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Old 05-27-2007, 01:27 AM   #91
Johnny Dakar OP
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Location: Just 3 Short Miles North of Baja
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IF YOU'RE HAVING A REAL ADVENTURE, APPARENTLY ONE TERRIFYING, LIFE-THREATENING, ENCOUNTER WITH GALE-FORCE WINDS PER DAY ISN'T ENOUGH.

I led onto the road to L.A. Bay--at my normal 60-65 mph (the speed limit was 60 kph)...but Clay made his need to get there before dark quite clear when he blew past me at 80, and held it almost all the way there.

Until then, I'd been led to believe his bike wouldn't do more than 70 due to the gearing. Well well well.

JEEZUS! He was on fire. It was a beautiful, new, fantastic, perfect two-lane road, but after two or three turns through the mountains, the idea of "decreasing radius turn alone in the evening on a deserted road in Baja" kept crossing my mind. I let caution win out and slowed down. I think he was in a hurry to get his teeth-rattling asphalt journey over as soon as possible. I'd meet up with him soon enough.

And a good thing I slowed down too, because the instant I reached the bottom of the first canyon on the other side of the moutains, it hit me like a freight train. Gusty, hard wind smacked me hard enough to blow me into the oncoming lane--twice. I'd never experienced anything like it before. It wasn't of a constant speed or direction. I chopped my speed down to 30 mph and held on . The canyon apparently funnelled the wind into this area, and it was whirling all around me. If it were constant, at least I could compensate for it, but it was gusting like crazy, and all I could do was react.

Oh well, at least the scenery was great as the sun set. I was afraid I'd hit Bahía de los Angeles after dark.


Not quite.






...and I'd finally caught up with Clay, too. Wow. The legendary L.A. Bay. How many times had I seen this in Ride Reports?

And here I was.


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Old 05-27-2007, 05:46 AM   #92
Teeds
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Kick ass photo there sir!!!

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Old 05-27-2007, 09:26 AM   #93
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Any idea what Martin's portable radio is for?
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Old 05-27-2007, 02:54 PM   #94
worldrider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Dakar
[...] Not sure if you can really tell by this photo, but my rear tire? FLAT. Oh well. We had everything we needed to patch it and refill it. While I’d never done it before, I had every confidence that we’d be able to pull it off. Clay was anxious [...] I hadn’t noticed that little Martín had run off. I noticed it when he came back. Just as I opened my tank bag to pull out my tools, he comes roaring up in an ancient pickup truck loaded with tools and an air compressor [...]
you gotta love those portable on call llanteras, no? But the change had you done it yourself woulda been great practice for your upcoming Eurotour... no worries. You'll have plenty of shots at that...

great photos, write up... keep em coming...

smiles
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Old 05-27-2007, 08:11 PM   #95
Ratman
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Baja tire problems

I may have put 10000 miles on Baja Roads. I bet I average a puncture every 1000 miles. It come from all the used lumber that is hauled down there with the nails and various hardware falling out all over the roads.
A year ago last Jan 10 of us street bikes made the run from San Ignacio to Guererro Negro and two of us had punctures with 1/4 inch bolts/hardware.

Yep a good tire patch kit is good to have. For guys running tubeless a number 10 sheet metal screw will often make a temporary repair to get you to a llantera. For what those guys charge, they save you a lot of work.

BTW, JD, you are telling a very amusing story.

Oh and about you're story of go to the bank and pay your fee for the visa. I've ignored paying for the visa twice now.......I think I have heard that some folks are being charge for all their misses these day. Anyone confirm that???
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Old 05-28-2007, 03:09 AM   #96
Johnny Dakar OP
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LA NOCHE PRIMERA EN LA BAHÍA DE LOS ANGELES

By the time we'd rolled down into town, it was dark. And the last time we'd eaten had been that morning with Mike and Elizabeth. I was so delirious I pulled over and asked Clay where he wanted to eat.

As if he'd actually know.

We wound up pulling into the parking lot of the first place we saw...a small shack with two elderly American couples eating out front. We nodded hello and plodded inside--where there were two Mexicans--a woman who apparently worked there, and a cook. It was a comfy little place—packed with trinkets and goods in that haphazard, handmade Mexican fashion, and filled with the overpowering aroma of garlic, citrus, and butter. There was only one other table, occupied by a single middle-aged gringo.

Clay, in his usual fashion, struck up a conversation with him. It went on for at least five minutes, and when it became apparent that it wasn't going to end soon, we sat down.
Meet Glen Johnston:


Glen is a retired U.S. Forestry Service worker, and he’s living the life of Riley in L.A. Bay…spending his days deep-sea fishing, and his nights eating and drinking with friends. What was meant to be a quick dinner and finding a place to sleep led to a two-hour conversation with Glen about fishing, skiing, family, his work dropping remote firefighters out of helicopters, and some tips on real estate down here in Baja. I’d be lying if I said what he told us didn’t get both Clay’s and my wheels turning a bit. He mentioned an obscure little town (even for Baja) on the Pacific side where we could go and ask anyone there for someone named “Cholo.” Apparently Cholo was the local gangster who controlled all the land deals, and everyone there knew him. We were told to tell Cholo that “Señor Glen” sent us, and for 20-40,000 dollars, we could purchase a 100-year lease (with option to renew) on oceanfront property. Hmmmmm…worth investigation? Too good to be true? For better or for worse, Baja is being developed—and somebody’s getting in on the ground floor. True or not, it was bright little dream we could fidget with while we chated with Glen. Who knows?

Five minutes into the conversation, my hunger overwhelmed my greed. The aroma of fresh seafood simmering in garlic was unbearable, and I had to order whatever it was they were cooking. Turns out it was local shrimp, local scallops sautéed with garlic and lime, carne asada, and rice. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast in San Quintín with Mike and Elizabeth, and I was so hungry, I macked most of it before I remembered to take a picture. Here’s what was left:


It was fantastic. You should go order some. Maybe you will. Come to think of it, all the food in L.A. Bay--like most of the food in Baja-- was fantastic.

Anyway, it was getting late, Glen was starting to slur his words from too much wine, and we were starting to slur our words from too much fatigue.We asked his recommendation for the night’s lodging. He directed us just a couple of blocks down the street to a small hotel called Costa del Sol.

Meet Dona Victoria:


She owns Costa del Sol—what turned out to be the nicest hotel in Bahía de los Angeles, which she runs with her family. Never even gave us a key. Just took us to our room and let us in. A nice room anywhere else, and opulent for Baja. Turns out it was her last vacancy as well. Better still, she took plastic—after three days since we last hit an ATM—and then for only $150 apiece, cash was starting to run a bit low.

Fate smiles upon us yet again.

That morning I’d noticed my brakelight was stuck on. (Of course, I noticed it only as I finished packing my bike) So I unpacked my bike and messed around with the switch on the front brake lever. I’d never actually taken a look at the system, but it was quite simple really. Pull the brake lever and it releases a switch, closing the circuit and activating the element in the brake lamp. Well, since I’d dumped my bike on it’s right side in the silt the previous day…



…I figured that was the source of the trouble. Well, it had come back. My brakelight was stuck on again.

Johnny D had the tools…but did he have the talent?

We unpacked our bikes, and while Clay took a quick shower, I donned my headlamp, popped my seat off, grabbed my toolbag, and went to work. I soon discovered a similar switch mechanism on the rear brake lever—which was also…on the right side…aaahhhaaaa….both switches just need a bit of cleaning and repositioning, and the problem was solved, simply and quickly. Nothing quite as satisfying as a successful field repair. Time for a shower myself.

Our bikes weren’t the only ones in the parking lot. There were also 2 XR450s, a DRZ, and a KTM 425—all of them parked together and covered in dust. While I washed up, Clay met the guys who were riding them—guys nearly 20 years our senior—old Baja salts, as it were. One of them, Scott, was sharing his wisdom about riding across the Laguna Salada just southwest of Mexicali. A few nights before we’d left, I’d shown Clay Gaspipe’s “Baja Asylum Run 2007.” You could hear his pants tighten. Ever since, he’d been studying maps, measuring distances, figuring fuel requirements, looking at satellite imagery, trying to find the road north to that lakebed so he could pin his throttle open for 175 miles on the way home. After nearly a half hour of politely dodging the issue, Scott was cornered by Clay. "So Scott—if you were going north, how would you get from Mexico 5, through the mountains, and onto the lakebed?”

Scott hesitated—once he realized he’d been called on the carpet, he replied, “I wouldn’t.” Didn't see that one coming.

“Why not?”

Scott calmly replied,“Because I don’t want to die.”

Clay understood, but he didn’t respond right away. His face went blank for a second or two while his considerable powers of deduction tried to find a detour around that particularly large roadblock to his ambitions.

Scott continued, “You’ve got one shot—one tank of gas, and no other place to buy it out there. You can find the road through the mountains to the 5 if you’re coming south, but going north? Not worth the risk.”

