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Thread: Story Time - I dirt biked the Baja 1000

  1. #1
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    Default Story Time - I dirt biked the Baja 1000

    Quick facts
    Trip date: Mar 2014
    Miles ridden: 1,200 miles/ 1,930km
    Riding Days: 6
    Start point: Ensenada, MX
    End point: Cabo San Lucas, MX
    Previous motorbike experience: Honda CR80 when I was a kid.
    Baja Bike: Honda 450F
    Huh?: I thought my 20 years of mountain snowmobiling would cover the skills needed for baja.
    Tour company: https://chrishaines.com/7-day-baja-tours/
    Missed margaritas each night: 0
    Fun had: All of it.
    Riders who didn’t finish due to injury: 3/8.

    I’m sharing because I want a place to look back and recall this adventure, plus maybe there’s some motorsport people left on here.

    Back in 2014 I was living in Houston. I heard from a friend about a baja dirt bike trip. I looked it up, found great guide company that included the bike, gear, food, hotels, etc. Booked my flight to San Diego and that was that.
















    Getting there - Tues, Mar 18 – Fly Houston to San Diego, UA1601, 9:00am-10:30am.
    I took a taxi from the airport to the hotel the tour company would meet me at, at a specified time. While waiting, I went and had lunch on a nearby air craft carrier, and saw the navy training a working dolphin. Really cool.

    The vans showed up at the meeting spot in San Diego, towing the bikes. I meet our 2 guides, Santana and Rob. Santana is Mexican and competed in the Baja 1000 for many years. The other riders showed up too, 8 in total. Some were first timers like me, a father and son, plus a group of friends who live on the island of St Martin who’d done the trip twice before. For hotels during the trip there were 2 people to a room, so I paired up with a guy my age (Kevin) who turned out to be an awesome dude. Firefighter from the NW US. He was into classis cars, dirt biking and it was his dream to ride the baja. He had tourette’s and we heard him shouting now and then during dinners, etc. Awesome guy, we kept in touch for a while after the trip, and he even sent me some big photo prints, a t shirt from his fire hall, etc.

    Anyway, we piled into the vans and headed south into Mexico. At the US/Mexico boarder, we had to get out and go into an office to get our visa’s stamped, with out guides doing the talking.

    A few more hours of driving and we arrived at our beautiful hotel in Ensenada, where the baja 1000 starts every year. I was handed my brand new riding gear (rented), which includes what you see below. The kidney belt saved my ass. We all went out to a great place for dinner (live music), and got to know each other a bit better.

    We were taught about ‘posting’, when riding. The 2 guides will run leader and the other sweep. With the 8 noobs in between them, we will spread out while riding, likely many km from front to back. At any intersection of the trail or any ‘option’, I must look for the person who’s waiting there for me, raise my hand with a fist acknowledging I see them and watch which way they go, then I wait at the intersection and do the same for the person behind me. It worked great, and everyone was responsible for the person behind them knowing which way to go at a fork.

    In contrast, I’ve recently (2020) done side by side trips in BC with 10 machines where drivers are supposed to follow this same practice, but things really fall apart when individuals decide it’s ‘obvious’ which way to go at an intersection and decide not to post for the person behind them. End rant, anyway it worked great on my baja trip thanks to everyone being disciplined enough to post up well at every option on the trail. No one ever got lost.

    View from lunch in San Diego.



    Navy dolphin


    The bikes and support van. Some bikes are spares.



    US/Mexican boarder


    Walking to get our passports stamped.


    Hotel in Ensenada


    New rental riding gear


    Labamba at dinner, getting to know the team
    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:54 PM.
    Current Cars:
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    1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne C10 Pickup 402 big block, 700R4
    2003 BMW X5 4.6IS Doushmobile
    2004 GMC 2500HD 8.1L Snow plow, dog hauler

    Past Cars:
    2015 Ford Fiesta ST | Cobb Stage 1, catless downpipe
    2008 Corvette Z06 - 11.39 at 123.8mph
    2002 Corvette Z06 - 12.10 at 116.5mph
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ
    1993 5L Mustang - 12.59 at 108
    1989 5L Mustang
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    1991 Acura Integra RS 403Honda

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    Day 1 Riding - Wed, Mar 19
    Wake up at 6:00am, we trailer 30 min then get all the bikes unloaded. Time to hit the trail.

