Another Baja Run wraps up!

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Wow, home again…and the successful conclusion of our 8-day, 2000-mile, 3rd Annual CSC Baja Adventure Ride.  It’s tough to say what I enjoyed more…the weather, the riding, the food, the whales, the cave paintings, or the companionship.

Nah, I take that back.   Hands down, the best part of the ride was the camaraderie.   The new friends I made on this ride (and riding again with old friends) really made the ride for me.   James with his Texas twang and deep laugh.  Willie, the most interesting man in the world.   Tuan, whom I have known for 10 years and never seen without a smile.   Joe 2, our intrepid adventurer who became the group’s official MacGuyver.  Barb and Chuck, our Wisconsin couple and RX3 world travelers.   Matt, another guy who is always fun to be around.  Dan, the most photogenic guy on the planet.  Rob and Donkey Hoty, who came down from Washington and rejoined the group after riding with us on the 5000-mile Western America Adventure Ride.   Peter, our flying Dutchman.   Patrick, who sports an awesome Orient wristwatch and a new pair of Mexican boots.  Carlos, our magnificent friend, incredible story teller, and talented translator.   And J, my long time riding buddy and fantastic helper in keeping things moving.

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The weather was as good as I have ever seen in Baja. The days were crisp and sunny, which made for perfect riding conditions.  We had a bit of fog the morning we rode out of Guerrero Negro, but that burned off quickly, and other than that it was bright sunny weather the entire time.   It was as good as it gets in Baja.  Like I said, perfect riding weather.

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The riding was amazing, especially the stretch along Bahia Concepcion.   I’ve always felt that Conception Bay is the prettiest part of the peninsula.   This year we made it a standard part of the ride when we rolled down to Loreto for a leisurely lunch, and it was awesome.   We had two long days (about 400 miles each); all of the other days were about 200 miles.   It worked out well.   We took breaks roughly every hour, and that worked out well, too.  It broke things up and kept everybody alert.   Good times and good riding.

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The whales were, as always, amazing.   The mama whales were pushing their babies up to the boats more obviously than I’ve ever seen (I’m not sure if we were there to see the whales or if they were there to see us).    I saw more “spy hopping” than ever before, where the whales rise up vertically out of the water to survey their surroundings.  And I experienced something altogether new this year:  At least three of our riders (Joe 2, Matt, and Rob) had waterproof camera cases and selfie sticks.  They captured underwater photographs and video of the whales.  I’d never seen that before, and the results were spectacular.  Some of our riders’ photos and videos are already appearing on Facebook, and I’ll post them here on the blog when I get copies.   Just amazing stuff.

The cave paintings were amazing. The Mexicans had a better presentation this year in that they had a briefing (including an arrowhead and tool display) prior to actually seeing the paintings.  It was all in Spanish, but we had a secret weapon:  Our good man Carlos.   Carlos really made the trip for us with his invaluable translation skills and warm personality.  He’s just a great guy and a great rider.

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And the food!   Ah, it was fantastic.  Camarones.  Chile rellenos.  Pollo rellenos.   Tacos de pescado, right off Tony’s truck.  And lots, lots more.  Every meal was an event, and every dinner was a feast.  Several members of our expedition complained about gaining weight (it was that good).  I’m one of them, and I’m hitting the gym tonight to get back down to my fighting weight.   The food was simply magnificent.

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The only downside, for me, was capping the ride.   I would have like to have taken everyone along who wanted to go with us, but beyond the size of the group we rode with it just gets too hard to manage.  But hey, that’s what 2018 is for!   If you want to go for the ride of your life, my advice is to get on the 4th Annual CSC Baja Run list now!  And if you don’t have an RX3 (the world’s greatest adventure riding motorcycle) to ride along with us, well hey, we have a solution for that!

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Petroglyphs, Santa Rosalia, Concepcion Bay, and more…

Wowee…where to begin?

