Monday, April 28, 2014

Days 9 & 10: A Taste of the Baja 1000!

Our stay in Bahia de los Angeles was nice and lazy. We did indeed swim in the Sea of Cortez, much to the shock and amusement of locals who deemed the temperature too cold to really even go out fishing. We’re from the Pacific Northwest, though, where the ocean’s currently in the mid 40s. Comparatively, a temperature near 70 is practically a Jacuzzi! At least, that’s what we thought until we stuck a toe in. By then, though, we’d committed, so in we went! We had originally thought we’d have time to take care of some business and blogging here, but after it took 45 minutes to attach one photo to an email, we realized today was just meant for rest and relaxation.

That evening, Motodiscovery treated us to yet another feast and bonfire on the beach. A lovely evening indeed.

Today, we woke up to a choice: Juan and Skip would drive the support truck up the western coast along a scenic highway to Ensenada; Chicon would ride off road to Coco’s Corner, then up along the eastern side of the peninsula and over the mountains to Ensenada. It’s a long day either way. Most people appreciate the prospect of pavement and aren’t too excited about riding through sand on big bikes, so they opt for the western route. We’ve watched the Baja 1000 from afar too many times and can’t pass up the chance to meet Coco himself. So, when the fork came in the road, a small group of us took off in Alfonso’s dust to see what adventure awaited us.

The trip out to Coco’s Corner was mostly dirt with some silt and embedded rocks, not too different from our ride through Copper Canyon. Coco’s Corner was eclectic and dirty, everything we expected and hoped for. We each sipped the obligatory can of Coke while we wandered around looking at the memorabilia (mostly consisting of underwear left behind by folks passing through), signed Coco’s logbook, and listened to his words of advice in mixed Spanish-English. He warned us about hazards at specific mile posts along our way out, all of which proved to be spot on. Thanks, Coco!

If you’ve never heard of the Baja 1000 or Coco, we’d highly recommend watching the movie Dust to Glory. The Baja 1000 is a desert race through Baja from Ensenada, sometimes ending in La Paz and sometimes creating a giant loop back to Ensenada. All manner of classes race, from dirt bikes to trucks. The specific route varies from year to year, but it always go through or near Coco’s Corner. Coco and his Corner “shop” have become a bit of a hallmark of the event for the racers and spectators alike.

After hydrating and taking a photo op with Coco, we continued west and quickly noticed the terrain turn to mostly sand and silt with embedded, jagged rocks. The riding became considerably more challenging and slower for us. We all made it through without incident, though, and soon enough we were back out on pavement about 25 miles later.

Handily, we popped out next to the Rancho Grande airstrip. One of our group members has spent a lot of time riding around this area and knew a great little place on the water’s edge called Alphonsina's to grab lunch. So, we ate our last fish tacos of the trip then saddled up to pound out the rest of the mileage to Ensenada. Unfortunately, our progress was held up about 5 miles in when Brayde pulled off with a flat, courtesy of a big framing nail embedding itself squarely in the middle of the rear tire. The irony of riding through rough terrain unscathed, only to emerge onto nicely paved road and get a flat was not lost on us. Matt has LOTS of practice changing tires, though, and being a good Eagle Scout, he was prepared with all the necessary equipment. That was an especially handy trait in this instance because we had taken the route without the support truck and all of its tools and spares. Within minutes, we had the tire changed; the largest portion of time taken for the flat fix was spent waiting for the new tube to inflate using our Stop ‘n’ Go tire inflator. Not too bad!

The rest of the way to Ensenada, we enjoyed twisty roads along the coast and through the mountains. While the riding at or after sunset is never particularly advisable, this evening’s ride through the hills was absolutely breathtaking. It was like we were riding into an oil painting the colors were so vivid and the light and shadows were so contrasting. Sadly, we didn’t really have time to stop for a photo, and we thought our Virb was taking video and stills the whole time only to discover later that we had run out of memory on the data card. Bummer. In reality, though, pictures probably wouldn’t have done it justice anyway.

Because of the time fixing the flat and just the slower rate of travel riding off-road, we pulled into Ensenada late enough that it made sense to meet up with the rest of our group for dinner directly and go to the hotel afterward. We must’ve been a sight coming in all dusty and dirty to the upscale French restaurant that MotoDiscovery had graciously reserved for our dinner finale. If anyone noticed, though, they didn’t say a word. Instead, we all shared yet another gourmet meal together and regaled the day’s rides.

Tomorrow, we cross back into the US and must ease ourselves back into reality. Tonight, though, we got to enjoy good company and good wine one last time.

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