I just got spam from Travelocity: "Mexico's Beaches Beckon." I chuckled to myself. Guess I can delete that one. I'll be hanging out on a few Mexican beaches myself soon. And then the truth of it hit me. I really am going on this ride. Better put this on. There, thats better. (cue Lawrence of Arabia-style, obnoxious, hugely grandiose, epic theme music) BAW-HAW It's been almost two years since my cousin Clay (aka The Tamale Kid) staggered up to me at his brother's wedding reception, locked an arm around my neck, and said, "Let's ride Baja next year--whaddya think?" He was pretty lit. "What--you mean, on motorcycles?" I asked. "Yyyyyeeeeup." "Uh, dude--I don't have a bike. I don't even know how to ride." What the hell are you talking about? "Youre gonna get a bike. Youre gonna learn to ride. Then were gonna ride ...Baw-Haw." I had no idea how to get out of that one, because in all honesty, it didn't sound fun to me. You see, my natural male lust for motorcycles had been successfully sublimated by my mother. Years of conditioning that having a motorcycle was something that just wasnt going to happen had paid off. Riding frightened me. It was a deep-seated, automatic-core-terror, one of those fears made possible only by decades of continuous emotional training by a hyper-exaggerated maternal protectiveness. I'd reconciled it to myself by believing I would have, in fact, been killed, should I ever once decide to ride a motorcycle. Honestly, at the time the idea filled me with dread. Remember, this was me, before motorcycles. Taking a trip like that was literally unimaginable. People who did that sort of thing were well , crazy. But I've had some experience with drunks--being one myself--and I knew better than to tell him no. Plus, I just didn't want to upset him. He looked excited. I knew exactly what I had to say to get him out of my face. I said, "Sure. Ok. Sounds like fun." Hell yeah, he said, satisfied, then wandered off. Worked like a charm. I thought that was as close to riding as I'd ever come. Boy, was I wrong. EWAN AND CHARLEY YES, THATS RIGHT, FREAKING EWAN AND CHARLEY. Having an addictive personality means once I get a taste of something Im interested in, I pursue it obsessively, as far as I can, to the point of absurdity. Part of that meant hunting down every Google link on Long Way Round. Which led me here to ADVRider, where I joined so I could post this: Dont believe me? Heres the link: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2208430&highlight=bollocks#post2208430 After riding for a little over a year, I can appreciate the show (and McGregors lack of offroad experience) a bit more. Yep, I still watch itits just not the only thing I watch anymore. But I suspect I always will. It holds a certain sentimentality for me--its a marker of sorts, of my entry into the world of Motorcycle Obsession. At least Im not some poser whos trying to sell his R1150GS Adventure after 500 miles because he had to pick it up in a Starbucks parking lot. But I do have a couple of 1150GSAs bookmarked on ibmwr.org/marketplace and cycletrader now, if I could only bear to sell the X5 Blah blah blah, lets wrap it up and bring it back up to the present. Separated my shoulder riding without gear in my own back yard, sold the DRZ WAY too soon so I could buy an F650 GS Dakar, got in over my head at Raw Hyde Adventures offroad BMW training (but met some of the coolest people on the planet and had a lot of fun though), joined the local BMWOC, spent a few thousand dollars on gear, rode my ass off, beat the shit out of my bike, cracked a couple ribs, fractured an ankle, talked to everyone I know, and most importantly, made a lot of great new friends. So Ive come full circle from that portentous evening at the wedding reception, and here I am, on the figurative eve of that journeymy first serious riding adventure. One important issue begged the vital question: Could I make it for two weeks without Jo Momma? MIND-NUMBING, SPIRIT-CRUSHING PREPARATION There are some huge differences between Clay and I. He's a doer. I...am not a doer. Always have been, since we were kids. One of them is confidence. Clay has it; I dont. Clay can just get off a plane, cross the border and start asking people questions. He has enough confidence in himself and his ability to just look at a map when he has to and go. Me? Im a big pussy. I compensate for my lack of confidence (some call it fear of failure) by preparing as much as I possibly can, because Mr. Murphy is a Motherfucker and hes down there in Baja right now, preparing for me. That means buying two or three maps, a GPS, researching every Baja report on ADVRider (holy shit, gaspipe hits Baja a lot), keeping a FlashEarth window of the peninsula open on my desktop at all times, talking to everyone I know about the trip, and physical training. Clay went to the University of Kansas< on a track scholarship--hes ALWAYS been in great shape. I went to the University of Kansas on drugs. I've ALWAYS been good at sitting around playing video games, watching TV, and eating pizza. To compensate for my lack of confidence, I became obsessed with preparation. As the go date--March 18--drew near, I burned out on it. I burned out on everything. Journal Entry: Tues, 3/13/07 1:14am, Chula Vista, California Cant sleep. Too much to do before the trip. Went on a 3-mile run tonight-I've been trying to get in shape before the ride, and I've been training, but this old body doesn't pop back as fast as it used to. Stuff left to do: -Finish taxes; -Pick up ancillary supplies at the grocery store; -Get insurance; -pack; -Pick up Clay's bike at the shop. -Meet up with Surfphoto, buy him a steak, and steal all his Baja GPS software. -Get tourist cards (we leave Sunday and were crossing at Tecate. Don't want to cross at San Ysidro--weekend traffic and toll road. Tecate customs office closed on Sunday) I think we'll be ok. Fuck, I hate this stress. Im so anxious to get all this shit done between now and Sunday. King Procrastinator. What is it my buddy Rich says? Oh yeah, "Self-Pity City--population: one." I suppose its better than having nothing to do between now and then. Aw hell, doesn't really matter anyway. I'll get most of it if not all of it done. But brother, come Sunday, I'm gonna cross that border and cuh-rack that throttle. Yeah buddy. Journal Entry: Tues, 3/13/07, 11:09pm, Chula Vista, California I'm so tired. What with the working out, the worrying about getting everything ready, and regular work, wow. Picked up my Iridium phone today, in case I'm laying there dying in the middle of the desert I can call for help , or for a round of phone sex, or both. If Im dying, I dont mind paying $1.89 a minute for one last wank. Cant decide whether to use the armor in my Rallye 2 jacket or to zip it out and just wear my 661 Pressure Suit underneath. That way I can just lose the jacket when it gets really hot. I think thats the way to go. Then again, its such a chore getting in and out of that damned 661. We'll see. I'm off to the grocery store. Think the shopping list is complete. Waiting to hear back from Surfphoto. He'd offered to hook me up with Baja software for my Streetpilot, but he's in Nevada on biz right now. Got this email from him today: JW I am in Nevada< at the moment.. bus stuff from Nascar on Sunday Whatever the fuck that means. Anyway, Im really, REALLY geked , but to be honest, Ill feel so much better when this weeks over, and Clay and I are on the road. Journal Entry: Wed 3/14/07 8:54am, Chula Vista, California Checklist of remaining things to do: -Adjust suspension -Clean Bedroom/Bathrooms -Sort document heap/tax prep -Run at least once for 30 min -Hit the gym for one more weight workout -Make a rescue list and get it sent -Pick up and install your new shifter -Get keys to neighbor When are you fully prepared? When do you stop preparing and say to yourself, There. I'm done. You don't. You do it until you're sick of doing it, then you keep on doing it because in your mind, there's nothing else to do until the trip actually begins. At least, that's what you do if you're me. Clay? He worked, went skiing, then flew down here to San Diego Bastard.