|BAJA SUR, HURRICANE PAUL DAMAGE, and MORE
“What do you mean you didn’t bring your bike registration” I stated. Rucker responded, “But I have the title to the bike, that’s even better.” I countered with, “The Border Guards will insist on seeing your registration—they could care less about your title.” I further stated that I had emailed everyone about this specific documentation. And so my frustration was building before we hit the Border.
We soon crossed over into Tijuana. We got a young lady who spoke perfect English and could read the same. She would not accept the title, but rather held out for the registration. And she further pointed out that the license plate from Arizona had an expired registration, 2011.
I can still picture in my mind her walking over to a large and secure metal gate, opening the same, and beckoning us to pass through it. On our way through, she gave Rucker back his title to the bike. We were in a very short line to pass back into the US. It didn’t take but a few moments to pass the US Border Patrol check and find ourselves on the 805 freeway.
We contacted Steve Brown and Frank Hodgson who had made it to San Isidro next to the Border. At my insistence, we all met at a copy center in a strip mall in San Isidro. We would work up something to get back across the Border and on down to Ensenada, our destination today. It occurred to Bruce that he might have a registration for the bike at home. We ended up having his wife, Marci, find the document and re-type the expiration date to “2013” pasting it on the original registration. While waiting for her fax, I reshaped the “2011” sticker on the Arizona license plate into something else that looked like it might work. With faxed, altered registration in hand, both rigs lined up at the Border.
We crossed over and were directed to a spot way far to the right from where we had entered before. There were two young, male officers who glanced at the paperwork and told us to move on. We collected Steve and Frank on the way out plus one of their walkie talkies and proceeded on to the toll road to Ensenada.
We made three stops on the toll road paying $3 each time before entering Ensenada at 15:00 and entering the parking lot of Hotel Bahia. I paid the guard on duty extra to watch our stuff and came back later to pay the night guard as well. We checked in and secured five rooms facing the parking lot instead of the street which can be noisy at night. Rucker and I check into a room paying $50.
The four of us were hungry, so we ate a late lunch sitting at a table on the street in front of the restaurant. We visited with the owner of the restaurant who told us that business was down because of the reported violence in the media. She said that there were not so many of the cruise ships docking in Ensenada across from our hotel.
After eating we checked the hotel’s parking lot and discovered the rest of fellows had arrived in two rigs. We are now four rigs and 10 riders. We greeted Nate and Travis Everett, Bob Condie and his brother, Tom, and Robert Rainey and Jerry Newitt. The six of them checked in the hotel and headed out for a taco before our Rider’s Meeting.
We held our Rider’s Meeting at the hotel that evening and went over some pertinent details and safety issues both on and off the trail. We plan on leaving at 06:00 in the morning, Saturday, for San Ignacio, a 465 mile drive. We were able to get off some texts on our telephone before retiring.
We departed from the Hotel Bahia parking lot at 06:00. The guard greeted us as we exited the parking lot. He indicated that all was well. We stopped in Colonet for fuel thinking a taco stand would be open, but no luck. En route Rucker suggested that the 10 of us take lunch at the mariscos stands just north of San Quintin. So, we had the mariscos soup that they served up with every sea critter known to man. Good, but not that good!
Our next stop was in El Rosario for fuel. We are able to pay with a credit card at most Pemex fuel stops. After El Rosario, we took a rest stop in Catavina stopping at the small tienda across from the Hotel Mision Catavina. Yup, we ran into the weird American dude who bums for pesos.
While we were stopped in at the tienda, we visited with a couple of riders on Suzuki V-Strom 650 Adventures. They reported the damage that Hurricane Paul had done further south including Mulege and north of Loreto.
We stopped in Jesus Maria for fuel and home-made tamales before crossing into Baja Sur at the 28th parallel. The tamales are delicious sold at the small stand by the Pemex. When crossed into the 28th parallel we had to pay 20 pesos to have our vehicle underside sprayed with a pesticide. I tried to get out of the payment by stating that we charged 20 pesos apiece for the hat I had just given the jefe in charge of the pesticide spray unit—didn’t work.
Just outside San Ignacio we passed through a Mexican Military inspection stop. This is the most rigorous of any we have passed thus far. They want to look at everything it seems even though we used the phrase “Baja Mil” implying connection with pre-runners with the SCORE Baja 1000. But were soon waved on our way. We stopped at the local Pemex to fill up the vehicles before proceeding to our accommodations for the evening at the Desert Inn Hotel. The hotel floor plan perfectly matches the one in Catavina. We paid 650 pesos per room. Before going to our room, I met with the night guard and paid him cash, including a hat and knife, to watch our vehicles for the week while we were on the trail—nice guy. Never a problem when one connects with the night guard.
We headed for the town square and ended up at Tota’s for dinner. Most everyone had the shrimp plate cooked in garlic butter. After dinner we hurried back to the hotel to arrange our backpacks for tomorrow. We also set up the hotel’s Wi-Fi on our telephones for the internet, and sent texts home. We changed our clocks setting them back an hour. Mexico goes off daylight savings tomorrow. After clearing a few small frogs out of our room, we were fast asleep.
Everyone was up by 06:15 and making plans to leave for Bahia Tortugas. Breakfast in our room consisted of a banana accompanied with granola. We were able to store our bags and such in Steve and Frank’s room, #114, as we will be returning to stay another night on Monday evening. The bikes were parked in front of our room making it easy to ready ourselves for the day’s ride.
We got off to a great departure at 07:45. And as we approached the young Mexican military personnel and their checkpoint, it was obvious they were going to want to search our backpacks of all things. But, to their credit, it was superficial and we were soon on our way down Hwy 1 towards Viscaino and a Pemex, 46 miles on pavement. Our group of 5 motorcycles filled up and was ready for departure. Brown and Hodgson had not arrived yet, but would soon catch up as well as both Condie brothers.
The five of us passed by the Asuncion Junction, 49 miles from our fuel stop and proceeded on to the Malarrimo Beach turnoff, another 25 miles on dirt and roads under construction. It won’t be long until the road is paved all the way from Viscaino to Bahia Tortugas.
Soon all of us were gathered at the Malarrimo Beach turnoff and ready to proceed on a faintly marked dirt road interspersed with sandy washes. This route was marked by Bob Condie found through the use of Google Earth with GPS coordinates—we used this route two years ago. We had to jump out of a wash and across sandy terrain to a trail used by vehicles checking a water line installed some years ago that goes all the way into Bahia Tortugas. Fish camps along the route are privileged to use the water.
Malarrimo Beach is where the Japanese current carries flotsam and jetsam from as far as Alaska and drops it off on this north facing beach along the Baja California’s Pacific coast—a beachcomber’s paradise.
We encountered a newly built fish camp overlooking Malarrimo Beach. The fishermen were friendly and offered to show us Malarrimo Beach. A few riders took them up on the offer including Steve and Frank on the RZR. The fish-camp guys were on a quad. The remainder of us headed for the fish camp, El Queen, 37 miles from the Malarrimo Beach turnoff on packed sand with tire marks.
The folks at the first house on the edge of the El Queen fishing camp remembered us from two years ago. We stopped there momentarily before heading into Bahia Tortugas on sandy, dirt roads. Passing by a fishing camp called Malarrimo, we had 23 more miles to go to our lodging for the evening, Motel Nanci.
We stopped to fuel up before checking in to Motel Nanci. At the motel riders had their choice of a single room, or double. We were greeted by Guadalupe Camacho and her son. Her son helped us with getting situated in our rooms and furnishing soap and towels. I chose a single room. We arranged for supper to be served at 18:00. And shortly thereafter, Jose Camacho showed up with freshly caught Corvina Sea Bass for our evening meal. I greeted him with an abrazo. He is one year older than me, 75 years old; he is in great shape. His wife and daughter will prepare this evening’s meal.
Seven of the riders including the two in the RZR came in to Bahia Tortugas, fueled up and headed for Punta Eugenia and the lighthouse. It is a 34 mile round trip on dirt roads. They returned just in time for supper. However, Rucker and I opted for a shower and cleaning up.
Later in the afternoon, Rucker and I took a short ride down to the harbor. We sat ourselves at a small, open air bar overlooking the port and ocean. We spotted a couple of guys coming in from a sailboat on a small, rubber raft. As they prepared to step ashore, one of them fell totally into the ocean amusing us to no end. Luckily, he jumped up and pulled the rubber raft up onto the beach. As they approached the bar, I yelled out and told them I hadn’t got it on video and could they please reenact that clever move in the ocean. When they approached us, they both introduced themselves—they were from Germany and sailing on a rented boat. We had a nice conversation with a cold soda in hand about their journey thus far from the US and plan to go to Cabo where they could give up the craft to someone else.
Upon returning to the motel, some of us made trips to the local tienda for water and other provisions including snacks for the trail tomorrow before eating. Soon we were eating dinner—I got leg cramps in the middle of my meal. Rucker offered me a drink with electrolytes that cured my symptoms. The meal was delicious.
Each of us paid 525 pesos for a bed and two meals including breakfast in the morning. Later the son came back around stating he had only charged for 9 beds and there were 10 of us. So, we each coughed up another few pesos.
After texting home and getting a response from my wife, I hit the sack at 21:00—tired.
