The night before crossing into Baja my mind was reeling. I had always pretended like I wasn't worried about anything, but the truth was that I was pretty nervous. All the negative stories you hear stick in your head and unfortunately that's all I could think about.
The night before we left Tim decided to join us for the northern half of Baja. We were stoked he was coming along. Tim had spent many years pre running and racing down there. So not only did we get to travel with a great new friend, we also got an incredible guide to the back roads and race routes through the area.
We woke up early at Tim's parents' place in San Diego and headed for the boarder. I was expecting something dramatic as soon as we crossed into Mexico but nothing happened, no one stopped us and I didn't even need to show my passport. Welcome to Mexico. We made our way through the slums of the boarder town and picked up a nice 2 lane road east to meet up with some dirt roads heading south.
Our introduction to Baja was full of washouts and surprises. At one point a pickup almost took our heads off. Apparently, he figured it was no big deal to hang 10 feet of rebar out the side of his truck.
They had just received huge amounts of rain so we had to be on the ball. A couple high speed slams into washouts had us dropping our speed a bit. Our brains are accustomed to expecting hazard sings and warnings for danger back home, it was an invigorating feeling to be fully responsible for your actions. The day was full of mud, ditches, rocks and canyons, we were all super stoked and having a blast. After reaching the pavement we headed east to San Felipe in the dark.
As we approached our first big military check point my mind raced again. Teenagers with AKs and power never sounds like a good thing and we had heard plenty about it. When we stopped at the checkpoint all the stories we heard started to fade into the background. The guys here greeted us with smiles and curiosity! They loved the old XR's and were more interested in what we were doing from a personal level than a military one. This would become a theme for us the whole way down.
Rolling into San Felipe, we got a little lost looking for a place to camp. At one point we cut through a back lot that didn't quite smell right. I was third in line when the lot turned to sewage mud and got a good roosting of poop. Tim found our spot and we set up above the ocean for the night. The next morning we woke in the dark and packed up the bikes as the sun rose over the gulf.
We left San Felipe towards San Luis Gonzaga and covered the first 100 kms of pavement pretty quick. Our stomachs started to growl as we pulled into a little cove with a restaurant to grab breakfast. Who knew the entertainment that was about to come our way. The only other people in the restaurant were these two expat couples sitting a table away. All through breakfast they had a very heated argument about toilet paper and it's ability to decompose. One of the guys adamantly argued that only toilet paper that is labeled 'Biodegradable' breaks down and that regular toilet paper does not. The comedy coming from these guys made the wait for the worst breakfast ever much more bearable.
With our bellies full of horrible food we we topped up the tanks for the long dirt stretch ahead. Our first stop was Cocos Corner. I had first heard of Cocos when Dust to Glory came out in 2006, it's one of the best films on the Baja 1000, and ever since it has been a goal of mine to go by the legendary location. Cocos did not disappoint and we spent a while just taking in the race history that covered the walls and visiting with Coco. The man is a legend and has been living out in the desert for decades.
The real riding started after leaving Cocos. We where now on the Baja 1000 course which had just been raced a couple weeks before we arrived. To say it was beat is an understatement. 600 hp trophy trucks had torn up the course and we found ourselves rolling through massive whoops and deep sand. The sand was very challenging and it did not help that we had 6 gallons of fuel in the tanks. The XRs are tall bikes, and Jordan is not graced with the longest legs, nor had he ever done any sand riding. So here he was learning how to ride sand on a fully loaded bike in the blazing sun without the ability to put his feet down. A routine developed pretty quick, Tim and I would ride ahead at our own pace, wait for a couple minutes and if Jordan did not show up we would back track to find him drenched in sweat and take turns kicking over the flooded bike. For most of the day we all held it together but towards the end things deteriorated quick. i went ahead to set up for a photo and waited for Tim and Jordan to ride through. Turns out Jordan had layed the bike down and no one was there to help get it up right again. Remember, these are fully loaded bikes with all our gear and a lot of fuel in the tanks. I was treated to "I'm going to punch someone in the neck if that happens again" a few more choice words where exchanged and he took off ahead of us. Whatever happened on that last crash was a turning point for the better. Jordan was pinning it and had figured out that riding in sand is all about going way faster than what feels right. He was nowhere in sight and we finally found him waiting for us where the dirt meets the pavement again. All he said was "I think i got it figured out now."
After a day full of serious abuse on the bikes, something had shit the bed on Jordan's headlights that caused them to work sporadically. So we had to skip the last last section dirt into Bay of LA to get there before dark.
We pulled into Bay of LA just after the sun checked out and found some food straight away. It had been a long day and food was all we cared about at this point. After dinner we realized another truth about Baja, there is very little light pollution out there and it's dark at night. The kind of dark that set's in fast and hard and allows for some incredible star gazing. Once we found our campsite it felt good to sit back and take it all in.