BAJA DIVIDE - 2140 km, 22866 m elevation gain
There are no word to describe the baja divide. Go there and do it yourself. It's beautiful, amazing, tough, challenging, rewarding, just undescribable, the best I've ever done. One day I'll do it again with 3" tires and bike through all the sand easily. This trip changed my biking life - I will definitely get more into mountainbiking. Thanks Dom for joining me on the loop and cooking all these amazing camp dinners for me and never forget "We can do whatever we want." This trip is over now but there is so much more to come. Never stop exploring.
Day 29 - The Cape Loop - El Grande Finale
The very last day on the Baja divide and on the Cape Loop – el grande finale of an amazing trip. The Cape Loop led us from La Paz to the east coast to Cabo Pulmo, from there crossing inland over the Sierra La Laguna to the west coast to Todos Santos and back to La Paz. The final 30 k on paved downhill into La Paz where we found out that it is Carneval right now. Time to celebrate. Todays route: Campspot - Los Divisadores - La Paz. Km biked: 97.
It's 3am and I can't sleep. It's my last night on the baja divide and that makes me proud and sad. Suddenly it's all over. We spent 3 nights in Todos Santos - magical days. Whale sharks swimming next to us on the beach - powerful and magical creatures. We left todos santos at 1pm in pure heat, sweating our way through sandy tracks. Dom cooked the perfect last baja divide dinner on open fire for me - tortillas with "beanshit", avocado and cheese. 🤣 Todays route: Todos Santos - Campspot. Km biked: 40.
One of my favorite days on the baja divide. Climbing, sandy roads, amazing views and more amazing downhills. And my first real crash on this trip. After a downhill I saw this river crossing and got so excited to bike through but I wasn't biking but rather sliding through it - the most stupid way of crashing as I know how slippery these paved water-alge ways are. So I couldn't stop laughing when I finally came to a halt and no broken bones or worse, just a little blood. While climbing on one of uphills I came up with this plan for the evening: arrive in Todos Santos, have a fish taco and beer, find a hotel, take a shower, go out for dinner and margaritas and then go to sleep. This was exactly what we did. Todays route: San Jose del Cabo - Todos Santos. Km biked: 86.
Starting with a sandy uphill which was better than expected into some deep drainages which felt like Mulege - the hardest day for me on the divide till now. And as my body got a lot stronger this Mulege day will stay in my mind as the worst. Even on hard stretches of the track I'm having so much fun and I do enjoy it. Sometimes I can't stop smiling - seems I got addicted to mountainbiking. After biking in the backcountry for a day it's really hard to be biking on the road with a lot of cars and being in bigger towns - all the traffic freaks me out. So we went for resupply near San Jose very, very fast and on the path again to find a nice place to camp. Todays route: Cabo Frailes - San Jose del Cabo. Km biked: 67.
My first and best swim in the sea ever at Cabo Pulmo. Running into the water with all the biking clothes on - no laundry needed. Doms favorite downhill - he felt like he was flying till he was really flying - to the ground. Bloody legs but no broken bones. You haven't been on the bajadivide if you don't crash at least once. And a campfire at night. What else could I possibly wish for. 🥰 Todays route: La Ribera - Cabo Pulmo - Los Frailes. Km: 55.
The most scenic biking along the sea after some uphill pushing. There are no words to describe these feelings when biking the baja divide, the sudden changes from one moment to the other. A minute ago you are pushing you bike uphill and sweating and the next you see the most amazing view and you cannot stop smiling. It is pure life. Dom got 4 flats at ones, at least at a really nice spot to stop. Had to steel new tires at a bike shop in Bariles as the ones he got in la Paz were already in pieces. 😱 Too many white retired Americans there. Todays route: Ensenada de los muertos - Los Bariles - Campspot. Km biked: 68.
