Baja Riding Adventure
by David Edinger

That's Dave, former NTNOA president for many years standing on the far left.

I think it started with an article in Peter Egan’s book, Leanings. About a Baja dirt bike touring company that picked you up at the San Diego airport with the bikes loaded and took you direct to Ensenada Mexico with one night of the trip at the infamous Mike Sky Ranch which is famous for off roaders of all types. This has been on my bucket list ever since. My buddy Phil Panarisi said, let's go this year. I am 56 and not getting any younger, so I called Bruce at Go Baja Riding and set a date last fall. He said I needed 6 guys to lock in a date, so I started stirring the pot with old riding buddies. We got two out of San Antonio (Juan and Brian), one out of DFW (Clay of the North Texas Norton Assn.), three including myself out of Indy. Two of us are MSTA (Motorcycle Sport Touring Assn.) members including Dave Edwards and myself. So it was set. I told him we had decades of dirt riding experience and two of us had ridden with Malcolm Smith, but that skill wise we were mediocre. Next thing I see is he has posted this as experienced riders only and one of the most difficult courses in Baja, ouch. Four others joined us, a retired Israeli (Kainan) who has traveled the world on bikes as much as I have, a very fast Canadian (Pete), another from Massachusetts who had been twice before (Tim an ADV Rider), and finally a very fast rider from Utah (Steve). So the stage was set.

Phil, Pete, and I flew in the night before; we wanted to ensure our gear arrived. Clay drove there so he could see family and bring his beloved WR450F. Kainan rode in on a GS. The next day we loaded up, and headed to Mexico, the truck picked up the rest of the riders at the airport and we met at the border. We didn't exactly fly through but we got through eventually. Then on down the coast to Ensenada. After a free Margarita and a few more some of us went downtown, which is very nice and touristy, then dinner, day one was easy.

Day two, riders meeting, bike inspection, deposits paid, lots of anxiety and off we went. This was a 12 hour, 180 mile riding day, the longest by far of my life and easily the toughest. Mountains, pine forests, deep sand, lots of rocks and ruts and a few creek crossings. At least four hit the ground the first day, some a few times. Juan had not ridden dirt much in the past 10 years since I left San Antonio, after my call he bought new gear, and a used bike but only practiced once. Being out of practice, vertically challenged and not drinking enough water he crashed 6 times that day, and hit the proverbial wall. We had to get him re-hydrated and a short break. Later at lunch in the middle of the desert next to the support truck, an ice cream truck pulled up playing Ole Suzzana. Strangest thing ever....We arrived after dark to Mikes Sky Ranch, we were beat! We had some beers, steaks cooked on a grill, cigars, some bench racing and bed.

Day three, started with a bang. Juan had hurt his hand and decided not to ride and to go see a doctor, good thing he did. It was the most difficult section of the three days, steep up and down hills, ruts, big loose rocks. It humbled us all; at the end of it was a goat trail on the side of a hill ending in a creek crossing followed by a little steep incline. I was exhausted, more than any point so far. I had to lay against a rock, catch my breath and lower my heart rate. After that needed break we started with another creek crossing which had a large vertical rock to get over at the edge, not everyone made it, I did.

We then worked our way toward the beach, a nice lunch sea side. Then we did some beach riding which was nice but it had multiple sections of what we called the purple rocks, mostly about 8" egg shaped rocks. They kicked our behinds. One guy went down and I got stuck once and needed Brian to help get me out of the self-made rock rut and up the hill where I needed to rest before hitting more deep sand.

As we got close to the hotel, we had an amazing view from high upon the ridge and decided on one last challenge. We rode to the top of a small volcano. It was an incredible view of the Pacific. Then down to the hotel, more beer, cigars, and bench racing. Everywhere we went in Baja there were stickers of racing teams, hotel windows, bathroom mirrors, everywhere! Later we loaded up in to a pickup and headed to dinner. After that the party continued for about an hour, but I headed straight to bed, of course catching some flak for it, but we still had one more day....

Day three, Juan re-joined the fray. We started early because it was going to be another long one. It consisted of mostly riding along some amazing shoreline on gravel roads, more hills, more rock, and more deep sand....Baja baby!

We went back to the beach side place for breakfast after a couple hours of riding. Bruce who goes by Bruno when south of the border all of a sudden had clutch problems and laid it over in the sand and tore the clutch apart several times unsuccessfully trying to fix it with all of us standing around observing. So at this point every time he had to stop the bike, Bruno had to kick start it in neutral, run next to it and pop it into second. Better him than me. Bruno is something else, he is big and strong, raced Ducatis, buggys, trucks, dirt bikes, seems like everything. He is a true racer. He has raced and still races Baja, it's in his blood. He has more stories than even Phil has. He was a good host, owns the company and leads every ride. He encouraged everyone and never once said a negative comment, at least to our face.

As we sat along the shoreline with light at the end of the tunnel ahead, MSTA member Dave Edwards said, "You know, this is more than a motorcycle ride, this is about character building". He is right. For some of us in not the best shape or unable to ride in the last 5 months due to a brutal winter-we had to dig deep, not give up, and take that Advil three times a day.

So after watching Bruno, soon to be Bruce bump start his bike through Ensenada traffic after four hours of doing it in the backcountry we finally made it to the hotel.
Bruce had two rooms for us to shower, change, and pack for the trip home. On the bus they gave us what was left of our deposit, all or some. They fed us some sandwiches and tortilla soup made by the sister of one of the support team which consisted of Cesar and Ricardo, amazing guys.

So then a couple hours together in the bus headed for San Diego, another interesting border crossing. Some good razing, and stories, but you could tell everyone was beat, but happy to have done it. Once at the hotel, most headed straight to bed for an early morning flight, four of us limped out for a last bite.

Bucket list item xxx checked!

David Edinger, aka Factory Rider

Click on photo to enlarge.
                                                                                      Dave Edinger needing a nap.
    

                                                                                    Clay Walley without his sword.
    

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Revised: April 15, 2017 .