2012 Baja San Felipe Motomochila Ride

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April 23, 2012 3:30 PM
Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

Mexico’s Baja California cape is 800 miles long, the fourth longest peninsula in the world.  It features an amazing variety of terrain: turquoise blue water along the Bay of Cortez; three majestic mountain ranges that ramble through the mainly uninhabited Desert Central region; vast desert scenery pockmarked with ancient volcanoes, home to 70 percent of all cactus species found throughout the world including the giant Cardon cactus, and includes ocotillo and mesquite.

The Utah Trail Machine Association (UTMA) first sponsored a ride to Baja in 1989, with their "ride leader" of sorts being Bill Broadbent from St. George, Utah. There were 19 riders in that first group that ventured down to San Felipe, Baja California, Mexico.  They camped on the beach called Club de Pesca, south of the Hotel de Cortez where they now stay.  The ride and service project have continued every year since then, excepting 2003 and 2004.

This year's ride was exiting and memorable, so I wanted to share it with the BlueRibbon Coalition readers. What follows is a day-by-day account of that ride...

Saturday (24 Feb 2012)

Things didn't sound good from the call received from James Loveless at the Mexican Border.  He and his son, Alex Burton, had been stopped because of the used clothing they had on board their vehicle and trailer with their Polaris RZR 900.  A few minutes later we received another short call that stated they were now taking him to the other port just east of Calexico-Mexicali.  He stated they were talking about fining him and maybe letting him go on his way.  This made my stomach churn as we have never had these specific kinds of problems in the past.  During his ordeal he was surrounded by other rigs from Las Vegas which had used clothing as well and oblivious to his dire situation.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride

When we got to Oscar Padilla's Insurance place in Calexico, I visited with several of the riders there including Garth Stanger and his riding buddies, Bill Enos and Bruce Rucker.  Also, Joe and Connie Sandoval from Las Vegas were there as well.  Quinn Gillman and his two boys, Kaleb and Luke, were there waiting to cross the Border with us.  Brent Lechtenberg and his wife, Ellen, were in their convertible Geo Tracker with their dog in the back seat. My son, Charlie, exchanged some dollars for pesos and we were on our way down the street to the Border.  This year we had over 90 riders signed up and confirmed-a record.

As we crossed the Border, we greeted the young man in the line and drove on.  Gillman's followed us.  In looking back, we saw lights flashing and the boys told me that guy in our lane had motioned for us to stop after we drove by him.  The Border Patrol pickup stopped the Gillman's.  We later learned that all they wanted was proof of registration to the three bikes they had in the back.  Since no one read English, they were soon on their way.  We then received a walkie-talkie transmission from Bill Jefferies that they had been stopped at the Border.  And they didn't have the paperwork for Peter and Max's bikes that we loaded on his rig back home.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬When we got down the road a ways, I turned around only to see Jefferies rig on its way.  We immediately made another turn and headed for San Felipe.  I was thinking about James Loveless and hoping that all went well for him at the other port and he would soon be on his way.

We were stopped by the Federales at the intersection of Hwy 5 going to Ensenada for an inspection along with everyone else.  It was an extra, long wait, but we were soon on our way to San Felipe.  We stopped at Km 182 to identify the Zoo Road entrance for tomorrow, marking the road and signage with marker paint.  We then stopped at the fireworks store outside of town and got some M-100's and giant rockets.

We stopped in Colonia de los Arcos and left souvenir shirts for Jose Cruz Torres, the carpenter and Hector Ruben Dagnino, the store owner.  We also left a hat for each of them to wear tomorrow morning.  Plus, we left a bunch of photos from year's past that I had taken during the Service Projects with instructions to hand them out.   We confirmed 153 families with tickets and 15 widows for the "shopping spree."  We also marked the route to use tomorrow for those participating in the Service Project.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬As soon as we got to the Hotel el Cortez to check in, we learned that Jerry Bronstrup's son-in-law, Justin Ward, had his bike stolen last night.  Seems he overlooked his father-in-law's admonition and rode his bike away from the hotel looking for a phone card to call home.  While he was in the store purchasing the same, his bike was rolled away, and stolen.  They had signage all over town offering a $500 reward for its return.  They had also used a vehicle sound system running throughout the town.

We then dealt with a room mix up with another rider who was given my pre-paid room.  Finally got that straightened out.  There were crowds of people with the Palea Festival at the hotel where several booths with food prepared on site for folks to sample and accompanying music.  We were invited by Jorge Rodriguez the hotel CEO to attend as a group without paying an entry fee.  While speaking with Jorge, I fetched his gift knife from my truck and presented it to him.  I have been doing this for a few years as a gesture of appreciation.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬Our first goal was to get the clothing sorted as it was past 17:00.  We spread out the plastic tarps on the ground in front of the restaurant and began unloading clothing and sorting the same into large, plastic bags.  Max Smith, my grandson, is using this for his Eagle Scout Project.  We were able to put together some 300 bags for Colonia de los Arcos which were placed in Lee Marx's enclosed trailer.  We had a generous amount of baby clothing and toys which were placed in the bed of my pickup.

