The Baja 1000 is an off road race that has been running since 1967. It is generally regarded as one of the most grueling Motorsport events in the world. It features super high tech off road racing cars as well as bikes and and in recent years ATVs. This year the course loop course of 850 miles from Ensenada to Ensenada across some of the most rugged and also beautiful scenery on the Baja Peninsular. Ever since I was a little boy I have had dreams of one day being able to witness the Baja 1000 first hand. This is a recount of our trip, which as you will read didn't quite go as planned, but never the less turned out to be a brilliant trip.
The flight from Home takes 13 hours and usually its 13 hours of hell, but this trip wasn't too bad. Managed to score one of the twin seats down the back, which have heaps more room than the ones further forward. Also didn't suffer from the usual barrage of screaming Babies that I usually seem to cop, Several Gins and a couple of sleeping tablets made it a little more bearable.
Landed at LA and despite what you normally hear about LAX customs made it quickly through to be met by my Mate Marsh, who is the guardian of the US Strom.
We spent the day fitting a new rear shock and going over the bike, drinking several billion beers and basically recovering from Jetlag.
After a great nights sleep I was keen to get on the bike and go and explore some of the awesome canyon roads surrounding LA. The canyon roads are just supurb.
Stopped at the top of Mt Baldy and had a refreshing beer whilst deciding where to go next. I had heard that the San Gabriel Canyon Rd (highway 39) was not to be missed so after refuelling began the climb up the mountain.
And that's when the trouble started. After being stopped about half way by a Car accident, I made my way to the front of the line of stopped cars. When the Stop n Go man allowed us to pass I was first away and whilst accelerating up through the gears,I was approaching a Left hand cresting bend with a lookout area to my right . ( remember I am on the RHS side of the road here) When a fucking Moron in a convertible PT Cruiser decided that he didn't want to wait in line with the stopped cars heading down the hill and simply crossed across the double yellow lines right into my path. There was nothing I could have done to avoid him and I slammed into the side ove the car. All I remember is yelling Oh Fuck as i went sailing over the top of the car and kicking his dog in the head on my way over. I landed in a tumbling heap on the other side of the car.
How I wasn't killed I will never know. If it had of been a sedan I would have simply slammed into the car and probably broken my neck. Fortunately my superior fitness meant that I simply rolled to a stop and never even suffered a graze although I did have a sore wrist. The guy on the bike behind me was dumbfounded and couldn't believe I was uninjured. The fuckwit car driver jumped out of his car and immediately started making excuses for his actions. Neither he or his fat ugly wife ever asked if I was ok as far as I can remember. I just wanted to make sure the dog was OK.
This is the Fuckwit here. Intelligent looking price of shit isn't he?
Feel free to send him hate mail.
The police, paramedics and Firies soon arrived. (as it happens it only took a few minutes as they were still cleaning up from the previous car accident.) They too were dumbfounded that I hasd no injuries. The Paramedics checked me out to be sure and before long a tow truck arrived to pick up my now wrecked bike. It was carted off to the wrecking yard, while the copper dropped me off at the local bottle shop where I quickly demolished a six pack and thanked the roads gods for sparing me.
Marsh being the champion he is was soon on his way to pick me up and plans were hatched as to what we would do next in order to continue the trip. A quick phone call to the Insurance company reassured me that all would be taken care of and the search was on to look for a replacement bike. A lot of time was spent on Craigslist that night.
The bruises were soon making themselves apparent.
I awoke the next morning feeling a little bit battered and bruised but decided the best thing I could do was jump back on that horse. Marsh offered me the use of the Aprillia Tuonu that he stores for another friend of ours and I decided that leisurely cruise along Pacific Coast highway and the California beaches for some Fish and chips would be just what I needed to get some confidence back.
Stopped in at the world famous Neptune's Net in Malibu for a great feed of fish Tacos and a beer.
Whilst having lunch I decided that I wasn't going let a little crash that could have been the end of me stop me from enjoying our trip. I had unfinished business in those Canyons, so armed with nothing more than the clothes I was wearing and my credit card, I sent Marsh a message saying I would be back in a couple of days. Didn't even have a change of undies or a toothbrush let alone a can of deodorant. Apologies to anyone I came into contact with over the next few days.
I had a ball climbing up and down the endless canyon roads above Malibu with their perfect camber and awesome views. Many would be familiar with names like Mullholland Highway, Latigo canyon road, etc. I had a ball. I had meant to call into the world famous Rock store for a drink, but it was closed by the time I got there, so i punched the closest hotel into the GPS and ended up in Thousand Oaks, where I booked into a shitty motel and had an awesome pizza and a few beers before sleeping the sleep of the dead.
