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Old 06-19-2007, 03:13 PM   #1
cuneesity OP
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Cool2 "Baja Blitz '07"

I will preface this ride report by stating that this is not a tale of the light and the fast as would be implied by the title, but rather a story of the moderately quick and heavily laden.

Two years ago I started to envision a ride of minorly epic proportions that would entail the relative circumnavigation of the Baja peninsula. Starting out of Mexicali, winding down the Sea of Cortez, a brief respite in Cabo San Lucas to meet friends and family on my 40th birthday, then back up the west coast and back home through Tijuana. Camping was to be the order of the day, along with some possible spear fishing and general lounging if conditions permitted. It wasn't all to be about just riding the roads, but exploring the peninsula.

Hence there was much planning and two volunteers agreed to make the journey with me. Only one would actually go, and I will protect the guilty by not revealing the identity of he who opted out. (albeit for debatably good reason.)

I've been riding for about 18 years, but all street, so this dirt thing was gonna be new to me. I picked up a KLR250 to fool around on while I looked for the bike that I would want to use for "The Ride". Evenually I found a '97 KTM 400 rxc\e. It is sturdy and cheap with low miles and I was able to equip it with most things LC4.

My riding buddy Paco on the other hand is a new rider, doing the MSF course and getting his license just for this endevor. So I was a little worried about the size bike that he would end up on. Overly powered and heavy could be a disaster. So following some advice from various sources he settled on a '98 DR350SE. Good power, electric start, short inseam and light. He loves this bike and has turned out to be a very good dirt rider, having many years of experience picking lines on mountain bike trails.

These two bikes were to become our pack mules. Outfitted as such and thankfully, strong and reliable. KTM and Suzuki have places in our hearts forever.

So with out further ado I will drop the first teaser pic and the logo that my daughter came up with in her graphic arts class to put on shirts for us and stickers for the kids of Baja.



The "Trip to the Tip" guys beat me to the application of "my" idea.



An unnamed "punta" on west coast of Baja Sur near Rancho Los Innocentes


Posting of the trip log and pics begins tonight when I get home from work, stay tuned.
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Old 06-19-2007, 03:47 PM   #2
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Old 06-19-2007, 03:56 PM   #3
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Old 06-19-2007, 05:20 PM   #4
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Old 06-19-2007, 10:04 PM   #5
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Day 1 May 20th

The 19th was Paco's B-day and so there was a combo party for that and the send off. This led to getting to bed slightly after midnight and then up @ 4am and on the road by 4:15. The bikes and all our gear were loaded into the Exploder and trailer the day before. So thermos full of coffee in hand we headed south from Santa Cruz at a blistering pace.


On the road.


Thanks for being my wingman buddy.


Having only stopped once for gas and food, we got in to La Quinta about 12:30pm and unloaded the bikes at our staging area, Thanks Alton, then started to get the bikes packed up and organized. After a bit of Paco trying to figure out how and where to strap his water and extra fuel, we hit the road about 2pm figuring to hit the boarder, take care of immigration and move further south before dark.


Mostly loaded.


Ready to roll!

Both bikes are pretty heavily loaded with camping gear, spares, tools, water and fuel. That being said the windy ride down 86 past that Salton Sea on brand new knobbies was harrowing to be sure. The ultra tall and narrow profile of the center nobs on the fronts made both bikes very twitchy on the pavement and we moderated our speed accordingly.


"Is that the Sea of Cortez already?" No but the Salton Sea is still impressive.


Rolled into Mexicali about 4pm and missed the INAMI office directly to the right after crossing the border. So we found a place to park and took turns doing immigration and watching the bikes.


That's the line for the border in Mexicali behind the steeds.


With all the paperwork take care of and fees paid, we pounded some more pavement on Mex 5 south. Stopping in Durango for Carne Asada tacos and then finding a motel in Ejido Oaxaca. A couple cold Tecates were consumed. Then sleep.


Cheap motel room in Ejido Oaxaca

The highlight of day one has to be my wheelie of a "tope" leaving Durango that allowed my rear tire to catch the edge of my replacement "tool box" ripping the lid off and scattering tire irons, zip ties and wrenches all over the main street. Sorry no pics, but I was too busy dodging traffic to pick up all my gear...


