Statistics Baja California:
Distance: 1750 km
Daily average: 50 km
Days in the Area: 4
Days on the Bike: 25
Altitude covered: 14200m
Daily Average: 645m
Nights in the Tent: 39
Nights in Houses: 1
Breakdowns: 2 flats in the back
Daily Costs: 9,50€
Dividing the baja californiaAfter following American Highways for that long time my soul was seeking for a little bit more adventure.
Mexico sounds like the big adventure but a Route I found everybody was speaking about made me excited. Baja Divide was it´s name, named after the great brother the „Great Divide Mountainbike Trail“ it cuts through the peninsula from North to south at crosses all type of landscape that defines the Baja. Unfortunately it´s a Mountainbike Route so not suitable for my Travel-Tank. But I normally give a shit about conventions and so I decided to give it a try.
The Route starts in San Diego on the American Side and crosses the border in Tecate, a little bit more in the backcountry of Tijuana and so avoids the Rush in the big City.
AS a approach the border over the mountains I saw the madness of these border. Empty land in front and a city presses to the fence on the other side. The Road leading towards was surrounded by signs that show the rules south of the border. Most interesting was the fact that wearing a weapon is forbidden in super dangerous Mexico. The border was unspectacular. Last year a custom officer in Alaska explained me that I have to check out the US otherwise it counts as I am still present in the US of A and will cause trouble when I will come back. This fact was popping into my mind when I was approaching the Mexican customs. I hadn’t seen an US Custom Official. So I turned around to find one of them. Pushing my bike back through the gate into the US was not amusing the Border Police Officer taking care for that gate. He shouted at me and prompted me to go back otherwise he had to arrest me. My wish to ask him a question was ignored and so I turned around and left the US without checking out. Strange. So I entered Mexico. Getting the Tourist Visa is easy and the only complication was to get my bike through the not functioning electric gate at the exit. It took 20 minutes to find a key and let me through. Welcome to the chaotic world…
A new country is always exiting. Look around, be aware, try to orientate. It was dusty, noisy and Music was blaring out of a loudspeaker at the corner. I cycled into town and passed food stalls where the smell of barbecue and burned meat wafts towards me. It was lively and the music was everywhere. The tuba was pushing in the background and it is very similar to the brass music we have in Bavaria but the trumpet and the unique singing of the Mexicans makes it special. Funny to hear.
Tecate is huge and build up a hill and so I was working myself up that hill, from time to time stopped by friendly locals asking me the usual questions: where are you from, where are you going…(I think this were the questions cause it was in Spanish…)
The city is chaotic, most things happen on the street and there seem to be no rules for constructions. Th atypical flat roof architecture with the protruding reinforcement for future increase showed me clearly that I’m back in a developing country.
Behind Tecate I followed the Highway for a few Kilometers before I turned on a dirt road and followed it into the wild.
That’s it with civilization for a while. The next days I just met a few people. Te path already showed his first obstacles. Sandy parts in the lower areas and steep parts up the hills that both forced me to push my bike from time to time. I started slowly to swear about the weight of my bike and the decision to do that trail but on the other hand the area was so nice tat I also enjoyed to stop from time to time to look around and see the beauty.
I crossed little Villages and a few farms and before I came back to MEX1 the main Highway here was not much going on on the Baja…
At a point I reached the pacific coast and after 5 days on (partly tricky) dirt roads I was ready for a break from the hard work. I followed MEX 1 for a while. Tat area was dense populated and so the roads were narrow, packed with cars and there was no shoulder for me. Horrible…I took the first opportunity to leave the Road again and came back on the Trail. There I found a spot to camp and the next days I followed dirt roads to the backcountry again. The route took me to the ocean again and there I reached my limit. deep sandy patches forced me to push for hours. I quit this after a few hours and went to a nearby campground to take a day of rest. It doesn’t work out for me like that…
After that break I followed the MEX 1 again but there was less traffic and the road went up into the mountains. I enjoyed the paved roads, cruised through the cactus landscape and was happy to cover some distance… I slept every night surrounded by thorny plants. A few times I managed to pick up some thorns and that was one of the most painful things I ever experienced. Hard work to pull this bastards out again.
The road up here lead me through a nature preserve and showed me one of the most extraordinary landscapes I ever crossed on that trip. A huge valley covered with huge cactus partly over 10m tall and many different types of big thorny plants stick out into the sky and form a totally weird forrest. without a scratch you can’t get out of here…
Beyond these High desert the road split down to the Bay of Los Angeles. I decided to make a visit down there and eventually try another piece of the Divide Trail. I’m not able to learn at all ;-)
At the bay I met Andy and Steffi, a german couple that are traveling down the Divide and are resting here for a few days. By the way it was short after Christmas and they had an arrangement with some other RV-Travellers from Germany to meet here for the celebration. I was too late but a day of rest was fine and so we left the next day to head back on the trail together. In town Chris invited us to come with him to collect shells and we joined him. On the bay the dolphins were playing around the boat and we stopped at a little cove to collect shells in the shallow water. back at his house we started a barbecue and stayed there for the night.
The next part started promising but quickly the washboard started. It was shaking that much that I lost my tripod. Shit! A couple of motorcyclists crossed my way and brought me back my tripod after a few minutes… I was really lucky in that moment! After that it went sandy again and we stoppe far in front of the goal of the day. The next day we visited Pancho in his cove and launched (2 days too early) some rockets for the new years celebration.
The next days there was not much to celebrate, the route stayed challenging. Sand and washboard followed each other and we were extremely happy to reach MEX 1. the 140km to San Ignacio we just flew down the road and there we could relax, do laundry remove tons of dust at the casa de la cyclista. Very Nice!
From here (I mentioned that I’m resistent to learn) I followed the divide trail again. First on Asphalt and then on a mix of deep sandy parts and asphalt like packed dry lakebed. On day three I made another 40km of washboard and finally reached the asphalt again. A hundred kilometers of straight road led me to Ciudad Constitution, the Center of this part of the Baja. I was ready for the next adventure.
The last stretch of 270km to La Paz led me over a mountain ridge and along the east coast south. The piste was quite good and I had to push my bike just punctual. The mountains are super colorful, layers of red, green, rose and a green layer of bushes is covering them… Beautiful out here. The first pass was really steep and after it I had a very nice view into the mountains again. The second pass was extremely challenging. After grading the road the whole surface was loose. Partly really big rocks made it impossible for me to cycle it and even pushing over it was a challenge. After hours of hard work I reached the top and dropped into the steep descent down to the coast. It was also loose gravel and I’m very happy that I survived this adventure without a crash… Next day was a mix of sand and washboard again and in the afternoon I was ready to quit. Looking for a ride wasn’t successful so I had to go on and finally reached San Juan de la Costa and the Asphalt the next morning. 50km later I reached the House of Tuly, a warmshowers Host and a legend. She takes literally everyone and so the house is always full of cyclists and travelers. Great to be back in civilization.
In the last month I made around 970km ion the Baja divide trail and 1700km on the whole Baja California. It´s time for a break!
My business in La Paz is to catch a ride on a sailboat. There is also a ferry to reach the mainland of Mexico but I like to have a challenge finding and taking this approximately 5 day ride over the Sea of Cortez…
So I had to go to the Martina every morning, announce my wish on the radio and socialize with the sailors to catch a ride on one of the leaving boats…
I did that for a week and when I almost gave up a boat took me, yeah!
So today I will leave La Paz on a Sailboat to Puerto Vallarta on the Mainland of Mexico… I’m totally exited cause I never made a thing like that before.
What happened on the boat and on my way through mexico heading towards Mexico City is part of the next story…