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March 8, 2021

LocosMocos.com at the Baja 2000


SCORE-INTERNATIONAL BAJA 2000

Baja 2000 map

LocosMocos.com at the Baja 2000
By Mark Naugle

November 9-17, 2000

The basic task at hand was to move eleven trucks, one 4-wheel drive Toyota Van, one dirt bike, one flat bed trailer loaded with spare race tires and equipment, one trailered generator and twenty-three people 600 miles south of San Diego to set up a pit for two days of off-road race pit service. Complicating this task was the fact that everything south of San Diego is in a foreign country that speaks a different language, uses a different currency, and for the most part, has not really grasped much of the technology of the late 20th century.

The task was also complicated by the fact that it was raining. It was also November making daylight a relatively scarce commodity. Many miles would need to be driven at night on a two-lane road through a wide variety of desert terrain. While fuel is available in most of the northern communities, there is a stretch of road nearly 300 miles long that has no gas stations. Fuel is occasionally available from vendors who fill drums and haul them to strategic locations. These vendors are very proud of their resourcefulness and usually charge at least 50% more per gallon for the gas. The night promised to be long.

Two of the twenty-three people in the group needed to be picked up at the airport on the way to the border. One of these people had missed his scheduled flight and was working the standby line in hopes of getting aboard a later flight. Cell phones played a major part in moving the group as far as the border. Once across the border, that would change. Cellular service was virtually non-existent in the rural areas and sporadic in the small handful of urban areas. All communication would take place via two-way radio.

All of these people would, of course, have to be fed during the stay in the pit so food and preparation equipment was also included in the load to be transported.

The area in question is Baja California, Mexico, one of the few remaining primitive regions of North America. Inside plumbing is still a luxury in many homes in Baja.  The reason for the activity was the Baja 2000. Every year since 1967, several thousand adventurous souls have made a similar journey in support of a couple of hundred racers in what is known as the Baja 1000. Because of the year 2000, someone thought it would be a good idea to stretch the race out to something closer to 2000 miles.

The shear volume of supplies and equipment needed for a pit roughly 1000 miles into the race was mind boggling. All the hand-tools a Snap-On truck could carry and then some, a welder, metal fabrication tools, CO2 tanks for air tools, special off-road capable jacks and jack stands, shade canopies, highway cones, tool tables, oils, fluids, lubricants, and 300 gallons of fuel in four different brands and octane combinations as well as a dozen 11-gallon fuel dump cans all had to be moved into the pit location. All the camping and support equipment also had to be moved into the pit location as well.

The pit location was 75 miles from the nearest pavement just to make it challenging. To make it worse, the only routes into the pit area were either southbound down the racecourse or northbound up the racecourse.  The southbound route was more direct and could be accessed directly off the Trans-Peninsular Highway. Most of this part of the course was a mostly flat rural graded and graveled road. The challenge to this route lay 6 miles from the pit location. A bed of soft silt, in some places more than knee deep, which ran for about a mile rendering that route impassable for anything but a serious off-road vehicle ruling out the trailers and the van.

The northbound route was considerably more docile but it added almost 200 miles to the route. It would be passable for the trailers and the van but it would be far from a cruise down a county lane. It was still after all, part of the Baja 2000 course.

The logistics of moving supplies, equipment, and personnel along such a route would be impossible without a huge amount of advance planning. It would be difficult without a dedication to teamwork. It would be a nightmare without a set of goals and instructions to get this army all to the right place by the appointed time. Thus the reason for “The Book”. 100 plus pages in a 3 ring binder was the guide that kept 23 individuals focused on the same goal. This book detailed objectives, accommodations, routes, procurement, meals, tools, maps, waypoints, and a summary of each day’s planned route. It even detailed when to buy ice. Each vehicle was equipped with one.

From the book:

Friday November 10

Objectives

  • Transport LMc crew across Mexican Border  to Catavina.
  • Obtain B2K race T-shirts and Fireworks in Ensenada.

