Wednesday, July 13, 2011

So you want to go to Baja Part II: Dirt roads have their own way of making you pay.

Once you hit the dirt roads in Baja something comes over you. I call it the Fitipaldi-syndrome. Basically, you start to think that you're a race car driver. No doubt about it, crashing through the hills, valleys and arroyos of Baja's back roads is really fun. You get the itch to go fast especially if you've dumped mega-bucks into a blingified 4x4 whose gnarliest offroad experience was navigating the speed bump into the Cardiff Reef parking lot. Man, you want to see what all those shocks and reservoirs and coil overs can do! 

I don't blame you. I admit, I probably drive a bit faster than necessary when my tires taste dirt- but you've got to remember one thing: If you're not careful, one day or another, it will be your time to pay the piper. And you better be prepared to fix whatever you break out there because most of the time, you're on your own.

Here we are... on our way to the point. Looks fun right? It is... just be careful- sometimes there are big dropoffs, chunky washboard sections and big rocks in the road. Any of these things can dent a rim, shake a fender loose or chew up a loose surfboard in the bed of your truck.
Once you get out there you realize- you're at least forty miles to the nearest pavement- that's why it's always a good idea to travel in pairs. A buddy team can leave a vehicle to get parts or gasoline or medical help. In Baja it's a good idea to have a backup/bail out plan.... and for God's sake bring a full set of tools because you never know what might happen out there!
See, this is the kind of thing I'm talking about! Kiwi busted out a shock on the way out to the point (yes, he did get four tires off the dirt at one point on the way out). Now, when you're packing the night before you leave, are you thinking that you might bust out a shock? Nope- not me. You do need to be thinking along those lines- so like I said before, bring a full set of tools and basic repair items like duct tape, electrical tape, bailing wire and spare fuses. Most importantly... bring a spare key!
Here's Kiwi, handling his rig. I'm fortunate to have a seasoned Baja traveller/friend in Kiwi. The guy comes prepared (although that is my wrench set right there) and has a can-do sense of being that I admire. To fix his broken shock, he pulled the wheels off his floorjack (yep, that's how he rolls) and pilfered the washers off the wheels. Next he unscrewed the nut off the shock mount and fed the new larger washers onto the shock and threw the now widened mount hole. Problem solved. Now imagine if you had no tools.... um, bummer for you.
Check back... the story continues (and we haven't even got to the surf part yet!)....


Anonymous said...

great stuff as usual John!-that area looks familiar-anywhere near Cuatros Casas/Punta Colonet area?

John Ashley said...

Yes! Well, sort of... well, maybe not. Trying to be cryptic so I don't upset anyone... email me and I'll fill you in: