Baja 1999

Location: Baja
Riders: Brad, Bryce, Jay, Paul & Richard

(This year we hooked up with Richard (a 67 year old iron man) again, to guide us through Baja. The following is his accounting of the trip as shared in a letter to his brother and father.)


Hi Guys!

Just got back from a six day dirt bikin’ Baja trip—stayed in a motel every night. I spent a couple of days two years ago showing some neat places to four Silicon Valley Techies who are into dirt bikes. They wrote and said if I’d be their guide for a week in Baja they’d pay all my expenses. How could I refuse? Stayed a night at Mike’s Sky Ranch, then to San Felipe. We pulled up to a bar with an upstairs patio overlooking the beach. After three stiff Margaritas, it was time to go, but some old codgers we met (well, that the way I thought of them, but in shock I must realize they were younger than I)—anyway they bought a round. It was no win from then on. One of our crowd, the first over the top decided to buy another round, then another and another before I could keep up. About four hours after arriving there were only two of us conscious. One had been passed out on the bathroom floor for over an hour, one passed out on the table and the smallest guy, still in all his riding gear was sitting on the curb downstairs. It only started out sitting, then it was slumped, then it was a shapeless pile of boots, knee pads, shoulder pads and helmet in a heap that nothing with a spine could accomplish.

It was decided that I would get on my bike and find a motel since I was in no condition to walk. I found one close enough to walk, so the two of us semi-conscious zombies pushed the bikes to the motel, then hauled the loads of backpacks, tool pouches, canteens, boots, helmets and assorted paraphernalia over to the motel.

Then came the hard part. How to get the lumps of stewed man-meat from the bar to the motel. One of the drunken Gringos we met volunteered to get his Jeep, which in the present condition was necessary, even though the motel was right around the corner. The shapeless heap on the curb, being small was not too much trouble piling into the back of the Jeep. The sot passed out on the table was high enough we could get under his arms, and since his legs seemed to dangle a little bit like a Raggedy Andy Doll we managed to get him too into the back of the Jeep. Now bear in mind this Jeep had no back seat, as I remember, but since both guys were a relaxed as jellyfish, we managed to squeeze them in.

Ev’ Crashes Hard

Then came the challenge. The guy on the bathroom floor weighs, I would guess, 260 pounds. Fortunately he evidenced slight motor skills, though no consciousness. We were able to get one of us under each arm—his arms around our shoulders but only because his legs seemed to show some reflex action as we tried to lift. The legs continued their reflex action as we crossed the floor to the spiral staircase. Then two steps down the stairs, the legs twitched their last, just as a long dead rattlesnake tail will twitch its last. At that the 260 pounds became 500 pounds of dead weight burying the two hapless drunks beneath him. With help from three bartenders who came to our aid we were extricated from the avalanche. But what to do, Avalanche was upside down with his feet at the top of the spiral staircase and his head at the bottom. Just to prove that brilliance can emanate from inebriation we determined that the only solution was to grab the arms and pull. It took the five of us, the three bartenders and we two, but we dragged him all the way down the stairs, head first, and out the door to the Jeep. How we got him into the Jeep or the three of them out of the Jeep at the hotel, I don’t remember.

Needless to say, the start of the next day’s ride was a bit late, especially for Avalanche who stayed in bed for almost two days. We chose the perfect ride for a hangover — fifty five miles to Puertocitos. Fifty five miles of the harshest, roughest ride in all of Baja. Miles of volcanic rock mixed with round river wash rocks would yield to endless whoop-de-doos, followed by the repeat of rocks and whoops. Actually there may have been only a couple of whoops and rocks, I wouldn’t know, because I was taking such a pounding my bifocals were chattering up and down so badly, everything was a blur. When we got to Puertocitos the guys told me I should have ridden on the freeway right beside the old dirt road like they did. I swear I never saw the freeway. [Trust me, there was no freeway—Bryce]

We went down and looked at the hot springs, but were too beat to get out of our riding gear and into the pools, knowing we would have to put the gear back on again to return. The return trip to San Filipe was little better. There were more pot holes in the paved road, I guarantee, than in the entire city of New York. And if you think I’m exaggerating, any time we could ride the rock strewn shoulder of the road and get off the pavement we did so.

Brad made an “Oooops”

The next day we headed back to Mike’s and three of us rode up the old logging trail up to the observatory. It is a challenging rock hopping, waterfall climbing abandoned trail, but well worth it once you reach the beautiful, pristine pine forests. We made it with only minor incidents such as Brad blowing by me over big rocks like I was standing still, only to make a sudden right turn when the trail went straight. The rocks and mesquite snagged him about six feet below, which was fortunate because it was a long way down. It was also fortunate that I saw him because he had disappeared. I stopped where he had gone over the edge, but Paul went motoring right on past, oblivious to his buddy’s antics. In Paul’s defense it was gnarly enough if you lose your momentum it’s tough to get going again. The views and the drop-offs were awesome. We all managed to tip over a time or two on that ride, but no serious “ow-ies.” Paul is the “rock master,” but he is also the “cactus master.”

Let me tell you about the previous day’s ride—no it was the same day, earlier in the morning on the way to Mike’s. We crossed Diablo Dry Lake maintaining about eighty. Then it suddenly enters a whoopy two track. Paul didn’t quite make the proper speed adjustment, by say 60 MPH, so we had to wait while he made a few adjustments to body and bike. We barely got going again when Paul seemed to have a grudge against whoop-de-doos, because he hit another set—in anger I’m sure—did several wing dings for about thirty yards and turned sudden left where there was no left and sat down on as hairy a three foot tall cactus as I have ever seen anybody tangle with in all my years in Baja. As sympathetic buddies we watched as he dropped his pants and spent endless time picking thorns from his butt. He knew we were good friends,—though we wouldn’t pick them out of places he couldn’t reach, we did offer him a lot of helpful suggestions and took pictures.

We had just a great time the whole trip, lots of fun, good camaraderie and four guys who got along great, five if you count me. I really enjoy riding with a bunch who even under the adversities that you always run into—keep their cool and their good humor. The Avalanche (Jay) had a couple rough days, but was still a good sport and the Heap-on-the-curb (Bryce) managed to stiffen his spine enough by the day after the Margaritas to shorten it six inches on the jarring ride down to Puertocitos—and he can’t afford to lose that much.

All in all a great ride, a fun bunch of guys and I hope they come down again—Jay the Drink-master, Bryce the Instigator, Paul the Kid, and Brad the Trouble-maker.



Author: Ev'mon

Experience: Riding since '81. Hardware: '94 RMX250; '97 XR600; '95 NightHawk 750; '01 WR426 Ranking: Adventurist Favorite Riding: Tight Woods & Desert Favorite Places: Hungry Valley, CA; Baja Mexico

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