Mexico to Canada in less than 24 hours … this is a once in a lifetime trip. Either you grab life by the balls and do it, or you stay home and wonder what could have been.
by Ansoly Quinonez, photos by Nick Hill
The goal was plain and simple: to ride from the Mexican border to the Canadian border in less than 24 hours.
Over the years, I have gone on my share of motorcycle trips, but this one dwarfed them all. Riding a motorcycle for 1,400 miles straight, only stopping for fuel, seemed more like torture than adventure. Journeys like this are what I live for … adventure in its purest form, sprinkled with pain, fatigue, cops, and cramps.
In total, seven brave and dedicated riders from all walks of life chose to attend this trip. Jim “Beemer” Schultz, avid sport-touring enthusiast; long-distance veteran Nick Hill; Associate SSB Editor Sean Russell; professional Sportbike Freestyle Riders Nick “Apex” and Ernie Vigil; and me, Ansoly Quinonez, laidback general motorcycle enthusiast.
Through the eyes of me this is how it all went down.
June 14, 2011
Today, most of us got together to discuss the Border to Border ride. Jim offered up his home along with some tasty cheeseburgers and chips to go over some of the details for the ride.
We decided to meet up at a Holiday Inn in San Diego, near the U.S./Mexico border crossing, on the morning of the 24th. We set a departure time of 4 a.m. and planned to simply aim our motorcycles north on Interstate 5 until we hit Canada, hopefully doing so in less than 24 hours.
We decided it would be best if we had an “every man for himself” approach to the ride. Unless someone crashed or was in immediate danger, we agreed to move on and keep pushing forward. It was said that there wouldn’t be any hard feelings in doing so. This meant we all needed to take the proper precautions, making sure we could fend for ourselves if stuck on the freeway with engine failure or a flat tire. In other words, I had to make sure I had AAA towing and spare cash for a hotel.
Here is a picture of us eating burgers at Jim’s. Going clockwise, are Jim (red shirt), Kyle (he was not going, just wanted free food), me (taking picture), Nick Hill, and Sean Russell. (Missing are Ernie “Edub” Vigil and Nick “Apex” Brocha).
June 15, 2011
Today, I woke up early. I needed to get to the Guatemalan consulate to renew my passport. $65.00 and an hour later, I was assured that my passport would arrive well before our departure date. All I could do was hope it would. I didn’t want any issues preventing me from leaving or entering the United States or Canada.
June 17, 2011
I couldn’t believe it! My passport came in the mail today, and it’s only been two days!
Receiving my passport was just one piece of the puzzle for me. I still had lots to do. I needed a rain suit and desperately needed to go through my motorcycle and make sure it was up for the challenge.
June 23, 2011 – Thursday
Today was the day! My emotions were going haywire with fear, excitement, anxiety, and an unsettling feeling that something unfortunate was going to happen.
I just received some bad news! Jim was not going to be able to make the trip. He had developed a bacterial infection in his right arm that, if not treated promptly, could turn life threatening.
I was bummed… Jim is a close friend of mine, and I even consider him family. I wasn’t sure what to do. I wasn’t even sure I wanted go without him. This trip meant a lot to him.
I spoke with Jim again. He assured me he was going to be alright and that, no matter what, I was to go on this trip without him. He didn’t want me to miss out on this ride on his account, no matter what the reason.
I packed up my Ninja 650 and said goodbye to my friends and family, then headed to the Holiday Inn to get a little rest before our 4 a.m. departure.
It took me about two hours to get to the hotel. It was only a couple of miles east of San Diego. Sean and Nick had already checked into a room and were getting some rest. They let me into their room, where I found a comfy couch and caught some Z’s.
June 24, 2011 – Friday
I just received a phone call from Jim. He’s super bummed about missing the trip. He offered up his sweet BMW R1200RT, fully loaded with all the goodies including GPS and a radar detector. He wanted me to take his BMW to Canada! He said, “Just because I can’t make it to Canada doesn’t mean my motorcycle shouldn’t.” He wouldn’t take no for an answer. It was an offer I couldn’t refuse. Thanks, Jim!
Jim showed up a couple of hours later to deliver his prized possession just outside the hotel lobby. It was a glorious sight, and I couldn’t express how grateful I was to have such a great friend (as well as a comfy seat to sit on for this endurance ride).
My donated ride
We loaded up my bike into Jim’s truck and said goodbye. He was still pretty bummed, but helping me out seemed to make him happy.
Jim headed home
We were supposed to be on the road by 4 a.m. Nick and Ernie were running a little behind, so we had to wait. They made it here around 4:45 a.m.
Ernie traveled 10 hours from New Mexico to meet Nick in Las Vegas. They then drove four hours to Riverside to unload their bikes and ride them about two more hours to our hotel. I felt horrible that they were literally going to be exhausted, even before we set off. Those guys are men of steel, but I still wondered how the hell they were going to make this ride without any real rest beforehand.
The Trip Officially Begins…
In Mexico and way behind schedule! We took some quick shots before pulling up to the US Customs checkpoint. Interesting signs to say the least … if I ever need underwear, I know where the bargains are.
Our original plan was to ride into Mexico and to bust ass back into the United States by 4:15 a.m. and by doing so it will allow us to beat L.A. traffic. We were about an hour behind schedule and needed desperately to make up some time before morning rush hour hit full force.
At 5:22 a.m., the clock had officially started! The only thing that mattered at this point was crossing the Canadian border by 5:22 a.m., 24 hours from this very moment.
We were lucky enough to miss most of still making up some loss time between San Diego to Orange County. We rode pretty fast and were lucky not to get stopped.
