We are gone, another trip over a long distance (going RTW)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Thomas B., Apr 24, 2016.

  1. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

    Joined:
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    Unfinished business in Baja


    If anyone of you have followed our TAT-Baja-trip in 2013/2014 (see signature) you know that I blew my shock and we only made it to San Ignacio before we had to turn around. This time we wanted to get further.

    We crossed the border in Tecate and took the road to Ensenada for our first night. We even took Mex 1 down to El Rosario the next day with some dirt sidetracks to the coast to see some shipwrecks. In El Rosario I changed the gearing to two teeth less in the front (good for whatever comes) before we set off the next morning. We had some tracks from friends that we wanted to follow on our way down Baja. The first one was from El Rosario to Catavina. We followed the coast for part of the day and then turned inland. Sandra and I then took a detour to the ruins of a monastery before ending the day in Catavina. The next morning we backtracked a couple of kilometers and then took a dirt track through the Valle de Los Cirios with beautiful cacti and rock formations. The track was an interesting mix of well used dirt roads and hardly used unmaintained tracks that were a bit challenging in parts, but nothing not rideable.

    Shipwrecks on the coast

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    Sandra making new friends

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    Is that a cactus?

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    Why am I Standing on the wrong side of the gate after I closed it again? Who knows!

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  2. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    In Ensenada we had learned that we were just a couple of days before the BAJA 1000, a big thing on the Baja. We hadn’t thought of that and now had to make our plans around it. We didn´t want to bump into the event and the completely ruined tracks behind them so Sandra looked in the net where they were going this year. We tried to stay ahead of them and avoid their route which wasn´t always possible. What we didn´t know is all the prerun activity going on before the actual race. The first contact we had was in San Ignacio where some guys were hanging around bragging about everything they had done that day. The next morning we were in the saddle by daylight because it was going to be a hot day and we wanted to use the cool morning hours to cover some ground. We saw the SCORE-arrows all the way on the paved stretch we were doing that day which wasn´t a good sign. After we left the arrows we thought good, that was it. Man were we wrong. We went to a lagoon and followed the tracks there that were nice and easy. Ok Sandra buried her bike in the salty mush once, but the rest was good. Until the arrows appeared again on our track and ended the easy riding. The sandy track was completely torn up, soft and full of whoops. No fun with our loaded RTW-bikes. We fought some time and looked for turn offs we could leave this mess, but we always got back on it. And then at around 10 in the morning the first race vehicles came from behind. Sandra got scared to get run over, but there was no way off the track. Gladly we later came onto firmer ground and the going was better for us. We just always had one eye in the rearview mirror. We were glad when we arrived in San Juanico and took seat in a bar overlooking the beach and ordered Tacos and beer. What a day.

    Rolling towards Catavina

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    Note it is not my bike I am trying to get out of this mess. What do you do this for Baby?

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    That´s how I spend the rest of the day. Could be worse!

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  3. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    We went on pavement to Ciudad Constitution which was a short day. Going on to La Paz we wanted to do some more dirt and went east towards the see. We turned around and went back onto pavement. Although the track was not on the Baja route the pre run guys had torn up this track as well just practicing. After some miles towards La Paz Sandra said she had a turn off on her OSM and it looked like it would meet the track we originally wanted to take. We checked it again and then decided to try it. This track was ok and we made good ground. Shortly after reaching the original track we ran into a nasty stretch of big rolling rock that were hardly ridable. The bikes were bouncing all over the place. Sandra had a nasty off with her bike halfway down the hill already. When I saw that I thought we would have to unpack the bike to get it on the track again. We tried it without unpacking and luckily got it back up. Sandra has a lot of strength in certain situations. But we were drenched in sweat and totally exhausted. It was hot again. We looked at the time and the distance to La Paz on this route and saw that if it would continue to be difficult it would be a very late arrival. We decided to turn around where we knew what to expect.

    Arriving in La Paz we looked for a place to stay and found a hotel on the outskirts of town. We decided on a rest day as we didn´t know how to go on yet. The next day we took a ride to the malecon and had some beers and nachos in a bar. Two Americans at the table next to us started talking to us about our bike outside and of course the BAJA. And during all the talk we found out that our hotel was just a couple of meters next to the finish. Later that day we decided to skip the ride down to Cabo and just take the ferry to the mainland the next day. Because we were so close and still had some time in the morning we rode over to the finish and watched a couple of vehicles run in. Then it was off to the ferry and to the mainland Mexico.

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    BAJA finishers

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    catching the Ferry

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  4. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Then disaster struck

    We stayed 2 nights in Los Mochis. I had to change the low gearing to a more street ratio, and take care of not working rear lights on Sandra’s bike (great when you leave the ferry after dark). We then headed towards Copper Canyon. All went well until on the second day Sandra told me her bike was loader than usual, and it was. There was no shattering, rattling, or ticking. It was just the normal engine noise only loader. We found a small basic hotel in the town of Yepachic as it was late already. The next morning I wanted to check the magnet on the oil drain plug for any metal flitters, but my ratchet quit working. We found the local mechanic 2 miles down the road and he was willing to borrow the needed tool to us. There was almost nothing on the magnet, but in fact a couple of flitters. I looked under both side cover, but found nothing unusual. We didn´t want to use the bike in that condition so Sandra went over the street into a shop and asked if there might be someone with a pickup willing to take the bike and her to the next town. Nobody knew anything. We went to bring the borrowed tool back and asked the mechanic, if he had an idea. He thought for a moment and said he could take us. We asked about the price, he thought again, and came up with something reasonable, so we arranged the transport for next morning.

