Baja, day 1

( So I’m sitting in a bar in La Paz with Helge Pedersen, Dan Townsley plus the rest of the group, and we all have our laptops out. Time to catch up on some posts. We’re a bit baked after four days through storms and desert from Anaheim to here )

I signed up to join the group (who are doing a three month ride to Ushuaia) because the word is Helge is the best long distance rider in the world. He wrote Ten Years on Two Wheels and was the first man to get a bike through the swamps of Panama. Dan is his right hand man.

But the main reason to join them for a couple of weeks is to get babysat to Guatemala City as quickly as possible to learn some Spanish in nearby Antigua for a month or so.

Then I’ll return to Mexico and start again properly.

I thought that Helge and Dan would be leagues ahead of the rest of us in miles and talent but I was was wrong. They’re all pro’s at this.

‘ Rockasaurus ‘ is from Silverdale, Washington and is an ex submariner. He’s hard as hell. His best stories come from crossing Russia.

Fred is an architect and developer from Germany. He’s very probably the fastest rider here. Last night he was showing us video from Hockenheim – him racing his 1000RR. Impressive from a guy almost exactly the same age as as me. Fred’s also funny.

Marty and Bill are from Delaware and ride as a team. They ride an industrial looking hopped-up sidecar. I thought this was as funny as hell until I saw them lob it into into the first corner of the ride like it was the Isle of Mann TT. Awesome.

Peter’s a gear junky, he’s got the latest and greatest of everything.  Both his riding and set-up are sorted. Somehow, for laughs, gets driving time on 747-400’s because they’re really big and fun. He primarily owns and runs a global ceramics company. He’s doing this tour because he needs a rest he says.

David, from Santa Cruz, has the most miles of any of us and has done 5 trips with Helge and zillions alone. He rides his own adventures and occasionally will blast down through Baja for a few days for laughs on his sport bike. Very quiet and clearly very smart. Owns 14 bikes and rides them all.

What a group. I’m sure I’m going to miss them when we split in ten days. They go for another 100.

They’re all riding 1200 GS’s or GSA’s. Lucinda is definitely the wild girl of the bunch.

The bikes have come from all over – flown or driven in, and we meet in Anaheim. Dan downloads files to our GPS’s and Helge talks about everything except what I what to hear. All these guys have big international miles and Helge’s skipping what I think are critical things! I feel like an idiot and keep my head low. No wonder the application process for this trip with him was so arduous. I wonder how I passed. I’m learning so fast I’m dizzy.

Here’s Helge

We tear off to the Mexican border at first light. We’ve got our, visas, insurance and bike importation permit in advance so we’re only there for an hour.

The way this group works is this: ride your own ride and meet at the destination. Buddy up if you like but no need.

So after the border I tear off ahead of the group. I love the feeling of riding into a new place with no-one in front. The exhilaration of riding through Tijuana and into the country get’s me whooping again and life feels very good.

I stop for lunch after a while in a beach town and do what I’ve read is the standard thing to do: have fish taco’s at a roadside stand. About three life first’s all happen at once and it’s fun. They’re laughing at me, not with me

And the first pic of Lucinda outside of CDA/US. Nice pose sweetheart

It’s been raining off and on for the last couple of hours. As we start off again it starts raining seriously. We have another 200 miles or so this afternoon to San Quintin so it’s time for more speed. No stopping for lots of pictures.

I’m ahead of the others when all of a sudden, high in some hills the sky opens and I’m going * Holy shit, a hail storm * as I’m in a chaotic whiteout. I look for a way off the road in a panic and as I slow down I realize it’s rain, not hail, but coming down so hard the wall of drops are enormous and they’re bouncing off the ground in explosions. Incredible.

I find shelter and wait it out, wondering where everybody else is. Finally, it’s just flooding

As I wait Helge shows up, checks in and keeps going. Later we ride through a couple of towns together, sliding on the mud covered roads. Confirmation: Heidenau K60 Scouts are completely useless. The three of us running them have all been sliding, Helge included. I can’t wait to stop using these damn tires, but for dual sport distances there’s little choice.

We arrive in San Quintin and the Pacific. My first day in Mexico and it’s been 500K of angry weather, super talented riders for company, dodgy traction and two fish tacos. Magical.


3 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. Tom,

    Fuck – this is cool. I’m loving these posts, living vicariously through the headlamp of Lucinda…
    Keep the dirty side down, JG! Happy New Year.

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