We finished our Baja shake down ride about 2 1/2 weeks ago and here's our last day's ride report from my perspective. I know it's been a while since we left Baja...and you might be thinking that I was dragging out these reports. But I wanted to give you all a reason to keep coming back to our thread!
So here we are. In Ensenada at the Hotel Mission Santa Isabel. This was our last day and I'm thinking that I might just make it back to the trucks without breaking any major bones. I can deal with breaking a minor one though…that's not a big deal.
Despite how exhausted and sore I am, I think I was the first person to wake up again. Actually, I think I rolled over on one of those stupid stickers and woke up early. Either way…I'm up. Lets ride!
Our plan was to wake up early and get another full day of riding in before we head back to the trucks. That didn't happen. I think the week (and the beer) caught up with the gang and some of the crew decided to sleep in. No worries…let them sleep. It gave the rest of us time to find a descent cup of coffee.
For those of you who don't know me, I have a healthy caffeine addiction. I was looking forward to eliminate the dull headache I had for the past 3 days from caffeine withdrawals. We sat outside and the sun felt good on my face. We met some ex-US-pats at the coffee shop. Older gentlemen. Turns out that all the men we met are veterans also.
After a few minutes a straggler came to sit with his friends at the coffee shop. We scooted over to make room. This man was moving very slowly and had a nurse walking with him. He looked unhealthy. Like he should of been in a hospital breathing oxygen. I helped him into the chair.
The first thing I noticed was the "Vietnam Veteran" hat he was proudly wearing. We learned that this man was an Air Force Combat Controller in Vietnam. If you don't know what that is…just know that I was honored to be in the presence of this warrior.
We explained to our new friends why we were in Ensenada and what we were trying to accomplish for wounded vets. I felt a mutual unspoken wave of respect emanate from both groups. We finished our coffee, thanked them for their service, then headed back to the hotel to gear up for the day's ride.
We're back at the hotel and the group is mostly complete. We walk from the hotel to the bridge near the start. It was only half a mile away. This is where the racers first hit dirt in the course. It's the real famous dirt wash that snakes through town. I had one of those stomach turning moments when I saw it. Like "the calm before the storm" kind of moments. It was so quiet. There were a few ferrel dogs laying in the dirt. I heard birds chirping. It was hard to imagine that in a few months this place would be the epicenter of controlled chaos.
We snapped a few pictures then headed back to the hotel.
Note…I'm dragging out the 'non-riding' portion of this ride report on purpose. Because we had a 2 1/2 hour late start!
We're all geared up, packs loaded, bellies full, and we're ready to go. For the past few days Chris made it point to get my attention when he pressed his electric start button. I had a kick start and it was a pain in the neck. Since I was the rookie, I convinced myself I didn't "earn" an electric start yet. I took great joy in watching Chris's electric start button fail. I took even more joy in watching him kick his bike over and over and over and over…and over.
So we're finally rolling and we cruise over to the dirt wash by the start that I was just talking about. This was awesome to ride on! I am so jealous that Brett's gonna be riding in the wash during the start. As I'm riding down the wash, through nasty standing water and under the bridges, I'm imaging how many Baja legends rode down the same exact route. It was a humbling feeling. It was a total "Dust to Glory" kind of moment for me. I think I even heard the theme music from "Dust to Glory" playing in my head.
Sadly, we were only able to ride in the dirt wash for about 3 miles. Kind of anti-climatic. The vegetation was completely overgrown and it just wasn't passable. John told us that the race officials will remove all of the vegetation for the race. I hope so. In fact, there were a few gardeners chopping down some of the taller stuff as we rode by. I think I might of accidentally roosted one of them when I was trying to get unstuck out of the water. Mr. gardner if you're reading this, Lo siento. Please don't boobie trap the course because of my negligence.
Allan (the point man) took us out of the dirt wash and led us around Ensenada for about 45 minutes. It was a nice scenic tour through every single back alley road and side street in Ensenada. This wasn't planned. We were, in fact, lost.
We left Ensenada heading for Ojos Negros on the highway. Holy crap it was hot again. The kind of stupid hot where I was wondering who was going to be the first heat casualty. Luckily, no one.