Day 23 - Starting the Cape Loop
Back on the divide after a long, long break in La Paz, such a pretty city but even on these rest days I didn't stop riding my bike. Everyday we were riding in the city and to La Balandra and Tecolote beach. For this last section, the Cape Loop, I got company. Dominick spontaneously decided to join me, took him a day to re-setup his bike (mountainbike tires, different panniers,...) Hope he and his bike will make it. It felt so good to be on the divide again, missed the offroad, the up and down,... We are camping at Ensenada de los Muertos. Listening to the waves while falling asleep is such an amazing thing. Todays route: La Paz - Los Divisadores - Ensenada de los muertos. Km biked: 88.
Day 22 - Arrival in La Paz
The second day on this trip which started with fixing a flat. The first one (into Mulege) turned out to be the toughest till now. This one had some surprises as well. Somehow my pump wasn't working properly so I couldn't put much pressure in the front tire. Same with the back tire so I was basically biking on the rim for about 5 kms feeling all the gravel. At that point I realized I might need help. And the first car which came my direction stopped (3 Mexicans who didn't have much space in the car), just a minute later an American guy appeared as well and we all together disassembled my bike and put it in Geralds car. These 4 men were my guardian Angel's of the day. Gerald even invited me for breakfast on the way to La Paz, we walked his dog and then drove me right to the hotel where Erik (my bike mate from a few days ago) was waiting for me. Followed by an afternoon and evening with Superbowl, margaritas, tacos, beer and Colin and Dom who also made it to La Paz the same day. Big reunion. There will be a few well-earned rest days ahead for me. Todays route: Campspot at the beach - La Paz in a car. Kms: 20.
I'm lying at the beach right now where I'll spend the night after a day with emotions from pure happiness to pure desperation. It's incredible how fast landscapes, feelings, the surface of the road,... change at the baja divide. One second you are so desperate and angry pushing uphill and the next second there appears this amazing view down to the Sea of Cortez and all I can do is smiling. The toughest downhill with big, loose rocks - even downhill had to push a bit. Then when you think it's all flat along the beach the road just goes back into the canyon uphill where even pushing is barely possible, brake, stop, breathe, push 3 more meters, brake, stop, breathe.... and then these amazing geological sculptures with pink, turqoise, brown, yellow,... layers are everywhere along the road. Impossible to describe. Todays route: Camp - La Soledad - San Evaristo - Punto Coyote - Camp on the beach. Kms: 67.
This feeling when I leave a city for few days into the backcountry with everything I need - my bike, food, water,... is unique. I don't know how far I'll make it this day or the next, how hard it will be, how much days I'll need, but I know I have everything I need. It's a feeling of pure freedom which I seldom have at home. After a huge breakfast I left Ciudad Constitucion with this amazing feeling for the Sierra La Giganta with the plan of biking till sunset. Through the burning dump just outside of Constitucion :(. At Las Animas at 6pm I got a bit nervous about finding a place to camp as it was getting dark and an uphill was waiting for me. So I pushed one more time uphill and set camp at the hill with the most amazing sunset - red, yellow, pink and more beautiful colors. A windy night ahead of me. Todays route: Ciudad Constitucion - San Luis Gonzaga - Las Animas - Campspot at a hill. Kms: 108.
Left Colin and Dom with their heavy load on the mountainbike trail in the morning as I wanted to make it to Ciudad Constitución today. When biking on the road for a bit I realized how much more I like the offroad by now. And it was quite flat which didn't make me happy either - my new passion seems to be up and downhill off-pavement. Mexican pizza for dinner. Todays route: Campspot - Santo Domingo - Ciudad Insurgentes - Ciudad Constitucion. Kms biked: 118.
When the description of a route says "challenging but rewarding" you never really know what to expect. This time the reward was definitely bigger than the challenge. Some parts of the uphill after El Horno was like Erik said a "walking hill" but the view over the Sierra de la Giganta was so much worth it and the downhill into San Javier wasn't bad either. Just when walking around the village of San Javier a familiar face appeared - Colin and Dom - the 2 guys I already met in San Ignacio and all my afternoon plans were gone. Dom had one of these days when you want to quit. His pannier broke and then he realized he lost his wallet. At the end of the day everybody in San Javier knew us and Doms issues. "Ende gut, alles gut" as we would say in German. Wallet was found by a guy, Colin repaired the pannier, I bought a pack of beer and we went to look for a campspot. Todays route: San Miguel de Comondu - San Javier. Km: 68.
