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In This Issue

10

Secrets of Japan

By Chirstopher P Baker

In this Feature, Christopher P Baker travels to Tokyo

after signing up for a Secrets of Japan tour

with Edelweiss Bike Travel which, appropriately,

described the 16-day circumnavigation of Honshu

— the main island.

16

Where the Pavement Ends

By Joe Brown

In this Featured Article, Joe Brown describes his

personal experience on his first time going offroading.

He spends his days alone on his journey

and traverses through dangerous and difficult terrain

in order to bring us a fantastic story.

24

Baja by Bike

By Jamie Elvidge

In this Featured Article, Jamie Elvidge travels to

Baja Mexico by motorcycle and explains which locations

travelers should visit on bike. Elvidge describes

the amazing food, culture, and her experience

on this trip with her friends.


08

Riding through a Minefield in Bosnia

By Cynthia Fitzgerald

In this first Department, Cynthia Fitzgerald describes

her nail-biting experience where she accidently

finds herself riding through a minefield.

Even when riding in a real and scary potential

minefield, Cynthia goes forward and continues on.

32

Jocelin Snow

By Andrew Nguyen

In this second Department we get a look into the

life of Jocelin Snow or “Moto Wonder Woman”. For

Jocelin Snow, motorcycling is a way of life. From

rider to racer and adventurer, she has devoted her

life to all things two-wheeled.


Danger Zone

Riding through a minefield in Bosnia

by Cynthia Fitzgerald

Many months before I So I just continued and thought it would soon become

reached Bosnia, other motorcyclists

had warned me and smaller, until it was just a dirt track. Tree branches

a normal road again. Instead, the road became smaller

about this country. They were hanging over the path, and I had to push them

told me not to go off-road away while riding. I had to hide behind my windshield

in Bosnia because there to avoid leaves and smaller branches hitting my face.

are still thousands of mines At some point, I started to wonder how long it had

left from the recent war. So been that someone other than me actually traveled

when I crossed the border into Bosnia from Montenegro,

I told myself not to go off-road and to stay when did they put the mines in the ground? Was that

this road. I began to calculate. When was the war and

on paved roads. I really didn’t want to risk hitting a 20 years ago too? And could these trees and branches

landmine and end my journey prematurely. When really be around 20 years old?

I started riding towards Mostar in the Herzegovina Finally, I reached a paved road without having

blown Basanti and myself to pieces

part of Bosnia-Herzegovina, I checked my Maps.meapp

as usual, to find small roads that would also

over a landmine. I was quite relieved to

take me to Mostar. I found a small road that started

out very nice. It had two lanes, was well paved

time I should just turn around and go back

see that road and told myself that next

and it went through different villages and beautiful the same way in such a situation! When I posted

nature. I was very pleased that I found this alternative

route. The further I drove, the smaller the road ple warned me about the danger of mines in Bos-

my video of that ride on YouTube, hundreds of peo-

became until it gradually turned into an unpaved nia. Every time I read such a comment, I wanted to

road. It still looked like a road though, so I figured say ‘Yes, I was aware of it and didn’t really plan to

it wouldn’t be a problem. But slowly I really started ride such a track!’. I always tell myself beforehand

to think if it was actually true, ‘Would there really

be mines here’ and ‘could I be driving towards a go back. But I guess I’m the type of person who pre-

that when it gets too tricky, I can turn around and

minefield?’ You know probably not, Is what I said to fers to move forward instead of going back the way

myself so that I could feel better about the whole I came. So I had to go forwrad and continue on my

situation. But truly I was terrified about what I was exciting adventure. Even when I am really riding in

doing and what I was going through at the time. a real and scary potential minefield.

8 CLUTCH December 2020

CLUTCH 22



CHRISTOPHER P BAKER


SECRETS

of

JAPAN


JAPAN

TOURING

I

arrived to motorcycle Japan with a notion that its society

was pretty uptight. To my delight, everyone was

so jokey and smiley. The moment I went to the john, I

understood why. Sensing my approach, the toilet cover

automatically lifted and jets sprayed a mist of electrolysed

water (to ensure that “dirt” wouldn’t stick).

The über high-tech contraption was so intimidating I

forgot why I’d sat down in the first place. The arm rest and

wall-panel controls had more gizmos than a TV remote: a

heat control for the seat; music options; a built-in massager

“to help defecation”; a bum gun for cleaning the privates,

including a “turbo wash” option; a button for “front washing”

and another for “rear washing”. Plus a heated blow-dryer.

The Japanese had turned the act of poop and pee into

a hands-free, technologically enhanced pleasure ritual. No

wonder the women were so giggly.

I’d signed up for a Secrets of Japan tour with Edelweiss

Bike Travel which, appropriately, described the 16-

day circumnavigation of Honshu — the main island — as

“a mix of ancient traditions with modern technology, fantasy

and creativity”. Our group of 15 riders (plus eight pillions)

spanned the antipodes: three Canadians, three yanks, three

Aussies, a Greek couple, a BelgianGerman-South African

hybrid, and a sprinkling of Germans and Swiss. Tokyo’s

Rental 819 supplied the bikes — mostly BMW 1200GSs, with

a pair of Ducati Multistradas and Honda Africa Twins, plus a

Suzuki V-Strom and Harley-Davidson Ultra in the mix.

