I stepped outside the Brenda house at 8:30pm, ready. It was about 32 degrees and I pedaled three miles to the downtown Flagstaff Amtrak station with everything I’d need to live on for the next unknown number of weeks. That included the bikepack kit, portage for water, documents, variable clothing, the sleep kit and the cash. I couldn’t believe it then and I can hardly believe it now. 1500 miles of Baja awaited me by bicycle. Off road bicycle. A.T.B.
I have had my Mexican experience although not enough. This lifetime will never be enough, but I’ve had it. I’ve raced through the streets of Culiacán and I’ve drank on the malcons of cities and towns on both sides of the Sea of Cortez; I’ve driven chase trucks through Baja, and I once set out on a 500 mile moto tour carrying just a pair of shorts and some flip flops in my pack; I partied at Mikes Sky Rancho with Brob and I went the deepest with Scott Miller (RIP my friend) surfing rock reef point breaks at K38. And there is part of my soul with Santiago and Pablo in Mazatlan, friends I grew to love from road racing back in the day. This is the informal history, some twenty+ years in the making that inspired the idea of touring Baja in the the most authentic way I can imagine: via an off road bicycle tour.
I looked to Steve Garro, Scott Miller and a few others for beta given their original experiences in Baja and beyond. Imagine the orientation needed to route through some of the most desolate wilderness in the northern hemisphere before GPS or smart phones, because that’s what they did. They knew the layout of the region well from tip to tail; what side to house on, and what side to ride from and when, and what bahia’s to stay at for a minute longer. And I sampled from the published Baja Divide route and I met up with fellow travelers there. I would learn everything I could know about the geography, pace, rhythm and expectations of Baja.
The first sojourn ended in a slow mafia-style ripped out fingernail, then hitchhiking, and meeting Mel, which was equally valuable life experience and nothing of what I anticipated. We traveled well, and played to a bottle of mescal almost every night.
That first tour was 700 miles long and it included riding a few days with Olivia, a solo femme on her own blistering journey across the peninsula.
The second tour happened this last December of 2021, a mere 9 months from the original effort, and only 8 months away from the day of this writing. So this all happened not long ago. I am 48 years old. A capable survivor. On that first day of Baja I boarded an Amtrak with my bike, destine for San Diego for the sole purpose of seeing how far I was willing to ride down the Baja California peninsula, solo, mostly. My heart pounding. My eyes wide open. My kit was perfect. I was ready. And so I boarded that train destine for San Diego with adventure on my mind and hopes of safe passage in my heart.by