El Diablo Run: A Look Back

El Diablo Run: A Look Back

The El Diablo Run isn’t the first motorcycle adventure of its kind, and it won’t be the last. Like most things in life, timing deserves much of the credit for its popularity and success. Remember, Biltwell’s first Mexican motorcycle adventure took root in the scorched earth of made-for-TV chopper drama in the mid-2000s. After a steady diet of theme bikes and build-offs, serious bikeriders were ready for a reset. The El Diablo Run satisfied a new generation’s thirst for fun without the fat. A hard ride made easy by what it lacked: No charge cards, no cover charges, and no cover bands.

The bad roads and good people in Mexico are legendary among surfers and desert racers, which is how my longtime friend and business partner Bill Bryant came to love the place as a teenager, and why he chose Baja for his first solo motorcycle adventure in 2001. When it was time to shake down my first garage-built chopper in 2005, our plan was simple. Ride from SoCal to San Felipe on Baja’s east coast, cut across the jagged mountains to Ensenada, then head up the Pacific coast to Tijuana before crossing the world’s busiest international border into San Diego. If my big twin kit bike and I survived without going home in Bill’s truck, we passed the test. After a quick stop in Chula Vista to fix a loose ground wire, I motored back home, no worse for wear.

The bad roads and good people in Mexico are legendary, which is why we chose Baja for Biltwell’s first big motorcycle adventure…

With that trial by fire completed, we hit the Internet to share plans with like-minded motorcycle enthusiasts. Thanks to interest on the message board JockeyJournal.com, 45 men and two women met at a breakfast joint in Old Town Temecula for the first El Diablo Run in 2006. The bikes on that maiden voyage were an eclectic mix of freedom machines—everything from a gaggle of British choppers to a pair of bobbed Ducatis, some rigid Shovels, plenty of Sportsters, and a Knuckle or two. If that armada sounds scattershot, those first bikeriders were an even broader mix. Pilots and barmaids. Skateboarders and BMXers. Photographers and metalworkers. Truck drivers and pastry chefs. Ad hacks and clergymen. In other words, working stiffs and motorcycle kooks just like you and me.

Just to be clear, Baja is treacherous. Climb into her dusty maw foolish or cocksure and she’ll chew you up like a goat meat taco. Enter with eyes and mind wide open and California’s lazy neighbor will embrace you like a drunk cousin. This is the Baja hundreds of EDR veterans know and love, and the place a new generation of bikeriders dream about. Hard-core fans of Baja—natives, visitors and ex-pats alike—share an abiding passion for the place, and will enthusiastically raise a glass to its spirit at the drop of a sombrero. Of course, one question every Baja tourista must ask herself is, “where do I draw the line?” If five beers get you lucky and ten get you arrested, how many to light your hair on fire? Feed feral cats with milk from a lactating stripper? Fry E-D-R on your ass with a branding iron? How many coco locos to tattoo a dick on your chest? Throw a stick of dynamite in your best friend’s tent? These aren’t hazing rituals or urban myths—they’re the stuff El Diablo legends are made of.

You don’t have to be blind drunk or brain damaged to enjoy Baja by motorcycle, but it sure helps. Of course, not everyone on the El Diablo Run is a drunk. Plenty are vegans, teetotalers, military vets, or party clowns. If America is a melting pot, Mexico is a rusty hubcap over a dumpster fire filled with sizzling chunks of mystery meat from Satan’s own carniceria. Folks hungry for adventure don’t ask what’s cooking—they shovel it down with a greasy tortilla and kill the flies with a wedge of lime. When things get too hot to handle, they douse the fire with another cold beer. If that sounds like a recipe for good times, you’ve come to the right cocina.