We are having one hell of a ride here in Baja, folks.   It’s one of the best rides I’ve ever had, and the folks I’m riding with are telling me they’re getting feedback from their friends and relatives:  Where’s the blog?  Okay, guilty as charged!  The fact is I’ve just been having too much fun to blog!

So let’s catch up…let’s see…this first photo was our last night in Guerrero Negro, after we’d been to see the whales.  I think I talked about that in the previous blog.   The whale watching was as awesome as I’ve ever seen it and we were all in high spirits after a day in Scammon’s Lagoon cavorting with the ballenos.   We kind of had a tailgate party in the parking lot that night (lots of beer, but no tailgates because we rode down here on motorcycles).   Pete had done something particularly well that day (I can’t remember what it was), and his reward was a genuine Mexican Cheeto…

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That’s Willie (you’ll remember him as the world’s most interesting man), and James (he’s from Texas) taking it all in that night.  It was a lot of fun…so much so that we got together for a group photo.  From left to right, it’s Dan, Willie, Barb, Matt, Pat, Chuck, Tuan, James, Rob, Joe 2 (I’m Joe 1), Peter, J, and Carlos.   The smiles are real, folks!

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We were up the next morning for the cave paintings, and that was a hoot.  Our guides this year were the best ever, and they started by showing us a collection of arrowheads and tools from the ancients who painted the petroglyphs we were about to observe…

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…and then it was on to the cave paintings.   The guys were awestruck, just as I always am when I see these things.  That’s Matt and Joe 2 taking photos in the photo below.

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These are very, very cool.    They may date to as far back as 12,000 years ago.   Nobody really knows for sure.

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That’s Dan on the far right.  He rode Baja with us last year and he told me he thought the cave paintings were the high point of the trip.

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James conversing with our guide.

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That’s Carlos in the orange jacket in the photo below.   It matches his RX3.  I am really glad Carlos is on this ride.  He’s a great guy and we are all enjoying his company.

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After the cave paintings, we continued south for lunch in San Ignacio, and then it was on to Santa Rosalia, Mulege, and Loreto.  Loreto was our turnaround point for this ride.  I had to get a photo of my RX3 in Loreto with the Sea of Cortez in the background.   My RX3 is amazing.   This is its third Baja run.   I love my RX3.  It has to be the best value in the history of motorcycling.   But that’s not why I love it.  There are a lot of reasons, and one of them is that the bike just attracts interesting riders (like the crew on this year’s CSC Baja run).

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Here are some riding scenes heading north from Loreto.   The roads and the weather have been magnificent.    It’s just been fantastic.

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Bahia Concepcion (Conception Bay) from the saddle of my RX3.   Wow!

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There’s no Photoshop trickery here, folks.  It really is this colorful.

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Twisties.  Cactus.   Mountains.   Perfect weather.   Better sign up now for the 2018 CSC Baja run!

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Dinner in Santa Rosalia.  This was Carlos’ plate.  Doesn’t it just look wonderful?

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Santa Rosalia is an amazing little Baja town and it’s one of my favorites.  I like the Boleo panaderia (that’s a bakery), and so did everyone else.  Carlos bought cookies and pastries for us for desert.  They were awesome.

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A very photogenic young lady in the Boleo panaderia.

170323_0541-650A late night shot of some of the crew in Santa Rosalia.  From the left, it’s Rob, J, Pat, Dan, Peter, Tuan, and Joe 2.

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A Santa Rosalia street chef.   The people are all very friendly.   We had already had our dinner, or I might have tried a taco or two here…

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Here’s a tortilla lady…she was working with the chef in the photo above.   I’ll bet what they were preparing was delicious.

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And folks, that’s a wrap for the blog tonight.  We rode 398 miles today to Santa Maria, and we’re staying in a really beautiful hotel called the Mission Inn.   It’s a new one for me, but I’ll be back.   We’ve been racking up the good times and the miles, and I’m tired so I’m going to call it a night.   We’re headed to Tecate tomorrow, and that will be our last night in Baja on this trip.

