Baja, Mexico, Sierra Giganta Loop ride
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Thread: Baja, Mexico, Sierra Giganta Loop ride

  1. #1
    Senior Member Vagabond's Avatar
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    Baja, Mexico, Sierra Giganta Loop ride

    Hi all, I'm currently based near Loreto, Baja, Mexico with as many toys as I could bring down. My TW, Orbit, is sporting a 230cc 6 speed; this was to be the first long ride for the engine in Mexico.

    This ride was the 1st overnight tour through the mountains that loom above Loreto: the Sierra Giganta, a spectacular, rugged desert mountain mass. The steep side faces East, above the Sea of Cortez. The west slope is more gradual, but deeply indented by canyons and cliffs. Roads are marginal, some little better than washouts. Traffic is nearly zero. Keeping in mind that this is early December, there is a little bit of water in the streams, and the desert is greener than it will be in a month or so.

    The trip was to be a circle loop of some sort. Maps and Google Earth showed a number of options, long, mid, and short lengths, and varying amounts of pavement vs dirt. The route I ended up using looked like this, taking the southern leg first and travelling clockwise.
    Sierra Giganta loop.jpg


    I hit Loreto for gas in mid morning and turned West, going to Mission San Javier, a beautiful historic mountain mission. The road is paved that far except for a few washouts and repairs, and has some fun twisties. Unfortunately a couple of pix refuse to upload.

    Immediately outside of San Javier the road turns to a rough but well traveled dirt track. It crosses Rio San Javier many times. Each crossing includes a drop down into the very rocky river bed, some distance among big rocks, and a water crossing. None of the water crossings were big- got water over the boots in one. Very unusual to see water flowing in this arid desert. This particular section of river had needed pavement, complete with roadside chapel. Couldn't be certain whether prayers were that the river not rise- or that the vehicle stay in one piece long enough to get the passengers home!!


    P1031255.JPGP1031253.JPG

    Finally the track left the river- and turned into a 1 lane dusty washboard section lasting for about 30 miles. TW managed 30-35 mph over the bumps. Only 3 other vehicles from San Javier to Highway 53. That was the east to west crossing of the Baja Peninsula. I was somewhat surprised to find Hwy 53 to be paved with only a couple of sections under repair. It's not a bad road by Mexican standards. The pavement is a little rough, and cattle are always a concern, often right beside the road. Drivers were super friendly, a few with bikes in the back of pickups, waving and flashing lights to warn me of cows. As the Google Earth picture shows, 53 is straight for nearly ever. I turned in to visit both Santo Domingo and Villa Fransisco, but didn't stop. Both were very small communities. Santo Domingo probably had gas but I was carrying plenty.

    With the Pacific Ocean in mind, I decided to make for Barranca to camp- it's a little-known surfer spot with a beach that stretches forever. Only the fishermen were there, pangas dragged up above the tide line. The monster tires were in their element in the soft sand, sometimes sinking in several inches in water saturated areas. Never a problem.
    P1031258.JPG
    I found only one location with dry sand above the tide line. Everywhere else, the tide line came right to the base of the low sand bluffs, leaving no safe place to camp. This spot had a few small palm thatched shelters.
    P1031262.JPG

    The night was spent against the backdrop of the roar of crashing surf, punctuated (for irony) by the roar of 2 or 3 big fishing vessels perhaps a mile off shore, probably dragging trawl nets at very low speeds. The only traffic along the beach was a couple of policia driving past and waving.
    Last edited by Vagabond; 01-05-2014 at 04:11 PM.
    2004 T-dub, 15/50-68 dual sprocket, modded carb, kickstart, weldment footpegs, EK o-ring chain, Shinko 241 front tire, Duro PG rear, Ride-on seal/balance f&r, Pro Taper bars w/ PG grips, folding mirrors, XT350 tank, f&r Cycleracks, Saddlemens gel seat insert, VisionX LED driving lights, TCI pan/guards, 230cc six speed engine/trans, Jimbo Shield (smoke); ongoing monkeyshinin'

