Island to Island Waterman Relay race time! I’ve got an amazing and eclectic paddling team assembled (dubbed Team Bern-Out), calling in good weather for this painful 32-mile relay, and ready to get my luau on with friends and family. Santa Barbara Island to Catalina Isthmus…let’s do this. Race prep and photos to follow.
Edit: two quick details, because ‘inquiring minds want to know.’ The team name, “Team Bern-Out” showcases Bernadette Foote, who, being our youngest paddler, is going to carry us old guys through the rough moments (and sections) of the race. As for the discrepancy in mileage on the image, ‘dirt creatures’ should know that it is actually 28 nautical miles, which translates into roughly 32 miles of deep, blue water. Critter-country here we come!
As I rode into Ensenada, I had to keep reminding myself that it’s not over until the motorcycle is in the garage. And then it happened. White truck, in my lane, heading directly at me. This is how it ends? Everything slowed down and someone turned off the sound. I could see smoke from the truck’s skidding tires and I could feel the bike sliding sideways as if it were on glass. My last movement was almost instinctual–I tucked my elbow in from being struck by the side-view mirror on the truck and braced for impact. The panniers hit the rear door on the truck and my shoulder skipped off the window. I skidded into a lane of oncoming traffic, screaming profanities in my helmet and bizarrely aware that there was and OXXO store across the street—I hadn’t seen once since Loreto. It goes without saying that this event shorted out the warm glow if my entry back into the ‘world.’ I kept moving with acute eye on all the cars around me, in the rear-view mirror, passing through each intersection, until I pulled into a hotel that I would call home for the next few days. So, it’s not over, not even close, and the bike is not in the garage.
After my beat-down from Guerrero Negro, a ride down the coast–technically from San Quintin to Erindera–seemed like a walk in the park. Wind gusting to 50 mph, surf 10-12′, and a number of technical washouts that put me on the beach and, at times, in the water, kept the day interesting.
Of greatest concern was the fact that the final ‘bridge’ into town, Erindera, was gone, washed away by recent rains. I could see a farmer up on a hill, so I gave him the universal hands-up-in-the-air sign for “which way?” Through a serious of gestures, he made it understood that I needed to unlock a gate to some gringo’s property, drop down a hill, cross a stream, and drive up through a patch of what looked like Brussel sprouts, to pick up on the trail into town. Seriously, he was that good at gesticulating.
One problem. The wind and waves had forced the ocean up the river flooding out the stream-crossing. The only other option, was to backtrack 15 miles to the south and pick up a new trail. But, my reasoning went, ‘it was such a short distance across the stream.’ 15 feet into the stream, water was up to my seat, the trail made a small detour through some high weeds, and I was thinking this was not the ideal place to drown-out the little Honda. No time for pictures here, but needless to say the 2-3-0 punched through and got me up the line to Cayote Cals (after a Tecate Caguama in Erindera). I’ve spent a lot of time with friends in this part of Baja and I had them all on my mind as I zigged and zagged up the coast.
Posted a 260-mile day, which, on a 230, is a monster. The last 50 miles, the temperature dropped 30 degrees and I rode into a sand/dust storm the likes of which I’ve never seen in Baja. Having a truck pass by you and blow your head back is one thing; having a truck make a pass from behind and almost get sucked into the rear trailer wheels is another.
Used a bit of Karma today, for sure.
Just got into San Ignacio (redux) and am looking to run to Guerrero Negro tomorrow. First, let me just say that Mulege was nuts. In 24 hours I was party to almost getting eaten by a whale, a dinner party replete with artists and singers of the highest caliber, new friends that could party like tournament trained professionals, crashed cars (two), and all followed by a wonderful town party that kept the magic going through late last night. It took some effort, but I had to throw myself out of the mix this morning and head for San Ignacio. A ton of bikers in SI with expectations of 20 or more RVs coming into town tomorrow. Glad to be on the move.
Visited the Tres Virgines this afternoon (a beautiful volcano) and spend much of the time in the shade of a cactus tree having a sandwich. Perfect. Pushing for Guerrero tomorrow, but looking at the ride into San Franciscito and up through Bay of Los Angeles. I will try and work out the details on fuel tonight.
Yes, this is the face of exhaustion. I did something like 45 miles in just under seven hours. That’s right, you do the math. Crawling…no, crawling would be fast in this case. The road out of town and to Loreto (via San Jose Comondu and Santa Isabel), turned from a trail into a wash and it didn’t get better from there; in fact, it only got worse, I had to go up an over a 2,700 ft. mountain.
I fell over plenty; I abused bike and clutch, and refused to turn around. Reason One: this WAS the trail, and everyone said that it would take two to three hours, maybe four, max. Reason Two: GIANT dogs, two of which chased me for a mile up a washed out trail, nipping at my leg. I finally stopped and yelled at the dogs with malice and it seemed to do the trick. They gave up and went off to more pleasurable pursuits. Me, not so much. On three separate occasions I had to off-load the bags and panniers and portage them up the trail a half of a mile or so, then return for the bike. Wow.
I suffered mightily until, just outside of Santa Isabel, at 5:00, when I decided to give it up and pack in for the night. I was shocky, cold and sweaty, and I needed to avoid a serious mistake in the middle of BFE. The irony of the whole thing was that I was in sight of a small rancho, but I was literally too tired to try and keep moving into the night or even think about making it into Loreto.
Realization #234: a bush or a rock ate my sleeping bag. A few days ago, I ran into a cholla that put one million cactus needles into my bag. Now, bag gone. The funny thing, was I was too tired to even worry about it. I dried off, set up a tent, put on my warmest clothes, and crawled under an emergency blanket. I was asleep in 10 minutes.
Good times, people, good times.
Made it to Loreto after an unexpectedly brutal ride from San Juanico. No road, no trail, just rocks and endless washes, uphill. Had to take the gear off of the bike several times and walk it up 1/2-mile sections that could only be made by doing my best trials-bike imitation. Didn’t make it here in one day, so I had to spend the night under the stars, again. Would have been more fun if 1.) a cholla bush hadn’t speared my sleeping bag and, 2.) I had a sleeping bag. At some point the bag got snagged by a tree or a rock and became Baja food.
Hands still don’t work so good, so I’m going back to the hotel and grab some rest, followed by a bunch of posts with pictures. I know, I’m behind, but hang with me…it’s worth it.