While working on the project, there was a guy with Radio Tribuna del Aire, Andres Mendoza, out of Las Vegas covering the Palea who interviewed me and took pictures of us sorting clothing.  He was very interested in the clothing project.  Among other things, I told him about the problems we had at the Border on this go-round.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬We moved the group right into the restaurant and to the patio where we had our rider's meeting.  We started out with the raffle.  Roy Jenkins donated quite a few items along with what I had.  It was hard to talk above the din of the crowd.  Chris and Charlie went to our room and brought over the t-shirts and hats to distribute.  We had names on all the M, L, and 2XL t-shirts protecting those who had registered and confirmed their reservation with a deposit.  There were a couple of mix ups, but went pretty well according to plans.

The rider's meeting was cut short to give time to the individual groups to meet and make plans.  Most of the time was spent going over safety suggestions and security on the trail.  Our group meeting, the Green Group, met in our room.  We had all 16 of us there.  I expressed the necessity of getting away before noon and out of town and on the Zoo Road.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Road repair on the Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬Our next item of business was to drive up to Sochie's and get some shrimp tacos which were long overdue.  When we arrived, Dennis Hamp placed a call to James Loveless from his cell phone.  The news was devastating!  James' rig, trailer, and RZR had been confiscated.  He and Alex had to walk back across the Border to Calexico and would be spending two nights there until Monday when he could come back and see about getting his property with perhaps the help of the American Consulate.  We later learned that he was not under arrest as this would indeed involve the American Consulate.  Rather, he was told to return Monday and pay a fine.  James and Alex planned to attend church tomorrow, Sunday.  I was sick to my stomach.  I immediately called Lis with Dennis' cell phone and got the scoop from her as well via Leslie Loveless, James' wife.

Needless to say, I didn't have any appetite for tacos.  I was devastated over the news and potential outcome.  We figured the fine to be around $600-were we wrong.  We learned later that the fine was $1500.

We returned to the hotel and went to bed-I'm bunking with Charlie.  I took a sleeping pill, but it didn't do much good.  I could not get a good night's sleep.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

Sunday

I was awake early morning, 02:55, and could not go back to sleep.  I got up before 06:00 and wandered down to the restaurant by 07:00.  I purchased the buffet for $10 and ate a light breakfast.  Tried to visit with all the riders present and take some pictures.

By 08:00 we were out in the parking lot and headed for Colonia de los Arcos.  There were very few riders that were following us, but later most of the group showed up.  We arrived to find a long line of women with tickets, a line of boys, and one of girls.  They were so orderly.  We arrived to find that Hector's sons, Javier, Luis, and Carlos were present.  Luis, the attorney, had a wireless mike that he used to address the crowd.  Max was introduced as a Boy Scout.  Later on they introduced a Dr. Rafael Gracia Maravilla, Orthopedic Surgeon, who would take possession of medical supplies that Steve Brown brought down.

Everything went well with the Service Project.  Folks were sad and upset that this could perhaps be the last Service Project as I explained what had happened to Senor Loveless at the Border.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬The "Shopping Spree" went well serving 15 widows with $1200 collected from the group of riders.  Park Sorenson, Colby Winn, and Robbie Allred headed up the project along with riders who helped transport items purchased to their homes.  Alex, who was stuck in Calexico, was supposed to help with this project.

After Colonia de los Arcos, the group stopped at the San Felipe Police station to give them the embroidered "Policia" hats, a tradition established over 20 years ago.  We took a few pictures and went back to the hotel.

A group of us attended LDS church services at the local chapel while others hit the trail.  Services were over shortly after 11:00.  Our group was ready for departure after 11:30.

Charlie and I lead our band of 16 riders out of San Felipe on Hwy 3 to the Zoo Road.  At the Zoo Road, Charlie complains that his bike is vibrating violently all over the place.  I chastised him for not letting me balance his front tire, and the discussion ended there.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬To continue this particular story, at Meling Ranch that evening everyone sat up to the dinner table, served family style, for the evening meal at 18:30.  Charlie Edmunds, Chris Hickman, and Garth Stanger were nowhere to be found.  However, they pulled into the Ranch at 19:30 tired, sore, and ready for dinner.  And they had a story to tell.  And the story they told was that as Charlie was pounding the power line whoops, he had a rear flat.  With the help of Chris and Garth, they opened the Maxxis rear tire to find a shredded Kenda Tuff Tube and new tire iron poking through the tire!  In the shop as we made final preparations for Baja, I stated to all to be on the lookout for my new tire iron as I had "miss placed" it somewhere.  I changed out three rear tires on bikes going to Baja in the shop with my new 10" tire iron purchased from Rocky Mountain ATV/MC.  I wanted to see how that particular tire iron worked in concert with my other, larger tire irons.  When I was done changing out the three tires I could not for the life of me find my new tire iron.  It was reported that Charlie and company spent several moments in laughter on the trail realizing that the "missing" tire iron had been found.

