Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Trailer and Bike

The Trailer and Rachel's Bike are both sold. I'm looking forward to our next ride. In the mean time, I've ridden out to Mennonite Church USA Convention 2009 in Columbus, OH this year. I dipped through the Ozarks and then rode up the Ohio River valley - very nice 1200 mi. Here's a clip from the old helmet cam (held dow near road level) if any's looking for something to watch...

Sunday, May 17, 2009


hey. glen. good idea. my adventures have slowed to a dead halt at the moment, but if anyone is at all interested in past stories and pics, (although i'm desperately behind right now) from past adventures of mine......
until the next menno___ trip....... and this time....asphalt. ancorage here we come! mmmmm. ready glen?
thanks to everyone who supported us along the way with all of this.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Follow Glenn

Before Menno Baja blogging was a foreign concept for me. Now that this trip is complete I have started my own blog. If you are interested in following what I am writing please check out

Thursday, March 12, 2009

For Sale

Well, since the trip's over, we've got some stuff to sell. (Both are obviously cleaned up now, but I haven't taken any pictures of them since) I hope this isn't too far out of line, and I appreciate you passing this on to anyone who might be in the market. Contact Russ or express interest in a comment and I'll be in touch.

First is our trusty '97 16' W-W Steel Cargo trailer. It's got dual 5200lb axles, and we will leave our bunks and tie-downs in if anyone wants them (current setup sleeps 4/5 plus any mattresses you put on the floor). We've added a small side window, repaired the side door (including a new locking latch), sealed/insulated it, and rewired it: a 7-pin connector, electric brakes and a break-away brake activator. Steel provides much better theft security than aluminum. Asking $3300

Also for sale is my globe-trotting sister's low miles ( under 3800mi.) '96 Yamaha XT350 dual-sport/enduro. White/Blue, with your choice of tires: Pirelli MT21 (90% offroad duty rating) with ~1000mi. on them, or Pirelli/Avon combo (90% onroad duty rating) with a few thousand mi. (guessing - more than half life still left). It picked up a dent in the gas tank on this trip (from the turn signal when Rachel went down.) It's not creased heavily, could quite possibly be pulled out (I'm hoping to talk to my local expert about that), and certainly doesn't compromise the tank in any way. Fires up right away - no mechanical issues. Nice trail bike or run-about. Asking $2200


(click for large versions)
A wide stitch of the road to San Juan de la Costa

The coastal road south from La Paz towards San Jose del Cabo

La Paz to San Juan de la Costa - video

I held Glenn's camera in my left hand to catch some of this amazing bit of road riding, since my helmet cam batteries seem to have died again at this point (the ones I bought at the gas station there didn't last half as long as the ones from home...)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Videos (HelmetCam) - Last 2 Days on bikes

Just a few more clips... (since they're SO much faster to upload here at home)

Here's a nice short example of why the video was getting so fuzzy by the end of the trip. I rode in a dust haze a fair bit at the back of the pack. I just opened the camera up today to blow out the dust - wow! Almost surprised it still worked at all. There's something to be said for no moving parts...

Here's another reason - dust sticks worse when the lens is wet... it's hard to keep the water from splashing to head/camera height (even going as slow as I dared in a sand/silt bottom river). I tried standing up, which helped, but I had also cracked my right boot, so I sat on this one and lifted my feet in an attempt to reduce the water in my boot - got wet anyway, as it turns out.

On the last day, we missed our turnoff (of course) from Santo Domingo on our way to Mike's Sky Rancho (looked more like a driveway/side road, and went basically straight up several hundred feet of mountainside). In the process we followed the first road out of town down a valley with a creek in it, and crossed it half a dozen times before discovering our error in the face of locked ranch gates, so we got to do them all in reverse. We then had a lot of smaller crossing throughout the rest of the day's ride, so we saw more water this last day than the rest of the trip combined. The pit of dispair didn't look so bad after all this, but it also helped that this flowing water was transparent and you could see how deep most of it was.

