Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Baja California Offroad Dirtbike Adventure

This is my story of traveling in to Mexico and riding off road, dualsport dirtbikes through Baja over 5 days covering 850 miles of terrain.

     Back in April a friend of mine, Rich better known as "Schulee"to most" said he would join me in riding mountain bikes on the Arizona Trail if I would, in return, join him in riding dirtbikes through Baja later that year.  It was a "no brainer" easy yes as I've been waiting for something over the top to do with my Suzuki DRZ400 I bought the previous year.  The dates were set for November 4-8, 2012.  This was going to be a little different approach to my normal adventures as I was letting go of my OCD reins and Schulee was going to handle all of the logistics.  Where we were staying, daily mileage, fuel, food, direction, drop off, pickup and terrain were all his doing.  I did agree to back him up and enter all the waypoints from the cue sheets in to my gps and we shared ideas in our gear list aside from that I was blind.
Example of GPS cue sheets
     Schulee did a great job hunting for information and purchased some tips from an online company called Baja GPS.  The company had cue cards that would guide you along and GPS coordinates that would co-incide with the cards every couple miles or so.  Sounds easy enough.
2006 Suzuki DRZ400 and Full Baja Gear List
So to be safe Schulee and I headed in to our Lake Havasu backyard with 50% of our gear for what we called a shake down ride.  I had just added a desert tank and was borrowing this huge backpack that felt nothing but awkward.  In our 70 mile shakedown ride we got lost, had to back track 20 miles, rode in the dark with only one working headlamp, dropped a chain on Schulee's "bullett proof" XR and fixed it in the dark, I ran out of gas then almost got hit by a car walking my bike on HWY95, then in bad driver in return felt bad and gave me a gallon of gas.  In short we were ready for the unpredictable terrain of Mexico
Just before crossing the border in to Mexico - DAY 1

Here we go...
Day 1 San Diego, CA - Ensenada, Mexico (Beto's House)
Mileage 70 miles

Grandma Schulee dropped us off in San Ysidro seconds away from the Tijuana Mexico border crossing.  From here we geared up, made a few last minute decisions, turned on the SPOT tracker and away we went.  It had been since 2008 when I last went in to Baja so a few noticeable changes at the border but aside from that most everything was pretty standard.  Federal Officers (kids with machine guns) were present, everything is in Spanish, people walk on side of highway, kids stand in front of cars on laps of others and most vehicles on the road are barely road worthy in American standards, typical things like that.  We both smiled because thats what draws us here, that little piece of chaos.   I should probably add that both of us speak less than 10 words in spanish but both felt 5 days of immersion would fix the language gap.
Lobster lunch at Ortega's Puerto Nuevo

Our first day was an easy all highway ride to my Adventure Racing friend Beto Alevar who resides in Ensenada.  We did stop in the ever popular Puerto Nuevo for Lobster and paid almost American Prices when we ate at Ortega's, but the food was great and the service was awesome.  Back on the bikes we arrived at Beto's house after a little game of GPS hide and seek.  Which is where you have a point on a GPS and no directions to help you get there.  We arrived Beto made us feel at home, showed us some great new friends who live on the beach, great road side eats, and also the always popular Papas & Beer which had an awesome cover band.  We played it easy, while Beto played tourguide, tomorrow was a long first day.  
Schulee with the Pacific behind him at Ortega's
Beto's Casa in Ensenada

Waterfront Singlewide in Ensenada $180 / Month.
Beers and fresh crab with friends $20.
Surfbreak from your porch priceless.

Sunset Day 1
Papas & Beer Ensenada
Beto and Schulee grabbing a bite to eat at one of Beto's favorite Taco Bars.
Typical 3 foot major roadway hazard.
Day 2
Ensenada - Ojos Negros - Santo Tomas - San Vincente - Valle De Trinidad - Mike's Sky Ranch
Mileage - 220.6 Miles 

Sometimes pictures say it better than words.  Today was a long ride, made a few errors in the navigation but all in all no whammies.  Gas was a bit of a concern but we over came.  

