Words and photos by Timmy Marr
What can you say about The El Diablo Run that hasn’t already been said? It’s the fabled, lawless chopper party south of the border that seems to be on everyone’s bucket list. It’s a weekend full bikes, booze, and debauchery in the small Baja town of San Felipe. If you missed it, you can’t go next year because it only happens every two years. Being a bi-annual event definitely helps keep the kook level low. Or perhaps the two year waiting period is only in place to add anticipation. One thing is for sure: it’s definitely the most fun you can have in Mexico on two wheels.
The EDR 2017 schedule looked a little something like this: Thursday May 11th was the pre-party at Old Rose Tattoo in Temecula, California. Its tradition to get a $20 flash tattoo to commemorate your Mexican adventure. Friday May 12th was the 300 mile group ride from Temecula to San Felipe. The group started out huge with well over 100 bikes in the pack. It eventually got thinner and broken up as people got over riding in a pack or just needed to stop more often for gas. Saturday May 13th and Sunday May 14th (Mother’s Day) were when The Circle of Death and the Cocktagon beach brawl took place. The Circle of Death is a dirt track race in a sketchy empty lot. And the Cocktagon is a last man standing fight to the death where contestants buy a wiffle ball bat for $10 and either beat each other into submission or try to push each other out of the ring. Winner takes the pot. Monday May 15th was the day everyone was supposed to ride back home. That was just a suggestion though. A lot of SoCal locals went home Sunday because they had to work the next day, and some people stayed in Mexico indefinitely.
I rode out to California solo from Kansas and took my sweet time doing it. I rolled into my friends’ house in Temecula late on Thursday and missed out on the official pre-party. Getting a tattoo right before I’m about to swim in the ocean didn’t sound very appealing anyways.
The group ride out of Temecula was awesome. It was a brisk 50-something degrees when we set off at 7am. The journey started with these gently curving roads that dumped out into awesome valleys surrounded by lovely green hills. After that, we rode through different desert landscapes for pretty much the entire rest of the journey. But it was like cool desert, you know? The first desert was really rocky and mountainous and the temperature was not bad at all. As we got closer to the Mexico border, it got hotter and flatter, and sandier.
We crossed the border in big packs of bikes and the guards wanted nothing to do with us and just waived us all through. As soon as you cross the border, it gets real Mexico real quick. All the cars, street signs, and buildings are totally different. It was kind of a culture shock for me because I had never driven into another country like that before. The landscape soon turned to wide open desert with a few red mountains. The road all the way to San Felipe was in surprisingly good shape. No potholes or poor repairs. Just a nice desolate road that seemingly went nowhere. Eventually, to our left we could start to see the ocean, and soon after, we came up on real civilization for pretty much the first time since crossing the border. The town of San Felipe.
The vibe on the EDR was a little different this year from years past. People were encouraged to make their own plans and just meet in Mexico. Two full days in San Felipe gave people the freedom and extra time to do whatever they wanted to. You could explore the town and absorb the culture, you could hit up the natural hot springs 60 miles south of town, or you can just float around in the ocean nursing your hangover until you’re ready to do it all over again.
The first day there was awesome. I can’t even describe how wild it is to see your friends from all over, together on the beach in Mexico. I ended up getting sloshed hard on Friday night thanks to my friend Zac from Oklahoma who just kept the Tecate’s comin. I paid for it the next morning when I was puking every 10 minutes but it was worth it.
Saturday I mostly just relaxed in the ocean and chit chatted with my fellow chopper greaseballs. A lot of my friends went to the hot springs 60 miles south of town and came back with horror stories of potholes that they will cherish forever. A few Circle of death races went on that day as well.
Sunday we got up and went to town to take pictures with the San Felipe sign, then got ripped off a tube being pulled behind a boat by Mr. Banana himself. The circle of death races finished up and the cocktagon ended in a truce when the two remaining gladiators hugged it out. We went to bed early in preparation for the journey back to the states the next day.
Monday morning it was surprisingly chilly and windy. I rode up with a totally different group of people I rode down with and it was great. No major breakdowns, no bad attitudes. We got a police escort to the border and passed through with flying colors. We were glad to be back in our home country where we can drink the water and use our cellphones.
The El Diablo Run is the freaky granddaddy of all chopper runs. Everyone comes back from Mexico with plenty of wonky stories, and everyone seems to be all smiles all the time. Even when you are spewing black liquid out of both ends from Montezuma’s Revenge, you leave the bathroom and enter paradise and it’s hard not to be stoked.
See ya’ll in 2019! Maybe not. Who knows, man. That’s a long ways away.