A few years back my dude Mike from Biltwell put the EDR bug in my ear. I don’t remember details of the conversation but I do remember him saying “It’ll change your life.” That was late 2014 if I recall correctly. I had made attempts to plan for the trip in 2015 and 2017 (it only happens every two years) but circumstances dictated otherwise. So when the opportunity arose this year I knew I had to get it done.

The plan was to ride from here in Sturgis, SD, with our videographer Steve down to San Felipe, Mexico, and back. Sounds easy enough, but there were a few complexities and curve balls to contend with. A few of the first things to be addressed were gear and bikes. My plan was to take my trusty Harley Dyna and Steve would take his everyday rider, an Evo Sportster. We had a loaner FTR 1200 S from Indian in our possession that we'd just finished a first ride review with so I fired off an email to the good folks at Indian to see what their thoughts were on taking the FTR on the 3,000 mile round trip. They sent over some paperwork and took me up on the offer to ride the race-replica across country.

A Sportster and the flat track-inspired FTR 1200 aren’t exactly the first motorcycles that pop in your head when you think of “touring” bikes to do a 3,000 mile road trip across two countries on. But that was part of the fun, and definitely inline with the spirit of the El Diablo Run. People always dog on Sportsters unnecessarily and the FTR’s purpose surely wasn’t to tour countries with, so we decided they were the perfect choices for the trip. Now we just needed to figure out how to get our tents, sleeping bags, camera gear, clothes and riding gear strapped onto the bikes. We had some options with the Sportster, so Steve chose the Route 1 Getaway bag, strapped his sleeping bag under the rain cover, stashed his tent on the bars and threw camera gear in a backpack. Since the FTR was a yet-to-be released bike, no one had developed any luggage or even probably attempted to put luggage on it, much less take it across the country. I've owned a Kriega US-20 for a number of years  and used it on a variety of motorcycles, so I looked to Kriega again to see what we could come up with. I opted for the US Combo 70 sytem of waterproof dry packs. What that breaks down to is using one US-30 and two US-20’s. Basic 'rithmetic, right? One of the great things about Kriega's drypacks are that they are modular and lock together easily, so it made mounting no problem and kept the bags up and out of the way of the exhaust.

Springtime in the Black Hills means the weather can be real schizophrenic and that's exactly what it was. The days leading up to our departure were beautiful 60-70 degree days. The day we left it was 33 degrees and snowing. There was a big snow storm coming in quick and virtually no escape. We contemplated a more southern route, but it was covered in more snow than our western route, so we decided to leave a few hours early and see if we could beat the storm . Almost immediately it was miserable. We didn't really have room for extra gear but we bundled up the best we could. I had just grabbed a Roland Sands Design Johnny Jacket for the trip and it's by no means a cold weather jacket. I layered a flannel underneath, put on some long underwear, threw some rain gear pants on, donned my Firstgear Gauntlet style gloves, strapped up my Lanesplitter and we hammered down through the cold and snow.  *Side Note* That morning my plan was to use my First Gear heated liners, but the battery is buried so deep inside the FTR I did’t have time to disassemble the bike to get the heated gear controller on it.

We were getting beat up by the storm and freezing our asses off. We stopped for gas around Midwest, WY, and had a decision to make. We checked the weather and determined we weren’t going to beat the storm. That left us with a couple options A.) hunker down and wait out the storm, but it looked like it would be days before we could make it out on motorcycles, or B.) head back. We headed back but with a twist. Just like the cavalry, the awesome folks at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum offered to meet us back in Gillette, WY, and tote our bikes to the other side of the storm in their Sprinter van so we could continue on! After a few hours in a gnarly snow and ice storm we were back on the bikes and on the road. Although we were clear of the snow and ice we were far from warm. Temps hovered in the high 40’s and low 50’s and kept a chill in our bones, but the Utah scenery kept a smile on our faces. We finally hit Zion National Park as the temps warmed up along with our spirits as we took in the glorious Zion views. From there we hammered out the miles, stopping to crash at my buddy Curtis’ house in Oceanside. After we cleared San Diego, sweeping Interstate 8 provided good views and perfect riding weather.

We crossed into Mexico in Calexico and started looking for a gas station to top off at. Unfortunately, after two failed attempts to get fuel at gas stations that were out of gas, we pushed on down the 5 to San Felipe. I didn’t really know what to expect on the 190 km ride to San Felipe from the border. I can now tell you from experience, expect a desert. That's it.  When you get by Mexicali you're alone with your thoughts and a two-lane highway until you hit San Felipe. We coasted in on fumes to the first gas station in San Felipe (bring a gas can with you) and made our way into town.

Rolling into town, we headed to the Malecon to take the obligatory “I made it” pic. Then we followed a few random choppers over to the Biltwell HQ know as Ruben's Camp. We were greeted with free beer and tacos before we could get our helmets off. I can’t think of a better greeting after 1,500 miles in the saddle. Those Biltwell dudes know how to be down-right hospitable. Overall, the bikes had performed flawlessly. The unknown FTR was adequately comfy for the journey, more than capable in the twisties and lane-splitting scenarios and cruise control was a god-send. But that was all behind us and it was time to party.

We grabbed some sweet spots on the beach for our tents, unloaded the bikes and quickly ran into some old friends, so we headed to town for some Tecate and tacos. I didn’t know what to expect in San Felipe at EDR. Would it be absolute chaos (I’m not entirely opposed to that), would stuff in my tent be safe, would the food make me sick? I definitely had a lot of gringo concerns and questions. The long and short of it is this. Yes, it an adult party, and if you're looking for an air-conditioned 8 hours of sleep, gluten-free vegan meals and a private shower all to yourself, then this trip isn’t for you. But you probably aren't going to ride your motorcycle 190 kilometers south into Mexico, either. What you will find are a bunch of like-minded folks who like to laugh a lot, swim in the ocean with warm beers, eat delicious tacos, party deep into the night, then get up and do it all over again. My bike was perfectly safe along with the gear I had in my tent. The locals are beautiful people who put up with my lack of knowledge about their language. Most places in town accepted American money and credit cards, but you should definitely bring Pesos and plenty of cash. The food was cheap and really good, and in case you're wondering it caused no gastrointestinal issues whatsoever. There are showers around and accessible and the Biltwell crew goes above and beyond to keep the entertainment going. The yard games kicked off Saturday afternoon and culminated with the Circle of Death race. Sunday is capped off by the bike show downtown and then it's time to pack up, gas up, and make a run for the border. The line getting back into the USA is definitely longer than the one going to Mexico. Make sure to steer clear of the Sentri lane, but you can split lanes to the head of the line to avoid bike overheating issues. Once you're up there, have your passport ready and in a minute or so you’ll be back on U.S. soil.

The El Diablo Run isn’t for everyone, but it’s absolutely for me. I'm so stoked it finally came together and I made it down there. Getting to ride the FTR across the country was the cherry on top. It's no secret I’m a fan of experiencing life atop a motorbike and this trip was no different. All too often people dream and fantasize about a bitchin' road trip but never make it happen. My advice. Make it happen. Jump in and take the ride. It might just be life changing.