We hightailed it out of the frenzied metropolis on

the Yokohama Expressway and two hours later hit the coast

at Kamakura. The palm-lined coast highway to Enoshima

caused a “am I in Sausalito?” double-take. To my right, stylish

homes and cafes with names like Pacific Drive-In and

Aloha Beach Cafe. To my left, surfers rode the waves off a

crème brûlée beach. This being Sunday, Tokyo’s friendly motorcycle

fanatics were out in force. Packs of Harleys, Sports

tourers galore. And bōsōzoku — a uniquely Japanese youth

sub-culture on a miscellany of ridiculously modified bikes.

Our lead guide, 50-year-old Angela de Haan, had first

scouted this trip for Edelweiss two years before. This was

her baby. She’d stitched together a superb route combining

expressways, two-lane toll roads, and convoluted onelane

mountain roads called tōge that we devoured at high

speed, as befitted the nimble GSs. The fun began on the

racetrack-smooth Mazda Turnpike — the go-to road (dubbed

“Japan’s Nurburgring”) for automotive press trials — as we

spiralled up eight miles of sweeping curves and tight coils to

the Daikanzan Sky Lounge for lunch and a grandstand view

of snow-capped Mt. Fuji. It was a great warm-up for more

challenging, adrenalin-charged riding which, during the

next two weeks, delivered us into Japan’s tooi inaka (deep

country). Honshu measures 800 miles north to south, with

astonishing diversity, from its rugged Mendocino-like coastline

to the snowy, soul-soaring heights of the Japanese Alps.

“The Japanese for whom ‘skinship’

promotes social bonding

— have no inhibitions about

being nude. Not even Speedos

are permitted in onsen”

Our man Christopher P Baker getting right into the local swing

of things, wearing the traditional yokata. Vermilion torii gates at

Fushimi-Inari temple, Kyoto. mountain roads called tōge that

we devoured at high speed, as befitted the nimble GSs. The fun

began on the racetrack-smooth Mazda Turnpike — the go-to

road (dubbed “Japan’s Nurburgring”) for automotive press trials

— as we spiralled up eight miles of sweeping curves and

tight coils to the Daikanzan Sky Lounge for lunch and a grandstand

view of snow-capped Mt. Fuji. It was a great warm-up

for more challenging, adrenalin-charged riding which, during

the “You’re free to ride off on your own,” Angela had informed

us. But most road signs (and even gas station instructions) are

written in Japanese script. And in the boondocks few locals

speak English. Attempting to follow our designated route, even

with the 1:200,000 map that Edelweiss supplied, would have

been like trying to negotiate the Minotaur’s Maze. Except for two

German couples who’d brought GPS and by the second week

made solo forays, we rode as two groups (the second led by

Dutch Special Forces veteran Ted Goslinga) that departed each

day about 15 minutes apart.

12 CLUTCH December 2020


We rode as two groups (the second led by

Dutch Special Forces veteran Ted Goslinga)

that departed each day about 15 minutes

apart. The rules were simple: No overtaking.

No racing. No bottle and throttle until

each day’s riding was over. “Irasshaimase!

Irasshaimase!” The female staff were

dressed in yukatas (lightweight kimonos) and they giggled as they

bowed repetitively like bobblehead dolls. “Welcome! Welcome!” they

intoned as we pulled up to the beachfront Hotel Imaiso Kawazu. It

was the same at every hotel, which varied nightly between western-style

and traditional Japanese lodging. Despite its modern exterior,

the Imaiso operated as a ryokan, with shoji-screened rooms.

We were issued yukatas (blue and white for the guys;

gals each got a different floral pattern … the younger the person,

the brighter the colour). And slippers. I loved “going native”;

why, I wondered, did most tour members resist? But there were

rules. No shoes on straw-mat tatami floors. No house slippers

outside the hotel. No toilet slippers — yes, toilet slippers! —

outside your john. Which reminds me… why don’t

the Japanese use left- and right-foot slippers?

And different sizes? The uni-foot slippers

were three sizes too small. I felt like I’d

had my feet bound as I tottered down

to the onsen, the hotel’s soothing

hot spring baths. Nothing was as

relaxing and rejuvenating after a

day’s hard riding than a soak in

a communal onsen. All our hotels

outside Tokyo had these intimate,

often sophisticated bath

complexes, divided by sex. The

Japanese — for whom “skinship”

promotes social bonding

— have no inhibitions about being

nude. Not even Speedos are

permitted in onsen. Nor tattoos.

And Japanese patrons watch “gaijin”

(foreigners) closely to ensure that before

entering the water they sit on stools at

mirrored public showers and soap every nook

and cranny as if this was their wedding night. Most

nights we feasted on a traditional Japanese banquet. A taste for

raw squiggly things was required. Every item came in its own

ceramic platter, scalloped dish, or lotus-shaped bowl. Conga

eel, clams, sashimi, miso soup, a salad of seaweed and octopus,

a bubbling broth with mushrooms and vegetables, steaming

rice with bamboo and radish, red bean-paste jelly dessert.

