In my recent reader survey, a lot of you said you wanted more bike trips/ride reports. (I’ll have a full summary of the survey results in a couple of days, I’d like to keep it open for a week) Here’s my attempt to give the people what they want! 3 years ago, a friend of mine called up saying that he had a place to stay in La Paz for New Year’s Eve with a group of friends – did I want to fly down for the holiday? I’ve enjoyed the little time I’ve spent in Baja before, but I figured if I was going to take some time off work, I’d rather take a motorcycle! At the time, I owned a BMW K75 and a R1100S – I decided to take the latter.
I was told that we were staying on an island and that I’d have to park the bike somewhere safe in La Paz, then take a water taxi over. I reached out to the ADVRider community with a thread asking if anyone had suggestions for where I could leave the bike and I was very grateful to get some good leads. Anyway, turns out that it wasn’t an island, rather a peninsula with one really poor road.
As you can see, the R11S isn’t much of a dual-sporter, but I figured I’d make it work anyway. The plan was to take two days to ride from Los Angeles to La Paz (about 1,050 miles), spend a few days in La Paz where my girlfriend would fly in and join us, and then we’d go 2-up and take 3 days to get back to LA. Hope you enjoy:
I took off early from LA (around 4am) only to find out, 30 minutes into the trip, that I had left my tire patch/plug kit back at the apartment. I figured that the first time I didn’t have it with me would be the first time I would actually need it, so I went back to make sure I had it – this cost me a solid hour. Here I’ve stopped for gas in San Diego right before crossing the border. I used to be terrible at packing efficiently, which was a problem when I was going to have to have a passenger and luggage on this bike in a few days:
Just south of Ensenada, I met a guy on a Suzuki V-Strom 650 (also known as the Wee-Strom). We pulled over to chat – turns out he was doing a similar ride as me so we decided to ride together, just in case. His name is Mike, and he had quite a story. He was riding from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas to get some practice with his bike and camping gear because he was planning on taking a year off the next summer to ride down to Antarctica and back with his girlfriend. He had apparently already ridden on every continent besides Antarctica and was looking to rectify that. Wherever you are nowadays, Mike, I hope you were able to do it!
The great thing about riding with someone else is an extra layer of security when something goes wrong. The bad thing is that I didn’t feel comfortable holding up a stranger with my usual process of stopping constantly to take photos – so on the way down, I didn’t take many.
Mama Espinosa’s started with the Baja 1000 and has been made famous by thousands of racers. I got the chicken enchiladas and was seriously disappointed. I was glad to find out later, however, that the lobster burritos are absolutely amazing…
Once you’re south of the first few cities, you can go nearly 250 miles without hitting one of the state-owned gas stations. This is a problem for someone like me who rides a bike with a 150 mile range. Luckily, entrepreneurs like Eduardo have setup gas stops in certain communities, making my surplus tank of gas unnecessary. Here’s a picture of Mike – along with Eduardo who’s hiding behind the Gasolina sign.
Catching the sunset just outside of Guerrero Negro, where our stop for the night would be. Unless it is absolutely necessary, you really don’t want to ride in Mexico at night. Insufficient road lighting combined with wildlife is just asking for trouble.