Travel

Total Mileage:            307                 

Pavement Mileage     297

Off-road Mileage:     10 max

Fuel Stops:                 USA, El Rosario        

Departure Time:       0700

Arrival Time:             N/A

Origin:                        Carlsbad CA

Destination:                Catavina

Accommodations

            Meals

                        Breakfast       Carlsbad BYO at motel         

                        Lunch             BYO

                        Dinner            BYO

            Housing                      Camp near Catavina

Procurement                          Fireworks in Ensenada, t-shirts at contingency                     

Pitting                                     None                          

Route

Location K-Marker GPS   Notes
Tijuana Border Crossing 0 BCN1   Take Toll Road south
Roasrito 34 BCN2
Ensenada 109 BCN4
Maneadero 21 BCN5
Santo Tomas 51 BCN6
San Vincente 90 BCN7
Colonet 127 BCN8
Camalu 157 BCN9
Vincente Guerrero 172 BCN10
San Qunitin 190/0 BCN11 Less traffic after San Quintin
El Rosario 55 BCN12 Mandatory Fuel Stop
Guayaquil 128 H1K128
El Marmol 144 BCN13
Catavina 175 BCN14 Possible Fuel

By noon on Friday, all the flight connections had been made and everyone had crossed the border into Baja California. The first planned stop was in Ensenada for what is known in off-road racing circles as contingency. Vendors and suppliers of anything related to desert racing pay prize money to racers contingent on finishing positions. These vendors display their wares to the racers, crew, and spectators in a high horsepower, county fair like setting during the days prior to the races.  T-shirts commemorating the event were sold by the thousands and each crewmember needed to get one or two.

By 3:00pm, the entire crew was southbound on the Trans Peninsular Highway or TPH. At this point the crew had been broken into two groups. The van and the truck pulling the flatbed trailer were needed by another pit crew to transport race gas from the pavement to a pit area known as El Arco. This group took the lead and disappeared south as their radio chatter faded to static.

The rest of the crew moved out into afternoon traffic and continued the journey. The rain continued and by 4:30 most of the useable daylight was much farther west and the road was illuminated only by headlights. The first 185 miles of the TPH is broken into sections by small agricultural communities making progress unsteady and requiring the use of the two-way radios for passing.

From “The Book”:

Passing Procedures 

Driver requesting oncoming road traffic information asks for Weather Report. Lead vehicle in section will give one of two responses: 

                                If there is no oncoming traffic the only correct response is “Gring, Gring, Gring.”

                                If traffic is approaching, the correct response is “Oncoming! Oncoming!”

Once all vehicles have completed the pass, the last car to complete the pass line will call “Clear”.

Once a call for a Weather Report has been made, all incidental radio dribble must cease until the Clear call has been made.  This procedure has been established to prevent accidents and has been 100% effective when used correctly.

145 Miles south of the border the rider of the dirtbike conceded that his plan to ride all the way to the pit was none too sound. Every stitch of his clothing was soaked and the dirt tires on the bike provided less than satisfactory traction on the rain slick pavement. Luckily for everyone, a fellow off-roader took pity and offered to carry both bike and rider to the evening’s planned campsite. At the next gas station, bike and rider were loaded and the southbound movement continued at a less constrained pace.

The gas station in El Rosario has become a mandatory refueling stop because the next gas is 250 miles away in Guerrero Negro. During the fuel stop, tasty sausage treats such as Polska Kielbasa and Louisiana Hot Links were wrapped in foil and wired to exhaust manifolds to provide a hot snack upon arrival at the campsite.

By 9:00pm the camping area had been reached and the road-food aluminum foil was replaced with fresh flour tortillas. After rapidly consuming all the sausages, this group hastily bivouacked for the night. Most of the rain had been left in the north but the moisture-laden air quickly chilled through damp clothing. A fire was laid to combat the chill, as nobody was ready for bed. Too many miles needed to be washed down with cold Mexican beer.

