Baja: From Tecate to Turmoil!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Xcntry, Mar 31, 2020.

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  1. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    I’ve been trying to make a habit of doing at least one long distance motorcycle trip per year.(see here and here) This year a friend of mine (Tom) was deployed to Iraq. Before leaving he got ahold of me and wanted to plan a long trip somewhere when he got back. We batted a couple of ideas around. The plan was to go soon after he got back from deployment before returning to work. He was returning in February so that meant we had to stay south due to weather. We discussed Big Bend National park in Texas or the new SoCal BDR and then one of us mentioned crossing the border and riding the Baja peninsula. We thought about it for a couple days. I was game to go anywhere, to just get out of northern Michigan in February on my bike. We decided this would be the destination and Tom said he would find some routes and start planning the trip. This worked out great for me. It was early summer of 2019. I was pretty busy at work and didn’t care where we went and this gave him a good distraction on his down time. The plan was set. I’d trailer from Michigan down to Georgia, we would load up his bike and drive to California, ditch the truck and trailer somewhere and then cross the border.
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  2. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    In
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  3. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    Over the next couple months we texted back and forth and came up with multiple routes and things to see. I bought a small 5x10 enclosed trailer and set it up for hauling two bikes. I took a few short trips around michigan to flesh out my gear while Tom combed the internet for different gps tracks and ideas. My wife was completely on board with the trip. The rest of my family and most of my friends expressed concern for my safety south of the border. I briefly gave it some thought but had no real worries. The media is so sensational that it scares people from travel which is a great disservice to humanity. There are bad people and bad things happening everywhere but good people far outweigh the bad. Just don’t be naive, be aware of your surroundings and don’t put yourself in situations that your gut tells you are dangerous. Sometime around November Tom asked me if I would be opposed to a third person coming on the trip with us. I’m always up for meeting new friends and that sounded good to me so Tom invited Marcos to go with us and he promptly said yes. Marcos also brought something great to the trip as he speaks fluent Spanish.
    I immediately started looking for a bigger trailer because the 5x10 was pretty tight even for two bikes. There was no way three would fit but we could always put one in the back of the truck. After a couple weeks I found a 6x12 tailer, sold the 5x10 and set up the new trailer to fit three bikes. The three of us collaborated on a route. Tom found places to stay on our road trip to California as well as a place to park the truck. We planned on crossing in Tecate and spending ten days traveling down the peninsula to San Ignacio and back. Everything was coming together!
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  4. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    February came and everything was ready. I loaded the trailer and headed to Georgia. I got to Tom’s about 11am on Thursday and we loaded his bike and waited for Marcos who was coming in later. The plan was to leave Friday morning early, drive about 12 hours each day and get to California on Sunday late afternoon. Marcos arrived and we loaded his bike, ate dinner, then got some sleep.
    The drive out west was pretty uneventful but there was a growing concern on the radio about the coronavirus. On the trip out west we heard reports of around 50 or so cases in the U.S. with predictions of that jumping to 2000 by the time we came back. Still, at this point no overwhelming concern yet.
    We arrived in Dulzura California on Sunday afternoon. Tom had found a couple on the internet that offered to let us camp and leave the truck at their place for the duration of our trip. When we arrived at Charlie and Kathy’s place we were met with seven large dogs in their driveway that Tom forgot to mention. They were nice dogs and just came out and blocked the driveway as a way to greet us. We met with our hosts. They showed us around the place and told us where we could get something to eat. After unpacking the bikes and figuring out where to sleep, we went into town and grabbed some food and a drink. We talked to some locals about the border crossing paperwork and what time it opened in the morning. The nice thing about the Tecate crossing is it’s small without much traffic and Tecate is much easier to navigate out of than Tijuana.
    We woke up in the morning, got everything packed back on the bikes and rolled out. It was about ten miles down to the border on some really nice twisty roads. I was trying to get my riding legs back under me because I hadn’t ridden my bike in about 4 months thanks to Michigan winter. We got to the American side and decided to exchange some money then get ready for the crossing. 870B7A8D-7774-464C-96F5-92885DA466D6.jpeg
    #4
  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Most definitely in for this one :thumb :thumb

    Rode from Tecate to Loreto and back with a 9 day hiatus as my family flew down to hang out. One of the best trips of my life. San Ignacio is a wonderful pueblo, looking forward to seeing where you visited.