As fortune would have it, they got the bike to the Ensenada highway, Hwy 3, and encountered a young Mexican school teacher in his pickup.  He loaded up Charlie's bike with Garth and Chris following and drove to Valle de Trinidad where he procured a half-worn Dunlop Sports 756 rear tire that some racer had discarded.  They got it mounted on Charlie's bike and were on their way after fueling up.  They arrived after dark as a direct result of the tire iron.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬I can tell you in all honesty that I have no idea how that damnable thing got in my son's back tire--no clue.  I tried to leave the tire iron at Meling Ranch, but Charlie will have it hanging up in the shop with some significant signage below it.  This is one incident that will never be forgotten in our family and something I'm positive that has rarely happened to anyone else in the off-road riding community.

Well, back to the Zoo Road.  We assembled everyone and counted heads-16 riders.  Charlie and I headed down Zoo Road and out to Laguna Diablo and the dry lake bed.  Before we got onto the dry lake, we were stopped by the Federales who wanted to check us out.  They wanted me to open my backpack.  I told them we had just departed from San Felipe and were not carrying anything illegal.  After a perfunctory check of our packs, we were on our way.  We were informed by the Trapnell Group that they were detained at this same checkpoint after being chased down by the military guys in a Humvee.  They, the Trapnell's, were taking video clips racing up and down the lake bed.  The Federales thought they were trying to escape from them.  There followed an interesting conversation and explanation of actions.

We were strung out across the dry lake bed for several miles.  Somehow, I missed the turnoff to the power-line road that cuts off the dry lake after stopping and visiting briefly with Rucker and Enos.  They continued north on that particular road and stated it came right back to the power-line road.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬I chose to come back to almost where I met up with Rucker and Enos and cut east finding the dirt road on the east of the dry lake bed and winding north, then east to the power line.  It is there where I encountered Charlie who stated that my grandson with other riders were ahead of me.  Charlie opted to take the power line woops with some of the other fellows to Ensenada highway, Hwy 3.

I continued on the dirt road to Hwy 3, and on up the road catching up to the small group, including Max.  We continued to San Matias where we stopped and waited.  There was Park, Dennis, Olin, Max, and myself.  I decided to take Max over to San Matias community and find some fuel, which we did.  We filled up Max's bike while Olin met up with us and decided to top off his tank as well.

We returned to the restaurant by the highway and left Park, Dennis, and Olin to wait for the rest of the group.  I would take Max with me to Mike's Sky Ranch and on to Meling Ranch so he could have some extra time of this part of the trail.  We stopped and marked the road leading to Mike's Sky Ranch.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬When we arrived at Mike's, we ran into Peter York and Dave Newcamp with the Bunker Group.  I had someone take a picture of the both of us under the Mike's Sky Ranch sign.  I then showed Max the private room and office of the late Michael Leon Sr.

After walking around Mike's place, Max and I hit the trail for Meling Ranch with Park and Dennis following.  We climbed up the steep trail out of Mike's.  I managed to get my rear wheel caught in another part of the trail where is goes down and comes back up a steep climb.  I just could not seem to get the bike off me.  Park helped get the bike off me.  A guy came walking from the opposite direction from a 4x4 vehicle down to help.  I managed to get going and passed the two 4x4 vehicles-Max was right behind me..  I marked the trail with surveyor's tape where I thought it needed it.

We were soon to the garden spot that was flooded and badly eroded a couple of years ago.  I waited for Max at a critical turn off.  Then, riding ahead, I stopped to wait for Max-no Max!  I turned around and could not find him.  I ran into the Trapnell Group who began to help with the search.  I caught a glimpse of Park hanging on to a washed out trail section with Dennis coming to his aid.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬ Finally, seemingly out of nowhere, there was Max-and I gave a sigh of relief.  We headed straight for Meling Ranch with riders coming behind.  We passed the entrance into Rancho El Coyote where the Packer and Sandoval groups will be staying this evening.

I marked the dirt road where it comes onto the oiled Observatory Road.  One goes for less than a mile then exits the oiled road and onto a short dirt road leading into Meling Ranch.  I took a picture of Max on his bike underneath the Meling Ranch entrance sign celebrating his arrival, and the first one there.  It's 17:15; we did 120 miles today.  My fuel reserved light didn't come on until 116 miles.  I'm getting close to 50 mpg.

As riders showed up, we distributed the cabins accordingly.  Entering the dining area and on to the kitchen, I planned dinner for 18:30, hoping that everyone would be in and off the trail.  I was greeted by Christian Meling, Christian's girlfriend from Ensenada, and his mother, Sandy Meling Reyes Lang.  Her husband, David Lang, would not be here until tomorrow morning.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬I got a room with two beds and pot-bellied stove for Charlie and myself.  Max saved a room for himself, his dad, and Chris.  It had a bunk bed.

As riders were coming in and arranging for their lodging, I quietly went about taking the container of ashes of our friend, Ron Stokes, from my back pack and placing the ashes just off the lawn area on the ranch.  This was one of Ron's favorite places to stay, as it was mine and so many other UTMA riders back when we first came to Baja. I didn't see a need to mention this to anyone.  This was one of four places that Ron's ashes were laid to rest.  The other place in Mexico was Copper Canyon by Batopilas.