We did 180 miles today. Those who went to the lighthouse did 215 miles. Oh, and those who accompanied the fishermen to Malarrimo Beach logged another 15 miles or so.
We were up shortly after 06:00. I checked my tire pressure and had to add some air. I keep my air pressure around 17 in front and 15 in rear. I checked the oil in my 2012 KTM XC-W with EFI and it was down just slightly. I’m getting close to 50 mpg. I have a 3.5 gallon KTM tank which is sufficient for our rides in Baja.
We ate a nice breakfast at 07:00 and were on the road by 08:00. The first thing Bob did was to lead us off the highway and into some deep mud—ugh! We were soon on a dirt road paralleling the beach. We took time to do some beach riding before heading inland on an unmarked trail that is mostly stream bed that Bob had found. I got lost and found myself looking down at a ledge in a stream bed. I checked my GPS that Bob had downloaded for me in Ensenada and discovered I was off track. I carefully turned around and rode back to where the group was waiting. There was a tricky turn in the trail. In a mile or so we were out of the creek bed and back on the Bahia Tortugas road passing through a Mexican’s rancho—he seemed upset that we had rode through his property. It was discovered that he didn’t want us crossing his water lines.
We stopped next to the highway, and off came my riding jacket. It is so hot, both today and yesterday. One needs only a riding jersey to keep comfortable. After checking our bikes and gear, we rode a click or two down the road where we turned off to the south heading towards Puerto Nuevo, a small fishing village. We took different roads with the intention of cutting into the road leading to Bahia Asuncion.
As we rode up a hillside, we encountered a solid, metal gate. We were able to get a rider around the gate to see if we were on the right road. He came back and stated there were power lines up ahead—we knew we were headed in the right direction. Not being able to get the RZR through the closed gate, we tried turning back and going off-road running up a river bed—not a good decision. We ended up again at the locked gate. Plans were laid to drive the RZR up the hillside and around the gate with riders holding safety ropes.
Thankfully, two young Mexicans showed up with a key to the gate. We cheered them as they open the gate to let us through. I gave them 50 pesos for the bother. After a group photo, we were on the power line road headed to Asuncion, 70 miles from Bahia Tortugas, where we would fuel up. We passed by the road to Bahia San Pablo, but didn’t go into the fishing village.
We arrived in Asuncion without further incident and got gas from the only pump in town. We rested for a while with the cold drink in hand. After a short break, we were on dirt road again. Bob guided us onto a wonderful beach for some magnificent beach riding. Oh, Brown drove his RZR into a group of waterfowl and managed to deck one of them. He held up his “trophy” as we rode by. The beach seemed endless, but we soon got back on a sandy, dirt road coming into Punta Prieta, 20 miles from Asuncion. It was here that Nate decided to have a flat tire; of course it was his rear tire. This is the first flat of the ride. It didn’t take us too long to switch out the pinched tube and replace it with a new spare.
We rode hard-packed clay past La Bocana, 30 miles from Punta Prieta, and into Punta Abreojos—a short 13 miles from Punta Prieta where we fueled up from two-liter containers. They have a new Pemex at the end of town, but it is not open. We all collected here before heading out for San Ignacio, 70 miles on asphalt.
Before coming into San Ignacio we had to pass through the now infamous Military Check Point. However, this time they just waived us on as we stated aloud, “Baja Mil” to associate ourselves with the pre-runners for the 45th Annual SCORE Baja 1000—they are all over the place. And as usual, we fueled up before heading to our hotel.
This evening we dined at the hotel after retrieving our bags from Brown’s room and cleaning up. In the dining room the manager waited on us and was ever so helpful and solicitous—he made a great impression. The meal was excellent with most of us ordering a Mexican plate for 225 pesos with ice water to wash it down. The cook is the widow of the late Senor Davila who used to manage most of the La Pinta hotels. He passed away a couple of years ago from diabetes. I had the opportunity to visit with him in Catavina before he passed away.
There wasn’t much conversation this evening before most of us retired. However, there were those who wrenched on Jerry’s bike, a 2006 Honda CRF250X. I guessed correctly that the valves were tightening up after he had problems in Bahia Tortugas. Today he had to keep the bike revved up to keep it from dying. They were able to diagnose the problem this evening, but not fix the same after spending a couple of hours. They don’t have any shims, but think they can grind one down to come into specs.
Up early this morning and out to check my oil and tires. My bike was sluggish to move and when I checked the air pressure in my rear tire, the digital tire gauge registered “0.” You guessed it, a rear flat. I figured it was a slow leak, but Rucker stated I should change out the tube right in front of our room in the “convenience” of the hotel. And so the process began. With help from Nate who I helped yesterday, we managed to get the new tube caught under the rim lock. KTM doesn’t place the rubber spoke protector over the rim lock. With a 10mm (that’s KTM’s new specks) wrench in hand, it was easy for me to detect this malady. So, we had to let the air out, lift the rim of the tire out again, and adjust the tube on top of the rim lock.