And everything prepared with the fastidious care of a Japanese

miniaturist. I slept contentedly on a futon and rice-filled pillow

spread out on a tatami floor. On day two we ascended Mount

Fuji. A superb sunny day of almost endless twisties and hairpins

that transcended Fuji’s barren treeline and began with a

sensational highlight: The Kawazu-Nanadura loop bridge, a

unique double spiral coiling into the mountains of the Izu peninsula

like a DNA helix. Day three the kaleidoscope turned as we

blazed and dipped and twined along forested mountain roads

— tendril thin and hella fun — clinging to themountainous contours

of Shizuoka. Tea country, with steep hills and vales patterned

in rows of dark-green corduroy. In a country of 127 million,

you can’t escape cities. We cascaded out of the mountains

and crawled through a coastal conurbation to arrive at Hotel Irago

View, superbly situated atop Cape Irago with dramatic sunset

ocean vistas. Our early-morning ferry across Ise Bay roiled beneath

bruised, brooding clouds. Rain began falling as we were

hauled off the ship. It didn’t let up. That’s life. We arrived at Nachikatsuura

mid-afternoon sodden, the day’s memories a gray

blur. But memories of the Hotel Urashima Nagisa’s six Zen-like

onsen — two inside caves — will endure. Speaking of Zen … on

day five we followed the Shingu River valley (shades of California’s

Russian River) to arrive in Hongū. The start point of the Kumano-kodo

pilgrimage route, it also boasts Japan’s largest torii

— iconic shrine gates — soaring nearly 40m over rice paddies.

The BMWs fairly sang with delight as we then climbed

curlicue into the mountainous, pineclad Kii Peninsula, passing

one Shintō shrine after another to arrive at Kōya-san, with

its scores of Buddhist temples and pagodas and

air thick with incense. Finally, the spaghetti

expressways of Kyoto, and a full rest day

to explore Japan’s former imperial and

cultural capital at will: Fushimi Inari

shrine’s endless arcades of vermilion

torii, girls in kimonos like

a flurry of cherry blossoms in

spring, geishas scurrying to secret

liaisons in the narrow back

streets of Gion. For all its modernity,

Kyoto immersed me in

indelibly quintessential Japan.

This was late May. We’d missed

the sakura — Japan’s brief

cherry blossom season — by a

month. But day seven’s sweeping

downhill to Himeji Castle delivered

classic Japanese scenery of limegreen

bamboo and plumpurple maple

and, in the valley bottoms, chartreuse rice

paddies studded by quaint wooden machiya

houses with elaborate gray tile roofs adorned with

fish-like creatures to protect against fire. We finally spilled out

of the mountains next day to hit the Mendocino-like shores of

the Sea of Japan after an exhilarating morning thrashing whiplash-sharp

coils on pinched, gravel-strewn mountain roads. “I

should have rented a GS,” moaned Greg from Perth, Australia,

at dinner. “The Ultra isn’t a bike for these kinds of roads. Anyone

less experienced than me would have problems.” How true! I’d

ridden behind him for a while and was impressed at how he’d

negotiated the writhing hairpins without spilling. Understandably,

Greg opted out of next day’s highlight: A beach ride along

the solid-packed sands of Chirihama Nagisa Driveway. I was

excited to be heading, now, for the Japanese Alps via Gokayama, a

hamlet of centuries-old steep-roofed thatched farmhouses. By day

12 we were closing in on it. Gentle, contemplative running aboard a

big bike. Nice. Women in yokatas posing for selfies.

December 2020 CLUTCH 13


Highest traversable road in Japan. “When the weather

plays along, this road provides some of the most

stunning scenery in the country,” Edelweiss’ comprehensive

tour booklet stated. The weather didn’t

play along. We crossed in fog and rain. Still, there

were windows when the clouds parted, hinting at

vast alpine grandeur and giving brief glimpses of

the road snaking to infinity far below. No chill could kill the warm

fuzzy feeling of seeing eye-to-eye with onsen-loving snow monkeys

— as red-faced as if sozzled on sake — at Jigokudani on Shirane’s

northern flank. And azaleas blazed like hot lava on the slopes of

Mount Akagi volcano in a rare rain respite the next day, ending in

Nikkō — a small mountain town where I spent our second rest day

exploring the Toshō-gū temple complex. The circle was almost

complete. We turned south for Tokyo via the Twin Ring Motegi.

The circle was almost complete. We turned south for Tokyo via

the Twin Ring Motegi, Japan’s premier race circuit and setting

for the Japanese MotoGP. By chance we arrived on a race day

… too early to see the races, but in time for Angela’s group

to take a pace-car-led round of the track. Too soon I was on a

whisper-quiet limousine bus (with white-gloved chauffeur) to

Narita airport. As we departed, a uniformed girl stepped on with

a sign reminding us to wear our seat belts, then a screen lit

up: “Beware of noise leakage from headphones”. She bowed at

the driver as she stepped down. I was going to miss Japan’s

seamless efficiency, its orderly serenity. For two weeks I’d not

heard the assault of reggaetón, nor seen any trash. I’d even

forgotten how to use toilet paper. My last, fond memory of this

bike-friendly country was a final “one-for-the-road” hands-free

poop and pee, courtesy of Panasonic.