Later, my friends…

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A whale of a time!

We were up early this morning in Guerrero Negro, eager to get out and see the whales.   We started with a great breakfast in Don Gusto’s…

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Then it was out to Scammon’s Lagoon for an absolutely amazing day…I’ll let the photos do the talking with a comment or two on each…

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Tuan on the ride out to the bay. The smile says it all.

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There were enough people in our group to require two pangas (small boats built in Baja). That’s the other half of our group.

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Sea lions on a buoy. Cool stuff.

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J Brandon says hello to a mama California gray whale. You can’t see it in these photos, but these mature whales are twice the size of the boats!

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James and Robert saying hello to a whale.

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Speak no evil, hear no evil, see no evil…

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This is known as spy hopping, when the whales rise up vertically out of the water to check their surroundings. We saw this repeatedly today, as the whales were looking at us. It was amazing.

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A baby California gray whale. They are literally pushed up to the boats by their mothers (you can see the mama below the baby in this photo).

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Nostrils and barnacles on a mature whale.

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A whale nose and barnacles. The barnacles are living things. If you touch them, they close. It was interesting.

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Pat, Dan, and Robert photographing the whales.

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Rob saying hello to Mom and her calf.

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Rob makes a new friend.

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Once we were back in town we went over to Tony’s truck for fish tacos.  Here’s a cool shot of Pat standing in line waiting for one of Tony’s famous specialties. Wow, were those tacos ever good!

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Tuan, me, J, and Rob. Good times.

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With Tony, fish taco chef extraordinaire!

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The only motorcycle shop in Guerrero Negro.

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Manuel, the moto shop proprietor.

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Enjoying ice cream on a walk through Guerrero Negro.

It was quite a day.  Tomorrow will be exciting, too, as we continue our CSC ride through Baja.   We’ll see the San Francisco Mountains, San Ignacio, Santa Rosalia, and Mulege.

It’s a lot warmer  now that we are approaching the tropics, and the temperatures will continue to go up as we head south.   Keep an eye on the blog, folks.  More good stuff on our adventure tour is coming your way!

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Guerrero Negro!

My RX3 right where it belongs!

My RX3 right where it belongs!

Guerrero Negro means “Black Warrior” in Spanish and it’s the name of a vessel that sank off the coast of the town we rolled into this evening.   Today was a long one….400 miles, roughly, from Ensenada all the way to Guerrero Negro.   We’ve had no problems finding fuel in Baja, there was no labor unrest in San Quintin, we found our hotel and we’ve already met up with the whale watching tour dude, and life is sweet!

My RX3, with Joe 2 in the background....two great friends. I shot this photo earlier today at a Pemex station.

My RX3, with Joe 2 in the background….two great friends. I shot this photo earlier today at a Pemex station.

400 miles, and our riders were all troopers.   The ride out of Ensenada was a misty one, and my face shield was wet for a good one hundred miles.  The scenery was awesome as we rode across northern Baja’s wine country along the Ruta Vinacola.   This is a great group of riders…safe, polite, funny, and just plain great company.  Hey, I grabbed a good photo of James, too!  He’s from Texas!

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Good buddy James, a cool guy from Texas.

We had lunch at Mama Espinosa’s in El Rosario, topped off the tanks again, and then headed into the mountains.  The weather has been cool enough to allow for comfortable riding when doing our ATGATT thing, and that makes for great riding.

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Dan making a new friend at a Pemex station somewhere in Baja.

It’s a long 221 miles from El Rosario to Guerrero Negro, and we stopped for gas in Catavina at the unauthorized Pemex station…

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Matt, checking out the gasoline dummy…

Carlos, after buying a bottle of gasolina.

Carlos, after buying a bottle of gasolina.

Joe 2 at the desert gas station.

Joe 2 at the desert gas station.

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Tuan, one of the several mechanical engineers on this adventure ride.

