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Old 03-27-2012, 10:59 PM   #1
MTvtwin OP
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Krackers & Tequila, a Baja Experience




From the guys that brought you 50 redbulls and a pig on a rocket…. http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=483981
We bring you Krackers and Tequila; a Baja experience. YES we are back, all new with nobbies, charming personalities and everything…
Let’s start this off by shouting a BIG thank you to all the inmates that helped us plan this trip, and to all those who have posted ride reports in the past. Upon considering ride reports, we found that even tho you may have to look very very hard for some small part of wisdom or redeeming nature of this report, most others have offered some sage advice and these two Krackers want to thank everyone.
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Old 03-27-2012, 11:35 PM   #2
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Prequil

My brother turned the BIG 4 0 this year and one day he says to me…. I need to go, I need to do something, I need, I need….. to do something.



We are sitting in chateau Le Hill


having cocktails one night and He states that we must ride Baja the coming spring….. I stated “really”? He says yes and pours me more encouragement. So I contemplate this new adventure… yes, yes I think we need to do this.





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Old 03-27-2012, 11:54 PM   #3
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We are taking the DR’s to Baja?…. Only one issue, mine still looks like this…

So after much deliberation and “encouragement” we decided to take the DR’s bigger brother the DL… Happens my brother has 2 and we needed to outfit them for success in the desert. Started out with TKC 80’s,


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Old 03-27-2012, 11:56 PM   #4
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Have to admit the Wee's look pretty mean with nobbs, but how will they handle?

We also did a bit of rewiring and adding some power ports to charge things......

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Old 03-28-2012, 09:58 AM   #5
MTDuke
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Preface

Thanks for telling everyone I'm an old bastard!

At the start I want to say that my motivation for writing a ride report here is 3 fold. First, I have used ride reports as a great source of information when planning my own rides. Sometimes there are reminders of caution, sometimes hints on places to stay, food, cultural sites. Sometimes just reading them gets me in the mood for some adventure. Second, its a great way to document the trip for friends and family. You can share pictures and stories and not have to do it individually. Last, it provides a way to reflect on the experience. This is not least important.

Being a family man with a 6 yo and 2 yo at home I needed some excuse to ride Baja so my 40th bday worked as well as any. You guys that don't need excuses are lucky. However, as indicated in another post this trip did represent somewhat of a compromise in several ways. First, we would be meeting my family in San Jose at a resort for some more domestic fun. It worked out pretty well to have them fly in and meet me and we all got what we needed on the trip. Second, we were riding DL650s instead of the originally planned DR650s. In retrospect, the DLs were a better choice anyway given our schedule and the number of miles we had to cover. There were certainly times I questioned this wisdom in the rocks and sand, but it turned out fine in the end.

Our itinerary:

Bozeman MT (truck)
San Diego CA (truck)
Tijuana
Ensenada
Guerrero Negro (End Day 1)
San Ignacio
Santa Rosalia
Mulege
Loreto (End Day 2)
Cidudad Insurgentes
Cidudad Constitution
La Paz
(East) Los Barriles
San Jose Del Cabo (End Day 3; 5 nights at resort with family)
Cabo San Lucas
Los Cerritos (End Day 4 of riding)
Todos Santos
La Paz
Cidudad C
Cidudad I
Loreto (End Day 5 of riding)
Mulege
Santa Rosalia
San Ignacio
Guerrero Negro
Bay of LA (End Day 6 of riding)
Cocos Corner
Gonzaga Bay & Alfonsinas
San Felipe (End Day 7 of riding)
Mexicali
San Diego (End Day 8 of riding)

Baja veterans will notice all the tarmac........it was a shitload. I dont regret it though, we saw many of the highlights of Baja and will have a reason to go back with more dirt worthy machines.

A few notes about gear for any planners:

Navigation- I bought the Nat Geo maps north/south as well as the LBmaps mapset for my Garmin Montana. This was the perfect combination. The paper maps were a good backup and provided the big picture for planning. The Garmin Montana was new to me on this trip and I grew to love it. The screen is visible in all conditions, the garmin hard-wired mount performed well, the touchscreen worked great with gloves, and it saved our ass at least 4 times. No stock, just satisfied and I got the maps here:

http://www.lbmaps.com/

Gear- Like many, I have wide variety of gear including a roadcrafter suit and lots of other pieces. I was worried about venting and heat so I ended up wearing a pressure suit and Klim windproof jersey. This was a very comfortable combination and I felt protected with just the pressure suit when it got hot. Felt like a poser most of the time but I was comfortable and protected and that was what mattered. I also bought a set of the new Gaerne G-Midland Adv boots. Very comfortable and I would purchase again although I have not tested performance in rain yet. Last note, we used the Sena bluetooth communicators between us and was very glad to have them at times.

Bikes- Both were 2006 DL650s with all the usual crap on them. Givi panniers and topcase loaded with too much stuff (Including all of my DSLR camera gear). Skid plates were necessary off road and on topes, I have not looked at the bottom of mine yet but I hit something about every hour. We put TKCs on them prior to the trip, maybe overkill but they were very confidence inspiring off road and really surprised me on the tarmac. Great tire, I may just use this tire all the time.

