A metric century and a side trip to San Juanico
As sailors, we are well accustomed to making last-minute travel decisions based upon new or updated weather data. As we sat enjoying ourselves in the oasis of San Ignacio, thoughts of how the threat of rain (yes, we check the weather when we have internet) might affect our upcoming ride across some dry lake beds weighed our minds. Should we stick to our original plan and enjoy a day or 2 off at the Casa del Ciclista, or should we get a jump on the weather, make a late afternoon push out of town, and try to beat the rain, should it decide to make an appearance?
We had a great camping spot at the Casa del Ciclista.
The beautiful lagoon we passed on the way back into San Ignacio.
Ultimately, we opted to make break for it, and despite the fact that we saw no rain, the decision worked out well for us. We were sad to leave the Casa del Ciclista, especially having only just set up camp there a few hours earlier, but thoughts of pushing our bikes through thick mud won out over rest.
Date and cheese pie, a local specialty. Not bad. When in doubt, always try the local favorites!
Even though we were thinking that we might only ride for an hour or so, the long days of Baja allowed us to put in over 35km before stopping for the night. Finding a place to camp was a bit challenging given that we were following a paved road with no discernible shelter for miles and miles. As luck would have it, not too long after the sun had set, we found a small dirt track leading away from the paved road, and following it took us to a beautiful little camp site.
After the sun had set, both Rebecca and I were getting concerned about riding on a paved road in the dark, only to realize that we both still had our sunglasses on!
Saying goodbye to the sun.
Setting up camp.
The sun had already said goodbye for another day.
A perfect camping spot, well out of sight of the main road.
Our Metric Century!
Cyclists use the term Century to describe a 100 mile ride. As we are Canadians, it seems only fitting that we choose to make mention of a Metric Century, a 100km ride, the distance that, with some work, we rode the next day. Of course, much more than our physical conditioning, it is the trail conditions that allow us to put in long days. Beginning the day’s ride on asphalt helped us to get started, but then we followed dry lake beds for almost the entire remainder of the day, allowing the miles to tick by rapidly.
We are so competitive that we actually passed by some awesome campsites just to complete the 100km, a distance that we knew would not soon be repeated. When it did come time to look for a spot to camp, we ran into a similar challenge as the day before. It’s pretty hard to hide a tent when the tallest bush around is only a foot or two high!
In season, this is a popular whale watching destination.
I wonder how much the tide changes here.
Driving on water!
Another fantastic breakfast location!
This is where the day’s ride really started to get fun!
Snow? No, salt!
Reminds me of pics we have seen of Bolivia.
“…with luck, prevailing winds will propel you across this unique landscape with little effort.” – Baja Divide Route Guide
Nope, we had a strong head wind alternated with a cross wind!
Practicing for the salt flats of Bolivia!
We were happy this cloud was down wind of us.
I’m not sure the original intent of these poles but some large birds are making good use of them for nests.
A car stopped and unsolicited, gave us this water and chips. How cool is that?
We never did see any rain.
In a small “restaurant” in El Datil. Animals love me!
Another cow standoff. This happens frequently.
Hills in the distance.
We began the day yesterday with a good breakfast before breaking camp, and then set off on a typical Baja gravel road. Note that typical means washboarded to f#%^&! As my butt was already sore from the big ride the day before, the extra bouncing was not appreciated. We had 16km to ride until we would come to a decision point: do we make a 90 degree right turn and head up the “road” towards Mulege, or do we continue to ride along the main road to San Juanico?
The turn off to Mulege is just up ahead.
The “road” to Mulege. I bet that it gets a lot worse!
Even before we made it outside of the US, we had people telling us that we must visit San Juanico. San Juanico, or Scorpion Bay, is apparently a surfers’ paradise, and since we’re in no great rush to complete the Baja Divide, we decided to take a bit of a detour and visit this must-see destination. Of course, not being on the route, we had next to no intel about the road to get there. It did show up on our GPS, and we could estimate the distance from our map, but that’s about it.
I put out some feelers on Facebook asking if anyone had visited there before. No one mentioned the road itself. We asked a couple of drivers, and they said the road was good. We looked at the topographic lines on our GPS, and they showed no great elevation change. Since we were beginning at 300 feet and ultimately traveling to sea level, it should be down hill, right? Ha!
Water in the distance but at certain times, I bet all the the foreground is covered in water.
We were resting under this tree when a couple stopped and asked if we wanted some Tecates (beers)!
From the turn off at La Ballena, the road to San Juanico is exactly 24km long. It’s true, there is no great elevation change, but it is a non-stop, and I mean NON-STOP, roller coaster ride, up and down, up and down. Because the elevation changes only 50-100 feet with each hill, they don’t show up on the topo lines. They do, however, show up on your legs. Additionally, the road gets a fair amount of traffic, often fast moving, and thus it has turned into one of the top 5 most washboarded roads that we have ridden thus far. If we had known all this, would we still have taken the side trip? Yes, but the road sucked, and if we can swing it, we’ll hitch a ride back to La Ballena where we will rejoin the Divide route.
All that aside, San Juanico is, as promised, a beautiful spot. We were greeted upon arrival by a mile-long stretch of sand and turquoise blue water. Being a surfer spot, the vibe of the town is, as you might imagine, quite chill, and there are plenty of Americans here, presumably on surfing holidays. We spent last night camped on the big beach shown in the cover photo with no one anywhere near us. We did have one visitor during the night though, a cat whose persistent meowing woke me out of a deep sleep!
Last night’s beachside camping spot. Very windy, and the tent pegs weren’t holding well in the sand. We have the tent tied to the bikes to help.
Trying to cook without getting sand blown into the food.
The San Juanico “highway.” 🙂
In order to get ourselves sorted for our trip to Mulege, we have booked ourselves into another 350 peso ($20.00 US) hotel room for the night. Rebecca just returned from the store with food, and we’ll be working to fill all of our water receptacles for the 3-day long trip. Unfortunately, we were warned in the trail notes that the upcoming leg is the toughest of the entire Baja Divide. That’s a bit concerning as we’ve had some incredibly tough legs so far. The only thing that makes me feel a bit better about that is the knowledge that we both (but especially me – Rebecca was always in great shape) are in much better riding condition than when we first set off on this trip a month and a half ago.
Our Metric Century!
- San Ignacio to Wild Camping: 37.4 km, 2:52 hours
- Wild Camping to Wild Camping: 103.8 km, 12:57 hours
- Wild Camping to San Juanico: 40.2 km, 5:21 hours