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.