It started out uneventful enough, but no, as luck would have it I had to ride over to Yuma to pick up a part. Nothing serious, just a delay in the proceedings until the next day.
Once across the line into Mexicali a brief stop was required to get my tourist visa (ask for 180 days, and make it the standard in case they offer less). That’s a simple form fillout that the girl did for me. She asked for my passport, and kept it as she sent me across the road to the Banjercito office to pay the bill. I brought the receipt back, she stamped my passport and handed it back to me complete with my tourist permit. I was on my way.
No vehicle permit is required for crossing into and riding down the Baja. You will need one for the mainland, should you choose to cross there.
Once into Mexicali, it’s a matter of paying attention to the road signs. Believe me, pay attention. There are two M2 routes. The first is the old two lane ‘free’ highway, and the second is the M2 divided toll road. This second road out of town is a bit hard to follow given the lack of noticeable road signs. I had to backtrack a couple of times because the signs were hidden or pointing in the wrong direction, most notably at a traffic circle to the west of city center.
Once out of town to the west, things pick up. The four lane M2 is good, but watch out for slippery spots. Anti-freeze, oil and other unknown substances seem to leak out here and there. Once on a corner hill I felt my rear tire give up traction for a split second. Had I been speeding, I could have ended up in the ditch, I’m sure.
Traffic appeared to be very light on this road, probably because of the toll.
This road winds and twists and climbs to the west and then descends all the way to Tecate, where I had to go a fair distance into town for fuel. On the way back out, make a right turn at the fire station buildings and you’ll be on your way to Ensenada via M3.
While good, this road is a narrow two lanes and drops off spectacularly on the sides. There’s lots of truck traffic too, so take care. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, people do pass on corners and hills even though they aren’t able to see oncoming traffic. Keep an eye out and corner appropriately, no matter what, on this narrow road. Because I did that, I narrowly missed a head-on with a car passing on a hilly turn.
At El Sauzal the M3 runs into M1, and before you know it you’re on the outskirts of Ensenada. Keep to the right, read the signs, and you’ll be at a Pemex station if you want to get fuel here. If not, don’t worry, because there are plenty of Pemex stations on the way out of town to the south.
I elected to hook up with Avenue Lopez Mateos and park in front of the Hotel Bahia. It’s an older two storey hotel right downtown, with plenty of places to eat nearby. I had phoned ahead and booked a room. Price quoted — U$59.00. Price negotiated on the phone — U$39.00. During check-in I got a ticket for a free margarita in their bar. I enjoyed that after a long day in the saddle, believe me.
Parking at the hotel is in back, but the desk attendant told me I could park right beside the outdoor bar, so I wheeled up to within about 20 feet of the hotel’s back door, parked for the night and unloaded.
The room wasn’t anything fancy, but it did have a small balcony overlooking the sea to the west. You have a choice of carpeted rooms upstairs, or no carpet downstairs. And, they offered a ticket to a continental breakfast in the morning at a restaurant just a couple of doors away. The Hotel Bahia is popular with the biker crowd, so be aware that during rallies you may not be able to get a room here.
Hussong’s and everything else is within a short walk, so see the sights and try to avoid buying trinkets, because if you’re headed south, it’s a long way to be hauling goodies for the folks back home.