Desperate Northern Riders

How far am I willing to go to ride? Pretty far, apparently.

This past winter, my favourite riding buddy and I travelled by truck and ferry and truck again, over 7,000 kilometres there and back, to ride around 4,375 kilometres. We took longer travelling there and back than we spent touring on the bikes.

Earlier in the fall, there were quite a few spirited conversations as to whether this mid-winter Baja motorcycle trip made any sense. Unflagging optimism and serious persistence, on a certain individual’s part, eventually won the day and he agreed to go for it.

The initial plan was to just get a lift down to Skagway, then ride right onto the ferry, riding off in Bellingham into a mild West Coast winter.

Reports of snowstorms, shutting down Seattle and Portland, convinced us to put a truck under the bikes and wait until we were a little farther south to unload them. It was a wise decision.

December 27 saw us loading the bikes onto the back of a pickup truck at -35.

It was a hopeful start.

We drove off the ferry, onto Interstate 5, in the middle of a snowstorm complete with vehicles in ditches.

More rainstorms and cold weather meant we didn’t ditch the truck (that’s a figure of speech – we actually put it in storage) until Monterey, California, just past San Francisco. Even then, the first day riding down the California coast road, in fog and salt air, had us struggling to keep visors clear enough to see the road.

In San Diego, we started feeling the heat of the sun and began to believe this trip was not just the folly of two desperate Northern riders. It was almost two weeks to the day after leaving home that we finally crossed the border at Tecate, into Baja, Mexico.

In what seemed like a heartbeat later (it was actually about a month), we were fighting weather again, this time in northern Baja on our way back north. We were riding into a desert that was in its fourth day of rain. Plans for more back-road riding were postponed to a future trip.

This unusual precipitation was combined with accompanying headwinds and crosswinds gusting up 80 kilometres per hour. The rain had turned all but the paved highway into mud bog, and the wind left the bikes canting into it to compensate.

To keep going or to face it all and risk being blown off the highway into the mud was a real decision.

We kept going until we passed the SUV with the little snowman sitting on its hood on the way to Mexicali, from Tecate. We had been planning to check out some new road, and Yuma Arizona, but instead we turned around to beeline it back to the U.S. and our truck in Monterey.

If I count up the days, I am sure the bad weather and truck time outnumbered the good riding days at least two to one.

Was it worth it? You bet. Correct me if I am wrong, but even wet and windy days on the bike are better than sitting at home at -35.

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