Mexico Motorcycle Trip [Mexico]

  • Date: Mar 25-29, 2009
  • Destinations: Ensenada, Mexicali, San Felipe, Puertacitos
  • Activity: Motorcycle
  • Members: Abhinav Bhatele, Ankit Srivastava, Anshuman Gupta (Half Trip) and Nikhil Rasiwasia
  • Distance: 850 miles
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Terrain: Coast, Mountains, Desert

A small collection of my favorite pictures from the Mexico trip. We had two trips – Con Anshu, and Cin Anshu. Anshu lost is passport and hhad to go to Mexico City. Our original plan was to do about 1200 miles, but we had to come back to San Diego to Drop off Anshu’s Motorcycle. This was the first two days. The next three days, we went to a small beach town called San Felipe on the northern tip of Sea of Cortez. Unfortunately I was unable to take my camera on the second trip, so many of the pictures here are not taken by me and are from Bhatele’s point and shoot camera. A bigger collection of pictures is here. Ankit has also written a blog about it here.

Landmark JunctionWaiting for AnshuEnsenada, MexicoAnshu, Ankit and AbhinavNight View EnsenadaAnkit Leaning for LifeAt a coffee shop in TijuanaBack Home in San DiegoOn the way to San FelipeAbhinav BhateleNikhil RasiwasiaSunrise in San FelipeMexican HatsSome Random Beach south of San FelipePlaying in the BeachRelaxingThis is how we got them there.SoakingRare Pose Shot ;)Coming Back Home

Motorcycle Diaries

‘Che Guevara’ – This name had no significance for me a month back, but amusing co-incidences happened that I was repeatedly exposed to this man, in various forms. For people who know him, it will be trite to answer this question, and for people who dont, the question is set up such that it trite for them now, but a month back if someone asked me who is he, inspite of seeing this face on numerous tshirts and some demonstrative posters, I would have not been able to answer it.

The first correlation of the photo and the name happened in the introductory class on histories of photography, where this photo was shown as one of the most iconic images ever. This was the first time I took notice of the name ‘Che Guevara’. The next week, ‘Che Cafe‘ (a student run cafe at UCSD) reopened after probably two years of hibernation. And as you might have guessed the cafe was named after Guevara, and was a place for student activism in the 1970-80’s. At its opening I saw this iconic photo again and the correlation strengthened. I was surprised to the core, when I heard the very name on a online “hindi” news radio (hindi bbc radio) a week back. It was the 40th anniversary of his execution and they felt it important enough even for the hindi speaking audiance, to have a 10 min presentation about his life history. The final blow comes today, after seeing the movie Motorcycle Dairies (courtesy: Khatri Bhai).

Guevara was a doctor by profession, but is now best known as a revolutionary. He undertook a long journey across South America in 1952 with his friend Alberto Granado on a motorcycle. This was the trip which transformed him from a everyday doctor to the leader of Cuban guerrillas. The movie is based on a book written by Che himself with the same name and in my opinion is an exceptional movie to watch – both for the movie in itself and for what the movie represents.

From the technical standpoint, I felt the cinematography was top notch. Somehow all these latin american movies that I have seen recently – Amores Peros, The City of God to name others, have really saturated images which looks like direct positive and gives a strong feel to the movie. The background score was apt and catchy, with some good dance number thrown it. Given that the movie has a serious note to it, nevertheless it is filled with light hearted dialogs throughout, funny enough to make you smile if not laugh your gut out. I’d recommend this movie to anyone who wants to see a movie with some substance.

Death Valley

Route: CA85 -> CA17 -> CA1 -> CA46 -> CA101 -> CA58 -> CA178 -> CA395 -> CA190 -> Badwater Road -> CA127 -> Freeway15 -> Freeway215 -> Freeway15 -> Miramar Way.

If someone asks me right now, whats the best thing that happened to me after I came to America, without a second thought my answer would be ‘Death Valley Trip’. Before even going into further details of the trip, I urge you to click here to see what I went through OR if you have your cup of tea near by, click here for slideshow and just relax.

The desire to do a long bike (motorcycle) ride was there from the day I bought my bike, however the bike did not support me in the beginning. Two weekends worth of work was enough to bring it to an agreement. So it happened that I decided to come back from Mountain View (near San Francisco) to San Diego, a distance of 500miles. But the support was strong enough to push the distance still further, to a modest figure of 1000miles. And to share my burden was another enthusiastic biker dude friend of mine – Shree Ankit Srivastava – from UCSD, who dindt need a second to think, to jump in to the trip.

The journey started on 21st of Sept from 707 Continental Circle Drive, Mountain View, CA 94040. I was supposed to meet my partner biker dude at Bakersfield, about 350 miles from Mountain View. A rough calculation of averaging 45 mph put the time to 8 hours. My plan was to start at 12:00 noon and reach bakersfield at 7:30pm. As it usually happens with my other plans, I started an full hour and a half late from the scheduled time. A third of it was spent on shipping my stuff back to San Diego, another third in packing the rest of stuff (a large backpack) on my bike, and the last third at Gyros, a mediterranean restaurant which was in mountain view itself where I had my lunch. So around 1:30 with a small prayer to god, I started, thinking that I could still make it to Bakersfield by 8:30, if not by 8:00.