    The first thing I realize: Damn, these riders are fast! Big whoops, bumps, lots of speed. Harder than I thought! One fellow in the group is not keeping up great, he only has street bike experience. At least I’m not the slowest one, phew. Also, I realize the scenery in the desert is amazing, and the cactus are blooming with lots of colors.

    We had lots of flat tires, likely from the cactus needles everywhere. The guides come back and fix the tires for us, then we keep riding.

    While catching up with the group and waiting for a few people behind me (wow, I passed a few people!), we were waiting and looking back when a rider with the St Martin group lost control and went off a ~10’ cliff into a rock field. He hit his face, near the eye, on a rock and was bleeding. We got the bike and him back on the trail, and kept moving. After a total of 10 hours of riding, we arrived at our destination (San Quintin). The rider that crashed ended up going to a local hospital and getting 4 stitches. It was a solid reality check for us all, that we are remote and far away from any help while on the trail. Don’t ride like you’re a hero at 10 10ths.



    About to start














    Crash, rider of a the edge. 4 stitches in his face that night.




    Lunch






    10 hours later, got to the hotel. Margarita time.


    Hotel




    More Labamba
    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:56 PM.

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    Day 2 riding - Thurs, Mar 20th
    On the trail at 7:00am. The longest day, 220 miles. Hard. Lots of deep sand, on the power a lot just to keep moving. Sand takes skills, especially with other tracks in it already. Huge rocks to get over, crawling at 1mph some times. Hard to get going once you stop in the rocks while climbing. Amazing cactus garden, crazy colors. Some trails with fun flowy sandy berms. The rider who crashed yesterday is taking the day off, riding in the support van.

    Had my first crash, and got it on video. No injury, bike is ok. Very long day, even some highway riding getting up to about 140km/h. Wore the tires out a little on the asphalt. I have no street bike experience, so I’ve never ridden on highway. More flat tires. Long day, drinking a ton of water. Blisters are starting from the bumps. I’ll use duct tape for next day.

    Arrived at Bahia de los Angeles in the dark, to a small hotel called Casa Del Sol. It only got electricity in 1997. Great hosts, margarita time. WE all ate outside. Super technical day for me. Diverse scenery. Overall way more challenging then I thought, but I’m loving it. It’s pushing me. Rewarding and no pressure from the others. I’m about middle of the pack now, getting better. I can really see how some people sign up and are in over their head. So tired, asleep in minutes.





    Check out the cactus colors




    Waiting at my post






    Tire killers






    Lunch


    Gas stop


    Dead tired already by lunch


    This stuff was so hard to ride up






    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 07:07 PM.
    Current Cars:
    1970 Chevy Blazer, 2wd
    1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne C10 Pickup 402 big block, 700R4
    2003 BMW X5 4.6IS Doushmobile
    2004 GMC 2500HD 8.1L Snow plow, dog hauler

    Past Cars:
    2015 Ford Fiesta ST | Cobb Stage 1, catless downpipe
    2008 Corvette Z06 - 11.39 at 123.8mph
    2002 Corvette Z06 - 12.10 at 116.5mph
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ
    1993 5L Mustang - 12.59 at 108
    1989 5L Mustang
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    1991 Acura Integra RS 403Honda

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    Finally coming into Bahia de los Angeles




    God what a long day. So happy to get here and have a great meal outside.


    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:42 PM.

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    Oh yea





    Day 3 riding - Fri, Mar 21
    Amazing breakfast outside at the hotel and waving bye to our great hosts as we rode away. A flat tire in the parking lot, then on the trail at 7am. First 20 miles were hard packed with lots of bumps. Another flat tire for me, from a pinch caused during the earlier parking lot tube replacement.

    Sand dune time at a beach! Need all the power, full out. Finally, my sledding experience (hill climbing) is coming in handy and I seem to be the best and climbing in the sand. Burned a ton of gas doing this.

    We ran into a fellow who had a little shack on the beach. He’s lived there for 30 years! He knew one of our guides and gave us some water.

    Next we arrived at our lunch destination. A tiny community that seemed like an oasis in the middle of the desert. There we cows walking around, hammocks to chill in. Lunch was fresh fish in tacos, so damn good tasting.

    After lunch, the trail was a lot of fun, soft sand, but very face paced. Saw a way marker. I couldn’t believe I still have of this trip left, if feel like we’ve already ridder so far and it’s taken so much work already.

    As we approached our destination for the night, we had to drive on the streets. At stop lights, cars and people were waving at us, honking. They love the ppl on bikes, desert trucks for the revenue it brings the baja.

    The tape on my blisters is working well. I feel good. Some other riders crashed today, one hurt his ribs.

    At our destination, San Ignacio, my margarita tastes really intense. I first thought it was the booze, but it was simply made from freshly squeezed lime juice and tequila. I had 3 to take advantage of the flavor. I’m so impressed with how well our 2 guides are taking care of us.

    6am at the hotel




    Great breakfast


    Bikes ready to go, mine had flat tire in this pic


    Hands taped up.


    Kid biking to school


    On the trail






    A metric shit ton of cactus




    Old guys shack he’s lived in for 30 years




    Lunch


    Santana








    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:58 PM.
    Current Cars:
    1970 Chevy Blazer, 2wd
    1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne C10 Pickup 402 big block, 700R4
    2003 BMW X5 4.6IS Doushmobile
    2004 GMC 2500HD 8.1L Snow plow, dog hauler

    Past Cars:
    2015 Ford Fiesta ST | Cobb Stage 1, catless downpipe
    2008 Corvette Z06 - 11.39 at 123.8mph
    2002 Corvette Z06 - 12.10 at 116.5mph
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ
    1993 5L Mustang - 12.59 at 108
    1989 5L Mustang
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    1991 Acura Integra RS 403Honda

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    Finally at the hotel








    Day 4 riding - Sat, Mar 22
    7am on the trail. This day, everyone really got well spaced out. I felt like I was riding alone, couldn’t see anyone in front of me or behind me. Stopped for 5 min and no one caught up. Starting to feel in-the-zone on the bike and just taking in the entire experience. Amazing scenery.

    Rode to a place famous for surfing called Scorpion Bay for lunch. A St Martin rider hit a sand hump on the trail and it bucked him hard enough that the only thing hanging on to the bike were his hands. He ended up tearing his triceps. His arm is now swollen.

    Did some river crossings. Where the water runs over the road, there’s algae. It’s so slippery, if you even touch the throttle a little, your tire will go out on you. Gained a lot of elevation today, very dusty. My hands are holding up still. Riding is going well, feel like I’m getting in the zone.

    Arrived in the town of Loreto, a fishing village. Had a great dinner at a steak house. My back is sore, but it loosens up in the morning after a few bumps. The days are going quick. Only 2 riding days left until Cabo.


    Pee break








    Guide checking the bike at a stop.



    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:43 PM.

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    Horses






    Finally at Loreto, amazing hotel. Margarita then straight into the pool with all our gear.








    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 10:24 PM.
    Current Cars:
    1970 Chevy Blazer, 2wd
    1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne C10 Pickup 402 big block, 700R4
    2003 BMW X5 4.6IS Doushmobile
    2004 GMC 2500HD 8.1L Snow plow, dog hauler

    Past Cars:
    2015 Ford Fiesta ST | Cobb Stage 1, catless downpipe
    2008 Corvette Z06 - 11.39 at 123.8mph
    2002 Corvette Z06 - 12.10 at 116.5mph
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ
    1993 5L Mustang - 12.59 at 108
    1989 5L Mustang
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    1991 Acura Integra RS 403Honda

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    Day 5 riding - Sun, Mar 23

    Well, I was feeling confident in my skills improving or the days getting easier. That thought was erased by today’s ride. It was a big one. Started taking a very twisty asphalt road as it climbed through the mountains. The road had no cars on it because it was washed out in many placed from a hurricane and flooding. I’ve never been to the Dragon’s Tail road, but this felt like it, dipping the bike into corner after corner. I have no idea how close to the edge of traction I was, carving through corners on knobby tires, but I hope I had lots of room left.

    We ended up driving up to a big 300 year old church. Lunch was our support van near the highway with tents setup in advance for our meal. One thing I forgot to mention about our guides. When our bikes are parked, they’d go clean the dust from our goggles! And fill the bikes up, and check the tires, chains, etc. Amazing service.

    After lunch, we rode twisty sandy trails which were so fun to power out of. I guess kind of like drifting, but it’s a very different feeling in a dirt bike coming out of a soft berm under power.

    The rider who’d torn his triceps took the day off. Another rider who’d crashed and hurt his ribs stopped way through the day and rode to the support van.

