El Blanco Donkeys 2019 - 7 day Baja recap

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mx813, Mar 2, 2019.

  1. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    Duuuuudddeeee.

    The 1000 is on my bucket list. But I must decline for 2 reasons:

    1- 3 yrs shy of 50
    2- getting 2 weeks off in November as a teacher is near impossible.

    PM your email and I’ll send you some info on side events I put on for the club that are a hoot. Think beer and Mtn riding at Gifford.
    #41
  2. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    21 February - Day 6

    Ominous weather...

    Holy wind Batman! The night before and all through the night, it was absolutely howling out making us wonder...will there still be a roof over our heads in the morning?

    The hotel survived. We survived despite the racket outside and a piece of tin rattling outside the bathroom window. Reminded me of sleeping in my trailer out in the open. You hope everything was battened down.

    Instead of eating breakfast at Villa Vitta, we wandered over to Costa Del Sol for coffee and pancakes. As usual... our favorite 1 eyed dog was there, head towering above our table.

    IMG_5368.JPG

    Scooby II

    Geared up, headed to the Pemex to top off the tanks and slab up to the lakebed to cut over to Window Rock trail when I noticed my rear tire acting weird. Looked fine so up the highway we went to the lakebed. Which was full. And edges extremely soft. As we tried to find a decent entry point, I felt a clunk clunk clunk coming from the rear tire at low speed. My tire was extremely soft which indicated that my mousse was failing inside causing my left side of the tire to collapse a bit and knobs hitting the chain. Crap.

    And it was starting to rain. And it was windy. I opted to adjust the axle on the right side to pull it back a bit, preventing tire from hitting the chain. A temporary fix until we met the chase truck off 1 where Window Rock ends. The plus side, I would be riding mud and soft wet sand with a rear tire equivalent to 8psi.

    Crossing the edge of the lakebed to pick up the two track was weird. Wide open in spots and then bogging down hard as it got reallly soft. Shift down, sit back and crack the throttle more is really the only solution.

    As we approached the main single track through the big open area, I was amazed at how wide and blown out that area was compared to last year. And it was whooped. Badly.

    Filing into the trail, me in the center/back, we started to have fun, build some body heat as we were wet from squall after squall. Eventually as we entered the canyons where there is a rock waterfall out of sand to climb, we came across several bikes. Fully laden with camping gear. I didn’t look at them too closely but one stood out...a 990. Holy crap. It took their whole group to get that bike up a relatively easy climb. And we weren’t in the tight bolder stuff yet. They waved, said hello and mentioned they were camping out on the trail. Ok...cool but we were surrounded by huge black rain clouds. So we kept moving, rendezvousing at Window Rock for a breather and snack.

    Rear tire still holding...thanks to the bead lock, we made it to Window Rock and took a five minute break. And removed a bunch of cholla that magically appeared stuck to saddlebags and boots.

    IMG_5362.JPG

    Pretty cool picture. And yes, the helmets were cold when we got going again.

    Our next stop was Hwy 1 at a pullout that is obviously used for Score and other races. Within minutes of departing, we were inundated by a huge squall. I don’t think I’ve pulled my jacket out and put on faster than that moment. We weren’t wet. We were soaked. But trails were prime so we continued on and finally met the chase truck with a 1/2 mile slab north on 1. And my rear tire was done. My back end of the bike couldn’t be trusted so while gassing up, I pulled my buddies tire off since his ride was done due to injuries. I was running a 45 rear and he had a 48. No problem as I had my axle blocks flipped to the long side. Flip to the short side, aligned the axle blocks properly and off we go...through miles of rock whoops. Our goal was a new-ish trail called Wards Falls. But in our high speed whooping it up and now deep into the Calamajue wash, we missed it. By five miles.

    A little pow-wow session ensued and once again, we split up. 4 of continued up the wash and the other two who did both sides of 22 Day went back to find the trail and agreed to meet us at Alfonsinos. I had way-pointed the Calamajue Mission so we checked it out. It was t much compared to some of the others in Baja so off to Cocos corner we go..:and literally pulled in the same time as the chase truck.

    The sun was out, our gear bags were there so had a beer, signed the guest book for Coco and proceeded to head to the hotel which at that point was literally a straight shot. We all grabbed dry clothes and the ride was pretty straightforward.

    Alfonsinos. It has changed and I can’t decide if it’s for worse or better. Sure the bar and entry way looks nice but the price is steep. But it also includes three meals. I had tried to reserve rooms at El Sacrifcio but somehow my inquiry about them preparing food for us was lost in translation. Coco told us they do prepare food for guests and to try again next time. Oh well...next time. The food was good at Alfonsinos and we had our three rooms on the first level next to the new building. We had our own beer and tequila so we just hung out by the end room until bedtime.

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    Nice weather right?

    IMG_5357.JPG

    I’d love to come back here to hike the hill when the tide goes out and enjoy warmer weather.
    #42
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  3. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    Mousse Bib Post Mortem-

    You thought I’d leave you hanging on what went wrong?

    Nope.

