Weekend blast to Baja

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by bisbonian, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

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    A few weeks ago I got a call from a buddy asking if I wanted to go along for a ride to Baja.

    I jumped at the chance and this past Friday we headed out from Tucson bright and early.

    The first thing we learned was that if you need to top up your oil before you leave the house that you must replace the fill cap before you ride away. :lol3

    One of us would spend the weekend squeegeeing oil off his leg every night due to saturated riding pants. :deal

    The second thing we learned was that if you're going to recover your seat right before a ride that you should try to do it somewhere light instead of a place that was obviously pitch black. :rofl

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    The four of us headed out with great optimism, it was even thrown out there that we could possibly arrive in San Felipe in 6 hours!:huh

    Sadly this was not to be but our ride out Ajo Way took us directly toward a grand storm with lightning that made me wonder if this was the best idea I had ever had.

    It turned out we missed the real storm by about 10 minutes and even though we got a little rained on it wasn't bad enough to do more than make a mess of previously crystal clear face shields.

    We stopped a little outside of Why, AZ to take a break as the sun came up and admire the scenery.

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    Soon enough we were riding through Organ Pipe National Monument and crossing into Mexico at Lukeville/Sonoyta where we were molested by half a dozen US Border Agents who gave us the third degree on what we might be carrying and where we were going.

    More to come, hopefully some of the other guys will chime in here...
    #1
  2. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

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    We headed west on Mex 2 for what seemed like forever.

    There was a ton of road construction with many detours. Unlike in the US when you are detoured in Mexico, from my experience, you are just directed off the side of the road and you ride in the dirt until the construction area is over and then you get back on the road.

    Strangely enough, according to the signs the construction is undertaken by the Amish.

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    The four of us have varying degrees of comfort while riding on a surface other than asphalt. I had a feeling that before the trip was over that we were all going to get a chance to work on our offroading skills some more.

    As we kept west we encountered a number of military checkpoints and as we crossed into Baja California we encountered something much more worrisome, wind!

    The wind was coming in from our right and head on and by the time we hit Mexicali we were all feeling battered and beat up.

    The plan was to get to Mexicali for lunch and to find an ATM or Cambio for those who didn't get some pesos prior to the trip.

    We pulled off at the first place we came to.

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    There wasn't much on the menu and we all ordered some fish tacos, our first but not to be last fish tacos of the trip.

    I always like checking out the wall art in these places.

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    Who would have thought that Michael would have been here before his passing and even autographed a poster!

    On our way back out of Mexicali to get to Mex 5 and head south we stopped for gas. This was a new one for me as every gas station I've ever stopped at in Mexico has been full service with an attendant. This gas station was self-service but you had to pay at the window first, pump your gas and then go get your change.

    Here we learned another valuable lesson.

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    If you're going to take off your gas cap and hang your helmet on the mirror when the wind is blowing strongly then make sure your kickstand allows your bike to stay upright.

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    It is amazing how fast a supertanker like this DR will spew gas onto the pavement when it falls over and the gas cap flies off.

    The really unfortunate part was that as the bike tipped over, the gas cap flew across the lot and has jetted out right into...the helmet that was on the mirror but was now on the ground.

    So after picking up the bike and filling up with gas, now more than expected, we took some time to try to wash the gas out of the helmet padding. Needless to say, the remainder of the day was a smelly affair for at least one of us and we made sure not to light any matches around him.

    As we headed south we started to see some evidence that we were on the coast. Well more evidence that everything being sand on the sides of the road.

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    We stopped here for a quick group shot and to check out the shoreline in the distance.

    As you can see we have an eclectic mix of bikes. We have two DR650s, one with kick start only, a DL650 V-Strom with something like 75,000 miles on it and a KTM 640 Adventure built in the last century.

    Some of us explored a little further out.

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    Nothing crazy yet as we really didn't know how much further we had to go and it was getting late. Did we really think we'd be in San Felipe by noon at one point?
    #2
  3. Starbuck21

    Starbuck21 Manly scooterist!

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    Neat pictures and very educational! Is this a tutorial on what NOT to do on a ride to Baja? :rofl
    Keep up the good work!!!
    #3
  4. trailrider383

    trailrider383 867-5309

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    What gas tank is on the gas spilling DR?
    #4
  5. SeanF

    SeanF -

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    It's the Acerbis 6.6 gallon tank meant for '92-'96 DRs.
    #5
  6. benwiggin2

    benwiggin2 Long timer

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    :lurk
    #6
  7. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

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    That first day was rough. At least it was only 25% of the trip!
    #7
  8. SeanF

    SeanF -

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    That was me with the oil-soaked right leg and boot. And gas-smelling helmet and gloves. :puke1

    We rolled into San Felipe as the daylight was fading. Firstly we spied a bank with an ATM, and two of us tried our luck withdrawing pesos. Success. While at the ATM I struck up a conversation with what I thought was a local. As it turns out he was "born & bred" in Tucson, but had to relocate to Baja due to making some poor decisions early in life and finding himself looking at a 30 year stretch in the clink. He gave us directions to the Hotel Cortez where we were to meet with two more riders who had trucked in from SLC and California.

