Stay “SPOT” On, All the Time

I’ve pretty much avoided the electronic age I have only two modern instruments of communication; a simple cell phone that won’t tweet, twitter or “doo doo” in my pocket and a thing called a “SPOT”. The cell phone is for emergencies only between Pauline and me, but the SPOT and I are inseparable.

I won’t go into detail about this wonderful electronic instrument except to say it operates through GPS and can save your “bacon” anywhere in the world. Ask the guys from Vey’s Powersports of El Cajon and Lemon Grove California who got caught by a freak blizzard near Baja’s Laguna Hanson (over 5,000 feet).  The SPOT folks got them out of the snowing sub-freezing weather in just seven hours.

Lots of motorcyclists have died simply because they had no way of letting anyone know that they were “over the side” or injured. A simple push of the SOS button on the SPOT would have summoned whatever help was needed anywhere in the world.  SPOT can track you or send up to 20 emails locating you through Google Earth. For complete info, contact SPOT or see your local REI store among many retailers.

The only time I ever got into trouble I followed some Baja race course signs which the organizers neglected to remove after the race several weeks before. Bob Kornafel and I followed the course markers south from the Laguna Salada dry lake where Luciano Pavarotti a couple of decades later would hold his most unsuccessful concert. (NOTE: The Laguna Salada is near the border just east of Mexicali, Baja Norte.)

Long story short, Bob and I got into a box canyon where more than a dozen motorcyclists have died due to a locked gate and/or not having enough gas. We had plenty of gas, but the exit was locked. Bob and I were forced to spend a cold, windy night on the ground before remounting our motorcycles at day break and following the long sand washes leading back to the Laguna Salada 30 or so miles north.

When I think of the more than a dozen people who have died in that box canyon over the years leading up to our unpleasant experience, I realize that there would have been no loss of life if SPOT had existed. One can easily understand why I won’t go anywhere without my SPOT, and furthermore, why I feel much safer riding solo in remote places than I would going SPOT-less or even in the company of a dozen other riders.

Recently a sometimes companion rider of mine went solo into the Baja mountains on a 100 plus mile dirt ride (plus another 100 miles of pavement). I warned him about the short winter days and reminded him not to forget his SPOT! He told me that his SPOT was in his desk at work and he didn’t have time to go get it.

The weather was cold and windy in the mountains on the day we’re discussing and overnight temperatures were expected to drop to below 40 degrees with wind chill factored into the equation.  Well, the KL-A rider got lucky. He reached La Rumarosa and pavement 45 miles east of Tecate as the sun plopped into the Pacific Ocean a 100 miles away. Within minutes while riding west toward Tecate his clutch cable broke and he was forced to shift without a clutch release until he got to Tecate where there was light to illuminate his repair work.

As we discussed the situation the inevitable “what if” question came out of my big mouth. “What if” you had been forced to replace a clutch cable near Laguna Hanson; or a short time later while still in Constitution National Park and with darkness all around you, the rear tire on your trick Top Gun/MMP spec. A model KLR sufferered a rear flat?  “Well, what if hombre”?

Most of us who have been multi-surface motorcyclists for a long time have acted stupidly from time to time, but the rider in question set a record:

  • He went riding alone in remote Baja mountains
  • He went riding on a less than ideal winter’s day with sunset just before 5PM and night time mountain temperatures in the high thirties or low forties depending on wind velocity and altitude.
  • He owned a SPOT but went SPOT-less anyway thereby giving up the one chance he had to be rescued should things have gone terribly wrong.

As I said earlier, anyone can make a mistake especially when it comes to multi-surface motorcycle riding in remote areas. The SPOT can save your butt anywhere in the world and for free once a year. GET ONE!