Author Topic: Belated trip report from February BAJA California trip  (Read 243 times)

Abercrombie

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Belated trip report from February BAJA California trip
« on: May 16, 2018, 09:13:56 AM »
While passing through Spearfish on a DakAL dual sport ride last September Bigjohnsd asked if I would like to ride dual sport / Adventure bike in Baja California in February.  I probably could've pointed out Baja California on the map but had no knowledge of or had ever given thought to riding there.  I had just retired from my job that week, I was in the middle of a 8 day Black Hills ride, had plans of riding to EOM in a couple weeks, and was not able to wrap my head around a Baja ride, or even think it was in my future.  December rolled around and John sent me a message asking if I had given any more thought to Baja.  I hadn't, but started to give it some serious thought and two days later I told John I was in.

The plan was to hook up my pickup to my enclosed four place trailer with my Tenere in it, stop at Spearfish to pick up John and his KLR, continue on to Colorado to pick up a friend of John's and his infamous Buell Ulysses.  Yep, the Buell Ulysses that accompanied John to Alaska last June and broke down nearly daily.  After picking up Kip and his not so trusty Buell, we would continue on to El Cajon were we would meet up with FrankD riding his BMW GS650 Dakar, who is a fellow FJR owner and member of this forum, along with an old Navy buddy of John's, Mark, who rides a BMW GS1200 Adventure.

I had two months to prepare so it was now sweat.  John's planned route had plenty of back road routes with some reports of sand and rocks so the first order of business was to order tires for the Tenere.   I ordered a set of Continental TKC 70s but I had a nagging doubt that they would be good enough in the sand so I ordered another set of more aggressive tires.  $500.00 in tires and I'm not even getting started yet.


The next order of business was pickup tires, trailer tires and getting them both serviced and ready to go.  Now we're getting deep into this trip pretty good and its still a month away but the Tundra, trailer, and Tenere are ready to.  Tuesday February 13th is go date and I'm uncharacteristically packed and ready the day prior.  Here's the Tundra packed and ready to leave the frozen tundra.


First leg is to Spearfish, where we throw Johns KLR in the trailer, have a little dinner, and get an early start to Alamosa CO to pick up Kip and the infamous Buell.   KLR with a freshened up engine and suspension ready to go.


KLR loaded up.


Once the work was done it was time for a little dinner and we hit the hay.  Lets let the food porn begin.  Who knew that John is a hell of a cook.


We got an early start on a sunny gorgeous day but it was windy as hell.  I drove the first leg and the thirsty Tundra was ready for fuel in no time.  John volunteered to drive the second tank and that's when the wind really cranked up and the roads become covered with snow and ice along with about a 50 mph cross wind.  We could see the trailer was visibly going sideways down the road behind the pickup.  While crossing through Colorado we found the HP was stopping all semi traffic on I-25 but the brave or foolish Dakota boys pressed on.

Leaving the winter wonder land on the way to Alamosa.


We Spent the night at Kip's house and the next morning we loaded up the Buell and headed out to a light dusting of snow and a beautiful hoar frost.


Our plan for the next day was to make it as far as Flagstaff which would leave us with an easy day on Friday to get to our meeting spot in El Cajon on Friday.  We were making good time going through Albuquerque and we couldn't find AJ, so we decided to stop for lunch and John suggested we swing in to take a look at the Uncer Racing Museum to kill a little time. 




The next day was a nice drive into El Cajon were we met up with a cool retired firefighter (you gotta like them guys) who offered to let us park the truck and trailer while we were away.    While we were leading up to the trip, FrankD was reporting that he was super busy and didn't have much time to get ready.   FrankD got a late start from Orange county, but we all met up at a steak house for dinner where we found out that Frank had broken his gas cap and left his Passport back in Orange county.   :lol:  Let the adventure begin.  We all discussed and searched for a new gas cap while our food was coming but we just decided to Jerry rig a repair in the morning and after dinner, John and Frank back tracked to Orange county to retrieve the passport returning around midnight.  The next morning we were at the hardware store where Kip and Frank purchased a chunk of metal and with the help of the retired Firefighter they were able to Jerry rig the gas cap and we were off.   We were going to enter at the Tecate border crossing so we stopped to purchase pesos and buy some expensive California gas before crossing.

Frank and I with a pocket full of Pesos and ready to hit Baja.


