Baja Bound in November

Discussion in 'Americas' started by liv2day, Aug 28, 2018.

  1. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    I've been dreaming of riding in Baja for many, many years. The big hook was set when my wife and I visited Loreto for our 10th anniversary; combine that with reports from @BigDogAdventures, @Moto Vaquero, @tilliejacques, @climberevan, and others and this bucket list item hit the top.

    I've gone back through several reports and searched for Baja tracks in the navigation forum in my research thus far, a couple folks have kindly shared their tracks and I'm going to buy the E32 maps. I figured it was time to throw a thread up here and ask for help as this is a bit more daunting than the multi-day trips I've planned in my home state.

    A bit of info to help the frame the request for input/feedback/etc. I'll be hauling my WR250 (4.7g tank) to the border with a couple guys. One buddy will be on a Tiger 800 who's potentially riding 2-up with his g/f (not confirmed, but likely). His buddy will be on a WR400. All of us are good/experienced off-road riders, and my buddy riding 2-up can handle most anything on the terrain front (except boulder fields and super deep sand).

    We're going to cross the border in Tecate and have 6 days to get from there to Loreto (my family is flying in as we're doing a 9 day family vacation in the middle of the ride). When it's time to drop my family off at the airport, we have 5-6 days to get back to Tecate and start the haul north.

    Aside from making it from Tecate to San Felipe for the first night, the rest of the trip south to Loreto isn't planned yet (or north from Loreto to Tecate). I'd truly appreciate any input and sharing tracks. @Moto Vaquero's first day from his 21-day report is what I'd like to do for our first day (hoping he'll share that track). I'd like to cross over to the Pacific once (or twice) each way, but don't have much else in the way of "goals".

    Thanks in advance for input/feedback/suggestions/encouragement/etc :D :ricky :nod :thumb
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  2. Rhode trip

    Rhode trip guided by voices Supporter

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    Glad to see you're making it happen! :thumb
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  3. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks @Rhode trip! Can't believe I forgot to make mention of your stellar report with Mrs. Trip :doh. That's one of the reports I'm using for intel :nod:nod

    If you have any tracks or advice, I'd definitely welcome both. If memory serves me, the majority of roads (from pictures) you took look like they'd be good for someone riding a bigger bike 2-up.

    I'm truly excited to get down there and ride. 6 days on the way south to Loreto and then 6 days north on the way back to the border. Add in there a vacation with my awesome family and I'm pretty sure there's nothing better. I can't wait for our boys to experience Baja and get exposed to another culture.
    #3
  4. NotAsSuch

    NotAsSuch Adventurer

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    I't been just over 10 years since I went, but in a nutshell here are my memories:
    - Guerreo Negro, if whale watching season is still in play, is worth a boatride
    - HWY 1, when I rode it, was in REALLY bad shape (big rocks, tough to get any speed)
    - Mulegé was a cool little town. Camping at Bahia de Concepcion was pretty cool.
    - Mike's Sky Ranch (overnight if you can), and Coco's corner (if it's still going... it was 10 years ago...) are worthy landmarks. Roads to each were very sketchy
    - the highlands may well be cold in November - consider this and check it out in more detail if applicable

    I was never seriously concerned about security, but always be aware of your surroundings. I did have a mishap or two, as did some of the other riders I picked up with on and off along the way. Ride safe and enjoy.
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  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks for the input @NotAsSuch, much appreciated! I didn't consider parts being cold given November, but that's good food for thought. I'm hoping to cross over the peninsula a couple times on our way to Loreto, which will mean higher elevations.

    I just finished routing day 1 and it's 225 miles from where we start in Tecate to San Felipe. I think it's a bit too much given we're hoping to do mostly off-road (I prefer 150 miles or less for dual-sport rides), anyone have input on this? I'll post the track & image if that helps.

    One question on the E32 maps. They have off-road routes marked in magenta and I'm basically using these as a primary source for routing. Anyone know what I can expect with these? Likely a mixed bag, but my hope is the 'Rutus Offroad' doesn't involve knee deep sand and boulders...lol.

    Attached a couple screen grabs of what I'm working in Mapsource.

