This month I want to share some blogs and forum posts from other riders that will give you a good idea about what to expect when you ride independently in Baja. I’ve included reports from bloggers who ride different kinds of bikes. I can’t stress enough that you can bring any bike–whether it’s a 250 dual-sport or your big road cruiser and anything in between. Speeds are slower here, and so is life. You can hurry up again when you get home. That would be mañana, or maybe the day after.
Before we start, let’s talk about border crossings. There are three crossings in the San Diego area. Which to choose?
San Ysidro: If you’re planning a ride down Hwy 1, it’s easy and fairly quick to cross from the US into Baja at San Ysidro, but please don’t come back this way as there are long lines and no room between cars to get between them to the front. Aim to re-enter the US at Otay or, for an even more relaxing re-entry, head to Tecate.
Otay: Otay is the better choice if you’re headed east (and for re-entering the US). When you’re clear, turn left onto Blvd de las Bellas Artes and then left again onto Blvd Industrial to hook up with Hwy 2D south of Mexicali. From there you’ll see the turnoffs for Hwy 3 to the Guadalupe Valley and Hwy 1, or continue east to Hwy 5 and San Felipe. Come home this way and pass all the cars to head to the front of the line.
Tecate: My favorite crossing is Tecate. Ride beautiful Hwy 94 from San Diego through rolling hills and forests to the crossing. Then ride through Tecate to Mex Hwy 3 to the Guadalupe Valley wine country. When you re-enter the US, ride to the head of the line. The guard will move the orange cone for you and wave you in ahead of the line of cars. I love that.
Don’t forget to obtain your Mexican motorcycle insurance and FMM tourist permits from Discover Baja in advance of your trip. You can do this online. But if you haven’t obtained the tourist permits before you leave, turn into the border parking lot BEFORE the crossings to buy them. You really need them, even if you’re just going to Ensenada. If you are headed to the mainland and don’t have them you’ll have to fly back to get them. All of you. Really.
Now, on to the rides.
On a lack of cash, pannier tortillas and an existential crisis about gasoline.
My friend J. Brandon and his buddy Dave rode down the peninsula last year on their two Kawasaki KLR650s, the “Swiss Army Knife of Motorcycles.” I love this post because it captures the spirit of Baja in both the outer and inner journey. Plus, I ride a KLR, too. Todo bien. Enjoy the post.
HadesOmega on BARF (Bay Area Riders Forum)
On the state of the bike, the road and the riders
The DR650 is a great bike for a Baja adventure and any rugged rides anywhere in the world. You can modify it endlessly… or not. I like this post because the riders seek to ride as much dirt track as they can on their 950 mile journey crisscrossing the peninsula between the border and Loreto. The author includes photos of his bike prep, including tire recommendations, maps, videos with commentary, and a post-mortem. This post focuses on dirt riding. Marvin rides his DR, dubbed the “Cactus Puncher,” and some of the bikes his friends ride include a KTM 690, XR400s, XR650s, a Beta, a KLX, and a big GS adventure bike. They fall down, get up, get flats, get fixed, and keep going. He documents it all in this two-page post and a few videos on YouTube. Yep. This is as close as I’ve seen to what it’s like in the Baja outback. Read the story.
From East to West: Then South to North
My buddy Joe Berk imports adventure motorcycles from China called CSC RX3s. He took a bunch of new owners on a trip to Baja. I randomly met them in El Rosario, having dinner at Mama Espinoza’s, and they were having a great time. He posted all five days of the short trip, but this post is on the search for a countershaft sprocket nut. It’s a funny and typical account of the adventures, friendships, and memorable moments that occur when things go wrong, as well as a valuable lesson about obstacles and persistence. Enjoy the post and click the image to run the video.
Big American Bikes Cruising Baja
A Canadian group led by Ride Stop ‘n Go that flies to Vegas for a 1,100-mile ride to Cabo says it all about big American bikes cruising Baja. They prep for the trip with some trepidation, and ride happily on “roads that are in better shape than in Alberta,” in the words of one rider. Enjoy the prep post and then watch the post-trip videos interviewing the riders on the state of the roads, the gas station experience, and more. Here’s the post.
What’s Your Story?
Proving once again that even if we travel the same roads, we never get the same trip twice. Got a Baja bike blog post? Send me yours (click to email) or post it in the comments section on the web version of this newsletter. See you on the road!
Carla King is an adventure travel journalist, author, and publisher specializing in motorcycle misadventures. She lives in San Diego and Baja, on the Sea of Cortez near Mulegé. Read more of her writing at CarlaKing.com.