5 weeks in baja
Riding my bike down the Baja had been my dream from the day I bought my bike. Trying to make this dream a reality was always a struggle. Always one thing or another came in the way. Every summer I would plan to do it in the Fall, and by Fall I would always end up postponing it to the Spring. Then Spring would roll around and I would have to wait again til Fall....It became a vicious circle of me never getting to the point where I could actually DO the trip. I wasn't sure either if I should be thinking about such a trip alone. I had some (read: a bit) experience riding dirt and even a few rocky trails....but would that be enough experience to prep me for the Baja? I had read lots of RR's and something about doing this trip solo had me intrigued.
I had a lot of personal.....stuff I was dealing with and thought perhaps the whole solo experience was just the ticket to get my life figured out. Or even just figure how to get it back on track. Or if nothing else, just to get away from the mess I was leaving behind.....
Now was the time....this year was different. I had the time-no job. I had the finances-sold my house. And then.... g/f....well things kinda took a turn for the not-so-good just as I was planning to leave. Shit....
Now, this year, this time, there was nothing stopping me....just kinda bummed not to be meeting my g/f along the way.
But I was going....I had to.
My plan was to ship my bike to Tucson and fly down and begin my adventure from there. My son lives in Newport Beach so I figured I'd ride out and spend some time visiting him before heading south into Baja.
I left Ottawa, and it's four feet of snow, on Dec. 15th. I wasn't scheduled to return until Jan. 20th. Should give me enough time to explore Baja?!?
I'd never spent more then 4 days riding consecutively, so I wasn't even sure how I was going to handle this much time on the bike. I knew (or thought I did) that Baja riding was going to be much different then anything I had ever ridden before. Little did I know how different. And five weeks? Really?
My plan was....well I had no plan. I wasn't sure even how far south I was going to get. I knew there were some places that I really wanted to see....Gonzaga, Bay of LA, Punta San Franciquito, Bay of Turtles and....I have a buddy with a rather nice place (palace) in Cabo, but I wasn't sure I wanted to do the drive from Loreto to La Paz. Too much highway. Although, judging from my maps and research, I thought that from La Paz to Cabo could also be lotsa fun. All I really knew was I wouldn't know until it was time to know...? huh?.
I'd ride til I got tired and if I needed a break, I'd stop and take one. I had driven down Mex 1, several times, but never on my bike. And this trip was more about avoiding Mex 1 - as much as possible. I was looking for dirt. Lotsa dirt! And beaches. Lotsa beaches!
Never really figured the rocks and sand into the equation.....Yeah, I knew Baja - Right!:wink:
I had shipped my bike to a fellow Baja adventurer. Frank, from zmw's in Tucson, handled everything for me in getting my bike ready the day I arrived. He helped me pick-up the bike from the shippers warehouse, put new tires on. Gave me some good Baja maps, heck he even picked me up at the airport! Whatta guy!:clap
So there I was, finally on my bike, all geared up and ready to go.....but it was already 4PM, it would be dark soon and I hate riding after dark, especially when I don't know the area. But I had to get a start. I was itchin to go. And so made tracks for California. I got as far as I could that day/nite before finally getting a hotel in bum-fuk-nowhere. I would get an early start in the morning and reach Newport Beach by afternoon. Perfect!
Frank had suggested to take Highway 8 to the coast. Said it was more interesting then the #10 highway. Told me about the dateshakes in Dateland. I set my gps to Dateland and started out the following morning. I finally made it to Dateland and pulled off the highway in search of a dateshake.
Hmmm...did Frank forget to tell me something about 'Dateland'?
Ater spending a few days visting my son I was finally ready to get south. Baja was waiting. And so was I. I decided to drive out to Palm Springs and take the highway south from there to 'see' the Salton Sea. Don't ask why. I just thought it would be interesting to see this sea. I pulled into Palm Springs and decided to take a look around, still had lotsa time before I needed to be in El Centro, so I'd have some lunch and stretch the legs. During lunch I thought about staying in Palm Springs and riding out to Joshua Tree.
Is there really a tree named Joshua?:1drink
But I'm anxious to get into Baja. So I decide to get riding. I could always swing by this way after and see this tree named Joshua....So I get to my bike and immediately notice my back tire is flat. Ahhhh crap! A flat this early in my trip? My bike is parked near main st. And it's pretty busy, and i'm all geared up in my Charlie suit looking like I just landed from the moon. I think some smartass even asked me where my spaceship was parked:rofl But anyways, I get to checking my tire loooking for obvious signs of puncture and found none. So I pull out my airpump and start filling the tire. I get it filled to the point that I can now here the air leaking out. Crap again! I figure to fill it reeeeeeal full and dart to a bike shop. And I do. There was one not too far away, but then again, is anything really far away in Palm Springs? So after changing the tube and reinstalling the tire I'm set to go, but dammit, it's already 4PM. Might better just spend the nite in Palm Springs. Palm Springs is nasty expensive. But oh well, it's all part of the fun. I just wish fun wouldn't cost so much.....so early!
Well, one nite turned into two nites, what with all the hot sun and pools and ice cold beers and then the effect it was having on me and my pasty white Canadian...soul. So I stayed two nites. Big Deal I was not on any stinkin schedule. What's another day? I woke up early the next day and by mid afternoon i was ready to start packing for El Centro. I can make it to El Centro in a coupla hours, no sense rushing.
I pull into El Centro and find one of those $40/nite hotels and call it a day. I wake up early the next day and get my bike packed and ride around the corner to get a coffee. When.....what's that I smell? Ahh Crap - coolant. Sure enough, I check the weep hole and it's leaking. And it's Monday. Isn't Monday a universal holiday for bike shops? I did manage to find an open shop in San Diego, so back I go. $400 dollars and 4 1/2 hours later I'm out the door. Except by now it is 'already 4PM....guess I'm staying in San Diego tonite. San Diego is another nasty expensive town. But I check into a room and check the weather report back in Ottawa and suddenly I feel really good about being in San Diego.:lol3
Next day I am up and packed and ready to ride.....in the rain? This trip is definitely starting on a weird note. Cold and wet in San Diego? Furtunately it dries up fast and I'm in Tecate by 10 AM and in 'the bank' in line paying for my tourist card after which I pull out some American pesos and try and convert to Mexican dollars. Nope....the teller told me I needed to go to 'the bank'. Huh? I was in 'the bank'???....I left.
Welcome to Mexico - land of the confused gringo!
But alast, finally...here I was in Mexico. Riding the Baja on my bike, c/w new waterpump, and doing so by myself. It felt great. I made tracks for Ensenada, which I really had no plans to see. Ask me why, no wait don't ask please. I'd rather forget that nite!
Except for the detour into san Diego...my plan was to highball it to San Felipe and then let the Baja happen as it might...But now I was riding to Ensenada on wet roads and it was cold. Dam cold...well cold for baja. By the time I hit Ensenada I was having second thoughts about getting to san Felipe. I was cold and the clouds looked threatening. And it was windy. Very windy. But after lunch at some sidestand in which I ate two of something. I had no idea what I was eating...but boy, was it good! Now, I was ready to ride again. So it was off to San Felipe. Did I mention the wind yet? I took the #3 across the mountains to san Felipe and I had stopped to take a picture...my battery recharged itself?...and while stopped, the freakin wind knocked my bike over! It was windy! And my nice clean shiny bike was on it's side...getting all dirty. And scratched!
Dust storm in the valley
:lurk This sounds interesting...
you got the right idea.. a great way to get your life figured out by riding the 2 wheeled therapist and some sole helmet time.. :thumb
:lurk :lurk in
This sounds like a working formula.....:clap
OH! very nice start. I'll be along for the...adventure.
As I came down to sea level the clouds were now only in my rear view mirrors. Nothin but blue skies and warmer temps. Ahhh Baja....
Riding in to San felipe I met up with two guys on KLR's. They were here from Germany to explore Baja and had no plans-no schedule.....sounds familiar. We got a coupla rooms at a cheap hotel and cleaned up before heading out for beers and grub, and of course, to exchange stories. Both of these guys were experienced riders and had travelled lots. I showed them my map and told them my points of interest. They just looked at each other and said 'Yah, dats gud, we go too'' So we would rode together to Gonzaga the next day.
Thomas and Dietmar...
riding down the gravel road on our way to Gonzaga, I kinda thought to myself, 'I was expecting a much rougher ride'. Hmmmm....
Did I mention that I found the charger for my camera? And I would have taken more pics on the road to Gonzaga....but my hands were shaking too much. The road definitely got rougher and tougher. I eventually tried the sand along the side and after, ummmm, some getting used to...I was able to buzz along quite comfortably. Well at least I thought so....:dunno
We made it to Gonzaga and were treated with some cold beers and fish tacos. Mmmmm fish tacos.
