We´ve just arrived in the amazing colonial town of Zacatecas, where the amount of churches, plazas, and cobblestone streets rival Brooks´daily street taco consumption. Next stop, Mexico City, probably 4 or 5 days from now.
Total Tacos Consumed in Mexico to Date - 332
In four days riding from Mazatlan, we racked up over 18,000 feet of elevation gain and set a new altitude record of 9,250 feet as we summited El Espinazo del Diablo
(The Devil´s Spine). Up and over the Sierra Madre mountains, we are now in Durango, MX, the first of many colonial towns that pave the way to Mexico City (El DF).
* Pictures online for this Part of the trip in the Gallery
section of this Web siteSan Diego, California to Todos Santos, Baja California South
After loading up on Thanksgiving turkey, the start of Stage 2 almost felt as if we were embarking on a whole new trip. Leaving the familiar territory of California marked the first time that we’d be venturing into the unknown. Having both been to Mexico before, we were excited for the road ahead, but were a little nervous at the same time, considering that we would be on a bike this time around. We left San Diego after trimming down our gear one last time and quickly discovered that the route we had planned out of the city had one major problem; bicycles were prohibited on Highway 94. Too cheap to buy a map to help us get to Mexico, we zig-zagged our way through the urban sprawl that led to the border until the last track house disappeared and we began the climb into Tecate. Opting to cross into Tecate versus Tijuana proved to be an excellent decision as we rode into Mexico without anyone stopping us or even really looking in our direction. We celebrated our arrival in Mexico properly with an ice cold Tecate in Tecate, something we’ve been looking forward to since not being able to find an Olympia in Olympia, Washington.
Once in Mexico, our ride changed dramatically as each day truly became an adventure of its own. Our maps weren’t quite as accurate as what we had grown used to and we quickly learned that we shouldn’t expect all the towns listed to have a store, a restaurant or a place to stay. Our Spanish was tested early and so were our stomachs. Early morning taco feeds became the norm, as did similar ones in the afternoon and evening. On the road out of Tecate, we found another something to get used to, a shoulder that dropped off straight from the white line and big rigs that nearly clipped mirrors when they passed one another. On the flip side, we were very happy to trade the heavy traffic of Highway 1 for the mountains and lighter traffic of Highway 3. We caught a brief glimpse of the Pacific as we passed through Ensenada and then continued back up over the mountains towards San Felipe. On this stretch of road we reached heights that we haven’t seen since British Columbia. The days were warm and the nights near freezing in the high desert and with each elevation came a different desert landscape.
Getting our first view of the Sea of Cortez, we joined Highway 5 for an easy cruise into San Felipe. There, we celebrated Gregg’s 31st birthday as did the rest of the town as an early Christmas parade rolled through the streets in Gregg’s honor. South of San Felipe, the road quickly turned from fantastic fresh asphalt to the worst road we’ve seen to date. Stocking up on food and water, we set off for a few days in the desert. Continuous washboard, loose rock and deep sand provided for two unbelievably tough days of riding. We rode from sun up to sun down both days averaging a meager 5 mph. To say the least, we were very happy to rejoin Highway 1 after a brief stop at the beer oasis Coco’s Corner, even if it meant sleeping next to a big rig booming Mexican polka music all night.
The last bit of the Central Desert didn’t have much to offer aside from the sporadic road runner sighting, a bird that was too fast for Gregg to capture on film. As a result, we had some time to perfect our riding strategy of not being in the same spot as two passing rigs. Visible for over 14 miles, we finally reached the huge Mexican flag and eagle sculpture that marked the beginning of Baja California South. Also, the nearby town of Guererro Negro guaranteed us an abundance of taco stands and a shower (with warm water). We timed our arrival in Guererro Negro a couple weeks too early to see the whales birth in Laguna Ojo de Liebre, but that allowed us to discover two of the city’s often overlooked attractions. One was the carnitas master of Carnitas Michoacan. The man could sling the finest pork taco that a peso can buy. The other was an amazing bird sanctuary that boasted an incredible range of birds – Birds of prey for Brooks’ enjoyment and sensitive shore birds and white pelicans for Gregg.
Out of Guererro Negro, we caught a tailwind that we’ve never been blessed with before, pushing us over 95 miles to the oasis of San Ignacio at a blistering pace of over 20 mph, our fastest day of the trip. The only time we let our speed slip was when an over zealous street dog charged us head-on and almost caused both of us to crash. Gregg laughed at Brooks’ misfortune until the dog decided to chase him for a half mile. San Ignacio marked the beginning of a string of Southern Baja towns that were full of character and rich in history. We spent our first day off in over two weeks hiking around the mesa above the desert oasis. Then, after a short climb and a steep decent down Cerro Don Carlos Pass the mountains gave way to the Sea of Cortez once again as we rolled into the town of Santa Rosalia. Just south was another oasis town, Mulege, located at the mouth of Conception Bay. We spent the afternoon exploring the former mission settlement, but continued south in search of an ocean-side palapa to enjoy the evening’s full moon.
Loreto, home to Nuestra Senora de Loreto (the Mother of Missions of Lower & Upper California), concluded our favorite stretch of the peninsula. Conveniently, we found ourselves in yet another town celebrating Christmas. However, Loreto did it in style throwing a festival for the entire town with free beer and food for all. That was more than enough to ready us for our climb over Sierra del Gigante, taking us back to the high desert of the interior. Flat and straight roads dominated the desert leading to La Paz. We spent our last night before La Paz in the small town of El Cien where we ate lunch and dinner at a family run restaurant. As we ate, the family’s son explained to us that his mother ran the restaurant and his father raised champion fighting cocks in the back yard. He told us where the strongest roosters come from and tactics that can make your rooster a more efficient killer. We were slightly surprised when he later told us that he was four years old.
We were delighted to see that the fierce taco stand competition of La Paz had driven the price per taco down to 45 cents on the street. This meant that we could enjoy the big city with tremendous proportions of food, making sure to sample what each stand had to offer. Our final day of riding took to Todos Santos, back on the Pacific side. We quickly negotiated a place to store our bikes for the holidays. The local librarian agreed to watch over our bikes in exchange for books for the town’s children – A win-win for everyone. It was an odd feeling leaving our bikes in someone else’s hands, but we soon forgot as we celebrated the end of our peninsula riding with a cold margarita. The margarita went down very easy and we passed the following few minutes carefully calculating the burn rate of a Baja taco. As a result, we learned a valuable statistic. One taco powered our legs for 5.243 miles. As a new year's resolution, we hope to become slightly more efficient as we head to the mainland.Stage 2 Part 1 Stats:
Miles: 1,111.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 41,978ft.
Ride Time: 93 hours 39 minutesOverall Expedition Stats:
Miles: 5,982.7 miles
Flat Tires: Brooks 7, Gregg 5Sponsored by: Co-Motion Cycles, Schwalbe North America, Rudy Project, Outdoor Research, eRoi, ThinkHost, ZUM, Bay Club, Canright Interactive, R Bar, IBEX, Lombardi Sports, Jaunt