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Old 04-09-2011, 03:56 PM   #1
Coyote63 OP
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"Three Guys Riding in Baja" or "The Chronicles of San Quintín"

It was 3:30am. We had been waiting to cross the border back into Gringo-landia for about two hours.



It would be another hour before we flashed our passports at the US Border and then another two before we hit Rancho Santa Margarita for a three-hour nap. We were running on 23 hours without sleep. A few hours earlier, back at the McDonald’s parking lot in Ensenada, the following important "rules" had been agreed to for our next Baja trip:


1. Never crash or, if you must crash, do so gingerly.
2. Never ride motorcycles in salt water.
3. Never, ever, submerge motorcycles in salt water.
4. Never leave one another's sight for more than 30 seconds.
5. Never, ever, ever, ride motorcycles on Mexican highways at night.
6. Always plan for the unforeseeable.


DAY ONE
Despite what others (like so-called friends, relatives, etc.) might say, our excursions pretty much always go smoothly, but I have to admit this one got off to a rocky start. I flew into SoCal from Seattle on Wednesday morning, a day early, so we could "do last-minute prep on the bikes" before driving down to Ensenada, Mexico early Thursday.


The staging site was my brother's house in RSM. He was going to ride the XR650 (BRP), I was borrowing my nephew's CRF 450x, and The Expert on the team, our sister's husband, was trucking his 530 EXC over from Nevada. He was scheduled to arrive late Wednesday night.

After picking me up from John Wayne Airport, my brother drove us home to RSM. We opened the garage and discovered this:




Note the look of utter disbelief and horror on my brother's face. (From here on out I'll affectionately refer to him as Great B'wana BRP Rider or GBBRPR for short.) We were shocked to find that the 450x had inexplicably dismounted from its secure perch atop the 5-gallon motorcycle maintenance stand. After frantic inspection, we decided the 450 hadn’t sustained serious damage. ("Wait, why are the wheels missing from the 450x?!" Short answer: they're away getting new rubber. Notice the wheels are also missing from the BRP, as seen in the far right of the pic. My "rent" for riding the 450x in Baja was buying new tires. Fair enough. My "rent" might still end up being considerably higher if the salt water works all its magic, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Since the 450x was not damaged and we were hungry, we put it back on the trusty 5-gallon maintenance stand and went to get lunch and pick up the wheels with new treads.


Here are GBBRPR and his wife at Fisherman’s in San Clemente, where we dined on a bucket of clams and other seafood delicacies.




Notice her look of trust and admiration as GBBRPR explains the extensive planning and preparation for Baja Excursion 2011.

After lunch, we picked up the newly mounted tires for the BRP and the 450 and headed home to put them on the bikes. There was also other “critical tinkering” that needed doing. (Sorry for the technical mechanic’s terms.)





Once the tires were returned to their rightful places, GBBRPR decided we needed to go for a quick ride up a local canyon, named, of all things, Holy Jim. He wanted to make sure I still remembered how to ride. We grew up on Yamaha TY250’s (Bing that) and a borrowed XR500 back in the late 70’s, but admittedly I haven’t done a lot of riding as a grown-up (I first wrote “adult,” but then decided that was too generous.).


Back in 2004, I bought a very sweet 450 EXC which I absolutely loved. I rode it for a couple of years until The Day I Almost Died. Here are a couple of my most memorable pictures of the EXC.






The submersion theme is an unfortunate trend for me.

Accessing Holy Jim canyon required riding on local STREETS. I hadn’t ridden on STREETS since I was 21 and it made me very nervous. I’m allergic to death by blunt trauma or anything similar. Over the years I’ve noticed that most (automobile) drivers don’t notice motorcycles and this has led to unfortunate consequences for bikers a few times.





There were no near-misses en route to Holy Jim, however, and as soon as we got to a nice dirt road, my nerves calmed down a lot. We rode up Holy Jim a few miles and I started to feel more comfortable on the 450x.





We returned to GBBRPR’s house in RSM and I was relieved that I had not been killed. I was starting to get pretty excited (giddy as a school girl) for the trip. The stresses of the office were falling away. We had a nice dinner and I hit the hay early. Our sister’s husband showed up sometime around midnight, but by then I had been in my CPAP-induced slumber for a couple of hours.



