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.
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.
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
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.
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
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?
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....
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.
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.
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
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!