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.


  1. Awesome! It sounds like it was just an awesome group ride (I have an aversion to group rides because, well, too many cooks in the kitchen--or is that kooks?).

    And what a diverse place: Danish cult compound?... Great Thai dinner?... Wild.

    1. I agree about too many kooks spoiling the ride, but I always end up having fun.

      I don't ride solo as much as I used to but I still prefer riding alone or with one other person.

  2. I prefer one other person or a small group. I find that people's paces and riding styles can differ so much. It sounds like you guys had a great time though.

    I have to ask what was the dirt riders breakfast special? I was guessing at leftover warm beer from the night before, then I thought "silly rabbit, they wouldn't leave any beer.........."

    1. Ah, yes. The DRC breakfast is comprised of two local ranch eggs, 2 pices of bacon, a big waffle and coffee. All for the very reasonable price of $7 (US).