Baja in December?? Your 2c please

Discussion in 'Americas' started by tobster9, Aug 23, 2011.

  1. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Pitt Meadows, British Columbia,
    Hi, Im planing on riding down to Cabo San lucas in December, my buddy just dropped out so im flying solo, Ive read a ton of stuff on line but I really wanted to hear from anyone thats been down to Baja lately, as Ive heard the main road has now been resurfaced.

    Ive got no route planned but was basically planning to go Ensenada to Cabo San lucas and then back. I know people at work that have driven down and they all say its no big deal, which makes me wonder where the good riding is. I dont want to sit on a highway for a 1000 miles.

    I will be travelling light and on a DR650 thats been reasonably modded, so I guess im asking;

    1. Any routes anyone can recommend?
    2. Any towns or stops that I must visit?
    3. Dunlop606 and MT21 a good combo?

    All and any advice will be much appreciated, I know there are hundreds of you that know the area so spare a brother your thoughts please..........................

    Cheers Toby
    #1
  2. stickman1432

    stickman1432 Crusty Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    767
    Location:
    So.Cal.& St George UT-Baja-riding anywhere
    If you are planning on riding on the road only then solo should be OK, but if you are going off-road grab a riding buddy. There could be some major issues for survival if you go solo on some of the dirt roads down there, since a break down with no back-up could cause you a very long walk. Almost all smart riders have a good riding buddy down there. Keep looking, maybe some other person is planning on riding Baja over the same time frame. There are tons of great dirt roads to travel down south, but a knowledge of the land helps besides just a GPS with old tracks to follow.

    A 606 and MT 21 is a great combo and hopefully you will not be to hard on the throttle since you have about 2200 + MILES TO DO ROUND TRIP. As far as where to go and towns to visit first off where are you entering at and you should read some of the threads for ideas. Where are you starting you trip from and are you riding only from the border or what...................?
    #2
  3. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Pitt Meadows, British Columbia,
    Hey Stickman, Im starting out in vancouver (not on 606!s) and was planning a tire change before crossing the border, I was wondering if I should have an extra set sent to a friends place in cabo for the return trip. Would it make more sense to buy a set locally, in Cabo?
    Ive only just started researching this trip as I was originally supposed to be heading to Argentina but my buddy cant make it and I dont fancy it solo.
    I get your point about riding solo in Baja, I totally agree, Im hoping to hook up with who ever is up for a ride or heading my general direction. I get lost way to easy to do anything else!!
    Do you know what late nov/dec will be like for weather etc? if the east is better than the west? Im not a huge planner but Im going to make this a good trip, Ive got 2 months away and im planning on leaving in Nov. Cant wait!!:freaky
    #3
  4. mcnut

    mcnut Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,757
    Location:
    Bakersfield CA
    My wife and I go during Christmas. Can be a little cool, even cold on the Pacific side up north. That time of year it is 5-10 deg warmer on the east coast (Sea of Cortez) and about the same north to south so 10-20 deg warmer Sea of Cortez side in the south then Pacific up north.

    Bruce
    #4
  5. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,686
    Location:
    Currently - Canada
    Great time to go. We went in the last two weeks of Feb and had everything from +30 on the way down to cooler days (12-15ish?) on the way back. Going up to Mikes Sky Ranch we got caught at night and started with heavy rain and ended in heavy snow with 6" of snow on the ground. Needless to say we were the only ones at Mikes Sky Ranch arriving at midnight..

    The next morning's ride out was beautiful! Even got to stop and help a Mexican family out and fix their car. They were very happy that we came along with the tools and knowledge to get it running.

    From what we seen, Cabo doesn't have much for bike shops. We stopped at two or three and none had tires to fit the standard dirt bike. I think LaPaz might have one shop that would. A Desert IT will get you down and back, but it won't have much rubber left. I'm also the kind of rider who doesn't notice any major benefit from new tires and ride just well on half worn ones. Sometimes prefering a half worn front.

    We found tires to be rather expensive in Yuma,AZ compared to locally. We were shocked, but that might have just been at the shops we stopped at since we were just checking them out and already had our bikes equipped with fresh rubber.

    Lastly, IMO, I wouldn't change plans because you have to ride solo south. I'm "hoping" to do the same this fall and although I know and understand the dangers of riding solo, I'm sure at times I can find others to join me, or I could join them. The nice thing about going solo is that you can make your own plans, stick to your own speed, and stop when you want to. You can always meet up with a specific group every few days/weeks, etc since there will be lots of people doing the same thing. I hope to be riding the "less traveled" roads and the less pavement the better.
    #5
  6. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2007
    Oddometer:
    10,802
    Location:
    Omicron Persei 8
    The main road is in good shape but the resurfacing and some widening is localized not continuous.
    #6
  7. MJS

    MJS Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,741
    Location:
    Off the grid in San Felipe, Baja
    I'd go alone, and being alone wouldn't bother me. If you don't want to spend all your time on the main hwy, I'd ride this route:

    Cross at Tecate, then down the Compadre trail (dirt) to Hwy 3
    Main road up to Mike's Sky Ranch (if it interests you) and spend the night
    Back to Hwy 3 then Hwy 5 to San Felipe (lunch) then continue south (turns to dirt 24 miles south of Puertecitos) to Gonzaga Bay (camp or hotel at Alfonsina's)
    South on main road to Hwy 1 (stop at Coco's), then detour to Bay of LA.
    Option 1) Either south to San Franscito to to El Arco/ Hwy 1 (two days, all dirt) or Option 2) back towards Hwy 1 on the main road and turn off to Mission San Bora (dirt) and continue out to Hwy 1 (one day), night at San Ignacio
    South down the West Side Highway (dirt) to San Juanico / Scorpion Bay for the night
    Back on the pavement for the trip to Cabo

    There's lots of other options / routes that are possible. This would give you a fair amount of dirt roads that are relatively well traveled by Baja standards. Even if you broke down you could expect someone to come along, probably within a half day or so. You should be prepared to fix your bike if need be, flats, minor mechanical, etc. and even if planning to hotel it, carry water, some snacks and emergency shelter just in case you have to spend the night somewhere. And like in all of Baja, medical help is far away so ride safely and don't take chances.
    #7
  8. DKW1200

    DKW1200 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    Peoria, Az
    Toby,

    I plan on crossing at TJ on Nov. 24th since I live in San Diego. I'm headed to Panama and will catch the ferry at La Paz to Mazatlan. If you want to join me to La Paz let me know. I've made the trip several times. I don't mind the blacktop in Baja. It's not like riding the highways of the US. Send me a post if you're interested.

    Cheers
    #8
  9. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Pitt Meadows, British Columbia,
    Great info guys, thanks.

    The bigger trip south Im quite happy to delay, we were planning to rush it and I never really liked that idea, so when the time is right I will take a year or at least allow a year for the big trip to Tierra del fuego.

    So weather should be OK, tick, MJS's given me a rough route, tick, tires I will send down a rear anyway, tick.

    All that remains now is the big ugly question of do I bother with GPS or stick with maps? Personally I prefer maps, but that could be because Ive never used GPS! and its just one more thing to lose break or forget. If navigation by map is to tricky then GPS will be bought. Any thoughts??

    Wind screens? Im a little concerned about the putting a screen on my DR650 as it looks like it would cause serious damage is you head butt the bars, which is quite likely if you hit deep sand, for me anyway, does anyone have any thoughts on this, I dont find the DR to bad for wind, im 6,1 and have got used to it but the thought of being dry and sheltered is a tempting one......Plus I have a couple of thousand road miles to kill before the real fun starts, I presonally choose safety over comfort but maybe theyre not that bad...............
    #9
  10. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,686
    Location:
    Currently - Canada

    Your average speed will be slower so I'd not worry about the screen. Lots and lots of fun off-road stuff to avoid the highway if you have the time. Then you can cruise on the highway at like 85-90 and just let the cars by. It wasn't the Mexican's that were the issue, it was the American's driving like asshat's.

    Sadly, I would advise you bring a GPS. Baja can be confusing and there are plenty of branches on the trails to question where you are. If your gas range is limited you have to be VERY careful not to make the wrong turn and find yourself out of gas in the desert by yourself. Deep sand eats your mileage, worse yet are the whoops and deep gravel, but at the end of the day.. or week... maybe the following month you'll be missing them.

    Keep in mind maps for Baja will run you around $100. They will be very handy, but if you are used to maps maybe just use an ultra cheap GPS that gives you coordinates to confirm your location? You can probably score one on Kijiji for like $40 (Garmin Etrex). I have one you could borrow but at the end of the day shipping will cost you as much as buying your own.
    #10
  11. MJS

    MJS Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,741
    Location:
    Off the grid in San Felipe, Baja
    A GPS is nice IF you have the Baja maps to go with it. Kind of useless without except for track back. I have the LB maps, Bici Maps and E32 maps. They all have something different to offer.

    That said, the So Cal Auto Club (AAA) paper Baja map is all you need for the route I outlined. Stay on the major dirt roads and you won't get lost. Unless you go exploring on some single track or unused trails there's just nowhere to go. I've been going to Baja since before GPS and I've never gotten lost, maybe distracted:evil, but never lost:rofl.

    I might even have a spare AAA map if you want to send me your address in a PM.
    #11
  12. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Pitt Meadows, British Columbia,
    Thats what I was hoping to hear, Im good with a map then, for the town to town stuff at least. Once I get a place to stay I can dump the bags and go explore the single track stuff. I appreciate the map offer I will PM you for sure.

    This is getting so exciting for me now, various tools and parts are arriving and its time to get to work on the bike.:clap
    #12
  13. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Pitt Meadows, British Columbia,
    Bit off topic but hey......Yesterday I went to start my bike to ride to work and there was a little bit of smoke coming out from the engine, thought nothing of it as I had cleaned it the night before, 2 mins later there was lots of smoke and a few sparks and some dancing flames!!