    When I got home and took a couple naps, I immediately pulled the tire off to see what the hell happened.

    If anyone remembers how Subway used to cut their bread...cutting a V shape wedge out of the center, that’s what the mousse looked like.

    Pulling a mousse tire off without a bead press is normally slightly difficult, but not this...3 tire irons and I had it off in minutes, like a tube. Chunks everywhere. What a mess.

    From what people have told me on Ride Baja FB group, a motor oriented group, it got hot. Really hot. I swore I used enough lubricant for the mousse but apparently not enough. Max speed on slab was 60-ish. Top dirt speed was 94. Shouldn’t be a problem.

    Oh well...next time, I’m putting a zirk fitting in where the valve stem goes and lubing the hell out of it daily.

    IMG_5344.JPG

    Trade anyone?
    #43
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  4. Moto Vaquero

    Moto Vaquero Trail less traveled

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    That big valley with all the sand whoops is always interesting. It looks like the Desert 100 went through there with all the different lines, but none of them are "smooth".
    Didn't find Mine Road out of Coco's? You were probably done and ready to warm up by then. I'm cold just thinking about being soaked with a cold wind, brrrr...
    #44
  5. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    When we split up in the Calamajue wash and after looking at the mission, I gave my friends a couple options. Ride the mine trail down into Punta Final or cocos, and goof around en route.

    It was a unanimous decision since two of them had ever visited Cocos.

    I did the Mine Trail last year heading south. That is a fun road/trail with some rugged Mtn views.

    One of the guys with that was on the trip who’ve I been riding with for a long time shared some thoughts years ago

    “It’s not about the quantity of miles ridden, it’s the quality of miles ridden.” Which extends to both on and off the bike wherever we are.

    I agree.
    #45
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  6. overlander

    overlander Gravel Travel Tours Supporter

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    Really loving your report and as a fellow high school teacher, im ready for my next tour to Baja! Bib Mousse failures like the one you suffered are so common on longer trips that I'll never use them unless I have the convenience of extra wheels to change out along the route (which for me is never). I've been to Baja many times and while several with me have had flats, I have not had one yet. Good Dunlop 606s with heavy tubes, Stans goo inside and ive been blessed with zero flats! Of course now that I've said that I'll have flats front and rear the minute I lose sight of the truck! Keep it coming!
    #46
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  7. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    It’s definitely a toss up on wheel set-up. Out of 5 bikes that rode every day...1 failure out of the 10 wheels isn’t all that bad. I had a buddy last year run 1400 miles unsupported on mousse and they looked new when he pulled them out.

    Since we all always have a chase truck, that’ll be the way I’ll go. If I do an unsupported trip, then I’ll have to revisit that.

    I assume as a teacher, you get a week off over presidents break? Or spring break? I typically take a day unpaid along with a few personal days to get the length of days needed to ride 7 days. Super jealous of those who go for 2 weeks.

    Of course summer is an option but it’ll a bit to warm for me and the PNW mtns are spectacular riding.
    #47
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  8. _Magoo_

    _Magoo_ master of disaster....

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    I hope Perfecto finds an ongoing gig (he is the dude that has been selling barrel gas on the right side of the road as you get into town, been there forever.
    #48
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  9. fuggy

    fuggy Canyon Explorer

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    I vote for the worse. I like the improvements they are doing but hospitality and charm has left the building. Plus you have to pay for wifi that doesn't work, Starbucks prices for weak coffee, and food portions have shrank in size. The hotel feels like something you'd visit in San Diego now, many of us go to Baja to avoid those places and people they attract. ;)
    #49
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  10. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    22 Feb - Day 7

    The Final Ride Day

    The storms that rolled in the previous day and hung around really killed the need for getting up early for sunrise pictures. So...sleeping into 7 was golden.

    Truck packed, lots of coffee and breakfast consumed, we head out and gassed up at the Pemex on 5 before heading north towards San Felipe. Our next stop was the turn off towards the Maotomi Wash...about a 45 mile slap, bridge dodging, washout ride. Easy on a bike.

    I’ll admit that my trail knowledge in this area is limited and no matter how much time I spent on Google Earth and E32 maps, there was no getting around a slab ride. If someone knows of something besides Rockman Trail which puts us on Hwy 1, I would appreciate your input.

    Before heading west into the wash, we waited for the chase truck to top off our gas, grab some water and food out of it and off we went.

    I didn’t have someone’s tracks to follow but I knew where it was and how to make a loop based on other ride reports. So I made them using Mapsource. This is interesting. We would be following the sand road west while the track is either 200’ north of south of us but no established line there so...just keep riding as we would soon be boxed in.

    At this point in the ride, 6 of us had gone down at some point, bars hitting dirt. Well...it was the 7th guys turn today. On the flat arroyo road leading to the canyon, fast stuff, he found a rock and swapped out...flying off his bike, yard sailing everywhere into soft sand. I wish we had go pro of this as the guy behind witnessed this crash and him standing up with sand pouring out of his helmet. Lucky for sure.

