The first week of December I packed the bike with kiteboarding gear, tools and some clothes and headed south crossing the border to Tijuana and rode four days through Baja California (BC) & Baja California Sur (BCS) Mexico along Transpeninsular Highway (Mexico 1) until I reached La Paz, then I motored down 286 until the Isla de Cerralvo cut off and made my way to El Sargento.
In National City I took the bike in to Southbay Motorsports where I picked up oil and had the service department install a 16t drive sprocket. The change up from the stock 15t easily let me cruise 55 mph at 3500 rpms – a nice calm pur that kept my mind at easy and took it easy on the motor. The night before the crossing I picked up pesos and bought Mexico motorcycle insurance, made copies of my registration and IDs – had dinner at the Famous Napoleon’s Pizza and called it a night.
I had never driven or ridden across the border, I had crossed many times by air though so I figured I’d be okay and for the most part I was. I made my way down I5 until I reached the crossing, I learned instantly that people cross so frequently it’s no big deal and people are so familiar with the routine they really press you to hurry up and go – I just drove and was waved through without a second glance (well except for how the bike was loaded) through the No Declare lane and I kept on going following the signs to Ensenada. Soon I was on Mexico 1 heading south along the coast and my mind wandering with the scenery. Then…
A few miles shy of Ensenada I started thinking about how easy the crossing was.. and when do they check my passport and when do I fill out the visitor forms and when do they check me for anything illegal.. Oh damn – I messed up. It was then I decided to give it some gas and find a place to turn around when cough.. sputter.. sputter – Oh no.. I let off the throttle and eased it to see if it cleared up. It did and I was able to maintain speed but I didn’t dare push it. After calming down I realized I was at a higher altitude, the bike was loaded and the air filter is probably dirty. The last thing I wanted was to break down in Mexico – I can’t even imagine how that would of played out.
I turned around and made my way back to Tijuana figuring I would just head back to the US eventually passing the INM office to do the paperwork. Next thing I know I’m in the middle of down town Tijuana with a loaded bike, bumper to bumper traffic and I have no idea where I’m going.. I just happen to find the most sketchy part of a back alley where I used my phone to find the INM office and I made tracks, finally getting there, a security guard said I could park by the gate, and that he would watch the bike while I walked around to the other side for entry. I made my way around finally getting stamped and on my way again. I blazed out of town – back to Ensenada which was as far as I was going now. After watching surfers at a local break I made a reservation at Quintas Papagayo – good reviews, secure 24 gate access, big clean room and for $38 dollars I thought it was a fantastic deal.
The next day I got up early gassed up the bike, added some oil, checked for missing nuts and bolts, loaded gear had breakfast and headed out. No destination really just heading south as far as I could until dark. In my head I could make La Paz but as usual reality and what I think are often at odds. I passed through town after town, each with unique character and a vibe. Some were small agricultural towns, some were larger with industrial or tourist economies and there were a few that were just there at regional intersections. All were friendly and not once did I feel like I had to be overly cautious. Day dreaming got the best of me again and I lost track of how far I had gone and how far I needed to go to find a place to stop – You would think that would be unfortunate for me but as it turns out it led to a small roadside Mexico hotel (Dusk to Dawn style) and a good fuel story.
When I realized the sun was going down I knew I should of stopped at the popular Baja Cactus hotel in El Rosario but I kept going and an hour into the dark I was at Rosarito (not the resort town way north). A man was sitting in front of a long wall that said HOTEL and as I rode up and looked in I said “hotel” and he said “si” Then another man from a small out building came up and took me to see a room. I don’t know Spanish but i can usually figure out what is said – he said it was 350 pesos (about $15 dollars). The room was simple, clean and large enough to roll my bike into if I wanted (and he even suggested). I saw a car for the room next door and surfing gear packed around – I figured why not and took it.
It’s a good thing I sleep with white noise – In front of the hotel is what I thought was a 24 hour tire and mechanic truck shop, all night long I could hear idling, arriving and departing tractors pull in for maintenance, or to eat or to just rest. I did not eat at Mauricio’s the restaurant next door, although it had a fair amount of traffic and a couple of reviews – I just wanted to rest and get ready for the next day.
I woke early in the morning and started to load up the bike. I saw more people at the out building so I went to ask about gas and how far the next station way. 90km they said. I had enough to make it but just in case they were closed or I didn’t have enough I asked about getting some. They guy came back with an empty gallon milk jug, asked if that would be enough – I said yeah and he crawled under a parked van, pulled the fuel line and filled it up. – whoa. I paid and was off. Next stop was Guerrero Negro just across the border to Baja Sur. It was cold crossing the plain – enough so that when I made it I stopped for two cups of coffee at the OXXO / PEMEX to warm up then filled up the bike. Back on the road I knew I was going to cross the state over to Loreto so I kept riding through the countryside taking the views and small towns. It was around 2:00pm when I made it to Loreto and decided I was not going to push it to La Paz. I checked in to Hacienda Suites – a very nice and secure hotel – and for $50 dollars it was going to be very hard to find a better deal. I carried gear to the room, then wheeled the bike through the gates and parked it in front of the room. I had a few beers at the hotel bar then went and had dinner at a restaurant next door.
When I travel I carry my trusty Gen I SPOT personal satellite tracker and before I took off I sent Wayde and Char Yates who own the Downwinder Inn in El Sargento (my destination) a link so they could see my progress through Baja. Just as I was going to send them an email that says I was taking an extra day and staying in Loreto – they both checked and sent me an email that said “Hey! it’s 2:00pm and your in Loreto, you should just stay there tonight and not push it by riding in the dark” Ha! Funny and sound advice. I grabbed a few more beers from the bar, cleaned up and went to bed.
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When I got up I pushed the bike out the front gate, loaded it up and headed to the gas station on the way out of town. I started early about 5:00am. I had looked at the wind forecast for La Ventana and it was foretasted to have good wind – I wanted to be there to get out on the water and kite. I rode in the early morning darkness kicking myself for going with cheap $20 amazon LED fog lamps. I could see everything 6ft in front of me – after that it was just a dark abyss. I made it though getting to La Paz about 10:00am. I stopped at a local motorcycle shop, picked up some more oil ( I wast going through it, just wanted to do an oil change after the ride) – then made my way up 286 towards La Ventana. Then… cough.. sputter.. sputter.. Oh no, panic.. what now. out of gas, something broke oh.. just at higher elevation again. whew.
I pulled up to Rasta Beach my favorite kite launching spot just below the Downwinder Inn, said hello the people already there, had a beer smiled and felt really excited that I was there, that I made it and that this was only the beginning of a three month adventure!