By the time he’d finished, Clay had surrendered to the facts: the odds weren’t bad that he’d make it, but the consequences of not making it were fatal, and that kept the trip from being worth the risk. He wouldn’t take that route, and that was that. I have to say, I admired how he took it in stride. He just accepted it and moved on. Wise. I can’t say I would’ve done the same.

What a day. What a great day. It seemed like a week since we’d awakened at Don Eddie’s in San Quintín . There’d been the Mexican “girl coffee,” the massive “rip the roof off the hotel why doncha" squall while I sat on the shitter, breakfast with Mike and Elizabeth, meeting the generous firefighter at the gas station in Rosario, the gorgeous, gorgeous ride down the peninsula, the circumstances surrounding our fortuitous meeting with Martín and Martín, the blast down to L.A. Bay (and the blast of the wind that blew me into the oncoming lane...twice), an absolutely fantastic and unexpected dinner with the charming and illustrious Glen Johnston, tiumphant field repairs on my brake lights, Scott, his buddies, and his sage advice, and now, Victoria and her pleasant surprise of a hotel. We crawled into our beds marveling at it, still with enough energy to stay up talking for another hour.



Clay and I never really got to know each other growing up. He's a couple years older than me, and I remembered him as the big kid of the family, always fighting with his little brother...our paths just diverged from there. He became a jock in high school, I'd discovered drugs and started a rock band. He joined a fraternity and studied geology in college, and I went the Bohemian, creative route. But here we were, twenty years later, in a hotel room in Baja, talking about his marriage and his divorce, my string of prematurely-ending relationships, the loss of my father to alcoholism, and his fear that he might soon lose his father the same way.

After over forty years of being cousins, we were finally getting to know each other.

Johnny Dakar screwed with this post 05-28-2007 at 03:34 PM
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Old 05-28-2007, 08:26 AM   #97
Teeds
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Dakar
After over forty years of being cousins, we were finally getting to know each other.
Damn cool!
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Good roads bring bad people
Bad roads bring good people
we are NOT human beings having a spiritual experience, rather we ARE spiritual BEINGS having a human experience - johnjen
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Old 05-28-2007, 12:56 PM   #98
motowest
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It appears you are earning yourself a spot on the ADVrider famous ride report list (umm, there is a list, right?). I'm enjoying your report despite many other Baja reports having come first. Like you, I never tire of the Long Way Round and I just finished watching Race To Dakar (many late nights in front of the 'puter). Yes, Charley Boorman is one of my idols! And, I plan on riding Baja someday, just as you have done. Keep it comin'!
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Old 05-28-2007, 01:44 PM   #99
metaljockey
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I really like this report. A trip is not just riding, it is a world of experience, you paint with all the colours.

And don't fear, we know it's a shitload of work. Please keep at it.
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Old 05-28-2007, 02:18 PM   #100
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awesome stuff!!!

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Old 05-28-2007, 03:51 PM   #101
R.Markus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nelgallan
awesome stuff!!!


Can't say it any better than that.
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Old 05-28-2007, 08:01 PM   #102
CaveDave
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Wow! You, sir, can write!!
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:36 PM   #103
TNC
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Just absolutely awesome stuff.

Johnny, good writing, good pics, and a level of intimacy with the people and area quite uncommon in most ride reports. Heck...this isn't a ride report...it's a slice of life.
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Old 05-28-2007, 10:43 PM   #104
Johnny Dakar OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TNC
Johnny, good writing, good pics, and a level of intimacy with the people and area quite uncommon in most ride reports. Heck...this isn't a ride report...it's a slice of life.
Thanks. The name of the site ain't just "Rider."
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Old 05-29-2007, 12:47 AM   #105
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Day 4—Bahía de los Angeles to Guerrero Negro – 119 Miles – Wednesday, March 21st





A CHANGE OF DESTINATION



I woke up in L.A. Bay this morning to yet another wind storm, so the normally beautiful Bahía was still beautiful, just unusually overcast.



Fortunately the hotel courtyard was sheltered from the wind. The view from our room--bikes and bahia:




I got up before Clay and had 2 cups of coffee in the bar with two guys who had French accents. I asked them where they were from.

They said, “We are from France.”

I said, “Bonjour.”

“Bonjour,” they replied nonchalantly.

I returned to the room for the morning “read,” and noticed this:



I’d seen a similar sign in our hotel bathroom in Estero Beach. At first glance, it’s a bit shocking, but it’s not as bad as you’d think…it’s simply a matter of careful folding when you’re, um, finished. When done correctly, you’d never smell the difference—when I actually remembered to do it. After over forty years of wiping my own ass astride American toilets though, old habits die hard.

To the Mexican sewage maintenance workers: we tried. Really.

Now that that’s done, I was suddenly hungry.