After topping off our tanks in Catavina, it was back on the road for us for the last 130 miles to Guerrero Negro.  We wanted to make it before dark and we did.

On the road in Baja. The RX3s are performing well.

On the road in Baja. The RX3s are performing well.

Another washed out vado south of Catavina.

Another washed out vado south of Catavina.

Dan the Man on the road.

Dan the Man on the road in Baja.

Another view from the RX3 saddle.

Another view from the RX3 saddle.

Chasing Tuan across Mexico.

Chasing Tuan across Mexico.

We’re having an exciting trip.   We checked into the hotel earlier this evening and hooked up with Martin  (it’s pronounced Marteen) from the whale watching company.    We had a wonderful seafood dinner at Malarrimo’s.   Good times with great people.  I sure love these trips.

My RX3's digs for the evening.

My RX3’s digs for the evening.

Dinner by Malarimmo's, photo by Barb.

Dinner by Malarimmo’s, photo by Barb.

It’s going to be a good day tomorrow.   It’s whale watching in the morning and the cave paintings in the afternoon.  We’ll have Tony’s fish tacos for lunch in between those two outings.  What an adventure and as my good friend Reuben (who rode with us on the first CSC Baja ride) would say:  What a life!

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Rolling into Ensenada!

The 2017 CSC Baja decal. These look great!

The 2017 CSC Baja decal. These look great!

So here we are this evening in beautiful downtown Ensenada, living the good life, riding our motorcycles in Baja, and having a grand time.   It was a cool and foggy ride down here from Azusa, and I skipped out of dinner today after three awesome chicken tacos and a great draft Dos Equis Dark so I could get back to the room to post this blog.   Wow, what a dinner we had tonight!

Dinner this evening in Ensenada, with the gang enjoying a beer or two after a great ride!

Dinner this evening in Ensenada, with the gang enjoying a beer or two after a great ride!

Barb grabbed a shot with my camera from the other end of the table. The tacos were awesome.

Barb grabbed a shot with my camera from the other end of the table. The tacos were awesome.

I didn’t get photos of everyone, but hey, this is Day 1 of the 2017 CSC Baja ride and we still have 7 days of glorious riding in front of us!   Here are just some of the shots you’ll be seeing of what is shaping up to be a great ride…

A few of the guys in the hotel parking lot earlier this evening.

A few of the guys in the hotel parking lot earlier this evening.

The J Man!

The J Man!

At a roadside rest stop...

At a roadside rest stop…

Willie, the most interesting man in the world!

Willie, the most interesting man in the world!

Good buddy Carlos, who is definitely having a good time!

Good buddy Carlos, who is definitely having a good time!

Chuck and Barb, who bought two new RX3s last year in California and rode them home to Wisconsin. Yep, they are riding their RX3s with us this year!

Chuck and Barb, who bought two new RX3s last year in California and rode them home to Wisconsin. Yep, they are riding their RX3s with us in Mexico this year!

Tuan, who rides an RX3 (like everyone else on this trip), and who is a former student of mine at Cal Poly Pomona. Tuan is a mechanical engineer!

Tuan, who rides an RX3 (like everyone else on this trip), and who is a former student of mine at Cal Poly Pomona. Tuan is a mechanical engineer!

Colorado Dan, on his third CSC Baja ride! This guy is one of the most photogenic motorcycle riders I've ever known!

Colorado Dan, on his third CSC Baja ride. This guy is one of the most photogenic motorcycle riders I’ve ever known!

Good buddy Rob, who rode with us on the Western America Adventure Ride. Rob is an RX3 Iron Butt rider! You can read about him in 5000 Miles at 8000 rpm. Rob is one of three riders on this trip from Washington. We've got riders from Wisconsin, Texas, Washington, and more on this run!

Good buddy Rob, who rode with us on the Western America Adventure Ride. Rob is an RX3 Iron Butt rider.   You can read about Rob in 5000 Miles at 8000 RPM. Rob is one of three riders on this trip from Washington. We also have riders from Wisconsin, Texas, California, and other states on this adventure!

