A wedding in Cabo. Flights and hotel booked. Wives all excited. My buddy and I over beers decide to ride our motorcycles. Wives pissed. Flights can’t be canceled. The ride of a lifetime with tons of drama. Almost missed the wedding. Our wives happy we are alive.
It all started when my buddy Chris and I had some friends decide to get married in Cabo San Lucas, the southern tip of Baja California. We, of course, do the usual, book a hotel and buy airplane tickets for ourselves and our wives.
A few days later my buddy and I were talking over beers and without any hesitation, we were discussing riding our dirt bikes down to the wedding. We live in Idaho by the way, a long ass way from Cabo.
We both left that night laughing and didn’t think either of us were serious. Turns out neither of us could stop thinking about it.
The following day we met again and decided we must do this. The wives hated the idea of course. Oh and the airline tickets couldn’t be cancelled either so we had that going for us.
But heck you only live once, so here it goes….
Clueless in Baja
We both had what are called dualsport motorcycles. They are basically the middle ground between a road bike and a dirt bike. Perhaps the best way to describe them is they suck at both. Kind of like the TV/VCR’s we all used to have. They just don’t do either thing very well.
In all honesty though, these were the perfect bike for such a trip. They can handle the long highway but can also handle some dirt and sand.
We tried to not have much of a plan other than show up for this wedding in Cabo. That
Here was our plan,
- Cross the border at Mexicali
- Laguna Hanson
- Ojos Negros
- Mike’s Sky Ranch
- Ganzaga bay and Coco’s corner
- and the rest was to just bounce our way down to Cabo
- Oh, I almost forgot…my wife agreed to hop on the motorcycle with me, cross over to mainland Mexico, cruise the coast, and fly out of Port Vallarta!!! I know right!!!
I’m not going to elaborate on the plans all that much because the plans were, well let’s just say, altered.
Enough pre-planning let’s get to the trip
Get Ready to Live
Above you can see our repair kits and gear.
Packing list: As requested I linked to the actual product I used and can vouch for. I will never link to something I don’t like or haven’t used
- Mountain Hardware Tent, newer model here
- Marmot Sleeping bag and mattress
- MSR Windburner Stove, my review here
- SterPen Ultra, my review here
- Collapsible Nalgene bottle
- Polar Bear Soft Cooler, my review here
- Solar Panel
- Copies of all our needed paperwork for border crossing
- Crazy Creek chair
- 12-volt air compressor, this thing worked awesome!
If anyone is interested in a detailed list of our repair kit contents feel free to shoot me an email
The border crossing in Mexicali was no problem at all. Had all the right paperwork and got through in less than 30 minutes. From
This was a great spot! Much needed after some long travel days. We were the only people there aside from the caretakers who were some really nice folks.
This was a good rest day for us because tomorrow was the big push to cross Laguna Salada on our way to HWY 5.
Laguna Salada sits about 30 feet below sea level and has become famous from the Baja 1000 race that crosses this dried out lake bed. In the winter it’s a salt lake that dries usually by late spring.
Baja California this year had a very wet winter. Some of the old-timers we ran into said it’s the wettest they’d ever seen it. So the condition of Laguna Salada was largely unknown.
Because of our limited range on the bikes once we head to Laguna Salada there isn’t any turning back as we would run out of fuel. The crux of the crossing is basically right before we hit HWY 5.
Let the Adventure Begin
So after a restful night of sleeping and hot springs we hit the road.
This is where things start getting a little interesting
The Not so Dry Laguna Salada
Our so called dried out lake bed isn’t looking so dry. It’s a shame because the first stretch was so good and made for some incredible riding.
The worst part is that this isn’t just your average mud. This stuff was clay. Unbelievably sticky. It caked on everywhere and slicker than snot.
Eventually we had to resort to walking along side our bikes and just feathering the clutch to keep them moving. I bet you can guess what happened next?
That’s right, Chris lost his clutch. No more go go! Hmmmmm this is interesting we thought to ourselves. Our GPS put us about 12 miles from the road.
A Lonesome Night
As the vultures started to circle overhead we made the decision that Chris would stay out here for the night. The lake was starting to dry up again and we thought I would be able to ride the remaining 12 miles and get some help
So I off loaded some of my gear to try and drop some weight on the bike. The plan was for me to return tomorrow and if I didn’t he would start walking out.
