Wypers do Mexico

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Chriswyper, Dec 5, 2019.

  1. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
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    Back in July 2017 a group of friends and workmates left Australia for two weeks riding in Ladakh on Royal Enfields. My 12 year old son and my 70 year old father came along too. The trip was a roaring success, and we started planning something even bigger to follow it.

    P7070197.JPG I visited Cabo San Lucas 10 years ago for a conference and decided that it would make a great destination for a long ride. I looked into hiring bikes but it was too expensive and only Eagle Rider let you out of the USA. Logical choice was to buy a bike on the West Coast, then ride it for a few weeks, come back and sell it again.
    It's our summer holidays so my son Ben (now 15) has 9 weeks off school. My dad is now retired so has 52 weeks a year on holiday, and Australians qualify for long service leave (8 weeks after 10 years company service). It therefore made sense to start the trip in December 2019.
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    Another rider from Ladakh (Tony) was interested in joining us. It didn't take much to sell the trip to him.
    Now there were four of us, with a destination in mind and flights booked. The next obstacle would be the bikes.
    We figured to arrive a week before we planned to set off and hire a car, then drive around San Francisco or Los Angeles for 3 suitable, well set up bikes. We would then need to register, insure and service them for the big trip. The more I looked at this the bigger the problem appeared. We didn't want to waste the time and money staying in LA whilst we waited for paperwork; and life can be hard when you don't have a US address or credit card.
    I was idly surfing this forum when I first heard of "the famous James". Mr Tucker is an ex-countryman and fellow BMW enthusiast, now semi retired from his previous life as car dealer. He offers a service as a fixer; one who will procure, store, insure and register a motorbike in your name for a reasonable fee.
    It all sounded perfect but I was quite nervous about sending large sums of money to a complete stranger from the internet in return for pictures of motorbikes. James was able to provide tens of references from satisfied clients with links to trip reports, photos, testimonials and suchlike. My Dad and I spent a few days following these up until we were convinced that he was genuine. Or at least he deserved a Nobel prize for forgery for the detailed back stories woven.
    The really fun part was that James didn't sit back and let us pick a bike; he was also looking at internet sites, Craigslist etc. to find the right machines for us. We settled on a 2014 KTM 1190R for Ben and me, a 2010 BMW F800GS for Peter, and a BMW F650 for Tony. These were checked out by the meticulous Mr Tucker and a fair price negotiated for each.
    He also took care of the transfer of title and registration and let us use his home address for correspondence.
    All the hard work was done by October. We had legal bikes, plane tickets and a vague direction to ride.
    November has been devoted packing lists, last minute purchases and details. We have printed some stickers for the Iconic stops (Coco's/MSR..) and pristine white 't shirts' (spot the gringo).
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    One big decision that we needed to take was whether or not to camp. Hotel rooms seem pretty cheap in Baja ($30-50) but were much more in USA, so if we wanted to stay north of the border it makes sense to be ready. The deciding factor was the idea of being able to sleep on a beach, or anyway under the stars in fair weather. The weight penalty (tent, mat, stove, pans, sleeping bag) was substantial but we figure that they upside will be worth it.
    Weather is unpredictable. It seems that we will need to be prepared for snow, rain, ice, fog, mist, sunshine, humidity and sunburn during this trip. I am obsessively watching www.windy.com for updates. We shall probably use it on the road to adjust our route also.

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    The packing is nearly done. We have a hire car booked for our arrival on Tuesday and an AirBnB downtown to use as a base. We fly out of Perth on Monday night. I'm already feeling like a 10 year old on Christmas eve who knows he is getting a new bike tomorrow and can't sleep for excitement!
    #1
  2. rodrigzj

    rodrigzj Been here awhile

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    Sounds like a fun trip!
    Looking forward to more.
    #2
  3. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    The Bikes

    Here are the magnificent steeds that will carry us in comfort and safety.

    Tony has the blue F650.

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    Peter will be on the white Anniversary edition F800

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    Chris and Ben will be on the 2014 Katy Em.