By the time we finished I was one sweaty, tired, and nervous dude. But somehow we managed to get on our way by 09:00. Jerry stayed behind to work on his bike. He was able to grind down the shim on the one valve that was the tightest and depart at 15:00. Traveling on the paved highway, he met us in Mulege this evening
Our group of nine, 7 bikes and one RZR, traveled on the paved road headed towards Laguna San Ignacio. At 20 miles we turned off the pavement onto a dirt road headed south. Another 10 miles and we were to our first ranch. The SCORE Baja 1000 went through this ranch two years ago, but not this year.
We traveled southeast headed for El Patrocinio. We had to negotiate a rather deep river crossing en route to visit another ranch. We reminded them we had been there two years ago—they remember us.
After a short visit and picture taking plus showing the folks a GPS, we departed making another river crossing to connect with our route. We depended on Bob’s GPS routing making sure what dirt road we would take at the various and sundry intersections. We finally arrived at Datil and connected with the San Juan de la Pila road. We stopped briefly at a couple of other ranchos. As a result of Hurricane Paul that passed through here on October 16 just a short two weeks ago, we encountered a lot of washed out sections on our humble road. Riding through a narrow canyon with water running down the same provided the “perfect” spot for lunch.
After lunch we proceeded to climb another mountain on a rough, rocky road that leads us to the top with a vista view. It was here that we learned Bob’s brother, Tom, had broken the chain on his Suzuki. I provided a file to make the fix with a piece of chain and master link since no one seemed to have bothered to bring along a chain breaker.
Rucker and I proceeded slowly down the mountain to the bottom where there was another intersection. Rucker knew exactly which way to turn, making a right turn. It wasn’t long before we encountered the dreaded road leading up to another mountain pass at an altitude of 4000 feet and what I refer to as “Gun Sight Pass” because of its configuration. The road was washed out terribly with treacherous rocks everywhere. One could not get any speed on the steep hill. My bike boiled over and I remember that the fan hadn’t been coming on for some time now. I later learned that my thermostat wires had been knocked off. Steve and Frank had gone ahead in the RZR and were waiting at the crest for everyone.
I was so out of wind just going a few feet, but would rest a moment before attacking the hill. It involved feathering the clutch some and a prayer. But I was soon on top and collapsed by Steve and Frank. They attended to my chores that included pouring water in my radiator and re-attaching the wires to the KTM’s thermostat so the fan was functional again. And did I say I drank all the water they would spare after filling my radiator with a quart of water.
Rucker soon caught up and we placed our backpacks on the RZR. The other riders were at present attacking “Gun Sight Pass” hill. Rucker and I proceeded down the other side of the mountain slowly as it was steep with Steve and Frank behind us in the RZR. There were treacherous rocks everywhere wanting it seems to tip the bike over. I used both feet spread out and the engine killed in first gear as an emergency stop procedure. I was relieved to pass over a cement portion of the road that had been poured to keep the road from eroding.
Near the bottom of the mountain the four of us stopped and placed a UTMA sticker on the now rusted and hard to read sign. One arrow on the sign pointed where we came from with the inscription “San Juan de la Pila” while the other lettering showed “San Istanisalo” in the direction we were headed.
We made our way to the bottom of the mountain negotiating a water crossing, then finding the remains of a road leading to Guadalupe de Guasinapi. Rucker looked at his GPS and stated we had some 14 more miles to go towards Guadalupe before we made a sharp turn and headed south. I insisted the road was just ahead maybe a block. My “Liahona” was right on track; we made almost a U turn and headed south towards El Mesquital, Los Pozos, San Istanisalo and the Mulege Junction.
This part of the ride was, well, the “ride from hell” as the road was so badly washed out. Down the stream bed one would catch a glimpse of the former road here and there. Negotiating rocks, sand, and water was tricky and very tiring to say the least. My machine fell over a couple of times in the sand; I had to be helped by Rucker as my strength was depleted to the point where I could not heft the heavy KTM upright. Bruce didn’t demand payment on the spot, but willingly helped this old dirt bike rider.
It was helpful to have Brown and Hodgson along as they helped scout out where the remains of the road was saving us from going back and forth on the rock bed. And we were marking the trail with surveyor’s tape for the five riders behind us. We were racing with time to make it as far as possible in daylight.
We soon reached the junction and signage: “La Ballena 80km” and “Mulege 40km” or 24 miles. This Junction also connects with the road leading over to La Ballena via San Raymundo Wash. I thought we were out of the worst of it, but immediately had to negotiate a water crossing with my machine. On the other side it required negotiating sand and boulders to make it to the road that had been destroyed.