A lot of guys don’t like their sister’s husband. And sometimes with good reason. But our sister married a heck of a great guy. We knew we were going to like him when we heard he rode motorcycles. We were in awe when we learned that he actually did desert racing and had won a bunch of races. He married our sister about ten years ago and it’s been good ever since.



The three of us have been on a couple of bike trips over the years (the ill-fated Rex Expedition I to the Grand Canyon, the somewhat more successful Rex Expedition II, also across northern Arizona to the Grand Canyon). Since he knows everything about bikes and riding bikes, I’ll call him The Expert or TE for short.



I’m not sure why TE agrees to ride with us, really. We’re not even close to his motorcycle league. But for some reason, he puts up with us and we always have a good time. He’s also incredibly resourceful, knowledgeable, and a Voice of Reason, so he’s basically our safety net. Again, I have no idea what he sees in us.




We had agreed to leave RSM at 4:30 Thursday morning. At 3:30 I was wide awake and ready to go. I was actually jittery with excitement. I got up, got dressed and went downstairs to the garage. I fussed around with my gear, went outside to look at the bikes, check out the weather, and so on. I took this picture around 4:00. Technically, I guess this was the start of DAY TWO…








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Coyote63 screwed with this post 04-30-2011 at 11:44 AM
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Old 04-09-2011, 06:56 PM   #2
drex
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Really?

So, brother, you're really telling this story? I'll be happy to read along and provide needed corrections and enhancements.

Bolt-ons as it were.

I anticipate these to be the first of many:

1. In the McDonalds parking lot in Ensenada the most memorable utterance was when I said "Hey boys, what's going on?" I'd missed you, since it had been many hours since I last saw you...

2. The look on my face in the garage quickly translated into: "Who threw the 450 on the floor of the garage and why?" Whoever it was, please don't do it again.

3. Also, next time you're up at 4:00 stay in the house, it'll keep the neighbors from calling the police...again.

4. For previous expeditions of a similar failed nature, please see this thread: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78397

Dan -- GG what?
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Old 04-09-2011, 08:33 PM   #3
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Laugh

Quote:
Originally Posted by drex View Post
So, brother, you're really telling this story? I'll be happy to read along and provide needed corrections and enhancements.

Bolt-ons as it were.

I anticipate these to be the first of many:

1. In the McDonalds parking lot in Ensenada the most memorable utterance was when I said "Hey boys, what's going on?" I'd missed you, since it had been many hours since I last saw you...

2. The look on my face in the garage quickly translated into: "Who threw the 450 on the floor of the garage and why?" Whoever it was, please don't do it again.

3. Also, next time you're up at 4:00 stay in the house, it'll keep the neighbors from calling the police...again.

4. For previous expeditions of a similar failed nature, please see this thread: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=78397

Dan -- GG what?
Yeah, yeah, whatever.
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Old 04-11-2011, 06:53 AM   #4
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Day two

DAY TWO
We pulled out of GBBRPR’s (a.k.a. Drex’s) driveway pretty close to 4:30am and headed south. Someplace around San Diego, we stopped and picked up some breakfast at a nameless burrito place. Here’s a good shot of The Expert chowing down AND driving:





Crossing the border was a non-event and we arrived in Ensenada around 10am and drove to a nice gated community where we planned to leave the truck with friends of Drex. Really nice people and a beautiful home. We didn’t plan on seeing them again until we returned from our adventure two days later, but fate had other plans for us.

Here are a few pic’s of Drex with his friends, their place, and me pulling on my boots on the back of TE’s truck.










We took the obligatory “before” picture and then headed out to ride through Ensenada, south to Santo Tomás.




Personally, I was terrified riding through Ensenada. Drex and The Expert seemed totally nonplussed. Drex took this fascinating picture of a huge Mexican flag:




The weather was nice, with temps in the upper 60’s. The ride out of Ensenada and down Mexico Highway 1 to Santo Tomás was beautiful, but the semi-trucks and others on the two-lane got my heart racing. The most interesting incident, though, was slowing down at the military checkpoint, where the teenagers with guns just waved us through.

We stopped at Santo Tomás and grabbed a quick snack at a colorful roadside store. Those familiar with the area will surely know its name, but I don’t recall it now. It was very apparent that gringo baja riders and drivers were frequent visitors there – stickers and paraphernalia everywhere.