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    #3
  4. rodrigzj

    rodrigzj Been here awhile

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    Does Mr tucker have a website?
    Where in the forums did you find him?
    Those are some nice looking steeds.
    Going to be a great ride.
    #4
  5. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    #5
  6. markherman

    markherman Louisianaman Supporter

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    What a wonderful experience! I look forward to your RR. I hosted 2 of your fellow countrymen in 2018 in New Orleans. I think they were also customers of Mr. Tucker as they related a similar story about a fellow on the west coast who handled acquisition and registration of their motorcycles. Ride safe. I see it as a trip of a lifetime.
    #6
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  7. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    Practiced loading my bike in Perth with the stuff we are taking. Not happy with the bulk of the bag in front of me, can’t turn bars full lock. 67C64488-D044-4E50-97DC-F2CBA5E61E04.jpeg
    Going to have to take the top box from home and hope that the Mosko Moto harness can fit under it.

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  8. rodrigzj

    rodrigzj Been here awhile

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    Wow!
    That’s a big bag. Why don’t you split your items with two bags and strap them on top of the panniers.
    Having that big bag right in front seems like it could impede your riding and control of the bike.
    Or condense your items.
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  9. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    The big day has arrived. Turned off my laptop at 4pm, deleted the mail client from my phone.

    My wife drove us to Perth airport. Minor issues with Qantas trying to charge me $85 because one bag was 28 kg, even if the aggregate was below the limit. Solved with some repacking.
    Long journey to LAX - didn’t learn any Spanish on the plane.
    Met with Tony at 7am and we picked up a hire car, drove to Mels Diner in West Hollywood for breakfast.
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    Peter arrived from London mid afternoon. I had to take a break from the vacation, needed to attend a meeting in Dallas on the Wednesday. At least I gave us another day to recover.

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  10. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    We rented an AirBnB downtown. Very quirky, industrial warehouse space. Very noisy ( at least for us used to quiet streets) 59AACA51-1385-455F-8C47-B16FB42607CF.jpeg

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  11. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    Thursday was the big day, finally getting to see the bikes. It felt like Christmas Day for me - after all he planning and expense actually having a ride on our chosen machines.
    James met us at the gates to his house and immediately showed us our rides. He had them on battery tenders so they started up easily.


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    My KTM was lovely, really clean and well loved. We spent most of Thursday packing, repacking adjusting and bending to get the bikes right.


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    I dread to think how much harder this would have been in a motel car park! With access to James’s workshop and tools we could do everything we needed.

    Tony took the hire car back to LAX (allow 2 hours) and Colleen took us shopping into the charming college town of Claremont.

    In we evening we went out to Heroes and Legends in Claremont. Great food, craft beers, peanut fights! Superb evening of entertainment for us.

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  12. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    Friday morning was the first day of proper riding. James suggested the Joshua Tree NP and led us out of town onto the freeway. I didn’t much care for the traffic, but the bike felt good. Not too heavy and we could move around ok. We ditched the big bags and condensed everything onto the Reckless 80 panniers.

    After a lot of hand wringing we elected to leave the tents behind. It cuts out a lot of bulk, and we figured to only camp 4-5 days in Baja. The cost saving could not justify the weight addition. We did take sleeping bags so if the weather is good we can sleep in hammocks, or if the beds are too dirty we have options.

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    Joshua Tree NP is amazing. It was perfect weather, just cool enough that we didn’t sweat, warm enough to lie in the sun. Tony and I shared an annual park pass ($80) so we can visit any US NP this year.

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    #12
  13. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    Saturday was cool and bright. I walked across the parking lot to Statlers for some food. Croissants were $1 each or 18 for $6... so breakfast was warm croissant on a serving platter of Corona carton.

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    We rode back along the 29 Palms highway to Pioneertown. Was looking for a cup of coffee, but found a charming film set for event Western ever filmed.

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    Had the obligatory shoot out at 10 paces with Senor Antonio...
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    The map said that there was a track to take us back to the 247 - called Skyline Ranch road. We went 2-3 miles on dirt and sand but found the track gated. First test of the 1190 off tarmac. Front end felt skittish on sand but not as heavy as I thought. Grandpa and tony did fine also. E5AB1BAE-0E6E-4B12-BED7-C83F6F4AFC9B.jpeg
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    The 247 (Old Woman Springs road) was horribly windy. It was an effort to keep 60 mph and we were glad to turn south, suddenly quiet and stable riding. It’s a wonderful route into Big Bear and the San Bernardino State Forest.
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    Lunch was in a wonderful Cafe in Big Bear, then a bit of arsing about in the snow.