We traveled through a rancho and onward to where I spied a caterpillar with a large blade. It has been making its way from Mulege ever since Hurricane Paul struck on the 16 of October. The road was pretty good—and in lead I boogied as the sun was going down getting up over 60mph at times. The KTM just hummed and did its job—seemingly no problems with the previous boil-over coming up the rutted and rocky road to Gun Sight Pass. But my other problems were just beginning. I had cramps in both legs. I knew that if I could down a Gatorade that all would be okay, but that was not going to happen. The pain was intense, and I couldn’t find a riding position that gave any comfort to speak of.
It was getting darker and darker as the light of the day faded. Just before 19:00 I saw the first lights outside of Mulege. It was pitch dark and my front headlight wasn’t all that good—a definite KTM weakness what with a low wattage bulb. Yamaha uses a 55 watt globe that will light up the night and trail. It was another 20 minutes before I entered the outskirts of town. And to my horror, I just about nailed a Chevy Suburban that pulled in directly in front of me coming from the opposite direction.
My first thought was to find a tienda and down a drink with electrolytes. I soon arrived at Hotel Hacienda located in the center of town. I came through the narrow passage way into the courtyard. It was all I could do to lift my leg off the bike, and in the process I stumbled to the ground—not a pretty sight. I got a Mexican to purchase me a drink. I was soon joined by Jerry who had got his Honda 250 working and arrived at the hotel earlier this afternoon. I checked into a room paying 350 pesos. I kept drinking liquids.
Later in the evening other riders came in including Rucker and the RZR crew, Brown and Hodgson. The five of us headed for a nice restaurant a short block from the hotel and got our orders in. We all dined on the fresh Black Bass Plate with all the trimmings for 225 pesos. It was a delicious meal seeing how it has been a long day with no breakfast or lunch, just munchies. We walked back to the hotel just in time to direct the Everett brothers and Rainey into the hotel courtyard. They arrived at 21:30 and were off to the restaurant after checking in to their rooms. All the bikes and RZR were locked and secure in the enclosed courtyard. I like this hotel for that very reason.
Nate, Travis and Rob told the tale of how they helped push Tom and his bike up the steep, washed out road leading to Gun Sight Pass. When they reached the top and started down the other side of the mountain it was beginning to get dark. They all proceeded in the dark with Bob on his Suzuki RMZ450 motocross bike trailing behind Tom’s headlight. We had marked the trail which help somewhat.
At 32 miles out from Mulege, Bob ditched his bike and jumped on Tom’s Suzuki DRZ400 with a headlight. They rode double until they were exhausted. They had gone just over a mile east past the Mulege and Ballena Junction sign. The three riders gave Bob and Tom a compact, emergency sleeping bag and water. The two intended on spending the night in the mountains west of Mulege.
Rucker insisted that I take a leak before retiring as I had been dehydrated. I obliged before retiring—then obliged again before dropping off to sleep with the aid of a sleeping pill.
We did just over 120 hard miles today.
We were up rather early in the morning and thinking about getting a nice breakfast. Rob and Nate rode out early this morning to see about helping the Condie’s—they carried fuel and water. As we were discussing breakfast in the courtyard, Bob shows up. There was a lot of discussion about his adventure and how he managed to ride the distance.
He stated that after some discussion and agreement, he left Tom at midnight and rode into town arriving at about 02:00. And he has another story about the fact that the bike he was riding was on reserve and he didn’t expect it would make the distance into town. When he checked the fuel level again the next morning, he was surprised.
At that time of the morning, 02:00, our hotel was in lock down. He finally found a hotel that had an open front door. So, he enters the office, but no one was there. He finds a key on the wall and goes up to room #9 and puts it to bed. He is a light sleeper and was awakened early morning. So, he decides to dress and ride over to our hotel arriving at 07:00.
It was decided we would eat breakfast and then Steve would take Bob in his RZR back 32 miles to his bike. Bob would ride his Suzuki back to town while Steve would pick up Tom. After breakfast this plan was put into action. Rucker and Edmunds picked up the tab on Brown’s and Hodgson’s breakfast as a gesture of kindness for their help on the trail yesterday.
The two riders who departed town early came back and stated that Tom was okay and would await the RZR for a ride back rather than double up on a bike. They further stated that when Tom awoke this morning, he discovered he was just 100 feet from a small ranchero. When he approached the family at the rancho and explained his situation as best he could, they saw to it that he got a hot breakfast. Tom stated that that was the best meal he had eaten in Baja. Oh, and he insisted that it was not that cold sleeping out in the open that evening.