    Jaw session around the bikes at the Cortez:
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    The 4 of us were slated for a single room with two beds, and after a bit of obligatory homoerotic humor the lodgings were settled. I tried my best to wash the oil out of my pants and the gasoline out of my helmet pads and gloves, and everyone eventually drifted off to sleep to the hum of the A/C unit and the soothing vapors of evaporating petroleum products.

    The next morning the group of 6 met for breakfast. Here are a few:
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    The view of the sea was pretty nice:
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    That fella in the tracksuit was lurking on the beach, scanning the horizon while holding a clipboard. I found this curious so I kept an eye on him. Eventually, in the distance, a gaggle of rowers came into view along with a powerpboat, and tracksuit guy started yelling into a two-way radio.

    In the meantime we came up with a plan to ride to Bay of Los Angeles via Gonzaga Bay and a few dozen miles of dirt road. Out in the parking lot, some big toys waited for deployment:

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    This was the weekend before the Baja 1000 race, and lots of teams were out pre-running the course. Our route for the day would have us on part of the race course.
    #8
  9. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    You sure know how to have fun, Pour oil down your leg, pour gas in your ear then bed down next to Bisbonian. Can't wait for day 2. Explosions?
    #9
  10. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

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    Not a great picture but these are the rowers out in the sea.

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    We went out to dinner to a place I can't remember the name of. First off we figured out how to lock all the bikes together.

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    I've never worried about my stuff walking off but better safe than sorry. I figured someone would have to be pretty hard up to go after one of our bikes but then there are some pretty hard up people around.

    Sean and I didn't worry about the sleeping arrangements as we are secure in our manhood. Not everyone felt the same but after spending the night with the A/C going full blast sleeping on the tile floor seemed to lose a bit of its luster.

    We headed South with our goal to be Gonzaga Bay, Cocos Corner and ending at the Bay of Los Angeles.

    The first part of the route was paved but with many deep dips in the roads for the vados. I figured that with the suspension travel of the KTM I didn't need to slow down but found that I was getting air when coming out.

    Down a bit south of Puertocitos we stopped for a break and to tell lies about how fast we were going through the vados.

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    The Sea of Cortez is really quite pretty. Here you can see the old dirt road that was used before the pavement went in.

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    Before long we headed back south until we ran out of pavement.

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    I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a great rider off road. Sure if the surface is hard packed I'll wail along at 50mph or so but I forget that part of off road riding is that the surface isn't consistent. This was the case here as the road turned from a nice hard pack to loose sand as we came around a corner. I may have screamed a little.

    Tom gave us a bit of instruction on lowering the tire pressures.

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    Tom was a great guy and has raced the Baja 1000 in the past. He claims to be slow and gave us all a good confidence booster the night before with regard to the ride today and the distances & conditions we could expect. I didn't remember the loose sand part of the conversation but then again I might now have been listening. All I knew was that it wasn't far to Gonzaga Bay and that there was about 15 miles between Gonzaga Bay and Cocos Corner. It was in that stretch that I learned that either Tom lies or his memory of the distances involved could use some work.

    The route to Gonzaga Bay wasn't too bad and we headed over to Alphonsinos (check my spelling) for what else...fish tacos. When we walked in we got a bit of a hard time but since I speak very little Spanish I didn't know what was being said. We did notice that everyone that came in after us got served before us but when our food came it was all worth it. All we had ordered was tacos for 6 but we got two heaping plates, one of fish and one of shrimp along with plates of fixins.

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    After lunch our V-Strom rider decided that he really wasn't comfortable in the sand so we loaded his bike into the truck and he drove for the rest of the day.

    Tom assured us that the 15 miles to Cocos was straight as an arrow and pointed down the road. It certainly looked straight and the road went as far as I could see.

    I think in the next part of the ride I nearly died a number of times. I really need to work on my dirt riding.

    After one particularly harrowing S-curve that involved much deep sand...

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    I looked ahead to see asphalt! I was so relieved! Sean and I stopped to take a break and that's when I noticed that this portion of asphalt was only about 100 yards long, with sand on the other end.:cry

    We stopped to tell lies about how great we were at riding in these conditions when some of the racers came by pre-running the course.

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    Since the race wasn't until later in the week and this is a public road most of the racers would slow way down when they saw us sitting on the side of the road. All except for one motorcycle rider that hit the asphalt and pulled a monster wheelie for the duration, possibly the coolest thing I've ever seen.

