When the tough get cold, they ride to Cabo

The bikes were barely put away for the winter when one quick thinking Harley-Davidson dealer began planning the next ride. Two days before Halloween, an email came across the computer inviting the first on their feet with a deposit for a ride to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

The idea came to Blair Kane of Kane’s Harley-Davidson one evening during a gathering of fellow riders. According to the e-mail, the conversation went like this:

Blair has a brilliant idea. “Lets get the Hell out of Kelowna this winter and take a Ride to Cabo where it’s warm!”

“Yay”! Said the assembled throng.  “When will we go?”

“February, for about 10 days,” Blair decides in an instant.

“Yay”!  Said the assembled throng.  “How much?”

“UhOh” said Leanne who realizes she is now adding tour specialist to her resume.

“We’ll get back to you on that” says Blair to the group, knowing full well he won’t be doing any of the work.

Leanne Houston and Blair Kane of Kane's Harley-Davidson

Leanne Houston is the manager of the dealership and wears many hats that keep it all going smoothly so it is not surprising that ‘tour guide’ was added to the list.

The dealership offered to trailer nine bikes, including one of their own, to San Diego where they would meet a plane carrying the rest of the riders. From there, everyone would pack their own bike and point it South.

“I sent the e-mail out in the morning with the details,” says Leanne, “and told everyone that the first eight with their deposit would be going. It was full just after lunch.”

“One gentlemen walked in holding his credit card and said something like, ‘I was told to get my ass down here, give you my credit card and not ask any questions’,” laughs Houston.
So come February, nine couples stood in a self-storage parking lot packing their bikes for a 10-day, 3400 km round trip ride from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

Crossing into Mexico proved much smoother than from Canada to the U.S. Despite providing the U.S. Border Crossing in Osoyoos with the proper paperwork for the bikes Kane and Houston were transporting to the U.S., including statutory declarations from each bike owner, U.S. authorities delayed the clearance of the crossing for 24 hours.

Riding into Mexico at Tijuana, Houston laughed, “the border patrol there was waving us through frantically like we were holding up the line. No questions. No stopping. Just go.”

A quick detour West and it was a beautiful 127 km ride down the Pacific Coast to Ensenada.

“You can’t get lost,” says Houton, “there is only one road and it changes coasts back and forth all the way to Cabo.”

The rules of road seem equally simple. There don’t appear to be any. Houston said the highway resembled the autobahn “except there were wild horses, donkeys, goats, dogs, people and cows” every so often strolling road side.

Helmets are also optional but the actual city road rules are somewhat different.

“It is interesting traffic rules in Mexico,” says Dean Muscardin. “When you turn left onto a one way street, in Mexico, you are to turn into the far right lane as opposed to turning left into the closest lane like we do in Canada.”

Mexican authorities would pull him over for this infraction. However, not speaking English, Muscardin was handed a cell phone where an interpreter (whose English was poor) explained.

“I was told I had made a traffic infraction. My options were pay $115 at the police station or to pay $100 to the officer standing there,” recalls Muscardin.

Based on tales he had heard prior to traveling, he opted for payment at the police station but was promptly escorted off the main road at the next corner to a deserted road where the officers awaited the payment in their truck.

“It was an outright bribe to get my licence back,” says Muscardin. “I dropped the $100 in the officer’s lap and grabbed my licence and we got out of there. No written ticket, no other option.”

Tales like this are common among traveler but the incident didn’t ruin the trip.

“The best advice is not to ride alone,” continued Muscardin. “A minimum of three bikes together and not to ride at night.”

From Ensenada to Catavina (458km) to Mulege (416 km) to La Paz (485 km) and then to Cabo (216 km) for three glorious days of sunshine and marguaritas. Return trip looped North to Puerto San Carlos (414 km) to Santa Rosalia (391 km) to El Rosario (568 km) and back to San Diego (382 km).

Army checkpoints mark the road every couple hundred kilometres and while the checkpoints are relatively uneventful travelling to Cabo San Lucas, coming back they will stop you each and every time.

“They were friendly enough,” says Houston. “They seemed more interested in the bikes than what we had in our saddlebags.”

Travel tips from the travelers:

Bring electric clothing as the higher mountain passes prove chilly.

The best riding is between San Roselia and Loreto. Here will find yourself enjoying the twists and turns as you ride beside the Sea of Cortez. The road surface is good but narrow in places and “I wouldn’t rely on the road signs,” says Muscardin. “Sometimes you slow down because of a sign and nothing. Other times you are braking and there was no sign.”

At Guerrero Negro there is a tourist look out that offers whale watching. The road to the lookout is 24 miles of sand and very difficult to travel on a bike unless you have an adventure style ride. When you get there, you can see the great grey whales – about a mile away in the ocean. If you want to see the whales, rent a boat.

Book ahead to secure accommodation.

Carry at least a one gallon can of gasoline with you at all times. These riders needed it twice.

Do not cross back into the U.S. at Tijuana. Use the Tecate crossing a little to the East. Riders are shuttled past the traffic to the front of the line due to the heat.


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