June 03, 2019
El Diablo Run isn't the first motorcycle event of its kind, and it won't be the last—good people have taken bad roads to exciting places for generations. Like the choppers our Mexican hell ride was founded to celebrate, EDR has fewer moving parts than old-fashioned rallies, and that's what makes it unique.
When there are no vendors, no cover charge and no cover bands to spoil the fun, all that's left is new friends, old motorcycles and good times.
Twenty-nineteen marked the eighth chapter in our Mexican adventure's brief but colorful history. Hosted for the first time in 2006, 45 men and two women that year rode custom motorcycles from California and beyond for a weekend of bikes and beers in Baja. On Cinco de Mayo weekend this year, more than a thousand bikeriders converged on San Felipe to do things they won't remember in a place they'll never forget.
San Felipe is a sleepy little desert town 130 miles south of the US border on Baja's east coast. Most mornings, local fishermen launch boats into the Sea of Cortez to pull another day's wages from her salty depths. Seafood and beer are San Felipe's cash crops, and business is good year 'round. Like many whistle stops along Baja's half-dozen or so two-lane "highways," San Felipe enjoys a well-earned reputation among desert racers, gringo ex-pats and two-wheeled adventurers for its rustic charm, relaxed pace, and carefree vibe.
Like every EDR before it, Ruben's Campo one mile north of downtown San Felipe was Ground Zero for fun Friday night and all day Saturday. Whenever a thousand bikeriders motor into a town for a holiday weekend, things can get wild. Within minutes after the first Diablo Runners descended on Ruben's Campo, dozens of Mexican street vendors followed suit, slinging everything from hammocks and spiked coconuts to straw hats and ice cream. Of course, voracious chopper shoppers gobbled up the tchotchkes like candy.
Sleeping arrangements on the El Diablo Run are as informal as any participant wants to make them. The palapa huts at Ruben's—those elevated thatch roof decks scattered throughout the camp—and a 100-meter stretch of beachfront are always available free to campers on a first-come-first-serve basis, but nearly half of this year's crowd found other lodging around town after enjoying the arrival party hosted by Biltwell and MC'ed by Ruben's nephew and our friend Aaron. Without going into gory details, suffice it to say our amigo Aaron knows how to have a good time.
After a full day of riding and a long night of drinking, few Diablo Runners seemed very anxious to get up Saturday morning. After breakfast on the malecon, Bill and Otto set up the EDR merch tent next to McGoo's registration table for the Circle of Death and yard games. For the next five hours, 500 well behaved bikeriders queued up to score commemorative t-shirts, Biltwell flip-flops and EDR VIII rockers as fast as the Biltwell crew could sling them. When there were no more souvenirs to sell, McGoo opened the Circle of Death for practice and yard games.
These were the best-attended yard games and dirt-track races in EDR history, with nearly four dozen entries in all classes combined. Swingarm class in the Circle of Death was stacked, with four motos, two semis and one four-man main required to decide the winner. Of course, the lone wolf from New Mexico aboard an OG unit Triumph street tracker kicked everyone's ass for the second time in as many years. With podium formalities out of the way, folks rode into town for dinner and nighttime diversions, usually at an oyster bar or a titty bar depending on each man's tastes.
While the El Diablo Run doesn't officially end until Monday, plenty of folks whose livers tapped out sooner—especially citizens of San Diego—got up with the sun and rode home Sunday morning. Those who stuck around enjoyed the best motorcycle show in EDR history.
Some backstory in in order. Last December, McGoo and Bill—with plenty of help from their friend and San Felipe hotelier Kiki—pitched the idea of hosting the EDR bike show on the sidewalk in front of San Felipe's beautiful city beach. Senor la Peña—San Felipe's Minister of Fun—loved the idea, and promised to speak with the mayor, police and local business owners personally. With red tape out of the way, we focused on rustling up enough cash and prizes from friends and long-time EDR supporters to entice folks to ride their dream machines across the international border.
The 2019 Choppers Magazine Bike Show featured six classes: Chopper, Modern, Sportster, Metric, La Cucaracha, and Hard Ass. Like every Biltwell-hosted bike show, entry was free; all we asked of folks was to park their bikes on the malecon, and to support the local businesses while a celebrity judge for each class pondered the machinery on display. To keep things lively, Kiki hired a cover band to bang out American freedom rock hits. The cross-cultural stew was potent, with tweakers tweaking, air guitarists jamming, and everyone having a massive good time. At five o'clock, McGoo introduced the six winners and brought things to a happy ending on the El Diablo Run many folks agreed was the best one ever.