El Diablo Run 2019 - EDR- test your limits and free your mind
El Diablo Run aka EDR is put on by our good friends over at Biltwell Inc. This run only happens once every two years and normally starts in Temecula, CA then heads south to San Felipe in Baja, Mexico. My wife Kat and I were lucky enough to take part of the past 2 EDRs. We kind of knew what to expect from the weekends festivities filled with amazing people, drunken good times, faces full of tacos, swim fests in the Sea of Cortez, races till the death, and explosion parties. After discussing where to stay we decided to change it up a bit and fly out to our friend Brad Gregory's house in northern Phoenix area and ride down from there, borrowing a couple of his custom Sportsters. Kat and I also decided we weren't going to stay at the famous Kiki's this time and stay up all wee hours of the night, but rather get a house with some friends, cook some dinners and get some nice R&R.
Day 1 - The Ride to San Felipe, Mexico
Brad loaned Kat a bitchen 2005 rubber mount Sportster with an 88 cubic inch freshly built motor and he gave me his 1994 Hooligan flat tracker Sportster to take on our adventure south. We took off promptly at 7 am to accommodate for our close to 400 mile ride we had upon us. Danger Dan and a guy from New York named Rob pushed off with us. As we rolled down the highway at a quick 90 mph or so, Rob came up to my right side and signaled for me to pull over and shouted "You have oil dumping everywhere!" I laughed a little and knew exactly what he was talking about. The pushrod seals that we just replaced the other day on the '94 I was riding must not of sat in right and it was still leaking. We pulled over and I thought to myself, "Well I've been here before, ol'Oily leg 2.0 here we go." I looked up the closest auto parts store on my phone to grab some oil and figured I'd just pour some in at every gas stop.
As we pulled off the exit and took a left we passed the auto parts store. I sped past everyone and signaled to do a U-turn. In doing so I took off like a bat out of hell and the bike got a bit louder then I remembered. Kat pulled into the auto parts store parking lot as I was getting off the bike. She asked me laughing, "Missing something?" I looked down at the muffler and the baffle had blown right out of the damn exhaust.
All I could do was laugh as my morning was shaping out to be a great one. Dan pulled in and then asked me the same question, laughing. Rob came in right after, turned his bike off and said, "Oh dude I stopped and picked up your baffle that fell out of your muffler and threw it on the sidewalk!" In shock we all asked, "Why the hell didn't you bring it!" He apologized and told us he had no where to put it and it should only be a block down or so. Frustrated by the whole situation I took a walk down the street to find it. The baffle was about 5 blocks down where I initially pulled my U-turn.
I found some oil and the 1/4 - 20 bolts needed for the exhaust / baffles at the auto parts store. Dan helped me put it back together and we poured some oil in the bike. I texted Brad to double check with him if it was cool on what I was about to do, to just pour in some oil every gas stop etc. When he wrote me back, "Just take it back to the house and grab my green chopper, I'd rather you have a reliable bike than a bike leaking oil all over your leg all weekend." Kat and I said our goodbyes to Dan and Rob and headed back towards Brad's house. Luckily we were only about an hour out so it just gave us a little deja-vu having to start our trek all over again.
After getting the green chopper we hit the road and hit the miles hard. Kat and I tried to make up for lost time in hopes that we would eventually meet up with some of our San Diego friends we were sharing a house with in San Felipe. As the miles kept going we got a bit hungry and stopped for some fast food. I shit you not, my large drink even had a leak in it at the bottom of the cup and spewed all over me. I asked Kat, "Is everything today just gonna leak?" After eating and filling up, we threw another 90 miles down when Kat started to putter out of gas up a hill.
Filling her up with some of our gas cans that sprayed me in the face early in the day filling up, we got set to get back on the road when Kat's kickstand had melted into the asphalt causing her and the bike to fall over right into the highway. A semi truck wizzed by us just a few feet away as it merged over last minute just missing her. It was just one of those days where stupid little things were happening, and now looking back at it I feel like I came into the day, thinking the run would be easy because we've done it before. It just goes to show anything and everything can happen on a run. Luckily Kat was fine and only a few little scratches happened on the bike and we kept making our way down to San Felipe.
We ended up crossing the boarder into Mexico at the entrance right after Yuma, AZ. Kat and I had never been there before. I did get stopped by a boarder guard on the Mexican side. He was amped up and a bit un happy when we crossed the boarder because we didn't take our helmets off. He asked me where we were going and for our passports. He wasn't the nicest guy, but he let us go on our way. The GPS on Kat's phone was being a bit finicky and we found ourselves circling a few times trying to figure out how to get on a road that would lead us west towards route 5. Taking in the scenery what little I could because my head was bouncing up and down almost the entire time from being on Brad's rigid. There were some beautiful farms, from cilantro and beans to palm trees and oranges. The smells were intense and I remember feeling a bit nauseous from all of the bumps. I'm pretty sure it was more from the fast food we had eaten earlier and less from the smells.
We made our way onto route 5 and stopped at the last gas stop before San Felipe making sure to fill up not only our gas tanks but ourselves with some water and Electrolit (its like Pedalite but for adults, wild!). We saw a few other people riding in, doing the same and waived as we pulled away. I remember smiling at Kat because we were getting really close. The sun started setting and I can't think of more beautiful place in the world than route 5 at that time of day. Yes its still got some crazy inverted speed bumps and throws you around a bit, but man what a road to be on. Its the only place I know where you can see sands, the salt, and the ocean all on one side of the road while the vast mountain ranges tower on the other side. The sun was setting on the tips of the mountain ranges like a cherry on top of a sundae. It just creates some of the most magical colors in the sky.
We finally made it downtown San Felipe around 8:30 pm and went to the main Taco spot to meet up with Ace, Edith, Zack, Jay and Virgina. A cold cervezas and burrito was on the list to be one of the first things to grab and thats exactly what Kat and I did. It felt good for the day to be close to an end. 400 plus miles in one day and over 200 of them on some of the shittiest roads you will ever ride on a rigid, it'll take a lot out of ya. It felt good to be in the company with close friends and my wife. The over whelming feeling of being alive and having the next 4 days to relax set in.
Day 2 - Baja Barney, The Valley of Giants, and Zacks Wild SR500
Waking up early for breakfast we met up with Jay and Virginia. After eating we boogied back to our house that we were renting to get on the beach for some photos. I have been with Kat now for almost 15 years and married to her for 10 and we couldn't think of anything better than having some of our uber talented best friends take some really nice photos of us to celebrate the love we have shared in one of the most amazing places. We never hired a wedding photographer for our wedding and have deeply regretted it ever since. At the house we pulled in to find a big old basset hound named Barney just chilling by the garage. He walked into the house and followed us pretty much all weekend long. He was named Baja Barney by Ace and songs were sang about him with in minutes and was the house mascot. It was cool to have actual nice dog that wasn't a stray hanging around, made us feel right at home. The neighbor told us he just hangs out at the 4 houses at the end of the block, but it was their dog.
After taking a bunch of lovey dovey pictures on the beach with Kat we decided we would hit up The Valley Of Giants. Jay and Virgina had never been and Zack wanted to tag along to see these 400 year plus cacti in the middle of nowhere. It was only 15 miles south from where we were, but in those 15 miles were filled with some of the absolute worst roads ever. Sands had washed some of them out and pot holes were big enough to make a bike flip end over end if you hit it right. You could find a really nice patch of concrete at times and I would try and snag a few pictures when it happened but the roads were just horrible. The Valley Of Giants cost $10 per person and I really think that was to pay for the fun ride you were about to have in the sand and less about the huge cacti. It's totally worth it, don't get me wrong, who doesn't like to go off roading on a chopper / show bike? My nerves were flying as I told myself, "Please don't dump this bike in the sand. Keep it up right!"
The Valley Of Giants is a real site to see. Massive cactus for miles and vast quietness surrounds you from all sides. After we checked out everything and Jay did a little ripping and taring on his KTM we were getting ready to head back when Zack looked down laughing and said "OH NO!" We all ran over to find his bottom tab on his gas tank had cracked off completely. We all laughed about how crazy his SR500 was already, covered in zip ties holding every piece you could see. We said to him, "What if you just zip tie that down too!?" And thats exactly what he ended up doing. Three large zip ties on one side of his filler neck to the bottom and three large zip ties on the other sides holding it down tightly. I've never seen a more haggard bike do so many miles in all my life. And not once did Zack get bummed about any of the problems either, he just smiled and fixed what he could with what he had on him and kept on going. It always blows me away to see that kind of stuff. There is a lesson in that story somewhere.
Getting back to the house, we kicked back and relaxed in the ocean for a bit, then caught up with the rest of the San Diego crew all night long as most of them arrived while we were at The Valley Of Giants. No explosions of M80's or loud music, just good people, lots of beer and tacos. We ended up getting some really good sleep that night too.
Day 3 - Circle of Death Races and Party Time!
Kat and I woke up pretty late Saturday picking up some much needed rest. For breakfast we hit up the local Calimax grocery store for some delicious baked goods and then headed down to Kiki's to find some other friends we heard were in town. Kiki's and Reubens are the main spots most people camp / get rooms at when at EDR and pretty much where the party is. We parked at the first Palapa we recognized a bike at and immediately ran into Tyler, Amity, Timmy and Jack. Some of the best people ever. With a couple beers down I realized the time and headed across the street to the Circle of Death to see what the deal was with the races.
Here is a good idea. Let's make a mostly right handed turn track in a shape of jelly bean that has tons of rocks, garbage, and sand then throw some choppers on it, race and see you wins. Sounds fun right? You're damn right it's fun, to watch! It always amazes me to see the guys racing their bikes that they rode down to San Felipe, their only way home and not giving a f*ck at all. They are all going full throttle and trying to get the crowds riled up and reactions. The outside circle of people cheering reminds me of the gladiator days or something, it's straight out of a movie feeling. I really just love the chaotic feeling of the dust and rocks flying; bikes launching from their riders. Its beautiful in every way.
