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This story was originally featured at MotorcycleUSA.
Most people wouldn’t think that July would be the ideal time for an excursion to Baja. What many don’t realize is that the northern coastal region enjoys a strong marine layer almost year round and this tends to keeps the temperatures very mild. Cool nights, temperate days and very few travelers’ means that those who venture along the Baja coast enjoy a very unique and relaxing experience. Summer also brings a lull in the race season and many Baja regulars are looking forward to a return to Mexico. Tim Morton of Baja Bound Moto and Trophy truck racer Cameron Steele decided to put together a special summer ride just to show everyone that; just because the season has changed, the riding does not have to stop. They invited me along to help scout out some new trails and lay out the route. This part of Baja is well traveled and it would take some real exploring to put together some new routes, but we did just that.
Over 70 people showed up in Ensenada to take up the challenge of tackling the new trails we had laid out. With trail names like “Red Rattler”, “Smugglers Field” and “Chillys’ Challenge”, everyone’s imagination was piqued. I think I can safely say that no one found themselves bored, the ride proved a challenge to nearly everyone. Even the Baja regulars were treated to some brand new territory.
To make sure there was never a dull moment during the three day ride, Cameron designed a couple of “fun” races to be held each day. These included the “circle sand race”, a hill climb and a foot down obstacle course. The sand race was sort of like a pursuit around a circle. Four racers are spaced evenly around a circle, at the drop of the flag each races around the circle until being passed by another rider and at that point the rider who is passed is eliminated. The winner is the last man standing. While the competition was good, Johnny Campbell handily proved to be the fastest man around the beach sand course.
Conversely, in the hill climb a number of riders proved very strong and the final came down to a six man drag race up the hill. Cameron added a Lemans style running start as well as one 90 degree corner just to make things interesting. While Campbell looked to have the holeshot, it was actually the SCORE class 40 leader Brain Campbell who hit the hill first and won.
In the foot down competition the riders had to do a short cone course on the beach, and then tackle a large boulder field that led to a short steep cliff climb to get off the beach. To make it more difficult a couple of turns were added to the boulder field and the approach to the cliff. My performances in the previous two races had been pretty poor. I was actually betting on JCR factory rider Colton Udall to win this event. As I started my run, I had a good line into the boulder field. I did put my foot down once early, but it actually helped me get set up for the rest of the rocks and my momentum carried me up the cliff easily. I was the first rider to complete the course without stopping. Colton and I would tie for fastest overall time, but he had more penalty points. That gave me first place followed by Johnny in second and Colton third. The spectators were continually throwing additional rocks in the course, so I may have gotten a slightly easier line than some of the other riders, but I have the trophy, so you won’t hear me complain.
The riders and racers of Baja enjoy a warm relationship with the people of Mexico and there are many opportunities to give something back to the Baja community. The Beach Bash organizers chose to raise funds to help support a couple of very worthy causes.
Rancho Santa Marta school is located near San Vicente (ranchosantamarta.org). It is a school and home for underprivileged children. It is also the only school in northern Baja for developmentally disabled children. Like most of the local people, the students are enthralled by motorcycles and racing and were excited to see nearly 60 riders arriving at the school.. The all know of Johnny Campbell and once they realized he was part of the ride they flocked to him for autographs. While the riders were dazzling the students with displays of wheelies, Tim and Cameron were able to leave the schools director with a donation of $4000 that had been raised by the riders.
We were also able to raise funds for Louis Garcia, Tim Morton explains;
On the BBB we tried to get some of the group together (Cameron, Johnny, Colton, Anna, myself, and a few others) to go visit Luis but we simply ran out of time and were unable. So we made arrangements to meet Luis Garcia (aka:113x) on Wednesday, July 15th. Luis is the young motorcycle racer who was seriously injured during the recent Baja 500 when he hit a civilian car that was traveling backwards on the racecourse.
At Luis’ modest Ensenada home were his mother, father, grandmother, two brothers, and wife. Luis and his wife have 2 young children – currently staying with in-laws due to the full time care Luis needs. Luis has a small dirt bike repair shop located on the street behind the home and is the provider for his family. Right now Luis’ brothers are pitching in to keep things going at his bike shop.
What can I say about the visit; it was really special, humbling. Luis’ wife looked to be holding back the tears when we handed her the envelope of cash and get well card. I know my wife Jennifer was choked up. We visited for almost 40 minutes and talked about the accident/injuries, the tough road ahead for Luis, as well as about family and our common friends. We let them know the off-roading community is behind them and praying for them. All of the family really lit up when we explained how Luis is being supported on many message boards, by bike riders as well as truck & buggy racers, and that we received donations from as far away as Texas. I really believe they didn’t realize so many people were aware of Luis and are out there wishing them well.
Luis suffered extreme injuries. It’s been 6 weeks+ since his accident and he’ll be in for more surgeries. He’s not out of the woods yet by any means. His healing will be long and rehab longer. Due to the generosity of fellow off-roaders online (primarily thru ThumperTalk and Race-Dezert) and at the Beach Bash riders meeting, we were able to collect $1830 for Luis.
Johnny Campbell also promised an autographed jersey – this made his eyes light up and he gave a thumbs up and big smile. By the time the Baja 1000 rolls around I’m sure Luis will be up and around and he’ll get to shake the hand of many of you (and get a photo taken with Johnny I’m sure).
At the end of three days of challenging riding, the unanimous decision was that the 2009 Baja Beach Bash was a huge success. Everyone had a great time and we were able to give a little back to the people of Baja in the process. While many of the participants were regular travelers to that area, the newcomers were genuinely surprised at the hospitality the people are already talking about their next trip to scenic northern Baja.