On Oct. 4 a group of 24 determined dirt bikers and their 20-person strong support crew embarked on what, for many of them, was the adventure of a lifetime. Over the course of eight grueling days they zigzagged across the Baja California peninsula in an attempt to ride from the U.S.-Mexican border all the way to Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas. Here’s a play by play of what happened on the second day of the trip.
Erendira to El Rosario
Total Rip Miles: 235
The second day of the Rip to Cabo 2012 started like nearly every other day on the ride: up early, pack, eat, hydrate, and exit for the day by 7:30 a.m. Following the relatively benign Day One ride, most of the riders still had a glint in their eyes, a bristling excitement emanating from their souls. It would not last, however. Soon it would be replaced by weary bones and bleary eyes.
The green desert singletrack; photo courtesy K. Ward
Coastal Northern Baja, at least until you hit Guerrero Negro, is very reminiscent of parts of Central and Southern California. The early miles weaved along craggy coves and vertical bluffs that suggested what La Jolla in San Diego may have looked like 250 years ago. After that came massive sand dunes that mirrored Pismo Beach, followed by a fifth-gear blitz down a long stretch of sand- and cobblestone-covered beach that mimicked Camp Pendleton’s coastline.
A quick climb off the beach led to the first real drama of the trip–a brief, albeit sketchy, run-in with two machine-gun-wielding amigos. Baja is generally a safe, friendly place. But there are spots where it can be hard to tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys. Our helicopter pilot and cameraman got a good spook from the gunmen, relayed it back on the radio, and didn’t stick around to ask if they were Marinos (army) or cartel lookouts.
The final leg of the day featured long miles of graded road climbing off the coast and into the central mountain range. The intense heat, and the unrelenting driving, saw the buggy blow a fan on this day–which meant that all of the chase vehicle’s occupants would be shuffled to account for two less seats the following day. This is not an uncommon theme on the Rip. Every morning brings new challenges, some small, some large. They are dealt with and the group pushes on.
As the buggy limped into the tiny roadside village of El Rosario that evening, the sun was setting and the temperature was dropping. In the past, hitting El Rosario with the intention of finding fuel was a bit of a crap shoot. Many unlucky Baja travelers rolled the dice on El Rosario, only to get that sinking feeling upon arrival–a scribbled ‘No Petrol’ sign becoming their unfriendly greeting. There was also the town’s glaring lack of accommodations for stranded visitors waiting for the next gas tanker to arrive.
Nowadays, a massive, concrete PEMEX filling station sits cozily next to a top-rate hotel ready to host weary guests venturing along Highway 1. You can’t stop progress, even in the Baja.
From left to right: Sunny Garcia, Ryan Hagy, Trigger Gumm; photo courtesy K. Ward