As the races come to an end everyone floods over to Kikis and Reubens where the party starts to get wild. M80's exploding, scantly clad dancers taking stages, beers flowing and other fun adult activities are to be had. If that's not what you are into, there are still a ton of great bikes to look at and a bunch of amazing people to hang out with too! Kat and I knew all about this and were trying to take it easy so we headed back to the house and wanted to cook for all of our friends. What's something you can cook for 10 vegan / vegetarians ? Tacos! Well not just any tacos, we did tons of fresh sautéed veggies and added some black beans, potatoes, corn with cumin and paprika. It came out banging and everyone was super stoked. Big thanks to Kat, Edith & Kelly for all their help with the cooking. I've never cooked for that many people before and it was a lot of fun. I know, I know real biker shit.
Day 4 - Chopper Magazine Bike Show & Taking it Easy
Most of the San Diego crew had to leave Sunday morning. We said our goodbyes then hit up Kiki's to see who was staying and do a little swimming. After cooling off in the ocean and having a handful of cervesas we made our way down to the downtown boardwalk to see the Chopper Magazine bike show. Surprisingly a lot of people didn't go home on Sunday and there was a really nice turn out for the show with some absolutely incredible bikes. They had a band playing and some of the locals were dancing and rocking out on broom sticks. It was an over all relaxing day filled with good people and lots of cervesas.
Day 5 - Homeward Bound
Waking up super early on Monday, Kat and I said our goodbyes to Ace, Jordan and Baja Barney, oh and a crazy scorpion that was sitting on my Lowbrow Customs Fuel Reserve Bottle. Baja Barney tried to eat the damn thing after we realized it was alive and tried to run away. I learned later, that kind of scorpion is one of the most poisonous ones out there and could kill you! Pretty terrifying to say the least.
The plan was to meet up with the Biltwell crew and Tyler 1.0's crew at Pete's camp by 7 am for some breakfast and then head north together. We were pretty late but so was Tyler's crew so it all worked out. Kat and I still got to ride with a bigger group going back home which was super nice. I swear riding in a big pack is one of my all time favorite things to do. There's nothing else like weaving in and out of the pack taking peoples photos, getting good group shots and getting wild. About 50 miles in we find what looks to be an old abandoned gas station and filled up everyones bikes with our reserves.
Looking over at some other bikes pulling in behind us, I saw a dude coming in a little too hot on a white Shovelhead. The road kind of had this large drop off to the gravel lot and the dude over estimated it. He laid it down on the primary side kicking up rocks and dust everywhere. We ran over to pick up the bike and to see if he was ok and surprisingly he was fine and all he did to the bike was scratch up his Brass Pursuit pegs and bend the controls a bit. Some one had a hammer and he bent it back into a serviceable order. EDR man, it'll bite ya sometimes.
We rode some beautiful parts of route 5 for another 50 miles or so and a few of the smaller tanks started to run out of gas. It's not EDR unless you run out of gas and sit on the side of the road. So we scrounged up what little gas we had in our reserves for those who needed it and went to closed gas station after closed gas station until we found one. We rounded everyone up and headed towards the boarder where we sat for about an hour and half in one lane where they were making all the motorcycles wait to go through.
We had a dance party and some cold Coca-colas while we waited patiently. Finally after Kat and I got back on American soil we said our goodbyes to most of the group and headed back towards Phoenix with Brad and Savanah. Savanah was one of the 50 miles to the tank bikes so we made about 5 stops back to Phoenix but there were no hiccups. Just lots of fun dancing on our bikes, some In&Out Burger, and one amazing sunset. It turned out to be a great and long ride home. Kat was feeling a bit under the weather though and I felt bad for her, every single EDR she has to rode back home feeling some kind of sickness. At least this year it wasn't the montezuma revenge.
All in all, would I ever do this trip again? Yes in a heart beat. Each trip I do, I've come to realize it's all on how you look things. Look at something thats happening to you in a negative light and bad things will keep happening. Look at something happening to you in a positive light and though shit might be going a bit wrong at the time, nothing is really all that bad, take the lesson it is teaching you and smile because you are in that moment for a reason. You can't ask for anything better then being able to ride in a remote destinations with the ones you love and solving life's little problems to keep you going down the road.
Don't go into things thinking it'll be easy and don't get upset when they seem really hard and things fall apart. Go into everything you do with an even keel and positive attitude and life will treat you well. EDR will test your limits but it will truly make you feel alive and free your mind. Make plans to make the trek in 2021 I promise you won't regret it. Till next time Mexico, it's been fun. I want to give a huge thank you to Brad Gregory for the place to stay in AZ and the three bikes he lended us for the trip. You are such good dude and can't thank you enough for all your help. Also I wanted to give a big thank you to Ace Goulet for securing the incredible house for all of us, it was truly paradise. Big Thanks to Tyler Malinky for help in making this trip happen. You always give me so many amazing opportunities and I'm truly thankful for you. Last but not least a big thanks to my wife Kat Arnold for being by my side, being my life partner, my best friend and my road warrior through thick and thin for the last 15 years. I love you!