar falls into "expensive, but worth it" if you need to tinker with suspension pretty regularly.

    Paul is one of my favorite people -- he's sooo damn smart, and yet patient, charming, and never makes you feel stupid on purpose.
  8. LittleWan

    LittleWan You can do it!

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    Aww, don't worry. Mine is gonna be a quickie.
    We were only gone 11 days!

    I've got a busy March/April and need to crank this RR out now or it won't get done.
    Hang in there, I'll be your cheerleader. :deal
  9. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    [​IMG]

    sigh...

    Save your energy for your report, I'll just keep plodding along here. Plodders gotta plod.

    :lol3
  10. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Yeah, I learned a few things from this, um...adventure.

    I want to make clear that getting stuck in the mud was completely a result of my own inexperience, wrong (hindsight) decisions and some bad timing, and the problem was not that I was using BigDog's gps track. Mark's Baja gps file was a huge help in this trip, and we wouldn't have had anywhere near the great time we had without it.

    I remembered as we were riding this section that he wasn't sure if THEY were going to make it through Laguna Salada--he'd mentioned in his report that there were lots of conflicting reports about whether they could get through--it was iffy for them at the time. Not to mention that if we'd gone through there 3 days earlier we'd have most likely spent the night at Mike's Sky Rancho and never had any problems through Laguna Salada at all...

    I now know how changeable the road conditions in Baja can get and my poor map planning and map reading skill had left me with too few options.

    As it turns out, the decision to head east, leaving our road to get back on the gps track was the biggest mistake I made. In fact, we were still north of the Y I'd seen on the AAA map.

    (can you see the red arrows & text?)
    [​IMG]

    If we'd stayed with the good road we were on it would have eventually worked its way around the mud and then headed east to connect with Mex 5 at Km 78.

    The next mistake was that once we were back on BigDog's gps track and it started getting muddy I should have stopped and looked for some higher ground to stay out of the lake bed. Turns out the road Kay took us in on was only about a mile northeast of where we'd connected and a better map would've given me that option.

    Here's a shot of our tracks during this time-----the numbered waypoints and black track are BigDog's, the magenta is our track from Canon de Guadalupe to where we abandoned the bikes and then hiked out, the blue is our track with the extraction caravan.

    [​IMG]

    The road the 4x truck and Rhino used skirts along the edge of the mountain, staying above the lake bed.

    I'd never experienced mud like that, and just had no clue how quickly it could destroy a bike. Now I know.

    The other thing we learned, besides how to spot lake bed mud--are the signs of a maintained road. Usually a dirt road in Baja is maintained because it's a route that connects some settlement to another, and you should be able to spot evidence--things like a banked edge, maybe a marker post, low spots filled in, high spots graded. Not always, but something that tells you this route is used to get somewhere. The muddy track we were following had none of that--it is just something used by racers and advriders when the weather is good that cuts across the lake bed, but was never intended to be used as a road to get you somewhere.

    Enough of this wordy stuff--we're heading for Alfonsina's next!
    The_Precious_Juice likes this.
  11. azcagiva

    azcagiva new orange flavor

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    I have fallen victim to some of the "roads" on the larry black maps. I ended up 5 miles down a deep sand wash on my 950 solo when I realized how stupid I was and turned back.

    I find it better to use the gps as a guide and rely more on how traveled the road looks.

    -John
  12. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter

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    This picture taken in 07 was on that same track you got stuck in HWD----------much different conditions-------the silt was over a foot deep----and the guy from Thailand riding with me and Gaspipe bit it really bad at high speed---------he laid on the ground for 15 minutes walloring around screaming that his leg was broke. It wasn't.

    I rememeber specifically where he crashed wasn't that far from the highway--and as me and Dingweeds approached the same area this year-----------I warned dingweeds of the deep silt----------next thing you know we are wallering around in slick mud you got stuck in. We were lucky to get thru---and almost ran out of gas.

    [​IMG]

    BigDog
  13. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Great photo--I can see the bridge on Mex 5 in the background. That was about 100 yards north of where we stuck out our thumbs.

    I still haven't got the guts to take photos of the good stuff--mud-stalls, flat tires, riders rollin' around with the stuffing knocked out of 'em--I am too embarrassed to whip out the camera.

    Gotta get over that. :evil
  14. RSinBC

    RSinBC Been here awhile

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    Vancouver, B.C.
    Been reading along with you, rnrdozer, Big Dog and the Wan's. All excellent stuff.
    I am in the planning stages for a 2 week ride to Baja in May, it's been 4 years since my last trip, so all of the information in these threads is very helpful.

    Watch out for the mud!

    Richard
  15. jnorton1

    jnorton1 Been here awhile

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    Loveland Colorado
    Great report so far!
  16. mototifosi

    mototifosi What does this one do?

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    I assume your clutch came back after cooling off? They can take a lickin and keep on tickin! Can't say enough about mine...

