Pismo Beach, USA to Mulege, Mexico
Mar 2, 2014 – Mar 15, 2014
Soaked in Big Sur
The days leading to our departure from the US were mostly soggy so we comforted ourselves with some pancakes in Solvang and motorcycle porn at the Solvang motorcycle museum. Everyone we encountered marvelled at how it was the first rain in those parts in over 18 months – of course. After a fun sunset jaunt on Mulholland Drive, we reached Rancho Santa Margarita where the Heys family brought some much needed warmth and sun to our lives. Ryan serenaded us over lunch after a trip to REI for a critical tent upgrade, while boots and gloves were drying out in the sun. Afterwards we headed to Carlsbad to see our good friends Rowan, Erin and Petunia and I was finally united with my Rev’It riding gear that had been shipped there. It was at this point that we realised our time had been completely monopolised by wrapping up our lives and setting up the bikes, and we’d done very little planning for the days ahead. We imposed ourselves on our hosts for 2 extra days so we could wrestle our GPS software into submission and figure out where to aim once we crossed the border at Tecate.
Mexico, here we come
The border crossing was smooth and easy, but still took a couple of hours, so we found ourselves riding the La Rumorosa mountain pass after dark. Our destination for the night was Cañon Guadalupe and so that meant navigating the dirt road in the dark, which would not have presented any problems it it wasn’t for the sand. The sand that would become the bane of my existence for the next week or so. It was a long few hours, but the night sky was spectacular, and the Wolf was mostly patient, so we eventually found the entrance to the hot springs and picked a spot to test out our fancy new tent for the first time. The next morning Oscar, who owns the land, set us up with our own private campsite, palapa and hot tub fed by the natural hot spring. Imagine a personal paradise, nestled amongst rocks and palm trees, with a perfectly flat, tent-sized piece of ground right next to a natural rock pool filled with water heated by the heart of the earth. There is nothing like a day of waterfalls followed by an evening of soaking in a hot tub in the moonlight to recover from a long night of riding sand.
San Felipe, HQ of the Baja 1000
After a full recovery, we faced the sand and dirt once again to get to San Felipe. As we arrived we spotted a herd of dirt bikes at a beachfront restaurant and decided to stop for a beer. It turned out the dirt bikes belonged to a bunch of guys from Reno who were on a weeklong tour of Baja. They showered us with advice, recommendations and even donated a AAA map of Baja to our cause. Special thanks for the juice recommendation guys, Gabriel’s jugos were amazing! Armed with our new-to-us map we boldly aimed at Bahia San Luis Gonzaga were we planned to spend the next night. (We felt the recommendation from The Reno crew to ride all the way from San Felipe to San Ignazio was poquito loco!)
Some time after the pavement had ended and turned into dirt, which just happens to be part of the Baja 1000 route, we spotted some sparkles in the distance. To our great surprise the sparkles turned out to be the multitude of cans decorating the surrounds of the renowned Coco’s Corner. We had apparently missed Gonzaga entirely. Coco is an amazing old character who spends his days manning his little cantina where he sells beer and sodas to passing drivers and riders and regales them with stories. Over the years, he’s lost both his legs, but this has not stopped him from running his operation accessible only by dirt roads. Coco gruffly greeted us, and told us in no uncertain terms that we should not ride any further, but stay in one of his trailers. No charge he assured us, we just needed to buy a couple of beers or cokes and that would be that. He asked us if we’d like meat or potatoes and the next thing we knew the Wolf and I were making tacos in Coco’s kitchen as he barked directions at us. 3 Alaskan guys, immediately dubbed “Chupa Cabras”, “Nalga Seca” and “Espanto Pajaro” by Coco, joined the party and we spent the evening around the fire while the Wolf shared pilot stories with Nalga Seca.
The art of riding in the sand
The next day was once again a late start after waiting for Coco to get back with some extra gas for us, since we missed the Pemex in Gonzaga… Doh! I cruised along the road from Coco’s to Chapala and began to feel cocky about my off roading skills. This would not last long. After a quick taco in Bahia de Los Angeles we embarked on what I will now refer to as the death ride to Bahia San Rafael, which is the same road as the Baja 200 race. It might not have been so bad, but since we had to wait on gas in the morning, we once again found ourselves riding by moonlight. Then the gravel began. And the rock gardens. And, of course, more sand. For many miles, there was a 15cm wide path of packed dirt lined with a foot of gravel on either side threatening to swallow the Zebramobile’s front tire at every opportunity and throw him down to the ground. We battled along for 6 hours to cover the 50 miles. Yup, that is embarrassingly less than 10 miles per hour, and probably some kind of record for that stretch of road. The Wolf could have killed that road in 2 hours flat, but he patiently picked up my bike for me the countless times I crashed and coached me through all the obstacles. We finally arrived and Pancho’s beach and threw up our tent. I was beyond grateful we had bought the tent that was easy to erect.
Pancho’s paradise…and back to hell
The next day once again called for a recovery day. Pancho welcomed us with coffee, and proceeded to tell us he would make us some lunch. In his youth Pancho apparently had a penchant for gambling but when his good fortune ended he found himself cooking on fishing boats for a living. 24 years ago he planted himself down on this small slice of paradise, now known as Pancho’s beach and frequented by about 1000 tourists annually. Lunch preparation turned in to a private cooking lesson on how to make flour tortillas, and the cooking lesson turned into a Spanish lesson. Needless to say, the tortillas were amazing and the fish stew was the best thing we’ve eaten on the trip so far. We capped off the day with a nap in Pancho’s palapa on the beach. It was a good thing the day was so perfectly relaxing, because the road to get to Vizcaíno would once again test my resolve and every ounce of skill I do and do not have. 100 miles of sand, punctuated with treacherous rocky mounting passes and steep cliff drop offs, and 14 hours later, I had only crashed twice (Progress!) but I had cried a few fearful tears, a few despondent tears and a few tears of exhaustion. Morale was very low. On our arrival in Vizcaíno we booked ourselves into a nice hotel, showered, fed ourselves and passed out after agreeing to stick to pavement for a little while. Morale had improved a bit by morning.
Pavement…the Zebra loves you
We set off for Mulege at around 10am and had a very relaxed ride, albeit on sore backsides; one doesn’t recover from 14 hours in the saddle overnight. A lemonade in San Ignacio and an ice-cream in Santa Rosalia later, we found ourselves in the charming town of Mulege, where we are now finally updating the blog and doing some bike maintenance in the courtyard of Hotel Hacienda, shaded by a giant lemon tree and the most impressive magenta bougainvillaea I have ever seen.