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Old 09-06-2010, 11:45 AM   #1
whitham_wannabe OP
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Twisted Melon goes to Baja

So it has been a while since the trip itself, this tale harking back to March of this year, but I thought it was high time that I started this ride report. My companion for this journey has been talking about writing a ride report ever since, but it has so far failed to materialise ... hopefully this will get the ball rolling, eh Bondy?



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Old 09-06-2010, 11:54 AM   #2
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Day err ... -2?
A young guy is driving along a country lane and gets lost, so stops to ask an old farmer for directions. “What’s the best way to get to Hereford?” He asks. The old guy thinks for a moment and then replies “Well, for the best way, you wouldn’t want to start here …”.

This summed up my feelings at journey's start in Seattle, all I wanted to do was get into Mexico but first I had to ride the length of the country to get there. Chris was much better prepared by living at the other end of the I5, in San Diego. The original plan was to take Friday off work, ride to Chris’ Friday and Saturday, cross the border Sunday. Then I figured I may as well get a couple of hundred miles in on Thursday after work, then decided to leave work early and head off, then decided to skip work entirely on Thursday and spend some quality time with my girlfriend instead. A much better choice. 10am Thursday morning and I am ready to roll.



Damn it’s a long way to San Diego, so let’s do a quick iron butt to make it go by quicker. I-5 isn’t as dull as I feared, at least through Washington, Oregon and Northern California. I had heard of the ‘Meet a California Highway Patrol Officer’ scheme, and eagerly hurried down to make my rendevous. He even gave me a certificate to show me just how eagerly I had hurried.



Nice guy, rode a 950 KTM, apparently, and knocked 15 mph off the recorded speed for me. Ride. Gas. Ride. Gas. Ride. Gas. It was now dark, so I have no idea how picturesque northern to middle Califormia ride was, all I can say is that there was a wide and mostly unpleasant variety of smells around. Stopped for a couple of hours kip in the back of a rest stop …



Then back to it. Ride. Gas. Ride. Gas. 1000 miles came up after 20 hours. Don’t know what all the fuss is about …



The sun made a welcome return and refreshed me from my stupor for the final five hours.



And finally Chris’ place rolled into view after 1280 miles and 25 hours. Visited my StreetFighter, that Chris started and I finished …




… and Chris’ supercharged MG, that I started and Chris finished …



… and retired gracefully and gratefully to bed.
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Old 09-06-2010, 03:49 PM   #3
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Where's the next installment?? Keep it coming!
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:06 PM   #4
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Day one ...as viewed from the other end of the country.

OK ... as Ropey has started the ball rolling I'll start posting up what I began writing. First of all, a little background ... after all, in the first post Roper is still riding down !!

I know, I know ... yet another Baja ride report. I mean really ... don't these advriders ever go anywhere else!!

As I've recently moved down to San Diego from Detroit, I'm finally on the same side of the country as my main riding buddy.In fact, we both live off the I5 ....all be it at opposite ends. He's up in Seattle... the mapquest riding directions are thus "Leave home, turn left, turn right, ride 1250 miles, exit freeway turn left, turn left, arrive at destination! We did a couple of trips last year but decided for the first one this year, it'd be wrong not to tackle the Baja.

In the run up to the trip, the usual occasional email and phone calls sufficed for planning and some light weight farkling took place ... wunderlich bar risers, shifters and Rotopax's for Ian's (whitham_wannabe) F800GS and Jesse's, HB Crash bars, Tool plate cover and Rotopax's for my R1150 GS. We each had two 1 gallon Rotopax's ... Ian carried two gallons of extra gas and I carried 1 gallon of Gas and 1 gallon of water.... we are both Baja newbs and believe in being over prepared! All of these little bits, which could have been done without, helped a great deal (some more than others which will be seen later). I can see bar risers in the boxers future! Plus new sets of TKC's for the pair of us. For maps, we carried the Baja Almanac and had the LBMap in the GPS's plus one large scale road map. Once we had dealt with all the usual BS ("Mexico, are you mad?? You'll be killed as soon as you cross the border!!") ,which wasn't helped by an issue of a travel advisory ,we were good to go. However, to allay fears of loved ones at home, Ian had a spot tracker.
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Old 09-07-2010, 09:14 PM   #5
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Day One (+1 for Roper) and we're ... well messing about.


As Ian (who henceforth shall be known as Ropey ... for that is his nickname) had scheduled a down day to recover from the Seattle run, we spent the day with some last minute kit shopping and a quick inventory to dump duplicate kit. Every time we do a trip we seem to carry duplicates and this was no different. Except this time we left a large-ish pile of it in the garage ... along with the wet weather gear we deemed to be surplus to requirements. Unfortunately, this also led to drinking in the middle of the afternoon which pretty much wrote off the rest of the day....