Before dinner, I asked someone to give a blessing on the food.  We were soon feasting on a family-style meal of meat and potatoes.  I was concerned because my son, Charlie, son-in-law, Chris, and friend Garth Stanger had not shown up.  They would not come in until 19:30, and with a story to tell as the reader has already noted.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬The Trapnell's shared a story with me about an encounter on the Laguna Diablo this afternoon.  It seems that a pre-runner on a quad ran into a member of the Trapnell Group, Ryan Fish.  Miraculously, no one was injured.  While repairs were being made to Ryan's bike with epoxy putty, a discussion arose as to who was at fault.  The quad guy was with a professional group who provided support for those wishing to race in the SCORE San Felipe 250.  They contended that they had the "right-of-way" on the race course, which assumption is wrong.  SCORE states that there will be traffic coming from both directions while pre-running and to use caution.  Only on race day does one have the right-of-way; even then there are exceptions.

So, the discussion became more heated as the Mexican guides stated they would call the policia in San Felipe, who of course would just rush right out there to the dry lake bed, not!  The Trapnell's came up with $200 that they gave to the quad guy, who had requested much more than that.  And no one ever considered paying for damages to Ryan's '07 Yamaha WR 250F.  But the motorcycle group just wanted to end the bitter discussion, get out of there, and be on their way.     

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬Before we departed the dining hall this evening, each rider paid $50 for their bed and two meals, dinner and breakfast the next day.  They pay the same fee at El Coyote while Mike's charged our riders $60 a person.  All were fair fees for services provided.

Charlie and I put it to bed after eating with me offering my apologies again for his tire problems and my stupidity.  I had the pot-bellied stove going so the room was fairly warm.

Monday

We were up shortly after 06:00.  There was plenty of hot water for a shower.  I got the pot-bellied stove going again so our room would be warm.  It was brisk outside, but not too bad.  Riders were out wrenching on their bikes, checking tire pressures, etc.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬We were all in the dining room by 07:30 for breakfast.  While we were eating, David Lang was present and would assist Christian and the hired help put a gallon of gas into each bike for the run into Camalu and the Pemex.  We each paid $5 cash for the fuel.

I talked briefly to David about the problems we had had at the Border and the confiscation of a rig.  He stated that it had happened to him and several other people that he knew.  He stated that he had retrieved his vehicle after paying a fine.

With Garth's get-off yesterday, his foot was swollen up and he decided to ride the pavement all the way to El Rosario and meet us there at the hotel.  We later learned that Garth had fractured his fibula.  Dr. Dennis Hamp had pretty well figured out that possibility sans an x-ray.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬Our group of fifteen was soon on its way stopping past Sinaloa to get off the oiled Observatory Road and on to some dirt.  I talked to a rancher by the gate as there was a sign stating no passage.  He was very kind and told us to use the road over to Camalu as he stated he owned most of the property we would be riding on.  We were detained momentarily while Quinn replaced a blown fuse in his son's bike.

We opened the gate and proceeded on the rutted road up the hill.  I got turned around somewhat and figured we were going too far to the east.  We took a short trail to the west, and found that was not the old Baja 1000 race route.  We came back to where we had turned around, proceeded on a ways, and discovered we were on the old course.

We came to a fenced in farm, followed the fence around and went down the side of a mountain sans trail.  This is somewhat the same route we came last year.  In fact, we went through the same farmer's fence taking down strands of wire in order to pass by the repair shop and hit the road into Camalu.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬ This part of the ride brought back memories of when we used to come off the mountain on the old Baja 1000 race route and stop at the school with items for the kids including crayons, paper, and candy.  There are now fields of strawberries taking up that space.

We were soon at the Pemex in Camalu and fueling up.  We got a treat at the convenience store next to the station.  I went with Quinn to get some premium brake fluid to fix his son's bike.  Seems he went down and broke the brake lever and lost some fluid.  We were able to fix it with the newly purchased brake fluid.  Later he found out he broke his thumb in the get-off.

We headed out west to the Pacific Ocean and got on the beach headed south.  The tide was coming in and so we came off the beach and took the dirt roads overlooking the beach.  At one point, we came to a large river bottom.  We split the group of 15 riders in two with Max, Peter, Chris, Bruce, Bill, and Dave continuing down to the beach-the remainder of us headed down the highway.  The group who continued for the beach had an interesting time and rode almost to Old Mill.  They came back on the highway and fueled up.  Further down the highway, they turned off on a dirt road and got to see some seals by the Pacific Ocean at a preserve.  At the preserve, they took a dirt road that led them on top of the mesa going into El Rosario and a military check point.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬The other part of us stopped to fuel up south of San Quintin at a newer Pemex.  While we were there, Jim Harer, owner of Old Mill, pulled up in his pickup.  Charlie noticed him and we visited briefly.  Old Mill is closed until April, Jim stated.  He gave us some reasons for that decision.

We traveled south, cutting off the main highway to the Hotel Mision Santa Maria where we would get on the beach.  While riding south on the beach with our 10 riders, we encountered the Trapnell group with flat number three.  They had a total of four flats on this ride.

