Tough in Baja

On our latest two-dayer in Baja, Rod Morris and I enjoyed challenging conditions in the

After crossing the border on our KLR650A’s we headed east from Tecate into rather
fierce 40 – 50 mph gusting head and crosswinds that would steer your bike for you if you
weren’t alert. I stayed in 4th gear at about 50 mph for the 15 mile ride to the dirt turn off.
To run in such conditions at 60 + mph in top gear would be to abuse the engine
resulting in at least additional gas/oil consumption (remember pumping losses).

Once we had aired down the tires and headed south in the dirt, Rod and I began to
discover the effects of heavy rains that had hit the area a couple of days before; lots of
puddles, ruts and a few water crossings. The neat things about the road conditions were
1) that traction in general was good and, 2) the edges of ruts broke down easily. The
result was a less harsh ride with reduced wear and tear on wheels, shock absorbers and
most of all, steering bearings. All in all, a challenging but wonderful ride.

Once out of the dirt and after stopping at the Ojos Negros Military check point, we pulled
into the nearby Pemex, as usual, to air up the tires to street pressure. While at the
station we met Alberto Lopez and Rene Gonzalez who were testing the gas pump meters
for accuracy.  Evidently the Mexican government is spot checking stations all over
northern and southern Baja looking for operators who are cheating their customers. All I
can say is, “it’s about time”.   Thank you Alberto, Rene and thank you Pemex for your
good $2.62 per gallon regular gas.

Baja has been 36+ years and way over 100,000 miles of fun for me (more than 20,000
with Pauline on board). The big difference when it comes to automotive fuel is that it’s
now dispensed from many more modern stations with new tanks and it’s mostly good,
water free, 87 octane.  Thank God the days of low octane Nova are gone forever. Also
gone with the Nova or
Petrolio (kerosene), as the Mexicans jokingly called it, is the need to do a top end
decarbonizing job on ones Baja bike every 15 to 20 thousand miles.

On second thought; I’d go back to my Nova-fed, 6 inch travel, C& J/Curnutt Honda 250 4
stroke custom dirt bike of 1976 if I could get back to all those great dirt roads that in 2010
are now either paved or shut off by fences and gates. Even the weird odor of burning 2-
stroke oil emanating from Alan Dietor’s 400 Husky tail pipe wouldn’t deter me.

Baja still contains some fun,  challenging riding and great  scenery.

Baja still contains some fun,
challenging riding and great

Still, Baja continues to be great fun if you have a well set-up MSM under your butt.
Once properly equipped the most important rule for traveling from the border south is
“stay on the main paved and dirt roads.” If you start exploring ranches like a couple of
guys did near Valley Trinidad (100 miles south of the frontier) containing someone’s
marijuana patch, they won’t be happy. The two riders in question were pre-runners for
the Baja race who were looking for a way to cut the course (and a fence). The shootist
put a .22 bullet into the first guy, but fled when the second rider appeared.

"Iron Horse" stops briefly at a  watering hole.

“Iron Horse” stops briefly at a
watering hole.

The moral of the story is, as we said, stay on the main dirt and paved roads and never
travel solo.

A Federal Highway patrolman once stopped Rod and me to warn us about speeding and
then complimented us for not traveling alone. The officer was pleasant and spoke perfect
English saying, “you’ll have no trouble in Baja as long as you travel in groups of two or more
and obey our laws “oops”!!