Dirt Road Protocol

There’s rules out there? Who knew?
BY: DAVE KAMENA

Driving on dirt roads in Baja is a Gringo obsession.  All surfers know it.  All off roaders know it.  The dirt roads are almost endless and always have a prize at the end- a surf spot, a great view, a hot spring, or just a place to have a big fire and a good time. Some of us grew up driving dirt roads, and some only get to do it when we come down to Mexico.

 If you drive enough miles on these roads, you’ll find that sometimes you need to speed up and drive fast over the bumps in order to hover over them and lessen the jarring (albeit ruin your suspension).  The guys in the races have made an art of  this.  In the last few years of living down in Baja, however, I’ve noticed that the locals don’t generally drive hell bent fast like that on their roads, and the biggest cloud of dust is usually following a shiny SUV with California plates.  Since all of us like to blend in when traveling and be as good to the local scene as possible, I’ve come up with a few common sense reminders for those of us who may have forgotten, like I do at times.

Slow down. Nobody wants to be the asshole who’s kicking up dust all over the place.

Pay attention.  There are critters and people on these roads, and they probably don’t want to breathe the cloud of crap billowing out behind you.  Give them a brake and slow down a little.

Respect the road.  When you float over the washboard it creates deeper washboard.  Mexico doesn’t tax its citizens enough to send out teams of pothole fillers like in the U.S. Out in the desert you can screw up the roads, but respect the neighborhoods.

Pack it out. We all hate trash, and as Gringos we feel like there is too much of this on the Mexican roads, but I’ve seen my fellow surfers leave garbage behind too many times to count.  Take out your trash and maybe a little bit more.

Often, articles such as this can sound like they are written by a bitter local, (and sometimes they are,) but not in this case.  I got the idea traveling far off the grid in Montana, while talking to a rancher.  He was most likely trying to convey the message to me as a violator of these rules, and it made me reflect on my behavior at home in Baja, so I decided to try and show at least as much respect for my adopted home, and pass it along to you.  hope to see you soon on the trail!.