Jump to content

On Baja Time, Part 2 of 3


Recommended Posts


On Baja Time, Part 2 of 3


Time slows. The desert awakens. The shadows shorten. The jet black skies surrender to the sun, hanging like a giant fiery copper ball in the sky. The heat increases exponentially as we suit up for another day of exploration in this, “La Frontera,” a wilderness of barren wide open space.






By nine we are on the road stretching the legs of our metal steeds. The plan is simple. Ride, eat, hydrate, and find adventure wherever it may be. The horizon, interrupted only by the jagged outlines of distant mountains surrounds us. There are no cell phone towers, bill boards or other vestiges of society, other than the scattered outposts of civilization offering beer, food and tire repair. We flew down the highway, not knowing that we would be in need of critical service very soon…


Eventually we found our way into Bahia de Los Angeles and an uninspiring motel that was clean and not much else. The owners opened up a tiny restaurant and made us dinner. We had the place to ourselves and after a quiet evening everyone called it quits till morning. When the sun came up there were new concerns; Li was feeling increasing pain to the point that she could only sit-walking seemed virtually unbearable to her.


We were increasingly concerned about her health. There are no doctors, labs, or x-ray clinics down here, and we were still headed south; the next town of any consequence was at least a couple of day's journey. After lengthy discussion, Max and Li decided to hop on their GSA and head north. From here the road, while long, was in good condition. Li felt okay sitting so it seemed doable to them. Neither one of them had ridden in Mexico before, but I knew they would be okay as they headed north to more civilization and home.


We bade them farewell. A bit later, as we were getting ready to head south we heard the familiar sound of a big boxer motor. It was Max and Li. They decided to continue south with us despite Li’s pain. I hated to see her in so much pain, but their personal reasons for heading south with us overruled any further discussion.


We jumped back on MX 12 to D1 and headed south. For an hour or so the temps held cool as we were back on the Pacific side. At Guerrero Negro the road headed back into the mountains where the temps shot skyward. Sparse, sun blasted cacti and sky so blue it almost hurt your eyes were our companions. The roads were littered with the hulks of cars that failed to make the many curves on D1, and roadside monuments gave solemn testimony to those killed on the highway.


Finally, near Tres Virgenes, the summit was in sight and we enjoyed incredible twisties and a gorgeous panorama heading into Santa Rosalia. These were not ordinary curves; they were sharp, well graded and a joy to ride. Still we paid close attention. I remembered from an earlier ride into this area a few years ago where I blazed through one of these apexes and came across a dead horse in my lane. Glad I wasn’t going faster, and I remembered why I never ride at night in Mexico!


Soon, we dropped down into Santa Rosalia, a gritty, seafront town. Dirty, loud, and colorful, we wound our way through town. Of course, the group followed me on an unscheduled and unplanned trip the wrong way on a one way street. The Mexican drivers let me know with various gestures that we were on the way to certain doom. All’s well that ends well….Soon we were out of the combat zone and zipping south toward our next night’s lodging in Mulege.


This section of Baja is one of my favorites. Traffic seems scarcer than the light traffic on several parts of the highway, but most of all, the views are beyond spectacular. Azure seas surround stark, sun-drenched islands. The sky becomes more tropical with a hint of humidity and the clouds become fat and soft, holding the slight promise of rain.






And soon, we were in Mulege. We rumbled off the highway and navigated our way thru narrow streets to “Las Casitas” hotel and restaurant. Ed discovered this place a few years back, and it has since become my favorite bar restaurant in Baja. Plan on spending a few hours over dinner in the traditional way. Lots of drinks, good friends, and fellowship and then the food. Yes, the food. Each meal was cooked over a wood fire on an open pit near our table, and it was mouth-watering. We spent a warm evening talking, laughing and just being in the moment. It was a great night.










I hated to leave Mulege, but we had our sights on Loreto. Loreto is a nice sized town and we picked a great hotel that was right on the sand (In fact the ONLY hotel with beach front in town). Reasonably priced, the hotel had a decent bar and food, though we chose to eat downtown for the most part.


This may or may not have been a good decision.. We’d intended on a layover here in Loreto for a couple of days before turning around and heading north to home. Within about 12 hours of being in Loreto several of us began to show symptoms of an intestinal ailment. Ed was hit pretty badly, while Paul and I had somewhat more moderate symptoms. Dai, who’d survived a get-off on the dusty, sandy roads near Alfonsina’s was unscathed here as well. Likewise, Robert had no issues. Li fortunately did not get sick, which would have added to her woes.







The hotel was great, but Li was feeling increasing pain as our trip headed south. By the time we got to Loreto her discomfort was extreme, and decisions needed to be made. In the end, she went by plane to Tijuana where she would be met by her daughter. This was truly the best course of action; I believed her injuries might have been worse than they appeared. The manager of the hotel helped arrange transportation; Paul and Max got her to the airport, and she was gone. I think it was the best possible situation for Li (as it turned out, she had a compression fracture in her lower spine, and required extensive attention back in the US).