My new best friend Pete!

My new best friend Pete!

Matt, who owns both a TT250 and an RX3! Several of the guys on this run own both CSC bikes. You just can't get enough of a good thing!

Matt, who owns both a TT250 and an RX3! Several of the guys on this run own both CSC bikes. You just can’t get enough of a good thing!

Good buddy Joe, who we call Joe 2. There's a Joe 1 and a Joe 2 on this ride. Joe 2 tells a great story. I'm enjoying his company!

Good buddy Joe, who we call Joe 2. There’s a Joe 1 and a Joe 2 on this ride. Joe 2 tells a great story. I’m enjoying his company!

One more photo this evening, and it's of Chuck and Barb!

One more photo this evening, and it’s of Chuck and Barb!

And that’s it for tonight, folks.  Tomorrow we’re up with the roosters and we’ll be on the road early. It’s going to be a 400-mile ride on our 2nd day in Mexico as the CSC juggernaut dives deeper into Baja.   We’re going to roll through the Vizcaino Desert and the Catavina boulder fields, and we’ll make Guerrero Negro tomorrow night.  It’s going to be fun, and you can follow the adventure right here on the CSC blog!

Stay tuned!  I’ll get photos of Patrick and James tomorrow (I didn’t get any of them today), and I’ll have more great shots on our awesome trek south.

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The plan…

One slide from tonight’s pre-ride briefing…which we’ll have during our dinner here at the CSC plant this evening…

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Ready to roll…

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Our Baja adventurers are starting to arrive…and it’s going to be fun.   We’ve got folks from Wisconsin, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and more rolling in for the third annual CSC Baja Run, and it starts tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m.   Good times straight ahead, folks!

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Best Value of 2017!

I’m just back from another secret mission way up north in British Columbia and I’m turning right around for 8 days in Baja on Sunday with our select group of RX3 riders.   I’m really looking forward to it.   But hey, check this bit of news out…

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You can read the entire story here.   It goes without saying the RX3 made the list, and when I started to type this blog I initially wrote that seeing Tom Roderick’s article was a nice surprise.  Then I realized…I wasn’t surprised at all!

Baja, boys and girls!  We’re wheels in the wells in less than two days!

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T minus 7, and counting: Baja!

I am absolutely pumped up about the upcoming Baja ride, and we’re just 7 short days away from liftoff.  I finished making the hotel reservations and our whale-watching reservations this morning (with lots of translation help from Carlos and Robert), and I’m feeling good about getting all of that buttoned down.  The hotel reservations are the only stressful part of the adventure for me.   You’d think it would be easy, what with our having done this tour several times already, but hotels go out of business, phone numbers change, hotels have no vacancies, and on and on it goes.  But that’s all behind us now, and I’m really happy with how it all turned out.   I’m ready to ride, folks.

I’m especially happy that we’ll get to spend a night in Santa Rosalia at the Frances Hotel. It’s very old, it’s constructed entirely of wood (the floors creak when you walk around), and it’s up on top of a hill overlooking the town with a commanding view of the Sea of Cortez.  Santa Rosalia is an old mining town, and this hotel is actually a former brothel.   Yep, like a lot of things in Baja, it has an amazing history.   You’ll get to read more about this the morning after our stay in Santa Rosalia, and in the new book on Baja.

Santa Rosalia also has a beautiful and unique (for Baja) church constructed entirely of metal.   It was a pre-fab building before there was such a thing as pre-fab buildings.   When you see this church, there’s something eerily familiar about it, and that eerie familiarity is the architecture.  It was designed by Gustave Eiffel (yep, the same architect behind the Eiffel Tower) and there’s an interesting story behind how it came to a tiny mining town in Mexico.   But that’s a story for another time.   Follow our adventures on the CSC blog and in our upcoming Baja book and you’ll get to read all about it.