Dawn broke with a crisp freshness only found in the desert after a rain. The unique aroma of wet creosote bushes was slowly overcome by the warm, thick drift of camp coffee. The chorus of snores was replaced with the rustle of nylon tenting as the sun cleared the low scrub surrounding the camp. The first night of sleeping on the ground caused some aches and pains for some.

Even though the operational plan was laid out in precise detail, there was enough slack in the schedule to allow for various unplanned events that occur during these events.

From “The Book”:

Glossary of terms

 

Manana Syndrome             Reason for any delay south of the border.

These unplanned events included golf clubs. A 3 iron, a 3 wood and 250 range balls were brought along and these were first put to use while breaking camp. It was evident that most of the crew was far more competent as off-road racers than golfers.

The complications of the previous day faded into memory as the caravan moved steadily southward. Weak radio contact was established with the lead group as the main body reached the outskirts of Guerrero Negro, a planned refueling stop. The ferrying of race fuel had not yet taken place because the race fuel had not reached the rendezvous point.

The missing fuel became the first complication of the day as the truck with the trailer had another 300 miles of winding road to cover. Blame the Manana Syndrome. Nothing really to do but wait.  Or Pre-run. The dirtbike was unloaded and along with 4 of the trucks headed for a 100-mile section of the racecourse that paralleled the highway. The rest waited until 3:00pm and moved to the end of the planned pre-run section to wait.

The pre-run spawned the second complication of the day. The dirtbike came in and reported a huge suspension failure on one of trucks. Two of the others had issues as well. During the wait for the crippled pre-runners, the gas transport crew arrived and reported that the gas had made it and the driver of the gas hauler had been persuaded to carry the fuel all the way into the pit. As it turns out, that was the reason for his delay. He had been providing the same service to other crews along his route.

It was well into darkness by the time the heavily damaged pre-runner was pulled into place and the offending parts were removed, welded and replaced.  The next truck was also repaired and while the third was pulled into position, a pair of trucks was sent out as scouts to find a campground and suitable restaurant in San Ignacio.

The suitable accommodations were found at the Rice & Beans RV park. Owner Ricardo Romo was eager to serve us dinner and drinks and provide hot showers and tent sites. The small dining area soon overflowed with chatter and tales of broken this and bent that. Dinner was served as videos of old desert races were played on the monitors hung in the corners of the room.

As fatigue crept unnoticed in through a back door, the dirty and spent crew headed out to set up tents or rinse off the day’s dust in the last running water for several days. By 10:00pm the snoring from the previous night had caught up with the group and once again protected the camp throughout the night.

Sunday dawned once again bright and clear but with a deeper sense of purpose. The pit location must be found and the pit must be assembled.

From “The Book”:

Pit Set-up Procedures and Checklist
Step # Procedure
1 Unload all pit equipment from all vehicles.
2 Set up E-Z Ups and shade canopies.
3 Set up radio antenna mast and antenna adjacent to E-Z Up.
4 Set up small radio/timing table under E-Z Up by antenna. Set up radio/battery. Radio check
5 Set up small generator.
6 Set up tool table.
7 Set up kitchen tables.
8 Set up bar table.
9 Lay out cones for entrance and exit.
10 Gather all dump cans and fuel jugs into Fuel Zone. Tape off “No Smoking” zones.
11 Tape off fuel drum storage area.  “No Smoking” area.
12 Set out fire extinguishers.
13 Set up banners
15 Lay out tools.
16 Duct tape CO2 bottles to E-Z Up legs at tool table. Lay out air hoses. Oil & test air guns.
17 Lay out tires.
18 Set out jacks and jackstands.
19 Set out fluids, lubes and sprays.

San Igancio is deeply rooted in the history of Baja. The town square is dominated by the 250 year old Mision de San Ignacio. As the Baja 2000 worked its way into town, various race teams set up pits in the shadow of the old mission. The children of the town were all over the square absorbing all the commotion. This was the “Big Show” for this town. This was major league sport coming right down main street and right by their bedroom windows. The children gathered ‘round crying out for “Steekers! Steekers!” as the men of the town admired the trucks. Very little of the Spanish language is spoken by the crew and very little English by the towns people. But that is not to say there was no communication. The crew and the townspeople were two very different groups who both shared a passion for the sport of off-road racing. This passion was shared in the smiles and gestures and handshakes as the crew saddled up and headed out of town.

