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Baja Apr '15

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Eric L and I spent a few days south of the border.  Great time.  Great food.  A little unexpected bike trouble, but it all worked out great.


Day 1 saw us leaving Orange County headed south around 6:30 am.  We stopped in Chula Vista to top off on gas and so I could go to a Kinko's and print my Mexican insurance docs and sign a few online documents.


We went through Tijuana, which I usually never do, or only in the daytime.  We took the toll road south to Ensenada and ran across this group of riders on the new CSC Chinese adventure bikes headed down.


Lunch in Ensenada was awesome.

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Eric on his phone

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We hit the dirt at Santo Tomas and made our way down to Erendira.  That road is quite easy.  Very big bike friendly!


Got to Coyote Cal's quite early, maybe 1:30.  We clearly didn't do enough riding!  We ended up just relaxing, had a cigar, few happy hour drinks and then a great dinner of fried ling cod.

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Day 2 we got an early start and headed south on dirt to the highway.


I've been testing these Hemisphere panniers out for AltRider and they've been doing very well so far.  I'll have a review up soon.  This is my second trip with them (first was in Death Valley)

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I'm liking the new gear from ICON Raiden too.  This is their Arakis pants, jersey and gloves I'm wearing.  These pants are perfect for warmer weather, especially Baja.  Review here.
You can see Rick has a chicken coop for fresh eggs and sells gas too.  There's gas in town out of a barrel but you never know how clean it is.  Definitely give Coyote Cal's a visit when you're down there.  Be sure to get the Thai massage from Ta.  It's the best one I've ever had by far!

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Had to put the new sticker up right below another popular one  ;)

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It may have been a bit too ambitious on our part, but our plan was to make it to BDLA and we were making good time to do that until Eric's 650 broke down about a mile north of the turnoff to BDLA.  He thought he ran out of gas but after he put a gallon from his Roto-Pax in, it still wouldn't start.  There were puffs of white smoke that smelled of oil and no compression!
We put his stuff on the back of my bike and I rode him on the back the remaining 45 or so miles to Mauro's Posada in BDLA.  He said it was more comfortable on the back of my bike than riding his!
We got to Mauro's and were greeted by his lovely wife, Patty, and their two children Maxine Rose and Giuseppe.  We tried calling roadside assistance which Eric has as part of his Mexican insurance, but they were clueless and said it would be three hours before they could even get back to us on who was going to go out to get his bike.  Patty was kind enough to ride us back there in her truck and we just got it ourselves.
We brought it back to a mechanic friend of Patty's by the name of Marcos and he and Eric spent some time looking at it while we went to grab some fish tacos for everyone.  While at the mechanic's Eric met a Canadian guy he's calling "Bob" (because he said "bob's your uncle") who said he was driving back up north the next day and offered to haul Eric and his bike back!  Very cool.
You definitely need to stay at Mauro's the next time you're in BDLA.
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Day 3 we woke just before sunrise and got to enjoy this great view with our coffee


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Eric L's plan was to ride back with Bob the Canadian and mine was to ride back via San Felipe and figure out from there.
I made great time and got to San Flippy by 10:30 for an early lunch.  It was so good I just stayed there for awhile checking up on my phone using their wi-fi until I got hungry again and had two more tacos!  I was thinking of staying the night there but it just seemed so early and I wasn't sure what to do with myself.

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I decided just to ride home.  It got pretty hot too: 102 in Mexicali.  Got into San Diego around 4:00 just in time for a bbq at John's house w/his wife, Franco and his wife, etc...  Really good way to finish a trip!
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Hopefully this won't be nearly a half hour of Eric's boring home videos, but I wanted to put together kind of a video blog instead of the usual 2-4 minute ride video w/music that I usually do.  I wanted to take some time to talk about a number of things I think big bike riders might want to know more about:


  • What's it like to ride in Baja?
  • Do you need to be an expert rider?
  • Is it dangerous?
  • Where do I go?
  • Where can I stay?
  • Some trail tips to keep you safe
  • Some big bike handling tips to make you a better rider
  • Tips on equipment like shocks, skid plates, etc...
  • Sources for maps, gps and other Baja knowledge

Check it out...


