Friday, January 25, 2013

Flashback. Biting the bullet in Baja.

I'D driven the Ford towing the Terry Resort, equipped with my 10' Waldron kayak and 1992 XT 225, fighting stiff Santa Anna winds for days, the trailer like a 4500 pound boat anchor on wheels, cruelly destroying my fuel mileage.

I was finally on the beach, camp nicely set up.

Before heading south, I had the choice of the Chevy Blazer or the pick up.  I could very easily have slipped the boat on the roof rack, the Serow on the rail and towed down my tent trailer with me, cutting in half my fuel costs.  The sole reason for the travel trailer was my expectant company.

That's where I am heading. Sierra Giganta's range
Then girlfriend Barb, with ticket in hand, was flying down to meet me in a few weeks.  I knew she would appreciate an indoor privy and tub/shower.  Plus of course,  there was just plain more room for two than in a crowded tent trailer.

Before her arrival I had several chances to knock about the familiar hood around Mulege on my trail bike.  The 223cc Yamaha is about ideal for this type of riding.  Light weight in case you have to drag it around some obstacle, of which there are plenty in Baja, fast enough not to worry about getting run down by the Express bus on the Trans Peninsular highway 1, and frugal enough to make long distances on the fuel range away from rare Pemex stations.  Besides that, I'd had the bike since new, and knew it to be utterly reliable.

Typical desert road signage

Days before her scheduled arrival, I was packed and heading for an overland trek the 'long way round' to Loreto, where her flight would arrive 4 days hence.  I planned on a route carrying me across the Giganta range heading first south, along Bahia Concepcion before turning inland on the La Purisima/San Isidro road west, and then south towards Rancho San Cristobal... to ride the spine of the mountains.  I was somewhat familiar with a portion of the route, having ridden it in 2004 on this same bike. (see Canadian Biker May 2005 "Another Canuck Amuck")  However I was going to choose another southern leg on this side of the mountain range that would wind me eventually to Loreto on the Cortez coast.

Of course, it was hot, brutally so once away from the breezes of the gulf.  I turned off on an unnamed desert track crossing dry riverbeds with huge boulders strewn about, up and down narrow trails across lonesome ridges.  No water in sight, not a bird in the sky, no trees, just the odd cacti and chirping cricket... or was that the sound of my four stroke engine cooling while stopped?

I'd followed much of the dry riverbed down from the north in the distance

The entire round trip, with an overnight in Loreto was two full days and over 250 km.  Doesn't sound like much does it.  You'd be surprised!  Somewhere about half way perhaps, after a particularly rugged, loose and winding uphill, the rear wheel slipped up on some gravel over rock and the Serow tossed me into the ground, "smack"!  It happened so quickly, I didn't even get a leg down off the pegs (I was standing much of the route as per usual).  The impact brought my right shoulder rudely against the ground, and caught my right leg under the bike.  We were on a slight uphill, and I had crossed from one rut to the other.

I lay on the ground for only a moment or two wondering what had happened?  It was instantaneous. Fortunately I was able to flick the kill switch and slowly extricate myself from under the light bike (230lbs mas o menos)  Had it been my 600, I'd have been in worse trouble me thinks.  Standing myself upright, I immediately felt the sharp pain in my right ankle.  Stabbing hot like a searing scimitar strike... I knew I was in trouble but didn't come to grips right away.  I hobbled over to some tiny shade under a creosote bush, where at least I had a (very) tiny respite from the sun.  Helmet came off, Baja vest next, I had to get back over to the bike to get the canteen, nearly puking my guts out from the pain and exertion.

The spot.

My vest mounted thermometer said 110F.  It was early afternoon.  I stripped off everything, right down to my boxers, trying to stay as cool as possible under the little shade I had.  I pondered my situation.  I had plenty of water, food in the form of fresh fruit and energy bars.  Spare gas.  Tools, tape.  Not knowing the extent of the injury, but thinking it was a sprain, I gingerly got my stuff together, patched up the two broken turn signals on the right side, and re started the engine.  No problem there, no punched crankcase or spilled gasoline.  The trail I was on was very narrow and to my right was a shear drop off of maybe 300 feet.  I rode onwards about a quarter mile, sitting on the saddle keeping the weight off my right leg.  Here I found a flat area with some taller bushes where I stopped and thought over my predicament.  I was 40km off road in the mountains and about 25 kms from San Jose Comondu by my calculations, then another 40 or so into Loreto.  I had never been on this track before so of course I did not know what lay ahead other than the rather steep loose hill directly in front of me.

Wounded Serow

I did know the route I'd cross.  Rocky, mostly single track trail that an ATV would have a hard time negotiating.  No way a Jeep was getting in the way I'd ridden!  The trail was wide enough, but in several washouts at the base of the mountains, large boulders had blocked part of the trail.  I hadn't seen a single vehicle or habitat or ranch or person since leaving the highway.  Back at Las Cocos, they knew generally where I was going but no one expected me back until late tomorrow night. 

I was on my own.

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