A Story about Elden Carl and Pauline Read

From the editor:

Here is another article I found in Elden’s archives. It’s from Scott Wexman, a mechanical engineer and inventor who is also an accomplished motorcycle mechanic specializing in European motorcycles, principally BMW’s. Like Elden, Scott is a long time multisurface motorcyclist with lots of additional hours competing in trials events. Scott’s story was written in the mid to late 1990’s and is another testimonial to Elden’s expertise. – Pat Rose


A Story about Elden Carl and Pauline Read

by Scott Wexman 

What weighs 750 lbs., is green, and is traveling at speed on a tight whooped out section of the Baja 500?

Hey, that’s no mythical beast….it is Elden Carl and his co-pilot Pauline Read on his custom KLR 650. That’s right – two up on a KLR on a fairly snotty trail. The next scene is Elden crossing the stream and chewing through the uphill sandy bank battling the KLR and gravity. Elden won. What is more remarkable about this scene besides the bike and pillion handling skills, are the ages of the pilot and co-pilot. At a time in their lives when most people are playing it safe and laying back, these two are having real adventures and hardcore fun.

Elden is in his mid-sixties and Pauline is his senior (although I am not at liberty to divulge by how much). And for the record, I have never heard Pauline complain about the long hours and bumpy terrain even when other members of the entourage were burned out and grumpy (read me).

I first met Elden during his brief and ill-fated BMW period. I had a 1982 BMW R100S that was up for sale. Elden came out to look at it – I had a change of heart about selling it. Fortunately he understood my emotional dilemma. Over the next few months, our paths ended up crossing many times.

Since that initial meeting, we have had many memorable rides. One of those rides started from a friend of Elden’s ranch, about 14 miles east of Tecate. The day was gray, but reasonably warm. As we started out on a loop towards Laguna Hanson, it started to mist. About 30 miles into the ride, the mist turned to rain and the temperature dropped – a lot. In Baja the weather can change unexpectedly, and when rain starts, any kind of road crossing with water across it cannot be taken for granted as being passable. I made Elden ford the stream first. Neither of us were prepared for what happened next … snow! We were cold and wet before, but now we were very cold and slightly hypothermic. We pressed on to La Rumerosa. On the way there, the mud was getting deep. Elden hates mud. So being the good buddy I am, I couldn’t help laughing while watching Elden climb a muddy hill with the back end of his XR600 swapping back and forth up the hill while the tire was grabbing for traction. Fortunately as we headed east, the weather let up and by the time we got back to the truck, it all seemed like it had been great fun.

We had several other adventures on this loop. One which comes to mind is the ‘Oh my God, we have been going in big circles and we are almost out of gas’ ride. The sun is a great navigation aid. However, it is amazing how easy it is to get disoriented when it clouds up suddenly. The El Compadre is a major dirt road that once you hit it, you know that you are not too far from either Ojos Negros or Rancho Veronica. We had lost the sun to a gray and darkening sky. After riding for quite too long a time trying to find the road, we came to the sick realization, that like some grade B cowboy flick, we had been going in circles and were running low on fuel. I always get chided for bringing everything but the kitchen sink on these rides. This time though, I think that everyone was a bit relieved when I pulled out my 30 year old compass and five minutes later we had found the El Compadre and were on the way home. I think I had at least 4 or 5 ounces of fuel left when we finally got back to the truck. One comment I have to add to these stories is Elden as a good will ambassador. Through his mastery of Spanish, honesty and respect, he has made friends all through Baja. Everywhere we go, it seems like he knows somebody.

In my opinion, Elden is a true motorcycle enthusiast. He builds, studies, re-engineers, and improves whatever his choice of mount is. And to top it off he flat out rides the wheels off his bikes. He also has a lot of innate engineering ability and creativity. Many of his ideas have helped to add reliability to engineering fauxpas on the part of the factory. Some people are put off by what seems like his blind adherence to outdated or unpopular ideas. The plus side to this is that his stubborn streak allows him to follow through on his ideas despite what others may think. A lot of times he has been way ahead of the industry curve … go figure?!

Vaya con Dios
Scott Wexman