Livestock was also a constant in riding through back-country/ranch land, and even main roads like Mex. 1 (especially at night). These cattle in the north were much less emaciated than the nearly walking skeletons we saw in parts of the southern deserts.

I have a thing for cliff-side vistas. Too bad the helmet cam is so gritty - doesn't even begin to do this countryside justice. (This one's for you, mum)

Even standing up the roads were often rougher than they look in the videos. This was a pretty nice one, especially considering how steep a decent into the valley it was (the steep ones often wash out badly since it's the easiest/fastest way for rains to get to lower ground).

What a day! I wish I had recorded some of the gnarlier sections - they were as challenging as anything on the trip, though mercifully shorter, since we were already behind schedule. Next time I'm taking more video/pictures in the rough spots, even when we're against the clock. :-)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Videos (HelmetCam) - Day 2, 5 & 6 on bikes

Sorry about the audio on these being so bad - that cheap helmet cam wasn't made for this much wind. (Edit: apparently the audio's not making it through the web conversion that Blogger does on the videos - you're not missing too much) I put tape over the mic part way through the trip when I discovered how bad this was, but it only helped a little. You'll also notice it became increasingly difficult to clean the little pin-hole lens on this thing and the video gets rather dusty at times.

Heading down the wrong road (22 mi one way to the oasis/mission) - Day 2 of riding

Down to the coast north of La Paz (following Del) - the long version of the short clip posted earlier - Day 5 of riding

Some shots of the road and views riding south down the coast from La Paz to San Jose - Day 6 of riding

Monday, March 2, 2009

Last day(s) of riding and driving

We stayed in a hotel in San Diego last night, and officially parted after breakfast. We’ve now dropped Rachel off for a day in Vegas before she flies home, and we’re rolling up the miles to Denver. This many miles always gets me thinking… I'll try to keep this brief.

Our last day was amazing in many ways; it was a great way to end the trip, it represented in 1 day a cross section of nearly all the types of riding we did through the previous 2 weeks, and it was also a good representation of the types of challenges we dealt with the whole trip – complete with a couple missed turns/getting lost, more challenging terrain than expected, and a late race against the sunset for the truck, ending the day several hours later than planned. It challenged our stamina, our riding skills, and further underscored the humbling that the Baja’s been giving us.

It’s an amazing place, full of wonderful people, and I’m trying to not get all sappy about the amount of grace I experienced on this trip, both from the members of MennoBaja, but also from the people of the Baja, and the place it’s self. We’ve had many “themes for the day” (and even the whole trip) through these couple weeks, but grace has featured prominently throughout. This is for more reasons than just Glenn’s propensity for insertion of this subject. There’s something more there in travelling in a place like that.

The Baja is still a wild, untamed frontier (despite being over-run by tourists, etc.). When we drift through, spending from our excess to come play in their back yard… I don’t need to turn this into an geo-political/socio-economic commentary, but needless to say there was food for thought on those long dark rides, trying to avoid hitting a wandering cow (it's generally not advisable to travel at night - even the locals avoid it - too many livestock around the roadways).

It was really great having my Dad and Sister join me on this trip. We’ve been talking about bike trips for so long, and I thoroughly enjoyed actually doing one together. I’m trying to figure out how to make this sort of thing a relatively regular occurrence – at least once every 5 years? I was so cathartic to just unplug for a while, and more so with family and friends. So, thanks Dad, for your willingness to join us on this adventure, and to play support for all our only partly successful plans. I really appreciated you being along. And thanks Rachel, for taking on such an unknown, so far from either of our past experience, together with me. I didn’t mind being your “bounty”, and am glad I could share this with you.

I also appreciate Del & Glenn’s willingness to have the Neufelds suddenly outnumber them on this adventure they had been planning for so long. You both made this “our” trip (as a group), and I thank you for your efforts. I’ll ride with either of you any time…
(I15 through AZ on the way to the I70 junction in Idaho)

… later (Monday) ....

