The last time I tried off-roading I busted three ribs and a foot.

I’d negotiated a rock-strewn canyon and emerged above the rim of Searles Valley when I suddenly choked up in sand. My moron mind had made me look down, so I augered the front wheel deep till the big 1200GSA corkscrewed and flipped.

My Forma Adventure boot folded, twisting and snapping my ankle. I hit the ground hard. Gasping, I rolled on my back and stared at the sky as I lay dazed in a bed of teddy bear cacti. There’s nothing cuddly about teddy bear cholla!

A remote mountain in California’s Mojave Desert is not a good place to snap a fibula while riding a 700-pound Beemer. Next time I’ll slow down. Stay focused on the horizon. Swap the Michelin Pilots for more appropriate tires. Or maybe I just needed more practice. Perhaps on a long ride down Mexico’s Baja California peninsula? I mused later as I hobbled around on my crutches.

Baja California BMW 1200GSA motojournalist Christopher Baker RTW Moto ToursBaja California. It fired my imagination like a heat-haze hovering between hallucination and reality on the distant desert horizon.

When my buddy JD Smith called inviting me to join him for a two-week adventure to Cabo, I hopped excitedly like a Mexican kangaroo rat in estrus. I envisioned Baja’s savage beauty unfurling as if in an IMAX movie as we cruised down Highway 1, with occasional feral forays to help turn me into a badass adventure rider.

“We’re gonna do a lot of off-roading,” JD added, ominously. “You’ll need to change your tires. Get some Continental TCX80s or Metzeler Karoos. They’re good on the GSAs in the soft stuff.”

Uh-oh! JD is a motorcycle riding instructor. He’s explored Baja eight times. In 2015 he even crossed the fabled Darien Gap on a bike. That’s badass!

I realized I was on a steep learning curve as JD and the brutal desert promised to make me eat sand with a vengeance.

This is going to be raw. This is going to be ugly. And I’ms going to relish ever friggin’ minute of our adventure. Even if I bust a few bones.

Watch for this story in a magazine soon… STAY TUNED!

© Christopher P. Baker. All rights reserved.



Christopher P Baker


Christopher P. Baker, one of the world's most multi-talented and successful travel writers and photographers has been named by National Geographic as one of the world's foremost authorities on Cuba travel and culture. Winner of the Lowell Thomas Award 2008 as 'Travel Journalist of the Year,' he has authored more than 30 books, leads tours for National Geographic Expeditions, Edelwiss Bike Travel, and Jim Cline Photo Tours, among other companies, and is a Getty Images and National Geographic contributing photographer.