While waiting for riders to return from the hills, we visited the old Mision Santa Rosalia de Mulege. It is situated on a small hill with a large river flowing by and overlooking the town. After the mission visit, Travis changed out a flat front tire for his brother, Nate, in the hotel room. Nate has had flats on both front and rear tires. He elected to stay in the swimming pool while tire repairs were made—smart move! I elected to do a small wash and hang it out to dry along with my boots which were soaked yesterday.
After the tire change, wrenching turned to the bikes parked in the courtyard. Seems a couple of rear fenders were missing bolts and such. The work was soon completed including air pressure checks. That called for a taco break from a small taco stand in the town square.
Tom soon arrived with Steve in the RZR. And Bob was accounted for as well. Tom’s “garden boots” didn’t hold up well against the rocks and such. He sprained his ankle and elected to return to San Ignacio, a two hour ride. As events unfold, he will soon be joined by his brother, Bob. When comparing “riding boots” it was noted that Nate’s “gardening boots” had a hole in the bottom. None of that fancy riding gear for these boys, no sir.
We set a departure time of 13:30 for Loreto. We are now nine riders, missing one bike. We fueled up just south of Mulege and were on our way for Loreto. We had planned to connect with the SCORE Baja 1000 Race Route south of Mulege, a dirt road all the way to Loreto. However, we never did see the turnoff. It was lucky we didn’t find the route as that particular section of the race route was closed due to the damage of Hurricane Paul. As we later learned, racers would be sent down the highway to Loreto.
We arrived in Loreto logging 88 miles on pavement. We checked into Hotel Angra paying 670 pesos or $58 a room. Bruce and I checked into our room. After showers and cleanup, we would all ride downtown to find a place to eat.
We stopped by the Mision Nuestra Sonora de Loreto on our way. I noticed a member of the Familia Arce, Joel Bastida Arce, who is an administrator of the museum that is part of the mission complex. We visited for a bit before continuing to the restaurant.
Loreto is the oldest permanent settlement in the peninsula dating back to 1697. It was the capital of Baja California for 132 years. Mision Nuestra Senora de Loreto is the oldest mission in Baja which was completed in 1752.
At the restaurant a policia dude didn’t want us to park in front of the restaurant. We insisted that we were not going to park our bikes where we could not keep an eye on them. We finally parked them in a small alcove across from the restaurant. Nobody was any too hungry, so we got liquados and a taco or two.
We went our separate ways for a while meeting back at the hotel. I talked briefly to a travel agent and looked for an American’s home that I didn’t find. Back at the hotel we decided to find a nice place to eat downtown. Brown was caught giving candy to a youngster celebrating Halloween. And because of this celebration and the congestion in the streets, Rucker and I decided to walk down to a taco shop and eat rather than fight the crowds.
Brown and Hodgson ended up eating at the Palapa Restaurant. They talked to some pre-runners who stated that if one liked water crossings the trail tomorrow leading up to San Javier and beyond would not be all that bad.
Back at the hotel we visited some and then put it to bed. I had a hard time going to sleep even with a pill—still stressed and thinking about yesterday’s ride and what I might encounter tomorrow.
We were up shortly after 06:00. I was awake an hour before worrying about my abilities on the trail today. Went outside where my bike was locked up, took off the security lock and check the tire pressure, oil level, and radiator fluid level—got mostly water in there now. I set my #1 trip odometer for today not erasing #2 as it will give me a sum total of miles for the whole ride.
Bob Condie made the decision to join his brother in San Ignacio. He would take Jerry’s ailing Honda CRF250X swapping him his bike, Suzuki RMZ450. He, Bob, was chaffed and battered from riding double the evening before. It seemed like the best decision for each of them, Bob and Jerry. It would be about a 4 hour ride over pavement with good possibilities for a ride if further problems developed with the Honda.
Breakfast was rather slim even for continental-style dining. We had corn flakes, milk, and a banana. We were off by 08:00 for San Juanico via San Javier and La Bocana. There was another dirt bike group just in head of us headed for San Javier. It was comical to see their leader stop and turn around and race down to the intersection then turn around abruptly where I was waiting for our riders. Guess he figured we were with his group.
The road to San Javier was destroyed in places from Hurricane Paul. SCORE had urged the government to repair the road in order that the Baja 1000 could take place. There was evidence that crews had been out filling large cavities in the road. A few years ago the road was paved most of the way into San Javier, there were now parts of that road that were destroyed by the forces of nature.
We arrived in San Javier, 24 miles, and greeted Joselino Bastida Delgado Arce, 73 years old and his wife, Francisca Arce Romero, 73. They are still in very good health. Their family has been the curator of the Mision San Francisco Javier de Biaundo for many, many years. We visited the mission after our visit. It was soon evident that our dirt riders had disappeared. Sure enough, they found the town’s only restaurant and were ordering breakfast. Guess the “continental breakfast” at the hotel sort of wore off rather quickly.