This particular beach is one of the nicest in all of Baja to open it up.  There are usually those hunting for clams as well as those scavenging for certain decorative rocks that will be sold state-side.

We didn't get to ride to the very end where we turn off to El Rosario as the tide was too high.  We hit the pavement and were soon in El Rosario and fueling up at the Pemex after being waved through at the Military Checkpoint just outside town.  We did a total of 116 miles today.

Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.

‬Baja San Felipe Motomochila ride.‪

‬We rode to our hotel, El Turista, and checked in.  I checked into a room with two double beds at a cost of 350p.  Garth was already there enjoying his room with a king-sized bed-lucky guy, well, almost.  The plan was to have the Trapnell, Packer, and Edmunds groups stay here.  As it ended up, the Packer Group stayed with the Sandoval Group at Motel Sinai.  Because our riding group took up most of the rooms in town, we let an American couple have a room at El Turista-they were sure grateful to us.

We walked across the street and got lobster tacos from Baja's Best Restaurant owned by an American, Edward Lusk.  His wife, Yolanda, is a good cook.  We were joined by members of the Trapnell and Packer groups.  Mr. Lusk informed us that he had a few rooms with beds if we needed them.

After dinner, Charlie took his bike down the road to get us water and munchies for the evening.  It started to rain, and it rained hard for some time.  There were still two groups out on the trail, Marx and Sandoval.  In fact, Motel La Cabana (Mama Espinosa) called and wondered if more riders were coming.  I told her to be sure save the rooms as they would indeed be arriving.  Baja Cactus Motel was full up, and so riders were forced to stay at Motel Sinai which is under new management.  The Marx Group passed by our motel at 20:30 after dark on their way to Mama Espinosa's.

Upon arriving in El Rosario, I used the telephone at the front desk of our motel and called Lis wanting to find out about James and how things were going.  She informed me that they had fined him $1500 which seemed awfully high, but relieved that it looked like he would be getting his rig back. 

Members of our group had a chance to visit for a while before turning in for the evening.

Tuesday

I was up by 06:00 and getting ready for the day.  We walked across the street and ate breakfast at Baja's Best Restaurant.  They served up huevos rancheros for 70p.  The meal was delicious; it didn't take too long to serve all of us.  Peter and Max had breakfast in their room consisting of fruit and pastries.

Keith Bunker showed up at the motel this morning in his pickup truck to pick up Garth.  He was accompanied by Charlie Bunker and Philip Conk.  They put Garth's bike in the back of the pickup.  Keith told me about Ian Cahill who crashed his '08 Yamaha Grizzly 700 just north of Gonzaga Bay on Sunday afternoon.  He came into a corner too fast and rolled the machine.  After some time and their group leader's help, Roy Jenkins, they fastened the quad on the back of his father's quad, same year and model, and rode into Alfonsina's.  Both JJ and Ian made it back to SF where they jumped in their pickup and joined the groups on the trail.

After Garth was gone, we departed as a group for the Pemex to fill up some spare bottles for our journey today.  I stopped at Mama Espinosa's and took a picture of Lee Marx working on one of their Hayabusa Sandrails.  Seems the LF spindle was broken-again.

We were soon on our way south of El Rosario headed for some single track.  I let Charlie ride my new KTM 500 while I climbed on his '07 Yamaha WR450.  What a different ride!

Our first stop was at a place by the ocean where they were in the process of constructing a marina.  They had large trucks with dumpers placing large rocks by the beach.  In a year or so they should be done with the job.

We found the single track with soft, pointed dirt hills and enjoyed ourselves.  One could climb to the top of a small hill then, descend only to encounter another one.  We rode like this for several miles before riding over rocks and down creek beds.  We finally stopped for lunch at a junction where the single track headed south ending up at Catavina, while the dirt road exited past the ruins of the Mision San Fernando Velicata to El Progreso, 71 miles from El Rosario.

After lunch the group split with part going on the single track while I headed up a group that exited onto Hwy 1 at El Progreso, 10 miles from where we stopped for lunch, and headed south to Catavina and Hotel Mision Catavina.  We have the entire hotel reserved this evening through the manager, Marcial Corral.  We did 118 miles today.

After fueling up from a street vendor, we checked into our rooms.  Each group has a number of rooms set aside.  Marcial did a wonderful job at setting apart the keys to the rooms for each group.  It was done to perfection-a lot different than last year when our reservations were cancelled by some dude in Ensenada.  There are more bodies than single beds, so folks will have to double up in some cases.  However, Marcial was kind enough to provide another room with 4 beds to Lee Marx for their group.  That helped the crowded situation a lot.  Each room rents for $63 a night at our cost.

After checking into my room, I made sure things were going smoothly for the other riders who had arrived, I made final arrangements with the dining room for dinner.  We have approximately 80 people who will be checking in this evening.

I went to the front desk and called home to hear the latest news with James and problems at the Border.  Lis stated that the event had made the evening news on Chanel 5.  Both Lis and Leslie, Jame's wife, had been interviewed for the segment.  In fact, they drove up to Park City to interview Lis.  And the story went out of the national news service including the part where he was mugged in Mexicali while carrying cash trying to retrieve his rig from the Federales. 