Del and I wiggled and waggled our way back to KS from Denver today (his truck doesn’t pull like Glenn’s diesel, and lacks the hookups for brakes which meant we had no quick way to get a wagging trailer to quit except slow down or climb a hill – hard to find in KS). We got home around 9pm, and I’ve got word that Clare and Rachel are both back in Canada, so this trip is now over. There will be many more photos, video clips, stories and thoughts to post from home over the next little while, but for now, this is end of the “real-time” travel-log for me.

The story we will never speak of again

The story we will never speak of again

The ride from Vicente Guerrero to Mike’s Sky Rancho and on to Ojos Negros was supposed to be completed in six hours and as usual, it took much longer partly due to making a major wrong turn onto a more difficult track. The road from El Coyote to Mike’s was also rockier in places than we expected. The part of this day that I will recount will be referred to in the future as “the story we will never speak of again”.

Riding into El Coyote, we met the woman who runs the ranch, and who sold us each a gallon of gas ($5 per gallon siphoned from her drum) and a bottle of water. She also gave us some great advice on which track to take to Mike’s – the bad road, not the really, really bad road. Starting down that road, it was surprisingly smooth, so I twisted the throttle open and headed out to the hills. One thing we learned over the past two weeks is that vados and washouts can sneak up on you. Most dips can be ridden through or jumped. Not all.

Coming over a ridge, I noticed a trail spur to the right and let off my throttle a bit to survey the situation and surmised that the right trail was a detour around a washout. Can I jump this washout? In a split second I could see the washout growing deeper and knew I had to stop. With a full-out clamp-down on the brakes, the rear tire slid nicely to the right and as the washout grew, the tires hit rocks and knocked off my balance and I fell to the right, sliding up to the edge of the steep drop-off. Phew.

Knowing Glenn would be right on my tail, I pushed the bike off my leg and got it upright so I could signal the rest of the riders to go to the right. Five feet across and five feet down can make you go from 40 MPH to zero in a hurry.

Glenn says that I need to delete this now, but even the story that we will never speak of again needs to be told so that we remember the moral of the story – you should always be more cautious when riding on new trails for the first time.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
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Time:02/28/2009 23:51:46 (GMT),-115.636&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
Nearest Location:not known
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Time:02/28/2009 19:58:38 (GMT),-115.7141&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
Nearest Location:not known
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Time:02/28/2009 16:06:21 (GMT),-115.9976&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Friday, February 27, 2009

February 27

This morning we woke up early in Guerrero Negro and crossed into BCN. There was no one at the checkpoint, so we drove through. At the next checkpoint we were stopped and had to get out to open the trailer. It was a good thing, since one of the hinges holding up the large bunk had broken and another hinge had pulled off the wall making the trailer a mess. We decided to undo the last hinge to lay the bunk on the floor for the rest of the day.
We stopped at Punta Prieta for breakfast at the same restaurant we ate at on the way down. Good folks.
At a fuel stop we met an amazing man, who as it turned out wrote the songs “You ain’t nothing but a Hound Dog” and “Twist and Shout”. Not only that, but he invented Tomato Soup and named the city of Honolulu. Clare thought that it might not be all true, but the man assured him that even though it sounded too good to be true, it surely was.
At the last checkpoint of the day we pulled alongside a truck that had to open his rear door. What a surprise to watch hundreds of squash fall out onto the road right in front of us. Needless to say, our trailer was not of great interest to the guards after that.
We decided to stop for the evening at Colonia Vicente Guerrero which seemed like a good place to leave for tomorrow’s ride. We also rode the bikes out to the coast to see a shipwreck and had a very nice cruise along the sharp cliffs on the way back.
This is our last night in Mexico and tomorrow will be the end of the motorcycle odyssey we call MennoBaja.

Thurs. Feb. 26th - pictures

We took an hour and a half to ride around the shore and up the Puente Concepcion peninsula. It was a blast to fly over the sand and mud in the tidal flood plane, and even Glenn was grining through his pain and gut discomfort (it seems someone sold us "agua pura" that wasn't - he's still working that out).

