Long-time Motorcycle Classics contributor Joe Berk has returned from a 2,000 mile ride from Southern California to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and back aboard a 150cc bike. Now that he's back, he's been kind enough to share stories and photos from the trip. Enjoy! -Landon Hall
A group of five riders recently rode 150cc California Scooters from the San Diego area to Cabo San Lucas and back, a 2,000-mile ride round trip covering the length of the Baja peninsula. “We wanted to see how the Scooters would perform under demanding riding conditions, and have lots of fun doing it,” said Joe Berk, a California Scooter Company representative. California Scooters are Steve Seidner’s retro-styled modern versions of the 1950’s Mustang motorcycle. They are scooter-sized with a traditional motorcycle layout. The bikes entered production earlier this year.
The group included a virtual “Who’s Who” of accomplished small motorcycle and scooter riders. Arlene Battishill, President and CEO of Go Go Gear (and one of the first to purchase Seidner’s new bike) rode her custom-painted California Scooter. Battishill’s Los-Angeles-based Go Go Gear firm manufactures women’s riding apparel. John Welker, international motorcycle traveler and Chief Flight Test Engineer at Edwards Air Force Base, rode a black California Scooter Classic. Welker usually wrings out high performance military aircraft at Edwards’ Flight Test Center; the company wanted his test engineering and riding experience to evaluate the California Scooter. Simon Gandolfi, a British novelist and small motorcycle adventurer (he took a 125cc pizza delivery bike to the tip of South America) rode a pre-production California Scooter. J. Brandon, President of American Sahara, is a communications consultant specializing in the adventure travel industry.
The ride was tougher than usual, as September is Baja’s hottest month. The group crossed the Tropic of Cancer on their way to Cabo San Lucas, and they experienced daily temperature swings in excess of 50 degrees. Temperatures were well above 100 degrees on most days.
The northern part of the ride from Tijuana to El Rosario skirted the Pacific Ocean on the western side of the peninsula through Mexico’s wine country and agricultural region. Once below Ensenada, the group was well away from the tourist areas and deep into the heart of the true Baja and authentic Mexico.
At El Rosario the route turned inland through Baja’s Vizcaino Desert, with a mix of twisting mountain roads and long straights. Cirios, Cardon cactus, and other plants are unique to this area (they grow nowhere else). The scenery is stunning, and it stays that way all the way down to Cabo San Lucas.
The riders crossed Catavina’s boulder fields, a stark and surreal collection of enormous boulders punctuated by 70-foot-tall Cardon cactus plants (think of a Saguaro on steroids). The terrain in this region is other-worldly; many consider it one of the most unique landscapes on the planet.
At Guerrero Negro (about 500 miles south of the border), the California Scooter riders turned inland, crossing the peninsula in a southeasterly direction. After stopping in the San Ignacio oasis and riding through the Los Tres Virgenes volcano’s lava fields, the 150cc-mounted riders descended through La Cuesta del Infierno, dropping 2,000 feet in just a few miles to arrive in Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez. The group arrived in Santa Rosalia on Mexico’s Independence Day just in time to observe military parades and other festivities celebrating Mexico’s Bicentennial.
The single-cylinder adventure Scooter riders skirted the Sea of Cortez past Bahia de Concepcion (a magnificent ride along a stunning aquamarine bay), the resort towns of Loreto and La Paz, and points south to arrive in Cabo San Lucas after being on the road for 5 days. After staying the night in Cabo, the group immediately pointed the bikes north again, retracing their route at a much brisker pace. On the last two days, the group rode the bikes wide open, keeping the California Scooters near their top speed (just above 60 miles per hour on flat roads, depending on rider weight).
“It was a magnificent ride, and we learned a lot about the bikes,” said Berk. “It was all good…the scenery, the riding, the food, and the camaraderie. Everyone in the group said they’re ready to do it again tomorrow!”
More information is available on the company blog at www.CaliforniaScooterCo.com/blog/.
California Scooters in Baja. The team rode these 150cc, single-cylinder bikes 2000 miles, covering the entire length of the Baja peninsula.
The Group, including Simon Gandolfi, Arlene Battishill, J. Brandon, John Welker, and Joe Berk.
Authentic Mexican Dining. The team ate in local restaurants, and the food was great!
Riding Conditions in Baja. This is the Transpeninsular Highway along Bahia de Concepcion on the Sea of Cortez.
The Transpeninsular Highway. Arlene Battishill out in front on her California Scooter somewhere south of Loreto.
Cabo San Lucas at the Southernmost Tip of Baja. The Sea of Cortez is to the left; the Pacific Ocean is to the right.