Photog note: I took my gripped 7d with 70-200 2.8, 24-70 2.8, 100 macro, and 11-17 2.8 as well as a 2x EC. Sean was using a G12. I used mostly the 24-70 with CPF and the 70-200......I might leave the rest at home if I had it to do over. I did take over 1000 pics so if you have a slow connection reading this report have a beer while it loads.

Necessary pic to maintain interest (part of ride namesake):



I'll end this first post with a list of lessons learned from our first foray into Baja for others new to this part of the world.

1. You will not make as many miles as you think. We planned to get to San Jose in 2 days but it took us almost 3. The roads (tarmac) are generally pretty good, but all of the small towns, school buses, farm implements, animals, twisties, military checkpoints, etc... will limit your mileage.
2. Advice about not riding at night is spot on. The first day we road a couple of hours after dark to make it to Guerrero Negro and stay on schedule. We hit blind corners with horses running across, truck tires dead center of lane, and lots of other critters hanging out on the road in just a short while. Even slowing way down was not safe in my opinion and we chose not to ride at night again.
3. What is it about Baja and Canadians? Must have great air service from all over Canada........each time we met someone we would wait for the abooot to come out Eh?
4. About every 20 miles we would see a lone Mexican standing out in the desert. Did not appear to have a reason to be there, just standing there watching. No herding that we could see......just hanging out in the desert. What do they think about all day many miles from anywhere?
5. Street tacos kick ass. If I could go back I would omit any food we bought that was not from a cart or small family hole in the wall. My Spanish is limited to about 6 words and we always got great street food. I also noticed some real attention to sanitary practices. One vendor took and changed my money with a plastic bag over her hand. Others I noted were careful not to directly touch food but use wax paper.
6. We had no problems with access to fuel. The DLs have big tanks and good range and we were mostly around towns this was to be expected. No bad gas, sometimes premium was available, other times not. Didnt seem to matter.
7. The military checkpoints actually gave us some confidence that some organized law exists. We did not have a single problem in all the checkpoints we encountered. Most of the time they just waved us through, at most we had to open one bag and tell them were we were going and where we came from.
8. Signage in cities sucks. Do not expect roads to be clearly marked. GPS came in handy at times when we missed turns. Not a huge issue as there are not too many large cities but we got off track several times.
9. Consistent with my experience traveling prior, we met some great people with great stories that we will relay here.
10. One trip is not enough unless you have unlimited time. Ours was a nice survey of the entire peninsula, but I foresee more trips where we can explore some areas with greater attention.
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Old 03-28-2012, 11:42 AM   #6
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Subscribed, can't wait to hear about it as I'm planning a trip down there in 2 years for my 40th (can't believe I just said that). I'm a one year newb on a KLR650 and can't wait.
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Old 03-28-2012, 01:01 PM   #7
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MT to San Diego

I was a bit concerned about getting both of these big bikes in the truck and although we have trailers we wanted to avoid pulling something if we did not have to. Turns out they fit fine in my full size truck and after finding a ditch to put the rear axle in to lower the back we were on the road.

We left Montana with snow on the ground and drove strait through to Las Vegas getting there about 8 am.



I wont wax on about Las Vegas, but I will say that I will never start a ride again after driving all night and spending a day in Sin City. One should be fresh and healthy at the beginning at least and we were not by the time we left town. If we were smart we would have kept driving once we hit town.

We were (are) not smart.

We got to San Diego and a day to recover prior to heading south to TJ. We are very fortunate that my aunt (thanks Lou and Rick) lives in San Diego and put up with us parking at their place and hosting with mucho beer and margaritas on both sides of the trip. We found a hill to unload the bikes and were off the next day south of I-15 rush hour morning traffic for the border crossing.

Does he look hungover?


As an aside, Seans girlfriend here in MT send him a list of tasks to do while in Baja along with some money should he chose to take up the challenge. As can be seen here, all tasks were designed to annoy and embarrass and here is Sean with his blow up sheep "Dollly" that would be his companion for the duration.



I had taken notes from another traveler about crossing at TJ so had some sense of where to go. Immediately after driving across that magic line, there is a "to declare" area to the right. No lines, we were across, and we cut through a couple of lanes to pull over into that section. There were lots of border folks around as well as some heavily armed military but no one seemed to care that we parked in some empty spaces while we took turns walking up to immigration to get our tourist vistas. It was very quick, immigration and the bank are separated by 3 offices so it was just a matter for getting the paperwork, paying the 20+ bucks (cant remember exactly), and going back to get the stamp. Maybe half hour total with one of us waiting with the bikes and taking turns.

Not too many pics as I read they get itchy with photos around these areas....but here you go with a couple.





We rode through TJ on the very nice toll road heading south to Ensenada avoiding the dead and rotting dogs that seems to be every mile or so. The best advice I had read on the internet was to get south of Ensenada asap and the further south the better. Our goal was Guerrero Negro for the night so we had a ways to go.