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Old 09-07-2010, 09:30 PM   #6
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Day one ... again. And we're off!


We're off!



Thanks to yesterday’s exuberance, the planned departure time of 7:00 was pushed back to 8:30 and we set off from Del Mar to pick up two other buddies in San Diego who were to accompany us to the crossing at Tencate before they headed out for a day trip toward Ensenada.



Our trip got off to a stunning start when we missed the turn off for the 94 but a quick 5 minute back track had us at the border crossing where we gassed up and said our goodbyes.



Our first international border crossing had caused us a little concern (Canada doesn't count and as we are both from England, neither does Europe) but was nothing to worry about. We stopped at the immigration office and picked up our tourist cards and then we were off into the Baja proper on the Mex 2.... stopping 10 minutes later to have a pee and marvel at the fact that we were finally here. This also where I made my first faux pas ... the layby we stopped in had a 4" asphalt curb and in my enthusiasm to get going I attacked it with rather more gusto than necessary and clattered my front rim. Whoops. No damage apart from feeling somewhat of an idiot.

We carried on down the Mex 2 until we found the Turn off for Rancho Veronica and finally turned offroad.



It's at this point that I should point out that my experience of being in the dirt is somewhat limited ... read none. Ropey spends his time messing about on fire roads and trails around Washington and I had always planned on getting out to Anza Burrego to get comfy with the big 'ol boxer off road but something always got in the way. Needless to say my pace at the start was sedate to say the least, but Ropey, being the patient chap he is, didn't mind waiting for me to catch up.


We We had a route from Santa Veronica to Mike's Sky ranch from a colleague of mine at work programmed into both GPS's and it was at this time that Ropey's Zumo crapped out, so it was left to my trusty old GPS V from here on out. However ... as the GPS was on my bike and I was concentrating on riding offroad we soon wandered off the given route. A quick look at the map (and the fact that my colleague is a dirt bike racer and a bit of a Baja vet so his trail was a tad more ...challenging) we decided that the trail we were on was a main one and we took it all way down to the Mex 3.



We took this East until we picked up the trail to Mikes. Now, up until now I was starting to get comfy offroad. I was stood up on the pegs and feeling my way about by weighting the pegs to go where I wanted and I'd found my happy place in second gear and all was right with the world. Until I found sand. Damn I hate sand. Admittedly a fully laden 1150 probably isn't the learner bike of choice and boy did it show. As soon as that sand was as deep as the rim I was sat in the seat and paddling... and wandering all over the place. Ropey was doing better than me (with his 21" front wheel ... that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it) and kept pointing out that with sand speed is your friend. So next time I got into sand I tried the old gas and go for the very first time... and then got to pick up the boxer by myself for the very first time. At this stage I was beginning to wonder if I'd taken the duplicate kit thing a bit to far and left my cajones at home and resolved to have my wife check the garage and fed-ex my testicles to Mikes Sky ranch!!!



Finally, we were within sight of Mikes ... the only thing between us and our destination was a fast moving and seemingly deep water crossing. Having read all the right books (and being a Jeeper for a good few years) I suggested to Ropey that we should walk the crossing first to check it out. Ropey, being a good friend and having read the same books, suggested that as it was my idea that I should be the one to do it. So out I went. The water was moving at a fair rate and it was pretty tricky to keep balanced against the flow. It went up to just above my knees at the deepest point (I'm 5'9") and subsequently over the top of my boots, but seemed OK. It went from a rocky bottom on our side to a silty, sandy one at the other. As I was already in it, Ropey moved forward and went across slowly with me holding onto the luggage rack and got across just fine. I went across perhaps a little too cautiously and stalled the boxer when I got into the silt but she chugged her way out of it.



So, with daylight dwindling, we squelched our way into Mikes where we met a group of riders from the same area as Ropey up in Seattle. Having dragged all our camping kit with us we promptly decided against using any of it and got a room along with the accompanying steak dinner. Perfect.


Chatting with our new found friends they couldn't believe that we were using these big beemers around Baja .. when another group of 3 Boxer GS's turned up this time with a group of Polish riders! So Beer flowed, Tequila went down (at this stage the fed-ex man hadn’t arrived so I passed on the Tequila) and stories were swapped (have all MX'er's broken their back at some time???) and that was the end of day one.