    Chris took this video while he was waiting for Me and Sean to show up.

    <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/Qs7mww2mGaQ?feature=player_detailpage" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="360" width="640"></iframe>
    #10
  11. SeanF

    SeanF -

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    I have video of the wheelie guy going past at a zillion miles per hour. Will upload when my internet conx doesn't suck so much. :D
    #11
  12. SeanF

    SeanF -

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    We eventually made it to Coco's Corner without much drama. Bisbonian below:
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    And Bis and I with the infamous man himself:

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    Coco's is an interesting place, with many artifacts to ponder:

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    We had a coke and a wander around the grounds. From Coco's, the Baja 1000 race course diverted from the main road through more challenging terrain. Bisbonian and I decided to continue on the "main" dirt road to the paved Mex1 and leave the race course to the more skilled riders. As it turns out, we made a wise decision.... [cliff-hanger ending]
    #12
  13. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

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    Cocos is a trip.

    I thought about using the bathroom.

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    The ladies room leaves a bit to be desired, well that is if you're a lady.

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    Cocos hotel, if you need to spend the night.

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    This is where we decided why Tom thinks he's so slow. It wasn't 15 miles from Gonzaga Bay to Cocos, it was 30 miles. I guess if it takes you 45 minutes to ride 15 miles then you're slow, but 45 minutes for 30 miles is not really slow. Actually I have no idea how long it took Tom to get out here as I was so far behind.
    #13
  14. chrisparker966

    chrisparker966 Adventurer

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    OK Snugglebunny! The first pic you post is my seat? In my defense.......... it a really good blue, very close to the frame color. So obviously i can't do seats, but it's a really nice blue!!!!
    :beer:beer
    #14
  15. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

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    So from Coco's Corner we had to make a decision on which way to go. Our choices were to follow the Baja course or to head out to the Highway. Either way we needed to end up in the Bay of Los Angeles.

    Tom had told us earlier that the Baja course was a little more "rugged" than what we had already gone through. In addition he was becoming concerned that he would not make it through to the Bay of L.A. during daylight hours.

    Since I knew that if Tom was worried about finishing up in daylight that there was no way that I was going to make it I decided to puss out and head for the highway. Sean chose to accompany me and Jon was coming with us in the truck.

    Coco assured us that it was only 20km to pavement but that some portions of the trail were a bit rocky. He was right but I'm evidently better in the rocks than I am in the sand.

    We hit the pavement and upped the speed only to have our attention diverted to some strange trees on the side of the road.

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    They looked a lot like Ocotillo but had only the single stalk.

    Sean and I pulled over for a closer look.

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    They really do look like an Ocotillo crossed with some sort of tree.

    Here's a picture of an ocotillo for reference:

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    And one last picture of what we dubbed "Dr. Seuss Trees" with Sean in it for scale.

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    They really do look like something out of a Dr. Seuss book.

    But daylight was burning and we needed to get on to the Bay of L.A.

    We had been unable to secure lodging for tonight prior to coming down so we had all packed our sleeping bags with the plan being to just sleep on the beach. Secretly I had no desire to sleep on the beach and I believe that everyone else sort of felt the same way so our mission was to find a hotel that could take all 6 of us.

    Fortunately luck was with us and we found a hotel that had 3 rooms available!

    Unfortunately we had made no plan on how to meet back up with the three who had decided to take the Baja course. The sun was down so we counted on them riding down the main drag so we took turns standing out by the street waiting for them to come by so we could flag them down.

    Eventually everyone met up.

    Tom immediately took off his pants and offered us candy. I'm not really sure what to think about that.

    While I was waiting out by the street a car pulled up and a little kid jumped out, ran up to me and shouted something unintelligible to me. I gave him my best "Buenas Noches" and he looked at me in disgust and ran over to the race team who was also sharing our hotel. It wasn't until I saw him running back to the car clutching stacks of stickers that I realized that he had spoken to me in English and what he had said was, "gimme stickers!".

    Evidently stickers are like currency when the racers are in town.
    #15
  16. SeanF

    SeanF -

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    Turns out these odd plants are the Boojum tree.

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    Nearly endemic to the Baja peninsula with only a small population in Sonora on the Mexican mainland. (Thanks to wikipedia for making me sound smart.)

    In Bay of LA we shared the hotel with a few racing teams, the most notable being the COPS Racing Team. They were tuning and revving well into the night, but either they stopped or I was too tired to be kept awake by them.

    The next morning we had an excellent breakfast at a place N and slightly east of the roundabout. Bay of LA is less developed (and far smaller) than San Felipe and has a more authentic feel. Here as everywhere the locals were super-friendly, and the kids a bit cheeky but never unkind.

