Winter is always a tough time for riders in the North, but this January had been a particularly brutal month. The lack of snow meant the mountains weren’t calling to skiers, while sub-zero temperatures meant my bikes remained off the road and tethered to battery tenders. Worse yet, Toronto only scored 48.8 hours of sunlight the entire month. Seasonal Affective Disorder had set in big time, and I needed a cure. A quick escape would do.Somewhere to get my knees back in the breeze, get lost in some helmet time and to top off my vitamin D reserves.
Baja. I needed to get back to Baja.
Unlike my last time down the peninsula, this journey wouldn’t involve any hardcore off-road sojourns. Eaglerider Motorcycle Tours offers a tour for that kind of ride, but this time the majority of our group would be piloting behemoth baggers, so we were sticking to slab. I had reservations: parading down the highway in an endless sea of noise, leather and chrome is something I typically associate with Viking River Cruise clientele. I’m not exactly a “cruiser” guy.
My fears of sanitized experiences were assuaged when we met our guide, Brad. A Baja local, he’d pin-dropped stops on this trip that would showcase northern Baja’s culture — including coffee in his own backyard. Brad also had a dirt bike parked in his living room.
I wasn’t expecting much — in my mind, “all-inclusive” sucks life from adventure, sanitizes experience, bubble-wraps challenge.
Rolling out of San Diego, Tijuana arrived in no time at all. Suddenly, the urban sprawl stopped and rural topography began. The reasons why motorcyclists flock to Baja are many, but chief among them is this immediate transport into something foreign yet welcoming.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Mexican cuisine is just flat out amazing. La Estancia de Santa Rosa literally sits in the middle of nowhere. It’s not visible from the highway; there’s minimal signage. But given the views this restaurant affords and the fact that everything is grilled over open wood flames, anyone trekking to these parts should earmark it for a stop. (Though a previous scouting run revealed massive flooding in the area, so a local shuttle had been arranged for us.)
On day two, thanks to extra time, we found ourselves on a chartered boat, cruising around All Saints Bay while the morning fog burned off. It took all of twenty minutes before we had drawn parallel to a gray whale and her newborn calf as they practiced surfacing for air. Ensenada is a breeding ground for the gentle giants in the winter and spring months, so spotting spray is an easy affair. After the whales swam to deeper waters, lines were dropped and yellowfin tuna were reeled in.
And this is exactly how the tour continued. Logistics finessed, contingency plans carried out. When breakfast at a renowned Valle de Guadalupe haunt fell through, we were spoiled elsewhere at a different restaurant not usually open for weekday business. And even after hours, with the bikes parked and Tecates in hand, the Eaglerider staff continued to entertain — these guys love to ride and have a good time, whether via acoustic campfire renditions of Metallica or shooting Mezcal with locals.
Now in its twenty-fifth year, the motorcycle rental and tour operator has led enthusiasts down the Mexican peninsula and all around the world. Going in, I wasn’t expecting much — in my mind, “all-inclusive” sucks life from adventure, sanitizes experience, bubble-wraps challenge. Thankfully, Eaglerider is working hard to prove that with them, this will never be the case.
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