    Attached Files:

    #5
  6. MJS

    MJS Long timer

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    Deep sand and boulders? Absolutely, on some of those routes. It's Baja. Some routes can be difficult for a big bike, especially 2-up. Nov is usually warm but can be a bit cooler in the mountains up north.

    Day 1 you can make it to San Felipe depending our you route and off road speed. Id suggest Tecate to Mike's. Can be almost all off highway if you want.

    Is this a trip for the WR or the Tiger? Do you have to stay together or will the tiger meet you if you want to take a different route?

    Define your trip better and i can send you some tracks / suggestions. You can send me your email by PM. Will be a few weeks before I can get to it as we're finishing up our trans- Siberia ride. Couple weeks before we get to the States and I don't have my laptop with the tracks with me.
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  7. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    I have froze my ass off in November at night at Mike's Sky Rancho during the Baja 1000. It can also be cold and damp along the Pacific in November. Hwy 1 is in much better shape than 10 years ago. It is paved just about all the way to Coco's and out to Laguna Chapala. I've not been in about 8 months and it could even be paved all the way. If it is paved by now, it will bypass Coco's Corner. The whales are around from December to April. Bahia Conception can get crowded with Canadian RVs who plant there for the entire winter.
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  8. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks a ton for offering to help and send tracks. I'll get my email address to you via PM shortly.

    To your questions, the trip is for all the bikes and unless there's an easy way to meet back up, we'll be riding together. My buddy on the Tiger can drop his passenger if it's a short stint through rough stuff, but obviously that won't work if it's miles. If we can find an alternate route that's big bike friendly and it meets back up with our harder route, I'm sure we'd go for that.

    I've been thinking about 225 miles the first day and don't think it's a good plan - think I'll change the route so we end up at Mikes or Coyote Ranch (at least, I think that's what it's called).

    I think part of the issue in defining the ride is my lack of knowledge in the area. We have 6 days to make it from Tecate to Loreto - that's the biggest "rule". Aside from that, I'd like to cross the peninsula a couple times; spending a couple nights on the Pacific and spending a couple nights on Cortez.

    Suggestions on where to stay on either coast would be greatly appreciated. I'd like to do about 150 miles per day; want plenty of time to stop and take pictures and take in the scenery. If that mileage needs to be bumped up to 200 miles, no issues - we can cover ground and we're all long-time off-road riders.

    Thanks again for the input and help, truly appreciated.
    #8
  9. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Been here awhile

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    You didn't mention what time of November you were looking at to ride in Baja. FYI.. the Baja 1000 race day is November 16. Rooms may be hard to come by depending on where the race course is set this year. If it goes by Mikes, rooms will tough to get for a week or two prior to the race due to pre-running and race day. Could be the same at San Felipe.

    You probably know this all ready but it's worth repeating: If you're planning on riding a couple of weeks prior to the 1000, have a good look at the course map and do your best to stay off it during pre-running and definitely on race day. If you do find yourselves on the course during pre-running, take note of the direction of the race (it'll be a loop race out of and back to Ensenada) and do not ride backwards on any portion of the course..... It's a sure way to find crap in your pants if you're so lucky to survive the first encounter!! Course map will be released a few weeks prior to race day.

    It's worth noting that September/October rains/flash floods can and will change some of the existing roads and trails to being impassible, so be flexible with your routing plans... part of the adventure, right?

    A word of caution: Baja will become an addiction. You'll have never ending dreams of going back, long for the taste of the best tacos you've ever had, change your drinking habits to coincide with Mexican booze, wanting to go back to try a trail again that beat you up and had to bail on, you'll start a thread in Ride Reports, fellow riding mates at home will envy you as your tell them your stories of Baja, heck, you may even start taking Spanish lessons !!!
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  10. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks @Hill Climber!

    When I first concocted this hairball idea (lol), I sent a note to two good friends with places down there (@HellsAlien and TY) and Al talked about the Baja 1k. Our plan is to start riding 11/5 to arrive in Loreto 11/11. I chose these dates in hope that we'd avoid the majority of the Baja 1k pre-running traffic and issues as I believe it's supposed to take place in Baja Norte this year? Perhaps we should avoid tracks that run along the Pacific coast during the first couple days of riding, or does it not matter (ie does the course usually cross over to the Cortez side)?