    We retraced our route back to San Felipe, and it was colder than expected -- in the 50s with a strong winds. Time to bundle up:

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    We revisited Coco's Corner, then stopped at Gonzaga Bay for snacks and a butt break. The final push to San Felipe came & went without drama, except for a flat tire. Having a pickup truck along, we just loaded up the disabled bike and pressed on. In SF we checked in to our reserved rooms at Hotel Hacienda Don Jesus and had the punctured tube replaced in no time. The hotel was a hit; the rooms were clean, the parking secure, the beds were firm but comfy, and the masonry walls kept it all nice and quiet. We wrapped up the day with a yummy dinner at Mariscos La Morena on the malecon and a stroll among the shops, enjoying fresh hot churros for dessert.
    #16
  17. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    The cactus in the foto is the Cardón cactus. World's tallest cactus that can get to 50 ft of more. Again, mainly found in Baja.

    Glad that day 2 worked better than day 1.
    #17
  18. SeanF

    SeanF -

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    Ah, thanks for that. I'd wondered if those cacti were (related to) saguaros.
    #18
  19. bisbonian

    bisbonian Long timer

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    Boojum trees, I can say that all day.

    The cold and wind was unexpected heading back from the Bay of L.A.

    We switched things up on the way back and Chris rode the V-Strom while Blaine rode Chris's DR.

    While the flat tire seemed to be the only casualty I took the chance to look over my own bike while we unloaded the truck to made space for the DR. Imagine my surprise to find some bolts missing having rattled out. Zip ties were good enough to get me home on that front but I also found an oil leak that was the result of a sight glass that is no longer really sealed in the engine cover and just sort of slides back and forth. It wasn't leaking enough to worry about so I chose to ignore it.

    Don Jesus runs a pretty nice hotel and we all got together to schedule when we'd head out the next morning. We would be losing an hour crossing back into Arizona and I felt we needed to keep in mind that it took us 12 hours to get out here a few days earlier.

    We decided to get on the road about 7 Baja time which would be 8 Arizona time and then just ride hard.

    We made a few stops because riding one of these things for hours makes things uncomfortable in some cases.

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    We made good time as most of the checkpoints are geared toward people heading into Baja and not out of Baja.

    We pulled over for lunch in San Luis Rio Colorado, Sean was in the lead and basically pulled off into the first place we saw. We appeared to be out of the fish taco area and this place dealt solely in pork. After a bit of discussion the proprietor brought us an overflowing plate of pork products and a tub of tortillas. I'm pretty sure there were chunks of meat on that plate that did not exist on a pig, and if they did they were probably closely related to the anus.

    We all picked through the plate of pork to find the parts that looked familiar but there was quite a bit left over when we had enough. Chris took pity of a very hungry looking dog which licked that plate clean.

    We headed out and continued to retrace our steps from Friday. By this time we were pretty comfortable with the off-road detour sections and they didn't slow most of us down. Jon was still a little unsure of the rough stuff on his V-Strom but while we tended to lose him in the dirt he had way more top end than the rest of us and easily caught up once the pavement came back.

    Finally we made it back into Sonoyta, in good time as well. Jon had us pull over as we'd just passed a gas station and he felt it was wise to gas up. The rest of us were confident we could make it to Why and fill up back in the US so we made snarky comments about poor V-Strom has mileage.:deal

    We made it through the border checkpoint pretty quickly with no problems and were soon riding back through Organ Pipe National Monument until...

    What's going on here?

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    Chris had run out of gas.

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    Sean, having the capacity of the Exxon Valdez and a fuel line that was easy to get to graciously supplied Chris with a bit of gas to get him to the station. In his defense, Chris has been dealing with a leaking carburetor all weekend and I believe it leaked worse as the weekend went on.

    I have to give Jon credit for not rubbing Chris's face in this. I don't believe that I would have been quite as gracious...I know I wouldn't have been.

    We made it back to our starting point at the corner of Ajo and Kinney around 6 and then all split up. I had about another two hours of riding to get to Bisbee and had not come prepared for the amazing cold snap that had come through while we were gone.

    I could not believe that it was in the 50s when I got home:lol3.

    Anyway, this was a great ride and I had a blast. Before this trip I had spoken with Chris a few times, ridden with Sean a few times and Jon and I agreed that we had met once a couple of years ago. Sometimes when you get 4 people together there will be one person who'll end up the odd man out but I didn't feel that on this ride (which means that maybe it was me). I'd ride with these guys again at the drop of a hat.:freaky

    Looking forward to heading back!
    #19
  20. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

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    Bisbonian, Good report. Having been snowed on between San Felipe and Ensenada in March, I know how cold it can be. We will have the fire going Thursday if needed. See you then.
    #20