I can't remember the name of the town where we stopped to have lunch. Take one guess what we had…yup…tacos! I'm not complaining because they were fantastic. But I'm thoroughly impressed with how many taco stands there are in that country. I wonder how well a Taco Bell would do down there?
Finally we're on dirt again. Allan took us down some single track that was pretty awesome. Lots of blind turns, ruts, and baby head rocks. I had my first and only crash of the day on the single track. Most of my falls didn't hurt too badly. The crash at night the other day hurt pretty bad but I recovered fairly quickly. This crash hurt. If you watched my crash montage video, it's the last crash.
5 days earlier when I first met John and Allan we were talking about Baja strategy. They explained to us how important it is to never stop. It's critical to just keep the bike moving forward no matter what. That thought stayed with me through the week. Every time I'd crash, I made a conscience effort to jump back up on the bike as fast as possible. It's the whole, "train like you fight" mentality that I'm so used to.
So after this stupid crash, I popped right back up and got the bike moving as quickly as possible. As I'm motoring on my elbow is throbbing. I shake it off and press on. John really had a great show this week. He was eye witness to all of my crashes.
Allan mentioned several times about some water crossing coming that he was apprehensive about. It was a few miles ahead. He told us that every time he passes through this crossing that he comes out on the other side with bike problems. I shrug it off because I'm pretty much a badass moto expert by now. I'm thinking, "I got this". He also said that if there was any rain water in the area, then it'd be extremely difficult to pass. The area is prone to extreme flash flooding.
Oh…I didn't mention yet that the sky was as black as Satan's as*hole ahead of us. Lightning was striking all over the place. I was, however, thankful that the distant rain storm cooled everything off.
It starts to rain pretty hard and I'm cruising along nice and easy. No reason to push myself in this slippery mess. This was my first time on dirt in the rain. A lot of first this trip. Then all of a sudden I come up to a ranch house and I stopped right in front of it. The only reason I stopped is because Elvis the race bike is parked in the middle of the dirt road next to the ranch house…with Brett nowhere to be found. "That's weird", I'm thinking. "I wonder where Brett is."
I can see a bunch of people sitting on the porch of the ranch but I can't tell if it's my crew. I don't see any motorcycles near the porch. I'm thinking, "Why would Brett leave his bike in the middle of the road and be sitting on the porch way over there?" Then it all became crystal clear to me…Brett came walking out from behind a rock carrying toilet paper. Suppose he would want me to leave that part out of the blog. hahah
About 1/2 a mile after Brett's emergency fertilization stunt we arrived at the water crossing. Only it wasn't a water crossing. It was a flash flood! Allan was a few minutes ahead of the group and missed the flash flood entirely. In the few minutes that passed while we were catching up to Allan, the road turned into a gigantic raging river. It was insane. The entire valley was flooding.
Remember how I mentioned that Chris was unstoppable. Yup…he made sure I was recording on my GoPro and throttled through about 300 meters of flash flood that was between 1' and 3' deep. And it wasn't just standing water…it was Colorado River raging rapid style water. I was impressed. So now the group is separated. Allan and Chris are down the road while Randy, Brett, John, and myself are on the near side.
We rode the bikes up on some high ground thinking there would be a way around. Nope. We were stuck until the raging river subsided.
Our helmets are off and we're laughing at the situation. After about 30 minutes we all start to get chilled. The temperature is falling and we start talking about emergency supplies. How much food/water we all had with us etc. Everyone is soaking wet. John pulled out one of those emergency space blankets. That gave us all a good laugh. John isn't a small man by any stretch of the imagination. I'm not saying he's fat….he's just a large man. It was hilarious seeing him wrestle with his stupid tiny astronaut blanket. I'm sure those things are useful…but not with this crowd. We're like piranhas…if we see a weakness it's exploited and made fun of relentlessly. He quickly crumpled up the stupid blanket and remained cold like the rest of us.
