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El Diablo Run, San Felipe, Mexico

If you’ve known us for a little longer, or have been hanging out in one of our digital places, you may know that every now and then we pack up and go on a test ride. These notoriously end in unexpected spots, for example a boat on the Southern tip of Argentina, a bottomless mud track in Panama, a frozen river highway North of the polar circle or right beside the laid back birthplace of Daiquiri in Cuba.

It was about time that we went for another test ride: a couple of our Wrecking Crew dudes are doing this year’s El Diablo Run. They start out from San Diego on our Panamericana proven rigid Panhead and our scramblerized late model Sporty. They want to find out how far the knobby Bates Baja tires will carry them, and how the PanAm 60 weight handles the expected high temperatures.

What the devil …

El Diablo Run, or “Devil’s Run” is, in a nutshell, an extended weekend, with a bunch of old friends on “older, home-built, custom motorcycles” riding down Baja in Mexico for a couple of hundred miles. It’s just 250 miles on paper one way, but: Baja miles are different. Potholes, fine dust, gravel, no freeways. In San Felipe there’ll be beer and tacos, bike games, some kind of bike show, whatever.

The plan is this: ride to San Felipe from San Diego, arrive in one piece, have fun, come back in one piece. Everything else is optional. Tires and oil will have to keep up, it’s a test ride, dammit. Afterwards we’ll know more. ¡ÁNDALE!, Tommy, Chris, Thomas!

Tthe diablo starts here

OK, this is our not-quite-hellish test briefing: bring the Bates Baja tires home to where their name derives from. Percolating through the deepest innards of our bikes are PanAm lubricants. We’re rolling across the Mexican cacti-studded PANorAMa, simmering in the desert heat. (Yeah, we know, the Panamericana Highway, which originally gave its name to the brand, is a few hundred miles to the East)

Anyway, we kick start this trip in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California, U. S. of A. Not a bad place to chill, hang out with the dudes, go fishing, go surfing. It’s a nice hippie corner on the Pacific coast. The nights are made for drinking, and in the mornings after they serve up a decent breakfast here. Want to know more? We get huevos rancheros, hot, black coffee, and then it’s the highway. We saddle the ponies, drop into first and gently open them throttle butterflies.

Next stop is Calexico/Mexicali. Tommy is riding the Panamericana proven, jungle mud encrusted and flat track hardened rigid PanAmericana Panhead, while Chris grabbed the PanAm Scrambster. Or Spormbler?

The roads are awesome,

the 250 kilometers count down hassle free. We start out when it’s just 15°C, but soon the temperature rises to 35°C. Which calls for several stages of readjusting our garb. Good thing there are refreshing detours across the mountains, with sweeping bends in the road to please our tires, and all kinds of load/rev combinations for the lubricants toiling away in our oil tanks. The riders get well shaken, and their tastebuds get all scrambled. No better spot than the El Paso Taco Shop for a thorough tastebud recalibration. Very tasty tacos served here. If you’re in the area, don’t miss it.

After the mountains it’s the desert again, and before you can say “hasta la vista”, the long miles end in the lovely town of Calexico. Not bad for the first day. Let’s test the beer and/or whatever Calexico has to offer to road weary riders.

First and only item on the agenda

for today: Breakfast in Mexico! Slipped into Mexico with no problems, stopped in Mexicali.

Had some refreshments in a roadside kitchen where chicken and dog greet each other with “¡Mañana!”. Topped up the fuel tanks (no gas next 100 miles, and a Sportster tank)

Here comes the desert,

right out of central casting: mountains, rocky plains, sand, salt lakes, all connected by very long, very straight pieces of road. A class A ride, with short intermissions for gas (1) and cold beer (2).

But what’s that grinding noise from the panhead’s cases? It’s been running like clockwork, but there’s definitely a distinctive rattle. From now on, our brain power, so far used to take in the epic landscape gets reallocated to analysing the unnerving audio emanating from the machine’s entrails.

We make it to San Felipe with no problemo.

The Pan cools off in the shade, while we move closer to party operating temperatures by ingesting cold beer and hot fish tortillas. We start the cooled down Pan to check on the noise: it’s gone for the moment, so we can go into full party mode.

San Felipe fills up, there’s

lots to see. This could be a nice weekend … erm, a gruelling test ride for man and machine.

Raceday!

We spent last night distributing locally sourced lubricants in our own innards with the expected effect of a non-dynamic start into the day. Think clogged up moped carb. As a logical consequence (logical in the greater context of EDR) today racing was on the agenda. In order to not overload the aching noggins, there was the slow race, with girls driving and dudes on the p-pad. Setting down a foot meant instant disqualification. Yay!

Then there was

the Balance Beam competition. Wobble over a 6 inch wide 24 foot plank as fast or as slow as you want, without falling off. Repeat. The last rider to make it across wins.”And the eternal classic: the kick start race: kickstart your bike and take one lap around the track.

For those who had almost regained control over their neural functionality, it was the “Circle of Death”. Dudes were going around the dusty oval as if there was no tomorrow, and this contest was the only thing to save them from totally going to hell. Yay! Yay! The onlookers (as far as they were awake enough) gave the devil alcohol yet another chance, helped by the rising temperatures.

Well, tonite we’ll have something to talk about for sure. ¡Salud!