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    The ride down the South face of the mountains was no fun. Clouds, rain and fog kept us to walking pace in much of the descent. No photos! Back to James and some cold IPA and hot pizza.
    #13
  14. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    Last day of safety and security at the Tucker’s place! Need to cut the cord and head to the AMZ now...

    My day started (didn’t start) badly as the 1190 would not turn over. I had been playing with the orange key to see what it did, and obviously put the bike into program mode or something, orange key in and out and black key works... must read up on this!
    Getting out of LA was dull but met the PCH at Laguna beach for a few miles. Lunch in a roadside burger stall by Laguna Beach. The sticker is from our Club in Perth, just flying the flag to let everyone see what they are missing.

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    I screwed up the booking on the hotel having paid for the previous night. It was a bit of a dive anyway so we carried on to a much nicer place with 2 suites, cash price $120..

    We dumped the bags and rode down to the harbour. It’s a bugger to park the bikes, but we had a good look at the area around USS Midway. A912BF7C-1673-40E2-8CB1-6E687C47D1E7.jpeg

    Had a salad for tea (what!) and tamped it down with a $4 cup cake, that wasn’t worth $1...

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  15. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    3CE5A7F0-2E62-4237-A77E-7EE052C229F6.jpeg The original plan was to head to TJ today. However, we are all interested in planes and military tech, so we opted for spending the morning on the US Midway. Well worth a visit, only $20 to view and the docents are passionate and knowledgeable, many of them having served on the ship.

    Back to the hotel to collect the bags and had a chat with Dinesh the manager. He gave a us a great deal on 2 adjacent suites in the Berkshire motor inn. If you need a room in San Diego then hit him up.

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    Headed south for the border down I280. Bit nervous crossing into Mexico, looking for a sign, following satnav and trying to remember the instructions and advice. Ended up missing the SAT building and headed out on the one way system to the freeway. It took us 15 minutes to find a turn around, and then back to the border. Everyone was super friendly but gave bad advice! We tried riding to the visa/TVIP building but couldn’t get close. Peter and I walked back to the US border foot crossing hoping to access the visa building, but the queue was massive. Decided to ride back together instead. It was a prick of a job finding the entry to the I5 north (tired, hangry, dehydrated, satnav glare, traffic, no signs, watching for P&T in mirror. My bike is quite slim so I could filter between stopped cars, but Peter and Tony were too wide for this. Eventually found the border and crawled down the lanes past the hawkers to the front. US customs were efficient and pleasant. Peter needed to get a passport stamp so Tony and I had to wait on the freeway entrance.

    After all this we elected to stay in US one more night and make the crossing early in the morning. No photos - too hectic.
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  16. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    Woke up feeling refreshed this morning. Spent a few minutes researching the crossing (should have done this sooner to save many hours of pissing about). We made a list of stuff we needed to do - camping gas, insurance, pesos, FMM, TVIP and coffee. Introduced Ben to IHOP for breakfast and had some great comfort food.

    We bought liability insurance at the border for $160, comprehensive was $300. Exchange rate very good too. It was blowing a hooley in the morning, gloves blowing off the table, coffee getting blown over- the sort of day nothing goes well. Dad dropped his helmet and snapped the QR- so we needed to make a new latch with a carabiner. Passing through the border we were supposed to go one by one - but Tony and Peter went together and Peter got tapped on the head by the descending barrier. No damage to either.

    When you pass out of the barrier make a hard right and park. It’s maybe 20 m from the barrier and customs check point to the parking area. There are no signs or anyone checking your papers. Once here, park up and walk into the exit of SATS. Go through security, and on the right is counter 7&8. Here you get the FMM form. Fill it in, get it stamped. Head for Banjercito desk and pay $25 for the FMM. Go back to 7&8 and get the FMM stamped. Go back to Banjercito and queue up again. Show registration (original) passport and FMM, and you can get the TVIP. Took about 15 mins each to get the TVIP stamped. They all speak good English.

    The day improved when we entered Mexico a second time (the border guy asked me if it was my first time in Mexico - no I was here yesterday for an hour). We met some Church missionaries who said to try the lobster at Puerto Nueva, so we headed down Route 1 toll for an hour. It’s $1 per bike, about 3 tolls.

    When we entered Puerto Nueva it was deserted. At every corner touts waved us down to eat us to eat at their restaurant. Half of them were called Ortega’s so I guess this was the original. We chose one that overlooked the parked bikes and asked the lovely Mario to fix us $50 worth of lobster. The entree was fresh salsa, picante and tortillas and was the best. Then fish soup ( on the house) and 10 plump langoustine.


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    We could have spent a few more hours eating and drinking in the warm sun - it finally felt like Mexico. No more stress, just Mariachi music, seafood and cerveza.
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    We stopped at Ensenada in a clean hotel - $53 per room but good size and the bikes are outside. No hot water (yet) but other than that can’t complain, Ensenada is alright - here lands the cruise ships so it caters to that market. Fishing panga advertised at $250 which seems high.

    There was a bar across the road which sold Foca stout, a decent local brew. One taco was enough after he rest of the days food, and a early night.
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  17. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Well done lads. Sounds like the Visa/TVIP is even easier than it used to be.
    Trust you get east out of Ensenada OK. It's bit iffy. BUT there IS only one road east over the mountain towards El Crucero,a military check point and right turn to San Felipe. Easy days ride from Ensenada.....oh wait...you are going to Mikes......yikes.

    When in San Felipe keep straight at the roundabouts and go all the way south to towards the Malecon….BUT turn left to Kiki's...right to Malecon. If you went far enough down you are on a one way Street with shops when you turn right...one block down you turn left and left to ride the sea front. Lots of places to explore for eats and drinks on both streets. It's a pretty authentic fishing town but does cater to tourists.
    #17
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  18. TUCKERS

    TUCKERS the famous james

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    Did you guys make it out of Ensenada yet?
    #18
  19. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    I meant to keep up with writing an update every evening - but even when you have no job, no TV and only riding to do it still seems as though I can’t fit it all in. Recap from the last week....

    Thursday morning I slept until 830am - first decent night for me since arriving. We had breakfast in a fantastic local diner. Freshly squeezed OJ, great eggs and stacks of pancakes for Ben. Guts full we filled the bikes and started up the San Felipe road. Scenery is epic, there are farms, deserts, mountains and plains. Great tarmac, smooth and perfect curves. One of the great motorbike roads of the world.
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    At Valle Trinidad we turned south and followed the map to a track that looked like it led to Mike’s Sky Rancho. Tony went on the back of the KTM allowing young Ben to ride the F650 for a bit. Youth and Lack of fear kept Ben upright all day, even with a loaded bike in deep sand. I had a few moments with the 1190; it lulls you into a false sense of security but once that front wheel bites in the sand you either throttle out or prepare to drop the bike. It was a cool day but we soon stripped off some layers as keeping the bikes upright burnt a lot of energy.

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    The track joining Valle Trinidad to MSR was really deep sand in places but once we hit the main access road it improves. Som slightly rocky climbs but nothing too technical. I would not let the track put you off visiting.

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    We let the tyres down to 20 psi for the sand and it made life easier.



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    Peter was struggling with the weight of the F800 on some of the climbs so Tony took his bike and Peter went pillion on the KTM.


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    Arrived at MSR around 3pm with no booking. They were friendly enough, sorting out drinks and lighting the fire. Got cold very quickly so it was good to get next to the heater in the lounge.


    The pool was out of service as it was pretty cold but I imagine in the summer it would be incredible after a long and dusty ride.

    The bar and lounge is a work of art. T shirts adorn the ceiling the walls are covered with stickers and business cards, posters and photos and memorabilia from the Baja 1000.

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  20. Chriswyper

    Chriswyper Adventurer Supporter

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    In the morning we had breakfast with a couple of chaps who had arrived late, Thorn and Ryan. They were also on a father and son trip to Baja, but on 500 EXC travelling really light.

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    Ben and I went for a quick squirt in the morning. The KTM is a different bike with no luggage or pillion. It felt like a big dirt bike, you could muscle it around and it had sooo much power. Didn’t drop it thankfully.

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    We waved off the other KTM group and headed back out. Much easier with cold sand, but I still had a couple of oh shit moments. You have to trust the suspension and just power on whenever the front wheel starts to plough - a very nasty feeling in such a big bike two up,


    The cost to stay @ Mikes is $70 per person, which includes dinner and breakfast. The gas ran out for the heaters in the room, but we were ok in sleeping bags.


    Back on the highway we aired up the tires (learnt the word Llantera!) and headed for San Felipe.

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