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Old 06-05-2013, 11:02 PM   #1
MufflerBearings OP
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A KLR RIDES (to) THE BAJA 500! (to spectate)

This will be a very short ride report, and heavier on photos than text. Although the ride entailed an international border crossing, I was gone from home less than 48 hours.

Midway through last week, I was reminded that the SCORE Baja 500 was running on the upcoming weekend. I hastily arranged to take Friday off work, and convinced my friend Adam to ride with me to Ensenada to experience the chaos that surrounds the race. Due to circumstances beyond his control, Adam was forced to cancel, so I started the trip solo.

I slabbed it down to the US-Mexico border crossing at San Ysidro Friday morning, where I glided right across without any hassle from ‘The Man’ (‘El Hombre?’), and was immediately confronted with confusing and seemingly contradictory signs pointing the way to Ensenada via the toll road and free road. As I sat there scratching my helmet, fellow KLR rider Joe pulled up and offered to lead me through Tijuana to the free road. Turns out Joe is a TJ local and also an off-road race fan (as are many of the residents of Baja). It wasn’t easy to keep up with Joe through TJ traffic, but he helped me get to the south end of town, where the free road took off along the coast. Many thanks, Joe, for taking time to help a confused gringo navigate an unfamiliar city!

Joe and his KLR:



The old free road parallels the faster and more modern toll road for most of the ride between Tijuana and Ensenada. I guess most travelers choose the toll road, as there were almost no other vehicles on the free road with me. Too bad for them, as the free road is certainly more scenic as it clings to the cliffs above the ocean and passes through little settlements along the way.

Pirates coming ashore in Baja?









Safety first! That's a guardrail going over the cliff:








I pulled off the highway briefly in Puerto Nuevo, where I was immediately accosted by a dozen guys frantically waving restaurant menus at me. I wasn’t craving lobster at 10:00 in the morning, so I declined and motored on towards Ensenada.






I arrived in Ensenada to find every motel room booked for race weekend – not surprising. I had camping gear with me, but I wasn’t thrilled about leaving all my gear unsecured at a camp spot or on my bike as I walked around town and took in the festivities. The solution: Motel Sil, a ‘love motel’ located just north of town. If you’ve traveled by motorcycle in Mexico, you probably know the value of a love motel, even if you don’t have anyone with you to love. The lady at the desk was mildly amused that I was checking in alone, but for a very reasonable price, I got a clean room with mirrored ceiling, three channels of uninspiring porn, and – most importantly – a private locked garage attached directly to the room.








I dumped my gear in the room, and donned my tourist riding uniform of t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops and motored into town to check out the street party and Contingency. Contingency is almost as fun as the race itself, as the race vehicles are paraded slowly through the streets and spectators can get up close to inspect the cars. I watched as trucks, buggies and even a Camaro-bodied race car rolled past. I’ll shut up for a bit and post some photos.







'El Zorro's' Camaro-bodied off-road car is in there somewhere:





















Someone put some work into these classic Husky smokers:



Not a race car, but just a local's very nice Class 11 daily driver:



Another daily driver 11 car:



Olds 442 originally raced in Baja by James Garner in the 1970's:











Ensenada's pharmacies do a booming business thanks in large part to all the cruise ship passengers:




I rode out to La Bufadora just before sunset, but the tide was apparently not right for creating the blowhole effect through the rocks. It was a beautiful ride anyway with the sun setting behind the advancing marine layer. I stopped at a roadside tamale stand, where I enjoyed a tamale de pina and exhausted all of my Spanish chatting with the owner; it was a pretty short conversation.












I got back to Ensenada after dark (Oh noes! Don’t ride in Mexico at night – you’ll die!!), and ate dinner at a busy taco shop that seemed to be very popular with the locals – a good sign. I spoke for a long time with one of the employees, Fontino. I asked him a question in my lousy Spanish and he responded in accent-free English. I learned that Fontino was born and raised in Puebla, Mexico, but had lived in Delaware and California for 27 years, hence the fluent English. Fontino told me that he earned $3,600 per month in the US, but was recently deported because he never got his papers in order. Now he earns $100 for a 70-hour work week at the taco shop. He said he wants to return to the US, but the services of a coyote (immigrant smuggler) cost about $7,000. It takes a long time to save that kind of dough on $100 per week.




