Living the Dream
Wow. That’s about all I can say about finally cycling in Baja California. Each and every day has been a new adventure complete with wildly rewarding experiences. In the interest of keeping things straight, I am going to post a day to day log of my adventures through Baja California Norte.
Day 1: San Diego, CA to Rosarito, BCN (Baja California Norte)
It’s funny how a small human imposed border consisting of a recycled metal wall can change so much….
Upon entering Tijuana we were thrust into a seemingly endless maze of walkways, tourist visa diversions and entirely overpowering stimulus from all directions. After doing all the neccesary paperwork, we hightailed it out of town playing human frogger in Tijuana traffic. I think this section takes the cake for the most terrifying cycling yet. Thankfully it was over soon enough and we snuck onto the Cuota (toll) Road and headed South to Rosarito. As if the coastal view and amazing roadway weren’t enough, our host for the night, Nick, just happened to be passing by in his car headed home. He gladly took our baggage off our hands and we cycled load-free the last 15 miles into Rosarito. We ended the day with a nice dinner and beer watching the sunset. That night we all gathered around a fire and passed bottle after bottle of wine around and shared stories into the night.
Day 2: Rosarito BCN to Ensanada BCN
Our first full day in Mexico got off to a rockin’ 11 AM start! Due to a bit of indulgence the night before, we groggily awoke and had fish tacos on the beach before cycling out. When in Rome, right? The day’s riding was partly coastal with a short detour into the wine country of Northern Baja. This section of riding was also through the more “touristy” Baja and at times it felt a bit much like “Gringo” Mexico. Our day’s riding ended when I spotted a cyclist on the side of the road. I stopped to chat and ask about camping opportunities in Ensanada. He introduced himself as Santo and upon hearing what we were up to took it upon himself to invite us to stay with him for the night. The hospitality was amazing and him and his wife Marisa fed us, offered us wine, and gave us a bed to sleep in and a warm shower. Santo is not only a wonderful person, but apparently he’s also an award-winning cyclist in Ensanada. Santo, gracias para todo! He certainly lived up to his name.
Day 3: Ensanada, BCN to San Vicente, BCN
Today’s ride was our first introduction to typical Baja cycling. There are never really any HUGE mountain passes to contend with. Instead there’s a steady stream of rolling hills and short but steep 100-200 meter climbs followed by wicked fun twisty descents. The roadways at this point have started to shift and we are now getting the full offering of Baja’s road contruction! The roads go from shoulders so wide we can ride side by side (though not adviseable!) all the way to zero shoulders with a steep drop off filled with cactus, glass and broken car parts. The cycling is never truly dangerous, it just requires a little more attention. We ended our day by cycling a few KM’s out of San Vicente and finding a nice secluded spot for the night.
Day 4: San Vicente, BCN to San Quintin, BCN
It was nice to have a rather chill day today. Not much to write except for the continual hills and heat. It has been a challenge to always remember to carry the water we need. However every town here, no matter how small, seems to have water filtration units. Usually it takes 5-15 poesos ($0.50-$1.40) to fill my monstrous 11.5 liter load of water. Cycling with that much water is never fun but it allows us to camp outside of town for free under the stars with little worry for the next day.
Day 5: San Quintin, BCN to El Rosario, BCN
This desert riding is truly becoming a treat. Again we had a nice “relaxing” day of cycling up, over and down all the desert had to offer us. It has been nice passing town after town down here, though something seems to be lacking. I guess life in the rough and tough desert leaves little room for flourish. It will be nice to get to a more “colorful” Mexico. For now, I am loving the desert and all it has to offer.
Day 6: San Quintin, BCN to Cataviña, BCN
Today it started to truly feel like Baja. Gone was the traffic, towns and tourist traps. Instead the landscape slowly transformed into a surreal Dr. Suess wonderland. Boojum trees slowly started to dominate the lanscape and all manner of desert flora soon took over. By midday we found ourselves cycling through the boulderfields of Catviña. It was as if we were cycling through Joshua Tree except for the truly unique Boojum Trees!
Day 7: Catviña, BCN to Punta Prieta, BCN
Day 50 of the trip! Woohoo! It hardly feels like we have been travelling for 50 days. Yet all it takes is one glance at a map to assure us that we are truly far away. By midday we had passed the boulderfields and ended up on more gentle, slightly rolling terrain. As an added bonus we got a killer headwind and ended the day doing an average of 15-20 MPH! Thank you Baja for helping us celebrate day 50. However we would soon discover the true source of those winds….
Day 8: Punta Prieta, BCN to Villa Jesus Maria, BCN
Our day started off with a slight cross wind and overcast skies. Soon we were full on battling a fierce crosswind and ever increasing cloudcover. By lunch, it finally hit us! Little did we know what Tropical Storm Paul was just finishing its hissy fit in the Pacific and we cycling right into it! After lunch we found ourselves cranking along at 6 MPH, directly into the head wind, giving it everything we had. It was the worst wind I have ever cycled in and it only got worse. It seemed as if all the sands and wind in Baja were conspiring against us and unleashing their fury on us. Baja seemed to be screaming, “Get lost! Go home! You shouldn’t be here!” We decided we had had enough and ducked into a culvert under the highway just as the wind and rain decided to kick it up a notch. Sitting there under the culvert, caked in desert sand and sweat, I had a thought. I realized that I am, and always will be, an arrogant Westerner. I purposely take time off from work to travel through places where people might never dream of doing such a thing. I purposely put myself in these situation because “normal” life bores me. As I look around at the people as I travel through Baja, I feel ashamed at times. Yet the shame quickly passes as I realize that I am here, through the good and bad, because I want to be. I want to see new lands, meet new people and always create new experiences for myself. In the end, Baja was simply giving me a little slap in the face to remind me how real it can get. So Baja, from the bottom of my heart, thanks for keeping it real! However next time, a smaller storm will suffice! Luckily we ended the day in a small town where I quickly ran off to the nearest enclosed structure to consume the most delicious torta of my life. I even got a little washed up but not before being offered a campsite alongside the local police building. We even made a friend of the local school teacher, Sergio, who gave us plenty of beta for further down south. All in all, a truly memorable day.
Day 9: Villa Jesus Maria, BCN to Guerrero Negro, BCS (Baja California Sur)
We did it! After cycling a mere 24 miles we made it into Guerro Negro. We are offically in a new state, have passed the 28th Parallel, and are enjoying a rest day! The killer winds are now replaced by a gentle ocean breeze and we are feeling a lot better! As I type this my clothes are being cleansed of their sweaty desert filth and tonight we get showers! Life is good!
Tomorrow we head out after a relaxing morning of nothingness. Back into the desert for us with San Ignacio being our next destination. I’m looking forward to this next desert oasis!
San Diego,CA to Rosarito, BCN 64 miles
Rosarito, BCN to Ensanada, BCN 42 miles
Ensanada, BCN to San Vicente, BCN 57 miles
San Vicente, BCN to San Quintin, BCN 69 miles
San Quintin, BCN to El Rosario, BCN 53 miles
El Rosario, BCN to Catviña, BCN 61 miles
Cataviña, BCN to Punta Prieta, BCN 79 miles
Punta Prieta, BCN to Villa Jesus Maria, BCN 46 miles
Villa Jesus Maria, BCN to Guerro Negro, BCS 24 miles
Total mileage freom San Diego to Guerrero Negro 495 miles!!!!!
That’s all for now. enjoy!