John's Sailor buddy Mark and the big GS


Mark's brother Kip on the famed Buell Ulysses


Day 1 After fueling up the bikes, buying Pesos and and uneventful entry through the border we were on our way.  The first day was broken up about 50/50 paved and dirt.  It was a beautiful sunny morning, around 70 degrees, and after a few u turns trying to get out of Tecate BC we were on our way.  We met our first Mexican Federales military road block shortly down the road.  It was a little weird traveling through a military check point with a roof turret machine gun equipped Humvee staring down at you.  They stopped our group and asked one of our group to open their bags.  We all prepared to open our bags but after a quick peek at the first bag we were all waved through and never got another sideways look by any of the many military check points we encountered.  After a sort drive we turned off the pavement and started off on a gravel road.  The road kept getting smaller until it turned into some two track trail.  I was loving it until we hit some deep sand and the trail was really petering out .  John, our leader took the first nose dive into the sand to break the ice.  Then the big GS went down in the sand four times with the last one being the worst with Mark going down hard breaking the windshield, and and smashing a Clearwater light mount.  a little while later Kip on the Ulysses picked a poor spot to turn around to help someone and he went down after we all drove by him.   We finally got out of the sandy section and found a small store along the road for some cold drinks.

John took a selfie


After a cold drink FrankD and I were ready to ride.


When we hit the blacktop we found a Pemex gas station and fueled up.  The Pemex stations are all full service at around 19 pesos per liter so that works out to over $4.00 per gallon.  Mark informed me that it was customary to tip the gas station attendant so that makes the gas price a little higher.


We arrived in San Felipe after dark, found a hotel room at Hotel Sky Blue with a nice little restaurant next door,  we purchased a couple six packs and had dinner and Tecate beer.  I slept like a baby and woke up ready for the days ride.  The morning was beautiful and warming up quickly.  After a cold shower (no hot water) we were all geared up.   Kip and Mark were antzy to go leaving us slowpokes to hit the gas station and begin our day but the mighty KLR would not fire.  We tried everything but the KLR wouldn't come to life.  So it was time to tear into it and figure out the problem.  After pulling the plug we determined that it was fouled, running too rich and needed rejetting.  Since John had just recently did engine work and jetting changes we changed out the jets and plugs and she fired right up.  While the rest of tore the KLR apart, Frank made a couple runs to an auto parts store for fuel line and spark plugs.  We got the KLR running but it was late in the morning before we got on the road.

John and Kip rejetting the KLR


Day 2 While John was rejetting the KLR, Mark was replacing a Clearwater light mount and taping up the sharp corners of his windshield that had taken a beating from repeatedly being thrown at the ground the first day.  We had four more days planed with dirt involved but Mark was through with deep sand after the first day.  John dinged up his leg on one of his falls so we decided to modify our routes to eliminate heavy sand.


While John was buttoning up the blue mule Mark was thumbs down and Kip was thumbs up and just happy that he wasn't working on his Buell for once.


With all the bikes fueled up and running we were on our way to Bahia De Los Angeles with lots of smiles again.


We followed along the Sea of Cortes stopping for a little photo shoot and later getting gas and a cold drink along the way.




Next stop was the famous Coco's corner were we had to stop for a cold beer and visit with Coco.  He's an old bachelor who provides various services along this crappy stretch of road, cold drinks, and gives dumb gringos on the motorcycles shit.  He also likes to decorate his yard with oddities.


Coco's humble abode where he lives and sell cold drinks.


Checking out the plumbing fixtures / slash lawn ornaments.


The inside of Coco's house is decorated with fine panties and memorabilia.  Coco has both legs amputated at the knees but they say he gets around pretty good.  Every one has to sign the guest book and purchase a cold drink.  Coco acts grouchy but I think it is all part of his thing.


As we were leaving Coco's we stopped for one last picture.


After leaving Coco's and finished with the worst road construction bypass I had ever seen, Mark, Kip and myself were feeling the need for speed once we got up on the black top.  We cranked the big 1200s up accross the desert and left the KLR and GS 650s in our vapor trail.  At the next corner we waited and waited and waited for them to catch up and along comes John on the KLR reporting that Frank had a flat along the road.  An adventure motorcycle company chase vehicle came along and picked up Frank and was going to haul it into Bahia De Los Angeles where we would meet him and assist with making repairs in the dark. 



Evidently Frank's tire found a nail while we were on the gravel visiting Coco.  The inner tube wasn't salvageable but the tire appeared fine.  John had a spare tube so Kip, Frank and I made repairs while John and Mark went to find us a room for the night.



After the repairs were made, we checked into the Hotel Villa Vitta and walked down to eat at Guillermos and have a couple of beers.  When we got back to the hotel, John went to take a shower and reported that he got electrocuted in the shower.  I was brushing my teeth and was also getting shocks from the sink.  This was beginning to suck.  No hot water the first night, electrified water the second night.   We were going to really start to stink if this kept up.

