Friday, March 27, 2009

Carlsbad, CA to Mike's Sky Ranch

On 11:30 AM on Wednesday, March 25th I crossed into Baja, Mexico at the Tecate border crossing. Honestly, emotionally I was a wreck - tighter than a drum. It felt like I was jumping off a cliff. I have been waiting for this moment for two years, and I wanted it so badly, but it felt like I was crossing "the point of no return". Anyway, a lot of mixed emotions. Not to mention, the words "bloodbath" and "Mexico"have been used in the same sentence too frequently as of late.

I digress - a year ago I started following the blog of Allan Karl ( when he was somewhere in Africa on this bike trip. His story is amazing! Like a kid contacting his favorite TV star, I emailed him. He answered. Fast forward, and the night before crossing the border, I stayed at his place in Carlsbad, CA. What a plethora of information! It was like talking to a PhD the day before I was to start kindergarten, on what school was like. We went shopping for the Canon SLR I was looking for, and other last minute necessities. He and Angie made us a great dinner, and the wine flowed. Didn't get to bed until about 1:00. The next morning All had offered to ride to the border with me - sort of like walking me to the bus stop on that first day of school.

Back at the border, I was waved through without stopping. I found the proper office to get my Tourista Card, went to pay for it at the bank two blocks down the street, and returned the receipt to "proper office". I would be able to get my temporary vehicle importation permit in LaPaz before catching the ferry to the mainland. It was 1:00 and I had a lot of driving to do before nightfall. Rule #1, NO night riding - anywhere! Not to mention the previously mentioned "bloodbath" thing was on my mind and I wanted to get away from the border as fast as I could. 

I hit Hwy 3 and headed to Ensenada, where I would head southeast to the turn-off to Mike's Sky Rancho. 

As a kid, I was a big fan of off-road racing, and knew all the names of all the top players of the time. Mike's Ranch is actually on the Baja 1000 course and a Mecca for racers and enthusiasts for almost three decades. The turn-off is in the middle of the peninsula and a 20-mile dirt road ride from the main road. 

Per road construction and getting lost in Ensenada, I didn't reach the turn-off until 6:00. Home free, or so I thought. (I realized then that I hadn't eaten a thing all day.) Anyway, tired and fatigued I was elated to get to Mike's and celebrate with all the other cyclists that were no doubt ending their day of riding and now enjoying a "cold one" by the pool. 

The road proved a bit difficult, with patches of thick soft sand. This is not good for an overloaded heavy bike - muy pesado! Not fun at all. About 16-miles in I dumped the bike in the sand, which was the last thing I needed. It was getting dark. I was sure "narcos" would be coming out of the bush at any second, like zombies after the sun goes down. However, now I could finally find out if I could pick up the bike by myself. Nope. I had to take off the two duffle bags before I could get it up. Soon after I finally came across a guy on a tricked out MX bike with an oversized Acerbis tank. He had just come from Mike's buying bottled water. "No one is there." What!? What do you mean no one is there? "Not a single guest is there, just staff." Completely deflated, I pulled into Mike's about 30-minutes later in the dark. I crawled off the bike and yelled out for someone. I was it, the only guest for two nights. They don't even turn on the generator during the week, so no electricity. Apparently, it's a weekend Mecca. 

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