Saturday morning I awoke just in time to not see a single motorcycle leave the start line at 6:00 AM. I never did catch up with the damned bikes. No matter, I took my time riding out to Ojos Negros to find a spot to watch the race where the course crosses state highway Mex 3. Here I met Ryan (battle-hardened KLR) and Klaus (heavily-farkled GS) and together we took in the madness: families running across the course in front of a fast-approaching trophy truck, locals driving clapped-out cars the wrong way along the race course, federal police stopping traffic on the state highway just in time for a truck or buggy to come roaring through, tamale carts getting dusted by race traffic, a police truck running lights and siren and purposely fishtailing along the course just because he can, an angry local almost coming to blows with the police, rabid inebriated race fans standing on the outside of a corner as trophy trucks shower them with rocks, and of course the race vehicles in all their howling glory, airing it out over the highway and bounding back into the desert.







It could be such a nice bike if it just had better lighting:

















El Zorro!











Glad we weren't riding back to Ensenada:



Ryan at Tecate:




We knew that we had seen the last of the race cars when the Class 11 VW’s bounced past. Klaus packed up and headed back home to Texas, and Ryan and I made quick work of the Compadre Trail up to Tecate, where we found exactly three cars in line at the border crossing. From Tecate, Ryan rode back towards his home in San Diego, and I spent three hours riding the twisty back roads to my home in the desert ghetto of Cathedral City. And to think – I almost stayed home and mowed the lawn because I didn’t have anyone to ride with! We’re already planning for the 1000 in November.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:08 AM   #2
FrameOil
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Baja-ja-ja-ja

I am still bummed that I missed this one. But, the 1000 will be cool. I wonder what the hotel owner will say when two dudes check in?

I particularly like the El Zorro car. I wonder if he made it to the finish? Did the Garner car run, too, or was it just out for show?

Great quick write up, but isn't this time that could/should have been spent on the report for the trip we took 3 months ago?
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:31 AM   #3
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Thanks

Glad I got to attend via this effort from you. Great pictures and story.
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:48 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rutabaga View Post
Glad I got to attend via this effort from you. Great pictures and story.
Thanks, glad to have you along, Rutabaga!
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Old 06-06-2013, 07:54 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrameOil View Post
I am still bummed that I missed this one. But, the 1000 will be cool. I wonder what the hotel owner will say when two dudes check in?

I particularly like the El Zorro car. I wonder if he made it to the finish? Did the Garner car run, too, or was it just out for show?

Great quick write up, but isn't this time that could/should have been spent on the report for the trip we took 3 months ago?
From what I've heard, the proprietors of these motels won't allow two dudes in a room, even if they are super butch and manly motorcycle types.

I think the Garner 442 was there for show. I didn't see it run.

As far as the trip report from three months ago, you come and work my shifts so I can finish it, smart ass.
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Old 06-06-2013, 09:06 AM   #6
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Thanks for the trip...
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Old 06-06-2013, 11:25 AM   #7
AZ TOM
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Very well done. You captured it all through your great camera work
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Old 06-11-2013, 07:13 AM   #8
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Nice report, thanks for the pics.
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Old 06-11-2013, 08:04 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MufflerBearings View Post
From what I've heard, the proprietors of these motels won't allow two dudes in a room, even if they are super butch and manly motorcycle types.
Besides the two guy rule Why are they available on a busy weekend? Are they a lot more expensive than a regular room?

The garage setup looks ideal and they look clean and new.

Thanks for the writeup looks like a blast. And you featured KLR's.
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Old 06-13-2013, 12:32 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by chaztor View Post
Besides the two guy rule Why are they available on a busy weekend? Are they a lot more expensive than a regular room?

The garage setup looks ideal and they look clean and new.

Thanks for the writeup looks like a blast. And you featured KLR's.
I guess they're generally available during a race weekend because the arrangement wouldn't really work out for a race team with trailers, multiple vehicles, etc; the only parking available is in the garage attached to the room. At about $40 per night, it's a pretty good deal for any room in a tourist destination like Ensenada, even on a regular non-race weekend.

The garage is an ideal setup, and you're right - the place appeared to be sparkling clean. I can't imagine that what happens at the love motel is any more depraved than what takes place in any other motel room. But I rolled my sleeping bag out over their sheets just in case.
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Old 06-13-2013, 03:37 PM   #11
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Really enjoyed that. Thanks for posting.
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Old 06-13-2013, 04:06 PM   #12
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Nice write up. Thanks for sharing.


Andy
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