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Old 03-04-2010, 10:00 PM   #1
NMTrailboss OP
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Location: Albuquerque, NM
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Team Dead End Rides Baja! (Yes...another Baja RR!)

The northern part of this peninsula was our goal.


A good friend of mine, Kevin, who rides in Baja every year and raced the Baja 2000, has been trying to talk us into doing a trip with him down to Baja for about five years now. We've discussed over beers all the details of riding in Mexico and how to properly prep and pack for point-to-point riding in Baja more times than I can remember. We've drooled over all the photos and heard about all the great riding, food and people. Finally last year, Paul (RUE1), who I've been riding with for over 16 years, sits down at my desk at work and says to me "it's time...we're riding Baja with Kevin this coming February!" That's all I needed to hear. We told Kevin we were in for his next trip and starting the planning.


I had bought a new (to me) XR650R two years ago thinking in the back of my mind that it would be a great Baja bike and Paul bought a used XR650R in November and we began the process of prepping these bikes for the trip. Kevin, who also would be riding the BRP, has been riding Baja for about 15 years and has made many trips to the peninsula riding various roads, single track trails, and parts of the SCORE course as well as several tip-to-tip runs from San Felipe to Cabo San Lucas and back, so he would be our guide for this trip. Due to limited time off available, we decided to do a 7 1/2 day ride with a couple of extra travel days from New Mexico. The time would limit us to staying in northern Baja, but Kevin assured us there would be plenty to see and ride in this region. He planned out a detailed route including many popular stops since it would be our first trip to Baja and booked all the motels for the trip. Two months were spent prepping the bikes with new tires, wheel bearings, chains, sprockets, cables, rejetting, full services and any other repairs deemed necessary to ensure a reliable ride for this trip. We also spent many evenings planning the various ways to pack for this trip and deciding what to carry...and more importantly, what NOT to carry. "Less is more" was Kevin's motto for the packing, so we packed minimal clothes and only necessary items, tools and spare parts to do trail side repairs. Most of our gear would be carried in backpacks along with fanny packs, fender bags, headlight bags, and finally a one gallon spare fuel container for the longer stretches.



Finally, by the beginning of February we were ready for the trip.
Gordy was kind enough to loan us his SPOT and set up a share page for the trip.

On Saturday, February 13th after some last minute trailer wiring repair (who knew the kids would tear the plug off the trailer and not tell you ) we left Albuquerque about mid-afternoon and headed for our first night in Yuma, Arizona.



Kevin had left earlier that morning and we met him at the Motel about 10:30 that night.



February 14th

We awoke early the next morning...



loaded up...



...got a quick breakfast at Denny's...



...and drove to Calexico, California.


We exchanged our money for pesos and headed for the border!

After crossing into Mexicali, it was about a 130 mile drive down Mexico Highway 5 to San Felipe.

The highway was in pretty good shape most of the way.



About 40 miles north of San Felipe we were detoured onto a dirt bypass for about ten miles due to construction.

Arrived at San Felipe around 1:00 in the afternoon.


Kevin has a cousin who owns a beach house about 20 miles south of San Felipe and in about 5 miles on a sandy dirt road where we would leave our tow vehicles for the week.



It was beautiful to pull up to the house and see the Sea of Cortez up close. What a beautiful sight!





I think we found where all the Honda ATC's from the '80's have been hiding!



We visited for a short time and cruised the beach a bit before gearing up and heading back to San Felipe on the bikes for our first night in Baja.



This first day would only be a 21 mile dirt route Kevin knew on sandy roads to get back to San Felipe avoiding pavement. It was a little taste of what it would be like for the next week carrying loaded backpacks and riding sand!


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Old 03-04-2010, 10:27 PM   #2
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Looks like another good ride!
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:39 PM   #3
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After riding back to San Felipe and one close encounter with a dog after entering town , we gassed up for the next day...



...and headed to the El Cortez Hotel.



It was a short ride today, but we were already thirsty!




We had to put the bikes to sleep in the room...


...and then headed down to the main drag in San Felipe during Carnival for dinner with Kevin's cousin and friends.




mmmmmmmmmm! Margaritas!!!



After dinner, Kevin suggested we head down the road to the Miramar Bar for a few more beers and a little pre-ride partying! Why not!!


Kevin's friends got in a mean game of ping-pong while we watched and consumed local beverages!



One of the locals sang for us and played some mean guitar!



The bartender helped with the singing for a few songs...



...and then challenged Paul to a "friendly" dart game! Apparently there are some differences in the rules in Mexico...at least that's Paul's story!



After several hours of this fun, we realized we had a big ride day the next day and headed back to the motel for some rest. When we returned we found that the XR's had finished the last of our beer!



I guess we weren't the only ones that wanted a little pre-ride party!