After breakfast, we started the journey towards Highway 53 and oiled road. We were continuing on the SCORE Baja 1000 Race Route with all its markers. There were 20 river bed crossings—water in 16 of them. In lead, I found that the route was not that difficult for me—and I didn’t dump my bike in a deep water crossing as I had imagined.
And the dirt roads became long and straight allowing for speeds in the 70’s.
Reaching the intersection with Highway 53, there was a Mexican with pickup and trailer waiting for a pre-runner. We asked him to motion to the RZR to follow us. The bikes traveled south for six miles where we stopped for fuel at Ignacio Zaragoza.
We were soon all fueled up and ready to go. I told everyone that we would ride directly north for over 45 miles and to watch for potholes in the road—they can ruin your day. As it turned out, we reached a new junction to San Juanico at 44 miles. Turning off at this junction takes one on the road to Las Barrancas with a turnoff to San Juanico, all on new pavement.
As I rode down the highway and turned off for San Juanico, I could see Las Barrancas off in the distance. After a short distance, there was a diversion off the highway. Taking a rocky, dirt road that led to a water crossing, one could look back and see where a section of the new bridge had been destroyed by Hurricane Paul. And up ahead there was more evidence of the ravaging effects of the hurricane, only not as severe.
I soon arrived in San Juanico and fueled up from a jerry can. This guy has operated this gas dispensary for many years. I could still see our UTMA stickers on the front of his small shed. I opted to place a new sticker and was showed a clean spot to place it.
It was a short few blocks to the accommodations where we would be staying for the evening, Casitas de San Juanicao on La Bocana Street. Jon and Kristen Gerde are the proprietors with help from their son, Tom. I checked all the rooms out and the pricing. Room #1 had 4 single beds including the couch at 800 pesos. Rooms #2 and #3 each had a single queen-sized bed at 400 pesos apiece. And room #4 had two beds, one king for Rucker and a double bed for Pablo at a cost of 600 pesos. Brown and Hodgson each settled in the single rooms while the brothers and their two friends took room #1. It all seemed to work out.
While waiting in my room I was concerned that no one else had arrived. They could not have gotten lost as there was only one road. A rider soon came in and reported that Rucker had problems on his 2006 Honda CRF450. The transmission froze up on the highway and in the process broke the chain. Upon hearing the news, Jon Gerde jumped in his pickup and headed down the road to rescue him.
In the meantime, the fellows out on the highway utilized the services in Las Barrancas getting the chain ground down. With only the master link breaking, fortune was on their side. However, misfortune struck in that no one was carrying an O-ring master link. Only a standard master link was available—thus the grinding process. Rucker was able to come on in after messing with the bike and getting it locked into 3rd gear. Oh, that’s two Hondas out of commission in case the reader is interested!
By 14:45 everyone had arrived, fueled up, checked into their room, and were ready for food. Well, everyone except Brown and Hodgson. They elected to take a beach ride out of Las Barrancas not bothering to look at the map and see that there was a rather large lagoon filled with water in their way. It forced them to return to Las Barrancas, travel up the road around the lagoon, and back on the beach. They didn’t get into town in time to dine with us.
We walked up to a local restaurant, one that we ate at two years ago. The guy has been in business for three years and serves good food. He has built his restaurant around a large fifth-wheel trailer that is parked on a corner lot. There was a group of pre-runners finishing up their meal when we arrived. They are headed for Loreto this afternoon. We ate a fresh fish plate with all the trimmings paying 580 pesos.
After eating we walked down towards the beach. San Juanico is famous for its surfing waters at Bahia de San Juanico on Punta Pequena or “Scorpion Bay,” a name coined by Surfer Magazine to disguise this “hidden treasure.” We thought we saw Brown and Hodgson ahead of us in the RZR—it was indeed them. They were looking for us, but didn’t see us at that moment.
We returned to our sleeping quarters only to find that our door was locked and no key.
We spent time visiting in the patio. Rucker made the decision that he wanted to pay someone to haul him and his bike into San Ignacio. Jon, the American, didn’t want to take his truck over the rough, dirt road and so he contacted a young Mexican with a Jeep Cherokee who was willing to do it for $250, a distance of 110 miles.
And so began the process of figuring out how to load Bruce’s bike into the back of the Jeep. We ended up taking both front and rear tires off the bike and empting all the fluids—and to our surprise, it just barely fit. We would be departing in the morning at 07:00.
I had time this afternoon to write in my diary and send a text message. The Gerde’s also have WiFi that they shared with us.