Day 3  The next morning we had planned about 150 miles of unpaved back roads with reports of 2 to 3 inches of sand in spots.  Mark said no way and John and Frank thought they should skip it since they had used their only spare inner tube.   We all huddled around the KLR and willed it to start and after a little difficulty it fired to life.  We split up into two groups with plans to meet at Mulege that evening.

Kip and his mighty Buell and I decided to split off and take the originally planed dirt, gravel and sand back roads.  The first 50 miles was rocky gravel but the road was progressively getting sandier and deeper.  Kip and I thought we were kicking ass rolling down the sandy trail about 25 mph when come up to our turn off.  This is were we met the three dick BMW riders from the hotel that reported a couple of inches of sand on our proposed route.  We made a little small talk and they rode off onto a road that appeared to be much deeper sand.  We followed and the sand quickly become deeper and deeper while the road was getting narrower.  I had read before leaving home that when riding through cactus that you should always have your visor down in case of a spill.  Kip didn't read that got caught up in a deep sand rut face planting on a cactus. Where the fuck was my camera! We continued on for about 50 miles of deep sand.  Kip fell five more times and I dropped my Tenere twice at very low speed.  The last time I tried to catch myself and dropped the Tenere on my foot pinning me under the bike.  Kip was unable to lift the bike off me by himself so we had to dig out until I could release my leg.  We finally came up to a small mountain ridge leaving the desert floor and deep sand.  We were highly relieved to be out of the foot deep sand it was short lived because as soon as we went over the mountain we were right back in the deep sand desert floor again.  After taking about 6 hours to go 150 miles of off road Kip and I finally hit the black top.   

We stopped for a snack and a drink and checked our phone to find that John's KLR had crapped out along the road and another Adventure motorcycle chase vehicle had giving him a ride to Guerrero Negro. 

The KLR hitches a ride to Guerrero Negro


We headed to the Los Caracoles Hotel to find John Balls deep in the KLR again trying to diagnose a no start no spark condition.  We screwed around untill about 1 AM with the help of a couple of young locals who brought another coil but we had no luck.  The next morning we found a small engine repair shop and the guy was going to see what he could do.  This shop was very primitive with not much for parts and I didn't have much hope of a quick repair.

When we meet back up in Guerrero we find John head first in the KLR again.


The next morning the local repair shop guy was having a look and John's dead KLR.


Day 4 Well, it wasn't doing much good for all of us to sit with Johns dead KLR in Guerrero Negro so it was decided that we would continue on and when John got his bike fixed we would come up with a plan to meet up again.  It was a hard decision but we left John and pressed on.  Before we got to the next town we got word that the mighty KLR was running again.  The repair shop said there was a poor ground on the ignition box or something.  We rode to San Ignacio to spend the night at Rice N Beans Hotel where we were happy to see John roll in to join us.  It was a short days ride so we checked in and hit the bar for food and Margaritas.



After some refreshments John tore open the KLR again to secure some wires that had been loosened the night before.  I forgot to take a picture of John buried head first in the KLR, but I think you have the point by now.  FrankD and I decided to go check out the town of San Ignacio and look into a whale watching expedition.  While down town by the town square, we ran into a Spanish mission. 


Afterwards we gathered up in the Rice n Beans restaurant for more food, margaritas, and Tecates.

Abercrombie

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Re: Belated trip report from February BAJA California trip
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2018, 09:34:28 AM »
I finished this report once but somehow lost the remainder that I didn't have saved into Word.  I'll have to get it finished again one day.

locopny

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Re: Belated trip report from February BAJA California trip
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2018, 08:29:38 PM »
interesting ....not the first time I've heard of poor ground on a KLR.  wonder if it's a thing they are known for....??  Great report so far.
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Abercrombie

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Re: Belated trip report from February BAJA California trip
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2018, 10:50:12 PM »
interesting ....not the first time I've heard of poor ground on a KLR.  wonder if it's a thing they are known for....??  Great report so far.

John had just successfully ridden the KLR up to Alaska and back last summer.  From what I heard the Dempster highway takes its tol on a bike and the bike was using a lot of oil by the time he had returned to Spearfish.  The bike was in fine running condition when we left but corrosion can always be a problem after riding hundreds of miles of the Dempster.   After further investigation, John is pretty sure the cause of all his problems was a side stand safety switch.

loingrader

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Re: Belated trip report from February BAJA California trip
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2018, 11:12:25 PM »
Great report so far!  Makes me happy to stay stateside!

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Re: Belated trip report from February BAJA California trip
« Reply #5 on: Today at 03:40:45 PM »
Nice write up Abercrombie, sounds like quite the ride and adventure!