The nine trucks and dirtbike spread out along the dusty racecourse and called hazards over the radio. The first leg was mostly west and then a hard left turn pointed the course in its customary southerly direction. It was a mile or so after this turn that the day became more complicated. The radio call was that of a possible blown tranny. That would have been worse than just complicated. As it turned out the rear axle housing on one of the trucks snapped in two rendering the vehicle immobile. It was certainly a complication but it could be overcome. The theory was that the money brought by the crew could be used to help find a useable housing back in San Ignacio. One truck and a crew of 3 was assigned to head to town and procure the housing. The rest of the crew brought out the lawn chairs, the lunch and the beer and prepared to wait.

After an hour it was decided that a scout should be sent to the pit location to establish contact with the group coming up from the south. Upon the scout’s arrival at the pit location, there was no sign of the southern group. Radio traffic with the stalled group decided that the scout should travel further south to the next village in case the trailer group was in need of assistance.

During the downtime, entertainment was provided by the golf clubs, the icechests and a guitar that was purchased in San Ignacio. A local in a Bronco II stopped by with obvious suspension problems. The crew went right to work and discovered the front coil spring had slipped out of the bucket. While this was being put back in place the rest of the crew went over the rest of the truck looking for signs of trouble. It was found that a recently replaced radiator hose was too long and was rubbing on an engine pulley, thus slicing it. The hose was shortened and the slice was taped over to slow the leakage. The radiator was topped off and the driver was given a gallon of water to go. They said their gracias’ and again left the stranded crew to pass the time in the desert.

As s the sun started to drop towards the Pacific Ocean, radio contact was again established with the crew sent to town to find the axle. Success. The delay was not in locating the axle. That was brought about with the assistance of Ricardo of Rice & Beans. He made some phone calls and located a housing. The complications were a series of three flat tires on the chase truck. That caused the delay in returning to the waiting crew.

A flurry of activity surrounded the position as all energy was spent swapping the housing and getting the group back in motion. It didn’t matter whose truck it was, the focused teamwork of the entire group put it back together. The group was enveloped in full darkness by the time the engines were refired to continue south.

While the southbound group was busy sorting out their complications, the group with the trailers was having complications of their own. During the journey in from Mulege, the leaf springs that supported the generator on its axle decided to make adjustments to their positions. This, of course, required adjustment and tightening. The van that accompanied the truck pulling the generator was very heavily loaded and moved at a very sedated pace over the Baja 2000 course.

The truck and trailer hauling the tires, fuel, and equipment also encountered complications. While stopped in San Juanico in an attempt to procure lobster, it was noticed that the trailer seemed to be riding a bit lower than normal. Upon inspection it was noted that the tongue of the trailer was on the verge of parting company with the rest of the trailer. Fortunately, this occurred within a couple hundred yards of a welding shop. This truck and trailer was again able to make its way northward and was indeed the first to arrive at the pit location.

By 8pm the crew had reassembled on location in the pit and began the task of setting up the pit. This was complicated by the darkness. At this point it was discovered that overcoming the darkness would be complicated by the leak in the fuel tank in the generator. Redundancy can often overcome complications and the two smaller portable generators were fired up and set to run the lighting that would allow the repair of the fuel tank and the setup of the pit, kitchen and living quarters.  Fuel was transferred from drum to dump cans. Cones were deployed. Banners were hung. The radio antenna was erected and the radio was brought online. In a span of a couple of hours a barren expanse of Baja real estate was transformed into a fully functional off-road racing pit facility. This was done by a dedicated group of volunteers whose only motivation was a love of the sport and Baja.