14 CLUTCH December 2020

CLUTCH 3


December 2020 CLUTCH 15



BY Joe Brown

WHERE THE

PAVEMENT ENDS


An off-road journey

This is a disaster. Just a

few hours into a threeday

motorcycle ride

through the unpaved

wilds, I’ve already

dropped the bike several

times. I’m beat up; my

hair is matted with sweat. My wool base layers

are wet-stuck to my skin. My confidence

is brittle as burnt paper. On a motorcycle,

confidence is a small target that you need

to hit squarely. Get too cocky, overcook a

turn, and you’re a flower-covered cross on

the side of a highway. But if you ride timid,

your lack of speed could put you at the

risk of wiping out then and there; the faster

the wheels are turning under you, the more

gyroscopic stability they provide. I’m doing

that second thing: which is crawling too

slowly over a large, brown, and close rutted.


I’m supposed to be testing my own ability

to step away from the civilized world, trying

out the best equipment for eating, sleeping,

and riding under the unobstructed sky.

Instead, I’m spending way too much time

looking up at the sky from underneath what

I would say nearly 500 pounds of Kawasaki.

The problem is that I’ve strapped about 50

pounds of clothes and camping gear to the

back of the bike, about a mile above my center

of gravity. I’m riding the 2014 edition of

the KLR650, a venerable model dating back

to 1987. The KLR is known as the french fry

of motorcycles. You can find one (and someone

to fix it) anywhere from California to the

Central African Republic. Its terrain-eating

suspension and centrally mounted engine

are designed to deliver the balance and

clearance you need to be able to go many

miles beyond the end of your comfort zone.

Unfortunately, the KLR’s seat is 35 inches off

the ground; my jeans have a 30-inch inseam

in them. My tent, in contrast to the bike, is

cooperative. Also it has a garage. Made by a

mom-and-pop shop called Redverz, it sleeps

two (technically three, but don’t even) and

has a ride-in vestibule to keep your bike

sheltered from the elements. Sometimes,

like when you are ducking a sandstorm

while riding in the Paris-Dakar Rally, shelter

for your gear as well as yourself can be very

important. And also on a clear weekend in

the Washington mountains it is, also a little

overkillish. My tent is great, but man, the instructions

are so laughable. While one of the

steps is basically “Put the poles in their corresponding

sleeves,” but then includes the

single laminated page that happenly gives

no indication of what would even be able to

corresponds to what part.

December 2020 CLUTCH 19



My tent also comes

with stakes and

this old instruction

sheet doesn’t

for some reason

evento mention

them. Half an hour later I’ve got shelter.

I wheel the bike in, start a fire (outside),

change into sweatpants. The cold of the

morning is felt on my nose. About the only

thing peeking out of my down mummy

bag—wakes me. It’s still dark out, so I go on

to flick on my little Black Diamond LED lamp

and you can dress without even leaving the

Put the next day’s clothes in your sleeping

bag at night and they’re warm when you get

up in the morning. Between my wool base

layers and the insulated Rev’it riding getup,

I’m cozy. Leaving my gear at the campsite, I

get an early start and ride up a logging road

that’s supposed to have some very intense

and very challenging terrain. That would

give trouble to any rider. It gets very bad

but, in the best way: muddy, that is also

around barely I would say is 6 feet wide. Not

to mention that there are also the Ruts so

deep you could even be able to use one of

them even as a freaking koi pond.

“THE ROAD GETS BAD,

BUT IN THE BEST WAY.”

The Redverz Expedition tent that I had with

me is so very much motorcycle-centric that

it even comes with this awesome looking

part that is a almost like a built-in garage

so that you are able to shelter your bike and

also as well as a wonderful looking and very

useful shelter for all of your important andvery

necessary motorcycle gear.

December 2020 CLUTCH 21


I

ride it a few times, forcing myself

to be light on the bars, to let the

front tire follow the terrain, to steer

with my knees rather than my arms.

Speeding up, I aim for a sharp crest I

previously avoided. I roll on the throttle

to transfer weight to the rear wheel and

hit hard. I clear it, only to realize that there’s

a bigger rock on the other side. Gravity and

momentum pitching in, I hit that one even

faster, and I feel the bike leave the ground.

Throw my weight left, ride it out, and then

skid my rear tire to a stop. This is what you

call a turning point. By the third morning,

the bike feels dialed in. The air is cold on

the patch of neck my suit and helmet leave

exposed. I ride paved roads from mountain

to mountain, and the bike is happy on the

blacktop: dancing through the tar-snakes on

the farm-lined back roads. Off-road, headed

up a rock-and-mud slope, I push a little too

hard and almost lose it a few times. Almost.

22 CLUTCH December 2020



Baja by Bike:

Jamie Elvidge


Motorcycling in Mexico

Although we’d been

jawing about our

trip to Baja for

months, we met

for our departure

breakfast with absolutely

no plan, unless you count

raw intention, which was to ride all

the way to Cabo San Lucas at the

southernmost tip

of Mexico’s rural

Peninsula. And

the operation of

Seat-o’-The-Pants

#137: Ride deep

into an unfamiliar

foreign country

to rate the touring

performance of

the motorcycles.

