September 8, 2016

The last time I tried off-roading I busted three ribs and a foot.

I’d negotiated a rock-strewn canyon and emerged above the rim of Searles Valley when I suddenly choked up in sand. My moron mind had made me look down, so I augered the front wheel deep till the big 1200GSA corkscrewed and flipped.

My Forma Adventure boot folded, twisting and snapping my ankle. I hit the ground hard. Gasping, I rolled on my back and stared at the sky as I lay dazed in a bed of teddy bear cacti. There’s nothing cuddly about teddy bear cholla!

A remote mountain in California’s Mojave Desert is not a good place to snap a fibula while riding a 700-pound Beemer. Next time I’ll slow down. Stay focused on the horizon. Swap the Michelin Pilots for more appropriate tires. Or maybe I just needed more practice. Perhaps on a long ride down Mexico’s Baja California peninsula? I mused later as I hobbled around on my crutches.

baja california off-road adventure bmw r1200gsa with motojournalist christopher p baker rtw moto tours

Baja California. It fired my imagination like a heat-haze hovering between hallucination and reality on the distant desert horizon.

When my buddy JD Smith called inviting me to join him for a two-week adventure to Cabo, I hopped excitedly like a Mexican kangaroo rat in estrus. I envisioned Baja’s savage beauty unfurling as if in an IMAX movie as we cruised down Highway 1, with occasional feral forays to help turn me into a badass adventure rider.

“We’re gonna do a lot of off-roading,” JD added, ominously. “You’ll need to change your tires. Get some Continental TCX80s or Metzeler Karoos. They’re good on the GSAs in the soft stuff.”

Uh-oh! JD is a motorcycle riding instructor. He’s explored Baja eight times. In 2015 he even crossed the fabled Darien Gap on a bike. That’s badass!

I realized I was on a steep learning curve as JD and the brutal desert promised to make me eat sand with a vengeance.

This is going to be raw. This is going to be ugly. And I’m going to relish ever friggin’ minute of our adventure. Even if I bust a few bones.

Watch for this story in a magazine soon… STAY TUNED!

© Christopher P. Baker. All rights reserved.

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