    I'm bringing camping gear and plan to camp at least a couple nights, though TY is planning to stay in hotels the whole way down, likely the same with the buddy he's bringing. We won't be starting our ride back to the border until 11/20, again the hope is that the Baja 1k will have settled down by then and we'd be ok running north.

    LOL to your comment about Baja becoming an addiction - that started when my wife and I visited a couple years ago (albeit sans-bikes). I have wanted to ride there for a long time and my hope is this is the first trip of many, many more. I want my wife to ride there with me, and then I want our boys to ride with us when they're old enough. I would seriously love it if this became a family tradition for us, have a feeling Baja will be a tradition whether it's with bikes or not anyway. I downloaded Rosetta Stone sometime ago and have been slowly working on my Spanish...need to ramp up as November will be here before I know it.

    And I also have a whole bunch of friends who want to ride there, one will be flying down to Loreto 11/18 and riding TY's spare bike back to the border for the return trek - that's going to be kick-arse too.

    Damn...can't wait.
    #10
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  11. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    The Baja 1000 will be a northern loop race this year so the odds of it going south of Laguna Chapala are really low.

    Go into Bahia Los Angeles after San Flippy. Go out south to San Francisquito but there are soft sandy sections. If the sand doesn't sound like fun, simply go out through El Arco.

    Guerrero Negro is a nice fishing town, but doesn't really have much to offer other than food and motels.

    San Ignacio is a great little town. Go into town check out the Mission and get Ice Cream at the plaza.

    If sand isn't an issue, go to the coast from San Ignacio and follow the coast up to San Juanico. There are 3 choices to get to Loreto from San Juanico.

    Up through La Purisima, a cool little village that should be seen even if you don't continue on to Hwy 1.

    Through San Javier which should be seen even if you go up through Loreto

    Down through Insurgentes on the pavement and back up Hwy 1 to Loreto.

    You can do the Mulege & Bahia Concepcion thing on your way back north.

    In Loreto I like the restaurant Pangalopa on Miguel Hidalgo, and of course El Nido is a great steak house.

    Best place to stay in town is El Mision Loreto by the marina. Just south of Loreto in Nopolo is the Hotel Loreto Bay which sometimes has killer deals and is really nice but it is a bit out of town. Further south is Villa del Palmar at The Islands of Loreto, uber nice but pricey.
    #11
  12. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    Day 1 from Tecate - I'd head east a ways to El Hongo or La Rumerosa and then ride south in the mountains past Laguna Hansen to Hwy 3, and then ride pavement to San Felipe. Any dirt roads from Hwy 3 to San Felipe will be whooped out and I'd skip them. Depending on how that section goes can calibrate the rest of your trip. There will be soft sand but by Baja standards, not much. If it's easy for the 2 up combo on the 800, go for the it for the most part for the rest of the trip. If they have some problems, you'll want to steer clear of the sandier parts. A day 1 alternate should the weather turn cold/rainy would be either take Hwy 3 to Ensenada or even better would be to head east and ride south along the Sea of Cortez/Gulf of California.

    Here's a couple highlights:

    Lunch at Alfonsina's restaurant on Gonzaga Bay. Good fresh food in a stunning location. Hotel is expen$$$ive so I don't stay there any more.

    Bahia de Los Angeles - stunning location with reasonable lodging rates. Try Raquel and Larry's. Right on the water and restaurant with cold beer. A good side trip is to the mission San Borja - my favorite mission sites in Baja. Rough and moderately sandy but worth it.