    By the way...where can I get a jacket like Bryn's? :wink: It looks in perfect nic in every pic and never dirty!!! Even after the wet fesh fesh!!!
    Loving the RR. Subscribed !
  17. Butcho

    Butcho Been here awhile

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    Wisconsin SE
    Those darn GPS tracks can cause all sorts of trouble. Its easy to follow them without proper forethought and then its too late. Will be following, learning lots on this RR :eek1
  18. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Walnut Crick, Cal.
    Hey azcagiva, Richard, jnorton1 and GS eh! Thanks for the comments, glad you're enjoying this, we'll get going down the peninsula pretty soon now. My advice for anyone heading for Baja: get the AAA, Baja Almanac and E32 gps maps and spend as much time as you can spare learning Spanish! That is my biggest regret------not being able to converse with the people I met. They are friendly and curious especially if you show any sign that you know a bit of espanol.

    Again, it wasn't the tracks that caused the problem, it was the dummy holding the handlebars. "The machine knows!!!"

    NOT.

    (I understand your point--they are kinda seductive...)

    Yeah, I didn't want to kick the big 'ol DR while it was down, but when we got to our abandoned bikes I just scraped out the big chunks of mud and--------rode it back to the F350 in front of the Rhino. :wink:

    The clutch had not really faded the day before, although I suspect if I'd gone much further I would have destroyed it as well. Never had a problem the whole trip, other than wearing out the chain. That mud is pretty corrosive.

    That Tourmaster jacket was perfect for this trip (Bryn bought it from mototifosi in the Flea Market for this trip :thumb ) and he loves it--fit perfectly, kept him comfortable from freezing (well, almost comfortable:lol3) to tropical conditions....AWESOME. It's a keeper.
  19. HardWorkingDog

    HardWorkingDog Harvey Mushman

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    Location:
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    Day 19, January 18, and we're all of 125 miles into Baja.

    We'd been staring at the satellite photo of the Baja peninsula in the bar at the El Cortez----it hit us that we've got a LONG way to go still. Time to wear out those new tires. One good thing about our stay in San Felipe--the weather was pretty miserable the entire time we were holed up in the El Cortez. A cold front hit the area and the wind howled for 7 straight days. Most days the warmest it got was the low 40's F--did you notice the down jackets? Every night we could hear the roar of the wind in the palm trees and trash whipping around in little whirlwinds outside our door. Today the front had moved on, it was in the 60's and best of all--no wind! We knew how lucky we were.

    Today's plan was a short ride, only about 105 miles from San Felipe to Bahia San Luis Gonzaga, almost all of it on pavement. I was a little unsure of how the clutch repair was going to hold up so I wanted to keep it easy. The road south is in continuous improvement as they extend the paved section further and further south. Most paper maps show the pavement ending at Puertecitos but as of January 2013 it is paved to 2 miles north of Gonzaga Bay. Although we were hoping to ride dirt as much as possible, today we were happy to be on asphalt and the new section of road below Puertecitos is beautifully paved, twisty, scenic and fun to ride.

    Looking back north on the new road
    [​IMG]

    and ahead towards the Golfo de California
    [​IMG]


    The tarmac ends at a cañon where the road crew is bogged down constructing a bridge and the dirt road takes you down into the cañon right through where the work is being done--no flaggers, you just have to figure when it is save to go past a grader, wave, and carry on. Nobody is going to tell you when it is safe--it's up to you to make that decision. Baja is the land of personal responsibility.

    The two miles of dirt road is easy and as you come up out of the cañon you get a great view of the bay.

    [​IMG]

    Shortly after that is a military checkpoint, and before you know it you're at the little settlement just inland from the Bay--a Pemex with a great little market/loncheria on the east side, and another market/restaurant--with a great selection of American ales--on the west side. We'd topped up at Puertecitos (should've just waited until here) so we didn't need gas and followed the signs west to Alfonsina's, a small resort complex with some permanent RV/residences, an airstrip, a small hotel, and the Second Best Fish Tacos in all of Baja. To be fair, they were the best fish tacos we paid for in all of Baja...more on that later. We were pretty hungry, and honestly our expectations weren't all that high but WOW they were incredible. I wouldn't mind a couple in front of me right now.

    View from our table in Alfonsina's
    [​IMG]

    We reluctantly left, and headed out to the palapas just south of Alfonsina's (#70 below). Tried to go due south where we could see them but discovered there's another airstrip that divides Alfonsina's from the palapas (#82).

    [​IMG]

    It appears that there's some good ol' business competition going on. The Pemex/market is on Alfonsina's side, while the other market has the campground on the other side of the airstrip divider. So the drill is ride on the north side of the airstrip, get tacos, ride back out to the market, pay for camping, and ride down the south side of the airstrip to the palapas.

    Camping under the palapa was absolutely cool...the Baja dream.

    [​IMG]


    You're maybe 20 feet from the edge of the bay, no one else around but the gulls, pelicans and vultures.

    [​IMG]


    We watched the sun set, no wind, and went to sleep with the sound of the bay gently lapping nearby.

    [​IMG]


    Wow--a perfect day. We were living like kings.

    [​IMG]
  20. DingWeed

    DingWeed Been here awhile

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    Those Palapas were sure a nice place to camp!!!
    Here is Mark doing a little "Movie making"!!!!



    [​IMG]