Rainbow Farm Rides BDRs, AZ Peace Trails, Misc So Cal, and Baja

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PJ Bren, Mar 15, 2021.

  1. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Riding south from Kingman we took Hualapai Mountain Road, which was our favorite section of Peace Trail. It had a pretty healthy coating of snow and ice, especially on the north side of the hills, but thankfully our knobs were able to bite in just enough to climb the mountains and take in some of the most excellent views. We were told that the road had been recently graded to assist in fighting fires in the area, so during warmer times it should be easy to traverse.
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    Once down the other side we continued on the Peace Trail spur east labeled AZPT05 M2 Yucca to Wikieup. This section has a long challenging hill climb and descent with lots of boulders and off camber riding. It really would have been challenging had we not already been riding aggressively almost everyday for 1.5 months. Fortunately we were able to flow through it slowly but without any crashes and the scenery as well as the challenge made it a super gratifying section to ride.
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    Down the other side we booked it to Wikieup, got gas, then retraced our steps and headed south to Alamo Lake. We took AZPT06 E3 to get to the lake, and we found the trail to be mostly reasonable but slightly boring until the deep sand wash just before the lake. We bailed out of the wash, took the last bit of rocky road down to the lake, and found a campsite along the water.
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  2. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    A local winter bird took us on a track to the top of Smith Peak the following morning where we soaked in the sun and views, then we headed south to Aguila through open desert haul roads.
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    We stuck on pavement around the east side of the Haruahala Mountains Wilderness, then turned on the Peace Trail section S-12 M1 west. This section is never too difficult but twists and turns through the base of the mountains feeling somewhat contrived yet enjoyable until the end. Here the trail follows difficult loose hill climbs and descents that we eventually bailed off of to get on AZPT10 M1, a much more enjoyable flow through the desert where we found a camp site for the night. IMG_0930.JPEG IMG_0934.JPEG
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  3. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Since we had already completed both east and west legs of the Peace Trails returning to Yuma on previous trips, we made our own route through the Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. We refueled at New Hope, then headed south until we crossed into the Refuge where we followed a series of zigzagging roads for about 100 miles through sand and rock with varying degrees of mountains, none of which we found to be too challenging.
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    Our track came out the southwest side of the refuge on route 95; from here it was only 15 miles of pavement back to the van and beers to mark the finishing of our 3rd loop, though we weren't done with the trip quite yet!
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    #43
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  4. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    I feel your pain, though never experienced the gumbo mud down there (haven't ridden down there). Just a guess, but it's likely the same stuff that we get in SE Oregon, into NV, is out in Utah, and other places. Bentonite is what's in there that makes it so stupidly sticky and then drying to concrete. Not to hijack your thread, but here's a shot from a ride in '19 that turned into a solid shitshow - had to abandon bikes when the rain didn't relent and hike 5+ miles in gear.

    [​IMG]

    The pics from the campsite you guys found above the canyon are seriously spectacular. Don't think you could post too many pictures from that spot or the ride getting there.

    Look forward to catching up on the rest of your adventures!
    #44
  5. Ohio_Danimal

    Ohio_Danimal If I die trying, at least I tried Supporter

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    Great stuff. Your South America videos played a big part in fueling my own trip south. So glad to see more Rainbow Farm content! Stay safe you two.
    #45
  6. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Appreciate the kind words and glad your out there getting after it.. Hopefully I can get my act together and get some of the videos from this trip together over the next couple weeks.
    #46
  7. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    That looks like the real deal. Even more than 500 miles later I felt like I removed 10-20 lbs of mud that was stuck in, on, and around various parts of the bike. Argh.
    #47
  8. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    Back at camp we addressed Paul's leaking countershaft, which ended up being a well documented issue fixable with Loctite. We also service all the bikes in anticipation of an unknown final ride about to come.

    Perhaps it was the thought that we had been so close to the Mexico border but not crossed on this trip that drove the plan for the last part of the adventure. We've had our van for a couple years and it has a notoriously bad paint job. There are many rusted sections and on the hood the paint is actually just striping away. In an effort to save the Sprinter from more weathering we started collecting quotes for getting it painted and quickly found that options across the border were going to be substantially cheaper. We eventually settled on a "shop", which was more like a junkyard that happened to have a paint spray gun about 30 miles over the border who would paint the entire van, including prep work, for $2k.
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    We loaded the bikes in the van, drove to the shop about an hour over the border, unloaded, and setoff on Baja ride about. We were very clear with the owner that we NEEDED the van completed in 2 weeks and that anything outside of that would be unacceptable, so we budgeted to be back in 12 days to get ready and staged to head home.

    Heading out of town there isn't many other options other than to stay on pavement towards San Felipe. Eventually we found a turnoff for a track used for the San Felipe 250, where we got our first taste of riding racecourses in Baja - whoops like you wouldn't believe. After riding through the salt flats and sand for a couple hours we setup camp in the desert.

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    Note: This particular loop is not very well documented by photos, so if your interested check out the video whenever I get around to making it.
    #48
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  9. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The next day was A LOT of very engaging riding and remote. We continued to follow the 250 course south on roads that got less whoopy and generally more enjoyable. There were plenty of sections of sand and rocks and the temperatures were warmer than on all of our previous trips thus far, so we felt like we were working. Finally we got to the portion of the track that was to climb up into the mountains and eventually down to Valle Trinidad, only to discover that it was in VERY poor condition. Paul walked a portion of it and decided the safer decision would be to backtrack to another mountain crossing road we had passed about 20 miles back. Generally if Paul backs down, the track is pretty gnarly.
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    We backtracked for a bit through the desert until we reached the other mountain crossing road to the north. By then our fuel situation had become a concern, and we made the decision that if we were going to attempt this pass there wasn't going to be the option of retreating because we didn't have the fuel for it.

    Up we went through an initial climb on continuous rock steps, which culminates into a better but narrow mountain road. The views were exceedingly awesome, but the switchbacks and climbs were continuously challenging with rocks/boulders, steps, and off camber riding up steep terrain. Lots of encouraging talk was had and eventually we made it to the summit in a pine forest of sorts. The temperature was pleasant and the roads were much more tame, though route finding was a bit of an issue as our track had been blocked. After sorting out the route we cruised down dirt tracks before finally reaching the pavement of highway 3. About 4 miles out of Valle Trinidad Paul ran out of fuel, but was able to lay the bike down on its side to access some of the drops of fuel that hide in the right ear of his IMS tank. That last bit of fuel was enough to get into town, fuel up, get some food, and retreat to a campsite outside of town that we've used on past trips.
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    #49
  10. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The next morning we headed down to Mike's Ranch where we devised a plan to travel some new terrain. Rather than climb the hill out of the ranch, which we had done on KLRs a couple years back, we stayed left and followed the creek for a ways until we reached a pretty sweet looking campground. The road was good until this point, but it was about to get real.
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    After crossing a few creeks the road passes through a rock filled wash, then proceeds to climb through varying degrees of shelves, rocks, switchbacks, and other challenges which really made us work on fully loaded bikes. We helped each other through multiple sections and it took us quite a bit of time to work up into the higher elevation forest above. Eventually we reached a better road which continued south and traversed some really pretty country, only to be met with a GO BACK sign followed by a fairly substantial gate. We're always trying to straddle the line between travelling available roads and respecting land owners wishes, so for this gate we decided to turn around and return to a connector track. This tracks leads to the road that runs between Mike's Ranch and Coyote Ranch. There are definitely some rocky/rutted sections of this connector track, but we made it to the main track only to be met by more signs indicating that the direction we wanted to go was closed.
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    I'm not going to say we went the closed way, and I'm not going to say we didn't. Suffice to say that we traversed some roads heading generally southwest that we had been on several years ago. We found them to be in worse condition now than they were then, and we took it easy through several of the very loose downhills. Very close to the end of the difficulties Paul was hearing an odd squeaking noise and discover that the aluminum welded ear on the subframe that holds the left pannier rack had snapped. Bummer! More zipties, duct tape, and straps ensued and we limped along. A local had setup a chain across the final part of the road and asked for $5 US dollars, but we're not ones to encourage this type of behavior and we blew him off, opening and closing his "gate" behind us. We proceeded past Coyote Ranch, found a spur road, and setup camp for the night.
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    #50
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  11. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    HOT DAMN I missing riding in Baja, being in Baja, experiencing Baja, and everything else. What a seriously killer couple of days of riding @PJ Bren! And I can't believe you were able to get your van painted, including taking care of the rust issues, for $2k. That's stellar.

    Totally enjoyed the last couple updates! Will never forget getting fubard on the rock steps climbing out of Mike's - damn friend thought a Tiger 800 could make it...nope. Me and my other buddy would have been fine (WR250 and WR450), but we took pity and backtracked all the way to a town along the Pacific. Broke the first rule of Baja riding on the 2nd day - riding at night.

    Can't wait for more folks - this is a treat to read and keeps me going. Thanks for taking the time to post!
    #51
  12. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    A short trip to the San Pedro Martir Highway had us cruising on pavement down to the coast the next morning. Previously we had the idea to keep working south through the backcountry, but with Paul's broken subframe we knew that wise thing was to stick to pavement and find someone with a TIG welder to get the aluminum put back together. Fortunately the highway is extremely beautiful, at least until it gets to Highway 1. Continuing on the 1 south we found someone to weld the bike around San Quintin. We got the bike fixed, got supplies, and devised a route that headed east into the mountains again.
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    This 2 track was on par with AZ Peace Trail difficulty and flowed reasonably with the exception of 1 rocky switchback and step, which we needed to help each other through. A few more miles up the road we came to a T "intersection" of back country roads where we setup camp for the night. This was our 2nd favorite campsite of the trip and was incredibly peaceful.
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    #52
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  13. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    I'm learning as I ride more that within reason most bikes will get just about anywhere. Rider skill and speed seem to be the variables. We're content to get in over our heads and ride slowly loaded up - it seems to work for us.

