Last October a few of us Cajuns from South Louisiana were very much “out of our element” when we hooked up with Tim Morton’s Baja Bound Adventures for some unforgettable West Coast riding in Baja California, Mexico. I’ve always heard people referring to the differences between East vs. West Coast riding but didn’t really grasp the vast contrast until experiencing it. I was able to join my two sons and a couple of friends for one of those guided trips to a far away place that you often read and dream about, but somehow never get around to doing. We decided to go for it.We were picked up at the airport by Tim and his crew along with a couple of riders from Michigan and a doctor friend of his from SoCal who had never been on one of his trips. Needless to say, this culturally diverse group would make for interesting and hilarious socialization over the course of the next few days. We were whisked across the border faster than bank robbers with a well planned escape, and taken to Ensenada for our first night’s stay at the Horsepower Ranch. The Baja racing memorabilia in this place was truly breathtaking and we quickly realized that this town lived for the annual event. We ate great Mexican food, drank cold Mexican beer, and watched video of past Baja races. With the 04′ Baja 1000 only one month away, it was clear that the locals were getting pumped up for the event.Our first morning started with a great breakfast prepared by the staff followed by a do’s and don’ts presentation by Tim. Everyone was able to pick their weapon of choice from a fleet of XRs and off we went… through Ensenada and toward the mountains. For the first hour or so I continually reminded myself that it was not a dream as our guide led us over the mountains, across Mexican ranch land and through various sections of the soon-to-be race route.After putting 140 miles on the odometers our first day, including a whoop section that stretched for several miles, we came to a rest at the coastal town of San Felipe. I later learned the whoop section from hell was one of the most dreaded parts of the Baja 1000. I doubt my speed would have made the record books but it sure made me realize how demanding this race actually was.Upon our arrival in San Felipe, Tim’s crew had already secured our rooms at a cozy hotel on the beach. We were certainly ready for some cold ones and the picturesque view of the sun setting as we enjoyed the breeze coming from the Gulf of California. We were able to do a little soveniour shopping in town the next morning before starting out… and were grateful for a late morning start to recover from a little San Felipe night life.As we left San Felipe we were amazed at the sight of race teams that had converged on this small beach town for pre-running and testing—a full month ahead of race day. The second day tested our sand riding skills as we crossed the desert and seemingly endless miles of dried lake bed. Tim displayed his Baja riding style that no doubt made it possible for him to compete in the legendary race throughout his career. Being from the South, we were certainly unaccustomed to riding flat out across the desert at 70 mph as far as the eye could see.We ended the day at the legendary Mike’s Sky Ranch only to drink more cold Mexican beers and eat a great steak dinner. We joined a host of other riders there, basking in a similar piece of dirt bike heaven from other tour groups as well as many who have the pleasure of making this great adventure in small groups of their own. I couldn’t help being envious of those who could dual-sport their way from Southern California to this off-road rider’s wonderland. That night, we were honored when Tim suggested we hang our local riding club T-shirt on the ceiling of the tavern to be viewed by countless dirt bike enthusiasts for years to come.Our third day took us back over mountains, across farmland, through the forest, and back towards the border to load up and call it a weekend. Some 430 miles in three days.It was a trip that a father dreams of sharing with his sons when they grow up, and a few riding buddies thrown in for good measure. The country was beautiful and challenging. Tim runs a first class operation with attention to every detail. His experience and love for riding south of the border was certainly our gain and made for a trip us Cajuns boys will never forget!
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