And woke to this
Neither of the Germans had heard of ADVrider:huh and knew nothing of Coco's corner.:eek1 I showed them where it was on my map and told them that's where I was heading. I didn't want to slow these guys down and wanted to give them the opportunity to bolt and go on there own. I was enjoying their company but wanted to give them an out as well.
We continued on the next day to Coco's
and tougher terrain....
until finally reaching Coco's for a cold coke
Coco you got some place here...
We left Coco's with a new appreciation for life and the good fortunes we enjoy. Thx Coco! It was now on to Bay of LA. I had not heard much about this town, other then it was worth the drive. Even tho after a short (?) time past Coco's we hit slab all the way to B of LA.
Pulled into town and went for food first then a room. I was somehow expecting more. Everything so far had been so stunning visually and I just didn't get that feel from this town. But hey, we found a room we could fit all three bikes in and it was....right on the beach. And it was also....
So we bought one of those awful Christmas beers and had a toast.
Christmas morning, and I DO mean morning I awoke to the sounds of Mexican music played loudly on a cheap stereo just outside my room. I thought Ok, it must be time to get up. But wait, it's still dark....it was about 5AM!!!
These locals enjoyed their music for a coupla more hours before finally heading....off to bed I suspect.
Merry Christmas everyone!
Our room.....or as I liked to call it. Villa B.L.A.
Christmas morning we stocked up on Gatorade and cookies for our drive. It was off to Punta San Franciquito today.
And perhaps some sand:evil
Christmas Day in Baja, no waking up to the smell of fresh coffee, or the sounds of Xmas carols, (well, at least not any of the carols I recognize) and certainly no exchanging of gifts, you had nobody to exchange with..... It is definitely a strange feeling to sit and stare out at the ocean while you know your family are waking to a very normal snowy xmas morning. Your thoughts can drift from melancholy and solitude to excitement for what lies ahead.
Once i was on the road it was easier to not think about everything...and everyone I had left behind. I was in Baja now and had this to think about....
We stopped on route to detour out to san Rafael. Met our host, Pancho, who had lived in his home on the beach for 25 years. Made us coffee, showed us around, some trees he had planted 10-15 years earlier. Amazing!
He had so little, or so it seemed, yet he lived with such contentment.
Pancho's home...Yes it was windy!
Cheers Pancho...and Feliz Navidad
We left Pancho's and got back on track to San Francisquito. I had heard conflicting stories from, 'there was nothing left there', to 'it had been bought out and it was being renovated'. Renovations in Baja? But we decided that we would check it out. So off we went.
The road started to get a bit more difficult as well
and there were critters...
We made it to Francisquito for lunch....the place has some palapas to camp in and a beautiful beach....and some good food. But nobody is in a hurry to do anything here. Mind you it was Christmas....it just didn't feel like it.
We ordered lunch and waited for about an hour for some fish tacos, mmmmfish tacos.
Punta San Francisquito....
followed by a quick nap (I swear the Germans slipped that mag under my hand whilst I was sleeping)
After my nap.....we decided we would try and get to Guerro Negro that nite.:lol3 It was still early in the day,and the Germans had no cash left and needed a bank. So we set out for El Arco and the highway...
We were looking for our turn in the 'road' and somehow missed it. Ahh crap....
and the sun was setting fast. We had rode down one path that quickly turned to deep sand and I couldn't handle it worth shit. My tires were set too firm and my bike was too heavy and....oh yeah, I didn't know how to ride deep sand. I 'heard' and the German's 'confirmed' that it is easier to go fast and get your weight back and just let the bike ride the sand. Yeah right....I clipped a cactus tree so hard I had cactus juice splattered everywhere. Sorry no pics, maybe the Germans have one. And it was only my pannier that made contact....but the fuckin thing exploded on contact. Saw it the next day and it looked like someone took a chainsaw to it.:rofl
Eventually we ran out of daylight and decided to camp next to a dead fallen cactus tree. One that had died long before the one I had just murdered.
We set camp and got a fire going quickly, it was starting to get a bit cool too
And 'cool' it got....in the morning we had frost on our bikes. And a gorgeous dessert sunrise to greet our new day...
I love Baja--riding there is indeed cleansing for the soul.
Can't wait for more.
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