Two–Stroking Around the World

Paul, Pauline, and Elden with the Jawa

Paul, Pauline, and Elden with the Jawa

Long after I thought two-stroke motorcycles were extinct I ran into Paul Suchy at Santispak 10 miles south of Mulege Baja Sur. Parked there on the beach under a palapa was a loaded down JAWA 350cc two-stroke twin that had already traveled across Europe and Asia followed by a boat ride to Washington State where Paul again mounted his iron steed and headed south passing through Washington, Oregon, California, Baja Norte and finally arriving at Mulege, Baja Sur some 2,000 plus miles from Tacoma, Washington.

During the conversation Paul told my co-rider/wife Pauline Read and me that he was heading south to La Paz the next day. From there he would take the ferry to the mainland of Mexico and continue south hoping ultimately to reach the southern-most tip of South America before returning to mid-continent on the east coast.

Since Pauline and I planned to go on our annual 200 mile trip from Mulege to San Javier and return on the same day, we asked Paul if he would like a Spanish speaking senior citizen escort to Loreto. He replied in the affirmative so we agreed to a 9AM meeting time and we headed back to our motel in Mulege. The following morning Pauline and I prepped ourselves and our Top Gun 644 for the 200 mile one day round trip to San Javier.

When we arrived at Santispak, Paul was ready and we headed for Loreto through some of the most beautiful scenery anywhere. The recent storms and hurricanes had torn up the roads, but the variety of colors, especially greens, in Baja Sur are more spectacular than we have seen in more than 30 years of traveling Baja Sur.

Upon arrival at Loreto, Pauline and I gave Paul our class A tour of the historic first capital and mission in Baja Sur. After refueling at Loreto’s most honest and best Pemex station we led him back to Highway One and said good-bye. As Paul rode south we headed east toward San Javier Mission.

Despite the dozen or so water crossings and several patched up wash-outs caused by a hurricane and some storms, the trip was worth the trouble. The always-spectacular scenery was even more wonderful than Pauline and I had ever seen.

Since our trip was in mid- October we’ll bet the paved road to San Javier has been mostly repaired in the washed out areas and the water crossings probably are mostly dried up making travel to the Mission even by car probable.

Once back in Loreto, Pauline and I had lunch at the famous Café Ole before heading back to Mulege. After downing a nice meal we headed through the historic district (a mistake) on the way out of town. Just past Baja’s first Mission we approached a blind uncontrolled intersection.  We were fortunately traveling slowly, but a native in a beat-up small car entered the intersection from the left traveling too fast (we were on the narrow main street). I braked almost to the point of lock-up, but realized at the last moment the car was slowing but not taking evasive action.  With my speed down to single digits I let go of the brake lever and threw the bike hard to the right so as to parallel the car moving in the same direction. As I lightly impacted the car I accelerated, inadvertently knocking the right side mirror off with my well-padded left elbow. Evidently my left fork lower also made contact with the car as I discovered later it had sustained some scratches. Once we had accelerated past the wreckage I gave Pauline’s left knee the “is everything OK?” tap signal. The world’s gutsiest 86 year old motorcyclist responded with her own tap to my left hip, “all is well back here, and we continued motoring north as our protagonist disappeared down a side street.

The almost 80 mile trip from Loreto to Mulege was obviously just as gorgeous north bound as it had been southbound. But the shading of colors caused by the movement of the sun from east to west had made the vistas in some places dramatically different. To say my nature loving co-rider enjoyed the scenery immensely would be an understatement.

That evening while eating at restaurant Doney Mely’s across from our motel (Motel Mulege), Pauline and I reflected on what a great and challenging ride we’d had that day. We also wondered at 86 and 78 years of age respectively how long we could keep defying the odds. Our very special Top Gun 644 (based on a DR650SE Suzuki) has bought us time. Lowered and lightened with many improvements including “Ramos” seat, P.P.S./Ohlins suspension, Vey (Vey’s Powersports (619 448-2077) improved top end and changes in chassis-related items such as steering, wheels and tires make our T.G.644 much safer and easier to ride than any DR650SE or our old top heavy KLR650. As the old saying goes, “we’ll just keep on trucking until we run out of gas”.

If you are interested in Paul’s world traveling JAWA 350 two-stroke twin you can check out his website here. (Todd’s note – you can find Paul’s comments on meeting Pauline and Elden and translate from Czech to English using Google or other translator. Note – I haven’t broken it to Elden yet that Paul estimated his age at 95…)