    One of the bikes blew a motor. Our guides assessed the situation on a big flat dry lake bed. The ended up towing the broken bike with another bike to a small fishing village where they’d already sat-phoned ahead and hired a local with a pick up to bring us a spare bike from the support van and take the broken bike away. Our trip insurance covers this, so there was no cost to the rider of the bike with the blown motor. Leaving that village, lots of dogs were coming out of nowhere and trying to bite us as we went by. It’s in the video.

    We gassed up at another village, having gas siphoned from barrels into our bikes, one bike at a time.

    Today I got to ride directly behind our guide in the front, Santana. I found it much easier to deal with the sand, having only 1 bike rut in front of me. We got going super fast, and had a ton of rhythm whoops to navigate. I found on soft sand that’s tracked up, it’s best to have as little weight on the front tire as possible. This done by a) putting your ass way out back, and b) heavy with the throttle. In some places the sand is actually fine talcum powder, and 18” deep with big rocks hidden in it. If you stop, it’s hard to get going again. Today was super damn hot, the only relief is to keep moving and get some air movement.

    Near the end of the day, we dropped down some things called the Spanish Steps. I’m told the baja trucks usually rattle down these really fast as they enter the end of the official baja into the town of La Paz. Dropping down the steps reminded me of mountain biking and navigating similar terrain. After, we had 3 miles of sandy whoops which was fun, and in the dark too. Each bike has a headlight.

    Once we rolled into La Paz, I realized it is a big place, and more modern then where else we’d been. Before we got into the heavy traffic, we all pulled over and Santana had a chat with us about some precautions to be safe once we got into the city, regarding the traffic and the fact it was night and we have no tail lights. He wanted us all riding 2 wide, to appear like cars with our headlights. We started the 10 mile ride through town to our hotel. We got a ton of attention from cars and people, it felt like riding dirt bikes down a busy 17th ave in the summer. This night ride through La Paz was on another level of city riding then I’d experienced. We ran into some police who just waved us through a red light. We finally pulled into a Pemex gas station. Santana and our other guide said we all did great in that were riding aggressively, not flinching and holding our lines.

    Our hotel was at a marina with beautiful yachts. I’m totally spend tonight. I’m looking forward to completing the trip. Every day has been amazing.



    Gassing up




    Our guides assessing what to do about the bike that blew a motor.







    Loaded up at a village


    The locals were proud of their little kids, like this one



    One of the dozen dogs that chased us outta town. He’s acting nice here.




















  9. #9
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    Olive tree, I think


    I’m glad you know where the hell we are.




    About to drop down the Spanish Steps, into La Paz












    Made it


    This rider was done.


    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:45 PM.

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    Day 6 Riding - Mon, Mar 24
    Last day of riding. We were allowed to sleep in to 7:30am. We started making our way towards Cabo. The ridding attitude today was very chill. I didn’t want the ride to end, and I’d witnessed accidents leading to 3 of our 8 riders ending up in the support van. Time to just do a chill ride to the end. We passed some trucks in the desert as we approached Cabo. Still a nice combo of sand, twisty trails, some high speed but no pucker factor. As we got into Cabo we came into some traffic. Following our guide, we spit the lanes between the oncoming traffic and the with-traffic. A little hairy, and in the video.

    Getting to the hotel, the security guard there wouldn’t let us come into the parking lot. He and Santana were arguing. We hustled around the hotel to another parking lot where we got in, and found the van + trailer waiting for us. DONE. Got off the bike, high fived and hugged my fellow riders. It was bitter sweet that it was over. One of the toughest mental and physical things I’ve done. I have no idea how the professional racers do it in one go. I wrote my name on my tires and took them home with me as a trophy.

    The Cabo hotel was sweet. We all walked into the fancy lobby looking like hell in our riding gear. We all got margarita together before getting cleaned up, as tradition demanded. I stayed an extra day, got a cabana by the pool, had sushi with the guys, relaxed. It turned out it was US Spring Break so that was extra fun.



    Shade break


    How many dollars will this take?


    Ok, that many. Bye.


    DONE






    Tues, Mar 25
    Chill in Cabo. Glad I planned to stay and extra day to relax.


    Someone bought HGH at a pharmacy. The lady disappeared behind a hidden door and came back with it, haha.


    Wed, Mar 26 – Fly SAN JOSE DEL CABO, MEXICO to Houston, UA1533, 1:40pm-6:10pm.

    Since the trip, I think about the adventure frequently and the reward to have experienced and completed it. The best money I’ve ever spent. I can say starting as a beginner dirt biker, I felt incredibly more comfortable mid way and all the way to the end, being thrown right into the deep end. I can’t say enough good things about our 2 guides, and the general attitude of all the riders on the trip. I will do this trip again in my life time, hopefully with my brother of friends next time.
    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 10:23 PM.
    Current Cars:
    1970 Chevy Blazer, 2wd
    1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne C10 Pickup 402 big block, 700R4
    2003 BMW X5 4.6IS Doushmobile
    2004 GMC 2500HD 8.1L Snow plow, dog hauler

    Past Cars:
    2015 Ford Fiesta ST | Cobb Stage 1, catless downpipe
    2008 Corvette Z06 - 11.39 at 123.8mph
    2002 Corvette Z06 - 12.10 at 116.5mph
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ
    1993 5L Mustang - 12.59 at 108
    1989 5L Mustang
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    1991 Acura Integra RS 403Honda

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    G, this is cool beyond words! I've always wanted to do Baja but not a chance I'd do it on two wheels, haha.

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    This is super awesome, I bet it was an amazing experience!

    If you don't mind, what kind of money did the trip set you back?

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    I'm sure there are some ATV or UTV tours too, although not through the company I went with.

    The baja trip amped up my dirt bike confidence enough for me to do a full day tour a couple years later when I was in Dubai. It ended up just being the guide and I for the whole day. The bike was a KTM 500, and I needed all the power because we were in sand dunes all day. The heat in the Dubai desert was much more intense then baja. Like a furnace blowing in my face. Even moving, there was little relief.

    Again, my only motor cycle experience in my life is 1) Honda 80cc as a kid, and 2) the baja trip. I have to really thank snowmobiling for everything. On my Dubai ride, I did crash and went face first into the sand at the bottom of a sand dune as it transitioned to flat. It rung my bell and my neck. I ended up deciding I had a mild concussion, so once the ride was over I took it easy for the rest of the day.

    Waiting for my guide to meet me up on a hill


    Me attempting to climb as high as possible. I think I chickened out, it was getting really steep.










    In the video above, this is what I was climbing.














    Camels





    And a beach in Oman a little later


    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:38 PM.
    Current Cars:
    1970 Chevy Blazer, 2wd
    1972 Chevy Super Cheyenne C10 Pickup 402 big block, 700R4
    2003 BMW X5 4.6IS Doushmobile
    2004 GMC 2500HD 8.1L Snow plow, dog hauler

    Past Cars:
    2015 Ford Fiesta ST | Cobb Stage 1, catless downpipe
    2008 Corvette Z06 - 11.39 at 123.8mph
    2002 Corvette Z06 - 12.10 at 116.5mph
    2005 Jeep Wrangler LJ
    1993 5L Mustang - 12.59 at 108
    1989 5L Mustang
    1990 Jeep Cherokee
    1991 Acura Integra RS 403Honda

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by brucebanner View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    This is super awesome, I bet it was an amazing experience!

    If you don't mind, what kind of money did the trip set you back?
    It was $5k US, including the rental gear. At the tour link at the very top, they have pricing for various trips All I had to pay for on top of that was flight, and any booze I drank.
    This was and still is by far the most I've spent on an experience. I'm a super cheap ass when it comes to buying something that I can't sell after. I can't say how happy I am with the investment of this baja trip, I think about it every week still and it makes me smile.
    Last edited by Ekliptix; 11-13-2020 at 09:51 PM.

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    2 stroke rider here but i think i'd rather be on a 450 or a cr500af for baja
    Machining, Fabricating, Welding etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by legendboy View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    Cool trip. All riding 450's? I know a business owner that goes down every year. Last year his wife broke her let 2 days in
    Yes, all 450's on the baja trip.
    Broke her leg? Yikes! I'm not really surprised though. I had to constantly remind myself to slow down and stop trying to race on the edge to catch up to the person in front of me. That's the only way I didn't crash and hurt myself.

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    I hurt myself every time I get on my dirtbike haha
    Machining, Fabricating, Welding etc.

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    Thanks for posting. I really enjoyed the read. Sounds like an epic trip.

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    Unreal, great post! Love the day by day details and photos.

    I’ve always wanted to do something like that. I wish I could ship my bike down and do it now!!

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    56k alert!!!! you broke my modem!!! jk

    amazing rides and perfect weather looked like

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    By NEEMO in forum Miscellaneous Buy/Sell/Trade
    Replies: 0
    Latest Threads: 10-19-2004, 11:56 AM

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