Baja

Firstly I would like to say a mega thank-you to everybody who sent me lovely messages while I was being a twit, having made myself ill and feeling sorry for myself stuck in a hotel room. It was especially reassuring to hear from everyone who agreed with me that they were equally as silly and would have done exactly the same thing. Mistakes learnt the hard way again and again, rest when you’re tired.

Anyway, enough on dwelling over being sick. I am now well again, back on the bike and have cycled my sorry ass over to mainland Mexico. So lets pick up on the second half of Baja…..

We managed to find a piece of desert where it rained, a lot, all day to be specific and was pretty miserable. It was probably somewhat beautiful if I had actually lifted my head up to peek a look at the scenery, in reality all I did was keep my head down, prayed that the trucks could see my very fashionable high vis jacket and pedaled like hell to keep myself warm. After a particularly chilly and soggy decent I looked up to see Herbie had been flagged down by a car ahead, I groaned internally as the last thing I wanted to be doing in a downpour was explaining to some tourists that I was indeed intending on cycling all the way to Argentina. As it happened the guy who had flagged us down was a super smiley Mexican named Olly who thrust a gatorade into my hand within 3 seconds of me stopping. Instantly all was forgiven and I no longer miserable at having to stand in the rain. Olly turned out to be an ex cycle tourer who has pedalled all over Baja in his younger days and just pulled us over to offer sustenance because we looked miserable. He didn’t keep us chatting (in Spanglish, obviously) too long as everyone was getting soaked but as he waved us off he also threw an apple and a pear in my direction. For the first time that day I think I smiled.

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rainy desert

Not long down the road we came across a restaurant so decided to pull in to escape the rain for a while. A while turned into all afternoon as we were too weak to brave the outdoors again so we spent the night drinking beers with other cycle tourers, truckers and watching a Spanish dubbed version of Disneys Mulan on the tv. After again camping out the back of a restaurant we awoke to a massive tailwind and no rain, it was wonderful. We covered the days sixty odd miles pretty swiftly to arrive at the next town which contained one restaurant, one hotel and two Jahovahs Witnesses. There were other people as well however the JW’s did stand out somewhat, I’m not sure who they were hoping to find and convert in the back end of nowhere, but there they were spreading the good word… The lovely tailwinds stuck with us for the next couple of days and we made some massive progress heading South. It was only until we swung East to head back towards the Sea of Cortez that the weather gods decided to alter their tune. It was only meant to be a short day heading into Santa Rosalia however a few mountains, volcanos and stinking headwinds stood in our way. When I rarely looked up (for I was mainly ‘looking at stem’ all day) it was in fact stunningly beautiful and some of the best desert scenery we’ve encountered so far. For only the second time this trip our average speed was sub 10mph and when we finally reached our destination it was like arriving in the Baja version of Cleethorpes…

 

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Volcanos and headwinds

The next day our ride into Santispak beach was awful, I pretty much cried all day and this is where the blog post ‘have I failed?’ comes into play. It’s a shame because the beach was beautiful but I felt horrendous. Fast forward to Loreto….

Five days hiding in a hotel room being ill going completely insane watching CNN news on loop.

Not quite 100% better but after suffering some serious cabin fever we decide to mount up again and start some short days on the bike just to keep moving. Our destination is 20miles south and the last little beach on the Sea of Cortez before the MEX1 swings back inland. We cruised pretty slowly and stopped for lunch just 3km short of the beach, or so we thought. We asked two people for directions and both pointed us back on the main road for 3km. Well, we went back on the road which immediately started climbing, we went up and up and up and up, 3km came and went. There was no turn off for a beach, maybe just around the next corner? Nope. This continued, for seven miles. Something tells me our Spainish is clearly awful and/or the Mexicans were having a laugh at our expense, either way we were now several miles inland and 500m higher than any beach. We were also now pretty screwed as we weren’t prepared for a night of wild camping and were still 45miles away from the next town. Another lesson learnt – always bring ‘just in case’ water. Our lucky stars were with us however and we came upon a restaurant which although looked like it had closed down several years earlier the family agreed to let us pitch our tent for the night. It turned out to be even more of a saviour when the rain started to pour once again but our tent was nestled nicely under a porch.

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Dry tents!

After the adventure of restaurant Parguito we had two days of very long very boring straight roads. It was vaguely fun at first being able to up the average speed and pretending we were on breeze block shaped time trial bikes, it lost it’s appeal after about 15 minutes and was exceedingly dull. Herbie had a very rare tantrum and attempted to flag down every bus that passed just to get to La Paz without having to do any more cycling.

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straight roads

No busses stopped for Herbie that day, or the day after (must have not been showing enough thigh) so we ploughed on through miles and miles of straight desert road. That was until we got to the construction works of course. Eight miles where the lovely Mexicans are trying really hard to make the roads wider, including hard shoulders and excluding pot holes. There were diversions of course, where you just had to drive alongside the construction. In theory this is absolutely fine and something you become very accustomed to if you have spent any amount of time on the M1 in recent years. However in a desert, cycling alongside construction means cycling through desert. Dragging a 45kg fully loaded touring bike through sand is not particularly easy for a weed like me. It was pretty hilly too which meant we were also playing ‘dodge the trucks skidding downhill in the sand’. At points the sand was a little more compacted so were able to pedal a few hundred meters or so, this was until we hit a patch of loose sand where the bike would abruptly stop and we’d end up on our bottoms. After a few ‘bum in the sand’ incidents I wasn’t feeling particularly optimistic, as it was just me falling over, Herb was miraculously staying upright and I was scared to get back on the bike for fear of falling again. After a rather mean pep talk of ’stop crying, you’re going to fall off, just deal with it’ weirdly I wasn’t feeling much better. That was until on the next decent we were cruising down a patch of rare gravel when Herbie hit a patch of sand. Flew head and backside over handlebars, cut his elbow and broke his pannier. Karma.

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after finally surviving 8 miles of sandy hell

The eight miles of hell did eventually end and we were rewarded with a huge decent and tail wind all the way into La Paz. Cruising down the main road we once again bumped into Kirstin and Ryan whom we’d first met on the beach when I was poorly. It was a quick beer then out to the overnight ferry to take us to the mainland. ‘Proper’ Mexico here we come!

*I am allowed to slate Cleethorpe because both my parents are from the area and I spent many a childhood summer visiting Pleasure Island and having donkey rides along the beach.

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We made it!

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