Baja Trip Winter 2008 – Part 2

Day 2 – Santa Veronica to Santo Tomas

So today we start the morning by working on my dads bike. He was complaining about a really low idle and that his gas cap was leaking. So I pull off his gas tank and adjust the idle, I also throw a plastic bag under the gas cap to prevent leaking (this will bite us in the ass later). So we saddle up again, discarding my dads beat up duffel bag and replacing it with the tool kit (which I was previously carrying around my waist). We leave at about 9:15am.

The first 1/4 of the trail wasn’t too bad….pretty flat so we were able to make some great time with the high speeds. However, our luck started to change (for the rest of the trip). It started with a light sprinkle, wasn’t bad….our jackets were water proof and quite warm. It had been cold since getting down to Mexico so the weather proof jackets were a great investment! Windproof, warm and now…rain proof….to an extent…. As the trail started to get more and more muddy I found it much more difficult to control my bike…..damn thing is a beast and the now 50 lbs of gear (the remains of my dads bag) was not a great combination in the mud. Oh well, I’m young so I just kept at it. Now here was the second time our FRS radios came in handy (the first time was when the bag was falling off my bike). We were equipped with Midland GXT800’s and their Motorcycle helmet gear. My dad jumps on the radio and says “I’m down, I’m down come back!” Me thinking that he’s down and out for the count slams on the brakes and I do a U-turn and JAM back down the road. I get to where my dad is and he’s up on his bike trying to get it started and clean as a whistle…..I said “I thought you were down?”…”I am, the bike just died”….”I thought you meant down as in fell….what’s the issue here?” Turns out the carb wasn’t getting gas….took many kicks to figure that out….ugh….wet and tired I take off the plastic bag from the tank and whala! The gas flows! It started up with 1 kick and off we went. We pulled into the Ojos Negros gas station at about 11:45am and filled up the bikes. The rain had stopped for a bit which was nice. Allowed us to fill the bikes and stay dry and it also allowed me to pull out the instructions for the second half of todays route.

We head out of the gas station and start heading towards Santo Tomas. That ride started out fairly decent…moderately flat….pretty fast paced. We then started to get into a bit more technical stuff, a few woops couple sharp turns, ruts, bushes, etc…..nothing toooo crazy. So we’re moving along and then my dad jumps on the radio and yells “The bag the bag!” I slam on my breaks again and feel a sudden lock of the bag tire…..that’s odd, I didn’t apply *that* much brake…whatever must be the mud. So I hop off and look back…..one of the straps is caught in my chain and around my sproket….sh!t…..the chain guard was done too…all bent out of place. I unscrewed it, saved the screws and threw it away. Dad and I then proceeded to remove the strap from my rear tire. I pushed the bike back in the mud (foot traction was less than abundant!) as my dad pulled on the strap. We eventually got the strap free and jumped with joy that it was still fairly in tact and working! We put the strap back on the bag and this time I got the grand idea to zip tie the hooks (loosely) to the rack incase they loosened up again. This proved to be a genius move on my part….saved the bag COUNTLESS times the rest of the trip!

We continue our trip and drop down into a dry river bed…I make it through ok but dad didn’t. A few minutes later I hear on the radio “I’m down, i’m down!” So I stop and turn back around…..I was at the top of a hill (not the best place to turn around!) Sure enough I high centered and tipped over….damnit….So a bunch of adrenaline and some not so kosher english later I had the beast back up and on my way back to dad. When I got back he had his bike up but this time he looked a little muddy, oh so he did fall? Sure enough he did fall….I asked him what happened and now he’s complaining about the bike idling too fast! (Sheesh….never happy eh? haha) We started it up and confirmed it…..damn thing was idling WAY too fast….not sure what that was about but we weren’t about to stop there to figure it out….I told him to clutch it and let it rev…. Shortly there after we got to the real part of the Ojos Negros trail…..a rutted out, rocky, mess of loose muddy pebbles on a huge incline….great….I kept thinking to myself….I can’t drop the bike I can’t drop the bike…..luckily I didn’t. We go to a ranch/home thing and my dad jumped on the radio again and said “Stop stop! I can’t stop! I have no brakes!” Well he somehow managed to get to a stop and I asked him what the issue was…..he said he didn’t have any rear brakes…..So I take a look at the rear brakes and it doesn’t look to be ruptured or to have sprung a leak…..but then I dripped some water on the calipers and it evaporated right off. The brakes had over heated…..I asked him if he was riding the brakes a lot he said yes, his bike wouldn’t idle slowly so his 1st and 2nd gears were useless in terms of engine braking…..I told him to lay off the back brake and use his front more and stay on the clutch until the rear cooled off a bit. We both decided that it was a great place for a stop so we killed the bikes, got some water and took a few photos (this was at about 70% of the days route):

We continued on to Uruapan and that’s when things started to get fun…..the rain started to come down and we were already cold from the ambient air temperatures so the water didn’t do us any good. Luckily we were just about to our destination in Santo Tomas. We pulled into El Palomar motel at about 2:35pm shivering, wet and cold. The kind lady rushed us to the nearest room and turned on the heater full blast. She said after we had taken off our wet clothes to come down to the restaurant for some warm food. We were down there in the blink of an eye. She asked us if we had been out riding all day, we replied yes. She said we were certifiably crazy, it had been raining in the area the last few days and we were the ONLY rider’s she had seen in the past week! That’s good news….haha Nevertheless the food was warm, the company was great and the atmosphere of the restaurant was very Christmas-ey. I had 3 fish taco’s and a flan for desert, my dad had a bowl of fish soup. The place looked like a popular stop for tourists, there were photo’s, cards, cans, all kinds of junk there from prior riders.

After dinner we went back to the room, it was nice and warm….boy was it nice to have a heater (and a TV for that matter!) We laid everything out so it could dry as best as it could and I proceeded to compute the waypoints for the next leg of the trip as dad watched tv:

Leg stats:

  • Arrival – 12/15/08 @ 2:35pm PST
  • Time Elapsed – 5:19:00
  • Length – 112 mi
  • Avg Speed – 21 mpg