I just got back from a 1,230 mile off-road motorcycle trip from Ensenada to Cabo San Lucas. It was a training run to prepare for the Baja 1000. Here’s part four of the story…

DAY 4

We left Bahia De Los Angeles before 7:00AM, standard operating procedure most days.

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There were a lot of riders (~80) staying in the same town, taking part in a Malcom Smith Charity Ride. We tried to get the jump on them, but ended up riding with them most of the day. At one of our first stops, I saw a bike with a 1x number on it. I was naturally curious and as it turned out, it was Malcom Smith himself. Our paths crossed many times over the course of the trip – a real pleasure.

The roads for the first half of the day were pretty rough, but you could travel at a fast clip – I’d guess around 60mph.

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The drill was finding a clean line around any particularly large obstacles (rocks) in your path. This was a road where a steering dampner would have been exceedingly useful. It’s fast, but it wears you down and you get a lot of flats. We got 2 of them about 50 miles into the day. The second one was particularly nasty as a portion of the tire had been torn off, exposing the ruptured tube underneath. You don’t carry spare tires, just tubes, so this presented a bit of a challenge. The first step is getting the bike up on a ‘stand’ and removing the rear tire. We made a stand out of rocks, something Baja has plenty of…

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We wanted to provide some protection for the new tube given it would be exposed to the road, so we took the tube that has just ruptured, sliced in half around the axis to use as a protective insert.

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We then placed the insert into the tire, then placed the new tube in front of it.

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The end result was pretty sketchy and it needed to last 160 miles until we could get a replacement wheel. Much to my surprise, it did and was just one more story of getting by in Baja with what you have.

The road continued over mountain passes, got rougher here, easier there, before finally giving way to the coast and our lunch stop at Porta San Francisquito.

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This was on the Sea of Cortez so the water was quite calm, very peaceful. We bought a little gas, ate some delicious tacos and I managed to get my picture taken with Malcom Smith. For those of you that don’t know, he won the first Baja 1000. This guy is the real deal. A living legend.

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After lunch, we had at least 120 miles ahead of us so we took off at a fair clip. The roads were decent so we made really good time. We even managed to stop and climb up into a cave to see some petroglyphs. The view of the surrounding country was beautiful and shows just how desolate the landscape is.

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This was the view inside the cave

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I almost forgot! One of the more experienced riders on our trip was tearing along a narrow, twisty road that lead to the cave. This road was lined by very large cacti that were encroaching on the road. He whipped around a corner and an arm of a cactus knocked him completely off his bike, sending cactus spines deep into his right knuckle. Not a serious accident, but brutal in its own right.

Towards the end of the day, we had a long section that was reasonably safe to completely open up the bike. I had a race exhaust on my machine so I’d guess it could get up to around 90 to 100MPH. Even with a reasonably smooth, sandy road – this can be a bit trippy, although quite enjoyable. We then hit blacktop and rolled into San Ignacio which was an oasis in the middle of a desert. In all, I’d say this was one of the easiest and most fun days. I was beginning to get really comfortable on the bike and thought I could handle pretty much anything Baja had to offer – that wasn’t quite true.

Read Part Five