Baja, Numero Dos.

September 10, 2011

We noticed before we left that one of the welds on my panniers had cracked at the top and the bottom mount, so I threw a strap around it to support the weight. My map has a number of different “grades” of tracks, the one we had planned on riding out was the lowest grade. We inquired with some friendly locals as to the track head, and we encountered a mixed surface, 2ft deep fine river bed rock that acted like sand, and 2ft deep sand.

We made it about 5 miles before Seager was the first to drop one of the bikes at a standstill, then about a mile further, the same. I was getting exhausted fast, this was hard 1st gear, and very occasionally 2nd gear going, there was no breeze as we followed a river bed in a canyon, and the sun was baking hot. In one of the faster sections I had my first drop as the front end washed out at 25mph. Apart from a few bruises on my leg, I was ok, and optimistic that around the next corner, I would find a group of industrialist Mexican’s putting the finishing touches on a nice sealed road.

No such luck. Tim suggested we turn around. Good idea that. I was spent.

I had gone through 2L of water in the past hour and needed a break.

We rode back out, again I had another higher speed washout at the front end, and didn’t have enough energy to keep it upright, down again. On we continued, and I continued to get weaker, the heat was just sapping me, the weight and terrain not helping. Once back near the coast I suggest another swim break to Tim, it would mean we wouldn’t be able be able to make it as far as we had planned tonight though. Thankfully he agreed, we stopped, Tim rode on to a little ranch I had noticed on the way in to ask about some water, we had about 1.5l left between both of us, enough to get us out, just.
Tim returned with water and news that dinner would be served at the farmhouse at 7:30. The hospitality of the Mexican people continues to astound me. We setup camp, with plans to ride out in the morning, full of energy and water.

I also noticed that the crack in the weld decided to finish the job.

All of my luggage units had failed in one way or another. This was day 3!!!!
Not that I could complain, some of the locals have had it a lot tougher, poor little bugger.

We had dinner with the family, amazing pescado machaca, discussing weather, gringos, the word for sand in Espanol (“arena” in case you are wondering), they told us that we were the first gringos down this road in the last 5 months. Somehow I wasn’t surprised.

The ride out in the morning was almost as enjoyable as the ride in. Energy up, a good clip could be kept, and once out of the switch backs a good 45-60mph on the gravel was easy.

According to our guidebook, Ciudad Insurgentes, the next town, was Baja’s major farming area, they would have a welder for sure! We asked around, and eventually found our way down a back alley in search of an individual that the local mechanics we asked had called “Rey” (King).
We came across an older gentleman working in a pit, welding up an early 90’s F150 exhaust for a couple of local farmers. We let him finish the job and then in the few words of Spanish, lots of noises and arm movements explained the repairs I wanted him to do, and the modifications I wanted, which involved welding a chair to my bike.
He welded up the next cars exhaust (he did 4 exhausts while we were there), and then set to work on my pile.

Then got to the chair


We continued south, and had eyes for a road that went out to the Pacific, hopefully its cooler waters would be refreshing in this heat. We went down a wider gravel road that I could not recommend, lots of deep corrugations, I decided I may as well test the integrity of my bikes modifications and kept a good 50mph pace up. We made it to a small fishing village and found the beach not to be accessible, deciding to take a road further south that followed the beach, we checked if it contained “muy arena”, assured “poco arena”, we went. The surface alternated between hard crust with a mud base if you broke through it, and hard soil with a 2” dusting of sand. Nice. I was the first to test my front end when it broke through the hard crust

Then, not a mile further, I did it in much more spectacular fashion (no photos sorry), the mud was that slippery we barely were able to stand, and made my bike look much more “adventuristic” with a heavy coating of mud all across its right side.
Further down the sand got deeper and deeper, we found a road back to the highway and took it.

The road out was deep sand mixed with the occasional silt bed. Tim was riding it very well, his sand riding skills have outpaced mine. The silt had made Tim’s chain begin to make funny noises, and looked a little too tight. I was getting exhausted again, but we managed to push the 20odd miles to the highway.
We stopped at the first Tienda with shade to pump up the tires and reduce the tension on Tim’s chain, I think some silt just got past the o-rings and said that I would clean/oil it tonight. We pushed south to La Paz with intentions on doing another decent off-road segment and then camp north of the city on the coast.
The off-road segment was my favorite so far of the trip, we crossed a cattle grid with spacing that was lucky not to swallow our tires, and rolled onto the throttle for a good undulating gravel road amongst green trees that at our pace gave the appearance of orange groves and then moved more into desert country with a good 4-6inch sand covering over a hard base. Tim was looking even more confident in the sand. We hit the tar for a 10 min ride north for a campsite search, and found a beauty.

The next day we spent organizing the ferry (and missing it by 2mins!), and ran into Mark and Maggie again, whom we joined for drinks in the evening and had an enjoyable time. Sensibly we decided that we would find accommodation, and just managed to fit our bikes down the hall

Today we catch the ferry that we missed yesterday.


3 Responses to “Baja, Numero Dos.”

  1. Tim Lamkin Says:

    Damn man….tough way to start 7 months…hang in there and fix the bike when you can get to a big city 🙂

  2. Bruce Doxey Says:

    Thanks for posting up on FB.

    Many of us envy your trip amigo!

  3. Steve Price Says:

    Livin’ the dream

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