Oh, okay....it was a dark and stormy night, and the wolves were howling outside the cabin door as the snow piled up to the window sills....and I said, "Shit....time to get back to the Baja!!"
So I prepped the 450 EXC, rounded up a few local dirt boys (March '05) and headed down south from the Great White North.
I had travelled Baja in a variety of ways since 1989, but preferred the moto-approach. In 1994 I rode my '81 R80 G/S from Palm Springs to the Cape and back solo over a 5-week period, camping mostly but a week or so in San Jose del Cabo with the ex. 3500 kms in all with only one flat and one spark plug shaking loose from the bottom double-plugged right cylinder....and that trip is it's own story.
In December,1999 I rode the 1100GS down to San Jose again with a few other GSers (two guys who had come on one of my Dual Sport tours, BC Canyons Rally in '98: Erwin from Germany and Pat from Bellingham, WA). That, again, is another story.
In 2002 I rode down the east side with several other GSers and that is even another story...
But, back to the 450 KTM..... After riding the BMW pigs in the sand, I swore that the next Baja riding would be on a good dirt bike.... The '04 EXC was the latest addition to the stable and I had developed a good relationship with it in the killer single track riding so available in this part of BC.....and I figured it would be adequate for a few weeks of double-track Baja routes....those so often ridden by other folks on this list.
This report won't talk about broken bones, how drunk we got, or bowel problems (except for one of our group who proved to be a real pain in my ass). It will more likely talk about what I love about riding the Baja and some of the ups and downs of group riding.
Bike Prep: Tires and gas are probably the main considerations after deciding on an appropriate ride. The 450 EXC hauled my 270 lb hulk with nary a twitch or complaint over the 2500 kms we rode in about 12 days. Perhaps a 525 would have served better, but I am not sure how.
A local Baja racer and Enduro Master, Al Perrett, recommended Trelleborg Supermaster for the rear tire and, after his years of racing and exploring Baja, he claims he has not found a better tire (he rides 610 Huskies). I still had about 500 kms of tread left on the rear when I took it off back home. As for the front, I had phoned several SouCal outfits and went with Baja Designs recommendation for a Pirelli MT18 HD for the front.
I went with the standard recommendation of Bridgestone Ultra Heavy Duty tube for and aft. NO FLATS in 2500 kms !!!
I used a 14 countershaft stock sprocket and a 48 Ironman on the rear....with a new X-ring chain that unfortunately was shortened a few links by a local shop (because the wrench didn't understand the long-short rear axle spacer on the KTM and set the chain too tight....one of his bike prep mistakes....the other being not re-assembling front forks damper rod correctly, but discovered week before departure).
Clark tank for the fuel with four aluminum 1-litre gas bottles in pack for longer days and between rancho fill-ups (never ran out of gas).
As for the packing (no camping gear....just clothes, tools, tubes, bike gear), I spent some time devising my system....the prize concept ended up being the tank saddle-bags I ended up using. Rather than use the tank panniers that I use on the GS's (Mountain Equipment Co-Op mountain bike panniers) as they could not be secured the way I wanted, I searched around and found some affordable alternatives......dog pack-bags!!!!
These bags are designed as a saddle-bag set-up for dogs and come in a few different sizes....and were expandable, rugged enough and less than $60 or so. The rest of the smaller units were back-pack auxilliary bags strapped onto headlight and rear fender. For the bulk of my gear, I used a midsize climbing pack (about 35 litres).
Oh...the boss just walked in....later for more....