Leave room for a change of plan

carla-riding-backroadI’ve heard it said that there are two kinds of motorcyclists; those who ride for the sake of riding, and those who ride for the experience of where it takes them and who they meet. If you’re the latter type of rider, or if you aspire to that mode of travel, this post is for you.

By all means, scour the Discover Baja website for things to do and places to go and make plans. But plans are made to be broken. Once on the road, many of us are surprised to find that we have fallen in with another rider, or group of riders or overlanders at the obvious places–taco stands and gas stations, beach motels and campgrounds. Have you ever pressed on to complete your plan or meet your goal, only to feel empty inside, realizing that it didn’t mean as much as you thought it would? If only you had stuck around to get to know those people who were heading off to find a secluded beach. Maybe it would have been more fun to go with that group who hired a boat for island hopping and clam digging. Perhaps you should have spent the time and money to recharge your internal batteries at those beachside cabanas with a pool.

A videographer friend who was traveling in his van with a bunch of camera equipment kept finding himself at the same campsites as two motorcyclists. They got on so well they planned the rest of their trip together, my friend offloading some of the burdens from their bikes and carrying essential liquids like gas and beer.

One female solo rider I met, short on funds but long on adventure, was trailed for some days on her rattly old KLR by a trio of wealthy Silicon Valley professionals on brand new BMW GSs, purpose bought for the trip. They met at a campground when she came to their aid setting up their tents for the first time (purchased the previous week from REI). She also had to show them how to use their new camp stoves and other just-out-of-the-box gear. She cooked fish and tortillas provided by locals instead of eating from the dehydrated food packets they’d packed, just in case. She’d been traveling solo for long enough to crave company and run short of funds, so she played tour guide and they paid for everything. She could also risk camping remotely and riding into remote areas she would not have ventured solo.

Three friends on small dual-sport bikes found they loved Loreto so much they sacrificed their mission off-road all the way to Cabo to stay put for a week at a motel on the waterfront. From there, they enjoyed the small city’s abundant restaurants and nightlife. They took short day trips into the mountains, kayaked, went fishing, or just hung out by the pool.

I’ve known countless motorcyclists and other overlanders to allow themselves to change their plans and join up with others. To get stuck in a place and explore more deeply, or to just rest. These “sticky” places are most often Bahía de Los Ángeles, the beaches of Mulegé, and Loreto. Suddenly you are unwilling to leave a sandy cove with its view of small, rocky islands. So you ride back into town and buy snorkeling gear and, back at the beach again, rent a kayak. Mornings, you eat tamales with your coffee and head out to explore the reefs, say hi to the dolphins and swim with the whale sharks. A fisherman comes by offering a trip to dig clams on a nearby island, and that nice couple next to you comes along, too.

It’s a great addition to your bike kit… the snorkeling gear, that is. But adjusting your attitude to fit whatever is happening and allowing your mood, and not your plans, to determine your adventure, is a great item of mental gear to pack as well. You’ll see once you get down here, it’s easier than you think. With that, I hope you get stuck. In the best of ways, of course.

baja motorcycle carla-king-gs-klrRecommended Motorcycle and Camping Gear

Before you go, consider adding these useful items to your kit.

SNORKEL SET: A snorkel set is easy to strap on top of your pack and there’s nothing nicer after a hot day of riding than just slipping in the water to cool off and lengthen those cramped, tired muscles. I like the Seavenger Snorkel Set with its shorter fin (more compact, easier to walk in), snorkel, mask, and gear bag.

MICROFIBER TOWEL: Stuff this Sea to Summit fast-drying, antibacterial, microfiber towel into your gear bag for mold-free beach and bathing.

MESH JACKET: A mesh motorcycle jacket protects you from the hot sun and lets the air flow through, keeping you cooler. They come in all prices, but if you’re on a budget, check out the Fieldsheer Hi Temp for women and the Scorpion Drafter for men, both for under $150.

D30 PADS: D30 replacement pads for knee, elbow, shoulder and back pads. Ride safer, prevent injuries in a fall.

MODULAR HELMET: I love my Schuberth modular “flip up” helmet. It’s expensive, but my head is more expensive J. I like this type of helmet for touring because you can flip up and people can see you smiling and attempting to speak Spanish. There are a lot of these types of helmets available today. AGV offers the Miglia Modular for under $150.

HYDRATION PACK: A hydration pack is essential for keeping you healthy by keeping you hydrated as you ride. My favorite is the Geigerrig but it’s expenisve. See this Ergalogik for about $25. The point is, you shouldn’t have to stop riding to hydrate. Besides gearing up, hydration is my #1 safety tip!

TENT: Seemo Lightweight 2 Person tent is easy to set up, packs small, and has great ventilation.

SLEEPING PAD: Therm-a-Rest EvoLite self-inflating mattress is comfortable but packs small.

COOK POT: Jet Boil Mini Mo is a cooking pot, mug, and bowl in one. It’s the fastest, easiest way to boil water and cook on the road, and is super light and small.

baja motorcycle carla-king_olympia-shot More posts by Carla King.

Carla King has been writing about her motorcycle adventure travels since 1995. Read about her misadventures in North America, China, Europe, India, and Africa, and current adventures in Baja at CarlaKing.com.

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