Avoiding Danger in Mexico, Part I

Oh how I long for the good old days in Baja when Alan Dietor (the best dirt rider I’ve ever
ridden with) and I used to wander all over Baja without ever encountering (other than flat
tires) or even hearing of a major problem, human or mechanical.

To be sure, riding in the early 1970s was more difficult due mostly to primitive motorcycle
suspension technology. With 6 sticky inches of wheel travel in front and 4 inches at the
rear, one spent most of the day standing on the pegs. Thanks to suspension genius
Charlie Curnutt, things got better in the mid to late ’70s but that’s another story.

Fast forward to November 2008 and much has changed; like people riding totally
inappropriate heavy motorcycles on Mexico’s bad dirt roads. More importantly, crime exists now where
it never did before. In other words, you best know the safest roads to travel and the best two
wheeled equipment to get you there and back safely.

The genesis for this article came from three guys I ran into in Tecate. All were on heavy
twins.  The most damaged of the three motorcycles was a Suzuki V-Strom 650 with lots
of fall down damage on both sides of the machine. Unlike BMWs ridiculous claims of the
giant GS’s dirtability, Suzuki has never recommended the DL650 for anything but
pavement work. One look at the gross weight and steering numbers will tell you why it’s
one of the best street bikes in the world, but should not be used for serious dirt work.
More alarming than the types of motorcycles our friends were equipped with was the fact
that they weren’t aware that they had been traveling in one of the most dangerous areas
in Northern Baja.  

In the second installment of this article we will explain why we no longer go to “Mike’s Sky
Ranch” and “Copper Canyon”.  On the positive side we will tell you where we ride without
worry and why we think the “Mehling Ranch” will become the new “In” place for
motorcyclists.