Day one route.
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Old 06-19-2007, 10:46 PM   #6
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Just spent the last hour posting day 2 only to have the board kick me off and drop all of my work. Lesson learned.
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Old 06-20-2007, 06:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thresher
Just spent the last hour posting day 2 only to have the board kick me off and drop all of my work. Lesson learned.
Oh man, that sucks!! I've had the same thing happen before.
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Old 06-20-2007, 07:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thresher
Just spent the last hour posting day 2 only to have the board kick me off and drop all of my work. Lesson learned.
For lengthy posts, I usually either compose in Word, then C-n-P into ADVrider, or I make sure to copy the post a few times along the way, before I submit it.

Lessons learned the hard way.
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Old 06-20-2007, 12:07 PM   #9
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quit slacking

No excuses... get on with the story.... the suspense is killing me.
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Old 06-20-2007, 12:14 PM   #10
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Day 2 May 21st

Sorry about the break....like I said lesson learned on posting.

So it was up early in the sleepy little town of Ejido Oaxaca, pack up the bikes, and off to find some Desayuno. But at this point we are up too early. The Abborotes were barely open and the Chinese restaurant across the street was on lock down. The decision is made to head south in hopes of finding breakfast.






But as we head south we find that civilization is quickly running out and the sky is getting darker, Crap! No coffee, no food and the sky is getting dark and cold. WTF? So we solder on only to ride directly in to a blinding and choking dust storm rising off of the massive dry Laguna east of the highway. The sand is drifting, in some cases, eight inches deep across the roadway and visibility is at times 30 or so feet. To be honest I am glad that we did not decide to ride across the lake bed as many do….we probably would still be out there.




Finally we ride out of the cloud and stop at our jumping off point into the Baja dirt! La Ventana, while on the map, is only a single Tienda in the middle of no where. But we fuel up on machaca burritos, coffee and Gasolina from a soda bottle. Now this is living.


Leaving our mark at La Ventana....


Paco has a couple of great, yet dated atlas’ for both northern and southern Baja. Using those and the GPS’ bicamaps, we pre routed ourselves as much as possible sticking to dirt. So we head west into the wilderness with the expectation of following a road that will lead us up the Arroyo Grande into La Montana and eventually connect to Highway 3 where we will ride down into San Filipe or possibly on to Puertocitos……so we think.




Well the road out from Highway 5 Starts out great! Twisty dirt with a bit of rock. It’s fun and fast, but a little hard to find straight away. This goes on for 10 or so miles until you hit the actual Arroyo, then it’s my least favorite thing, SAND! Not just sand but sand whoops. About 5 miles of them….on a heavily loaded bike. But, again we push forward, and eventually the wash leads into a canyon and the GPS says we are on track.






That's sand drifts on those mountains....



Happy to be out of the sand whoops...


The Canyon narrows and the wash gets harder packed and rocky, but there is not to much to complain about. We take a break in the shade of a cliff wall (did I mention it was hot! High 90’s) and check the maps, life is good. Then we get a scare. Slogging up the wash we round a bend to find a nice new barbed wire fence! What we don’t immediately see is the gate tucked into the corner near the canyon wall….whew.














Shameless ADV plug....

So one impediment breached and the canyon gets narrower and narrower. Eventually there is a fairly washed out section with moderate vegetation that takes some skill to get through. And then it happens. At what seems to be the narrowest part of the canyon so far we hit a wall of vegetation….I don’t mean a couple of bushes or weeds, but trees, 8 inch trunk, 30 foot tall trees! Densely packed with a narrow cow trail leading in.






Well at this point we dismount and scout ahead. It’s marshy and narrow and getting narrower. At first there are still old “two tracks” and then nothing. The GPS and maps say we are only about 5 or so miles from our destination and we have already pushed 40 miles up this wash and now……we hang our heads, discuss the options. Tired and hungry we make the commitment to ride back through all we have ridden to far and get out of this damn canyon.



Riding back is actually not as bad as anticipated, but the whole day is lost on this adventure. We get back to Highway 5 as the sun is going down and blast south for San Filipe, breaking the cardinal rule we ride the highway for about a half hour in the dark….

The Asadero Bandido is the first stop, Carne Asada tacos are consumed, and then we find a room a block back from the water front at the Chapal hotel. A couple of Tecates a shower and sleep comes easily as we are truly beat…..and it is only day two.



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Old 06-20-2007, 12:15 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HalfFast
No excuses... get on with the story.... the suspense is killing me.
Quick enough for you? Day 3 coming this afternoon......
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Old 06-20-2007, 12:45 PM   #12
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good on ya...

