There is no easy street on the Baja Divide!
Upon reflection, my last post may have appeared a tad negative, almost as if I wasn’t enjoying myself. It’s true that when in pain, it’s difficult to focus on the positive. Fortunately for both of us, immediately after posting the last update, we had a couple of incredible rides. By no means easy, we put in some big days, including a couple of 40+ mile ones, with some huge climbs, and some super-fun technical descents. Hand in hand with the riding, we were also witness to some breathtaking scenery. It seems to me as if we’re really beginning to get in the groove.
After a restful day off in Ojos Negros, we set off early, hoping to get some miles in. As you’ll see in the first few images, the morning air is chilly, especially when overcast. We had a big climb in between us and Ejido Eruapan, 40 miles south. Our goal was to get as much of the climbing done as we could, and then find a place to camp for the night. As it turns out, we had a high-energy day and managed to get all the climbing behind us, and found a spot to camp just off the trail, at approximately 3200′.
Much of the trail we followed for that day, and the ones to follow, are used by the famous Baja 1000 races. Even though those events take place later in the year, we saw a number of riders out on the trails, either practicing for the event, or just having a good time. Coincidentally, we ran in to the same two riders that we talked with on our way in to Ojos Negros a couple of days earlier (they were heading in to work on their dirt bikes – not a bad way to travel). Not only did we have a fun chat, we found out that one of the riders, San Filipe Bob, is a fellow hasher. As only a hasher would, he had some beer with him on his bike, and he broke one out to share with me. At that point in the ride, there was no way I was going to turn down a beer!
There is a movie called Dust to Glory, a documentary which details the Baja 1000. If you want to see some of the terrain that we’ve been riding, check it out. The trailer is below. When you do, take note of the motorcycle rider near the beginning who pops a wheelie seconds after going through the starting “gate.” Apparently, that’s San Filipe Bob!
A word about the weather here… several people had warned us that the heat would be brutal in Baja at this time of year. I have to say, we’ve found it extremely comfortable during the days, but downright chilly during the nights – especially at elevation – and in the mornings. We’re both glad that we invested in our nice down quilts and puffy jackets. In some of the pics you can also see our new “sun” shirts that we purchased at the market in Ojos Negros. We got them second hand for the grand total of $1.00 each. Score!
The 15 mile descent into Ejido Uruapan was epic! Our new motor-cycle riding friends suggested that we take care as a race had just taken place on those trails the week before, and that the vehicles had cast a lot of large stones out onto the trail. What they told us was fact, but in spite of the technical terrain, we were able to ride 99% of it, only walking the bikes down a couple of the sketchiest sections.
Unfortunately, Ejido Uruapan, where we had hoped to have lunch and camp, was less than exciting. With not a taco stand in sight, a decision was made to push on to Santo Tomas to see what we could find there. When we arrived, we first replenished our drinking water (never pass by water), and then were directed by one of the locals to a small eatery where we stuffed ourselves with burritos. After finishing our meal, we set off again, but not before entertaining some of the local kids. They loved the fat-tire bikes!
The Baja Divide website gives a good description of the various trail sections. We’ve been reading ahead every few days, trying to get a picture of what is to come, so as to be in a position to better gauge how many miles we’ll be able to put in. The description for the stretch outside of Santo Tomas warns of a steep climb. Here’s the thing… there are steep climbs everywhere on this route. Because they are making a point of mentioning it, we knew that the climb was going to be a doozie! Fortunately for us, we were well practiced with the push-the-bike-for-35-steps, stop-and-rest technique. Once again, it didn’t fail us.
The day was going so good that we were almost tempted to ride all the way to Ejido Erindira. Common sense prevailed though, and so, after 45 miles, we stopped for the night to camp. But, not before riding until we were once again in the presence of the Pacific Ocean (albeit from a distance). That was the first time we had seen the ocean since leaving San Diego on June 6th, more than a week before.
When the sun drops below the horizon, so too do the temperatures plummet. We have so far made it our practice to don our sleeping clothes and puffy jackets when that happens, and then retire to the warmth of our tent. Until sleep time, which comes easily after such long days, we entertain ourselves by reading our kindles by the light of our trusty Mantus headlamps. We could hear the coyotes howling not far from our tent, but never did see them. We did, however, find some scat in our campsite the following morning, further evidence of their presence.
As it turned out, it was a good thing that we didn’t push on to Ejido Erindira the day previous because the 10 miles that we had to travel came only with a considerable amount of effort. I tweaked my knee once again while walking the bike down a ridiculously steep stretch, a trail that we later found we didn’t even have to take (there are a number of short-cut trails off the main road, no doubt used only by crazy motorcyclists, not cycle tourers). Additionally, the motel we were hoping to crash at was locked up tight, with no one around to help us. So, once again, we pushed on, but not before indulging in what might be the tastiest Huevos Rancheros that I have ever had.
What was to be a short 10 mile day was about to turn into a 40 miler. I’ll admit, by the end of the day, my legs were not all that happy with that decision. The scenery was stunning though, with much of the trail paralleling the ocean. We even stopped for a quick dip in the Pacific (FREEZING!), just before the path we were to follow departed the coast. The section after that was equally epic, with miles of moguls to add excitement to the ride. Of course, there were also a number of crazy steep hills requiring us to push the bikes up them. Yes, we’re getting a workout!
Having definitely earned a day off, we’re holed up in a cushy motel just outside of Colonet. Tomorrow we’ll push on south. We have 70 miles until we reach the next major settlement, Vicente Guerrero. Our plan is that we’ll take 3 days to make that trip but as we’ve experienced so far, it pays to remain flexible.
- Ojos Negros to Wild Camping: 40.89 km, 8:03 hours
- Wild Camping to Colonet: 67.21 km, 8:57 hours