    San Francisquito - if your sandy calibration ride noted above went okay, ride south from BOLA to San Francisquito. Probably my favorite area of Baja. San Francisquito itself has seen better days but for me, it fits in as exactly the kind of place I go to Baja for - beautiful, uncrowded and remote. Stop at Playa San Rafael and say hi to Pancho, and then continue on. You'll need at least rudimentary camping gear as the palapas are few and even then only include a cot and sort of walls/roofs. Some people whine that it's expensive for what you get but my only concern is are they charging enough to stay open. If you do decide to ride there, go in and out the more northerly way around the air strip as you'll only encounter moderate sand vs the more southerly exit/entrance which is narrow and much sandier. In the interest of minimizing sand when leaving, continue to El Arco and then Hwy 1 vs taking the more direct route that cuts southwest from there - much more sand.

    San Ignacio - I love the town square. At the least, relax and have an ice cream there. Also an interesting mission. If you decide to stay there, La Huerta is great. Rice and Beans is my second choice - the owner is a nice guy and knows Baja.

    I'd skip the ride to Laguna San Ignacio and south from there along the coast in the interest of the 2 up motorcycle. There are several miles of deep, whooped sand. If the 2 up couple wanted to continue on the highway, they could circle around and meet you at San Juanico which I really like. You'd get to ride a really fun part of Baja as I can't think of anywhere else that gives you that 'on another planet' feeling like that area. As a consolation, they get to ride one of the prettiest paved routes in Baja along Bahia Concepcion from Mulege to Loreto.

    I see you ask about marine biologists (I have an aquatic biology degree). To whet your appetite, maybe read Steinbeck's "Log from the Sea of Cortez."
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  13. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks for all the suggestions @Strong Bad! I really need to get a paper map of Baja so I can have that next to me as I'm looking at the E32 map. I'm going to find all the places you suggested on the E32 map and start looking at the routes.

    We found a great house in Loreto that's close to the mission, staying there with my family for 5 days and then heading north to Mulege & Punta Chivato for the remainder of our trip.
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  14. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks @jonz! Good intel on the roads east from Hwy 3 to San Felipe, do you think they'd be worth doing on the WRs if the Tiger took asphalt? Appreciate the feedback on Bahia de Los Angeles and the rest, I remember reading several ride reports that mention all of those stops.

    WRT to the comment about a marine biologist - have to come clean and tell you it's a quote from one of my favorite Seinfeld episodes. Kramer hits a golf ball and it gets lodged in the blowhole of a whale...along with a couple other story lines. I haven't read that piece from Steinbeck, but will need to get some reading material that's an actual paperback as I'm not packing my e-reader.

    Sincere thanks to all for the suggestions and feedback, this is a huge help and relief as it's daunting to plan a route when just looking at the magenta tracks in the E32 map.
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  15. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    They are worth experiencing one time just to say you have and so that you can properly commiserate when someone else writes they were stuck on a whooped out section of Baja race course. The Baja 500 course follows right next to the pavement of Hwy 3 east of Valle de Trinidad before you reach Hwy 1 if you want just a small sample. With a loaded adventure bike, you'll quickly find the damping limits of your rear shock.
    #15
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  16. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Been here awhile

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  17. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Hey all -

    I took a stab at plotting out tracks/routes based on the various dirt tracks/maroon routes in the E32 map and feedback from here. First off, let me say how much drawing tracks by mouse SUCKS in the Garmin software (lol) - really wish the E32 maps supported auto-routing so I could route and then convert to track using a tool I found.

    I attempted to end up in some of the places highlighted by @jonz and @Strong Bad, while also trying to keep the per day mileage under 200. I'm seriously leery about trying to tackle some of the days I planned out, most are 175+ miles and I have no clue as to what they'll be like. I have several more GPS files to look through thanks to the help of many of you (huge thanks again for those), and will likely pen more tracks based on that.

    If anyone has time, could you please take a look at the attached GPX file and let me know if there's simply no way it'll work? I'm also waiting for the Baja 1k route to be posted so I can make sure we're not anywhere near the route (or at a minimum not going the wrong direction).