    Thanks again for the kind words.
    #53
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  14. NevadaNick

    NevadaNick Been here awhile

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    Be careful in washes, especially setting up a camp in one as they can turn into a raging torrent without notice, even if the clouds are miles away.
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  15. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    From the intersection where we camped we headed south through all kinds of roads including narrow rutted 2 track, steep rocky descents, and wide haul roads.
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    Fortunately there weren't any show stoppers on this sections, so we each stayed on our respective bikes and plugged our way towards highway 1. Along the way we did encounter a military checkpoint, so perhaps there is some funny business going on in the mountains? We travelled highway 1 for about an hour until Catavina, where we had some lunch an then decided to stop early and return to a camp site we knew of in the boulders. We were both pretty well spent from the past couple days/weeks/months and a rest was welcomed.
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    #55
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  16. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    From Catavina we decided it was time to take it easy, and Lauren had it in her mind that Bahia Las Angeles was the place to do it. We took pavement until about 10 miles south of Champalla, just after the 1 intersects with the 5, and headed east on a desert track that jumped between sand and whoops and sometimes both. At a sandy descent Paul ran straight into a cactus, but overall the obstacles were mild and we eventually emerged on pavement about 15 miles out of Bahia LA. After a mile on the pavement Lauren noticed she had a flat rear tire, so Dynaplug to the rescue (she has a tubliss system). Back on the road we made it for Bahia LA, fixed a rear braking issue on Lauren's bike, got supplies, then headed out to La Gringa for some beach time.
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    We spent 5 nights at Bahia, each day digging clams for breakfast and dinner, reading lots, swimming a little, and generally doing very little motorbiking; actually, very little of anything.
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    #56
  17. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    When we left the van we had very clearly told the owner of the shop that we needed to be ready to leave in 2 weeks or less. Just to make sure things were on schedule we had texted with the owner while we were in Bahia LA, who told us that the van should be ready to go on in 3 days. Great!

    We left Bahia via pavement, then rejoined the dirt track we had taken at Champalla to take the "backway" to Coco's Corner. This route is more interesting than going towards Bahia. The sandy/rocky track turns into an interesting path through a wash with actual water flowing through it. It is undeveloped aside from a military checkpoint, and we later were told that the surface water is brackish and doesn't support agriculture.

    Back on the pavement at Coco's we were surprised to find that highway 5 had been completely repaired from the last time we were on it. The pavement is all in place and all of the bridges have been restored, making the trip north much more tame. A short ride led us to Papa Fernedez where we visited with friends for the evening.

    Continuing north the next day we rode pavement to San Felipe, again having to employee some gas tactics to make it from Bahia to San Felipe without a fill up. We had several missions in San Felipe:
    1. Get Paul subframe welded again (it had broken just as we arrived into town)
    2. Find a dentist to get our teeth cleaned.
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    With some orchestration we were able to accomplish both tasks and get north of town for the night; we stay at some generous winter birds house for the night.
    #57
  18. PJ Bren

    PJ Bren Been here awhile

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    The next day was all pavement back to the shop where we found the van...... unfinished. Do you guys remember that picture from earlier. Well that was the van the day we arrived.
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    Cumulatively we have a lot of time in Mexico, so we've become fairly familiar with the "relaxed" pace of life and work in the country. It isn't a knock against the people but rather a way of life. Just like in the states where most folks might say something like "How are you?" or "Lets get together sometime" without any intention of actually hearing about or seeing you, the pace of business over the border is just slower. Dismayed but not entirely surprised, we started to apply subtle pressure by essentially moving into the shop. Every night we slept in our tent or in the van, becoming a constant presence in the owners life until finally he had no choice but to get the job done.

    After 5 nights of living in the shop and much shenanigans, (including breaking down a wall so the van would fit in the paint booth), we finally got the van painted to our satisfaction and the bikes loaded. We haggled a bit before we left and got the final price of the job down to $1800 (due to the time overrun), then left on relatively good terms to get back over the border and start back to WV.
    #58
  19. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    I loved Catavina when I went through in '18; never forget the ride heading west toward the Pacific after leaving town in the opposite direction of the Baja course. Absolutely fantastic ride that I cannot wait to do again (though without the fear of going the wrong way on a course - even if it was well before the race).

    Damn, that sounds like complete and total nirvana. Hanging on the beach, digging clams for sustenance, and enjoying the Baja way. I can't wait until my boys are through high school so I can just go.

    Totally enjoying the report @PJ Bren (as have already stated). Look forward catching up on what you guys did after leaving Bay of LA.
    #59
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  20. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

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    Have been riding dirt in Az and Baja. Each a few times. Well I ride the easy parts. To old, to sore and always ride alone. So no hard parts. Good for you 2. Well done
    My wife and I had planned to winter in Baja this past winter. Me riding the wr250r. But we know why that didn’t happen. Next winter. DRZ are a great antique,are they not? I got one as a (440). Please continue I am enjoying. Petepilot
    #60