How far to Mike's?
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  Northern Baja Expedition

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April 16 - 20, 2007

Dual Sport Motorcycles   --5 Days--   Beginner/Intermediate Difficulty

This five full days of dual sport adventure touring will see us riding to and through many landmark locations, including Mike's Sky Ranch, Gonzaga Bay, Coco's Corner, Laguna Hanson, Arroyo Calamajué and more.

Five full days of riding, making a grand loop of northern Baja.  A fantastic variety of riding terrain awaits you on this tour.  From the cool pine forests of the mountainous  regions of the north... to arrid, cactus strewn deserts, dry sandy lakebeds and arroyos, and best of all... to the beautiful beaches. There's even some good ol' Mexican asphalt thrown in for good measure.  This is a fully supported and guided trip. Meals and accommodations (double occupancy) are provided for you. We take care of everything but your alcoholic beverages and your fuel.  Here's our itinerary:

Day 1-- The border to Mike's Sky Ranch

Note: By popular demand, the route on this first day is going to be changed to provide even more dirt riding. Check back.

We'll rendezvous early for breakfast in San Diego, where you'll meet and greet the GripTwister crew and your fellow riders before crossing the border together and obtaining our tourist visas as a group. Then we'll head down the coastal highway to Ensenada, where we'll have lunch before heading east into the hills. As we leave the coast, the temperature quickly rises as the urban landscape changes to desert mountains, punctuated by farming communities in the fertile valleys around us. Near Ojos Negros, we'll turn off the highway, and you'll get your first taste of "off roading" in Baja as we take the long way into Mike's, the legendary off-roader's oasis perched high in the mountains by a beautiful stream. On the way to Rancho Mike's Seemingly in the middle of nowhere, you'll marvel at the swimming pool in the manicured courtyard while dining on a huge steak dinner, followed by some bench racing with new friends over a drink or two in their unique bar before hitting the sack. If it's a clear night (and it usually is), you'll want to take some time out to stare up at the beautiful Baja sky for a truly awe inspiring moment.

Day 2-- Mike's to Gonzaga Bay

We'll depart early from Mike's, making our way out the long dirt road to the highway. Upon reaching pavement again, we'll head east for the seaside town of San Felipe and the Sea of Cortez. Time and conditions permitting, we'll take the "back way" via dirt into San Felipe through Laguna Diablo, where you can let your inner "Baja racer" come out to play for a while on the huge dry lakebed. Laguna Diablo In San Felipe, rapid new land developments have been spurred on by Americans who've discovered that a warm, beachside getaway is available for less than half of what they'd spend in California. We'll gas up and grab lunch at one of it's restaurants on the "malecon", or boardwalk before continuing south. Before too long, the nice pavement suddenly gives way to enormous, tire eating potholes where the old pavement is breaking down. You'll wish there were no pavement at all, and before too long your wish comes true at the small town of Puertecitos, where many an American expat calls home. Puertecitos From here to Gonzaga Bay, the road is harsh and winding, with occasional stints on long straightaways with washboard so stiff and tall you'll forget you're on a "highway", but the views of the Sea of Cortez meeting the desert are simply spectacular, and you'll realize in quick order that this road was just meant for a motorcycle! Reaching our destination, we'll enjoy a tasty dinner as we look out across beautiful crescent shaped Gonzaga Bay towards Punta Final from Alfonsina's, a fly-in restaurant and motel that's popular with private pilots from the US. Puntafinal Step out of your room and you are just feet from the sandy beach.

Day 3-- Gonzaga Bay to Cataviña

Puntafinal Wake before sunrise, and you are in for a real treat here, as they don't get any better than this. After breakfast, we'll mount up and head south to Coco's corner, where we'll stop for a cool beverage while enjoying the company of this Baja icon. After chatting for a bit and signing his book, we'll head to the beautiful Arroyo Calamajué to take an "off the beaten path" route out to paved Highway 1. Road To Calamajue Bighorn sheep, the "Fountain of Youth", ruins of an old Spanish mission, and a large vein of green slate cut by the arroyo are but some of the things we'll likely see in this, the most difficult bit of terrain on our trip. We'll then cross over Highway 1 and head over to the Pacific ocean as our journey takes a northerly turn. In this area, around the southernmost point of our trip, some of the most beautiful desert landscape in all of Baja exist. As we approach Cataviña, you'll see enormous boulders scattered about the land as if by the hand of a giant, -some in large piles forming small mountains- while growing everywhere in between are a myriad of cactus and the fabled cirio trees of Baja, nicknamed "Boojum". The Cirio tree, nicknamed Boojum The Boojum is the strangest tree you'll ever lay eyes on, some growing into all kinds of stange contortions. Passing by an occasional spring, we'll even see the rare "blue palms" of Baja. The landscape we pass through today will be forever burned into your mind, taunting you to one day return. But for now, you are here, and we are staying this night at the La Pinta in Cataviña, once again a motel seemingly in the middle of nowhere. And once again, being only 1 day after the new moon, you'll marvel at a night sky like no other.

Day 4-- Cataviña to Laguna Hanson

We'll depart early, heading through more of the same great landscape we came into yesterday, as we've got some ground to cover today. Not a problem, as it's all slab until after lunch today. Nothing boring about this stretch of pavement, however, as we're cruising through some stands of cactus that could only be described as "forest"... it's so thick. We'll grab lunch at the famous Mama Espinoza's in El Rosario. After filling our bellies, we'll fill our tanks and continue north on Highway 1 through many coastal farming communities before heading off the pavement once again towards Laguna Hanson. As has been much of our route at one time or another, we're riding on routes used in the Baja 1000 races. The increasingly thick pine forests are an indication of our altitude as well as our proximity to our last night's destination. We'll do a little sight-seeing from our bikes as we drive through the National Park that surrounds Laguna Hanson, with it's nice campgrounds at the "lake's" edge before heading to the nearby lodge we're staying at. Laguna Hanson in the summer. A fitting dinner of venison, if you like, awaits you at the day's end. A soft bed combined with the fresh mountain air should be all you need to combat the thoughts rushing through your head of the good times and great riding you've enjoyed over the last 4 days that threaten to keep you awake all night.

Day 5-- Laguna Hanson to San Diego

We'll enjoy a hearty breakfast at the lodge before heading north through mountain two-tracks towards the paved highway that mean the end of our trip is nearing. Mountain Roads It's a good bet we'll see other off-road riders on our way out, as the mountains in this area are loaded with good riding of the single track variety as well. A brief stint on a high-speed tollway gets us to Tecate, where you'll enjoy all the tacos you can eat as we take our last meal together as a group. We'll cross the border in Tecate and enjoy the leisurely ride through the California countryside back to San Diego and the staging area before saying goodbye and exchanging contact info with new friends.

Price:  $1500 USD

Includes all meals and accomodations (double occupancy).  Transportation to and from the staging area in San Diego is available at an additional cost, on a limited availability basis.  A $500 deposit reserves your place, with the remaining fee due 30 days prior to the tour.  If you cancel within 60 days or more of the tour date,  you will be refunded all monies paid.  Cancellations less than 60 days from the ride date will forfeit the deposit.  Once you have paid your deposit, you'll be granted access to the participant's section of the website, where additional information about travelling in Mexico on motorcycles, as well as info on insurance, exchanging money, etc. and a bulletin board where you can get specific questions answered is available to you.

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