In the 12 years since its inception, the El Diablo Run has achieved near mythological status among chopper fanatics looking for a good time. Both credit and blame for the EDR’s reputation as the ultimate destination for custom motorcycles and the people who ride them goes to social media. On Instagram alone, over 30,000 hashtagged pics and clips have cemented the ride’s infamy in the hearts and minds of the chopperazzi. For some, the EDR is a potholed passage to a place where risk and reward are measured by the size of a man’s heart, not the hole in his wallet. For others, the EDR is Mecca for mayhem and misadventure. For everyone, the El Diablo Run is a modern take on a tradition as old as internal combustion itself, and even more reliable: ultimate freedom on two wheels.
When we conceived the El Diablo Run in 2006, the idea seemed simple: pack up and bug out for a long weekend of riding and hell raising in a little drinking town with a fishing problem called San Felipe on Baja’s east coast. Early EDRs included a ride on day three across the Mexican peninsula for two nights of more civilized debauchery in Ensenada, but the heart of every EDR has always lived in the palapa huts at Ruben’s Camp on the Sea of Cortez. San Felipe’s combination of cheap tacos, warm sea breezes and cold beer is the perfect elixir to a long day in the saddle over twisted tarmac and across barren desert two-lane from SoCal to Baja.
Diablo Runners who made it to Ruben’s Camp Friday afternoon on Mother’s Day weekend this year—and there were nearly 1,000 of them—were greeted by a gaggle of senoritas serving fish tacos as fast as they could be caught and cooked by hand. Savvy alumni from previous EDR’s were quick to advise first-time riders that the clock moves a little slower in Baja than it does at the Taco Bell back home. Once fueled by comida y cerveza, the assembled sea of two-wheeled humanity split into two regiments: 500 or so staked their claim to complimentary beachfront digs at Ruben’s, and the balance motored into town for a hotel room near San Felipe’s malecon. As he has done for every previous EDR, our friend Juan Carlos at Baja Voyager in Ensenada helped many gringos book rooms and camping spaces all over town. As the El Diablo Run has evolved, so too has many riders’ taste for lodging. Our crew, for instance, checked into the El Borja Hotel across the street from Ruben’s and didn’t regret it. The El Borja is less than 100 meters from the mayhem at Ruben’s, but features clean, quiet rooms and a swimming pool for chillaxing in comfort. When you’ve had your fill of tacos and mariachi music it’s nice to bury your fuzzy brain in a cold pillow, and the El Borja delivers.
Saturday marked the first of two days of EDR activities, and culminated around 5pm with rigid class for the Circulo de la Muerte. Not familiar with the Circle of Death? It’s a run-what-you-brung chopper race around a dirt track across the street from Ruben’s Camp. Historically a high point of EDR fun, this year’s track hand-built by our resident outlaw race promoter McGoo featured some twists and turns that seemed to cut into signups compared to previous years. After hounding the peanut gallery for hours, McGoo eventually convinced four racers to bang elbows for one round of dusty fun. The winner received a ceramic sugar skull and a custom Mexican flag wristband—easily the worst prizes in Circle of Death history. The trophies for three yard games prior to the Circle of Death were equally underwhelming, but that wasn’t the point. Like everything else on the EDR, this year’s yard games and dirt-track racing were all about fun, and gave people something to do between tube rides behind the fishing boat and team building at the Iguana chichi bar in town.
If titties and tacos aren’t your thing, there’s other things in Baja to keep you busy. One top attraction are the natural hot springs in Puertocitas 60 miles south of town. The road to Puertocitas features potholes the size of sea turtles and gas for the ride home is never a sure thing, but everyone who goes to the little port has the time of his life. Splashing around the hot springs can work up an appetite, but the hot dogs at Cowpatty’s will get you home, assuming you didn’t destroy your back wheel on the way down. Less adventurous Diablo Runners can always haggle over the price of a poncho at a beachfront mercantile in San Felipe, or simply maintain their never-ending buzz on a beach towel by the sea. The point is, there is no mandatory schedule or agenda on the EDR, and that’s what makes it special.
After burning it down for two days, three-quarters of the roughly 1,000 men and women on this year’s EDR packed up and boned out early Sunday morning. Another Circle of Death and the infamous Coctagon awaited the 250 people who stayed in San Felipe Sunday afternoon, but only after Otto and McGoo awarded bike show prizes to the best bike, the biggest cockroach and the biggest hard ass, a guy named Ace from South Africa. We’re not sure if Mother’s Day or the siren song of the San Diego border crossing is to blame for cutting into the crowd, but we suspect 48 hours of non-stop tacos and beer-fueled tomfoolery had something to do with it. Being hard ain’t easy, and this was the biggest, craziest EDR ever. Via con Dios, amigos!
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