    We regrouped and headed towards the entrance of the Maotomi wash. Super cool stuff in there to ride. Right walls, technical rocks and turns, fairly easy on bikes but I can’t imagine a trophy truck hauling through there. We eventually turned north and climbed out of it and headed north and then east towards San Felipe. It was all very scenic except the miles and miles and miles of whoops. Covered in flowers. At first it was fun but after awhile, we all started criss crossing the two track through the brush and cactus just to avoid the whoops. Ugh...

    We finally hit the road we started on, turning into what I believe is called the Zoo road. We opted to follow that to 5 and head to Hotel El Cortez where our trailer was and chase truck would be meeting us. My low fuel light came on about that point so perfect timing. Only a few miles of back tracking out of nearly 1000 miles. Not too bad.

    The chase truck had gotten our rooms, gassed my truck up for the drive home and had it detailed for 7 bucks by the Chevron. It was a muddy mess from the whole trip so it was nice having it cleaned. We got the bikes loaded and gear bags stowed, all ready for a 1300 mile drive the next day.

    IMG_5364.JPG

    Our legendary chase driver. He did well. Saluting us #1

    Our drive home took 26.5 hrs total. Not too bad but damn it was tough as the three of us were tired. I drove to the grapevine north of LA, most of Oregon and 2/3 of Washington to home. Left San Felipe Saturday the 23rd at 0600 and pulled into my driveway at 0830 Sunday.

    That afternoon as I arose from one of many catnaps and before I dig into my failed rear tire, I inspected my truck and found this:

    c7bf46bc-671c-4a2a-a47c-3949da8692bb.jpg

    Holy cow...did we get lucky or what. I have no idea how long we drove with the lock missing, leaving the pin vulnerable to slide out.
    #50
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  11. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Forgot to check in on the last day, glad I did :thumb.

    Great pic of the chase truck driver, seems like just the right type to undertake the adventure...lol. I hope my boys follow in my footsteps and I'm able to do something like that for them down the road (far down the road...lol).

    No pics of the wash you road and all that?

    That last pic...woof. Even with the trailer chains attached, that would've been awful - glad it wasn't . Unrelated, but it sort of reminds me of a funny (ie stoopid) thing I did when loading our 2-rail trailer with my dirt bike some years ago. Threw the trailer on the hitch and didn't lock it down (was in a hurry and forgot). Rolled the bike up the ramp and made it as far as the axle when physics took over and launched the tongue skyward, thereby sending the bike onto me and the trailer pounding to the ground. Had some bruises and felt like a complete moron, but that's the last time I ever rushed loading...lol.

    Really enjoyed your RR @mx813, thanks for taking the time to post. Now I need to figure out when I'll be able to get back down there and ride. And maybe on something not fully loaded with camping gear, etc. Hmmm.

    Well done :nod :nod :nod
    #51
  12. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    I’ll be at this years Baja 1000. Sure looking forward to it. Great ride report as was the riding. Very much enjoyed. Baja sure is special nowhere like it.
    #52
  13. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    Thought I'd resuscitate this thread to inform y'all that the El Blanco Donkey's will be heading south once again. I read somewhere that there has been a "dearth of baja ride reports" so hopefully I will be assuage that in the coming months. Might do a "pre-ride trip report" for the heck of it.

    Right now, we will be rolling coal southbound Mar.30 from Seattle area and wheels on the ground April 3rd.
    #53
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  14. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Oh hell YES @mx813! I've been following @Jamie Z's report as he's in Baja right now and it's been fun. Can't wait to follow another of your reports from Baja...truly miss being down there.
    #54
  15. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    Thanks.

    I have been following the Jamie Z ride report too. Looks like fun.

    My drive south on the 31st of March, 2 of us will be stopping at a buddies house in Bend to do a truck swap and pick up a bike...and then roll south to San Diego in the early hours on April 1st.

    Actually will be Bend next weekend for 3 nights/2 days of riding. Couple of buddies moved there from the Seattle craziness. Can't blame them. I'm jealous.
    #55
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  16. MasterMarine

    MasterMarine Long timer

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    Nice report. I don't know how I missed it. It was a nice treat to run across this am.
    #56
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  17. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    Giving how things are going around here... I can't wait to escape again.

    Just need to come up with a new Trip name...

    2018 - Tres Borrchas
    2019 - El Blanco Donkeys

    2021 - ????? (10 of us going - 8 riders, 2 chase)
    #57
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  18. advrockrider

    advrockrider Long timer

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    This will be the first year in about 15 that I haven't ridden Baja! I retire next November and plan to start doubling down on the trips... Ridden most of these trails and really enjoyed the report. Also help only being a ten hour drive away.
    #58
  19. Hill Climber

    Hill Climber Long timer

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    8 riders and 2 chase? What can go wrong? How about Team Chaos or Caos de Equipo
    #59
  20. mx813

    mx813 Been here awhile

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    Let me rephrase on 2 chase. We will have one truck and 2 drivers. Chase drivers need a drinking buddy at the hotel right????
    #60
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