DAY 172 - THE BAJA DIVDE
Day 172 - Santo Tomas, Baja California, MX - 5288 km
Baja California is the peninsula aiming south east with on one side the Pacific and on the other the Sea of Cortez, or Gulf of California. From border town Tijuana it’s 1500 km on MEX1, the only ongoing road down to La Paz, where you can take a boat to the Mexican mainland. Popular among mountain bikers and touring cyclists is the Baja Divide, a recently mapped route from north to south via dirt roads and single tracks. It’s a scenic route which requires big tires and a lightweight setup, otherwise you’ll be pushing your bike most of the way because many roads are sandy. You also need time, because the entire route is 2700 km. There are parts where you need to pack food and water for up to thre e days until the next town where you can stock up again. My bike is built for these kind of routes, but the weight I’m carrying makes it less attractive. I’m only doing selected parts and will make use of MEX1 where there is less car traffic.
I’m leaving MEX1 south from Ensenada where the trail goes through the hills along the Pacific coast. The surface is rough and I need to leave a lot of air out of the tires to make the ride comfortable. Easy, I’ve got 3 inch of clearance underneath my wheels. On a hillside I meet a couple on touring bikes who are struggling uphill. They’re from Hong Kong and fully geared. I pinch their tires, which are hard as a cucumber, and recommend them to leave some air out. High pressure makes you fast on pavement, but on this rocky surface every little pebble makes your bike bounce. Lowering tire pressure changes the ride big time. On downhills I almost fly over the rocks, which would have been impossible with thinner tires.
The best thing of these roads is the total silence. You have the world to yourselves. I’ve seen 3 cars today. The pace is slow, while scanning for the smoothest bit of surface I have to avoid potholes and rocks. At some points I sink away in the sand. It’s more active cycling, but at the same time relaxing as well. There are no worries about passing fast traffic, staying on the side of the road, looking over your shoulder, being watchful. There is no noise, no exhaust gasses and loud welcoming horns. None of that, it’s tranquilo.
After miles of endless up and downs through green-brown hills I reach the deep blue Pacific, washing its white waves on the shore. The road switches left and right down the hill - a rewarding view. At the beach I take off my clothes for a dip. I don’t bother digging my swimwear from the bottom of my panniers, there is no one here. The swim is cold but sweet. I read a few chapters of Wieringa on my Kindle and continue my ride.