Thursday, September 04, 2008

Baja races threatened by barbed wire booby traps

WARNING!! Barbed Wire Booby Traps Found North of Nuevo Junction

This is a personal story meant to warn my Baja family about an area to beware of. On Sunday, August 31, 2008, around 12:30 PM, Rudy, Mapula and I left TJ on the bikes and rode south on what was the beginning of an epic ride. In typical Rudy fashion, we had no real destination planned just camelbacks and toothbrushes. The sky was blue with big majestic thunder heads off to the south over the Sierra Jaurez mountains. We hit Ramona's late in the afternoon and decided Mykes was reachable before the dinner cutoff. On Saturday it had rained for 6 hours straight in the higher elevations. Virgin trails, great traction and low dust. We ventured toward Santa Catarina and realized it had just poured rain. We were having a blast hooting through the radio's for miles. We headed southeast along the traditional route continuing down toward Nuevo Junction. We proceeded through the open gate littered with different promoters markers and jammed through the whoops in the talls bushes (typically in this area you will see horses).
For some reason I rolled off the throttle as I rounded a slight ridehander when.... SHOULDER HIGH BARBED WIRE!!!!!!!! I locked up the rear brake, the bike slid left and I hunched down to the handle bars as close as possible. This caused my left shoulder and bicep area to raise which hit the wire first. The side panel which drops down off the shoulder of my chest protector deflected the wire which slid up my shoulder just missing the bottom edge of my helmet. I had my face turned to the side almost to a 4 o'clock position. The first thing I thought about was my neck and face. I felt the wire drag over my helmet and the bike stopped 3 feet past the wire. It dragged over me! For a second I was indisbelief that I was upright, but no time because Rudy is right behind me, I can hear him coming. I jumped off off the bike and began transmitting over the radio and waiving like a wild man "STOP, STOP, BARBED WIRE"!!

Rudy came to a stop.There it was, a single piece of new barbed wire. Fashioned carefully at each end to the main portion of the big bush on each side. What's scary is that it was positioned to take someone's head off. No down low to cause a get off; up high to do some serious bodily harm. We removed the wire; not being a smoker, I had some ciggy's on me as a joke for later and decided to sit there on a rock and smoke a cigarette wondering who the "*&#@! would do this. Then I started looking around to see if the bastard was watching. No such luck.
Get's better- we sat around took some pics and contemplated what had happened. Mapula had a rear flat so we rode up a bit where the rocks are for a tire change. The rain had made a huge puddle out of the road so we had to go around. We get to the road again and Rudy yells "LOOK ANOTHER ONE"! Yes, our moto fan even had another one postioned up high to take out a second rider. Not good!I realize this is not the first time this has happened but its the first I have heard of in a while.Here are pics of the area. We closed the wire gate on the north end and put ribbon all over it. I suggest everyone stick to the main road in this area on the outside of the fence away from the hill. For now this is no area to be dicing it out with you buddies.Lastly, yesterday we ventured down to the ranch on our way back to see if we could talk to the rancher. We were seriously uneasy but wanted to get the guys temperature and see if we could cool him down. Trucks were there but no one came out. I looked at Rudy, he looked at me and "WE BAILED"!
This can happen anywhere but is good reminder for us all to be careful......I want all my friends to be made aware if this in Baja. But we all know it happens here in Calif too. This is from March of 2007. Lance glad your racing reflexes saved you! GeneWATCH OUT FOR BAJA BARBED WIRE, I learned the hard way. (Not Me, Gene) Riding out of Camalu towards Mike's Sky Ranch Thursday afternoon in March of 2007on the Powerline road, someone strung 2 strands across the road, one at headlight level, the other at neck level. I had less than a second to react, basically just enough time to hit the brakes and I was in it. Laid my throat open 12 inches at the lower larynx. Luckily I am still here to tell the tale, and home from the hospital recovering from trauma surgery. The moral is NEVER pass between 2 posts at speed in Baja, some jackass might have put wire up. This looked no different from the hundreds of fence posts I have past on dirt roads down there, better, in fact, since the road was wide and well graded, only this one had a nasty surprise. Only ride as fast as you can see.
I rode back to the doctors office in town, they gave me a dousing with betadine and a shot in the ass for the pain, and then began the calling and waiting game for an airlift, which never came, so I worked a deal with the local ambulance driver to take me to the border for 450. u.s. which my insurance will reimburse. We had called ahead, and they let us bypass traffic at the border, where I was transferred to a US ambulance and run up to Scripps Mercy in San Diego (a world class operation-I highly recommend them). The incident was at 4pm, I got to scripps at 2am. They had a full trauma team ready and I went directly into surgery for an hour or more, and then spent the next couple days getting tubes, needles, strange inflation devices, and wires removed from every inch of my body. I lost a lot of body hair in that place, their tape has very strong adhesive properties. Next time I will buy traveller's insurance which is very cheap and have it in addition to my regular stuff. The AAA "premium" service which is supposed to cover airlifts? Forget it-they are full of BS, and it took them hours to say No! Can you give the group a more specific proxy_current_url? Perhaps referencing a Baja Almanac map or GPS coordinates?10-15 minutes east of Camalu on the powerline road.

I am still waiting for the Baja Almanac to come back in print or to get a copy somehow, so once it is in my hands I will get the info out. My GPS died, so I am shopping.> Were you alone? with a group?I was with a buddy-I try not to ride alone in Baja. Where did you get medical help in the area? I had my buddy douse the wound with iodine from my pack, then we tied a clean tee-shirt around my neck, attached my backpack to his chest and he started my bike and I rode to the doctor's office next to the Pemex station. I probably only lost a couple cups of blood. Were you carrying a Sat phone? Not on this trip, but you can bet your sweet ass I will be on the next one. Do you think it was a malicious act? It is possible. Hard to know exactly. Might have just been a temporary thing to keep this guy's cows out of that guys yard. Was there something going on in thearea that someone didn't want you to stumble across? Again, Maybe, maybe not!
When it came out, I was curious to which "powerline road" the gent was referring to. There is a powerline road that runs NORTH from Camalu, parallel to and 1/2 mile east of Hwy 1. This powerline road has a couple of fence posts that are completely clear until a rancher starts to graze his cattle there. A couple of years ago, I witnessed "new" barb wire on this powerline road and was simply a means of containing cattle. I saw and spoke with a vaquero (who looked 14 years old) and said his father was using the grazeland because of recent rains. Sometimes the wire is there, sometimes not. The warning is very valid.In some rare cases, pink or yellow ribbon is tied to a wire or fence that has not been there in the past and is now there for a legit reason. Unknown if the rancher or a conscientious rider has placed it there.I would hope Lance's incident was not malicious and like Chip says, maybe the army was doing something.On a better note, there is a local who uses some grassland between Camalu and Sinaloa to graze his cattle - and he uses a XR600 to herd 'em.
Bernie Maxa
Baja Racing