We were up early and ready to ride by 07:00. Breakfast was a banana and power bar. The Jeep departed before we got on the road out of town headed north. I passed the Jeep with Rucker and his Mexican chauffeur just before the turnoff to Datil. They were making good time.
Marked the intersection with surveyor’s tape, 22 miles, and headed for Datil, 21 miles. At Datil you get on the beach and ride for seven miles making sure you don’t get caught in the mud as the tide comes up rather high. Luckily it was low tide and the road was hard-packed. At 7 miles north of Datil, the road turned off the beach and headed north east toward Laguna San Ignacio.
For 35 miles the road consisted of deep sand, hard pack, and ruts that jarred your entire body until finally at last you reached pavement—only 25 more miles into town. It was a total of 110 miles today, or 885 miles total for the six days. For those riding up to the lighthouse at Punta Eugenia north of Bahia Tortugas and Malarrimo Beach it was about 925 miles total.
I arrived at the hotel and changed out of my riding gear by Rucker’s pickup. I parked my bike by Brown’s trailer with the help of three Mexican kids who were lounging about. They approached me later and stated I had lost a key. Sure enough, I had dropped my second key to the lock with which I had secured my bike to Steve’s trailer. Good kids.
Bikes began arriving and riders changing out of their gear. A couple of riders didn’t need to change as they were in Levi’s and gardening boots—we discussed this earlier. I was looking for Rucker and didn’t realize that he and his driver stopped in the town square and ordered up breakfast. I was sitting at the hotel frustrated that his pickup would not start. We had figured the battery might be dead, but it wasn’t. There was a special security feature on his truck that he revealed to me when he arrived at the hotel.
We unloaded his bike and bid the Mexican farewell. It would take him just under four hours to return to San Juanico over the same road he came in on. The fee was fair for both him and Rucker.
We all went to the town square where there was a festival taking place. Seems they celebrate the founding of the town every year at this time. As we got seated and ordered, I walked over to a policeman and asked if he had heard anything about an American having problems with his machine. He responded that he had not heard of anyone with problems on the trail.
We kept an eye out for Steve and Frank as the race course and road come right through the town square. Nothing—so we go back to the hotel. Steve and Frank were there standing by the side of a muddy RZR. Seems they rolled it on the beach just north of Datil. And Steve stated it was almost exactly where he crashed his bike in 2006 and tore his Achilles tendon. Steve emphasized that Frank was driving when the mishap occurred. Seems they were speeding along when Steve noticed the road ahead and signs of deep mud. He yelled at Frank to make a sharp right turn which he did. In the process, the machine skidded sideways and hit solid ground rolling the beast on its top.
Well, Steve and Frank were suspended upside down with their seatbelts fastened. They managed to get out and roll the RZR on its side. It was too heavy to roll over on the tires, so they had had to dig out under each of the wheels on the driver’s side in order to lessen the muscle needed to upright the buggy. Their strategy worked and they were on their way.
We loaded my bike on Steve’s trailer and headed out of town caravanning with four vehicles. We were all stopped at the dreaded Military Check Point, but soon on our way. We traveled up to the 28th parallel and border for Baja Sur. No stops here like in the past where they wanted you to produce a Tourist Visa or buy one on the spot.
At Jesus Maria we stopped at the Pemex for fuel. We elected not to get a tamale as we did on the way down, but rather to press on as we have 345 miles or 7 hours to go to reach our destination this evening—Hotel Mision Santa Maria in south San Quintin.
We arrived in the evening checking in and paying 500 pesos. We went right to the dining room for dinner. The service was so slow. While waiting for our meal, I visited with the small group from Chris Haines Motorcycle Adventure Company. I thought I might run into a friend of mine, Dave Hutchins, who guides for them. The guide, Vince, stated that Dave was not on this tour.
After a dinner that consumed most of the remainder of the evening, we put it to bed. Everything seemed secure in the parking lot in front of our room.
We were up early this morning and on the road at 06:45. Two of the rigs have already departed. We caravanned with Brown and Hodgson stopping in Ensenada for breakfast. After our meal we headed for the Border and spent one and one-half hours in line! Steve made a maneuver that placed him in a short line shortening his crossing time considerably. We met on the other side of the Border and bid farewell to Bruce.
Steve, Frank, and I drove north to a spot where Frank’s wife met us. Steve and I were soon on I-15 headed towards Las Vegas after grabbing a hamburger. We ended up staying Mequite at the Virgin River Hotel and Casino. We got a “pet friendly” room for $59. It was late and we just wanted to crash.
It was an interesting ride with lots of adventure for sure. This is not a ride I would necessarily like to replicate in the future.
|Click on photos to enlarge.|