And the whales….what can I say about this part of our adventure?   Our good buddy Dan said it best after seeing the whales last year when he said it was the best part of his entire life.   You probably think I’m exaggerating.  I’m not.   No one goes up for a close encounter of the best kind with the California gray whales in Baja and doesn’t feel as if their life has changed.  It’s that good.  You’ll see.

More good news…the decal dude called and the 2017 CSC Baja decals will be here today.   I love the photo we used in this year’s decal.   I took it from the saddle of my CSC 150 scooter when we rode the 150s down to Cabo San Lucas (my CSC 150 was one of the very first CSC Mustang replicas to roll off the line).   I love that part of Baja.  Hell, I love all of it.

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I’m really looking forward to seeing everybody next Saturday for our pre-ride briefing and dinner.   Folks, this is going to be great.

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Go big or go home…

…and that’s kind of the story behind the new CSC Café Racer.   We stay very close to all of the new Zongshen models being offered in other parts of the world, and when we saw the Zong’s new 150 Café Racer (for their domestic market) it captured our attention.   What we noticed immediately was that it was based on the venerable CG clone engine.   Hmmm.   “What if we put the TT250 engine in that bike?” Steve asked.

What if, indeed…

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You know, there’s a long tradition of stuffing big motors in small vehicles.  One motorcycle that did this very effectively was the 750 Norton Scrambler back in the ’60s.  I was a teenager and Triumph was all the rage (I still love those 650 twins).   Everybody wanted to ride a Triumph, but the guys who rode them, well, they wanted to ride Nortons.   The Norton Scrambler was known to be the absolute hardest-accelerating motorcycle on the market.   It was a parts bin bike:  Norton took their 750 twin-carb Atlas twin and stuffed it into their 500 scrambler frame.   It was awesome…hard accelerating, great handling, light weight, and awesome looks…

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And it wasn’t just Norton doing this.  The big engine/small vehicle thing really took off with two dudes in particular who were way ahead of the pack…Pontiac’s John DeLorean (who stuffed a 389 into the Tempest in 1964 and called it the GTO) and, of course, Carroll Shelby (who shoehorned Ford V8s into AC sports cars to create the Cobra)…

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Chevy got into the act with their SS396, Oldsmobile offered the 442, Plymouth had the Roadrunner and the GTX, Dodge had the Challenger, the R/T, and the SuperBee, and on and on it went.   Chevy even managed to squeeze their 427 big block into the Corvette (that started in 1966, if I recall correctly) and added a monster scoop in ’67 to create what I am convinced is the best-looking automobile ever made…

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So, back to our little Café Racer.   Everything you’re seeing here is based on our prototypes, which have to go through the EPA, CARB, and DOT approval cycles, and then we have to get them built and shipped to us, and then we have to get the bikes through Customs.  It will be a few months, but it’s going to happen.

I rode the Café Racer yesterday (that’s what we’re calling it for the time being), and it’s a sweet ride.  It’s got low bars and a cool instrument cluster, with a fuel gage, a gear indicator, a speedo, and a tach.   The bike offers a lot of customizing and accessories possibilities, and you can bet we’ll be offering a full complement of goodies when we bring these in.  I like the flat black paint, and I think a brown leather seat and brown grips would work well with those colors (and maybe small brown leather saddlebags, like our good buddy Dan B. has on his TT250).  Red and white pinstriping on the flat black tank and fenders would work well.  And there will be other color options.

Check out the tires on the Café Racer…they’re DOT-compliant and they have a cool vintage pattern…

160310_9806-650What really surprised me about the bike was its oomph.   Don’t forget that this bike started life as a 150, and its weight is a scant 265 lbs.   Throw a 250 in the mix, and this puppy rocks.   Just fooling around in the parking lot yesterday, the bike was lifting the front end.

I know you all have questions.   We’ll start answering them soon.   Like we always say…stay tuned.

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