This is Mount Shasta in California, along the Oregon border. The scenery was beautiful up there. The trees were tall, green and thick, and you could smell the freshness in the air. If I wasn’t under the gun, I would have spent a few hours absorbing the views and taking advantage of everything the earth had to offer. We will meet again, Mount Shasta!
We were making great time but seemed to have literally hit a wall around the 1,100 mile mark. We were all in rough shape, Ernie was the most affected, having been awake for 48 consecutive hours.
We had 90 miles to go. At our final gas stop, Ernie had decided he was going to snuggle up to a gas pump and “die.” I could see it in his demeanor… He was finished, and so were we. It just didn’t seem possible to continue.
Our bodies had been beaten up by the elements and the lack of sleep. 45 degrees Fahrenheit felt like 20. Nick Hill was convinced there was ice on the road from a recent rainstorm near Seattle and kept slowing down. The BMW had an accurate thermometer. The actual air temp was nowhere near freezing, but Nick was convinced otherwise until I showed him. All of our minds were mush. Nothing made sense, and simple navigation of the motorcycle proved difficult.
Watching the last few miles roll off our trip counter seemed endless with the growing degree of pain and fatigue setting into me. Minutes bled into hours and hours into days until time reversed itself, creating a version of hell that made it impossible to think clearly.
June 25th, 2011 – Saturday
Just as I was ready to call it quits, we finally approached the exit to the Canadian border. We made it with about 30 minutes to spare! We crossed the border into Canada around 4:30 a.m. on Saturday.
It was brilliant but hard to celebrate in our current state of mind. It was a bittersweet victory, with an extra dose of bitter covered in cat shit, all rolled up in one. What was I thinking when I decided to go on this ride?
We celebrated with a couple of blurry pictures at the Canadian Visitors Center and headed back across the border into the United States to find the closest hotel room and get some much needed sleep.
We found a hotel room just seconds away from the border on the United States side and couldn’t get to bed soon enough. I was slow on the draw and found myself in a cozy corner on the floor. It didn’t matter. I could have slept through a cold shower standing up.
When I was abruptly awakened and asked to get ready, I felt like I had only been asleep for 10 minutes. I was exhausted but in better shape than when I first got off the bike.
After showering, we jumped back on our bikes and headed south for Portland. We had plans to visit the Icon headquarters since Nick and Ernie are both sponsored by them.
We made it to Portland by 10 p.m., talked for a bit, and then we all headed down the road to a local brewery for some food before finding a hotel for the night. The Icon offices were awesome with lots of crazy stuff to check out. It wasn’t at all what I thought it was going to be. If you’re ever in the Portland area, try to swing by their offices for a tour.
We checked into a decent hotel somewhere in Portland. I was tired and couldn’t wait to sleep in a bed. We all agreed to sleep in until we were kicked out of the hotel. The only plans we had for tomorrow was to eat a steak at a famous strip club in the area and continue heading south.
June 26th, 2011 – Sunday
We woke up around noon. As planned, we checked out and rode down to Acropolis for some steaks and legs. If you EVER go to Portland, make sure you stop at this place. The steak was $8.00 and came with a soda and baked potato. It just might be one of the best I’ve ever eaten. Everyone was pleased.
It was decided that we were going to pull another all nighter back to L.A. Even though this sounded like a horrible idea, I knew that it would be a much easier pace with longer rest times between the stops. I was also excited to get back home. What’s another 1,000 miles, right?
At one of the gas stops, Sean asked Nick and Ernie to pull a couple of wheelies for his blog and feature story about the trip. Nick and Ernie jumped at the opportunity and raced off to find a secluded road.
A few miles off the interstate, we found the perfect spot in a place called “Cow Creek.” Nick and Ernie went about their business while a couple of locals stopped to watch. They put on a pretty cool show on some bikes I didn’t think were even capable of being ridden in such ways.
Nick and Ernie signed some autographs, and then we were back in the saddle and, unfortunately, back on the freeway headed for home.
June 27th, 2011 – Monday
Not much to report for the rest of the way. It was pretty boring riding through the night with nothing to look at. At sunrise, we hit Sacramento traffic, which was pretty much the highlight of the day.
Ernie ran out of gas outside of Sacramento, but I think Nick Hill did it on purpose because he was bored and thought it would be funny. Whatever the reasoning, Ernie wasn’t pleased. He was lucky to have brought extra fuel.
Nearing L.A., we stopped for one last fuel stop next to a McDonalds. We fueled up, then went for some breakfast. We were all extremely tired and ready for this trip to be over. Even so, I was sad to part with everybody. I felt like everyone had bonded nicely, overcoming great obstacles together and forming sort of a brotherhood.
Overall, I am glad I went on this trip. It was life changing in so many ways. I learned a lot about myself. I feel like I have accomplished something extraordinary that I can have with me for years to come. Canada to Mexico in less than 24 hours … done and done!
Nick “Apex” Brocha – www.NickApexFreestyle.com
Ernie “Edub” Vigil – www.ErnieVigil.com
SSB – www.SuperStreetbike.com
AAA – www.AAA.com
United States – www.USA.gov
Canada – www.Canada.ca
Sponsors of Nick “Apex” and Ernie “Edub” Vigil
ICON – www.RideIcon.com
Monster Energy Drink – www.MonsterEnergy.com
Avon Tyres – www.AvonTyres.com
Galfer USA – www.GalferUSA.com
LeoVince – www.LeoVinceUSA.com
Race Tech Suspension – www.Racetech.com
PSR – www.PowerStands.com
Renthal – www.Renthal.com
HTMoto Seats – www.HTMoto.us
Freestyle Ingenuity – www.FICages.com
Tiger Shark Cages – www.TigerSharkCages.com
Motul Oil – www.Motul.com