    My bike was in the carport surrounded by gas and paint cans so I wheeled it out whilst flames were licking the tank, turned off the ignition but the engine still ran and light still on. Starting to worry a bit now, grab the garden hose and started spraying whilst with the other hand wrestling my bags off so I could take off the seat and disconnect the battery.

    I could go on but end result is my wiring harness is fried and will need replacing, groan, phoned dealer, apparently there are none in N america, figures

    Mum said there would be days like this................................
    #13
  14. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2003
    Oddometer:
    4,179
    Location:
    West Texas/Rico
    +1 I went alone last December and found myself in some very remote places where I would have been in a serious bind if something would have happened. Would ride for hours on end and not see anybody. Saw 2 other bikers over ten days. YOu don't want to ride alone off the beaten path down there. Probably easy to find somebody to ride with.
    #14
  15. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,686
    Location:
    Currently - Canada

    DR650?

    Worse case is you have time to wire your own simple system. Junk the gauges. If the coil works the wiring is separate of the lighting system. You could do it start to finish in a couple nights...

    First find out why it started on fire!! Sounds like leaking fuel from a petcock or something. Sparks and fire would indicate possible wiring issues from the start... Get bike sorted out quick. If you have to ship wiring harness oversea's is reasonably cheap and fast.
    #15
  16. acejones

    acejones Long timer

    Joined:
    May 14, 2005
    Oddometer:
    5,437
    Location:
    MS. Gulf Coast and Puerto Vallarta, MX
    Advice for future events.. Buy a fire extinguisher. Water isn't a good solution for gasoline/grease/electrical fires.
    #16
  17. tobster9

    tobster9 Sky larker

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Oddometer:
    119
    Location:
    Pitt Meadows, British Columbia,
    Good point I will pick up an extinguisher asap. usualy I start the DR up outside cos its loud, and it was 5.30am, I was trying to keep quiet.

    Shibby your right, need to find out what caused it before anything else can happen, wasnt leaking gas, Im quite sure of that, my hunch is something shorted, its going in on Monday to the insurance company, if Im lucky it will be covered. If not I will be ordering a harness up and doing it myself and maybe with a little help from my firends :wink:
    #17
  18. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,686
    Location:
    Currently - Canada

    I'm curious because I wouldn't think a simple short could start such a big fire unless there was gas involved. That big of fire I'd be thinking your tank might have seen some bad damage too and require replacing. I think the DR's have plastic tanks...
    #18
  19. CaptUglyDan

    CaptUglyDan Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2009
    Oddometer:
    776
    Location:
    Port Orchard Wa
    I rode down last Feb at the same time as Shibby, BTW, Hey Shibby! and used the National Geographic ADV maps 3103 and 3104 they work great, are tear, water resistent and if your not into GPS like me work well for Baja offroad routes. I picked them up at Barnes and Noble for 20.00 bucks each. If your riding down the Oly peninsula on your way south this December I could meet up with you and your welcome to borrow them. I won't be going back down till March so you can just mail them back to me, or drop em off.
    #19
  20. Samwich

    Samwich n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2
    Bbrrrr... December can be prety cold in the north. Depending on the season it can have snow before Christmas (almost always in Jan. around Mike's Sky Rancho). Pack warm, dry, and make sure you have a water proof bivy (always prepare for what you don't want to happen).

    Traveling alone is not recommended; perhaps if you stayed on the hwy, but not off road... especially if you have never been to Baja prior. Please take that advise seriously. There are some great tour guides out there if you want an off-road adventure and can't find a riding buddy. If you go without a guide, I highly recommend a GPS. If you still decide to ride without a buddy..... rent a sat. phone & get Binational Ins. (flight out of Baja). - it's worth your life.

    Maps & routes: There are a few good sources: The Baja Nav. Map (uploads to your GPS) - I think this is the best map on the market and combined with your GPS you can see where you are (and watch you move on the map while traveling). It's pretty accurate and has most of the more main dirt roads on it. The Baja GPS Guidebook is good too. Routes are actually uploaded to your GPS and it comes with all kinds of info about the route and places it takes you - very informative if you want something pretty comprehensive on off-roading in Baja. If you get a GPS, buy Garmin. Paper maps.... Baja Almanac for sure, but using the GPS with the map or guidebook I talk about makes all this idiot proof instead of having to stop and figure stuff out on a paper book. Technology kinda rocks.

    As for your windsheild, if you plan on doing very minimal gravel roads and mostly pavement go for it. If you really want to go off road and hit some soft sand & hill climbs, etc. don't bother; it will get broken.

    Tires: Dunlop 739 (discontinued but you can still get them) if you plan to be off road more than pavement. 606 is ok for both, but not as good as the 739 in the dirt. I guess you really gotta decide how much pavement vs. dirt you want to do & get your routes together before you can decide on what the best tire will be - same with windsheild.

    Post something on all the off road sites and separately on this site looking for Dec. riders... you'll find some. All the replies so far are right on, so you are getting good info.


    #20