I did feel the need to stop as we were leaving TJ for a ceremonial taste of the agave. Not much mind you.....



We stopped in Ensenada for some pesos having just enough to get though the tolls from the border. Headed south, we were slowed considerably after getting off the toll road by slow traffic, lots of farm activity, school buses and buses for farmworkers, and the like. I was beginning to wonder if we made a bad choice crossing at TJ and if heading down the east side crossing at Mexicali would be better. Several hours of the Baja I did not expect later we finally made it to desert, cactus, open roads, and some nice even twisties scattered just well enough to keep the riding interesting.

The desert was green this time to year:


Necessary massive cactus pic:


We had pulled over late in the day to consider our progress and take a break when these two pulled up looking like true Baja explorers.



Sean will have to help out here with names, but we spent some time chatting and it sounded to me like they had seen some miles. The KLR had some fresh welds as I recall and we got some good information about riding south. I especially liked the deer hides glued to the headlight shrouds on their bikes......made for a nice "road hardened" look. Nice guys, we shared some agave and went separate directions.

As I noted before, we decided instead of camping on the roadside we would ride a couple of hours in the dark to make G. Negro. Although we did not necessarily have any close calls there were enough obstructions in the road during those two hours that it clearly is dangerous. Whale watching season was upon G. Negro so the first 2 hotels we checked did not have rooms. The 3rd was a charm, 300 pesos for both of us, semi-secure parking, but the rooms were a little iffy.

Hotel San Jose: Cheap, hot water.......what more is needed?


Yes, we carry too much shit. One guy said we had more on each bike than he had in his truck. At least there is room for beer once the day is done.


One thing I like about the Givi bags is that I can unload my bike in about 3 minutes and have everything in the room. Stripped after day 1.


Coffee and WiFi to check in within 20 steps in the morning


We found some food, ate, and bought a 6 pack of room beer. I must be 40 cause we packed all 6 beers out first thing in the morning, not a one touched.
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Old 03-28-2012, 02:38 PM   #8
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I'm in! Heading down in two weeks, and looking forward to the rest of the story. Great start!
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Old 03-28-2012, 04:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by WoodWorks View Post
I'm in! Heading down in two weeks, and looking forward to the rest of the story. Great start!
We will try to wrap it up as soon as possible in case it helps with planning. Let me know if you have any questions if we are too slow.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:04 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by MTDuke View Post
We will try to wrap it up as soon as possible in case it helps with planning. Let me know if you have any questions if we are too slow.
I'll be sure to hit you up with any questions that come up as you go along. But the biggest one I have right now is one that you probably can't answer: What's the Hwy 1 - El Arco - San Francisquito - Bay of LA road like these days?

So no hurry, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy this one!
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WoodWorks View Post
I'll be sure to hit you up with any questions that come up as you go along. But the biggest one I have right now is one that you probably can't answer: What's the Hwy 1 - El Arco - San Francisquito - Bay of LA road like these days?

So no hurry, I'm sure I'm going to enjoy this one!

We sacrificed two routes on this trip that were originally planned, this was one of them and I regret it. If we had 3 more days......its good though. Its great to leave Baja wanting, it only means that we will be back. Let me know if I can help, folks on ADV have been great to us.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:41 PM   #12
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Preface

[QUOTE=MTDuke;18323732]Thanks for telling everyone I'm an old bastard!

Well your going to have to deal with the fact that its all a downward slide from here on out..... the only thing you can do is go sliding into home saying hell YEA what a ride its been.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:55 PM   #13
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Preface

[QUOTE=MTDuke;18323732]
Being a family man with a 6 yo and 2 yo at home I needed some excuse to ride Baja so my 40th bday worked as well as any. You guys that don't need excuses are lucky. However, as indicated in another post this trip did represent somewhat of a compromise in several ways. First, we would be meeting my family in San Jose at a resort for some more domestic fun. It worked out pretty well to have them fly in and meet me and we all got what we needed on the trip. Second, we were riding DL650s instead of the originally planned DR650s. In retrospect, the DLs were a better choice anyway given our schedule and the number of miles we had to cover. There were certainly times I questioned this wisdom in the rocks and sand, but it turned out fine in the end.

Our itinerary:

Bozeman MT (truck)
San Diego CA (truck)


As most inmates in here who have the significant other issue with young kids, the only way that Wade could sell the Baja trip was to get his wifey some sand and sun.... It did turn out great and gave us a good respite from the ardors of riding all day.

A good note to take into consideration is to Never ever stop for a layover in Vegas unless you have extra time. The sin city sucks you in. Driving all night
forced us to seek out Casa Fuente. A cold Mojito and aged stick and Wade was sold.
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Old 03-28-2012, 05:59 PM   #14
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Hey MTvtwin! Those pix are too small! I'm old! My eyes aren't that good anymore.
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Old 03-28-2012, 06:02 PM   #15
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Hey MTvtwin! Those pix are too small! I'm old! My eyes aren't that good anymore.

Yes, send those pics to me and I will make sure they get full view!
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