Monday, April 3, 2017

Baja weekend: How 2 guys on small bikes turned into 6 guys on big bikes

Big Baja weekend: How 2 guys on small bikes turned into 6 guys on big bikes

(Thats the ride report name only because "Adios Pantalones" was already taken...)

My buddy Chris wanted to do a 2 or 3 day Baja ride. Some off-road stuff down the coast, Erendira, San Felipe...something like that. I put together a 2-day ride for April 1-2, staying away from the SCORE San Felipe 250.

He was gonna take his Scrambler, I was gonna take my KLR. Just two guys on smaller bikes. Then the calls started…

Him: Hey, you know Ted really wants to come with us.

Me: Yeah, Ted is cool, but this was supposed to be a laid back weekend.

Him: Hey, also, this buddy of mine, Ian, really wants to come. Super good guy.

Me: Aw, c'mon, man! It's gonna be like herding cats!

Him: Ian and Rob will probably peel off, anyhow.

Me: Wait...who's Rob? And how many are coming?

Him: Rob is Ian's friend. Good dude; you'll like him. So it's just us and those guys.

Oh…and Ruben, one of Ted's friends. He wants to come, too. Super good'll like him.

So...there were two Tigers, a KTM 1190 and an 800GS. Chris ended up taking his new Husky 701 and I loaded up my 990 ADV. It had turned into a big bike ride.

We all meet up in La Mesa on Saturday morning. Introductions were made, a rough ride plan was laid out and we got on Highway 94 along the border.

We crossed through Tecate and slabbed it down Highway 3 to Ensenada, munching on fish tacos by 11.

By 1230 we were in Santo Tomas where the dirt started. After a brief stop at La Bocana, we started on a trail I know that goes toward the coast. (Yes. That’s a Hello Kitty flask full of good tequila in Ted’s hand.)
It was sketchy, with some washed out areas and mud, but we arrived at the first ranch gate after a few miles. I'd been through that ranch several times...sometimes there was no one there, other times a couple of guys would wave to me as I rode by. This time the ranch hand was adamant about the "dust on the crops" and the "noise scaring the cattle." Translated for gringos: mordida. But 3 minutes and $5 later we were on our way.

The trail was rockier than last time and rutted from recent rain but not too bad at all. Though I might've seen a couple of bikes on their sides.

We reached a hill overlooking the ocean: the Punto San Jose lighthouse to the right, the Danish cult compound to the left (they've been building, I see). You can see both in this photo.

(If you’re interested in joining the cult:
We exited the gate at the coast road and rode the couple miles or so to the lighthouse. If you haven't been there, it’s a really scenic area, with the big waves and high cliffs.

After some photos we were off to Coyote Cal's where we'd decided to stay instead of beach camping. The road was pretty torn up in some places but very rideable. We stopped at a couple of picturesque spots to just take in the big Pacific, then made Cal's by 5. We had cold beers in our dusty hands—and lots of them—by 5:01.

Pro tip: CC happy hour bucket of 6 beers: $10.

Rounds of tequila and more beer just kept coming. Like Chris had assured me, these were indeed good guys. And good riders, too. I should really stop doubting Chris like I do.
After a great Thai dinner, we smoked stogies around the fire, talking about the day's ride. Coyote Cal’s owner, Rick, sat with us for a while and reminisced about old Baja.

The next day we all had the Dirt Riders Breakfast Special and planned the route ahead. While Ted was fueling up, he noticed his front tire was flat. Ruben, a longtime Baja rider had a new tube installed in less than 15 minutes. Ruben then headed back to San Diego and we headed south along the coast.

Rob had a very cool drone and got some footage of the guys riding up and through the volcano south of Erendira.

Chris was Jonesing to ride on the beach and I assured him he would...but we turned toward San Vicente instead of continuing to the beach wheelies will have to wait.

Note: I was using a combo of tracks I'd made or collected over the years and Rob was using his recently purchased E32 Baja tracks (I gotta get that) and he also had the classic Baja Almanac (great maps).

