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Baja riding tour with famous racers (part 2)

posted Nov 25, 2014, 2:00 PM by Marketing Media   [ updated Nov 25, 2014, 2:03 PM ]

Somehow, we found ourselves at the top of this pass, looking down towards the way through the desert. 

We did not know it at the time, but it was the summit above Laguna Salada. Not everybody had caught up, but though we did not recognize where we were, we figured this was the way to Mike's.

So we took off down the summit, still in separate groups, but trying to keep the guys in the front in sight 'cause we were all lost. As I now remember, we turned right at the bottom of the summit, not straight to the long sand wash. Sundown found us low on gas, lost, with no gear or food, or water and feeling very lonesome. There was one group of three or four ahead of us, including Jim Hunter and Danny Macias, but we stopped when it was too dark, expecting a long night on the cold, hard ground.

Baja Dirt Bike tour

Pretty soon another small group showed up, and then another one over the next half an hour, until the whole group was together, except the guys who were in front and the backup truck which was carrying all of our food and sleeping bags. We were always carrying sleeping bags back then.

There was a spot coming down the summit that had struck us all, it was too narrow and there was no way for a pickup truck to get past there. It registered on each of us when passing. At about 11pm we saw an occasional light flickering in the distance against a mountain, then it disappeared for a while. Nobody was sleeping. Eventually, the pickup came with all our goodies. Nobody knows how he got by that spot (I have forgotten his name, but he went on to win a number of races in the large truck classes). It is amazing that everybody got lost in the same places, but we all ended up together. In the morning, we had breakfast including champagne. Once the sun was out we heard a single bike coming from the south. We had more champagne and waited for the rider to show up.

It was Jim Hunter. He looked at us in our comfort and said: "aw f**k". His group had spent the night only about a mile ahead of us. It was cold, the ground was hard and they had spent the night in accommodations somewhat less than the four seasons. They had consolidated their gas into one bike and sent Jim back to look for help. We eventually found a way that came out to the Ensenada/San Felipe highway just below the San Matias pass. I have looked for that route unsuccessfully over the years and only a couple of years ago did I talk my buddies into looking for it with me with the help of a GPS and some contour maps, and we found it, at least part of the way. But that trip ended as ignominiously as the first one.   

Baja California Mexico bike riding

We got as far as what I always think of as "the old roman road", cobblestones laid around the base of a hill that made you wonder who the hell ever came way out here in the middle of nowhere and built a piece of a road. I learned later it was built by the U.S. Army during WW2 when we were afraid that Japan might invade the U.S.

Anyways, this bike tour was a disaster too. We were low on gas, out of water, which made food seem unimportant, and we spent the night on the ground. But I learned from Jim Hunter, who had learned from Danny Macias thirty-some years earlier, how to suck the water from a barrel cactus, so we survived. Two of the guys spent two days and two nights out there with no food or water, but that is another story. 

That old route is no longer passable. There is a narrow canyon, where we were forced to turn back, that the floods back in the seventies made impossible to pass.