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It was an awesome trip.  The "holed" piston on the XR only started the process of meeting several extremely great people that helped us out.
The roads in and out of Coyote Cal's were great well graded roads with nice views.

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Coyote Cals is clean, well organized, great food, right on the ocean, and reasonably priced.


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After a great morning of riding, my beloved XR650L went to sleep....no knocking, not exhaust sputter, no strange sounds at all.  It just lost power and quite going down the highway before the turn off to BDLA.  My first thought was that, I was out of gas; but I thought it was strange that switching to reserve didn't work.  So I look in the gas tank and it's low, but not too low.....so now I'm thinking...please just be out of gas, please just be out of gas....because we're 300 miles south of the border.


Anyway, I pour my rotopax into the tank and hit the starter....and it sound very strange.  Also, there's a little blue smoke coming out the tail pipe.....so we're done.


I ride with Eric Hall 2-up to BDLA and meet are hostel hosts, really awesome people.  I'm a little anxious because I have a bike sitting out on a remote highway.....and it's not that exotic....it would make anyone a great parts bike if you know what I mean. 


I call ACE Insurance booked through Baja Bound.  I get transferred to a Mexican call center, the representatives English is very good, but something was not clicking with this guy.  He couldn't even find BDLA on the map, he could not understand anything.  After 20 minutes of me say "Bahia de Los Angeles" and him repeating back "Los Angeles" I said, hold on.....do you think I'm Los Angeles USA or Los Angeles Baja Norte?  "USA Sir" this guy is clueless....so one of our hosts gets on the phone to speak Spanish.....this doesn't improve anything.  Finally, he says he'll call back when a tow truck is set-up.  He calls back and says the tow truck will call me in 3 hours.  At this point, I just said, that isn't going to work, I'm going to hire a local and ACE will reimburse me.  Strangely, the guy sounded relieved and said just call me back to get the reimbursement information.


On our way to pick up my broken bike :(


Our wonderful hosts at Mauro's Posada had a pick-up...I bought them a tank of gas and we went and got the bike with no problems.  Patty, Mauro's wife introduced us to Marcos and Marcos Jr. who are local mechanics and fishing guides in BDLA.  Marcos pulls the plug and I can see the look in his eyes as soon as we turn the engine over.....no compression....and there's aluminum dust all over the spark plug...piston is toast.


As I'm sitting there wondering how I'll get back home and when I can come back down with a truck to pickup the bike, Marcos Jr. speaks up and says there's a Canadian headed to San Diego tomorrow, he might haul me back.  So we go meet Paul the Canadian.....Paul doesn't even hesitate...."Sure, let's load it up now, and we'll meet for breakfast at 7am".


At the end of the conversation....Marcos doesn't want to take any money because he could do anything to help the bike and Paul doesn't want to take any gas money for the ride north.....what hell just happened???


Here's Paul...my savior with his KTMs.


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So, 6:30 am, Eric Hall and I say goodbye and good luck....and I'm headed north with Paul the Canadian.


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The bike is home and I've started disassembly.....I can't wait to go back and see my new friends in BDLA!

Edited by werx
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So how long was it from San Felipe to Mexicali? 

Does it cool off when you get out of Mexicali? 

It's about 100 miles north of San Felipe and doesn't cool off until I started to gain elevation headed west near Rumerosa on the way to Tecate.  It wasn't bad in San Felipe near the coast but as soon as I got about 5 or more miles from the water, it heated up fast.  I would have brought my cooling vest if I'd known it was going to be over 100 but I survived.  Just have to drink lots of water :)

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Baja Bound Insurance definitely let us down with their lame roadside "assistance."  They sponsor a Facebook page called "Talk Baja" and I've posted up something there about it.  It's really hard to imagine how dense someone can be.  I simply googled "bahia de los angeles" and it comes right up, map and all.  We offered to give the guy precise gps coordinates as well but that may as well have been advanced astro physics to this guy.


Keep in mind, this insurance isn't cheap.  I paid $55 and I think Eric L paid $60.  That's for just five days (Wed-Sun).  I went with Lewis and Lewis.  Baja Bound should reimburse Eric L at least $100 for Patty's time and gas (90 miles round trip).

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