The route continued to be rutted and washed out but otherwise rideable…so, typical Baja.

We fueled up in San Vicente then headed a few miles south on Hwy 1 to La Calentura, taking that dirt road to Valle de la Trinidad at Hwy 3. In less than 40 miles we were chomping on carne asada tacos at El Rancho. As always, good stuff. Rob ate 6!
It was about 3:30 and we’d planned to take one of 3 routes back to Tecate: The pine forest via Laguna Hanson and Ramona’s or the Compadre Trail or a secret route I hadn’t tried though El Jamau. However, the decision was made to jut slab it back to Ensenada, then take the toll road to Tijuana. No worries. We headed out on the highway.

Ian disappeared somewhere around the Ojos Negros cut-off and we didn’t see him after that.

We made good time on the way back to TJ then crossed the border in less than 8 minutes. I waved as I headed home on the 805 right before 6pm.

What a great weekend ride. The other riders were top notch: Excellent riders and good people. The weather was perfect and the riding conditions epic.

As I always do, I vowed to return. And 5 other heads nodded in agreement.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

2 Dans at it again: Joshua Tree, Idlewild and mucho tequila

My sidekick and never complaining ride companion, Dan, wanted to do a camp/ride in Joshua Tree Nat'l Park. I was all in. Having knackered the KTM's front brakes, I decided to take the KLR.

We met in Escondido early on Sunday and headed for Borrego Springs right away. The desert wildflowers were in full bloom and the craziness was, too. I've never seen traffic like that on the Montezuma Grade. The number to number traffic started in Ranchita and didn't end until almost the airport. To give you an idea of how bad it was, there was over two miles of cars waiting to turn left at the Ranchita/79 junction.

Carlee's was to be our first stop but it was packed. We rode on to the airport for a quick drink, but it was closed. Dang! Onward to the stinky sea...

We stopped at a Mexican restaurant at the Salton Sea, then took Box Canyon to the I-10, crossing the freeway and straight into JT NP. It was a beautiful ride through the national park. The weather was perfect and the road was smooth. Lots of folks enjoying the day.

We arrived to the town of JT and headed for an old haunt, the JT Saloon, for beers, tequila, poke and hot wings: Total for 1 hour = $150 bar tab!

We headed for the Black Rock Canyon campground on the edge of the park and set up camp just before dark. It was brisk but not too cold. The last time we were here--almost 3 years ago--it was very windy and we were dusted with snow overnight. This time the temperature didn't drop below 50 at night.

Relaxing with more tequila, we talked about the day's highlights and plannned some upcoming rides. The smell of nearby campfires and the sight of a rising full moon over the snow-capped mountains was a great way to end the day.

The next morning I was able to use my new JetBoil it's some cool Trader Joe's coffee packs. Super handy. By 9:30 we were packed and headed for Idlewild...and what a beautiful ride that was. We saw lots of snow in the mountains and along the roadside at 5,500'.

After burgers and beers at the Lumber Mill, we made our way to the I-15 and hustled back to beat rush hour traffic. The odometer showed 460 miles, the GPS showed 15 fewer.

The KLR did great and my ankle felt fine the entire way, bundled up in the stiff Sidi Crossfires.

Always nice to get out and ride with my compadre, Danny. Good times...

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

A quick Baja day ride (Tecate, Ensenada, Tijuana loop)

Update and photos: We met in Spring Valley @ 7:30 am and enjoyed a nice ride to Tecate on Hwy 94. We breezed through Mexican customs & immigration and made good time to Ensenada as there wasn't much traffic. There was a short stretch of dirt road where they were fixing Hwy 3 but that's all the construction we hit.

Ted and I stopped at Tacos Floresta at the corner of Juarez and each had a couple fish tacos and a Coke.

