Bottom line up front, if you have a chance to do a tour or take a ride with Chilly White of Enduro360.com in Baja, do it, you wont regret it.
First of all, I am a Baja rookie, I don’t know my way around Tecate, Ensenada, or anywhere else we were riding. I could have found my way back to the border but that’s about it. Also, I don’t like to ride on open roads, I was looking to ride the back trails and experience the true culture of Mexico and its residents and avoid, as much as possible, the tourist traps…Chilly delivered above and beyond in some cases!
He said we would ride in the mountains, find some awesome single track, ride the Pacific Coast, overnight at Mikes Sky Ranch, and ride wherever else the day would take us. We did all that plus some no trail, technical and “find that old trail that used to be there” kind of riding. Basically sun up to sun down, saddle sore, rub your skin raw kind of riding! Perfect!
Before I get too far ahead of myself, a trip like this is all about whom you ride with. Our group was Chilly the trail boss, his Dad Gordon (76 years old and still kicking ass on a bike), Scotty (a Baja junkie, financial advisor, journalist, and I am sure a few other skills) and myself (intermediate rider, not in the off road community loop, public servant, just love to ride when I can).
Chilly, as a guide, was pretty much no nonsense, here to ride, no flakes or whiners, speaks the language, understands the culture, knows how to navigate, and expects you to stay upright so we can get more trails in type of guide! Once he got a feel for our abilities after the first day he catered the ride for us to see as much of the trails as we (I) could handle. A typical ride day was get up in the morning, find some breakfast somewhere, head in a direction and find trails until we were running out of daylight, and then find a place to sleep.
A few highlights and memories from the trip; going through military checkpoints to get to the trails, some awesome and technical single track, double track, and yes no tracks…, riding on the beach while watching the dolphins out in the Ocean, eating at the out of the way taco stands, riding through towns and not getting pulled over and cited, fueling up at roadside stops where they filled you up from plastic gallon jugs of fuel, Gordon’s (Chilly’s Dad) history lessons, stories, positive attitude, and riding abilities (did I mention he is 76 years old?), Scotty’s stories, knowledge and insight in to Mexico, and watching him interact with the locals (a true love and appreciation for Mexico), and of course “Chasing Chilly”.
I have to laugh a little because we really didn’t talk too much while riding but there was pretty decent communication once I learned the body language; arm up closed fist means wait here, I am looking for a route, slight nod of the helmet means lets move out, stop and shut off the motor means take a minute and enjoy the view…., a stare means you kind of screwed up on that trail!!!
My critique; as a Baja rookie and realizing that the support team was what we were carrying on our backs…was that I could of used a packing list from the veterans! I carried way to much “stuff” in my backpack, although I could have survived for a week on what I packed. Lesson learned.
The rest was a blast and just what the Doctor ordered…