We posed and took some pictures of each other – well, mainly of Drex. It all seemed so peaceful and pleasant…







Isn’t Drex photogenic?



The English on the storefront is a dead giveaway for their target market.

We hopped back on the bikes, left the pavement, and headed West toward the Pacific. The dirt road climbing up out of Santo Tomás and through the hills between the highway and the ocean was in decent shape and we opened up the throttles. I was pleasantly surprised to see how quickly we found ourselves in beautiful, panoramic farmland winding our way between rolling hills. We stopped at an especially nice spot and took some more pictures.












We’d been drinking in the beautiful countryside for about ten minutes when another group of riders showed up. I think there were eleven of them, almost all riding KTM’s. They pulled up and we had some friendly conversation. Drex had been in touch with the group’s leader here on AdvRider. I think they had shared some GPS tracks. It was something of a coincidence to run into them down there at that very moment.



We preferred to ride with our small group, so we took off again toward the ocean after just a few minutes, hoping to put some distance between ourselves and the larger group.

Drex and The Expert had decided that the safe place for me was between the two of them, so TE led out, I followed, and Drex brought up the rear.



The dirt road over to the ocean was a blast to ride and we took it at pretty good speed. I managed to drench myself crossing a stream and then the dust from the road started turning to mud all over me and my gear. Aaargh. I looked (unusually) like a dufus.


TE and I stopped when we got to the crest of the hills overlooking the Pacific. We took some pictures of each other and waited for Drex.





Yeah, my helmet fell off the bike and rolled down the hill.

We expected Drex to be right on our tails, but he wasn’t. After a few minutes, I said I was a little worried that maybe he had laid it down. TE figured that he had just stopped to take some pictures and would catch up soon. We waited another five minutes or so, but no Drex.

We turned the bikes around and headed back up the road toward Santo Tomás. After just a few minutes, we ran into the large group of KTM riders coming our way. The boss stopped and told me that Drex had indeed crashed and that he was a bit scraped up and had broken the BRP’s shift lever. He said that Drex seemed to be OK and was limping our way. The KTM guys took off, headed South to San Quintín where they planned to spend the night at The Old Mill, same as us.

Drex showed up just a few minutes later. He seemed a little shaken, but no biggie. Evidently, the BRP had gotten away from him in a turn and they went down. He said that his left forearm and elbow were hurting and wanted to take a look at it. He got his jersey off and we checked things out. It looked nasty, so we took some pictures for some as yet unknown but presumably crucial medical purposes.

His left elbow had a big hole in it. Somehow a rock had lodged under his elbow guard while he was skidding along the ground, tearing out a good chunk of skin in the process.



Fortunately, the right arm had fared better…





He had a big tear in his left pant leg, right over the knee, but the knee guard had saved the skin, etc., from any damage.

This great close-up shows just how nasty the left elbow gash was. Drex couldn’t get himself to look at the wound, so he never saw it until we showed him the pictures later. He was duly impressed.



We had some wet wipes, so we cleaned up both arms the best we could. Evidently that didn’t tickle, but Drex was pretty darn good about it. TE and I couldn’t tell if the big hole had rocks in it or not. We decided what looked like rocks was actually fatty blobs.

Once we got the left arm as clean as we could, we slathered a bunch of Neosporin on it, covered it up with a Maxi pad, and taped it all in place. There was no question that the gash needed stitches. The question was where to get them.

Just as we were pondering this question, a mini-pickup came by heading north and I flagged them down. My Spanish is decent, so I asked the two guys and a girl where the nearest place was to get stitches. They said we could keep heading south about 20 minutes to Erendira and see the doctor there or just stop in at the “yellow and green” house only 10 minutes down the road, where there was someone who was pretty good with a needle. They wished us good luck and roared off.

Drex and TE had been to Erendira on a previous adventure and quickly scratched the idea of seeing a doc there. Stopping at the “yellow and green” house was right out. We’re adventurous, but we’re also not too stupid, so we figured we needed to get to a proper (Mexican) medical clinic. Besides, the BRP had
broken shift lever and kickstand and we had no spares, so we were going to have to get to a town with both a clinic and a place to buy parts.
.




The thought of turning completely around and heading back to Ensenada was a bummer, but there really didn’t seem to be any other choice…
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"Every time I start thinking the world is all bad, then I see some people out having a good time on motorcycles. It makes me take another look."

--Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday

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Old 04-12-2011, 12:03 PM   #5
TallRob
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Thats what I call do-it-yourself lipo suction. One fat cell at a time. Two huge fat cells at the top there I see. Splash some vodka on it then wrap it up with some duct tape....Ride on! Arrrgh!
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Old 04-12-2011, 04:13 PM   #6
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Thats what I call do-it-yourself lipo suction. One fat cell at a time. Two huge fat cells at the top there I see. Splash some vodka on it then wrap it up with some duct tape....Ride on! Arrrgh!

Do-it-yourself liposuction is right, though I'm not sure Drex would recommend it!!
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--Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday

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Old 04-12-2011, 08:02 PM   #7
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Hell of a wound. Great report so far.
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Old 04-16-2011, 11:46 PM   #8
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Laugh DAY TWO (continued)

We hopped back on the bikes and headed toward Ensenada. That meant hoofin’ back down the same (great) dirt road to Santo Tomás. Drex was hurting pretty good, but hanging tough. The maxi-pad bandage and Neosporin seemed to be keeping the wound in check. The kickstand on the BRP was dragging after taking some significant damage in the crash. We stopped, fished some duct tape out, and wrapped it up tight. That fix didn’t last too well. By the time we hit the military check-point between Santo Tomás and Ensenada, it was dragging again.

For some reason, the machinegun-armed teenagers didn’t wave us through this time and made us stop and open up our backpacks. Nothing in there but clothes, gear, tools, and jerky, so let us through without any hassle. We got past the military checkpoint and Drex stopped to check out the kickstand. It was trashed. He gave it a good swift kick and broke it all the way off. I think it’s still lying on the roadside down there. (Hey Drex, you're supposed to leave no trace! )

Drex called ahead to his friends in Ensenada and let them know we were headed back for stitches. They agreed to meet us at a clinic they trusted.

TE and Drex remembered seeing a Honda dealership on the main street in Ensenada. (I had seen nothing, since I was terrified and keeping an eye out for semi-trucks, burros, or anything else that might cause me blunt trauma.)

We figured we’d go to the Honda dealership first. First things, first, right? The clinic would probably be open all night, but the Honda dealership could well close by 5:00 or 6:00pm. We rolled in around 4:30, I think. The dealer’s stock was a little comical – mainly smaller cc street bikes that looked like they be best used by couriers. The showroom was sparkling clean. Here’s a picture of Drex and TE outside the dealership. The Honda mechanic is in the background. He was actually super helpful. I don’t remember who the guy was helping Drex inspect the BRP – a curious bystander, as I recall.



Here’s TE enjoying the frivolity at the Honda dealership. It was around this time we learned that they had zero parts. Yeah, we got a little dusty that day.



Here’s a close-up of the broken shift lever. You can see that the kickstand is unhappy too. (Yeah, I know -- I showed this picture before -- but it's the only good one I've got! So hold the anachronistic wisecracks! )



The friendly guys at the Honda dealership said they were sure they could scrounge up a shift lever for us. (By the way, our 7th agreement was never to ride in Baja without a good supply of spare levers. A word to the wise. This is where the vets jump in and tell us that we’ve got no business being down there. Hey, it’s a free world and this is adventuring.)

We headed to the clinic with a promise from the Honda mechanic that he’d call us when he found a shift lever. He was sure he knew a friend of a friend that would have one.

The fun started once we got to the clinic. Being Baja, the doctors and nurses had treated more than one crazy gringo who had messed himself up on a bike in their territory. Business as usual. Drex went in to get stitched while TE and I watched the bikes out on the street. After a while, I went in to check on him. He had just recovered from nearly passing out from nausea and the nurse was giving him a shot of something when I walked in. That seemed to settle down his stomach.

Here are a few pic’s of Drex getting stitched up…










Took the following picture after the first couple of internal stitches. He still had quite a few more to go.



We got the arm stitched up and the doc warned Drex to take it easy and not do any more riding for a few days. Yeah, right. Being the Great B’Wana, Drex was feeling like he had to lead us back out into the wild to finish our expedition. He wasn’t about to call it quits and head home. Way to go, Drex – sacrifice your body for the sake of adventure and manly men everywhere!!