Had breakfast with my hosts in San Isidro, burritos with machaca de res and avocado and even got a few burritos to go. Good conversations about history, politics, music,.. el señor was a retired professor of the university of La Paz and so much interested in everything. After 5 km I decided to take it slow today - it was great to take breaks and pictures knowing that I have all the day to do the 35 km to Comondu. A few dead animals on the road. Staying at the fancy hotel here which has nice rooms but enjoyed it so much more staying in the basic room last night where I felt like home and had good conversations (and it was a quarter of the price). But the village and the mission are really nice and the half rest day will make tomorrow's ride through El Horno a lot easier. Todays route: San Isidro - San Jose de Comondo - San Miguel de Comondu. Km: 38.
Took the road to Rosarito which was easy and quite nice along the beaches - fish tacos for lunch. Good to be on the bike again after the rest days. Into the Sierra de la Giganta which I'll be biking through the next days. Finished in San Isidro where I am too tired for dinner. Tomorrow will be hard - lots for mountains what I've heard from Erik who is going crazy fast. Maybe San Javier, maybe not. It's 86 kms up with a "walking mountain". I like hiking better without a bike.. but I'm curious. Todays route: Mulege - Rosarito - San Isidro. Kms : 137.
Rest days in Mulege
1090 kms, 15 days biking every day - time for a rest day or two. The first rest day (yesterday) was cause of the 15 days biking before, the second one (today) was Erik's fault telling the bartender too many times "dos más🍸". (Muy, muy fuerte las margaritas🍸). We washed our bikes at the car wash - soooooo shiny again and without all these scary noises. In the afternoon I was slowly feeling ready for riding and biked to the beach for sunset. I'm ready for the second 1000 kms of the baja divide. Kms: 7.
Today was bad, not like expected but bad. I'm lying in my bed and cannot move anymore. My body feels destroyed. Erik caught up with me just at the end of the tough part and we were so happy and made plans for dinner in Mulege. This was when the hard stuff started, endless up and downhill through creeks and canyons and it was never the last pass - always another around the corner. My shoes and socks wet from all the river crossings. It was getting later and later and I wasn't sure if I could make it to Mulege by daylight. The last 20 flat kms to the town was bad as well - bumpy washbored roads, I almost cried. If I had another flat tire I think I would still sit there (2 flats today). The good thing it was as tough for Erik as it was for me - so I'm not a bad mountainbiker. Well-earned Margaritas in Mulege. Todays route: Campspot - San Miguel - Mulege. Kms biked: 86
Left Erik for the whale watching and started my way to one of the most strenuous sections of the divide: the crossing from El Datil to Mulege. Easy riding from the lagune to el dátil, a small fishing village on hard packed dirt roads and nice views, from then on I felt back on the divide, cobble stones, sand,... but I made some kms today and found a nice camp spot. It's a great feeling that Erik is just a few hours behind me - feel really safe. He definitely will catch up with me tomorrow. Todays route: Antinios ecotours- El Datil - La Ballena - campspot. Kms biked: 111.
The first town in Baja which was a pretty town with a nice plaza and restaurants around - San Ignacio. The 4 of us biked there for breakfast - huevos rancheros again and after saying goodbye to Dominik and Colin, Erik and I made our way on the track to La Laguna where we decided to stay for a night in a cabaña on the beach. Fish tacos, machaca - a local fish dish for dinner and a nice sun set. What more do you wish for? Todays route: Casa del ciclista - San Ignacio - La Laguna - Antonios ecotours. Kms biked: 68.