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Old 09-11-2010, 04:51 PM   #7
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After Mikes

Up and Breakfast at Mikes. Great way to start the day. We started out a little slower than usual and didn't get rolling until around 10AM. Talking with the 'crosser lads and lasses the previous night (and looking at their helmet cam footage) we decided that the route out of the back of Mikes, although doable, would be a monumental rocky pain in the ass so we decided to just head back out the way we came in which wasn't too shabby a route either. First to break camp were our Polish friends ... one,. two made it across the creek crossing but number three got to within spitting distance of the far bank and let the bimmer topple over in the water. No water sucked into the motor so no harm no foul. Being old hands at this now, Ropey and I breezed across .... although I'll admit that seeing someone fall over didn't fill me with confidence!



Having said that, I felt a lot more confident on the big boxer and managed to pick my speed up a bit...... until the sand reappeared. Cue Boxer down for the second time. Are we keeping count? Two days, two drops. This time though I had to wait for Ropey to come back and help pick it up. Scratch that, I had to wait for Ropey to come back, stop, take a picture, then help pick it up.





By the time we got back down to Mex 3 we decided that we should put in a little slab time to get South so we rode over to Mex 5 and headed down. I'm sure we bypassed some really cool stuff, but the method to our madness was twofold. 1. At my pace, although improving, we'd be stuck in Baja Norte and 2. Discussions over beer the previous night taught us that the San Felipe area was known for deep sand. So no ... in fact, hell no! Watching the scenery go by I decided we made the right choice ... it definitely looked a tad sandy.



We made some pretty good time and encountered our first Military checkpoints as we hit the coast just North Of San Felipe. Between my limited Spanish and some well thought out English question for the Young Chap at the checkpoint we were soon back on our way. A word to the Mexican Military ... Can't you replace the FN FAL's these boys had? Bloody rifle was damn near the same size as the kid holding it!



It was also on the run South that we started hitting the 'Dips' in the road. Dips is a little misleading as the gouged tarmac and skidmarks surrounding these things showed! Even loooking for them you could mis-judge your speed and more than a couple of them bottomed out the suspension. They must be lethal at night. We got down quite away before we got detoured off by San Luis.



This was good time as I was starting to get a little bored with the slab and the whole point of the trip was to ride off the pavement. The original two track the road was following was pretty good but did have some fair sized rocks that pinged and banged off the undercarriage (armoured courtesy of touratech of course).



During this time I was getting really quite happy offroad and Ropey took the time to hit some of the sandier trails that ran right along side so we crisscrossed for a while (Well Ropey crisscrossed, I just rode in a straight line!). After a while though I fell back a bit and Ropey would ride ahead a bit and wait.



It was starting to get a bit late in the day at this time and while waiting for me to catch up, Ropey got chatting to a chap on a KTM named Rob... We'd be bumping into him quite a bit the following day. After talking to Rob we decided to camp out on the beach under a Palapa at Alfonsina/Campo Ranch Grande.



Soon, the tents were up for the first time, beers and ice were procured (and the Jesse ice box was established) and we settled to set the world to rights.



One thing that's cool about Baja is the fact that there's always someone around with a bunch of local knowledge. We were soon talking to a chap who had been coming to the same area for nigh on 20 years. We picked his brain as best we could and settled back down to the task in hand ... which was making a healthy dent in a number of Dos Equis. The beer meant that we found the decoration of the outhouse hugely amusing. Here we were by the beach, in Mexico and the trap had a Christmas theme ... or felice navidad I should say!



About this time the wind started picking up so we called it a night and retired to our tents. Then the wind continued to pick up and was soon howling. How could such an idyllic setting turn into the worse night I ever spent in a tent??!! My tent was practically flat all night and the sand just blew though the mesh which resulted in a constant fine sand rain all night!! I did find it amusing that during the night the huge trash can that was thoughtfully placed for our beer bottles blew over and clobbered Ropey on its way out to sea!
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Old 12-12-2012, 10:41 AM   #8
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Good lord, talk about back from the dead! We started this thread a few months after our trip to Baja, and then for one reason or another paused our tale once more … well it’s about time I finish it. Don’t worry, the words will be brief.

So where were we …? Oh yes, recovering from a dust storm by the Christmas Crapper.

Next morning dawned bright and clear, hard to believe the crappy night we had.



Emptied all the sand out of boots, tents and various orifices, and headed off to see Coco.



He was doing well, and is such an amazing character. The other gentleman in the photo, who’s name I am embarrassed to say I cannot recall, would feature again, later in our story …

The flowers were out.



From Coco’s we headed back to the pavement briefly playing leap frog with our European friends on their 1200s, before turning off to Bahia de los Angeles, where we stopped for lunch.



The next part of our route took us off the beaten track a little, out to San Franciscuito. The track was a little rocky, a little sandy, but generally good. Abandoned rusted out hulks were everywhere.




