The Crossing

The Baja Divide is a 2700km bikepacking route that zig zags it’s way down Mexico’s Baja peninsula. It is reputed to be an amazing but challenging ride due primarily to the state of the tracks & roads it traverses, avoiding as much as possible paved highways, combined with the need to carry water between resupply points. We have had it on our bucket list for a while and as we are not getting any younger thought it was time to check it out…

The Alsatian comes hurting down the property track alerted by me biking past, and launches straight into the side of Alan’s bike. Fortunately Alan is off his bike and on the opposite side. The dog retreats, stunned by the impact, dog zero, Alan one. Is this no country for old men?*

Back to the beginning.. We had very turbulent flights across the pacific to San Fransisco and onto San Diego from New Zealand, perhaps this was in preparation for the bumpy ride ahead of us once on terra firma.

After a day in San Diego and heavy rain overnight we started our journey south along the city waterfront. We biked  thru flooded single tracks, suburban streets,around city reservoirs and then finally clear of the city we climbed steadily up Otay Mountain. We made camp before darkness fell at the early hour of 5pm. Two young Mexican lads draped in rubbish bags visited our campsite asking for food and directions. They were looking pretty miserable after heavy rain the previous night. We gave them some snacks before they disappeared again into the darkening night. Next visitor was border patrol, looking for Mexicans who have slipped thru the border illegally hoping for anew life in the US. If that wasn’t enough Alans air mattress sprung a leak. There wasn’t a thorn in sight, but on close inspection we found a small piece of glass in the dirt beneath the ground sheet. We patched 2 of the holes but there is still a slow leak.

Next morning we managed to miss a turn on the fast descent and rerouting we found ourselves in the audible barrage of gun and cannon fire of an NRA shooting range.

Luckily the rest of the ride to the border crossing at Tecate was uneventful – some nice dirt tracks and a busy paved road to the border. The crossing was very relaxed and if we hadn’t asked about tourist visas we would not have even gotten a stamp in our passports. Bienvenido a Mexico.

We didn’t get to spend a planned day in Tecate due to forecast heavy rain and set off the next morning with sufficient pesos to get to the next ATM in 500kms, and enough water and food for the next 2 days riding. It was misty and damp but the friendly welcome at the Huevo Republic restaurant at 10km lifted spirits. They specialise in eggs anyway possible.

Fueled up we rode the last few highway kms to the dirt road turnoff. We were then into absorbing riding initially dropping down into Canon Manteca before a steady climb for the rest of the day through the Mexican Sierras.

With short days we needed to be looking for campsites quite early and travelling light without a cooker one of the camp chores is to get a wee fire going for a couple of hot drinks. Dinner was a cold affair of tortillas, refried beans, hummus and cheese before the l-o-n-g night under the tent fly. We have foregone the tent inner to save weight and space.

Sunrise is around 7 but I was up in the dark getting a brew fire on, happy not to be horizontal.

We were blessed with a beautiful morning and enjoyed great riding on a mostly smooth granite sand road. We climbed to the highest point of the whole route at 1400m before a long descent to the small town of Ojos Negros where our hotel key ring tab stated Fast as F..k. Not quite true but made us smile.

*The Border Trilogy – Gormack McCarthy

Email me to get email notifications of new stories from the Baja.