So I continue pushing my bike for a bit and then like we’d hoped I was able to start riding for a bit. Things were looking pretty good until 6 miles from the road when I lost my clutch.
The trail had gotten muddy again. In
Things Just Got Real
Well shit I though to myself. There was only one option and that was to hike out to the road. I shed a few layers, filled my camelback, and started walking. Did I mention it was hot? I think I forgot that. I’ll say it again, it was hot!
After several hours I made it to the road. I was exhausted to say the least. While I did get to the road I was still in the middle of nowhere. No towns or anything nearby that I could walk to.
What’s the one thing we were told not to do in Baja? You guessed it, hitchhiking! Throwing caution to the wind I stuck my thumb out.
Now keep in mind what I look like. Filthy dirty with motorcycle boots and no motorcycle anywhere to be seen. I’m a big fan of picking up hitchhikers but I don’t think even I would have picked myself up.
Car after car passed by. Most were US plates. Then eventually this rolled up,
It was a beautiful site. None of the tires matched, missing a window, and it sounded like it was about to explode. But I jumped right in. His name was Jose and he spoke very little english and I of course spoke very little spanish.
Jose took me to his home town of Alberto
He first brought me to his buddy’s house with this tiny Ford Ranger sized pickup and I was like no way. “Quatro y quatro mas grande!” He stopped at a few other houses but we weren’t coming up with anything. Decided to call it a night and we would try again in the morning.
Casa de Jose
Jose was kind enough to offer up his place for me to stay. He had a wife and a
In the morning we got right back to it and luckily the first place we went looked promising. It was a good full sized truck and the owner said he’s been out in Laguna Salada a lot with it.
Miraculously he agreed to give it a try! He spoke almost no
We hit a gas station and I got him all fueled up. I told everyone I was buying and to grab whatever they wanted from the store. Bags of chips, Coca-Cola and an assortment of other snacks were picked up. The driver remarkably didn’t want any of that and instead grabbed a bottle of Whiskey. What could
And We’re Off
Nothing could stop us now I thought. Well except for the mud I suppose. In the back of the truck were a bunch of 5 gallon jugs. I wasn’t sure what they were for but I soon figured it out.
Am I Hallucinating?
I couldn’t tell if I was hallucinating or if I saw something. Sure enough it was somebody standing up and waving his arms. You could hardly see him in the intense heat. And sure enough it was Chris! We made it!
It was sure good to have Chris safe and out of the clutches of Laguna Salada. We still weren’t out of the mud yet however.
This adventure took most of the day so we posted up again for the night at Jose’s. He took us out fishing and we came home with some Crappie for dinner.
I can’t emphasize how nice and welcoming these people were. They treated us like royalty despite not even having running water. The whole clan from the truck also stopped by and again were some of the nicest people I’ve ever met.
The following morning he drove around looking for a shop that might have the clutch parts we need. And by shop I mean someone’s garage. There really wasn’t a shop per se.
Eventually we found a repair outfit that said he could order the stuff and have it in about a week. Well that wasn’t going to work we had places to see and things to do. We made some calls to the San Diego area and found a couple shops that had what we needed.
We decided to leave all our bikes and belongings at this stranger’s house and head over the border to get some parts. Our plan was to get over the border before nightfall and then rent a car first thing in the morning and drive to San Diego. Jose was kind enough to drive us up to the border and he even promised to come back tomorrow and pick us up. Yeah right we thought.
Rolling with the punches
Once we got into the states we grabbed the first hotel we could find and proceeded to crush a few beers. We had some stress we needed to burn off. This was the first time we were able to update our better halves and let’s just say they were not impressed. We didn’t tell them where we were fearing they might drive down and pick us up.
In the morning we rented a car and headed toward San Diego to grab our parts. That was actually surprisingly easy. We hurried back to the border trying to avoid a nighttime border crossing and the slight chance that Jose would actually be waiting for us.
We worked our way back through the Border telling this somewhat unbelievable story. When we got through guess who was waiting for us? Mr. Jose himself. Could not believe it. Needless to say we were stoked.
We hurried back to the mechanic shop. With the hopes that there was enough daylight left that he could get the bikes going so we could take off first thing in the morning.
Unfortunately when we pulled into the mechanic shop, which by the way was his home, we were greeted by a big party. Turns out it was his grandmother’s 100th birthday! He said the bikes would have to wait till tomorrow and although we were a little bummed we completely understood.
We decided that we wanted to stay near our bikes and the mechanic graciously invited us to stay at his place. He offered us up the grass or we could stay in the garage. We were stoked and planned to just hide out while his family celebrated.
Who Wants Some Tequila
Our mechanic buddy wasn’t going to let us just chill in the garage and insisted we join the party. I don’t know about you but I like a good party. We snuck out to a nearby store and grabbed a birthday cake for his grandmother. Needless to
We had a blast! The people and the food were amazing. The most friendly family you will ever meet. By the end of the night we were stuffed and drunk. Couldn’t be happier.
The only downside to a raging party full of Tequila was the morning after. Now I’m not talking about Chris and I, although we did feel like shit, I’m worried about our mechanic. Specifically when the poor guy will crawl out of bed and fix our bikes. We were in a bit of a hurry if were gonna make this wedding.
Well not to worry. Before I could even stand to open my eyes he had already gotten one bike fixed. We’re talking like
I need to throw a
The only problem now was the pounding headache. We paid the guy and tipped the hell out of him and we’re on our way.
We stopped by Jose’s house on the way out to say thanks. We tried to give him some cash but he wouldn’t take a dime. He was however interested in cruising down Baja with us. We said sure but cautioned him that we may be taking some rough roads.
At this point we were in a hurry to make this wedding. We mostly stuck to the HWY knowing that we could hit some of these spots on the way back.
Unfortunately his car didn’t make it too far. We felt terrible and of course emptied our wallets but again he would not take a dime.
It was time to say goodbye to Jose
We pressed onward and eventually made it to Punto Bufeo.
The following morning we headed to the legendary Coco’s Corner. Today was about the third time my pannier fell off since that first crash. Nothing a little bailing wire can’t fix. Eventually we got a little welding done.
Next stop Mulege
Finally got some good beach camping and of course the inevitable running out of fuel picture.
Kept working our way south
We got really good at flats!
We Made It!
We made it with less than an hour to spare. Grabbed a shower and did the wedding thing in Cabo. Had a blast but after a few
My wife and I are gonna ride this hog two-up over to mainland Mexico while Chris and his wife chill for the week.
A Rough Night at Sea
After getting rocked all night at sea we arrived in Mazatlan and stayed at the Old Mazatlan Inn. Very nice place with secure bike storage.
We headed south toward Sayulita. I must say the roads and traffic were a bit sketchy but just like everything else you get used to it.
Time to Chill
It felt good to park the bike for a while. We had about a week here and if you can’t tell we had a blast.
From here my wife flew out and I headed back to Baja.
On the way back over to Baja I opted for the less pricey ferry. My room for the night was on the car deck amongst idling semi-trucks. I’m sure that took a few years off my life.
The plan for was for Chris and I to meet back up in San Juanico. As I passed through town some white boy came running at me with an ice cold Modelo. Chris and I were back together once again.
Chris was having some battery issues at this point and I laughed when I saw jumper cables strapped to his motorcycle. We spend the next few days just chilling and surfing at Scorpion Bay.
We made our way back to Bahi Concepcion and found ourselves a little camp buddy.
About this time there was a significant earth quake in Mexicali, 7.8 to be exact. As we wound our way back north we were looking forward to stopping in and saying hi to all our new friends we had met.
As we got near El Faro the damage from the quake became real evident. The main HWY was closed with some splits and gaps as wide as 5 feet. We of course were able to sneak around them.
As we got closer to town it was apparent that things were not
The Final Push
It was bittersweet. Glad to be on home turf but sad such an epic trip is coming to an end. We took our time heading home. Thought a lot about our friends and hoped they were all okay.
We would laugh ourselves to sleep going over the particulars of the trip. It was truly a trip of a lifetime.
Update: We were able after a few months to get in touch with our friends and they all fared pretty well. Jose reported that one of his concrete walls fell down but they were able to get it back up no problem.
Man what a different life some people live. Sure makes me evaluate what it means to live on this planet. I wish my friends here in the states with every toy in the world could be as happy as these guys were in Baja.