    In the town of Cuauhtèmoc we found a hotel with a nice parking lot and unloaded the bike.

    I wanted to check some more things so I put the bike on the side again and opened the side cover. While I was working a man came to look what I was doing. It turned out that he spoke pretty good English and was some sort of house technician of the hotel. His name was Miguel and he turned out to be the good spirit for us. Occasionally he came by and asked if I had found the problem yet. When I couldn´t find anything, told him that I would have to tear the engine apart, and asked if he knew any indoor place where I could do that, he showed me a small storage room and said if that was ok I could use that, he would make some space. I told him it might even take some weeks, he said it didn´t matter. He also offered to get tools if I needed anything. Great. I asked him if we could get a discount, because we were going to stay longer. He went off to ask the manager and came back with 16% reduction. Not bad. Despite all the trouble, we were happy with all the luck we had in the hotel and with Miguel.

    The next morning I moved Sandra´s KTM into my new workshop and got to work. I gave Miguel a list of tools I would need to take the engine apart and didn´t have with me, and he got everything. Taking the engine apart took its time as I had to improvise in many parts, but I slowly got there.


    on the way to Copper Canyon

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    looking for reasons

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    catching a ride

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    still looking, but not finding

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    my new Workshop

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    getting into the engine

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    WE are still here and I´ll let you know how ist going.
  5. DunkingBird

    DunkingBird Been here awhile

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    Thank you very much for reporting the progress! I'll keep my fingers crossed for you both.


  6. joenuclear

    joenuclear Long timer

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    Good luck to you.
  7. fullsuspension

    fullsuspension Adventurer

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    Good luck, hope you can continue your travel soon.
    Do you have any idea what it could be?
  8. Max Wedge

    Max Wedge ADVenture mowing

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    Cliffhanger!!!!
  9. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    Damn Thomas...sorry to hear about the engine issues with Sandra's bike. I hope the issue is found directly and you can get it repaired and back on the road soon!
  10. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Thank you all for your good wishes. Really appreciate it.

    Just a short update:

    The engine is out and partly apart. Rockers, head, cylinder and piston with rings all look good. Con rod top and bottom no play and ok. Going to split the case today. Let’s see what we find. I´ll let you know.

    Let´s go to work.
  11. pzvt

    pzvt Adventurer

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    Awesome. Thanks for the update. Hopefully something easy..........


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  12. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    He's splitting the cases...it's already past easy. :D
    Max Wedge likes this.
  13. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Everything is apart and it is what I suspected. One of the crankshaft bearings is shot. Everything else seems to be in order and looking good. Now I have to get parts and get everything together again. Let´s see how long that takes.

    I´ll keep you informed.

    Engine is out

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    is being taken apart

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    boxes full of parts

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    nice place to work.
    Every once in a while someone would stick his head into the door, say hello, and go again.

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    bolts all in order

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    and what I was looking for - the faulty part

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    the split case

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  14. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    :(:

    That's a bummer Thomas. Glad you found an actual problem though...beats taking it apart and finding nothing out of the ordinary. Hopefully you can get it back together soon!
  15. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Yeah it was not nice to find that, but as you said I was afraid to find nothing and that would have sucked.
    Will take a bit of time to get on the road again, but we´re working on it.
    Max Wedge and NMTrailboss like this.
  16. pzvt

    pzvt Adventurer

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    How many clicks (Km,s or miles)


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  17. NMTrailboss

    NMTrailboss Team Dead End

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    I know they are over 100,000 km's but not sure how much over.
  18. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    NMtrailboss is right. Sandra´s KTM has over 110000 KM (69000 mi) on the clock and mine a bit more. Not new bikes.
    Max Wedge likes this.
  19. Thomas B.

    Thomas B. desert racer

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    Had a day out of the workshop yesterday. Had to go shopping. Got some good synthetic oil for the bikes (maintenance is due) and some coolant for Sandra´s bike. Then spend time on the net to look where I could get the engine parts for the best price and as fast as possible. It turned out that shipping to Mexico takes weeks, so we came up with a different plan. We will order the parts to El Paso and pick them up by bus. And then the hotel team stepped up again. A guy that had looked into my shop the other day and asked if everything was ok - in english - crossed my way and again wanted to know how everything was going and if he could help. I told him I was looking for parts and wanted to get them in El Paso. He offered to send them to his mothers since she lived there and would come to town next week and could bring them. What a convenient solution for us. Great people here. We will still be waiting for around a week I guess, but that´s ok. I still have maintenance to do on my bike, and some cleaning up, checking, and preparing on Sandra´s. And maybe even a couple of hours of just relaxing.

    I´ll let you know how everything is going, but it might take some time. Till then.
  20. dazzadm

    dazzadm Been here awhile

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    Good to have caught it at this stage... if left too long it could have got ugly....
    Max Wedge likes this.