Flat, flat riding. Made it to the Casa de ciclistas, a bike hostel in San Ignacio by 1.30pm where I met others, Dominik and Colin - easy afternoon with tacos de pescado, beer, laundry, repairing gear,... in the evening Erik joined, the first one I met who is doing the baja divide. Asked Erik if the baja divide is fun... he isn't so sure, it's hard, challenging, tough, stressful,... but that might be the fun - pushing yourself to some new limits. On bikepacking.com it has a difficulty of 7.5 out of 10. Don't wanna know what's 10. 🤣 Todays route: Vizcaino - San Ignacio. Kms: 71.
Waking up with the campfire still a bit burning - made an early dstart, starting at 7 uphill on a stony double track. But then the Valle de los cirios reveiled its beauty. The highest and largest cactus and palm trees I've ever seen. After lunch at the El Sacrificio roadhouse I took the road instead of the track - so boring in the beginning till I found my road riding rythm and my first flare tire. Todays route: campspot - El Sacrificio roadhouse - Cataviña. Kms: 122. It was a difficult decision to take but I'm sitting in a bus now - from Catavina to Vizcaine. I will skip the longest part without resupply - somehow sad but I had to skip a part and this might be a smart choice. I'll miss 500 kms of this beautiful baja divide but I'll enjoy the other 1500 kms which are still ahead of me even more.
Thought about staying another day with the guys but biking still is my priority on this trip. Left with a new jumper and a hat. Kevin just couldn't believe how few clothes I have with me. In Nueva Odisea - the last village before biking into backcountry I met this American guy on a bike who has lost his wallet and therefore is biking back to the US without money - sent him to Kevins mission - maybe they could help him. So I went straight into backcountry on brutal stony tracks mostly uphill. Barely made a few kilometers all day long. At 4pm too tired to continue I set camp, made fire and realized my matrasse has a "flat", so an uncomfortable night on grass and stoned is ahead of me. Todays route: Santa Maria mission - Nueva Odisea - Valle de los cirios - campspot. Kms biked: 53.
Easy riding on quite flat double track. At a beach side restaurant 4 US Americans invited me for a beer. All of them retired and now live in Ensenada, Mex because living costs are just about a quarter compared to the US. Realized how much I missed human interactions. Luckily this night I stayed with a warmshowers host, Kevin in his mission. Originally from Korea he came to the US in the 70s and to Mexico in 2002. He is doing amazing work with indigenous children and families. A French and a Canadian cyclist stayed with Kevin as well and we enjoyed good conversation over an amazing Korean dinner. Exactly what I needed after being by myself for quite a time. Todays route: Vicente Guerrero - San Quintin - Santa Maria mission. Kms: 66.
After a huge breakfast from the Meling family I started slowly riding the Sierra de San Pedro Martir up and downhill - amazing mountain range. Even if I'm not a mountainbike expert, at least I do like and know mountains - whenever I have to push my bike I just think I'm on a hiking trip and the bike is my backpack. 🤣🤣🤣 Some parts downhill were really technical mtb tracks which I'm slowly getting into - good that nobody sees what I'm doing there - would be a big laugh. About 5 rivercrossigs later I made it to Vicente Guerrero and to Fass bike shop. It's supposed to be the best bike shop on the route and my bike needed some help from Salvador, the lovely owner - screws missing, the gear shifting not working,.... Signed the famous Baja divide wall and left with an "almost new" bike... went for some fish tacos on the way to the hotel - muy, muy rica la comida mexicana. Todays route: Rancho El Coyote - Vicente guerrero. Kms biked: 58.
The first week is already over. I've biked 453 kms till now. This day started easy meandering hills out of Colonet till I had to cross a river many many times - stopped counting after the fifth. Sometimes walking through, sometimes biking through - the water got as high as to the knees. More of this amazing landscape and cactuses. The climb up to El Coyote was quite brutal, along tracks which were destroyed by the baja1000 riders - I'm still wondering how you could drive a car up there. Some looser sand and some pushing. Somehow made it to El Coyote where the Meling family welcomed me with beer (yes, I had a beer and it tasted quite ok) and hot burritos. Fell asleep at 7pm. Todays route: Colonet - El Coyote. Kms biked: 59.
