Hmm….I seem to have forgotten to post the conclusion to my little excursion there. If you want to know the rest of it just respond to this post in a comment. If there are enough people I’ll do a writeup. /Lazy
Day 3 – Santo Tomas to Mikes Sky Ranch
Today we start the day with a light drizzle. Our clothes had somewhat dried off but not completely. The night before the owner of the place kindly let me setup shop under a covered fire pit area that was well lit. I got to work on my dads bike lowering the idle and fiddling with the fuel mixture screw to see if I could find the sweet spot, alas with the lack of proper tools (I was using a single-edge blade to turn the pilot!) and the cooling trend of that night I decided to call it a day and hope for the best the next day. I finish entering the last of the way points into the GPS that morning and we were on our way. We head down the highway a bit and turn off into the little town and make our way into the hills. The road is fairly dry, not too much mud. It’s also quite smooth which is a great thing….(smooth = fast riding!) As we head towards the beach on this dirt road I notice that the rain is starting to stop and the clouds are beginning to disperse….awesome! As each hill top passes I can see the ocean gettinv ever more close. It is a beautifully deep blue with clear skies above. I come around a corner with a cliff on one side that goes down to the ocean. Perfect photo stop!
The road is a little muddy, but still firm. This is great because my beast of a bike isn’t sinking in! (That makes it easier to handle woohoo!) Here’s a little shot of the muddy footing =D
We proceed down the coast towards Erendria, the views of the ocean are breathtaking. I didn’t stop for too many more photo’s down the way, but believe me when I tell you it’s AWESOME! A few miles before we hit Erendria the road starts to turn into a muddy muck, I feel the bike losing power as I hit the deep spots of mud and my goggles are quickly filling up with mud spots. Trying very hard to resist the temptation to wipe them with my glove I continue down the road. I could only imagine how messy it was for my dad who was behind me. I must have been kicking up mud like no bodies business! We pull into Erendria and I make a wrong turn in the town (right instead of left, doh!) The GPS says I’m going in the right direction but lest I forget, the GPS is “as the crow flies”. I stopped to adjust my route chart (a paper in a plastic bag zip tied to my handlebars woo!) While we were waiting for my to finish my adjustments an old man walks out of his house to greet us. I say hi and he responds with “It’s a hell of a time to be riding…..best of luck with all that mud!” Well, I sure as heck didn’t realize what he meant right then and there, but I would soon enough! We pull out of Erendria and start heading south along the coast line again. The farther south we go the more the road turns into a muddy mess. I’m fighting REAL hard to keep my beast going straight and hammering the throttle to keep my speed up and the back tire out of the mud. Later in the day my dad reported that my back tire was always chain depth into the road…..wow! We come to a mesa area in the path that cuts out into the ocean and we stop. I needed a break and it looked like a good place for some photos:
I thought it was pretty bad there trying to control the bike and that was just a flat road! The real test was soon to come…. We started to head farther inland and we hit a section of deep whoops, all utterly and completely covered in mud. Now i’m not the fastest rider or the craziest so I usually slow down a bit when I get to the whoops. Bad move…..the bike wouldn’t handle worth a crap. The front end went one way and the rear tracked a different direction, and poor old me is stuck in between the two! I went down 3 or 4 times in that small stretch of road. Let me tell you, it ain’t easy lifting up a 300+ lb fully loaded bike in the mud….. With the lack of movement and rain I was starting to heat up in all my gear….I could feel myself sweating like crazy and my camel back was getting a workout. My dad faired better than I did with no falls, but inevitably stalled his bike out in the middle of going slow and trying not to run me over since I kept falling. It took us a good 15 minutes of blood, sweat and tears to start that damn bike up again. This time I could not for the life of me figure out what was causing it to not want to start….choke..check, gas..check, spark..check what gives!? We were both drained, sitting on a few rocks in the area taking a rest. Dad got up one more time and as luck would have it the freaking bike kicked over and we were on our way again (Thank God!)