    The general plan is as follows:

    Day 1: Tecate to Coyote Meling Ranch - 191 miles
    Day 2: Coyote Meling Ranch to Punta Baja - 167 miles (need input on staying here - better to stay in El Rosario? Better to skip it altogether and shoot for somewhere else?)
    Day 3: Punta Baja to Alfonsinas - 180 miles (thanks @jonz)
    Day 4: Alfonsinas to San Francisquito - 183 miles (thanks @jonz)
    Day 5: San Fancisquito to Mulege - 194 miles
    Day 6 - Mulege to Loreto (likely do the 95 mile route, not the 150 mile route)

    Definitely open to other/better places to stay and would really like to know if covering that amount of ground is feasible. I say feasible knowing I take stop to take a ton of pictures and I'll be bringing my drone with me :D:D

    Thanks all!

    Attached Files:

    #17
  18. jonz

    jonz Miles are my mantra Supporter

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    I just have some crummy OSM maps of Mexico on my computer so I'm guessing but here's a few ideas.

    1) After you leave Tecate, the route you show leaving the highway may be the one that goes through, and then again maybe not. Many more locked gates nowadays than in the past so confirm your route works with someone with recent knowledge and good maps.

    2)The track leaving Hwy 3 and cutting the corner will spend a lot of time and the SF250 race course and has hateful whoops. but I already mentioned that. Check out those roadside whoops to see if you're ready for miles and miles of worse whoops.

    3) Hwy 5 goes through south of San Felipe. I turned in the broken link to the prior map owner (Bicimapas) and to Garmin as from your route, it appears that hasn't been corrected yet. Continue south from San Felipe to Coco's Corner. The left turn at Coco's leads to Calamajue Wash which is really fun but sandy. 800GS rider be advised. The whoops leading into and out of the wash aren't as much fun. When your route comes out to Hwy 1, I'd recommend you take Hwy 1 south unless you're a masochist and have found you enjoy those whoops. The route that cuts the corner heading to BOLA isn't that bad and I kind of enjoy it. If the signs are up, it's some kind of natural area.

    4) The route you show heading south from San Francisquito is the No Wimps Trail. I made it through with inmate rnrdozer and a couple of friends. Really tough, really remote, and not something to take lightly.

    5) Your route south west from Mulege may be one that's washed out. rnrdozer or some others have been in the area. Do your homework. In the past, I've crossed from Mulege west either through San Raymundo Wash which hits the west coast north of San Juanico or from Loreto through one of the Commondus and then to La Purisima.

    More will be along shortly with some feedback. Keep in mind my intel is a few years old (except for No Wimps) and a hurricane or two can totally change things.
    #18
  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Thanks @jonz!

    A couple questions on your points:

    1. Day 1 originally went to San Felipe, but after reading your whoops comment, I changed the track to try and avoid that. Are we still in whoop-hell with the track that takes us to the Coyote Meling ranch? Would we be better off just slabbing Hwy 3 and then taking the maroon off-road segment that heads south, crossing Hwy 3, then taking the track that runs west of Hwy 3 until hooking back into Hwy 3?
    2. We're not planning to run Hwy 5 south of San Felipe, but stay to the west side and end up in Punta Baja (or El Rosario)...any ideas on that? We then keep heading south along the Pacific before turning inland and heading to Alfosinas - with a decent chunk of Hwy to get there.
    3. Good to know about the No Wimps Trail, how bad would you rate it on a scale of 1-10 for difficulty? Better to take the maroon off-road track from the E32 map inland and follow that to Hwy 1 to then cut over to Mulege?
    4. I'll keep an eye out for feedback on the route from Mulege to Loreto. My guess is we'll take the easy route down Hwy 1 until we reach the off-road track that basically parallels Hwy 1 into Loreto. Might save the track that heads west for the trek back (if it's not washed out and gone).
    Thanks again, all this input is really helping shape the ride!
    #19
  20. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    Can't see your tracks, but Rancho Coyote and Rancho Melling (two different places owned by cousins) are on the Pacific side of the mountain. From the North they are only accessible through Mike's Sky Rancho and I've heard that it has been getting more than a little challenging. Otherwise you have to go up the Observatory Road from San Telmo between Colonet & Camalu on Hwy 1.

    again not being able to see your tracks I'm pretty sure that the only track that parallels the Hwy towards Loreto which starts on the road coming out of La Parisma, is a SCORE race track and has a lot of deep silt where many racers have been stuck for extended periods. I would not go that way unless you were racing.
    #20