Oaxaca, OAX. , Mexico, DEC. 09.
Posts Tagged: cyclist
I was still in the sea, watching the sunset, thinking: I could just stay here forever. But we left Puerto Escondido the following day. We decided to make a side trip to Oaxaca city, so we took a bus up the hills to the valley.
On our way there we met these guys
They’re part of a group making their annual pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Juquila: several days riding from all over Mexico up the hills and many switchbacks to the town of Juquila.
Most of them were riding old school singlespeeds.
This is faith. This is Mexico.
Gracias a la guapa y super simpatica Señorita Carla y al muy amable Señor Milchis, we’re crossing the sea of Cortes from La Paz to Mazatlan in a comfortable cabin onboard the Chihuahua Star of Baja Ferries (we’re working on getting a special discount-and bicycles travel free-for cyclists, stay tuned).
Chris is with us again, we met last night in La Paz for a few Pacificos and tacos (and some delicious ice cream watching the absurd “parade” of big loud cars cruising along the Malecon).
We stayed in Pension California: 250 Pesos for a room with 2 big comfy beds with a nice warm (not hot) shower, free wifi, cooking facilities. A very cosy small hotel very well located near the waterfront (and next door to the Hermanos Gonzalez Fish Tacos stand) and very interestingly (and weirdly) decorated.
There we met some cool people, like Ricky, the local poet who helps out in the Pension, or the french guy who played online poker all night long, the Spanish couple traveling around Mexico, or the swiss guys traveling also down south.
And we’re meeting lots of specially nice people along the way:
Therese and Kyler from Salt Lake City (thanks for the awesome breakfast), Olivia and Mark who own the lovely restaurant in Playa Buenventura (gracias por todo), Los Señores Luis y Beni de Tijuana (mucho gusto de conocerles y gracias por “el paseo”), Martin, Pete and Gary also riding their fully loaded bikes south (nice to meet you guys, tailwinds!), … and now I’m looking forward to arriving to Puerto Vallarta as soon as possible where we’ll meet up with Bryan’s brother John and his fiancee Jessica, buena gente.
I’ve just washed my Keen Commuter Sandals for the first time and they look and feel like new.
2 weeks riding down Baja California, 900 miles, pushing my bike through sand and rocky trails, walking among cacti, under water in the sea, heat and sweat, with or without socks, cold nights in the desert, walking around towns, cobble stones, warm nights by the campfire, just pushing the pedals, and my feet are so happy.
I love it and so I keep going…
54km with some hills to El Rosario where we camped at the back of a Motel next to Mama Espinoza’s Restaurant and had the best hot shower ever (and first one in a while). My front panniers are now the lowest I can have them on my Surly rack, and the front of the bike feels a lot more stable.
Heraclio gave us a lift up hill (teletransportation) out of El Rosario to El Arenoso and from there we rode 77km through the beautiful scenery of El Valle de Los Cirios: weird trees, cactus, amazing rock formations, nice cool (overcast) weather, pretty, flat (except for some gentle rolling hills), expectacular. We paid 100 pesos for a spot to camp at the Desert Inn where we met Andrea, a very nice german lady who offered us a place to stay in Berlin if/when we get there.
56km of desert, hills, heat to free camping at Loncheria La Nueva Chapala, the only place that has survived 50 years strong in the area: best dinner we’ve had in a long time.
We managed to start rolling befor 8am! and arrived at Punta Pietra at noon after 64km with some small hills and some headwinds. Free camping at the rear of the local Abarrotes and ice cream before another early night.
We get up with the sun and go to bed when the sun goes down. We roll at 7:20am. The road deteriorates after Rosarito but we make good progress. We met Seth and Parker from San Francisco who are riding the Panamerican Higway from Prudho Bay to Ushuaia on Big Dummies (we plan to meet up for some beer in La Paz). Longest day so far with 98km. The last 8km pushing the bikes through sand trying to find the beach. We end up free camping (again! Viva Mexico and the hospitality of its people) at the back of a tiny hotel in Villa Jesus Maria.
After breakfast we met Ramon, the owner of the Hotel Villa del Mar, and had a very nice chat while we waited for the fog to clear. Arrived to Guerrero Negro. we’re half way into Baja California now.40km of easy straight (a bit boring) road. Stock up on food and water. First shower in 4 days, (slow) wi-fi and camping for 150 Pesos. It’s too early to go see the whales at the Laguna del Ojo de Liebre so we’re leaving tomorrow, heading east.
We didn´t make it to San Ignacio, we were 40km short when Mr. Steve let us stay at his rancho. He bought us a soda and cookies and gave us some awesome grape tomatoes (perfect bicycle snack) from the farm he works at. We had a shower, shared dinner with the farm workers, and slept in our tents. 105 km.
Bryan was way ahead of me when after 70km got a lift uphill with Chui and Sergio, 2 very nice fishermen from San Hipolito who also gave me a can of delicious Caracoles de Mar. Their taste reminded me of my hometown. I waited for Bryan just before La Cuesta del Infierno to ride the downhill to Santa Rosalia. After 95km we managed to find free camping (once again!, speaking spanish definitely helps) by the (not in use) swimming pool at Hotel El Morro. Nice!
We’ve arrived at El Mar de Cortes, the east coast of Baja. I´m looking forward to seeing the sunrise on the sea tomorrow morning.
After almost two weeks of WeKeepHangingOutInLA.com we’re finally on the move again.