We come to our T-off and head left going straight inland with a destination of San Vicente. We pull in and there is a slight drizzle again. As we fill up our bikes I tell my dad to pull out some Windex wipes I had sitting in my backpack. I wiped the goggles and we were on our way. We hopped on the highway and proceeded south to the Valle Trinidad turnoff. Once we get off the highway I make another wrong turn (as the crow flies….arg…) However I managed to correct and get us back to the main road. However there was a slight snafu, a ranchers barbed wire fence stood between us and the main road we needed to be on. Luckily I drove down a ways and the barbed wire fence ended and we jumped on the road. As we proceeded to Valle De Trinidad I felt the air getting colder as we ascended into the mountains. The rain was also starting to pick up, not good. So there we are, two crazy dudes riding our motorcycles on God knows how cold, soaking wet mountain roads. A lot of shivering, cursing and rain later we ended up in Valley Trinidad. We stop and ask a local if there are any hotels there (a 30 mile ride to Mikes Sky Ranch did NOT seem fun at that point!), much to our dismay he said the closest public place to stay was Mikes or to ask a local for housing in their home. We decided to head to Mikes in the cold rain. Already half frozen we start the windy road to Mikes. Well, it was a road….beneath the mud, rocks, puddles and everything that wanted to impede our path to a warm room. 2 puddles into the route my boots were soaked…..I could feel the water swishing around what I *think* were my toes…..not too sure too cold to tell where my extremities really were. Puddle after puddle, turn after turn, we fought our way to Mikes. We got to a little rink-a-dink town and yet again the GPS kicked my ass. Luckily there was an old man sitting outside his house enjoying the rain, I asked him for directions and we were back on track. I saw some motorcycle tracks on the road which got my hopes up, maybe there would be some other crazy riders at Mikes?! That got me motivated and I started riding faster. We eventually got to Mikes (after crossing that damn near frozen river at the entrance!) and the doors are locked. Great….here we are in the middle of freaking no where, cold to the bone, wet from head to toe and there is no one here……now what the hell are we going to do?! The sun was about ready to set and the rain was still coming down and I was NOT about to go back down that poor excuse for a road to get back to a town! I walk around to the back of the ranch and look in the windows. A girl appears and I wave, she sees me and I could instantly tell she was scared to see me. I’m sure she was thinking “WTF?! Who is this? What do they want and what are they doing here?!” An older woman walks into view and runs over towards the door and asks me if I needed help. Between all my shivering and clattering teeth I asked her if she had a place to stay. She responded with an “Of course, just park your bikes inside” I told her the doors were locked, so she quickly ran out and opened the front. She then ran and turned on the heater to our room and said dinner would be ready in 1 hour…hell yes! Dad and I hobble over to the room half frozen and we strip off all of our heavy, cold, soaked clothing. Thankfully the heater here was the best out of ALL the places we stayed….that thing was cookin’! We clean up and head over to go get some food and the woman asked if we had been riding all day. We responded with a yes and she said we were certifiably crazy, hmm not the first time we’d heard that on this trip! They served quite possibly one of the best steaks I’d ever had in my entire life. That meal gave me some grade A food coma and I wasn’t about to fight it! Went back to the room and knocked out….what a day…
- Arrival – 12/16/08 @ 3:00pm PST
- Time Elapsed – 5:54:10
- Length – 138 mi
- Avg Speed – 23 mph
Unfortunately I have no more photo’s of the trip, in fear of ruining the camera due to mud and the torrents of rain.
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:
- Arrival – 12/15/08 @ 2:35pm PST
- Time Elapsed – 5:19:00
- Length – 112 mi
- Avg Speed – 21 mpg
Day 1 – Arrival, Tecate to Santa Veronica
This was the only person I could find crazy enough that was willing to attempt this trip with me. I had started planning this trip about a month and a half ago with the aid of the phenomenal BajaGPSGuide. A must have for any novice Baja adventurer! Using these guides and my trusty Garmin GPSMAP 76Cx (eBay for a steal of a deal!) We also purchased about $1500 worth of equipment for our trip:
These items have shipped or are in the process of being shipped:
|Product Description||Price||Qty||Sub Total|
|A.R.C. 09 Back Country Foul Weather Jacket Large Black/Blue Part# 1185540010||79.99||1||$79.99|
|A.R.C. 09 Back Country Foul Weather Pants 34″ Black/Grey Part# 1185530006||79.99||1||$79.99|
|A.R.C. 09 Back Country Foul Weather Pants 34″ Black/Blue Part# 1185530013||79.99||1||$79.99|
|A.R.C. Corona Chest Protector Adult Blue Part# 1073500004||49.99||1||$49.99|
|Utah Sport Cycle Offroad Skid Plate – 2004 Honda XR400R Part# 1032550021||71.95||1||$71.95|
|A.R.C. MX120 Gear Bag 18″x15″x35″ Black/Grey Part# 1160380001||69.99||2||$139.98|
These items have shipped or are in the process of being shipped:
|Product Description||Price||Qty||Sub Total|
|IMS Fuel Tank 4.0 Gallon 2000 Red – 2004 Honda XR400R Part# 1053750018||247.99||1||$247.99|
|A.R.C. 09 Back Country Foul Weather Jacket Large Black/Grey Part# 1185540005||79.99||1||$79.99|
|A.R.C. Back Country Gloves Medium Black/Grey Part# 1167540006||24.99||2||$49.98|
|A.R.C. MX240V Boots Size 9 Black Part# 1147980002||179.99||1||$179.99|
These items have shipped or are in the process of being shipped:
|Product Description||Price||Qty||Sub Total|