We then saddled up and took the Hwy 1 toll road back to Tijuana. There was such a dense marine layer along the coast that it felt like it was raining. It was foggy and wet for about 5 miles.

We hit the first two toll booths (about 75 cents each) but there were protesters at the final toll booth so we rode right through without having to pay. Cha-Ching! That's 10 pesos saved!

I know a trick to crossing back into the US by motorcycle and it was a total of 6 minutes. Easy peasy!

We were both on the US side by noon and headed home via separate routes.

It was overcast most of the day, but the sun came out as I arrived home.

That was a great day of riding.


My good friend Ted has been jonesing for a ride lately. We met for lunch in Little Italy recently to catch up on life and plan our next ride.

"Where do you want to ride, Ted?"
"Oh, I don't care. Anywhere. I just want to get out on the road."
"OK, a day ride, overnighter, multi-day ride?"
"Sure...that sounds good!"

So I put together a quick Baja loop...something he hadn't done. We'll leave early on Saturday and be back in the USA by 2pm or so.

The rough agenda is mainly:

Ride the Old 94 out to Tecate, CA and cross into Mexico.
Ride Mexico 3 through the Valle Guadalupe wine country to Ensenada.
Have some fish tacos at my favorite place.
Do the tourist thing/souvenir shopping if he wants to.
Head back to TJ on the Mexico 1 (very) scenic toll road.
Snake through the border traffic in record time.
High five each other as we head back home.

Stand by for photos and a ride report. And my Spot tracker map is there on my site.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Back on 2 wheels after 4 months!

As some might know, I had some ankle surgery in late August and took some time off work to recuperate.

Being away from work wasn't so bad...being away from my bikes was!

While incapacitated, I added another bike to the herd, a Gen 1 KLR 650; I'm a sucker for those bikes...

Anyhow, when the cast came off in December, I vowed to get back on 2 wheels as soon as I could. I began walking with a limp but no crutches. In early January I felt well enough to hobble over to my bike and said, "Well, I may as well try."

A friend wanted to join me for a "mostly" pavement ride, so off we went.

Here's a write-up of that half-day ride:

I should warn you that it's rated PG-17...

So, after 4 months of not riding, I was able to ride all the bikes in one weekend: The KTM 990 ADV, the big girl (my Triumph Rocket III) and my KLR.

As any of you who've been off your bikes for any amount of time will understand, it was a good feeling being being bars again!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Review of IMS ADV II footpegs for KLR650

First off, I'll start by saying that I'm a fan of IMS products. I've owned several sets of their footpegs on various motorcycles and I have one of their 6.6 gallon tanks on my Gen 1 KLR.

In 2014, I rode 10,000 miles from San Diego to Inuvik in Northwest Territories of Canada and back on my KTM 990 Adventure. While outfitting my bike for optimal comfort for that ride, I installed the IMS ADV I footpegs (see review here I found them to be perfect pegs for that ride: solid, well-made and very comfortable.

So when I heard that IMS developed a newer version of the footpegs for the venerable Kawasaki KLR 650, I had to give them a try. (I should note that I removed a set of very good --though smaller--IMS pegs to install the new ones.)

Right out of he box I could tell that these pegs were nicely crafted and just as pretty as the original ADV I pegs...with some slight modifications. They are beefier and larger--longer and wider--than any other footpegs on the market. The addition of a "foot" allows for more room for a rider's boots.

Installation was easy...just a matter of swapping out the old pegs by removing the post and spring. The entire process took less than 5 minutes.

The riding experience is solid and comfortable, allowing secure footing whether resting or standing. The larger platform on these footpegs would be perfect for riders with bigger feet and for those who want a more comfortable place to rest their boots on longer rides.

These pegs can be found in the $170-210 price range online and at most local motorcycle shops that carry quality gear. They're produced by a US company and backed by a lifetime warranty.

IMS Products, Riverside, CA

See photos of my KLR's current footpegs--and the ADV I pegs on my KTM--as compared to the new ADV II pegs.