After a couple of nights in Loreto the rest of us were feeling better, so we said goodbye and pointed the wheels north. Our next destination? San Ignacio, home of Scammon’s Lagoon and the migrating whales. San Ignacio is a very quaint, very traditional village that looked like it could have been taken from an ancient Spanish town. The center of the town was dominated by a beautifully shaded town square and a very old church, in fact the oldest working mission in Baja. The architecture was stunning, the people were friendly, and the town square was refreshingly cool and comfortable! We found lodging and a great family restaurant across the street from the plaza. It was a perfect place to sit, have dinner and watch the people stroll around the plaza.











San Ignacio is clearly a town lost in time. Grandmothers stroll around the town plaza mindfully watching their grandsons and daughters walking with their suitors. Children laugh and play, and in the background there is always music, a core of Mexican culture! Dinner was seafood, and we sat with a tour guide for a famous motorcycle touring company who told us stories of his latest trip. This group had been on an adventure, from losing all their spare tires to corrupt officials at the Mexican-Guatemalan border, to various interpersonal issues between the participants. The guide laughed, and said, “This has been a tour from hell…” I asked him if he’d had enough “adventure” for awhile. He nodded his head and answered yes, but that he’d be ready to go again as he loved his work despite the temporary setbacks.


From San Ignacio it would be a long ride up MX D1. We got an early start to beat the heat as we headed back over the pass and through the mountains. The reward was the never ending vista of incredible desert and openness that Baja Sur brings. We pulled into San Ignacio to pick up a small part Dai needed, and then left Baja Sur for Baja California, just outside of town.


Just north of Guerrero Negro the adventure took another unexpected turn. While riding, I struck a pothole. Not just any pothole, but the mother of all potholes. In an instant, the front wheel fell in and then slammed into the lip of the hole’s far side. The shock of the impact rattled my teeth and nearly snapped my hands off the controls. In a split second, the dynamic of the ride had changed for me, just as Max and Li’s incident did for them. As I let off on the throttle, I heard my self saying, “Please God, let this not be a flat tire!” About one second later the heavy GSA started a drunken wobble; I gingerly steered the bike off the road into, believe it or not, the last PEMEX station for about 140 miles.


I was literally shaking from the impact and shock of the hit; it felt like hitting a gutter at 70 mph. Muy malo! I wondered why the front end of the motorcycle stayed together. I dismounted and everyone pulled in. I remember saying out loud that I had a flat tire. Paul pointed out it was a mbt more than flat. My heart sank when I saw the dent in the rim.


Yep, in Mexico it’s all good until it’s not. And this was certainly not good. Stranded 800 miles from the nearest BMW shop, and miles from town, it was time to leave the pity party and start making plans. Across the street was a ramshackle tire repair place. I pushed the bike over and pointed out the problem to the guys who were sitting around drinking beer. They laughed, and one guy said, “We fix.”


They pounded on the rim, they heated it with a blowtorch, they even tried plugging the dent with a piece of rubber trash. Dai, who had walked over, could barely watch them blow torch the wheel with the tire still on it. Neither could I. I knew if they could not fix it I would be officially stranded. I went back to talk to the group. I suggested Paul and Penny, and Max go with Robert and keep heading north. Dai and Ed volunteered to stay with me as I mulled over options for getting the machine and me back to the States if the rim could not be fixed.


Finally, the guys got the wheel off the bike (a story unto itself), pounded more, blow torched more, and spooned the rubber back onto the rim.


Do you know the sweetest sound is in the world? It is when a tire seats, and it did with a resounding POP! Paul brought over a few cases of Tecate to the guys and I paid $35 US, and suddenly we were back in business, able to travel as a group to El Rosario for the night!




To be Continued...



Link to comment

Thanks, Tim.


Writing, editing, importing pix, more editing...writing is a labor of love and is a personal thing, but still it's good to see that a few people are enjoyng reading the product...


Part 3 soon!

Link to comment

Amazing how we all come alive (adrenaline rush) when the SHTF! :eek:


I was traveling across Oregon on RT 20 years ago when my buddy's exhaust bracket pipe whatever broke off of his pos custom Harley. (say that lovingly, not!) :grin: We rolled into a small town and an old farmer happened to be crossing the road at the same time. I yelled to Dave, hey stop that guy, he can weld! ;)


Sure enough, he had the bracket welded up in about fifteen minutes. :thumbsup:


Strong work not panicking with the tire blowout and then the fix! :clap:



Link to comment



It was definitely a "moment" when I got off the bike and saw the damage, and realized where we were...A few deep breaths and we off on the repair!


I've never seen such potholes on a "major" highway, LOL

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...