  2. #2
    Senior Member Vagabond's Avatar
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    Camp cooking this trip was towards the quick side, so after coffee and hot cereal, I packed everything up and headed into Barranca for fuel. That was found at a little store, and pumped from barrels. Back on the pavement, next destination Mision La Purisima. The road begins it's Northeasterly bend there and becomes a little more interesting. Here the highway arrives at the edge of the canyon.
    P1041264.JPG

    Wherever you find brand spanking new road work in Mexico, it means you are coming to the end of it. The asphalt was getting fresher and fresher as I came to La Purisima, so the end had to be near.
    P1041267.JPG P1041268.JPG
    By San Isidro, another 4 kilometers, the "road" had degenerated into a rough, heavily traveled, one lane village track. In testimony to the poor roads in Mexico, a recent model truck was broken down- and had stopped right where the front axle fell out from under it- right in the middle of the road. Orbit just zipped on by.

    A few kilometers further on came an important intersection- and the beginning of the slowest part of the trip. One road led south down the back side of the Sierra Giganta and would complete the loop at San Javier. The other route (shown as Highway 53) would take me on a longer trip, returning to the East side of the peninsula, and Highway 1 to Loreto. Also at that junction, the road turned to a single lane of rocks and dirt. Mostly rocks. I chose the longer route, and immediately climbed a steep switchback series to look down over the valley.
    P1041270.JPG
    This quickly proved to be the world's worst "highway". No typical automobile would be able to traverse it, and most SUV's would be forced to turn back at some point. The through trip is strictly for very serious off road machines. It's long, the route is difficult to follow, and the road barely exists in many places. The most interesting, fun sections were the worst ones, such as this downhill section that has eroded away to nothing but boulders.
    P1041272.JPG
    Of course, the TW handled it easily. Most of the long section was extremely rocky and rough. The center of the single track was a foot deep pile of fist-to-skull sized rocks, both sharp and rounded. In many places the road had been taken over by large flash floods. "Patches" and "repairs" had been done by a bulldozer operated by a blind fellow with both hands tied behind his back. Even down towards the junction with Highway 1, the flat stretches were too rough to make better than 20 mph.

    At long last, the reward for all that work was hitting tarmac again, where #53 unceremoniously meets Highway 1. From there an easy ride back to Loreto. The GPS says the trip was 256 miles in length, and average speed was 20.5 mph. The main price I paid was sore shoulders and legs from standing on the pegs- all the while being pounded by those rocks!!

    The bike handled it beautifully. My rear bag carried almost all the gear, weighed around 40 lbs with tent, sleeping bag and air mattress, food, stove & pot, tools and air pump, a small folding chair, netbook, map, some extra clothes. On rides where I'm not familiar with the territory I carry 2 gallons of gas on the front rack. The 230 6 speed used 4.25 gallons of gas for the trip for an average of 60 mpg.

    Roy
    Last edited by Vagabond; 01-05-2014 at 04:21 PM.
    israel, dette, Mattw and 8 others like this.
    2004 T-dub, 15/50-68 dual sprocket, modded carb, kickstart, weldment footpegs, EK o-ring chain, Shinko 241 front tire, Duro PG rear, Ride-on seal/balance f&r, Pro Taper bars w/ PG grips, folding mirrors, XT350 tank, f&r Cycleracks, Saddlemens gel seat insert, VisionX LED driving lights, TCI pan/guards, 230cc six speed engine/trans, Jimbo Shield (smoke); ongoing monkeyshinin'

  3. #3
    Senior Member tinman tim's Avatar
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    and our forecast tonight, is 1deg (yes 1) and four inches of snow
    Rhodetrip likes this.
    SeatConcepts,carb mod,Shinko tires,15/50 o-ring chain,custom racks f/r, aluminum luggage,windshield,handguards,heated grips,Clarke tank,high frt fender,led running lights,folding shifter, wide pegs,12v outlets,headlight kill switch,voltmeter,stainless header,2nd brakelight,GPS/phone mount

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  5. #4
    Senior Member Rhodetrip's Avatar
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    Interesting ride report and some great photos!... Timely, too.
    Mrs Trip and I are in Douglas, Az tonite. Tomorrow we head south into Mexico!

    Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2
    r80rt likes this.

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    Senior Member Purple People Eater's Avatar
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    Great pics and ride....I'm jealous!
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  7. #6
    Senior Member ronnydog's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great pic and report my friend. Wish I was with you. Good to hear the 230 6 speed is as great as we know it is!

    any fish?

    Ronnydog
    r80rt likes this.

  8. #7
    Senior Member Jimbo C.'s Avatar
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    Great job Vagabond! You seem really comfortable down there! I can only dream about being so relaxed. Maybe someday soon I will get on-board and go down there with you and Ronnydog and quit missing out! Thank You for sharing.
    Ride Well!
    Jimbo
    For inquires please email me at Hidden Content for ordering info. If requesting a shield please include :NAME,FORUM NAME,PHONE #,SHIPPING ADDRESS,AND COLOR CHOICE,(Jet Black, Smoke Grey, Crystal Clear, Dark Blue, Neon Edge Glow -Light Blue & Neon Edge Glo Hi-Vis Orange )

    RIDE WELL, JIMBO C.

  9. #8
    Member Sledhead's Avatar
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    That was great! Thanks for posting. I plan on taking my tdub to baja next winter.

  10. #9
    Senior Member Vagabond's Avatar
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    Thanks to everyone for all the GREAT comments. Have some further rides to write up, no moss growing on this rolling stone!! I'm taking off again tomorrow morning to a remote hotsprings, though will wait till the day cools off to jump in. Baja is excellent for the TW. Huge open spaces, few rules (I could have ridden miles up that beach with no problems) and tons to explore.

    I have a few rules for exploring Mexico: First, keep your stuff low key. Don't flash expensive gear, try to avoid shiny anything. Let your bike get really dirty! Set up the fancy tent later in the evening.

    Second: Be friendly, enjoy the locals, let them get to know you. Ask them where to camp. Mexicans are 99.999% the nicest folks in the world. That last millionth percent are just so impoverished they can't resist temptation. If you act like you belong, your chances of having trouble are pretty near zero.

    Third: when in deep backcountry: Don't go down a "road" that isn't on a good map. I'm using National Geographic's maps of Baja, 4 very detailed sides. I also pre-load Google Earth into a netbook which I can interface with GPS; I keep careful track of where I am at all times. (Should do a separate post about that excellent little trick) Anyhow, there ARE folks living and perhaps...er farming? way back in the desert. If the map shows it as a road, they'll be expecting guests like me. If not, consider it a long private driveway!

    Anyone who is interested, email or PM me and lets get together for a ride down here!! It's very relaxed, fun, and easy.

    Roy
    dette likes this.
    2004 T-dub, 15/50-68 dual sprocket, modded carb, kickstart, weldment footpegs, EK o-ring chain, Shinko 241 front tire, Duro PG rear, Ride-on seal/balance f&r, Pro Taper bars w/ PG grips, folding mirrors, XT350 tank, f&r Cycleracks, Saddlemens gel seat insert, VisionX LED driving lights, TCI pan/guards, 230cc six speed engine/trans, Jimbo Shield (smoke); ongoing monkeyshinin'

  11. #10
    Senior Member Rhodetrip's Avatar
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    Hi Roy, Mrs. Trip and I landed in La Paz this morning. We're riding north on Friday. Probably not going north of Santa Rosalia this trip. Whereabouts are you in Baja? I know of a new TW owner in Ensensda
    On edit, I see you are in Loreto! That's on the way! I will pm you later on today. I have some route questions for you.

    Sent from my PC36100 using Tapatalk 2
    Last edited by Rhodetrip; 01-15-2014 at 02:32 PM.

    "Me and Mrs Trip, we got a thing going on"... an on-going adventure...
    Hidden Content

    "When Piggies Fly" ...Me & Mrs Trip Cross the Pond
    Hidden Content

    "Take the Puppy to the Beach"...a dirt route across southern New England
    Hidden Content

    Latest Spotwalla: Hidden Content

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