The kitchen became functional, the bar was opened and a serving line was established. During the stay in the pit, this kitchen and bar served the meals and libations that kept the crew fueled and functional.

From “The Book”:

B2K Menu

Hot Coffee will be served continuously from the time the kitchen opens till we close the pit, as will be drinking water Gatorade and sodas.

Sunday November, 12

Happy hour: finger foods, chips and salsa, cheeses (not cheesers) and crackers, smoked oysters, clams, shrimp cocktail, grilled assorted gourmet sausages and smoked pork tenderloin.

Barry and Allen will be serving every imaginable libation (no blender as yet so try not to imagine any frozen drinks)

Dinner: The Main course will consist of our own famous surf and turf combo. Fresh local Lobster and Carne Asada burritos served with rice, beans, fresh salsa and all the trimmings.

Dessert: If anyone has room will be served with espresso or apéritif.

Monday November, 13

Breakfast: Will be served from first light till mid morning to accommodate a busy pit and varied sleeping schedule. The menu will be made to order omelets, desert mush, cold cereal, hot tortillas, pastry and French toast or pancakes, Fresh fruit and Juice fresh salsa and ExTreme Specked Taters.

Lunch: A Sandwich buffet will consist of assorted cold cuts, cheeses, breads and veggies with all the trimmings. We will serve lunch from noon through mid afternoon.

Dinner: Your choice of Grilled marinated Tri tip, top sirloin, pork chops or chicken. If Mike comes we will also be grilling catch of the day.  Mashed potatoes, green salad, French cut string beans or hot tortillas, rice beans and full Meky garnish. Dinner will be served on a made to order basis to accommodate the schedules of the crew.

Tuesday November, 14

Breakfast: Same format as Monday.

Lunch: Same format as Monday.

The influx of vehicles and the commotion caused while setting up the pit soon drew the attention of the local community or ejido. An ejido is a farming collective that owns property and assets according to Mexican Law. It is usually a closely-knit group of families and in this case was run by two brothers. At anytime during the race there was usually one or more cars or trucks parked across from the pit watching the activity.

At one minute to eleven, the faint distant glow of headlights heralded the first of the 190 competitors who would pass by this pit location. This first racer would eventually be the overall winner.  By midnight, a second racer had appeared. Two more passed during the midnight hour. Another pair by 2am and yet another two before 3am. A little after 3am the frequency increased to 5 per hour, then 9, then a steady stream of a dozen or so per hour

As the night became morning, some of the crew were overcome with fatigue and drifted one by one to their tents for well-earned sleep. Some sat around the campfire and improvised along with the guitar. Others were still running on excess adrenaline and continued to gas and repair racers until the dawn broke. The daylight eliminated the need for manmade lighting and the constant drone of the repaired generator to be silenced.

The daylight also brought the locals across the course and into the pit area. Through a little Spanish on one side and a little English the other side a loose friendship was established and the locals were welcomed into the pit area. And why not? It was their land after all. As a gift of appreciation for allowing the race to take place and for the use of their land for the pit area, the local kids were given a soccer ball.

At times there were as many as 5 racers in the pit at one time. Other times would see an hour go by without a customer stopping in for service. Fueling became routine. The repairs became the challenge:

#119, Scott McMillin, came in for a tire check. All were fine. He left the pit at 05:49 11/13.

He finished 6th in class and 16th overall.

#257X, Mitchell Sanchez, had overworked his clutch in negotiating the siltbed and pulled in for an adjustment. He exited the pit at 06:40am. He finished 8th in class.

#839, Chris Wilson, honked his horn as he passed the pit at 07:39 11/13. He finished 3rd  .

#113, Damen Jefferies, came in for a tire check. All were fine. He left the pit at 07:35 11/13. He finished 8th in class.

#270X, Dennis Law, came in for an air filter change. Dennis was riding the race solo. He left the pit at 8:36 to a standing ovation.  11/13. He finished 18th in class.

#86, Jim Baldwin, pulled into the pit with a flat right front tire. This was changed and his radiator was topped off. He exited the pit at 9:02 11/13. He finished 5th in the Trophy truck class.