Our cadence at this point was that we would ride for an hour or so, and as I was riding a little quicker, I would typically wait somewhere for Chris to arrive, have a little chat and a drink and then we would set off again. On one of these stops, Chris took longer than usual to arrive. A lot longer …I had a good sightline for about half a mile back, and there was no sign of him. Strange. With dread forming in the pit of my stomach, I turned it around and headed back the way I had come. Off in the distance I saw someone stood in the track, with no bike …. At least he is standing, but where did Helga go?!



Oh, crap … Turns out Chris had hit a soft spot, washed out the front end and by the time he’d recovered it, found he had taken a sharp right turn … off the road and into the rocks. The front end dug in and the whole bike flipped over.



Chris’ hands are hurting bad, but otherwise he is okay. And very lucky. Just as we are trying to get the bike back on the track, along comes our friend from Cocos. He helps put Chris back together.



While I tend to Helga’s injuries.



The good news at this point is that the bike works, Chris works and we can get out of here under our own power. We decide to turn tail and head back to Bahia, where we know there are hotels.

Chris is not a happy fellow at this point. Bouncing over the rocks with messed up hands is not a good day out.



This is NOT what we had planned, but we are safe, and we have beer. And you know what they say ... adventure starts when the planning ends ....

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Old 12-13-2012, 10:23 AM   #9
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Our cadence at this point was that we would ride for an hour or so, and as I was riding a little quicker, I would typically wait somewhere for Chris to arrive, have a little chat and a drink and then we would set off again. On one of these stops, Chris took longer than usual to arrive. A lot longer …I had a good sightline for about half a mile back, and there was no sign of him. Strange. With dread forming in the pit of my stomach, I turned it around and headed back the way I had come. Off in the distance I saw someone stood in the track, with no bike …. At least he is standing, but where did Helga go?!



Oh, crap … Turns out Chris had hit a soft spot, washed out the front end and by the time he’d recovered it, found he had taken a sharp right turn … off the road and into the rocks. The front end dug in and the whole bike flipped over.




Chris is not a happy fellow at this point. Bouncing over the rocks with messed up hands is not a good day out.



I know thet feeling!!

Glad he's ok.

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Old 12-17-2012, 10:39 AM   #10
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The morning after. Chris’ hands were still too sore to ride, so we figured out a plan. I would take off for a couple of days on my own, leaving Chris licking his wounds at the hotel. When I returned, we would figure out how he was feeling and decide whether to send for a truck from the US or whether we could ride out.

A quick repack to make sure I had all of the tools, water and fuel I would need, and I headed off once again, this time alone. My Zumo, which took a crap on day one was replaced by Chris’ GPS V.




After a while, I passed by the shrine of broken Helga parts from the day before.




Swung by this beautiful spot to stop, though it was too early for me to camp.




I saw few other vehicles all day, and was both unnerved by and enjoyed the solitude.




San Francisquito. Time to take the boots off and relax.




Rays were playing at the waters edge.




Damn, this is a beautiful spot.




I went down to the little restaurant, thinking about treating myself to dinner, but it was full of lounging soldiers. They eyed me suspiciously, and I decided to grab some beers, retire to my palapa and cook for myself.

The sun started setting, the bay was gorgeous, and I was just sorry Chris wasn’t here to share in the moment.








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Old 12-17-2012, 04:06 PM   #11
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Baja ....someday
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Old 12-17-2012, 06:41 PM   #12
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Mexican Army

Man , we partied hard , with those guys !! Was a hoot - Rosa , had a big ole taco feed and invited those guys over . Their camp is justa short ways from where you camped .

I went to my sleeping bag at prolly 2 am ....I couldn't do any more !!

When the sun hit my face at ?? 5 am ?? those army boys were still singing away ....

Oh man they let off some steam !! They are very proud of what they are doing .

Great guys - They were as curious about us , as we were, about them !!

I'll never forget that night !! Rosa was up early , had coffee made , and was wonderin if we were hungry !

What a place to chill for several days !!

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Old 12-20-2012, 02:24 PM   #13
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I spent the night curled up on the sand, the tent didn’t seem worth the effort, and was rewarded by the starriest night sky I have ever seen, and a beautiful sunrise the next day.




Early morning start and I high tailed it West. The going was sandy, but okay.




Jackass.




Smile for the camera




I meandered the desert for a while, heading out towards Guerro Negro, before looping back towards Chris and Bajia De LA through the Cirios.




As is my usual way when I am solo, I kept riding too much, and took too few photos. By mid afternoon, Chris and I were sitting on the step of the hotel drinking beers and planning our way out of there. A couple of days rest had done Chris’ hands wonders, and he felt up to riding out on the pavement.

It had been a good couple of days off on my own, and I was glad to get some more dirt miles under the wheels, but now it looked like our little trip was going to draw to a premature end.
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