|A.R.C. Back Country Foul Weather Jersey Large Blue Part# 1122510009||19.99||1||$19.99|
|A.R.C. Back Country Foul Weather Jersey Large Grey Part# 1122510003||19.99||1||$19.99|
|A.R.C. Pro Ex Motorcycle Tool Pack Black/Grey – 2004 Honda XR400R Part# 1173930005||89.99||1||$89.99|
|…Tusk Pack-A-Plug (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk Chain Breaker (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk Ultra Lite Tire Iron 8″ (2 per pkg.)||2|
|…A.R.C. Cross Country Tool Pack Black/Grey (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk 3-Way Mini T-Handle Wrench Tool Kit – 1/4″ Drive (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk Safety Wire (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk Folding Multi-Tool (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk Racer Axle Wrench 17mm/24mm (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Slime 1″ Skabs (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk 16 Gram CO2 Inflator Kit (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk High Leverage Side-Cutting Pliers 7 1/2″ (1 per pkg.)||1|
|…Tusk Zip Ties Black 7.5″ (1 per pkg.)||1|
|Acerbis Multiconcept Enduro Handguards Red Part# 1143440005||74.99||1||$74.99|
|A.R.C. Pro-Flex Kidney Belt Adult 28″ to 40″ Black Part# 1197000002||18.99||1||$18.99|
|Renthal Full Waffle Grips Medium Medium Part# 1118010002||9.99||1||$9.99|
|Tusk Clutch Lever Polished – 2004 Honda XR400R Part# 1166230003||5.99||1||$5.99|
|Tusk Brake Lever Polished – 2004 Honda XR400R Part# 1166210002||5.99||1||$5.99|
|80/100×21 Kenda K760 Trakmaster II Part# 1054690013||41.99||1||$41.99|
|110/100×18 (4.25/4.60×18) Kenda K760 Trakmaster II Part# 1054690009||47.99||1||$47.99|
|Camelbak 08 Hawg 100 oz. Coyote/Graphite Part# 1167580003||94.99||1||$94.99|
|Acerbis Multiconcept Enduro Handguards Replacement Plastic White Part# 1143450003||25.99||1||$25.99|
|Scott Model 83 Goggle Black Part# 1077360006||17.99||1||$17.99|
|Scott 89 Xi Turbo Goggle Blue Part# 1168660003||39.99||1||$39.99|
I had to install the new Clarke desert tank on my dads bike, that proved to be a pain because of the hose routing and tight fit of the carb area. I also decided to swap out my rear shock from my lowered, softer suspension to the stock taller shock. I also raised the forks about an inch. I took it off the stand, hopped on and marked my stamp of approval….but wait…..I raised the bike so that means I need a taller kick stand right? Dammit….so I spend a few hours trying to make one out of PVC (broke), 1″ aluminum rode (broke), 1.5″ aluminum rod (broke)….I finally gave up and ghetto-ized my kickstand like so:
Locked and loaded with two bikes, all of our gear, some cash and a lot of crazy we attempted to depart…..yes…attempted. The first snafu of our journey was that we managed to forget a lot of stuff (luckily we remembered at the corner of the block so it wasn’t the end of the world)
- Sun glasses
- Tool set
We finally got all that accounted for and set out for our journey. I had the unwieldy task of entering ALL of our way points into a laptop so that they could be uploaded to a GPS…..so on the highway I plug in the GPS….need drivers for that doh! Ok, lets tether to the phone to download them…..need drivers for that too GRrrrrr! Ok, lets find a Starbucks….find a Starbucks and the laptop won’t get on the Internet….freaking crap! I had to ask a fellow techie to download me a copy of MalwareBytes so I could fix up my dads laptop and get it on the Internetz….lame….so there we burned an hour….
Back on the road again we managed to cross the border (at Tecate) in good time, we drove down a ways East from Tecate towards Santa Veronica. On the way we managed to find a little shop with a nice lady that agreed to let us leave the truck in the back (on her ranch) for the duration of our trip. We unloaded, saddled up and hit the road!
Our first destination was Rancho Santa Veronica, the majority of this ride was on the highway. However the first section of dirt was a test of our packing abilities. The duffel bag on my bike (easily adding an extra 40 lbs of crap!) just didn’t want to stay on….so I was constantly stopping to re-adjust and re-tighten the straps. My dad said his had no problems at all, his hadn’t moved or anything….well not for long…..about 3/4 of the way to Santa Veronica, one of the bungee cords that was holding his bag on snapped. He said, and I quote, “I felt like I lost a little power, but I just gave it more gas” well yeah buddy that “loss of power” was your bag stuck in your rear tire….I had a mirror on my bike so I looked back and all of a sudden I saw this black thing hanging off the side of his bike. I motion him to stop and I jump off my bike and run back to see what it was. Sure enough, it was his duffel bag…..and all that remained was the 1 torn up t-shirt that was stuck in his motorcycle chain……the rest….gone… So he had no more underwear, socks, shirts, jeans, toiletries, nothing…..Well from my reading on the Internetz I anticipated the worst and double packed most of my stuff. He said I was over packing, I said….just in case. Well that just in case was a god sent on my part….he was able to go the rest of the trip by mooching off my duffel bag….
I took a few wrong turns as I was getting used to the GPS, but all in all we arrived in decent time. The stats for this leg are below:
- Arrival – 12/14/08 @ 4:30pm PST
- Time Elapsed – 1:28:26
- Length – 21.2 mi
- Avg Speed – 14 mph
We had dinner and the ranch, I had a Carne Asada steak and my dad had a Milanesa steak. The dining area:
We then headed over to our accomodations, very spacious but not the warmest thing ever….although, a good thing about all the places we stayed was that they all had super awesome blankets!
With that I’ll call it a night….tomorrow I’ll post day 2….stay tuned!