We then loaded up and drove the rest of the day north up the coast and across to Guerrero Negro for night. The oasis at Mulege is especially scenic.

Pavement Sucks – Rocks Rock…

Ok – by now you have read Rachel’s somewhat biased report of our loop ride via La Purisima. Rachel tends to think that pavement is good and rocks are bad. I however spend most of my time thinking about how I might die on pavement – it is such an unpredictable surface, dirt on the other hand is always predictable and safe! After spending the first 8 miles contemplating the various ways I might crash and burn the pavement eventually gave way to a pleasant windy dirt road. After about 40 miles of this we came to Comondu – an oasis in the middle of the dessert.

After a short break we left for an 18 mile leg to La Purisma – this part of the trail was my favorite. We spent an hour negotiating large boulders and loose shale. Rachel may have experienced a few bumps on the way…but don’t let her description of this trail make you think that we didn’t have a good time.

In La Purisma we purchased gas from a local entrepreneur and after a short break we left for the final 40 mile leg of the trip. This was a fun, fast graded road. After arriving at Mexico 1 I loaded my bike into the truck and avoided having to drive on the dangerous pavement….

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
Nearest Location:not known
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Time:02/27/2009 23:23:37 (GMT),-116.1659&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Thursday, February 26, 2009

wed. feb. 25th....rachel's point of view

…. You have to wait for Glen’s posting for the other opinion about the same day……

Another hot day in the sun. 11am, and we were hitting the road from just south of Loreto on our way to La Parisma and back up towards the highway where we’d meet Clare in Rosarito. The first 8 miles turned out to be paved. Good news for me, not so much for Glen. Then we met construction….and a group of tourists taking photos of it. Not so sure about that one! Then the trail became a windy, rocky dirt road thru the mtns. Windy dirt is still fairly slow going for me, but at least it was still fun road, and had beautiful views.
We arrived at the mission town of Comondu, where we took a small break to look at a beautiful stone church, and where I had a small conversation with an 80+yr old couple who were “very poor and can’t work any more because we’re too old.”. it made me smile.
The smile quickly faded when the trail became a track of large loose boulders, which kicked my bike around like a “bucking bronco” (as russ put it). This became VERY exhausting, VERY quickly. My pace slowed to a crawl as I tried to pick my way thru these rocks while trying VERY hard to keep rubber side down, at some points literally walking my bike! (while sitting on it). At one point a rock bucked my bike right off the trail and in a desperate attempt to keep the bike running and moving forward I kept barreling along the ‘shoulder’ and hopping off of several large rocks before finally spilling it again. This time the only damage was a peg down my boot, trapping one leg for a bit while my other leg was laying on top of the engine and burning thru the pants. After a wee struggle to get the bike started again, I continued to creep forward with my trusty “bounty….the quicker picker upper” (russ) following behind.
Blissfully, we arrived in the beautiful oasis towns of San Isidro and La Parisma. The locals either laughed at us, or just stared at me when I asked them a question, and all the children wanted to see a wheelie. We gased up, and after questioning the locals, I was prepared for another 60km of ‘mas o menos’ the same kind of road. Thankfully, they were wrong, and we had 20 miles of wonderful grated track where I could actually maintain some sort of speed. Ironically, this stretch of road appeared as the worst stretch on the map. Wrong again. The last 20 miles were a mix of straight stretches of flat grated road, windy rocky patches and beautiful valley vistas…… and the whole time, I was counted down the miles.

We managed to make it out onto asphalt, find Clare and get to a campsite all before the sun went down. Ask Glen about how import that was! And for the second nite in a row, I parked my tent in front of the water on a beach and woke to dolphins dancing in the bay. (sorry mom!)

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
Nearest Location:not known
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Time:02/27/2009 00:10:08 (GMT),-114.0304&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Tues, Feb 24th

(I've lost count of the days, and resorted to figuring out the date...)
We again stayed with our new friends at Campestre Maranatha in La Paz (recommended), where we took the chance to change our oil. In the morning we rode up the coastal road to San Juan de la Coasta (north of La Paz) and back. It was some beautiful twisty road, and Russ got some great video shots over his handlebars that we'll try to post if this wifi continues to work.