Showed up to the local PEMEX gas station in Ojos Negros to find a sign that read
NO VENDE DE MANANA (no gas til tomorrow) after some investigative work
we arrived at this little piece of heaven and filled up the tanks.
Me and my huge pack was a challenge throughout the ride.  Next time ill bring my Osprey and not look back.  This pack was super crap design and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless you crash a lot.  Its built super heavy and requires the tool waist belt to hold it up.

Typical Boatman overpacked as usual

Amazing ocean views out of Santo Tomas

Schulee changing his flat and just lucked out that it happened right on the beach with
gear to help in the change.

Arrived at Mike's Sky Ranch after dark.  PS they just turned the lights on when we arrived.
Famous place for Baja racers and offroader's and no one was around.

Me inside the drink of Mike's Sky Ranch.  Years of
memorabilia and really cool pictures.

Day 3
Mike's Sky Ranch - Observatory - El Coyote Ranch - San Matias - San Felipe
Mileage - 159.8 Miles
Mike's Sky Ranch
Having arrived at Mike's under the cover of darkness it was cool to see how scenic it was the next morning.  Slept incredibly well but in my honest opinion $70 a person per night is super steep.  But it does include 2 meals and its such a Baja "Staple" we had to do it.  We headed out towards the Observatory up and down some super super technical terrain until we hit El Coyote Ranch.

El Coyote Ranch for a fuel stop, look close and you can see rancher getting fuel
out of a 55 gallon jug.  Through all the unique gas stops never had a motor problem.

Schulee and I at the Observatory entrance.  Mileage was super off, road an extra 40 miles.
Saw lots of wildlife and a couple Bobcat's crossed our path.

Our favorite little fuel and food stop in San Matias, we stopped here twice we liked it so much.

Wide open down the dry lake bed was an experience ill never forget.

Costa Azul Hotel San Felipe
We were excited to get to San Felipe and hoped for a lil night life but apparently the town was recovering from the Shrimp festival the weekend prior and was dead as could be.

Day 4
San Felipe - Puertecitos - San Matias - Valle De Trindad
Mileage 179.5 Miles
Rock Crawling section from Puertecitos to San Matias
By far the toughest section was the super soft sand wash from the HWY to the Jeep Road.  We also encountered about a 100 yard section of washed out rocks that were tough to find any rideable lines on.  But this is Baja and we worked together and got through it.  Schulee loves Endurocross so he kicked ass at this section I struggled and was frustrated but made it through.

Jose's Camp along the dry lake bed.  We stopped in for some cervesa and fuel.  Hard to gather
it from a picture but this is the middle of NO WHERE

Jose's is where I realized I really need to learn some Spanish.

Jose and Schulee

Day 5
Valle De Trinidad - Laguna Hanson Ranger Station - Santa Veronica - Tecate - Buckman Springs, Ca.
Mileage 165.2

Hotel in Trinidad, by far the best deal of the trip $30/night
Solving a little SLIME issue with my valve stem before the last sections

Saving the best for last.  Last day was awesome, decomposed granite and cool temps, we hauled ass
through here all the way up to the singletrack before Santa Veronica.


After a short detour where the trail got relocated from new ranches.  Had to
do about a 20 mile detour which caused us to buy some fuel from a Rancher.

Underwear change in the middle of a ride.  Thats how I roll if I'm
uncomfortable I change.

This kind rancher had no gas to sell us so he siphoned some out of his truck and sold it to us.
Took everything I had not to bring this puppy home.
Me, Karen and Rich at the takeout of Buckman Springs, Ca rest area.

So thats it.  No major drama.  No bandit's,  No drug lords.  I had an awesome time in Baja and am inspired to bring some friends back and do this adventure again with a few changes.  Thanks always for reading.


  1. HI, thanks for sharing nice information with us.

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  2. Man, I’m envious! I’ve always wanted to tour some place riding only my bike. I’m sure it would be a liberating experience. I haven’t made the time for it yet though. Anyway, hats off to you! A dirt bike isn’t the easiest motorcycle to ride, we know that. And to do so for 5 days is almost like a beating, since the seat isn’t as wide as those of cruiser bikes.

    -->Claudio Mccarty

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  5. Glad to help guys. I have GPS info if needed just shoot me an email. Its broken down by days.

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