#250, Gary Magness, came in with rear brake problems. Inspection revealed that a slight rear axle seal leak was causing fluid to affect brake pad operation. The area was cleaned and the brakes were bled and he continued racing at 9:06 11/13. He did not finish.

#275X, Mike Childress, arrived with most of the knobbies stripped from his rear tire. His tire was replaced and he resumed racing at 9:16 11/13. He finished 19th in class.

#243, Rick Johnson, limped into the pit with a twisted sector shaft on his steering box. A replacement box was borrowed from # 269, Glenn Harris, and was installed on the Johnson entry. He left the pit at 12:45 11/13. He finished 2nd in class.

#1008, Dennis Hunter, pulled in with a faulty alternator on his Honda powered car. His batteries were charged and the internals from a Toyota alternator we fitted to his Honda alternator case. While sitting in the pit it was noticed that his tire was going flat. This was changed and he exited the pit at 11:37 11/13. He finished 5th in class.

#259, Bob Surman, came in with a flat tire, This was changed and he resumed racing at 11:38 11/13. He finished 21st in class.

#860, Marc Stein, came in with soft brakes. His front brakes were bled and he was sent out of the pit at 12:39 11/13. He finished 3rd in class.

#554, Arturo Cervantes, had dropped his flashlight onto the floor and could not reach it. It was retrieved for him and he exited the pit at 13:32 11/13. He finished 3rd in class.

#700, Jeff Lewis, came in with his left front brake caliper locked up. The brakes were restored to working order and he resumed his race at 17:05 11/13. He won his class.

#1606, Tim Moore, came in with a broken light bar. It was welded and he resumed racing at 18:56 11/13. He did not finish.

#20, Walker Evans, was stuck in the silt bed with broken front suspension as the result of a high speed rollover. Tools were sent out via Locos Mocos dirt bike to assist in the repairs. He was then escorted to the pit area where Walker and his co-driver were fed lobster burritos and beer. The battered Trophy Truck was too damaged to continue racing but exited the pit under its own power at 20:13 11/13.

#702, Perry McNiel, needed a windshield cleaning, drinking water, and water added to the radiator. He exited the pit at 20:27 11/13. He finished 2nd in class.

#1610, Anthony Carlson, had aired down his tires to aid in clearing the siltbed. His tires were reinflated to proper pressure and the driver was given drinking water. Resumed racing at 20:35 11/13. He finished 8th in class.

#1100, Eric Solorzano, was given 4 gallons of gas and his windshield was cleaned. Exited the pit at 00:01 11/14. He won his class.

#577, Gerardo Inbe, came screaming in with a stuck throttle. The cable was cleared. They were given water and left the pit at 02:30 11/14. He did not finish.

#1612, Chuck Guy, stopped for a light adjustment and cleaning. He resumed racing at 02:53. He finished 11th in class.

Before dawn a radio call was received from #811 requesting assistance in the siltbed. The dirtbike and two 2wd trucks were sent to aid in the extraction. After extracting # 811, cars #1201, #BC6, #BC2, #1401, #761, and #1649 were assisted in getting unstuck.

#1401, the Becker Brothers, came in with no spare tire. They were loaned a tire. He exited the pit at 05:46 11/14. He finished 3rd in class.

#BC1, Roberto Guerrero, stopped to have his tires brought back up to race pressure. His codriver’s lap belts were adjusted for a better fit. He exited the pit at 07:09 11/14. He finished second in class.

#1201, Brandon Arciero, came in with a loose left rear trailing arm pivot bolt. It was tightened up and a lock nut was added. He exited the pit at 07:23 11/14. He did not finish.

#BC6, Mike Groff, stopped in for course information. He was told the Race Mile of the pit and given an air freshener. He exited the pit at 07:29 11/14. He did not finish.