Lis reported that James presented the idea to Alex that they leave Calexico early Tuesday morning, drive to San Felipe, unload the RZR and catch up with their group.  Alex stated that he had had enough of Mexico!  So, they were going to drive to Las Vegas and spend a couple of days there before returning home.  After hanging up the telephone I was reminded of the statement I have heard so many times in conjunction with south-of-the-border problems, "That's Mexico!"

Before long I was informed that Charlie had cracked the case on his bike but was all right as they had used epoxy bonding to fix the crack and had extra oil.  He would be arriving shortly with other riders who were out on the trail including Peter who had had a flat tire.

Garrett Walpole showed me his '06 CRF450F that had a blown engine.  One could see the casings poking out on the side.  It was proposed to him that he purchase Keith Bunker's '08 KTM 450XC-W that was sitting in the back of his pickup.  It's for sale for $3500-fair price.  Garrett didn't purchase the bike, but rather became a chauffeur driving Bunker's pickup around while Keith and Charlie enjoyed riding in the '09 Arctic Cat Prowler XTZ 1000 and Philip Conk his '06 Yamaha WR450-well, that is until his rear wheel locked up on Hwy 1 with a frozen transmission.  He had just come out of a tight curve in the road and was doing 65 mph.  Phew!  And Garth enjoyed the ride with his bike in the back of the pickup while he nursed a swollen foot with fractured fibula. 

Devin Smith purchased the Bunker KTM and rode out of Catavina with it when his '09 Kawasaki 450 developed fatal problems.  Walpole's bike was cannibalized to some degree for parts as the ride progressed during the week.  It included Chris Trapnell taking the rear sprocket off the bike and putting it on his ride in Bay of LA.

This evening we all ate in the dining room and enjoyed a Mexican plate for a cost of 165p or $14.  That price included a beverage of your choice, tax, and tip.  We didn't get to sit as one big group around a large table-we sat in small groups around single tables.  We had a count of over 75 riders.

After dinner, we walked up to the tienda near by the hotel and purchased goodies and water for tomorrow.  It was bed time after dealing with a problem in a group between two riders. This occurs in almost all instances on the trail at some time-it's just a natural occurrence when you put folks together on the trail.

We learned from the front desk that Peter York and Dave Newcamp would be staying on in El Rosario this evening.  They would travel down to Catavina the next day, Tuesday, and take a ride out to the Santa Maria Mission via Santa Ines.  The ride is 17 miles one way on some pretty rough trail.

Wednesday

Was up by 06:15 and showered.  I checked the oil level on my new KTM by looking into the glass window and determined that it was low on oil.  But wait, someone else looked at it and stated it was half full, and okay.

Rucker was on the lawn fixing a flat tire, the second one for our group.  Later that day he had yet another flat at the Grotto and was able to find the embedded cactus spine once I showed him how to place the inner tube on the tire with the hole marked and line it up with the tire case. 

Robbie Bunker was fiddling with a hole in his case by the clutch plates.  JB Weld epoxy putty provided by Greg Bunker fixed that minor problem on his KTM. 

After wrenching on bikes, we went into the dining room for a buffet breakfast at $10 a person.  With breakfast taken care of, our group assembled in Charlie's room for a group prayer after which we were on our way. 

We traveled north for 5 miles before heading out west.  I stopped to mark the turnoff on Hwy 1-not a smart idea as the traffic comes upon one almost instantly while situated in a dip in the road.

We came upon the Marx group with yet another broken LF wheel spindle on the orange Hayabusa Sandrail.  It was break number two-or maybe three.  Anyway, the sandrail turned around and went down the highway on three wheels with the left front wheel frame suspended in the air.

Another mile or two down the dirt road and we encountered the Trapnell group with another flat tire.  They almost have the drill nailed after four flats!

We stopped at a remote intersection for a short stop.  The Marx group went by and we soon followed them to the Pacific Ocean.  Just before arriving at the beach stop, 60 miles, yours truly had a bad get-off.  Somehow my right foot got slammed off the peg and back into the rear wheel well where the knobby tire grabbed the riding boot and slammed it into the frame.  I did a "four-point" landing.  In the process I sprained my L thumb, tore up my R shoulder, cracked a couple of ribs, cut my R hand, wrenched my R knee, bruised my R calf, and burned my R leg on the muffler-ugh!

The boys got the bike off me and helped me on my feet.  I immediately wanted to get on my bike and ride the short distance to where we were going to stop and rest on the beach.  I rode that short distance with blurred vision, and some signs of shock.  When we arrived at the beach stop, I managed to get 800 mg of Ibuprofen in me.  I noticed that my R foot peg was dimpled from whatever got after me.

Rather than sit down and rest as was suggested, I kept moving and taking pictures.  The boys gathered mussels that were plentiful just off the coastline.  I had brought along a plastic bag for that purpose.  We will dine on them this evening in Bay at LA at our Costa de Sol Restaurant.  We were joined by the Marx and Trapnell groups.