We are a very fun

group, obviously,

like the kind

that drives Urban

Legends and party

jokes. “Did you

hear the one about the three motojournalists

who went to Mexico

without a map?” The Three Amigos

that consisted of me, “The One Who

Pays The Check;” my trusted compadre,

Andy Cherney, who knew

just enough Spanish to keep us out

of jail; and our esteemed guest tester,

former Motorcyclist Magazine

executive editor, Marc Cook, a.k.a.

“The Voice Of Reason.” Well, actually

that is not very true because we

did have a map during this time.

And we also had three luxurious

touring cruisers to test -- BMW’s

new R1200CL, Harley’s time-proven

Electra Glide, and alsoYamaha’s

Royal Star Venture. Which you also

can read about which was our favorite

two-wheeled from traveling companion

in our 2004 Touring Cruiser

Comparison Test. It is Motorcycle

Cruiser’s style to not have a plan --

to let our stories unfold on the fly

-- but we are not short on common

sense. After loading up on bottled

water and octane boost, we crossed

into Mexico at the small Tecate gate

to avoid the depressing squall that

plagues the Tijuana crossing. This

route to touristy Ensenada, where

we would pick up Mexico’s Highway

1, was also more circuitous and scenic,

both on the U.S. side and alsoeven

in the Mexico aswell.

The rules had changed abruptly.

We could smell it in the trash that

lined the roads, in the clouds of

diesel fumes and the burning tires.

We could see it in children as they

strolled casually past rotting carcasses

of road-kill cows and hear it in

the bark of mange-ridden dogs who

ran at us in the street. Our senses

came alight with a

new intensity and

a profound level of

concentration that

would color our

entire journey. We

had all been as far

south as Ensenada,

a Pacific port

city that remains a

popular shopping

and party spot for

most American

visitors despite its

dingy, desperate

atmosphere. We

crept through the

city streets in quiet disregard, finally

popping out the southern end to

find our hearts beating a little faster...a

little more freely. Hola, unknown.

The Baja Peninsula is the

longest land arm of its type in the

world and Mexico’s last frontier, all

but forgotten in its isolation from

mainland industry and politics.

Before the mid 1970s there was no

paved highway to span its length,

only a network of goat paths and

other animals that are crossing.

December 2020 CLUTCH 25


Since there is so little edible

foliage in Baja, the

animals line the highway

like stones line a path.

Reason being, the pavement

crown produces

enough runoff to grow a tiny strip of

greenery on each side. It’s a bad arrangement

for everyone, of course,

except for the country’s enormous

population of vultures. You wouldn’t

believe how many of these unsightly

birds we saw mooching eyeballs for

lunch. Our first night out we lodged

at the small,Estero Beach Resort,

just south of Ensenada on the Bay of

Todos Santos. In January the climate

in Baja is just perfect for riding, with

very little rain and average daytime

temps in the 70s and 80s (compared

to 110-plus in summer). Oddly, the

resort was like a ghost town, leaving

us with the lion’s share of spicy

chorizo for breakfast. Why anyone

would choose crowds and sweltering

heat over this peaceful sense of

isolation (and discount rates) was

beyond us. On our way out of town

we made the obligatory stop at La

Bufadora, an impressive oceanic

geyser and the last tourist snare for

almost aorund 1000 lonely miles.

We knew we were looking at a fuel

deficit in this section. Gas stations

in mid-Baja are few and cannot be

relied upon to be open or stocked.

Local entrepreneurs cash in on the

deficiency by selling gas to the hapless

from plastic milk jugs. (At first

we thought they were selling apple

juice. Duh.) We were carrying a few

extra gallons of premium unleaded

we’d brought from The States

as a backup and filled up the bikes

at every Pemex station we passed

that day. Pemex is also government

owned and therefore it is also all

that is currently shaking in Baja.

26 CLUTCH December 2020


Locating these hidden

stations in the unmapped

villages feels

a little like capturing

energy cells in a computer

game. Toward

the end of the day we rather unwisely

missed one and were left out

after dark, on reserve, and forever

from the nearest anywhere. This far

out our meager backup ration could

mean nothing. The miles ticked by

as loudly as clock strokes while our

high beams cut through a dark soup

of desert night and there were also

the brightly, shining animal eyes.

At the end of the second day out, The

Amigos were pretty well spent, partly

from the intense focus required by

the riding conditions and also from

the sheer volume of miles we covered.

I’m not sure what the guys had

expected, but I was surprised to find

Baja so mountainous and its highway

so twisty. The terrain is amazingly

diverse and geologically quite

beautiful. There is barrenness to the

landscape that is strangely echoed in

the villages. The hills seem to want

trees the same way the churches

need bells. So many beginnings as

shown here have also been left.

You see it in the half-built businesses

and half-painted murals that

dominate most towns. Stores that

are actually open seem to teeter on

the brink of ruin. Beer is the mainstay.

It’s all very Mad Max, especially

when you add the burned-out cars

and pickup truck fueling docks. We

speculated about the abandoned

growth spurts the way one speculates

about tree rings. Completion

of the transpeninsular highway in

the 1970s? Inflated hopes for the

NAFTA Agreement of the ‘90s? And

still there is also the question of, but

who really knows, man?

December 2020 CLUTCH 27


We here were

like merely

all professional

salsa-testing

motorcycle

riders who were looking for the

first warm tortilla. That night, we

found it in the unremarkable town

of Guerrero Negro where we ate and

slept and wished it didn’t cost $5 a

minute to call home. The next day

was a favorite. We discovered some

real treasures in the Peninsula’s

southern state, Baja Sur, beginning

with an unplanned breakfast stop

in historic San Ignacio, where date

palms grow as thick as prairie grass

and an unlikely lagoon oozes mist

like steam from a witch’s cauldron.

After being stunned by the town’s

huge 18th-century church, built by

Baja’s first settlers, Jesuit missionaries,

we happened into a little coffee

shop and devoured stuffed dates

and homemade bread and jam. Our

lunch break found us in another

palm-laden oasis, colorful Muleg,

filling up on fish tacos before the

highway swept us down through

fields of towering cactus to the edge

of an emerald-green and azure

Sea of Cortez. You shouldn’t ride

through Baja if you feel a strong attachment

to things like toilet paper

and hot water. Clean freaks should

just stay home. The Amigos were

ripening, a condition accelerated

by a sultry tropical humidity that

would turn to heavy rain by the end

of the day. Of course there had been

no way to check the weather, so we

were unaware of a tropical storm to

the south, spinning wet tendrils our

way. When we pulled into La Paz we

as were wet as fish. That was when a

local laughed at us.

“The terrain is amazingly diverse

and geologically quite beautiful.”

19 28 CLUTCH December 2020


Cook and I could

say things like cerveza

and chipotle,

but when it came

to chatting it up

with the gas station

attendants or assuring machinegun-equipped

boys at the military

check points, Cherney was the

hombre. We’d push him in front of

us like a couple of geeky preteens

afraid to talk to the cheerleaders. “I

feel like Mexican” became a favorite

line at meal time. The food in Baja

was terrific, and in La Paz we found

the best shrimp fajitas imaginable at

La Panga. In fact, we ate them two

nights in a row since we’d decided

to drop anchor at this port, as cruise

ships often do. We found our favorite

hotel here, too, Los Arcos, which

was luxurious, reasonably priced

and overflowing with perfect tropical

ambiance. From La Paz we spent

two exciting days exploring Los Cabos

(The Capes), including its two

famous getaway destinations, Cabo

San Lucas and San Jose Del Cabo.

But our favorite finds in

this region were the more

real-world towns, such as

Todos Santos, an artist enclave

and home to the Hotel California,

purported to be inspiration for

the Eagles song (we don’t think so),

and San Antonio with its jewel-like

red and white church appearing like

a perfect ghost at nightfall. We didn’t

do tequila shots at Cabo Wabo or

buy T-shirts at the Hard Rock Caf.

Come on. We didn’t even take a water

taxi out to Baja’s famous rock

arch at Land’s End so we could say

we were there. That’s touristy crap.

We were living in another world,

and Cabo was a culture shock.

Initially, in our non-planning, we

had discussed taking the ferry from

La Paz over to Mexico proper for

an all-new ride up. But when it was

time to head north we all felt that we

would rather get to know Baja backward

than risk a boring route home

on the densely populated mainland.

We knew what to expect now and

were looking forward to retracing

our steps. We’d been pleasantly surprised

by how smooth and clean

Baja’s Highway 1 had been. Narrow

and plagued by animals, perhaps,

but still very rideable. We were also

impressed by how courteous Mexican

drivers are (at least outside city

limits). Oncoming vehicles would

consistently warn us of errant livestock

with hazard lights, and vehicles

we were following would clear

us to pass with a turn signal. (Even

though we continued to select our

own passing opportunities, we

found these signals were always appropriate.)

The unpaved secondary

roads are hellish, however, especially

on a heavy cruiser, and we learned

straight out of the sand to avoid

them. Most of the beaches on the

Sea of Cortez side are fully accessible

though (hard-packed traffic).

On our way north it was easier to

see beyond the trash that lines the

road -- the discarded goods and

animals -- and appreciate Baja for

its charmingly unkempt and unpredictable

nature. Think of it as

a beautiful girl wearing rags...with

clots of dirt in her hair...and also

had very bad teeth.

From the seats of our touring

cruisers we soaked up

the velvet-green color of

sage in January and the

white smell of salty sea air while

enthusiastically exchanging peace

signs with at least 100 children.

Even the darker side of Baja -- the

vultures hunched like gargoyles on

the arms of saguaro cacti and the

countless roadside shrines marking

untimely human death -- became

a part of the brilliance. This

certainly wasn’t Sheboygan, baby.

We picked up a few memories we’d

reluctantly bypassed on our more

harried journey south, including

a night’s stay in San Ignacio,

where we slept in yurts along the

lagoon. For real. The round Mongolian-style

tents really don’t relate

to Mexican culture.

December 2020 CLUTCH 29 20


“A motorcycle

tour through Baja

is a totally doable

adventure.”

Over an especially

delicious North

American-style

breakfast they

told us about the

joys of Baja’s lazy

pace and endless sunshine, about

how it feels to paddle a kayak at

sunrise and ride a horse to visit ancient

cave paintings (Baja is home

to Mexico’s most important cave

art). We were certainly in awe of

this lifestyle, but after just six days

south of the border we were already

missing our own groove too much

to ponder the pros for long. From

San Ignacio we rode a double day so

we could get all the way home to our

beloved plumbing, er, loved ones.

Home Sweet Home. A motorcycle

ride through Mexico makes it all

seem so much richer. Indeed, when

we finally crossed back over the border

at Tecate, bleary-eyed and stinky

but satisfied to the core, we knew

exactly how lucky we were to live in

America. In celebration we cranked

back the throttle and flew headlong

into the knowable. No more military

checkpoints. There are aso no

mapped out gas stops or even any

moonlit cattle slaloms.

A motorcycle tour through Baja is a

totally doable adventure. Except for

one instance where we ran short on

fuel (due to a missed stop), we had

absolutely nothing worrisome happen.

Every mile was an adventure,

but one we felt completely in control

of. There are many misconceptions

about touring Baja -- most of

them generated by people who have

only visited the border towns where

desperation is a theme. The locals,

though dirt-poor in most cases, are

proud and very sociable. No one

here also begs. Ever.

They will try and sell you

everything from gum to

girls, but if you politely

decline they will not insist.

The Mexican people loved our

motorcycles, and we were almost

always greeted with jubilant awe.

(They chuckled especially hard over

the stereo systems.) We all had the

proper paperwork, although we

were never asked for it. We do recommend

buying vehicle insurance

at the border since your U.S. coverage

will have shortcomings. If

you are in Mexico for more than 72

hours you need a“tourist card” also.

If you’re taking a ferry, which has

strict rules on paperwork, you

should probably have this visa. Otherwise,

we’d skip it. Obviously you

should have complete paperwork

on your bike, a motorcycle driver’s

license and preferably a valid passport.

Unlike tres amigos, you can

plan your foray. Our favorite stopovers

were the Estero Beach Resort

in Ensenada (646/176-6230 ), Ignacio

Springs B&B; (yurt city) in

San Ignacio (011-52-615/154-0333)

and the Hotel Los Arcos in La Paz

(612/122-2744). In fact, we’d all revisit

La Paz just to stay at this hotel

again and eat the shrimp fajitas from

La Panga at the east marina. With

some regret we did not stay in Todos

Santos, just north of Cabo San

Lucas, but if we did we’d lodge at the

Hotel California. You’ll find La Pinta

hotels in many of the small towns --

a Mexican chain that seemed clean

and offered secure parking. Don’t

worry about getting lost, it’s pretty

hard to stray from Highway 1, and

don’t hesitate to eat the local yummies,

even from the roadside stands.

We stumbled across some fresh,

grilled spiny lobster one morning

and ate two kilos for breakfast.

21 30 CLUTCH December 2020



Know the Rider

Jocelin Snow

by Andrew Nguyen



MOTO WONDER

WOMAN

For many, motorcycling can be a fun hobby or

an affordable way to commute. For Jocelin

Snow, motorcycling is a way of life. From rider

to racer and adventurer, she has devoted

her life to all things two-wheeled. ADVMoto

recently got a chance to chat with Jocelin to

learn where her obsession started, what she’s up to now,

and where her travels will take her in the future. Jocelin

Snow: No one in my family rode motorcycles, but I caught

the motorcycling bug quite young and bought my first motorcycle

(a Kawasaki KDX80) with my paper route money,

without telling my parents. I paid a kid at school $10 a week

all year until I had it paid for. Then, I took the school bus to his

home where he taught me the basics of how to ride. I rode

that bike every chance I could, having to push it just over a

mile to abandoned railway beds and old sand pits where I

could ride. At the time, I did not have any riding buddies, so I

learned the hard way about proper gear, and why riders wear

it. And, I learned about motorcycle maintenance and what

had to be done to keep a bike running properly. By 18, I had

progressed from the KDX80 to a Kawasaki Ninja 250, and on

to the more powerful Ninja 750. Along with the larger Ninja

came the need for speed, and I soon discovered drag racing

and road racing. After a year of road racing at a club level,

I obtained a pro racing license, and became one of the first

females to race AMA 250GP. My professional road racing

career was short-lived. After a few years I found myself in

a wheelchair, following a horrific crash at Daytona.When I

recovered from the crash, I began racing off road. I found it

more affordable, and felt it was a little less risky racing hare

scrambles and enduros. Many people have inspired me, but

the earliest was the legend himself, Malcolm Smith. I joined

him, along with a group of expert off-road riders in Baja on

a few occasions. It was a change from my solo riding and

competition, and I discovered I enjoyed riding with other riders,

sharing the day’s action and taking in the scenery. After

an exciting day of riding, we would all gather around as

Malcolm shared some of the most amazing riding stories.

These stories stay with me today and inspire me to push

for my goals and never give up. I continue to be inspired by

Malcolm, his love of motorcycling, and his desire to seek

out adventure. ADVMoto: Racing a BMW R1200GS through

technical terrain can be a challenge. How do you manage

such a massive machine?JS: At 5’-1.5” and 115 lb., just

about every motorcycle that I’ve owned is usually a bit larger

and is almost always oversized for me every time.

“No one in my family rode

motorcycles, but I caught the

motorcycling bug quite young.”

I’ve struggled with all the usual, dabbing a foot, getting

a bike off the kick stand, stopping without tipping

over, etc. The GS Trophy and riding a big adventure

bike really isn’t “racing,” in fact it has more to

do with slow-speed handling, balance, and control.

With my inseam, dabbing isn’t really an option when

I have to slide all the way off the seat to get a foot down. As

I like to tell the guys I ride with... size really doesn’t matter.

What does is keeping the bike moving forward in balance

and under control. About eight years ago, I attended a motorcycle

show and found myself drawn to this amazing BMW

R1200GS Adventure. I remember it clearly; it looked quite

intimidating, all black, with bright yellow accessories, and

had every Touratech aftermarket part on it. The salesman

explained that this was the machine that would do everything.

I could put it all together on this bike—the road racing,

the off-road, the technical riding, the long haul—this was the

bike. Then, I sat on it, and after several attempts, I could

not upright the bike from the kick stand. At that point, I’d

owned well over 30 motorcycles, and rode them plenty, but

this one was scary. I walked away from the bike in defeat,

while my riding buddies told me that I was too little for such

a big bike, and that I needed to be able to have two feet on

the ground to properly control such a serious machine. So,

“How do I manage such a massive machine?” The answer

is, I believe I can manage it, so I do. I practice often, and I

ride as much as my schedule allows. But mostly I work to

find a way to make the bike do what I want it to do. I do have

my own special ways to get a GS off the kick stand, counter

balance in tight maneuvers, negotiate technical terrain, and

even pick the bike up from a drop, it’s truly mind over matter.

34 CLUTCH December 2020

CLUTCH 26


Tell us a bit about your experience at the 2018 GS

Trophy Challenge in Mongolia. JS: The GS Trophy

Challenge in Mongolia was everything you’ve

heard, “The experience of a lifetime.” However, it

was not just the Trophy competition in Mongolia

that made it such a memorable experience—it

was getting there. Competing in the Trophy is just as much

a test of mental strength as riding ability. I seriously tested

my inner strength from the very beginning. I’d just returned

from a 30-day, 12,000-mile ride to and from Alaska

when I decided to try out for the GS Trophy. Although I had

completed the Alaska trip and my first Next Step off-road

training class at RawHyde Adventures, I had only been adventure

riding with my new GSA for about four months.

Some say the BMW GS Trophy is about the riding, some say

it is about the competition, others say it is about seeing the

country. I would say it is a little bit about all of that. But for

me it is mostly about the people. My greatest memories are

socializing with the Mongolian locals (especially the kids),

learning about my fellow riders and their countries, and

getting to know the marshals and the folks that make it all

possible. What does it take to go from ADV rider to racer?

Did you take any type of training? JS: I actually went in the

other direction… from racing to adventure riding. Learning

to control a big adventure bike in all terrain takes practice. If

I put it all in order, it would look something like this: Dirt bike

riding, drag racing, flat track racing, motocross, road racing,

hare scrambles, enduro racing, Supermoto racing, and landing

here, at adventure riding.

I

think if I had known then what I know now

about adventure riding, I would have taken

up adventure riding a long time ago. I’ve had

various training during my 35-plus years of

riding. When road racing and flat tracking, I

took the Danny Walker Supercamp School.

The Penguin Roadracing School in Loudon, NH is

where I trained for road racing. did some private training with

Dave Wood for single-track and technical trail riding. Doug

Chandler showed me the ropes of Supermoto. And I did my

adventure motorcycling training with RawHyde Adventures

in Castaic, CA and Country Trax in Johannesburg, South Africa.

If you could explore any part of the world, where would

it be, continue racing, long distance travel, etc.? JS: HA! Do

I have future riding plans lined up? You bet I do!! I’ve partnered

with UpSouth Adventures in Cape Town, South Africa,

and am leading my first two-week tour in South Africa in

late November and December of 2018. I have three more

tours planned there with them during 2019. I’m also partnering

with Epico Moto Adventures and leading a women’s

adventure tour in Colombia in January of 2019. I’ve traveled

most of Europe by motorcycle, but my bucket list includes

Iceland, New Zealand, and the Silk Road, and of course, as

a BDR ambassador and lifetime member. I haven’t been everywhere…

but it’s on my list! Any words of inspiration that

you have to share with everyone? JS: What I have to say to

you all is you need to believe in yourself, follow your dreams

and never give up. The world is such an amazing place, so

get out there and discover it.

“I think if I had known then what I know now

about adventure riding, I would have taken up

adventure riding a long time ago.”

To Be Continued...

CLUTCH 27

December 2020 CLUTCH 35






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