If you've never been, I'll try to break it down so you know what you are getting into, without all the hyperbole. First and foremost, this ride is centered around riding your hand-built motorcycle, preferably an old one. BUT, it is open to anyone on any machine.
There is no entry fee or official anything. We will announce a start time and place in Temecula because that's where we are starting. You can start anywhere and take any route you choose.
We will have a truck or two in the back but don't take that as a guarantee. Have your bike dialed and be able and ready to work on it on the side of the road if needed and a back up plan if you can't get it going. We've never left anyone out in the cold and there always seems to be someone's girlfriend in a truck to help out, but it's best to have a plan because you can't just text triple-A and while you wait at Starbucks. That is pretty much the point. We always stress being self-sufficient, not to act like bad asses but to warn those who have never been.
There will be potholes. And speedbumps. Probably a couple sections of smooth dirt or gravel detours around road construction. Sometimes that detour is ten miles long. Sack up, it's just a dirt road. Motorcycles, even choppers, love dirt roads. The wise rider goes single file on these roads and gives a little more interval between other riders. For a quick primer on riding in a pack, read THIS. Or, best of all, break off into a small group with your buddies and go at your own pace and enjoy it. You do not want to ride at night.
So, the whole thing is about 600 miles round trip. Not exactly iron butt miles for a three legged trip. Granted, Mexico miles always seem longer because of sketchy roads and long stretches of isolation, but again, that's the point. It's a unique area to ride and that's what makes it fun.
Thursday, the first day is the longest at almost 300 miles. There are only a few freeway miles, everything else is two-lanes. If you start in Temecula with us, we'll split in the morning and head out through Warner Springs where it'll be a little chilly with over 4000' of elevation change. We'll drop down into the Anza Borrego desert where it will warm up substantially. We will stop for gas where we can and will even have a spot set up in the middle of nowhere with a crew in pick up trucks topping off those of us with tiny tanks. This was a new route in 2013 and it worked great and kept things interesting. Look for a new better map to get uploaded soon. In Calexico, we'll grab some lunch, gas up and get insurance if you didn't already get it through Baja Bound.
We'll cross the border, generally in a big pack and stick a little closer together. Mexicali is a little sketchy to the newcomer but basically if you just keep heading south you can't mess up. All roads eventually lead to Mex Highway 5 which runs all the way to San Felipe. This stretch is the longest without gas. I always stop at the last Pemex at the south end of town just to get as much as possible. I get about 100 miles to a tank loaded down so I'll have an extra one gallon can on my bike. Once we clear that Pemex, it's a straight shot to SF through some barren landscape that is really cool. Beware of Mexican drivers. They have balls for days and love to drive fast and prove it. This is where road conditions will degrade a little. We'll hit a Military checkpoint about 30 miles north of town. There is a little beer/snack stand called "Three Poles" on the other side once you clear the check. It's a good place for a break and some shade. The army dudes are just like army dudes anywhere except they are locked and loaded and carry their weapons on "fire". Don't bring guns or drugs. They generally look at us like we are idiots and wave us right through. Chase trucks get looked at a little closer. Just tell them you are going to San Felipe for vacation and don't have anything to hide.
We usually ride this whole section without helmet, do what you want. We'll stop for gas a few miles before town and top off. The road is all brand new and four lanes from here on in. It is advisable to wear your lid from here and every time you ride in San Felipe. The loose rule is that it's OK out on the open highway but required in towns. When you see some giant concrete arches, you'll know you've made it. We'll ride all the way to the water, and turn left on the malecon. The town streets are beat to hell, stop signs are not clearly marked and there is a fine coat of sand everywhere making it a perfect place to test your skills. Turn right at the end of the malecon and right again at the next Alto sign. Left at the last possible road and parallel the beach down to Ruben's and Kiki's Campos.
This will be night one of two spent in San Felipe. There are no organized games or vendors or anything to do except explore around, fish, fix your bike, drink, etc. We will do the Circle of Death on Friday some time and will announce details on that as we get closer. Basically, it is a rough circle track, four laps, no crap and the winner gets a prize worth hanging in the garage forever.
Saturday morning we will ride back the way we came, hanging a left/west just after the Military checkpoint. This is only about a 155 mile day, but the roughest of all. After the checkpoint it is pure desolation and the road is generally littered with good size potholes. There are two gas stations along this route, one at Valle de Trinidad and another at Ojos Negros. Last time we went through here there was a section of about ten miles that was detour around the highway. It was smooth dirt road that was watered often and posed no ground clearance problems, but was still dirt. We'll be checking this out this weekend to see what progress has been made.
If you get separated and lost coming into Ensenada, it could not be easier to get your bearings. Look west from any point and you will see the largest Mexicn flag ever made. Across the street is the largest pink hotel, the Villa Marina which is eleven stories high. Impossible to miss. For veterans of this trip, it is right across the street from the place we've stayed the last two times.
Here you can get a room, hot shower and all the entertainment you want. There are a ton of bars and "other establishments" for you to get your party on. Bikes will be in the parking lot and they have an all night securidad posted up. I still run a chain through our bikes just to be safe. There is a pool at our hotel and we will have a fiesta there with food and drink on Sunday and pass out some awards, see who broke what, etc.
Monday, it's every man for himself. You'll be tired of everyone by then anyway. The ride up the coast is the best part of the trip with the ocean on your left and generally pretty good road conditions. Splitting lanes through the border wait in TJ is awesome, just blip the throttle and let the walking vendors and carts know you are coming through and congratulate yourself on those home made super skinny bars, this is where you'll need them. Chase trucks can meet you somewhere in the USA, it'll take them two hours to get through this part. It sucks and there is no good alternative.
|New map coming soon, but this is pretty close.|