I'm slowly getting into a rhythm of biking I feel comfortable with. After the first 3 days where I completely got crazy, now I'm really enjoying it - especially the surroundings, making breaks, taking pictures,.... A few farms and cows and a lot of dogs barking and sadly a lot of trash on the side of the road is what I come across on a day riding the baja divide. I fear that my bike will slowly fall apart - till now it's nothing what cable ties would not fix. 🤣 Todays route: Ejido Erendira - Colonet. Kms biked: 47.
40 kms on the MEX 1 highway was better than expected but still bad - so happy when I was back on the track at Santo Tomas. Through amazing landscape, intense green grassland, some farms and cows till I could see and hear the Pacific Ocean from a few meters above sea level. Closer and closer to the ocean to my first crash. My front wheel got stuck in one of these cattle grids and I just slowly fell. A bit of blood, but all good. I found a bed to sleep at Ejido Erendira. The coast is amazing here, natural beauty. Todays route: Ensenada - Santo Tomas - Ejido Erendira. Km cycled: 90.
Yesterday evening I was too tired to eat. This might be a sign to take it slower, as there are a lot more miles waiting for me. Therefore I left the route for a day and rode to Ensenada, a town on the coast to spend an afternoon sitting on the malecon and reading and sleeping and just not biking. The good thing: It's evening now, my energy is back and I'm already so much looking forward to more sandy trails tomorrow! Bought a lighter - next time camping in the cold I will make a camp fire. 🤣 Todays route: Ojos Negros - Ensenada. Kms cycled: 44.
Waking up in a frozen tent... my bike is frozen as well, in Austria in winter we have to defreeze the windshield of the cars - here I have to defreeze the saddle and the handlebar of my bike... shivering while riding the first kilometers, but going uphill helps with the cold. I'm slowly getting better with riding on trails and sand but there is a lot to learn. Beautiful landscape till the highest point of the route with a small chapel. Somewhere on that way I lost one of my birkenstock sandals - not sure what I'll do with the second one. At some point I decided to try to make it to Ojos Negros, which meant riding till sunset, but the idea of a hot shower and a bed kept me going. Already dark I rode into Ojos Negros and found this very shabby hotel but at least there is hot water. Todays route: Campspot in canyon- highest point - Ojos Negros. Kms cycled: 97.
Getting up with a beautiful view of the sunrise on one side and the full moon on the other side gave me enough motivation for pushing up my bike the rest of the mountain. Amazing views all along the mountain range. Down to Barrett junction cafe for an American coffee - definitely more water than coffee - and up to the Mexican border and the first Mexican town Tecate. Decided to go on till a canyon where I set camp next to a river. Side note: I got my period, so my bike pants are not only sweaty but bloody as well 🤣🤣🤣. Good to be next to a river. The jetlag is pretty bad as well, I am usually awake at midnight and cannot sleep anymore. Todays route: Otay mountain - Barrett Junction - Mexican border - Tecate - Canyon. Kms cycled: 62.
First day of riding the Baja divide. After assembling my bike and a delicious avocado and egg toast from Diane, I left San Diego on a sunny day, yeah. Through suburbs to lake Otay on road and some trails, some of them still under water due to the rain yesterday. I definitely have to get better with riding on trails 🤣. Found this campsite where it was 50 dollars for putting my tent so I went on up to Otay Mountain, mainly pushing my bike uphill. At 4pm, too tired to continue, I found a less than perfect wild camping spot in the bushes but whatever - I will sleep here. Todays route: San Diego - Otay Lake - Otay mountain. Kms cycled: 55.
Rain in California. After more than 10 hours on the flight to San Diego, the city welcomed me with heavy rain - luckily I am not cycling today but I just took a taxi to my warmshowers hosts Diane and her husband who welcomed me with dinner and wine.