The first hour of my ride was filled with just two thoughts (which are usually the thoughts I have before all my adventure trips) – the ‘why thought’ and the ‘what if thought’. Why am I doing this? Whats the need? Why cant I not do this? and What if I am not able to make it? What if my body gives up half way? and this time, What if the bike stops supporting me?. But they were all ephemeral. Most of the ride from there is well documented in the photographs. Sorry if you are texty kinds of person, but the photos should speak for the ride. What is not documented is a couple of incidents/condition that occupied my mind later on. The first was an accident I witnessed around 6:00pm (No I was not involved in any way). An SUV was smashed into a Saturn, and I was probably the 4-5th person to reach the site. What I saw there was gory enough not to elaborate on the blog, but I will move ahead by saying that the accident was enough to send me into a gloomy contemplative mood. From then on was the most difficult part of the trip. It was getting dark, already 7:30, and I was still a good 160 miles away from Bakersfield. To top it up, the weather became unfavorable with rains starting to pour down, although not heavy enough, and I decided to continue in rain. Slowly the temperature too started dipping and I had to wear all the clothes I was carrying, three jackets, two socks, two pants. Next to add to the fun, the geography too was trying to test my limits. The route became too hilly, to push my average speed down to 30miles on road. The final blow came when I read the sign, ‘Next Services 82 miles (130kms)’. Another quick calculation, and I knew that I did not have enough gas to carry me through. The gas station was a good 10 miles back, but I had no options. All through that 82 miles I might have seen 10-15 cars at max. All in all this part of ride was enough to give me the adrenalin rush, more than I needed. I finally reached Bakersfield at 12:15am where thankfully Ankit had already booked a room in a motel.

The next day was much more comforting. The body got used to the riding position, have someone else drive with you gives you a mental boost that someone is there is anything goes wrong, the routes were really scenic, the weather friendly, and traffic minimal. Starting from Bakersfield at around 11:00, the first awesome drive was all along the kern river which ended near Lake Isabella. This is where someone allegedly stole Ankit’s one glove. From there heading north on 395 was where we achieved highest average speeds. The ride through death valley was also fascinating. For one stretch of 17 miles we turned our bikes off as it was all down hill and that too almost straight from 4956ft (1500mt) to 5 ft (1.5mt). The change in temperature was quite evident. Stopping for a while at Stovepipe Wells, where the san dunes are, we finally reached our destination for the day, Furnace Creek, in the heart of Death Valley at about 7:30pm. It was surprising to see all European tourist there, on inquiring we were told that in summers 99% of tourists are from Europe. We camped at the Furnace Creek Campsite and were in bed at about 10:00. With sweet memories of the day, with a goody goody feeling we both slept without dreams that night.

The final day was supposed to be tiring. We had to cover about 400 miles, and the last stretch would consist of Freeways :(. The start was slow, stopping numerous times on the Badwater Road, touching the lowest point in western hemisphere, at a depth of 282ft below sealevel. It was a fun ride. Mostly straightish kind of roads with no oncoming traffic. Stopping at the old town of Shoshone for lunch, we were all satisfied with our trip. Knowing that the last part wont be as exciting, we were soaked completely in the views of Death Valley. We hit the freeways at about 3:00pm. With a long monotonous sleepy ride of 200miles we finally reached home at about 7:30 in the night.

For those who know about the Nanital trip, this was quite different from that trip, but the feeling at the core was the same – ‘Freedom’.

Nanital Extended

My fascination for long random trips started with the most random trip on my life – Bike trip to Nanital. Six of us – D, Motu, Charsi, Sutti, Amit Singh, and I, started at 4 am in the morning from Kanpur on two bikes and a scooter hoping to reach Nanital, and for records we did. Tomorrow I am going to start for yet another trip – but this time the learning grounds would be different. I plan to go from Mountain View to San Diego via Death Valley,


My Route

Starting tomorrow afternoonish I will reach bakersfield in the night, there another friend of mine from San Diego will join me for the rest of the trip. Sat morning we will start for Death Valley, stopping at the Furnace Creek campsites, and Sunday back home. The total distance for me would be around 1000miles (1600kms).

Biking (motorcycling to be specific and biking here usually means cycling) in America is a lot different from what it is in India. Some things make it easier and others hard. For one the roads are much better here in America, so one usually rides much faster, averaging 50miles (80kmph) on highways and freeways. In India the figures are the same but the units are kms, so one usually averages 50kmph. A distance of 1600kms here is then equivalent to 1000kms in India. What makes it little more difficult in America is that you dont have help on the road, not even nearby on most highways, so if anything goes bad with the motorcycle you are all on your own. Moreover the speed makes it little more dangerous, as you know if you fall, you fall.

On the things that make it easier is information. One can pretty much pre-plan the trip in great detail (which I am not a very bit follower of), but if you get lost (assuming that you dont have a GPS, which again I am not a very bif fan of), you are on your own. In India, the chances of loosing your way is high as the roads are not well marked, but you can easily get back on track taking help of locals. Another difference worth mentioning is the bikes themselves. Here anything lower than 500cc is not even considered a proper bike, infact mostly people ride 650cc and above, which is almost 4 times the cc’s commonly used on Indian roads. Anyways, enough on comparison, and this without even doing a long trip here ;).

Wish us luck for the trip, hoping that the bike and body will support us all the way with gods grace.