I made it into San Juanico! Brutal 102 mile ride in from San Ignacio, but I got in to town to find smiling friends waiting with open arms and cold beers. I’ll be back-posting this afternoon and next to share photos and detail the last three days of riding.
There is something to be said for waking up in a tent next to a curious coyote (about 20 meters away).
- bike is doing good (a bit of oil comin’ out of the head)
- bum is sore
- have dumped a bunch of gear along the way at bars and a hotel (“be back in a week or so”)
Looking forward to the New Years bonfire and dance down on the beach, tonight.
I didn’t spend much time in San Ignacio, the thought being that I could pass back through on the way north. I was eager to see friends and make the New Years Eve bonfire and dance in San Juanico.
I planned on taking the coastal route and understood that there were two trails that crossed the roughly 100 or so miles. I decided on the beach route, but overshot the turn and just kept plugging away on the ‘northern road,’ watching miles and miles of lava-topped cliffs tick by.
The trail was a mixture of rocky two-track that didn’t seem used all that frequently. I was sure that everyone was on the beach trail, but the weather was perfect and was enjoying the moon-dust, rock washes, and desolation of my little slice of trail. It wasn’t entirely desolate. Out of a little wash a man who could have been 80, but was probably 60, came bounding up the trail to give me a note hitting passers-by for a few bucks. No worries, I knew where I could find him if I ran out of gas.
By the time I reached Cadeje, 10 miles outside of San Juanico, I was starting to wonder if I would have to hit reserve or put a splash of gas in the bike. It was also getting late in the afternoon and I was eager to see friends. And then, all of a sudden, there it was, San Juanico. I headed through town and up a hill as if pulled along by invisible string. On the other end of the string was a waving hand of Mike, who casually slid aside his gate to allow me to drive right in to his combo. Jan, having, seen me coming through town whilst shopping, pulled in behind me and in an instant I was surrounded by loving company. THAT is a good day riding.
- Uh, Houston…
By the time I hit San Ignacio, it was clear that I had misjudged how much weight I could carry, particularly in the petrol department. The fuel bag and extra water bags, which both sat up high on the back bag, made dirt roads…sandy dirt roads, very difficult, and that type of riding would make up the next 150 miles or so to San Juanico. Something needed to be done.
I spent Wednesday night at the Rice and Beans Hotel in San Ignacio, trying to establish an Internet connection and going through clothes and gear that I could leave behind, mail home, or pick up on the way back home. By the next day, I had literally stripped down the rig another 20 lbs. and I could not be happier. I was down to 1 pair of pants; 1 pair of shorts; 3 shirts; socks; gloves; computer and electronic gear; tools and parts. The water and fuel are still big weight and space hogs, but I could get them in the side panniers. Here are the before and after pics of the gear load.
After my unexpected foray in no-man’s-land, I awoke to a coyote-bark alarm and suited up to make the run into Guerrero Negro and on to San Ignacio. One of the first thing I did before hitting the road, however, was getting rid of a large Polartec jacket, which was a space hog. This would be the first of many attempts to shed more weight and bulk from the Two-Three-Oh. So, I found the first guy that looked like he could use a North Face jacket and styled him out for Christmas.
I’ve been through Guerrero, but I was unprepared by how much the town has grown. There are now three, THREE, Pemex stations in town. True, only one of them worked but, still, the signs of growth are everywhere. I gassed up for the 90 mile road ride into San Ignacio and headed over to Malarrimo for lunch. Question: is there anything better than a Milanesa Torta? Well, the torta and a beer put me in the mood to haul into San Ignacio, which I did in good time (two hours). I forgot about the time change, however, so I still didn’t make it in before 3:30. Straight to Rice and Beans for a shower and dinner with Ricardo. I was back on track and feeling good about being in hitting distance of San Juanico. Would I shoot for San Juanico tomorrow?
Reality check; mile 55: the fully loaded bike (including giant bag of gas) was WAY heavier than I expected. The bike wallowed side to side in the sand, picking up speed and rhythm until the front wheel would literally leave the ground. The road to Gonzaga was m-i-s-e-r-a-b-l-e, but I kept thinking it was just my PTA, so I pushed on. Something needed to be done, however, which is when I discovered that a bike gremlin ‘somehow’ put 35 psi. of air into my front tire. I aired down, gassed in Gonzaga, and kept pushing forward. The breakfast in San Felipe had burned valuable daylight and it would catch up to me at 3:30, which was the time I hit the pavement at Chapala. Not good.
Realizing there was NO way I was going to make Guerrero Negro by dusk, I pulled off the road, tucked behind a little mesa, and prepared to camp out for the night. Having made the decision, I was stoked. 20 minutes of daylight remaining, Steely Dan on the iPod speaker, and a shot of Dewars put me in a great mood. So here it was, Day 1, and already I was camped in the moon shadow of a Boodjum tree (sp?) under an almost full moon. 190 miles of riding made for a perfect pillow.
In less than an hour, we were off for the border. By 11:00, we were having breakfast in La Salina watching overhead surf and enjoying a much needed Bloody Mary. The obligatory ice stop, two unplanned excursions through the back streets of TJ and Ensenada, and we were ready for the drive across the Valle de Trinidad.
We stopped only to celebrate friends that couldn’t be with us in the places that they like most. One thing that stands out from our drive across the peninsula, the military in Baja is out in force. We went through no fewer than four check points where the military inspection units were dug in deep. Efficient and kind, the soldiers that we encountered were clearly there to do a job and do it well. The ‘lawlessness’ that has everyone stateside in a panic was nowhere evident.
We got in to San Felipe just before dark and went straight to Don Jesus Hotel to check in. Don Jesus is the only place I know where you can wheel your motorcycle into the room and sleep next to it. Cool. Drinks and steaks made for a fitting end to a smooth trip across the desert. (Sorry, no pics of the food, but it wasn’t all that spectacular).
Just a quick reminder. Click here for the link to my, hopefully, location on any given day (after Dec. 27th). Just wish I could see it 🙂
Merry Christmas, all.
Departure is set…December 27th. I’ll leave out of San Felipe with the help of The Commander and G.R. Should have a few photos to post from the drive into town.
Wednesday 12/16. Just updated the Spot Messenger account to include tracking. New posts will include links to Google Maps to pinpoint my location. For now, because I haven’t logged any tracks in more than a week, users will just see the landing page. (Note: drop me a message if you want to be notified via email of my ‘begin day’ and ‘end day’ Spot messages, and I’ll add you to the list.)
Check it out.