    Good on you guys for making that trek, here I complained about the 19 hour drive from OR :lol2

    Looking forward to the next update!
    #5
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  6. AFKDX/KLR

    AFKDX/KLR 06KLR650,06DL650,15WR250R,14CB500XRR,02BMWGSA

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  7. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    We had read online different things about the paperwork we needed to cross. We thought we needed to get a visitors visa for $20 at the border. The locals told us we didn’t need one and to just ride straight through so we decided to just ride up to the border and see what happened. B62972AB-3E5A-418C-8332-AEEDC5CBF198.png
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  8. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    As we rode up to the border Marcos went first followed by Tom. The guard motioned to pull to the right so we all moved that direction. Another guard stepped out and waved Tom and I through so we parked to wait for Marcos. It was that easy. No stopping, no passport check, nothing. They looked at Marcos’s bag and let him go in less than five minutes. We made our way out of Tecate onto hwy 2. The weather was warm and the skies overcast. We travelled down the pavement for about 30 minutes then made a right turn onto a dirt road. It had been raining but the roads were dry with very little dust. There was a different smell in the air I can only describe as wet desert. It’s the only times I’ve ever smelled it is just after a rain shower in a normally arid climate. It is unique. I was feeling excited to be riding for the first time in 4 months. The buzz of being in a non English speaking country with all the strange (to me) road signs and landscapes had me smiling from ear to ear in my helmet. The sun tried to peak out as we travelled south. The road went from a sandy desert landscape into a burned out forest back into big pines and two track roads. The elevation was starting to climb and drop and we started riding into a mountain range. We stopped deep in the forest at a convenience store seemingly in the middle of nowhere to take a break and grab something to drink. About an hour later we came back to a paved road and rode to the town of Lazaro Cardenas for gas and some lunch. 83BCACA2-22F6-453A-9FF4-B490A3598AE3.png 9CF065E5-A4AB-4A16-B24C-5D1EA5556993.jpeg
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  9. mpusms

    mpusms Been here awhile

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    Liv2day, we tried (key word "tried") following your tracks. I'm sure Xcntry will go into detail.

    Marcos
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  10. pceire32

    pceire32 Irish Supporter

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    You are required to get an FMM (tourist permit) free for 1 week, $20 for 180 days if you stay longer then a week. The officials at the green/red light checkpoint are custom official’s and nothing to do with immigration. Just after the customs checkpoint you pull to the right and walk into the immigration office to buy your FMM. They need to see and check your passport to issue it.
    #10
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  11. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Now my interest is really piqued! Hoping the tracks didn’t lead you astray.

    Curious about the convenience store you stopped, wondering if it’s the same spot we camped the first night.

    Looking forward to the next update fellas :ricky
    #11
  12. keenerkeen07

    keenerkeen07 Adventurer

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    :dukegirl
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  13. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    When we pulled into the Pemex station there was a guy on a klr sitting on the curb looking at a map. We said hi and he rode off as we fueled up. After getting gas we decided to get something to eat. There was a restaurant just two doors down. When we pulled in the other klr was there. We went in, ordered and started talking to the guy we saw at the gas station. His name was Pedro. He was from Spain taking a semester at Berkeley and decided to ride down to Cabo San Lucas on his break. We compared notes and saw that he was taking the same route we were for the next couple days. He asked if he could ride along with us. Just before leaving a group of guys on dirt bikes pulled in. Our plan was to get to Rancho Meling for the night and visit the observatory the next morning. The dirt bike group said we wouldn’t be able to make it to Ranch Meling before dark but that we would be able to make it as far as Mikes Sky Ranch. So we finished lunch, geared up with our new friend and headed south out of town. The sky was clouding up and looking like rain. The road was damp. The road went from sand to rock back to sand and so on. It must have rained either earlier or the day before because there were big mud puddles across the road slowing us down a little as we picked our line around them. The terrain got more hilly and the temperature started to drop a little. About two and a half hours into the ride I was bringing up the rear as we approached a big mud puddle. Everyone took the left side and I decided to go right. When I hit the edge of the slimy mud I lost the front end and went down in the deep greasy puddle as the rest of the guys rode off out of sight. The mud was deep, almost to the top of my boots, and I was covered in it all down my right side from heels to helmet. I jumped up and tried to lift the bike but with all my gear on it was really heavy and I couldn’t get a grip on anything due to the mud. I took my jacket and helmet off and spun the bike around in a circle to get the wheels lower. Then climbed back down in the mud to try and lift it. As I lifted I just sank and the bike didn't go anywhere. After a couple more attempts I was finally able to get it stood back up. I fired it up, walked it out of the puddle and took a breather. The whole ordeal took about fifteen minutes. About a half mile up the trail I passed Marcos coming back to check on me. I didn't stop just kept riding to catch up to the other two guys. About fifteen minutes later I crossed a creek and rode up the hill to the front door of Mikes Sky Ranch where the other guys were standing there waiting for me. The bike and I were both covered in mud. View attachment 2219998 View attachment 2219998 E0A5E10D-87A2-47B0-BFE6-79F1F80609AF.jpeg 57D7ED6B-288C-4C55-B9D3-B2AC8ED16EB2.jpeg
    #13
  14. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    Not long after arriving at the ranch it started to rain. The guys at Mikes told me I could use their hose to rinse off the bike and myself so I spent the next 45 minutes getting a layer of mud off my jacket, pants and bike. The temperature dropped pretty quick with the rain so we were glad we didn't try to push it to Rancho Meling. We were the only people there that night so we had the whole place to ourselves. The guys checked their bikes and gear over while I was rinsing off then we got changed and went to the bar to warm up and get a couple drinks before dinner. Pedro asked the bar tender about laundry and he said yeah they could do that for us so we brought our dirty clothes in and they washed everything up for us. We got some food, talked over the route and went to bed. 91E55A5F-3C50-4065-B975-27841BCFD691.jpeg
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  15. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Now that looks like a proper puddle crash :lol3 :lol3. Sorry, don't mean to laugh at your misfortune, but have done the same thing before.

