The CSC Baja Inaugural Run – Day 5

What a week this was…15 riders, 15 brand new motorcycles, and a 1700-mile adventure ride.   Wowee.   Do the math…that’s 25,500 miles in 5 days on Chinese motorcycles that are new to America.  Folks, the RX3 and our band of intrepid Baja blasters are awesome!

First, a look at 15 real adventure riders…our 2015 Baja Blasters!   From left to right and then row by row…my traveling compadres on our epic CSC Inaugural Baja Run….Eric, Greg B, Juddy, Keith, John S, Justin, Pete, John W, Abe, Reuben, Tiffany, Greg M, Jay, John F, and yours truly.   It was a blast!

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The folks you see above are real riders and they were enormous fun to be around.   These guys (and one gal) thought the idea of buying a new Chinese motorcycle and blasting through Baja for 5 days would be a good thing.   They are my kind of people.

To be sure, the last couple of days sure were challenging.   As you know from following the blog, Justin’s bike lost its countershaft sprocket nut.   You already read about Justin’s ingenuity in resolving the lost nut…the guy is flat amazing.  A regular MacGuyver.

Let me tell you more about that story.   We thought we’d be able to find a replacement countershaft sprocket nut in Guerrero Negro because there’s a motorcycle/ATV repair facility there.   We sent the rest of our group on to San Quintin under Baja John’s capable scouting and leadership, and five of us hung back in Guerrero Negro for what we thought would be about a 30-minute delay to find a countershaft sprocket nut for Justin.   Boy, were we ever wrong.

Abe and Pete rode off from Malarrimo’s to find the motorcycle repair shop, and Pete, Justin, and I went to an automobile repair facility.   No dice at the auto shop; those guys work on cars and Baja race trucks.   And Abe and Pete struck out at the motorcycle shop.   The guy who owned the shop had died a few days ago.   I know it’s cruel, but my initial thought was, gee, if only the guy could have held on for a few more days…

There’s a small airport outside of Guerrero Negro, and airports usually have hardware, so Abe and Pete left for it.   Juddy and I rolled up the town’s main drag and we found a very small auto parts place.   When I say it was an auto parts place, don’t get the idea that I’m talking about something like a Pep Boys or an AutoZone.   This was a tiny building that looked like the Mexican version of the old TV show Sanford and Son.   It was full of rusty parts, junk lying around, and a main character (the shop’s owner) right out of central casting.   I explained what we wanted and I thought I was doing a pretty job until I realized that my new best friend Santiago spoke no English.

Hey, no problemo…he brought out a large coffee can and emptied it on the grease-encrusted floor, picking through corroded nuts and bolts.    No luck.   No problemo, said Santiago.   He took us outside and showed us a ratted out old ATV.  It was under a disintegrating tarp.   The thing looked old enough (and corroded enough) for Moses to have ridden it across the Red Sea.  Santiago pulled the tarp back, and smiled as he pointed out the countershaft nut.  The heavily-corroded countershaft nut.

We tried for half an hour to get the nut off that old ATV, using a socket wrench and a cheater bar that probably could have reached all the way back to the US border.   And it was hot out.  And humid.   That nut wasn’t budging.

Do you remember the scene in Animal House when D-Day fires up a blow torch?   You know, after the guys wreck Flounder’s Lincoln?  It’s the scene where the torch casts this weird glow on D-Day’s face, and he gets a wicked grin that says “all is well with the world now that I have my torch lit.”   Folks, picture Santiago doing the same.   He put the heat on that countershaft sprocket nut, all the old grease (and most of the crankcase paint) vaporized instantly, and Santiago got the nut to break loose!  He poured water on it, unscrewed it, and….and…wrong thread size.   Too coarse.  Rats!

Just then, Abe and Pete rolled in on their RX3 motorcycles.   They found a castellated nut at the airport that looked right, and it had the fine thread we thought we wanted.   Our spirits rose again, only to sink when the thread still wouldn’t allow the new nut to fit on Justin’s bike.  Major league bummer.   It’s already close to noon, it’s hot and humid, and I’m wondering if maybe I ought to start looking into real estate in Guerrero Negro.   Maybe I could give up writing the blog and sell fish tacos…

Abe, who is cool as a cucumber, said not to worry.   Abe is unflappable.   He said that the guy at the airport has a friend at the salt factory who has a machine shop, and he could make us a new nut.

Folks, I can’t make stuff like this up.  So we all saddled up and rode to the edge of town, where we pulled into the salt factory parking lot.  Abe went up to the gate, talked to a guy there, and in a few minutes this friend-of-a-friend-who-works-at-the-salt-factory-and-has-a-machine-shop walked out of the plant, looked at Justin’s bike, took a few measurements, and…you guessed it…he told us no problemo.  But he had to go to lunch first.  He’d make us a nut when he came back.

Wow.   Juddy and Abe rode back up the road to get us some fish tacos from Tony (everybody loved those, as you saw from our Day 2 Baja blog), and Justin, Pete, and I hung out in the parking lot in front of the salt factory.   Lots of people were interested in our RX3s.   I had brochures in my saddlebags.     I was doing my full tilt sales boogie (you know, what do you need your monthly payment to be?), all the while wondering how these guys (Pete, Justin, Abe, and Juddy) are staying so relaxed about this countershaft nut business.  I felt depressed, embarrassed, and guilty, and that’s when it struck me.   Justin said “it’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.”   Well, folks, if that’s the criteria, we were having one hell of an adventure.   My embarrassment and guilt aside, these guys were loving it.  They were amazing.

While all this was going on, the guys were busy snapping photos.  I didn’t photograph any of this stuff.   I felt responsible for it, and I didn’t want to take pictures of all that ensued after the countershaft sprocket nut went AWOL.   The guys were loving it, though.   Maybe I’ll get some of their photos later.

The friend-of-a-friend Mexican machinist came back from lunch, he measured the shaft again (always a good sign…there’s an old saying in the machine shop business that goes “measure twice, cut once”) and he disappeared into the factory.   I wondered if he tells his wife when he goes to work each morning that he’ll be spending another day in the salt mines.

An hour later, and oila, we have our new countershaft sprocket nut.  It was a thing of incredible beauty.   If Justin ever rides into a nuclear conflagration and his RX3 takes a direct hit from a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile, that nut will still be hanging on to the countershaft sprocket.   My feelings soared.   I went from being depressed to being jubilant.   Let’s ride!

And ride we did.  We left Guerrero Negro around 2:00 p.m. and pinned it all the way up to San Quintin.   Gas in Catavina, gas again in El Rosario, and then the turn on the dirt road to the Old Mill Hotel.   Four miles of dirt road.   In the dark.    30 miles an hour on hard pack, and then pow!, we hit the soft sand.   By the grace of God, I didn’t crash.   It wasn’t due to any great riding skills on my part.  I’m convinced I had a lot of help from the Almighty.   My bike was sashaying around like an exotic dancer in a room full of heavy tippers, except I was most definitely not enjoying this show.   I was the star, and I didn’t know how the movie was going to end.   We went through about a mile of this stuff.  It seemed like it went on forever.  I was sure I was going to drop the bike.

Finally, we pulled into the Old Mill Hotel’s gravel parking lot.   Baja John came over and said he sure was glad to see us.   Me, too, dude!   I asked if everybody got in okay and if there had been any problems with the bikes.   No problems with the bikes, said John, and everybody got in okay.   That’s good, I said…I was really worried about the soft sand we had just ridden through and I didn’t want to even think about anybody dropping their bikes.

“So everybody got through it okay?” I asked again.

“Sort of,”  John said.   “Four guys dropped their bikes.  One guy has a sprained ankle.   We thought he broke it, but it’s just sprained.”

Whoa!   Four dropped bikes.   One sprained ankle.   Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?

Another emotional roller coaster.   I felt terrible that this happened.

John told me everybody was over at the restaurant, and they had the fight on big screen TV.    I didn’t even know there was going to be a fight, and I was a little bit afraid to face the guys (especially the ones who dropped their bikes).    But I was hungry.

The restaurant was jumping, and we had to wait to get a table.  Folks, we’re 4 miles out on this sandy dirt road, and the place was packed.

I found our guys and they were having a blast (along with a few beers).   The guys who had dropped their bikes were grinning ear to ear.   They were excited to see us (we were 8 hours late getting into San Quintin due to the nut debacle in Guerrero Negro, and they had been worried about us).  The restaurant had this marine motif (we were, after all, right on Bahia San Quintin).    To my amazement, the guys were telling war stories about losing it in the soft stuff and dropping their bikes.   They were enjoying it.   I looked around.   I listened.   It was amazing.

Do you remember the scene in Jaws when Captain Quint (played by Robert Shaw), Chief Brody (played by Roy Scheider), and Richard Dreyfuss are comparing scars?   You know, they’re in this fishing boat, bobbing around on the ocean, drinking, and they’re comparing war wounds?   I looked around and listened to the riding and dropped bike stories in this marine-themed restaurant.   I suddenly realized:  I was in that scene in Jaws.   I was living it.   It was yet another awesome moment in what was turning out to be a truly great adventure ride.   Everyone was in high spirits.

Okay, enough of me babbling….a few more photos from our epic ride and we’ll call it a day.

I was up super early the next morning (Day 5 of the Baja ride) and I grabbed a few shots in the hotel parking lot…

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Then I strolled over to the dock and I grabbed a few more photos…like I said…a scene from Jaws.

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And a few shots from the road…

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You know, when you launch on an adventure like this, crashing around in Baja for a combined 25,500 miles over 5 days, things happen. On any new motorcycle (or on any not-so-new motorcycle, for that matter), bolts and nuts are going to loosen.  Sometimes things will break.  These are pretty extreme riding conditions.   It’s always a question for folks like us to ponder….do we do these kinds of rides and talk about the difficulties we’ve encountered?   Or do we do like the other guys do, sell motorcycles through dealers with high prices, inflated shipping costs, $800 setup fees, and not share the things we’re finding?   If we tell people about a problem, won’t that scare people away?   It might, but we are going to continue doing these rides and we are going to continue talking about it.   We’re not the other guys.

Folks, this is life, this is adventure riding, and things happen.   When I read some of the silly things people have written on the Internet (none of the folks on this ride, mind you), I shake my head and wonder.   The seat is too hard (ride a motorcycle for hours on end and guess what…you’re going to get a sore butt).   When you change the oil you’ll spill some of it on the skid plate (we have an app for that…it’s called the shop rag).  You get the idea.  Don’t get me wrong…we’re doing things to make the RX3 a better motorcycle and we will continue to do so.   But if a bolt or a nut vibrating loose puts you in low Earth orbit, perhaps you would be happier with a Prius.

And folks, that’s about it for our Inaugural Baja ride.   I know you’re wondering…are we going to do this again?

You tell me…anybody want to buzz Baja next year?

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