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Dirt Bikes, Off-Road, Mexico, Baja, Mike's Sky Ranch, Ranco Santa Veronica,
Mexican Tour, Ride Report, Trip Report

[Dirt Bikes]
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Date: May, 1997
Location: Baja, Mexico
Riders: Brad, Bryce, Jay & Paul
Guides: Richard & Howard

Day Four (Continued from part 2)

Early the next morning we awoke to the smell of cooking bacon. It seems the caretaker showed up around 7:00 or 8:00 am. We had a big breakfast and headed out. Richard explained that he hadn’t been to the Pacific coast in about twenty years, but he was sure he could get us there. It was simple, just turn on the road by the airport.

Taking a breakWe headed to Meling Ranch (Rancho Meling is also known as San Jose) for lunch. What a great ride it was. Meling Ranch was beautiful. Unfortunately, they weren’t serving lunch, but they did have cold beer. Of course this was nothing new to us at this point. We rested, drank, and swapped stories. After several beers, we decided we better get a move on. Having problems with chronic kidney stones, I always need to keep my CamelBak full. Fearing Mexican water, I brought my water filter along. This worked very well. We never had any problems finding places to get a fill. Meling Ranch was no exception.

On the coastMoving on, we headed up into the mountains to some incredible scenery. Some of the hardest riding was done this day. We had several goat trails with loose rocks and more fun than anyone should have on vacation. We made it to the coast just before dark. Richard commented on the accuracy of his memory, regarding the airport. Well, none of us noticed the airport. He explained that it was grown over and hadn’t been used in a while. OK, what about the road? Oh, that was the goat trail up into the mountains. Anyway, it was beginning to get dark and we needed to find a place to stay. Unfortunately, we were on a cliff and as far as we could see up the coast, there were no signs of life. No problem, explained Richard, all we needed to do is head over to the highway and we should find a motel in just a little while. Cool, off we go.

This is where it gets ugly. I usually ride behind everyone with Paul just in front of me. Paul’s the least experienced, and the other guys like to go REAL fast. I’m comfortable cruising and checking the scenery. We never leave the least experienced riders behind so I "bat cleanup". Many times this is the best position; Paul has treated me to several incredible crashes. Anyway, I realized that my front tire was going flat. Fearing another night without dinner, all of my rationale failed me. First, I caught up with Paul and informed him what was going on. Assuming there was no chance of Paul catching up with everyone else, I continued on. I was doing some of the best high-speed riding of my life, actually maintaining between 80 and 85 mph. Oh, did I mention my tire was going flat? Well, then it happened. I heard a noise, then the head-shake began. Last I checked, my speedo said 65 as I was going over the bars. It seems I found a ditch and a big rock. After the fact, Paul said, it was the most spectacular wreck he’d ever seen – of this I am proud. Where’s the chase 'copter when you need it? Well, I ended up entangled in my bike. My goggles are full of dirt and I’m thinking my new helmet BITES! What good is a full face helmet that lets so much dirt in! I hear Paul racing up screaming "ARE YOU OK?" (this was a strange role reversal) Still not sure, I give him the thumbs-up. He takes off, then returns. "You sure you're OK?" Still not being able to talk, or breathe for that matter, I give him the thumbs-up once again and wave him on.

XR minus front tireWhile I collect myself, Paul rides like he’s never ridden before. Unbelievably, he gets close enough to Richard to catch his attention, just before he crashes (minor biff). He tells Richard that I got a flat and need help, neglecting to mention the endo. Richard continues on to catch Bryce and Brad while Paul returns. I’m still unclear as to my thoughts, but I was trying to get the XR started when Paul arrived. He quickly talks me out of it and helps me get my stuff collected. The rest of the guys show up and we talk Bryce into fixing the flat. After all he is the fastest tire changer. Oh I mentioned that. Did I mention that for a beer he’d change your tires too? Oh, I probably shouldn’t.

Surprisingly enough, there was no major damage to the XR and other than caving in my nose, cutting my face, bruising both hips and my left shoulder, and doing some minor nerve damage to my left wrist, I was in pretty good shape. We got into town just after dark. We found rooms at a small motel with a restaurant. We put on some clean clothes, washed up, and headed out for a much-needed dinner. Oh, we had several more beers too. We ended up with two rooms, Bryce, Brad and Richard shared a large room. It had three beds and a "bonus" room. Paul and I had a small room with two twin beds. We hung out in the bonus room drinking well into the evening.

Upon returning to our room, Paul and I were introduced to the foulest stench I have ever encountered. Did I mention the room was small? Unfortunately, we determined the stench was emanating from our riding gear. We threw all our gear in the bathroom and shut the door. After opening the window we had some relief, not much. Just as we began to sleep, the town became alive. This included a live band, a pack of howling dogs, and truckloads of screaming Mexicans. We’re not sure how long this went on; we eventually passed out.

 Day Five…

We arose bright and early and had another BIG breakfast. I think Brad & Paul ordered four breakfasts each. I should mention that I was real sore. Richard and Howard planned to meet sometime between 11:15 and 11:30 on a mile-long stretch of trail. With this in mind, we had to do some high-speed highway riding. The next thing we know, Richard heads up a killer, loose hill climb. Bryce follows, followed by Paul and then me. I thought to myself, wait until these guys get out of the way. This would have been a good idea. Bryce aborted about half way up. Paul lost momentum and I broadsided him. Brad was smart and waited, taking pictures. After hitting Paul, I high-sided and tumbled, literally, head over heels for about 20 yards. This did not make me feel any better, not to mention it took several chunks out of my new helmet and bruised my right shoulder.Jay flipping down the hill

As it turns out, this was just a hill that short cut a bend in the highway. Richard said he’s always wanted to try, and since he had a new bike he thought "what the heck." We continued on the highway for some time. All of a sudden Brad’s XR got really loud. Some investigation showed that the mounting tab for his exhaust pipe had busted off, leaving a gaping hole in the pipe. In the next town we asked everywhere for a large hose clamp to patch it back together. We had no luck. Finally a local asked what we needed it for. When we showed him, he whipped out his welder and fixed it. Gee, a welder didn’t occur to us. After he was done, he asked for $3.00. All we could come up with was a twenty. Of course he didn’t have change and we didn’t care.

Taking a break at the fallsMoving on, once again we were off-road. We met Howard right on time, exactly where they had planned. Yes, we were impressed. After stopping for a great lunch, we continued on. Richard and Howard showed us some great sites including a small, secluded waterfall. We made it back to Rancho Santa Veronica just before dark. We proceeded to drink margaritas well into the morning (over $110 worth – remember this is Baja!).

Day Six…

We packed up and left. Paul insisted that I drive until we got across the border. We stopped at one checkpoint. A very attractive female in military garb asked if I spoke Spanish. After I replied "no," she shook her head, smiled and waved me on. Crossing the border went just as smooth. That was pretty much the end of probably the best trip I’ve ever been on.

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