Clay was awake…so we headed back to the bar. Thought I’d lay off the Mexican breakfast for a morning and ordered pancakes. I realized what a mistake I’d made when I saw Clay’s chilaquiles. (sorry, forgot the camera) Wow. Not that it mattered. It seemed that all the food in L.A. Bay was magical, and had to be amazing. Something as simple as pancakes were no exception. I’m considering moving there. Glen Johnston had the right idea.

We discussed where to go today. The plan was to ride the 12.8 miles out of town and hit the dirt up into the mountains to Misión San Borja. Dtop1 had impressed upon us in the prep that this was a “don’t miss” attraction, and eased my beginner’s anxiety that the forty miles of dirt/gravel road was well maintained. After that, we’d need to hit the next big town and find an ATM. Looked like Guerrero Negro.

The original plan, for the whole trip, was to make it all the way to Cabo. After all, it was “The Trip to The Tip.” But at the rate we were going, we weren’t going to make it there and back in the two weeks we’d allotted. We could do it, but we’d have to hurry, and hurrying—especially now that Baja had filtered into my soul—sounded less than appealing. As a matter of fact, I’d discovered that “hurrying” was what I’d escaped from down here. That reminded me of something I’d read in Long Way Round…that Ewan and Charley, while completely grateful for their journey, had regretted not having more time—they said they’d spent so much energy trying to just make the miles and keep up with their schedule, that they’d missed quite a bit along the way. I’d said from day one, that the only plan was to cross the border and get to Cabo. But after hearing over and over again what I’d heard about Cabo—that it was basically a Mexican Vegas, that it was noisy and overpriced, and that it had nothing to do with the real Baja -–I could let it go. Make the only goal of the trip “crossing the border.” What was it Gaspipe had said about plans...?

I loved the idea, but knowing Clay, athletic, goal-oriented Clay…would he surrender so easily?

“We’re gonna have to haul ass to make Cabo by turnaround. Whaddya think, Cuz? Wanna just forget about it and just ride as far as we can until it’s time to head back?”

“Yeah, sure. I’m having a blast anyway.”

Well ok then. That settled that. We’d changed the destination from Cabo...to Baja.

Good to get that one out of the way. Now we could just ride.

We each took a shower, loaded up the bikes, and I left my mark on this fine establishment.



I’d be back. It was still “The Trip to the Tip,” we’d just broadened the definition of “Tip” a little. Tip of what? Yesterday it was Baja. Now it was—well, whatever happened to fit at the time.

Seemed much more appropriate for Baja that way. Those of you who’ve been will understand what I mean.

Scott and his friends were preparing to leave as well. Unlike us, they carried very little in the way of luggage. Just tools, a change of clothes, and that was it. "No need to camp down here," he'd told us..."not with hotels and food being so cheap." His point stuck with me. Here we were, 4 days into the trip, we'd each pulled 1500 pesos--about $150--out of the ATM in Tecate the day before we left, and while we were running low, we each still had cash. A valuable tip for future rides—and weekend asylum runs.

Checked my oil after idling for a couple minutes—it seemed unusually low, especially since I’d added the only oil I’d ever needed to add in 10,000 miles right before we left home. No apparent leaks, and I’d been watching. One of those things where it pays to be paranoid. We asked the dirtbikers if they knew where we could get some since both of the Pemexes in town were closed. They pointed us towards a store down the street. We pulled up and discovered that they also had internet access.

I could update my ride report! I could check Jo momma!



Half an hour for $1.50. Satellite DSL on a spyware-infested pc…so you got your money’s worth. I tried uploading this single photo to my smugmug account. I almost made it, but the damned machine seized up about ¾ of the way through. Re-booted, said fuck it, and posted my only dispatch from the field:

Yo, bitchez. I'm in L.A. Bay. Tried to upload a pic of this shitty computer system on this shitty internet satellite system, but to no avail. Still alive. Day four. So much has happened all ready and we still have 8-9 days to go.

Decided last night that to get to Cabo (The Tip) and turn around in time, we'd have to spend all our time hauling ass. We decided it was more important to enjoy ourselves.

Baja finally sank her teeth slowly into my soul yesterday on the long stretch from San Quintin down to here, and reset my speed meter to Baja velocity. Mile after mile after mile of amazing scenery.

Amazing food, amazing lodgings, and amazing people down here.

I understand now.

Adios.


Here's the original: Post #7.

Then I logged onto Yahoo and fired off an “I’m ok, wow, this is amazing” email to my mom and my sister.





Johnny Dakar screwed with this post 05-29-2007 at 01:05 AM
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