Dirt Biking Down The Baja Peninsula

Seems like an inconvenient way to get there
BY: SARAH ROUGHAN

Last month 39 dirt bike riders departed Tecate for the annual Monster Energy drink Rip to Cabo.  This 1500 mile journey down the peninsula all the way to Cabo consisted of about 10 hours of riding per day for each of seven days. Hmmm....1500 mile journey to the end of a 1000 mile peninsula? They took the long way.

A support crew that provides food, drinks and drags them out if they fall down, follows them.  This year’s crew consisted of 6 1 ton 4x4 trucks, 4 paramedics, 8 TV crew members with a media support truck, and a helicopter that chopped along overhead.  

The challenge started out 10 years ago with just a few friends, and over the years it has grown.  Host Cameron Steel says, “The Rip to Cabo received about 800 requests to join this year’s race through our website.  Out of the 39 riders who ended up making the trip, 32 were returning vets and seven were new riders.  We always try to reserve at least five spots for new riders so we can share the magic of Baja with them and we can be injected with their fresh stoke.  This year 2000 Surfing World Champion Sunny Garcia made his fifth trip with Rip to Cabo and Short Course Off Road Champion Casey Currie was along for the trip as well.”   

It’s not all fun and games along the way, some of the terrain is very difficult. And, this is not a race pitting rider against rider, they are all friendlies helping each other down the Baja.

 Mark Moss, who has gone on the Rip to Cabo every year explains, “Over the years we’ve had some very tough challenges to overcome such as breakdowns, being stuck in bad places, riders getting hurt and needing to be flown home.  Last year we had five bikes fall off a panga boat outside of Mulege and ended up at the bottom of the Bahia Concepcion.  In contrast to that, this year went pretty smooth.  The most challenging situation was when we were riding a long section of the beach south of San Juanico and into San Carlos.  We came across a river mouth we had to cross but the water was much too deep.  The first few bikes that attempted to cross quickly sank to the bottom.  Trying to get the dirt bikes back on dry sand and running again was a tough task, but by banding together and working quickly, we were able to salvage all the bikes and get them running again.”

The Rip to Cabo has gained the attention from the towns they visit along the way.  This year they stayed in San Felipe, Catavina, Bay of LA, San Ignacio, San Carlos and La Paz.  ”It’s awesome how happy and stoked everyone is to greet us along the way,” Cameron explains.  ”A highlight of the trip for me was the lunch we shared with the people of Guayaquil.  We even brought supplies to a remote fishing camp in San Rafael, aka Pancho’s.

While the riders were making their way south, their families were flying into Cabo and preparing to meet them at a bar called The Office.  Mark Moss explains, “Riding dirt bikes through the open desert of Baja is long, tiring and dangerous.  But getting to Cabo makes it all so worth it.  After riding for seven days, seeing the arches as we come into town is the best sight in the world.  It’s an annual tradition to ride straight to The Office to see our families and we even go out into the water with all our gear on.”  

The following night was an awards dinner held at Baja Brewery.

If you think the Rip to Cabo is something you’d like to participate in next year, start prepping now.  ”Seven days of back to back riding 200 to 300 bumpy miles a day is not for everyone.  ”It’s more mental than physical for most that come on the ride the first time,” said Cameron. “Expect the unexpected around every corner.  Respect the land, the people, the farms and the animals.  For me, It’s a trip of a lifetime every time!”  ,