The Los Angeles stay was extended in length while we waited for some final items to be shipped to us at the Aglago house. It’s been mentioned before, but we really couldn’t have done this trip without the support, and tolerance, of the wonderful residents of this fantastic community. Once we had everything in our possession, we decided to depart early Monday morning with a ride along the ocean and then over to Long Beach. We left at 2:30 in the afternoon. I knew I had to repack all my panniers and edit some of my contents that I had brought down from San Francisco before we left, but I had no idea it would take me almost five hours. Once I had everything packed it was launch time. We rolled off the Aglago grounds stopping for photos, tire pumpings, and equipment adjustments. By the time we crossed the driveway to the street, people were yelling at us from the Aglago windows to “get the fuck out of here already!” We made it about 15 feet before somebody across the street stopped us to ask us where we were coming from and going. Shouts continued from the house. “Keep going already! Go!”
This was our first fully loaded ride. Giggles and snickers and holy shits escaped our lips as we reacted to the shear weight of our loaded rigs. It didn’t take long to get used to the feel though. This speaks mostly to the rigid build and geometry of the Soma Saga frames. By the time we got to venice beach the bikes felt like normal extensions. Jo required a bit more time to get used to the “fat suit effect”, as Allison calls it, of riding with panniers. Side swiping me and then clipping a red vintage Ford mustang with his bags (the second incident causing a fall) probably will help him remember his new girth.
The ride to Long Beach went without hitches, besides the second half being in the dark due to our late departure (my fault.) Scenic along the coast, just enough up and down hills, our first loaded ride was deemed “epic” by Joaquin. Our total mileage for the day was around 50 miles. Only when we arrived in Long Beach did Crystal and Allison mention the more direct 25 mile river route from LA, but I don’t think we would have passed up riding along the coast anyhow.
We stayed with fellow 42rider, Allison, in Long Beach. She provided us with supremely comfortable arrangements, a delicious dinner, great conversation, and shocking news of a possible move to Arkansas. Apparently the Southern Route of the 42ride was shown a sufficiently good time in Arkansas. I believe she’s visiting there now. Hope everything’s going well. It is a beautiful state.
Allison escorted us out of Long Beach on bike (we probably would have gotten rather lost otherwise) and it was good to be on a little group ride again. We went our separate ways after an hour or so an Joaquin and I continued south towards San Clemente State beach where we would camp for the night. The ride along the PCH was spotted with beautiful coastal views, well-to-do little towns, a bit of road construction, and bike lanes every once in a while. Altogether, a great sixty mile ride. In San Clemente we were fortunate enough for a local cyclist, and experienced tandem tourer, Susan, to happen upon us and sherpa us through the winding bike route through town to the State Beach. Thanks Susan! Good luck on your upcoming tour and future cross country ride (West to East to avoid headwinds).
Our first night camping was great. We arrived at about 5pm and had about an hour and a half of daylight to set up tents and cook a pasta dinner using the stove that Mikey Wally provided us. Delicious. Still had some of the Food Not Bombs leftover stew from Aglago that we mixed in the sauce. Ashira from Aglago was coming to join us for an evening of camping by the beach, and she and her friend Theresa arrived about 10pm or so, beer in tow. The evening turned awesome after their arrival. We enjoyed the nearly full moon on the beach, walking through some bizarre land formations to get there. Our beach time was split between watching the stars and watching the trains go by (or overhead from under a tunnel).
We woke up late the next morning, packed, said our goodbyes, and headed off for San Diego. This was a good ride. The towns were laid back and the coast was fantastic. Before San Diego, outside of La Joya, a cyclist asked us where we were going. “Just one more hill!” he exclaimed. Being told of an upcoming hill by a fellow cyclist is both a welcome bit of information, and an instant way to dread the remaining miles until said hill. Even the smallest of hills are made mountainous by carrying pounds and pounds of baggage. This was no small hill. We made it up, took a break, and looking around, I had the feeling that we might be close to the Salk Institute. Quick check on the phone confirmed this and a few minutes later we were walking around the Louis Kahn temple of science and research overlooking the ocean. Something I’d always wanted to see since my brother, John, told me about it.
Rolling into San Diego was a breeze. Good bike lanes and roads. Another mountain of a hill in Sand Diego, that we probably could have avoided, but was good training nonetheless. We stayed with a Couch Surfer named Katie in San Diego. She and her roommate were amazingly welcoming, helpful, and hospitable. They were both involved in some pretty awe inspiring work in Africa that really kind of blew me away. Katie also had the unfortunate experience of having been down Baja before. Unfortunate in that Jo and I then peppered her with an endless stream of questions. Thank you so, so much Katie and Noelle!
San Diego was the end of the American road for us. We had the jitters. So excited to really start our international trip, kind of nervous not knowing what we could and couldn’t get in Mexico if we needed anything. Eventually we couldn’t think of anything else keeping us in the states, so we took off. Rode the San Diego tram/trolley all the way to the border. Crossing wasn’t too difficult. We had to get a tourist card and visa. $20 US gave us 90 days ride through the country. It was suggested by someone to take a cheap bus through Tijuana down to Rosarito, and while we don’t really want to not ride our bikes and want even less to spend money, we were glad we followed this advice once we were riding out of town. Huge hills, lots of traffic, and the fact that you’re not even supposed to be riding your bike on the toll road would have all made for a not so great ride.
We got off the bus in Playa de Rosarito and rode along the coast to a campground called Saldamando about 20 miles out of Ensenada. The camping fee was a bit much, but it was right on the beach and had showers (cold but wet). Crossing the border from US to Mexico was the most drastic border change I’ve ever made. It’s crazy to think that in such little distance you can have such drastic change. Never thought much about politics and culture affecting landscapes so drastically before.
So far Baja has been a string of older little resorts that don’t look too crowded and huge half-built newer resorts that aren’t occupied and the construction on which appears to have stopped. It´s this damned economy. The coast is beautiful though and the ocean is neverending. Life is good.
Until next time,