Baja Adventure 1999 Prologue
Prior to our 1997 trip to Baja all of our trips were very limited. Wed typically drive to our destination, hauling our bikes and gear. Then wed ride the local area for several days, always returning to "base camp" in the evening. Destinations included Bahia des los Angeles and La Paz, among others. While these trips where fun, they where far from an adventure. In fact, we didnt know what we were missing until we hooked up with Richard in 1997 (be sure youve check out the report from our 1997 trip). Unfortunately, we had to skip Baja in 1998; we had too many pregnant wives, busy jobs and/or newborn children. After missing it 1998, we became fully committed to making 1999 a success.
So whats involved in planning an epic adventure in Baja? Well we werent really sure. We did decide that a good map, GPS capabilities, and several beers had to be key ingredients in the formula. I think I bought every map of Baja available. By far the best Ive found so far is the Baja Almanac Norte. As the name implies, this almanac covers the northern half of Baja. There is also a Baja Almanac Sur that covers the southern half. The Baja Almanac Norte includes detailed topographic maps with GPS coordinates, marks for all the nearby gas stations and many dirt roads.
The first thing I did with my almanac was to cut it up and laminate it. Each page is approximately 8 ½ x 11. In order for it to survive the trip, I choose to laminate it. I also copied each page and taped them all together make one, huge table size map. With this, we started our planning. We had a good idea of were we wanted to be each evening and we just looked for dirt roads to get us there. It was kind of like playing "connect the dots." We ended up with:
Friday Evening: leave and drive as far as possible.
With this done, we verified what nights we would stay where and we began to make reservations. The following day, while making reservations, we realized that there was a miscommunication and we had to be home on Saturday morning, not Sunday. This meant skipping a night in Bahia des los Angels and planning two consecutive nights in Puertocitos. It also meant one long haul from Santa Veronica all the way home. OK, fine, we can do this. Next came several late evenings of map scanning and enter GPS waypoints. Then came the call from Bryce. "Hey, Brad talked to Richard and he wants to go. They want to change the plans. How do you feel about camping in Guadalupe Canyon?"
Neither of us had any interest in hauling camping gear on our bikes, along with everything else. After many conversations we agreed to do it, assuming Richard could get someone to meet us there with all our camping gear
Trips like Baja always involve some night riding and I hate night riding. Stock, the XR600 come with a weak lighting coil and a weaker headlight. This had to be fixed and fixed fast. This is where the great guys at Baja Designs came in. I pulled my stator and shipped it out. About a week later it came back, wound to the MAX. With two 135-watt outputs how could I go wrong. But that wasnt all. In the same box was my new 8" PIAA 100-watt headlamp. The "Baja Designs Quick Mount Single Off-Road Headlamp" was just the ticket to light up the evenings. Installation was a snap.
I was nearly ready and couldnt have been more excited. After a horrible bout with the flu, followed up with a sinus infection, I couldnt have been more ready for a week in the great outdoors. Then it hit me, yet another bought with kidney stones. Previously they had all passed on their own. Unfortunately, this one was too big and had to be removed. I was in the hospital for several days and stuck at home the rest of the week. This left only four days until we were gone.
With fresh oil, the new stator, and the new headlamp the bike was ready to go. Well, not as ready as I had thought. My stock D.I.D. chain hadnt stopped stretching since I bought the bike. Considering that Brads had snapped in Ocotillo on the previous ride I decided, at the last minute, that a new chain and sprocket set were in order. I have to say a big thanks to Zoom Cycle Accessories for getting me a new RK o-ring chain and a pair of sprockets at the last minute. Aside from cleaning my air filter the bike was now ready. We decided wed all take care of our filters on our first day at Hacienda Santa Veronica . . . (more coming soon)