This ride is when we discovered Rachel’s bike had all but cannibalized her air filter (she was spitting blue smoke on high-speed deceleration), with only small bits of foam left and a lot of dust and dirt in her intake. This is not good. We drove into town to the bike shops and managed to get a foam filter from something else that we could make fit. That could have ended much worse, but the bike seems fine now that it's cleaned up.
After the morning ride, we packed up the bikes and made a run north to Ligui to camp on the beach. We arrived at sunset, and thought we’d be able to finally set up camp in daylight. True to form, we followed the road to the beach, and decided to follow the tracks to the far end (closer to what we suspected were the “banjos”). The far end turned out to be much softer, deeper sand (of course), and we got the truck & trailer stuck, 30ft from our destination. Some fairly quick but significant exertion using our firewood lumber to dig the truck out and make a board track to drive on as daylight faded, and we were making supper and starting a beach fire in the dark.

Del’s skipped meals and dehydration seemed to catch up after the work of pushing the truck out of the sand, and he had an extended dizzy spell that made the rest of us rather nervous. By the morning, all seemed to returning to what’s been passing as normal on this trip, so we packed the bikes for the next day and hit the road.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
Nearest Location:not known
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Time:02/26/2009 04:10:38 (GMT),-111.8454&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
Nearest Location:not known
Distance:not known
Time:02/25/2009 15:33:32 (GMT),-111.2561&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

OK ESN:0-7387679

SPOT Check OK. checkin in to say i'm doing fine! rae*
Nearest Location:not known
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Time:02/24/2009 17:19:37 (GMT),-110.6898&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Monday, Feb. 23

Yesterday we had a great day of riding from El Pescedaro to La Paz, through the mountains in the south and then up Highway 1. I took my first spill there on a hard-packed gravely corner, but there were no witnesses. (If a guy falls in the desert and no one hears him, was there really a sound.) We were going to take another route through a national park, out the road is closed now. Glenn, Russ and I decided to take in one more loop on a side road before the end of the day, and it ended up being the fall of Glenn. He will be fine, but he was really hurting last night.

When we got back to Campestra Maranatha we were greeted by Cindy and her mother this time. As it turns out, her mom is Faye Hooley Byers Taylor Swartzendruber who went to school with my mother and who grew up at the church where I used to pastor in Oregon. We recognized each other right away even though it had been 15 years and a very different context. We also met Faye’s third husband who has all sorts of Hesston connections as well.

To end the day, we needed to change oil in the bikes and did the usual cooking and posting pictures and stories before retiring.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Day 8 (Day 7 on Bikes) - pictures

Then we headed East to try to cross the mountains back to the #1 where we could head north to La Paz. We had to ask directions a number of times to get to the right road, but what a road! Some stunning mountain climbs...

We met a couple other bikers coming the other way when we'd stopped for a break under the shade of an interesting tree.

Day 8 (Day 7 on Bikes) - pictures

We started today with a quick jaunt down to the beach to catch Glenn (and Russ) throwing sand roosters, since my helmetcam batt's had died (after that clip I posted of two days earlier) and I missed his first one. I'll try to post video tomorrow am if there's time...

Day 6 (Day 5 on Bikes) - video

Here's a bouncing rough taste of riding a comparatively smooth road down to the coast north of La Paz.

Day 7 (Day 6 on Bikes) - pictures

After 2 days around La Paz (staying at Campestre Maranatha), we rode south around the east coast to San Jose del Cabos on an absolutely stunning, breath-taking coastal "road".

Day 5 (Day 4 on Bikes) - pictures

This day was a day of mostly truck riding. Here's some pics of the Mexican Countryside, etc.

Del, Rachel and Russ rode to the northern end of the peninsula east of La Paz that afternoon while Glenn hunted down the aforementioned sprocket.