I awoke to the news that Marsh had been busy and possibly found a bike that might be suitable. His mate David had a nice Yamaha FZ1 for sale in Ojai, which wasn't too far from where I was, so I decided to go and have a look.
The bike was in great condition, but unfortunately it just wasn't going to be suitable for a 2 up tour to Baja, so I had to pass it up. If we had of been going to Colorado or somewhere like that I would have grabbed in in a heartbeat.
Whilst the bike didn't work out an unexpected bonus was that i was right next to the brilliant Highway 33 which crosses the Los Padres National park. David armed me with a route that took in HI33, Lockwood valley rd to Pine Mountain Club and the Spectacular Hudson ranch rd. Just brilliant. I was also now armed with the worst case of Man flu I have ever had. Thanks Marsh.
I decided that Sequoia National park would be nice at this time of year and headed to the town of Tulare, so I could make an assault early in the morning. Another shitty motel, a burger and root beer from Karls Diner and a small bottle of whisky to try and ward off Marsh's disease, then into bed. Still didn't have a toothbrush or deodorant so I was starting to ripen up by this stage.
It was stinking hot down on the flat lands, so an early start was in order. The early morning sun was already searing through the fog.
I headed up the brilliantly twisty 245 to Squaw Valley for a refuel Then headed in to the spectacular Sequoia National Park.
Home to the largest trees in the world including the aptly named General Sherman tree.
The General Sherman Tree,Its Big.Had to take 2 pics to fit it all in.
The road was pretty cool though.
As were some of the views
Came across some disobedient Deer obviously not registered and taking up valuable parking spaces....bastards
I had a great time blasting through the park on the Tuono and before long it was dark,so I headed for the Hicksville town of Porterville. This also when stage 2 troubles started. After stopping for fuel the bike wouldn't start. I found a couple of non English speaking Mexicans and got them to give me a push to no avail. Big V Twins with slipper clutches don't like being push started and it is virtually impossible. The fucking Mexicans gave up after a couple of goes anyway....lazy pricks.
Managed to push it to a local garage where the bloke gave me a jump start. I thought I had just left the lights on or something and that the battery had simply gone a little flat. I found a shitty motel, Had a no soap shower then hit the sack. Didn't even have a feed due to there being nothing around. No Uber eats in Porterville.
The next morning I rose early with the plan of hitting the southern section of Sequoi including Camp Nelson Ponderosa and Lake Isabella.
But of course The Tuono she no go ! Fucking temperamental Italians. I had no tools and No idea. The battery was obviously flat and wasnt getting any charge.
No amount of my cursing was going to get it going. To top it off it was Veterans day. One of the very few public holidays in the states and as a result absolutely nothing was open. I rang around as many places as I could but nothing. I got a quote from U haul for van to drag it back to LA but as it was a public holiday it was going to cost a fortune to hire. In the end my disease ridden savior Marsh made the 5 hour trek to pick me and the bike up. At least we got to spend some quality time together on the way back. Did I mention he is a legend?
All the while both Marsh and I had been searching Craigslist for a suitable bike and with Sammy due to arrive the next day, I made the call to hire a bike for the trip in to Mexico. All that I could find at short notice was a DL650 Vstrom or a Harley. I figured a Harley would be shit on the dirt roads of Baja, so the Wee Strom it was, even though I would have preferred something with a few more horsepowers.
Sammy arrived the next morning and after picking her up, we picked up the Strom and I put her to work packing and loading the Strom, whilst Marsh and I drank beer and compared the effects of the Man Flu we had managed to share with each other. Thanks mate.
The next morning with Sams work complete, we saddled up and hit the road south. First stop Devils Kitchen on highway 74 where we waited over an hour for a very ordinary breakfast. We still left a hefty tip though as the waitress looked like she would hunt us down and shoot us if we didn't. I also enjoyed her fake boobs, so it was money well spent. ( was too scared to take a pic though).
On past the pretty Lake Elsonore to Temecula, then up Mt Palomar, where we met up with our old mate Buzz and his newly aquired 650 Strom that he had purchased to join us on our trip south.
After a cold drink at Mother Kitchen on Mt Palomar, it was decided that some of the world famous Apple pie was in order at the close by town of Julian.
I'll have what she's having.
Checked into to the alpine town of pine valley and whilst I lay in bed dying from man flu, Sam & Buzz went out for burgers and burritos.
That's the End of part 1 See part 2 later this week.