    How did you find the folks at Mike's?

    Wondering if the earlier comment about trying to follow the tracks I posted is where things might have gone pear-shaped. The section after Mike's was not big bike friendly and we proved so by trying to get up there with a Tiger 800. Had to turn around and that led to a whole different adventure and breaking the rule of not riding at night.

    Enjoying the report and pics fellas, keep 'em coming!
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  16. guerreronegro

    guerreronegro Adventurer

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    That is what I had to do with my Spanish passport as I was afraid of how to justify my way back into the US without a seal on it. It took me a while to figure that out though. I never had a border crossing with virtually no officials there to control your way out and in of the country. I made a U-turn on the first street and asked one of the officials to walk me through the process and paid the $20. The same Mexican officer that sealed my passport also offered me some honey which was really good. I will also add that it might be a good idea to sort out the insurance prior to the trip as I arrived on a Sunday and everything was closed. I asked a couple of Mexicans around the border and the officials what was the deal about it. They told me in Mexico insurance is non-mandatory and if ever I could buy it in one of the pueblos up ahead.
    Pedro
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  17. Xcntry

    Xcntry Ride More!!!

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    The morning of the second day started out overcast and cold. We got around early and left Mikes after breakfast. The forecast was calling for rain so we wanted to get going before that started. Because leaving in the rain sucks. The night before while discussing the route in the bar area the bartender warned us against continuing past Mikes and suggested we backtrack to the main road and take the paved road around to Rancho Meling. He said it would be very difficult to continue with fully loaded large bikes and rain in the forecast. We discussed what to do before we left and none of us wanted to backtrack a couple hours to the paved rd when it was only approx 20km south to the road to Meling. We decided to give it a try and we could always turn back if it got too bad.
    The trail got immediately more technical as soon as we left Mikes. The trail turns very rocky with many small steep climbs that all had large washout trenches from the recent rainfall. The elevation keeps increasing and the trail follows along a side hill route with a very steep and high cliff immediately to the right. It’s a steady steep climb with big rocks and washout trenches all throughout the trail. About halfway up I saw Marcos who was ahead of me about 100yds hit a large rock that threw him off balance and forced him, luckily, to the left into the hillside and he slowly layed the bike on its side. He got it stood up quickly before I could get stopped and then took off up the hill only to bounce into a washout about 50yds later and layed it down again. The hill was really steep, wet ,slippery and filled with rocks and ruts. Not to mention the 200 foot drop 5 feet to our right hand side. Pedro had stopped at the top and I stopped below. We both got to Marcos’ bike in time to give him a push to get going because it was so steep. After Marcos made it up to the top it was my turn. I walked back down to my bike, took a big breath and gave it hell. I made it up to the top without too much drama but one bad bounce on this section could send you off a 200 foot drop that would be all but impossible to recover a big bike from. We took a small breather and started again, still climbing. Near the top after another steep rocky section there was an intersection where we needed to turn left. At the turn the trail got nearly twice as steep and you had to start from a dead stop. Luckily the climb was only about 100yds and you were finally at the top! F57CD025-7202-470E-BE0B-68501C42323C.png EB9536A3-8421-4198-AB10-F6398C5649AF.png B1AF6B29-E196-4495-950B-EDB707480563.png View attachment 2222012 3997ADB5-C4F6-4F67-AF22-481F53FF56C9.png 90506C90-EF33-4AB5-8016-7FD9B1C15DAB.png
    #17
  18. pceire32

    pceire32 Irish Supporter

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    @Pedro. One of the problems traveling in Mexico is that most Mexicans don’t have any insurance. So you need it. For any Tourist bringing a vehicle into Mexico insurance is mandatory. Which is one point, why you need your FMM ( tourist permit) since when you buy vehicle insurance you agree to operate a vehicle legally at all times while in Mexico. Without an FMM you are not operating legally which could invalidate your vehicle insurance. In most accidents the foreigner will blamed since the other party probably won’t have any insurance. In an accident without insurance you can/will be detained. (Napoleonic Law)
    The other point is respect, we are adamant about no Mexican coming into the US without a visa, what makes it OK to disregard Mexican law. A FMM is required for all foreigners entering Mexico. Even if you are only entering for the day.:-)
    #18
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  19. Teflon77m

    Teflon77m Adventurer

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    I will be following along , Baja is a blast
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  20. Cabrito

    Cabrito On the mend 76% Supporter

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    Great installment... Teamwork! Drama! This is getting good..
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