We had to stop at three pharmacies to get all the drugs and ointments the doc prescribed, including a huge 12 oz tube of some kind of antibiotic (“It’s the only size we have!”) Then we went to dinner with Drex’s friends. We had a terrific seafood meal. Can’t remember where. Maybe Drex will chime in.

Afterward we went to get TE’s backpack sewed up since one of the straps had ripped off. Found a great leather shop that did that repair lickety-split and for cheap. By the time all that was done, it was 9:00pm and we needed to find a place to crash. We also needed to get a shift lever.

Drex’s friends said they knew just the place for us to stay, including an underground garage where we could leave the bikes and not worry too much. We followed them to a swank local hotel – the kind of place I’d take my wife and kids, but not nearly macho enough for “three guys ridin’ baja.” But we didn’t complain too much. It was spendy, though -- $175 for the night for the three of us.

TE took these pictures just as we were settling in. Pretty nice digs. “Marina” something, as I recall. We were roughing it.





Sometime afterward, Drex’s cell rang and it was a friend of the friend of the Honda mechanic. He agreed to bring the shift lever to the hotel. Nice service! I think it set back Drex about $50. But, hey, no riding without a shift lever!

Here’s a picture of Drex holding up the broken shift lever while TE attached the replacement. (Notice the slightly drug-induced look of stupor in his eyes. He was entertaining!)



This adventure was NOT over. The next day would hold more surprises for the three amigos, including my classic submarining of the 450x.

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--Steve McQueen, On Any Sunday

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Old 04-17-2011, 06:54 PM   #9
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TE agrees to go so that your wives can sleep at night. And I sleep well at night knowing his life insurance premiums have been paid.

Big brother get cracking on this report. I'm waiting to hear how you drowned another bike.
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:25 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by SunshineAllYear View Post
TE agrees to go so that your wives can sleep at night. And I sleep well at night knowing his life insurance premiums have been paid.

Big brother get cracking on this report. I'm waiting to hear how you drowned another bike.

Hey, this is ART, and ART can't be rushed. Besides I have this darn day job that constantly gets in the way of my life!!
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Old 04-18-2011, 02:56 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Coyote63 View Post
The fun started once we got to the clinic. Being Baja, the doctors and nurses had treated more than one crazy gringo who had messed himself up on a bike in their territory. Business as usual. Drex went in to get stitched while TE and I watched the bikes out on the street. After a while, I went in to check on him. He had just recovered from nearly passing out from nausea and the nurse was giving him a shot of something when I walked in. That seemed to settle down his stomach.



We got the arm stitched up and the doc warned Drex to take it easy and not do any more riding for a few days
Nice little write-up. Hey, just curious. How much does it cost for a Mexican clinic to stitch up a gringo these days? Insurance, cash, credit or other?
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:29 PM   #12
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Nice little write-up. Hey, just curious. How much does it cost for a Mexican clinic to stitch up a gringo these days? Insurance, cash, credit or other?

Excellent question. We all took out cross-border insurance before we left the US of A, but it was tricky trying to use it at the clinic, so we just paid cash and I think that Drex was going to submit the claim once we got back home. Not sure if he did or what happened. I think we paid about $200 cash for the stitch-up, as I recall.
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Old 04-18-2011, 03:53 PM   #13
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Mex Med Care

Quote:
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Nice little write-up. Hey, just curious. How much does it cost for a Mexican clinic to stitch up a gringo these days? Insurance, cash, credit or other?
Yo -- I paid the equivalent of USD$218 with the debit Mastercard at the Hospital Velmar -- what I understand to be the nicest private hospital in Ensenada. Perhaps there are clinics that are a bit more posh, dunno.

I submitted my insurance claim and was told it would take 30 days to process - coming up soon on that date.

All in all, I was happy with the care -- and my doc back in CA even approved of the stitching -- but not of my decision to keep riding for another couple days. When I told him he looked at my wife and said "I thought he was smarter than that."

Apparently not.
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Old 04-18-2011, 04:05 PM   #14
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Good stuff. Thanks for the replies.

Great info for us SoCal riders who venture down south. And fall a lot.

Nice to know we can be stitched up reasonably well for a reasonable price.
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Old 04-20-2011, 12:21 PM   #15
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I'm working on another post. The Muses are cooperating, but my day job is not. In the meantime, Drex just got back from ANOTHER Baja ride. Ridiculous!
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