After a short break, I got on my bike leading the way towards to windmill and turnoff to the Rock Garden and Grotto.  At 81 miles we turned off on the windmill road.  After 6 miles we stopped briefly at the windmill.  I reminisced of when there was a home and family living there.  There is nothing now but the remains of a windmill and tank for the water that used to be pumped out of the ground.

A short distance from the windmill, I marked the intersection that leads through a beautiful area complete with giant Cardon, Cirio or Boojum tree as it is most often called, Cholla, and other desert flora.  The Cardon cactus is indigenous to Baja and is often mistakenly called "Saguaro" which cacti is absent in BC.  

As we made our way to Rancho San Antonio and beyond, my grandson took off ahead of everyone on an unmarked trail.  Later on at the Grotto, I asked him if he saw the surveyor's tape at the junction-he didn't.  So, he learned that he doesn't just take off on an "unmarked" trail, especially in Baja.  It has been noted that kids learn real fast, adults are somewhat slower to learn.

Well, while we waited at the Grotto for everyone to show up, Rucker had his front tube out inspecting the same.  As mentioned before, he found the cactus spine, and removed the same.  When we got ready to leave, Rucker was last to leave.  And, he had another flat!  Seems the tube he put in was an old one that failed around the valve stem.  And Chris had a rear flat.  That puts this group at 6 flats.

And to make matters worse, when we arrived at the Bay of LA Junction, the gas-man was nowhere to be found.  We learned that he had gone into Bay of LA and would be back soon, and in business.  They guy we talked to was family as I gave them some pictures from some years ago dispensing fuel from a Toyota pickup at the Junction.  Some of us elected to ride 7 miles south to Punta Prieta and fuel up.  When we returned, the gas-man was there pumping fuel.

We all arrived in Bay of LA and checked into Costa del Sol after fueling up.  Victoria apologized that three rooms were being used by a group of Germans that were touring and their driver and guide.  We made do by sending some riders from our group including the Gillman's, Jefferies, Johnson, and some riders from Packer's group, and all riders in the Trapnell group next door to Hotel Villa Vitta.  The Bunker Group is staying at Guillermo's for two nights.  We logged 186 miles today.

Charlie and I checked into our room paying like 350 pesos for crummy quarters.  The toilet leaked water all over the bathroom floor and no hot water.  This used to be a single room, now outfitted with a second smaller bed.  And the biggest complaint at Villa Vitta, the showers-there is no water pressure.  And so it goes, "That's Mexico!"

At dinner this evening we had Victoria's cooks fix the mussels from our harvest this morning.  They didn't turn out as good as last year.  They were kind of mushy..

I walked up to the store and placed a telephone call to Lis to see how things are going on the home front.  While at the store, I picked up treats including Quaker Oats cookies and water.

We were soon resting from our day's ride.  I downed another 800 mg of Ibuprofen to ease my aches and pains and a sleeping pill.  Garth's ankle is still swollen and hurting.  Oh, and Jeff Trapnell biffed it today on the trail buggering up his leg.  He did a nasty get-off.  And I think a member of the Bunker Group dealt with cactus in the, well posterior-and some minor wrecks.   So, I can't complain too much.

Thursday

This morning no one really leaped out of bed.  We managed a light breakfast before going our separate ways.  Charlie joined the Bunker Group to ride out to Window Rock.  Peter and Max took a part of the group out to San Borja Mission after wrenching on Max's bike which threw its chain.  Bruce and Bill took off with the three Gillman's for Gonzaga Bay and Alfonsina's via Window Rock.  The Packer Group headed for Gonzaga Bay as well with a ride to Window Rock.  Chris rode around the vicinity of Bay of LA ending up at a gringo village south of town.  Garth went fishing with the Bunker's.  Pablo watched for whales from the hotel.  Okay, so I took it easy!

I made a room change from #1 to #7 with two queen-sized beds for 600p or $30.  I also took time to walk next door where I visited with the Trapnell Group before they departed for Gonzaga Bay and Alfonsina's where they would spend the night.  Some of their group went fishing early this morning.  Jeff was still nursing his sore leg while Greg helped his brother, Chris, change out his rear sprocket salvaging one from Walpole's blown bike.  They were on the road around noon.

We ate an early dinner this afternoon.  Garth didn't bring us any fish from their catch today.  Charlie returned from his outing with the Bunker Group midafternoon.  The Marx Group arrived after dark from Guerro Negro where they did the Whale Watch this morning.  They stayed at Cost del Sol and Villa Vitta.  All in all, it was quite this evening.

Friday

Up early and had breakfast.  We were shooting for a 08:00 departure which we accomplished.  We were down to 10 riders in our group.  Garth had to ride his bike 200+ miles back to San Felipe as the pickup was full with other equipment failures and casualties.  He took the oiled highway to Chapala, then dirt road to south of Puertocitos where he connected with pavement again.

We rode up the highway to Km 15 where the Baja Mil race route comes in from El Crucero.  I took the highway to Bay of LA Junction with a couple of other riders in the group where I fueled up, then headed for El Crucero.  We met up with the rest of the group and headed for Calamajue or Horse Piss Canyon. 