#811, Eric Heiden, was extracted from the siltbed by Locos Mocos mobile units. During the extraction process, the rear tires of the truck were aired down. These went flat enroute to the pit and were changed by the mobile crew.  At the pit, driver and co-driver were given water and the tires were reseated on their rims. A new air freshener was installed in the truck and they exited the pit at 07:48 11/14. They finished 7th in class.

The day passed into night and then again into a new dawn. Along with the sunlight came 25 to 30 of the ejido to watch from across the course.

The checkpoint at San Ignacio closed at 9:30am and the course was shut down. The dust on the course settled and the crew began the task of putting the pit back into boxes, crates and onto the trailer. With the general fatigue and despondency toward the end of the race, the disassembly lacked the enthusiasm shown during the set up process. The folks from the ejido moved across the course to join in breaking down the pit.

The last area to be disassembled was the kitchen/ bar. While the last of pit was packed away, the day’s lunch was on the grill. It was a collection of tri-tip steaks, scrambled eggs and tortillas. There was sufficient quantity to feed the members of the ejido who had been the incognizant hosts of the race and the pit.

The last of the packing was completed by noon and the parade was again mobile and began the 50 mile journey south towards San Juanico. The image of shrimp tacos and cold beer at the Scorpio Bay Cantina spawned a renewed drive. A relaxed and confident sense of accomplishment prevailed over the group. They had come to Baja to fix racecars. They had. All save one exited the pit with the intention of further competition. Some of those were victorious. Others were happy with just a finish.

Early afternoon found the crew hounding the kitchen crew at the cantina. By the time the beer was gone, so was the crew. After a short walk on the beach they were again ready to move to their destinations. Who went where would be decided at La Purisma where pavement would again be seen. This 20-mile leg of graded dirt road was not without complications. At La Purisma the welder was unloaded and the problems were mostly solved.

Again the crew split up to travel based upon vehicle capabilities or limitations. Four pre-runners followed the racecourse to the south and east towards a motel room in Mulege while the rest took the pavement south towards camping on the beach in San Carlos.

The route to Mulege was through a night as black as Baja has to offer. Pierced by thousands of watts of lighting power, the darkness parted reluctantly to allow the passage of the four pre-runners. Guided by satellites and the marvel of the Global Positioning System as well as little bits of reflective tape used to mark the race course, no serious complications were encountered on the route back to the Trans Peninsular Highway.  A handful more miles north and the pre-runners were bedded down in a roadside motel on the outskirts of Mulege. .

The bulk of the crew had opted for the pavement south to San Carlos and beach sand under the tents. They traveled through the urban areas of Insurgentes and Ciudad Constitucion before turning west toward the beach. Road weary racers assembled tent and laid out sleeping bags once again. The sound of Pacific surf lured weary minds off to sleep.

During the following days the crew reassembled on the beaches near Mulege to see to their own needs. Leisurely breakfasts followed with SCUBA, swimming, beach golf, cold beer and Cuban cigars relaxed the souls of the crew. A last barbecue and beach party further bonded these individuals into a single core of purpose who share many memorable experiences as one soul.

The last day at the beach dawned with long journey north looming as a dark cloud on the horizon. The plan set forth in “The Book” was modified and early afternoon brought the return to a reality. In groups of three to five trucks, the entourage headed north. Most stopped in Santa Rosalia to visit an ATM. Then again north to San Iganacio. It was decided to stop and pay tribute to Ricardo at Rice & Beans for his help. A thank you toast expanded to two. Then the thought of dinner. Then the realization that further travel would be a hazard.  Again the group accepted Ricardo’s hospitality and stayed the night.

The last dawn in Baja saw the group anxious to get home. Well before the sun had a chance to warm the November desert, the caravan was again moving northward. The roadside stops were fewer northbound. Only for gas or a comfort break. Maybe to let stragglers catch up. Darkness caught the group entering Ensenada. The border was attained by 8:00pm.

During their 8-day trek through the forgotten peninsula, this group of individuals forged themselves into a single unit. Dedicated to the goals set forth in the book, this single unit turned a week of adventure into a wealth of fond memories.

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