Quote:
Originally Posted by thresher
Quick enough for you? Day 3 coming this afternoon......
Fast enough for me...... great pics and narrative. keep it rolling.
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Old 06-20-2007, 01:21 PM   #13
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Great report! Im hooked!
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Old 06-20-2007, 03:47 PM   #14
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Up at the crack of dawn with a good nights sleep. With free coffee in hand we do a little bike maintenance and pack up. Then out on the town of San Filipe to find some breakfast. Paco and I cruise down the waterfront and find that the infamous “Rice and Beans” is open. So in we go.


No Pics before I've had my coffee



Breakfast is filling and the view is pretty good, but the day is a wastin and we are on an agenda get south. So we hit the road to Puertocitos. We are disappointed to find more pavement waiting on this stretch. The whole way is paved and they are even building a culvert overpass and what looks to be a road to go around Puertocitos all together. Hopefully it will end there for now. (Or maybe ADVriders should get together and buy property in Puertocitos to stage out of…….Hmmmm)








Took a while to figure out that we had to go though the “Propidad Privada” to keep going south, but after that it was, well, total crap! The road is chunky and rocky with a fine layer of dust that just begs to be ridden….This, finally is what we came for, and we are in heaven.






The obligitory pic of Bird Shit rock.





The coast along this stretch is very barren. With lots of abandoned property and junk cars down the sides of the cliffs. One very important lesson that we learn in this stretch. If there is a tire, or a brach, or a car hood or an unnatural placement of large rocks……there is a reason. Most notably, that there has been a wash out of the section of road immediately (with in feet) behind the obstacle. Be wary of anything in the road larger than a breadbox in Baja.

But it isn’t long before we roll into the relatively expatriot community of Bahia San Luis Gonzaga and stop for lunch at the famous Alfonsina’s. This place surely lived up to its reputation. The shrimp and fish tacos were awesome and the view…well I can understand why you would build a house here, as many have done.
And if you are a pilot, they have an air strip and fully operating Pemex for fuel.






Maybe I can trade this pic to corona for free beer






Where's waldo....er Baja Blitz.




With bellies full (again), we set off for one of Baja’s most famous landmarks. (well with us anyway) Coco’s corner. The road is wide and fast with a generous helping of loose sand and gravel, so it is time to wick it up a bit. The landscape is majestic with the rock formations and mountains in the background.






A cool surprise along the way is a make shift Baja Carhenge. Various shells of four wheeled vehicles placed and spaced in a line and bordered by rocks. Very unexpected yet cool in the desert.






Paco charges in from the desert after passing by me at carhenge.



I always wanted a surf wagon.....how can I get this back to santa cruz.






FYYFF

Finally we get to Coco’s, a sort of personal goal for me. But alas, no Coco. He is in Ensenada on “business”. I hope it is not related to his Diabetes. The digs are funky and we enjoy a beer while looking around. And of course leave our mark.

I know there are a million plus pic of Cocos out there, but I am posting all mine anyway.






Paco trying not to stare.....


At these.....




Finally catching up to those "Trip to the tip" guys.



The outhouses at Coco's have seen better days.



Paco ready to hit the trail.



I had read recently that the Calamajue wash was not the best way out. So we wicked it up again and headed for our first encounter with the “Transpeninsular.” All I can say is “Ow my Ass”. Not the funnest asphalt ever, but it pressed us on to the now paved turn off to Bahia de Los Angeles. BdLA is also getting power lines run in from the out side world and the work along side the road does not look enjoyable. But we get our first waves of approval from the ever moto admiring proletariat.






Beyond that all I can say is Wow what a view as you drop into the town. That first peak of blue is mesmerizing.






On that drop-in there are two, count em, two competing Pemexes…. So we stop at the first to gas up and Paco having the better Spanish of the group, engages the girl manning the pump. Paco not clear on her instruction asks a question, and after starting the fill up, she turns to him and says with her best Latina accent and a bit of a head swing, “Didn’t jew understand what I was trying to tell jew?” “I am from Whittier, Ca and only moved here a few months ago”. Gotta love it.

Found a room at the Costa Azul (the nicest place in town). Paco, with the exertion from the day before and the arid wind that beat us up all day, layed down to catch a nap, and then never got up. So no dinner and no carousing, just sweet, rejuvenating sleep. And some time for me to catch up on the travel journal while enjoying the view.


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Old 06-20-2007, 05:45 PM   #15
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Great Report! If you dont like whoops its a good thing you rode the slab to Puertecitos, you bypassed over 30 miles of BIG whoops and deep sand.

However, not taking the Calamajue wash out of Coco's.................. you bypassed some of the better riding in Baja IMO.

Keep it comin!
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