Saturday, February 18, 2023

A Baja Story

In June of 2014, I joined a group of fellow riders of for a Memorial Ride for Dana Neisler. 

Dana was a Baja guru with whom I’d ridden in 2013.  He was a great guy with an electric smile, a zest for life and an extensive knowledge of Baja riding.  Sadly, he passed away in a tragic accident near Laguna Hanson on January 25, 2014.

And that June weekend, I rode down through Tecate and the Compadre Trail to Laguna Hanson in his honor. 

After the memorial was over, most of the group of about 50 people headed back north or to Mike’s Sky Rancho as I went south.  I saw no other people on the road as I made my way to Eréndira via Ojos Negros and Uruapán. 

When I’d reached an overlook above Ojos Negros, I stopped to take a water and pee break.  It was perfectly quiet as I admired the view and contemplated my route.  

Just then, an old pick-up truck came rolling up behind me.  I waved, thinking they would pass me but instead, they pulled in front of my bike and stopped.  Four men got out of the back as the two in the front cab got out.  All had beers in their hands. They said nothing as they surrounded me.  The driver came toward me, speaking Spanish, and asked what I was doing.  

I responded that I was just admiring the view and enjoying the day.  Switching to broken English, he asked why I had stopped there.  I told him in Spanish that I had to pee and I started making my way back to my bike.  The man stepped in my way, took the keys from my motorcycle and put them in his shirt pocket.  Smiling, he offered me a beer.  When I declined, he opened a can and insisted I drink with them.  

It was then that I became nervous.  

I told them that a large group of riders was behind me and would be joining me soon.  Smiling, he responded confidently that no one was behind me…that my friends had gone north.  

It was an uncomfortable moment for me.  The man smiled and instructed me to drink the beer.  His counterparts stood silently but their circle moved closer around me.  

Suddenly, we all heard a loud rumbling approaching from behind us and seven heads turned to see a camouflage Humvee full of Mexican soldiers coming our way.  I was relieved , to say the least.  

The young soldier standing in the vehicle pointed the 50 caliber machine gun directly at the man who’d been speaking with me.  *

“Que pasa aquí?,” he asked, as the soldiers disembarked.  

I informed the officer in Spanish that I was just leaving as I gulped my beer, took my bike keys from the man’s pocket and wished everyone a good day.  

Looking back as I was riding away, I saw the military folks pointing their guns at the men from the truck…who were now sprawled out across the dirt road.  

I smiled as I made my way to Eréndira where cold beers and ceviche were waiting for me.  

(*Note: These are stock Mexican Humvee photos as I didn’t snap any photos at the time of the incident.)


  1. Wait a minute, after multiple Baja rides later, you now tell me this story?!

  2. I was afraid that if I told you about this and other such incidents, you would chicken out. #ButDidYouDie?

  3. Those moments when you realize that you shouldn't be there, but get the chance to do it over. Love it.