Editors Note: Throttle & Spoon is new Tuesday Travel column by one of our new motorcycling writers that will be all about local day trips and restaurants. We are kicking it off with a special multi-part series covering the Matt & Meredith’s motorcycle trip to the remote areas of Baja California Mexico.
Don’t go to Mexico, or…
… Smile at the military checkpoint.
If you have a passion in life, sports fan, history buff, pizza fanatic, whatever it is that you go crazy for, there is likely a “must do” trip or event you dream of. Soccer fans have to do the World Cup, golfer’s dream of teeing off at Saint Andrews. For a certain type of motorcycle rider, and most any off road enthusiast, there is Baja California, Mexico.
Speaking of that “certain type of motorcycle rider”, I think I should take a moment to explain. We are not the kind of rider you’re going to see ordering chrome accessories, and not really the racer crowd either. Our species is known as the adventure tourer. We are rare and are usually riding around with two pounds of dirt on our bikes after we have just cleaned them. We are far more concerned about fuel range and tire life vs. traction ratios and stylish accessories. We ride to be able to travel, craving remote areas and local culture. I am also lucky enough to have found a person as nutty as me who enjoys this kind of travel, my girlfriend Meredith.
Adventure travel is hard for many people to understand. You may be asking…why on earth would anyone want to go through all that trouble when there are no four star resorts, restaurants, or scheduled guided tours of the local culture? The answer is simple, because there are no four star resorts, restaurants, or scheduled guided tours of the local culture! Everyone enjoys a different vacation experience, but for those of us who choose to travel this way, armed only with a smile, the smallest thing like finding lunch, or gas, or a place to sleep, can not only be an adventure, but allow you to interact with the locals in a way that is much more real.
Meredith and I were once at a tiny open front vendors stall in a very working class neighborhood in Guerrero Negro where everything for sale is behind the counter. We were trying to buy bottled water (agua, that’s easy) and orange juice for which we didn’t know the Spanish to ask for it. After several minutes of having no success communicating with the grandmother and kids, the mother finally paused from her phone conversation to tell us, in perfect English, that she would help us in just a moment. The shear hilarity of the situation got us laughing, and led to the kids and grandmother asking all kinds of question (with mom translating), about where we were from, and how we had gotten there. Grandma was extremely impressed to find out Meredith was on her own dirt bike, and had ridden the rough roads going south. Great experience to be had without a tour guide in sight!
So a few years ago, just like countless riders before me, I got a bug to go. I told myself I wanted to go just one time. Just to see it, just to ride, and just to get the t-shirt. I’d be able to come home with some stories, say I did it, and move on, right? But there is a problem with Baja…the second I left it I couldn’t wait to go back.
Why is Baja so alluring? Why would anyone ever want to go there? These are not easy questions to answer. I will continue to explain more about my experiences over the next several weeks in a new series called Throttle and Spoon. So stay tuned…