I struggled with the deep sand-it didn't help that my L hand was swollen, my cracked ribs were "talking" to me, and I hurt like hell.  But it wasn't long before we arrived at Coco's Corner and were sitting down with Coco, telling stories, and celebrating his 75 years of age.  There was a banner displayed on the wall of his compound.  Everyone was encouraged to sign his registry.  We gave him one of our riding shirts and some photos from previous visits.  Charlie handed him one of his wedding announcements from 11.11.11.  Coco was in good form and seemed to revel in our visit.  He even drafted a short note to Charlie's wife, Jill, requesting a pair of her underwear for his extensive collection displayed in the rafters of his dwelling.

We were soon on our way down the rutted, dirt road headed north to Gonzaga Bay and a fuel stop at the Pemex, 27 miles from Coco's and 102 miles from Bay of Los Angeles.  The wind was coming up rather strong and creating dusty conditions on the trail.

After fueling up at the Pemex at Gonzaga Bay, we pushed on for Puertocitos.  The wind was beginning to blow even stronger.  We hit the pavement 13 miles north of the Pemex.  No sooner did we get on the pavement when disaster struck Park.  His back tire came apart off the rim causing his rear tube to blow spewing Slime everywhere.  I quickly reminded him that we had passed a couple of rigs now behind us headed our way.

As we were contemplating what to do, the rigs showed up and we flagged them down.  They were dirt riders from America and agreed to load up Park's bike in the back of one of their rigs and give him a ride into San Felipe.  On the way up the road, they stopped at a hot dog place just north of Puertocitos where they treated Park to a hot dog and drink.  They would not accept any compensation for their rescue efforts and hospitality.

The remainder of us, 9 riders, continued on oiled highway towards Puertocitos.  We didn't drop down off the pavement into the community, but rather pushed on for SF, over 50 miles.  As we proceeded up the highway the wind grew stronger and stronger!  It was blowing so hard and carrying sand into one's face like unto sand blasting.  There were several small sand dunes that were created on the highway coming into SF.

Finally, we reached Hotel el Cortez, parked the bikes while I retrieved the Tundra and bike trailer from where we parked it for the week and checked into our pre-paid room.  We loaded the three bikes onto the three-railed trailer and another two on Jefferies' large trailer with his and Olin's bikes without the usual wash job and attention.  We did a total of 208 miles today. My total mileage was 748 for the week.

We unhooked the small trailer from the Tundra so as to make a trip into the Plaza Maristaco and Sochie's for shrimp tacos.  We also took time to make some purchases including Mexican vanilla from Jalisco and selected meds from the farmacia.   We returned at 18:00 to join the remainder of the group who joined in the farewell dinner at Sochie's.

It was festival time in SF as they were getting ready for the 25th Annual SCORE San Felipe 250 a week from tomorrow, Saturday.  We had the mariachis play a couple of renditions for us while we visited and dinned on tacos and seafood.

Saturday

We were up and in the truck headed down the road by 05:30.  We had Dennis and Park following us.  We had quite a wait at the military checkpoint at El Crucero de Trinidad located by the junction of Hwy 5 and 3 going over to Ensenada.  At that time in the morning one would think things would take place pretty fast, but this was Mexican time; we were soon on our way.

We arrived early in Mexicali and went directly to the line to cross the Border into the USA.  The line was not that long and it only took us less than an hour to cross.  The Border Guard was a kindly dude and even engaged us in a short conversation-I liked that.

We later learned that Quinn Gillman got in the Century Line at the Border and made it through in record time, like 15 minutes.  We thought we were lucky to make it through in less than an hour.  Mr. Gillman was chastised by the Border Guard who stated that this line was for those who had met certain requirements of identification and paid a fee for the privilege of using the Century Line.  And, he further stated that he, Mr. Gillman, would be fined $4500 if he did it again.  Oh, did I mention that Quinn didn't have his passport with him.  Some folks have all the luck!

We drove all the way home to Utah from San Felipe that day, 820 miles, arriving in the early evening hours.

October 15, 2014 4:19 PM

We thought that our members and supporters might be interested in the Jeep JK that the California Association of 4-Wheel Drive Clubs (CA4WDC) is raffling off! Five bucks sounds like a good deal to us.

Five Buck JK

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October 15, 2014 3:54 PM
(International Snowmobile Manufacturer's Assn.)

Below is an important reminder we'd like to share with our snowmobile enthusiast members, now that the season is upon us.

Look Before You Pump!

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October 8, 2014 2:24 PM
(BRC Western Representative)

I attended the BLM 2.0 Listening Session in Sacramento yesterday on behalf of the BlueRibbon Coalition.  As many of you know, this is part of the BLM's ongoing effort to improve the management of the nation's public lands by working more efficiently with the public and partners. Both the Denver and Sacramento meetings provided an overview of the effort as well as facilitating group discussion on methods to improve the BLM's planning process.

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October 8, 2014 1:24 PM
(Staff Column)
(BRC Board of Directors)
October 1, 2014 9:42 AM
(Press Release)
September 24, 2014 9:07 AM
(Announcement)
(BRC Ambassador)
September 19, 2014 10:36 AM
(Announcement)