South of the oasis town of Mulege and rounding the corners overlooking Bahia Concepcion it’s hard not to be distracted. White sailboats, float on azure waters, bracketed by eggshell beaches, all rendered in travel brochure saturation… And then someone throws a car at you – several, in fact. The topper though is the bus.
In the conclusion of the Baja: Tropic of Cancer series, Kevin and Neil reach their destination in Baja, Mexico. They also reach some conclusions about their long term Honda Varaderos.
“You’re not a motorcyclist until you’ve been to Coco’s Corner.” We’ve picked up this Baja saying along the way, but I’m unclear as to where. It’s un-attributable, but battering the Varaderos over 40kms of washboard and gravel, snaking through canyons, and viewing western movie perfect cactus forests has proven the saying’s truth.
The idillic town of San Filipe located on the shore of the Sea of Cortez in the Northern Baja is transformed when the races come to town.
A Baja Mexico dirtbiking tradition Mike’s Sky Ranch is a mecca of motorsport, a stop point on the Baja 1000 and a hangout with one challenging driveway. While it seems like ours are the first Honda Varadero’s to reach Mike’s, the question remains will they make it back out? A bent rim brings us to a halt, and begs the next question, “Is this repairable?”
In this quick second video from the Baja:Tropic of Cancer series; the guys from OneWheelDrive.Net have made it across the border. So what’s the first stop in the town of Tijuana that CNN has dubbed a “warzone”? Lunch of course.
OneWheelDrive.Net’s Neil Johnston and Kevin Miklossy are armed with two Honda Varaderos, so the obvious question is where to take them? Honda’s saying the bikes are meant for adventure, so the proof will be in the pudding as we aim for Mexico’s Baja and the Tropic of Cancer.
Vince, a dirt and adventure rider from San Diego, issues a warm welcome, “Welcome to Gonzaga!”
Curiosity has brought him over from his encampment with six or so dirt riding buddies, to talk to us as Kevin and I decide which Palapa to set up our tent at, “At first I thought your bikes were V-Stroms, but at a distance the front end looked like Goldwings…”
We take to the pavement, launching across the Valle Santa Clara towards the serrated edges of mountains on the horizon, dusk grows deep and purple as the Varaderos return to what they do best; long stretches of pavement, frequent pulls of the throttle and v-twin torque-laden passes. We roll into the military checkpoint at the junction of Mex 3 and Mex 5 as night falls, and our hopes of a daylight arrival into San Filipe are quelled.
As Kevin picks up the rock and I secure the rim for another round of hammering, neither of us want to admit it outright, but we’re in deep trouble. The video will show a certain amount of Survivor Man bravado, but off camera things are more worrying. This morning we confirmed a suspicion with our host David, we’ve the only two Honda Varadero’s to reach Mike’s Sky Ranch, a Baja adventure and dirt rider Mecca. Today we’ll be lucky to get both bikes out again.
The battle to get the Varaderos into Mike’s Sky Ranch begins, before the bikes are even fired up. That late start makes for a late arrival and the breaking of one of the Baja’s cardinal rules; don’t ride at night, off road, through territory you’re not familiar with.
Diving the Honda Varadero into the melee of a Tijauna traffic circle makes this tour’s stutter start preparation worth it. The act is a stinging belly-flop plunge into a different culture. It’s an act of faith that inserting the big adventure bike into the swirling vortex of squealing family sedans, rattle trap busses and braying taxis will work out. Miraculously, it does.