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Back to Baja     

Ask anyone who has gone to Baja on a motorcycle, and they'll tell you the same thing... there's just something about it. You can't pinpoint exactly what it is, but it keeps calling you back.  I figure it's a combination of the people, the trails, the relaxed atmosphere and the mystery. It just all comes together quite nicely.

For a while now, I had wanted to go back down and explore more of the great dirt roads in the northern part of the peninsula. Devin had just picked up a new 1200GS and had never been, so it was a perfect excuse to take a couple of days off work and head south.

We actually started out with a group of four -- Bruce and Stu met us in Yuma Thursday evening and we made plans to cross at Mexicali early the next morning.

Heading out from Phoenix Stu outside the launch point Bruce and the HP Quite a pair

Immediately after we crossed the border, we were met by Roberto -- a Mexicali local who had seen the ride posted and asked to join us for part of the way.  It was quite a thrill following Roberto and his F650GS through the confusing streets of Mexicali.  He was splitting lanes and dodging through traffic like a man on a mission.  I had a blast just trying to keep up with him.  But it sure was nice to have a guide who made short work of the surface streets. Muchas gracias, mi amigo!

Outside Mexicali, Bruce and Stu took the highway south toward San Felipe -- they had a little more time than Dev and I and wanted to head further south.  So Roberto, Dev and I said our goodbyes and headed west toward La Rumarosa.  One the way up the famous Rumarosa grade, we encountered quite a sight.  It was Easter weekend, and a large congregation of locals were making a procession (on foot) up to the top. It was a great thing to witness.

Once in La Rumarosa, Roberto had to turn back and head for work, so Dev and I jumped on dirt for the first time and started south.     

Easter procession What a sight View from the Rumarosa grade  
Our local guide Roberto's The Man Hitting dirt for the first time Getting a grip on the big GS
What a great road...      

This is one of my favorite dirt roads for larger DS bikes. Nothing too rough, and you can make great time while grinning from ear to ear the entire time.  This was Devin's first time off-road on the new GS, however, and the fact that the bike was FULLY loaded took some getting used to.  But it wasn't long before he was pushing that big
'ol bike like a pro. 

Shortly before reaching the Parc Nationale de Constitutione (sp!), we came across a fairly new inn and restaurant so we stopped for an outstanding meal and a much-needed cervesa.  One of the patrons had a bit of fun with me when we first entered... she walked up and started speaking 100 mph in Spanish. After finishing her speech, she looked at me and waited for a response. And waited.  And waited. After watching me clamor for something (anything) to say in Spanish, she laughed and said (in perfect English), "You look like you need some coffee."  The joke was definitely on me.  After lunch, the rain started to come down, so we donned our liners and headed back out in the dirt.        

Making our way south Fresh tortillas for lunch In the pines  Nice lunch
Parc Nationale...      

By this time, it was really coming down. The rain wasn't too bad (I've never really minded riding when it's coming down), but the fact that it was Easter weekend meant that there were what seemed like 1000 locals on the road in their trucks, sedans and vans.  Dodging traffic on a muddy dirt road in the rain definitely made for some exciting riding.

We gassed up in Valle de Trinidad, and quickly started for Mike's Sky Rancho.  The rain was only getting worse, and daylight was fading.  No time to waste. We also saw a group of riders on a 1200GS, 650GS and 650 V-Strom.  

About 3/4 of the way up to Mike's, the road started to get REALLY slick. Talk about trying to ride on greased marbles covered in snot.  Devin said he wasn't having a good time, but I caught him smiling once or twice. After all, what's an adventure ride without a little adventure?     

Heading down...   Things get damp...  
And way too slick...   Almost at Mike's  
  Nice crossing...    

After making it to Mike's, it was time for some margaritas! Thanks to a large tour group, the place was bustling, and we had a great time talking shop with the other riders. After dinner, we both crashed early, however.  What a great day of riding!

The next morning, we woke up to find the other 1200 and the 650GS parked under the canopy, but there was no V-Strom.  So we started to ask around, and found out the Suzuki had what were essentially street tires that were completely useless on the slick road coming up.  So the tour operator took his pickup truck down the hill and hauled the bike up. At least they didn't have to camp out in the rain....      

Good showing at Mike's...      
V-Strom didn't make it Large tour With buggies and bikes  

After breakfast, Devin and I debated for a while on the destination for the day.  We finally decided to head out the backway from Mike's and head west towards the Pacific. Carl, Paul and I had taken this route a couple of years earlier, and had a blast doing it.  The trail had deteriorated a bit since then, however, and Devin had his hands full with the loaded GS.  But he certainly made it look easy.

The scenery over to the ocean is simply breathtaking.  Wide open spaces with incredible views mixed in with barren landscape that reminds you of a cross between the highlands of Scotland and Mars.  Once we hit the observatory road, we were surprised to see the road had been paved. So we kicked it up a notch and headed for the beach in true pseudo-sportbike style.        

Out the back way from Mike's   Wasn't exactly smooth  
Surreal landscape...   Shady spot  
Lofting the 950   Loaded Nature calls

After reaching the main highway, we gassed up and turned south for about 15 miles.  According to the GPS, there was a shipwreck a bit further down, and we decided it would be a shame to miss it. 

Good call.  Sure enough, there was a large cargo ship that had run aground just off the beach. What an amazing sight. After soaking that in for a little while, we jumped onto the dirt road that runs parallel with the beach and started back north.  This is without a doubt one of the most scenic roads any dual sporter will ever encounter. There's something simply amazing about riding alongside the ocean for miles on end.        

Heading to the beach The shipwreck...    
    Oceanfront riding...  

The goal for the day was to make it to a camping spot north of Ojos Negros.  We were going to explore some dirt roads on the way up so we finally had to tear ourselves away from the beach road and headed inland toward Santo Thomas for lunch and gas. 

We met up with some great guys we met at Mike's the night before and pulled into a little roadside cafe for some lunch. They made us some excellent "gringo" tacos and the best tasting Coke I'd ever had.  On a side note, I just need to reiterate how wonderful the locals are in Baja.  Everywhere we stopped, we were greeted by super-friendly people who were always eager to chat with us about our journey (whether they spoke English or not).    

After lunch, our new buddies headed north on the highway, while Devin and I jumped on a dirt road from Santo Thomas to Ojos Negros.  While the road started off easy enough, it eventually turned into nothing but deep ruts so the going was pretty slow.  Once the road became more manageable, it was getting dark so we picked up the pace and started to have a blast.  It turns out we were on one of the SCORE routes, which made it even more fun imagining we were heading in from racing the Baja 1000 (minus the hazards of being passed by trophy trucks doing 130 mph...)    

Heading back inland Papi! Gas in Santo Thomas  
Road from St Thomas to Ojos Great trail Deserted ranch Great scenery
  SCORE route   Heading home

It was dark by the time we reached the camping area, and the temperature was dropping. So we decided to head back up the great little Inn where we had lunch a couple of days earlier.  Fortunately, they had a room left to rent and we spent the evening chatting it up with the locals over a campfire.  I was sorry to see it all end, but we had to head all the way back to Phoenix the next day. 

The long slab of pavement from Yuma to Phoenix was a tiresome stretch, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat to get back to that fantastic place south of the border. What an incredibly fun way to spend a long weekend!