I think we've all watched too many Bear Grylls episodes. Don't get me wrong, no one started drinking their own pee. At the exact moment where we're talking about staying warm and conserving energy….we see Chris walking down the middle of the raging river in his underwear. Maybe we're over thinking our 'survival situation'. hahah Chris lays down in the middle of the river and tries to swim upstream. (see my crash video for video of Chris trying to swim upstream). Pretty funny stuff.
Anywhoo, it starts to rain harder so we turn around to seek shelter at the ranch we just passed. I'm hoping that the rancher doesn't turn us away because he's pissed about Brett crapping all over his rocks. Maybe he didn't see. The rancher lets us hang out under one of his over-head shelters. It wasn't a barn. Not sure how to describe it. But it had a metal roof and was the tallest structure in the area…perfect location to post up when lightning was crashing all around us. At least we were out of the rain.
The rancher tells us to relocate to the adjacent building. Clearly he had more sense than us.
30 minutes passed and we hear dirt bikes. Allan and Chris are heading towards us. I guess the raging river was gone. Now, if you don't know Allan, a great way to describe him is 'excitable'. He's a good travel companion because he's always in a good mood. He's a generally happy person. He's excited about everything…laughing and smiling all the time. When Allan met us at the ranch I saw a completely higher level of excitement that I didn't even know was possible by a human being. His voice was a pitch higher. He was laughing like a deranged hyena. I thought he was going to stroke out from joy. Allan went "full retard". "You never go full retard". (cite 'Tropic Thunder').
Ok we're rolling again now. I wave 'gracias' at the rancher and we're off. The ruts created by the flash flood were insane. I made it through the nasty stuff without incident.
We're only about an hour from the trucks. I was really just as excited the last hour of our ride as I was the first hour! I was riding on dirt in Baja!! Riding in the mud was pretty cool because I was able to see their tire tracks. I just followed their line. I saw when they got on the throttle and tried to follow suit. Aside from dodging the puddles, it was a pretty uneventful hour back to the trucks.
We arrived back at Rancho Ojia where our trucks were parked. I handed out some team shirts for the team to wear then we snapped a few team pictures. Our faces are red and sun burned. The beer was cold. And laughing was plentiful. I didn't have any X-Large team shirts sewn up with tiger sleeves yet. All I had with me was size large. Sorry John. I promise to have team shirts to fit you for the race. Did anyone notice in the team picture that John was being suffocated by his shirt? hahaha
Ok I hinted something about our Moose fender bags earlier in my update. I didn't want to spill the beans about the end result because the picture is just too damn funny. (See picture below) I'm sure Moose makes fine motocross gear. If a representative from Moose Racing reads this…I apologize but I have to say it. Every single Moose fender bag failed. Zippers opened up spilling out tools. Fast-tecs snapped. And one ripped off at the seam. I'm sure my 25 crashes had something to do with it. Out of all the tools I carried, I lost all but 4.
We didn't have much time to reminisce about the week. Brett and I had to get back to Georgia as soon as possible. We opted not to shower in lieu of getting back on the road faster.
Brett and I sat in traffic for 90 minutes waiting to cross the border then met John and Chris on the U.S. side. We transferred Elvis the race bike into his truck so he can give it to Ed. Ed had some parts to install on it and was going to finish dialing it in.
It's finally dark. Brett and I are about an hour past the Mexican border. We've got a LONG ride ahead of us. I'm still bursting with excitement over the past few days. I'm pretty sure Brett is too. We're re-telling stores about the week and laughing like maniacs.
I cannot wait to do all of this again in November.
I'd be a liar if I said I didn't look up real estate in Ensenada. It's safe to say that I'm hooked. Like Allan told me the first day…Baja is a drug!!!!!!!!
Here's the Hotel Mission Santa Isabel
Finally! A descent cup of coffee!
Here's the bridge by the dirt wash.
Here's the gang in front of the dirt wash. (Left to right) Brett, Scott, Chris, Randy.
The calm before the storm...
That raging river back there was the road!
"I don't think the heavy stuff is gonna come down for quite some time."
Chris, like the mighty salmon, swims upstream.
Scott and Brett seeking shelter during the storm.
Total tools remaining = 4
The team (lite)