The professionally-guided RawHyde tour includes the advantage of a chase truck and trailer, so I didn’t have to carry too much on the bike except my camera, some food and a change of clothes. As we pulled out of the RawHyde compound, located in Castaic, California, the idea of being mostly without cell service for about a week was unsettling but at the same time refreshing. As our touring group worked south through Los Angeles I soon discovered how much freeway real estate 30 adventure bikes covers. Monday morning commuters looked curious and horrified while trying to text and check out the massive group at the same time.
The first day was quite possibly the most scary and intense of the tour. A morning commute through Los Angeles and San Diego can wreck havoc on the brain. We made the border crossing into Mexico via Tecate and by following Mexican driving laws (there really aren’t any) we all stayed together as a group and rolled into Rancho Santa Veronica just as the last light of day was rotating away.
(Above) Changing tires on the side of the road is just part of the fun. RawHyde Adventures Baja. (Middle) Dirt, sand, asphalt, the RawHyde Adventures Baja tour had it all. (Below) With RawHyde Adventures Baja trip it didn’t matter what you rode, as long as you had a good time.
After a cold night and a no-hot-water shower, we gathered up, rolled out of Rancho Santa Veronica and headed across mainly dirt to get to Mike’s Sky Ranch. It was the most technical day of the ride with a lot of sand and some rocky roads. I loved wiggling and sliding down the two track across the beautiful countryside. With a few small incidents and hold ups a group of us were the first to roll into Mike’s Sky Ranch as the sun was again going away. The rest of the posse navigated the fun road into Mike’s in the dark shortly after.
The website for Mike’s Sky Ranch might show an inviting swimming pool, but I don’t think it has been more than half full in a decade. Even if you aren’t afraid of shallow water, the color alone is enough to give you a horrific disease. Interesting locations, rustic accommodations and unexpected hold ups are all part of the Baja experience. It isn’t the exception; it is the norm and part of the allure of traveling through Baja.
The Baja 500 course runs right by Mike’s Sky Ranch, so we followed the dirt road back out, working our way to the asphalt and west onto San Filipe. After a fairly short day, about seven hours, the group rolled right in the tourist trap of downtown San Felipe. The El Cortez Hotel sits right on the water and since we had made it to our destination with time to kill and sunlight to burn, we played on the sand dunes overlooking the ocean before dinner.
San Felipe to San Ignacio was a long haul, pounding nearly 360 miles crossing over from the east side of the Baja peninsula down, almost reaching the west coast. There are some simply amazing views traveling down the east coast of Baja. The ride was mostly paved except for a 25 mile rocky dirt road section through famous Cocos’ Corner.
We stopped and enjoyed the décor, had some refreshments and continued on. Luckily we had some extra tubes after two flat tires on the same bike. The second flat was changed just as the sun was going down, leaving us riding into San Ignacio for a few hours in the dark. It was all made better by a tasty Mexican dinner and large margaritas. San Ignacio is an amazing little oasis town, home to the hotel Rice and Beans, which we stayed at for two nights.
If you’ve ever been whale watching in America you know it is usually on a decent sized vessel with a lot of people searching the horizon for a glimpse of a whale. Not so much on this trip. We made a short but fun ride from San Ignacio to the coast, then piled on small 10 person boats and within 15 minutes were petting whales. It was a surreal experience to lean off the sides of the boats, which were smaller than the whales underneath and simply reach down to the whales that were just as interested in us as we were them. Overall Day 5 was a relaxing one with some great dirt roads to and from the coast followed by some hang out time in the San Ignacio town square enjoying ice cream and the centuries old church.
San Ignacio to San Quintin was a pretty long trip, about 300 miles northwest. But we made good time as a group and pulled into the Mission Santa Maria Hotel, which sits right on the beach in San Quintin, with plenty of time to get out onto the beach aboard the bikes for some serious play time. The long day was made easier with the previous days memories of whale watching/petting fresh on the brain.
The last day was also the second-longest mileage-wise (350 miles) and the most mentally draining. The homeward bound group left San Quintin headed north toward California under cloudy skies. With six great days of riding in the rear view mirror, Mother Nature decided to dump rain for most of the 12-hour ride back to the RawHyde ranch.
Traveling Mexican roads in pouring rain feels like every minute that passes without incident is a victory. The streets of Ensanda resembled rivers more than asphalt and the locals don’t care if it is two inches of water or two feet, they pin it! Once over the boarder at Tecate the rain didn’t stop and four more hours battling traffic in the dark had us pulling into the Rawhyde ranch in 37-degree weather. Raindrops began to resemble snowflakes and a warm cup of coffee never looked so good. It was a bittersweet ending to an epic trip.
The trip was an amazing experience and I never would’ve guessed that seven days could go by so quickly. The changes in terrain and beautiful scenery never had me bored, even on longer stretches of asphalt. Baja is a very special place. Adding to the experience was the cool group of riders. It was fun to hang out with such a great group of people. Everyone was about having a good time without stress and lending a hand when needed.
While RawHyde was a major factor in this trip, it wasn’t possible without the help of the World of Adventure companies. World of Adventure is a marketplace, allowing a single point of internet connection for nearly all of the aftermarket companies that are committed to the adventure riding lifestyle. It is a great place where riders can learn everything they need to equip themselves and their bikes for adventure riding. During the Baja tour I was the only hombre aboard a KTM, and it was kitted out with several World of Adventure aftermarket products. I will be reporting on the 1190 Adventure I rode, plus all the gear I used to make the trip a success soon.