Quest for Mike's Sky Ranch tomorrow!
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Old 03-04-2010, 10:46 PM   #4
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Love it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by NMTrailboss
After riding back to San Felipe and one close encounter with a dog after entering town , we gassed up for the next day...



...and headed to the El Cortez Hotel.



It was a short ride today, but we were already thirsty!




We had to put the bikes to sleep in the room...


...and then headed down to the main drag in San Felipe during Carnival for dinner with Kevin's cousin and friends.




mmmmmmmmmm! Margaritas!!!



After dinner, Kevin suggested we head down the road to the Miramar Bar for a few more beers and a little pre-ride partying! Why not!!


Kevin's friends got in a mean game of ping-pong while we watched and consumed local beverages!



One of the locals sang for us and played some mean guitar!



The bartender helped with the singing for a few songs...



...and then challenged Paul to a "friendly" dart game! Apparently there are some differences in the rules in Mexico...at least that's Paul's story!



After several hours of this fun, we realized we had a big ride day the next day and headed back to the motel for some rest. When we returned we found that the XR's had finished the last of our beer!



I guess we weren't the only ones that wanted a little pre-ride party!

Quest for Mike's Sky Ranch tomorrow!
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Old 03-04-2010, 11:16 PM   #5
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Lookin' good!




Quote:
Originally Posted by [B
NMTrailboss[/B]]After several hours of this fun, we realized we had a big ride day the next day and headed back to the motel for some rest. When we returned we found that the XR's had finished the last of our beer!
Stoopid Hondas
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Old 03-05-2010, 05:52 AM   #6
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Old 03-05-2010, 08:10 AM   #7
Gordy
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Yay! Baja RR. I'm going to wait till the end and then do a quote with all the pics!

Keep it coming Curtis!
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:42 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gordy
Yay! Baja RR. I'm going to wait till the end and then do a quote with all the pics!

Keep it coming Curtis!



Cool RR so far!
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Old 03-05-2010, 10:47 AM   #9
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Yes! can't wait.
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Old 03-05-2010, 12:47 PM   #10
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Old 03-05-2010, 08:06 PM   #11
NMTrailboss OP
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February 15th

We awoke early to a beautiful sunrise on the Sea of Cortez. This one's right from the hotel room!


I ran to the beach to snap a few more. Amazing!



This is definately what Baja and mornings on the Sea of Cortez are all about!



Over breakfast, Kevin told us our route today should only be a little more than a half day ride to Mike's Sky Ranch so we had time to get used to the terrain and the backpacks. The omelet and salsa was awesome and it was easy to get used to fresh flour tortillas with every meal!


Prior to leaving on the trip, we had heard of the heavy rains and floods that had occured mostly on the western side of Baja in mid-January. The owner of the Baja Cactus in El Rosario, Antonio Munoz, had told us via email that three bridges along Mex. Highway 1 were washed away around the third week of January, but there shouldn't be any problem getting fuel, water and food on the Pacific coast towns by the time we would arrive there. That was good news, but Kevin still had some concern about the roads from Mike's to the coast.

After breakfast, we geared up and left for our first full day of riding in Baja!


Kevin led us north through San Felipe and turned west on a dirt road about six miles north of town. This route was wide and fast and became more interesting and beautiful the farther we went as views of Picacho Del Diablo, the highest point in Baja at 10,157 feet, began to emerge.








The route became more sandy as we approached Laguna Diablo.




Kevin said this stretch was part of the San Felipe 250 course that would be occuring in a couple of weeks. He and Paul pretty much left me for dead in the deep sand as I flopped around hoping for some rocks soon! I'm definately not the sand rider of this group!

Headin' to Laguna Diablo!
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:00 PM   #12
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Nmtb...

looks like you got it right--pack light, big engine, light bike and great weather\riding. What more could you ask for? Keep it coming
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Old 03-05-2010, 09:14 PM   #13
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A few miles later, Kevin peeled off the main route we were on and headed down to Laguna Diablo dry lake bed to see if it was too wet to ride. It had some muddy spots from the recent rains, but had a patch down the center that was dry and off we went!






Riding across the dry lake bed was a great feeling and an amazing experience! We had to be careful of ruts and occasional muddy patches, but otherwise it was all out!

The views of Picacho Del Diablo right above us were spectacular!







During one of the photo stops, we were taking some pics and noticed a cloud of dust coming across the lake bed towards us. Soon a Hummer full of Federales pulled up and about eight men jumped out heavily armed and started checking out our bikes and gear. We had a couple of pics of this, but were told to erase them. Yes sir! They rummaged through our packs and fender bags for awhile and after several failed attempts to speak to us in Spanish, they recorded us in their log books, climbed back in the Hummer and returned to the sand dunes at the edge of the lake bed. This photo was taken as they were driving away.


I was prepared for the Federale check points along the main highways, but was surprised by the stop in the middle of nowhere! Go figure!

Anyway, after our unplanned visit, we continued down Laguna Diablo for many more miles as it began to get more muddy...




...and eventually decided it was in our best interest to head cross country back to the main road and avoid the obvious worsening mud and a few places we could see standing water.






Finally, back on the main road again, we could open it up and begin heading north towards Mex. Highway 3.



There were still remnants of previous SCORE course markers along the way.




Kevin peeled off the main road after many miles and started following part of the SCORE course that followed the power lines straight north towards Mex. Highway 3. The route was about eight miles of whoops, deep sand and cactus. Once again, I was left for dead as the desert boyz tore up the whoops! At least this was one place that the moisture from the recent rains was an advantage.





This is your reward for getting too close to the sides of the route!



Still several more miles of race course to go...







...and finally we get to Mex. Highway 3 at the small village of San Matias for a quick fuel stop before heading down the road to Mike's.





We discovered that they were out of fuel in San Matias, so Kevin said we could slab it about 12 miles to Valle de Trinidad to the Pemex and take a shot at the "back" way to Mike's. It was all new to us, so we said "let's go for it!"

Fortunately, the Pemex in Valle de Trinidad was open and we were able to fuel up and take a short break before heading out to the mountains.




Paul made some local kids day by sharing some of the stickers we brought with us. Gotta love those smiles! Even the gas attendant got in the action and got a few stickers for his collection.


Have a Coke and a smile!


Next, off to Mike's...or so we thought!
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Old 03-05-2010, 10:24 PM   #14
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After the short break at Valle de Trinidad, we should have a short 38 mile ride to Mike's Sky Ranch via the back route. We headed off across the valley and started the twisty climb through the mountains. The roads were more hard packed and more my style as we climbed.

Shortly after starting up the twisty road, we came to our first sign of the rains that had devistated the peninsula a few weeks earlier!




We worked our way around this wash out on a path that had been cut around it by the locals and continued on.

Unfortunately, this would be a sign of things to come for the next twenty miles.




And again...


...and again...



...and again...



This was starting to seem like an endless string of damage. We were able to get around or through them, but it was taking a lot of work and we weren't sure what still lied ahead.

There were many miles of spectacular riding between the road damage sections. This is a beautiful area!







Still more road damage as we climbed the hills.




Fortunately, trials riding has taught me to look for alternate lines, so after some searching, I found a route around on the low side of this cut.




About 28 miles in from V de T and what seemed like a hundred wash outs, we came around a corner and entered a big canyon. As we decended into the bottom, I think we all had a bad feeling in our guts that this would not be a good sight at the bottom. As we got closer, we could see the water running in the canyon and the debris piled up from the water that had been running down the canyon a few short weeks earlier.


Paul continued to the bottom and dropped off a small ledge into the wash itself. We walked around for 20 minutes looking for a way to cross, but nothing seemed to make sense. There were ledges on both banks of the wash and 10 foot piles of debris in the center of the wash. You could see where the water line had been about twenty feet deep recently. The water running through was split into two channels and the farthest one seemed to be between 12" to 20" deep, but the bottom seemed very sandy and soft.





So much for our easy, short ride to Mike's to get used to the bikes! This ride had been rivaling the Apache Gap ride in southern NM I had done with Gordy, retroone and grizzzly just two short months earlier!

Kevin estimated by the GPS that we were approx. 8 miles from Mike's as the crow flies, but the route showed we would be in this canyon for a ways before climbing out and even if we were able to work all the bikes across this crossing, the possibility of more crossings like this was high. Daylight was fading fast and we estimated we had about 1 1/2 to maybe 2 more hours of daylight left before dark. The gamble of proceeding could leave us stranded in this canyon after dark if it had more devistating crossings or we could start back tracking now and try to make it to Mike's via the traditional route before dark. We voted 2-1 to return to Valle de Trinidad and take the main road to Mike's. Paul, ever the adventurer, was the only one that wanted to continue and see what awaited us ahead, but we agreed to turn back now and beat foot back through all the wash outs we had already crossed. After about an hour and twenty minutes of fast riding and no pictures later we gassed up at the Valle de Trinidad Pemex...again!




After fueling, we headed back the 12 miles down the highway to the main road into Mike's Sky Ranch...



...and headed down the fast 20 miles to the Ranch. This road had also been damaged from the rains, but had seen some grader action that made it passable by all vehicles if not a little rough. Sun would be setting soon!





Finally, twenty more miles and one more water crossing later...


...and we made it to Mike's Sky Ranch!







Kevin was quick to find some cold beers, and before we even had our gear off, we were washing down the dust from the return run down the back way!





So much for the short day to Mike's! Our first full day in Baja had been just what we signed up for...an ADVenture!!!
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Old 03-05-2010, 11:13 PM   #15
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That looks like so much fun
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