I was lucky to find my bike where I left it in the parking lot of the Finisterra hotel chained to a pipe when I returned to Los Cabos, Mexico on February 5th. I have to admit that once I got back to Canada after leaving it there at the end of my December trip, I began to question the wisdom of my decision to leave my bike in such a precarious situation. However, I needn’t have worried – my DRZ 400 was exactly as I had left it.
I had a week of solid warmth and sunshine for my ride up the Baja peninsula to my bike’s next resting place in a secure self-storage facility in San Diego. I guess the warm sunny weather is to be expected in an area that gets at least 350 days of sunshine per year and some regions go for years at a time without rain. The desert fauna, with its capability to extract moisture from sea mist, was one of the features that made the ride seem otherworldly. Like Bolivia, if you were to be dropped into the Baja, you might wonder whether you were actually on another planet. The red rock formations and dry riverbeds also added an almost Martian flavour.
The fact that you could ride for days without seeing more than a handful of other vehicles, combined with the option of riding anywhere you wanted, makes the Baja one of my favourite rides thus far. The diversity of the terrain from sand dunes to salt flats to single track mountain trails made every day a fun challenge. I was glad I had the benefit of the light DRZ 400 so I could float on the sand and tackle trails made up of toaster sized rocks. I can understand why the Baja 1000 is probably the world’s second greatest off-road race next to the Dakar.
Although I am ashamed to admit it, I was not riding crazy enough to drop my bike even once on the this trip. However, the trip was not without its misadventures . On the day I left Loreto with a plan to ride to a whale watching camp on the opposite side of the peninsula, I got lost on a cattle trail in the deep sand at night. I had set off through the mountains which was slower going than I thought. By the time I filled up with gas from a barrel at the only settlement on my route, there was only an hour or so of daylight left to cover 150 km of offroad trails to get the camp (which I had no GPS location for).
This might have been possible had my luggage rack not disintegrated from the vibration of the rocky road forcing me to stop several times to tie my falling luggage back onto the bike. I had to ride considerable slower too because of my tenous rack. Also, the terrain got challenging with big pits of fesh-fesh that could easily swallow a DRZ whole. At one point I almost ran through barbed wire gate strung across the road because of the growing darkness. From that point on I was riding blind through soft sand. I kept my speed up and didn’t even realize how deep the sand was until I stopped to check my GPS (not helpful) and almost could not get moving again because the bike sank so much. Finally I saw the lights of a village at Laguna San Ignacio and a local kindly led me to the whale watching camp with his truck.
The next day I was able to go on a whale watching tour of the Gray Whale winter calving ground and get my luggage rack welded back together in San Ignacio. There I discovered Ricardo’s Rice and Beans, a hotel and bar that is an unofficial stopover of the Baja 1000. I met a number of other enduro riders there, including a guy who literally broke his BMW 650 in half and had to have a rancher put it in the back of a rusty ol’ truck and drive it 200 km to San Ignacio. Needless to say he needed a shot or two of Tequila.
When i arrived in San Diego I decided to store my bike there instead of riding further north because I really want to ride back down through Baja.
Below is a video compilation of my trip photos: