Monday, January 23, 2017

Jan 23--Pacelining to San Ignacio--An Oasis and Mission

We did sleep a little longer this morning as it doesn't get light until closer to 7:00. We didn't have to take down tents, so we were on the road by 8:00. We stopped at a small mercado to get water (and for Harry to get food) before we completely left the town.

We were riding Mex 1 a lot today because of a couple of very large agricultural farms (there aren't any roads). There were a couple of off road sections--mostly just to get off Mex 1. When we got to the first short bit off Mex 1, Harry suggested just staying on Mex 1 since the traffic was light. We were fine with that.

When we got to the next section off Mex 1, we again decided to stay on the highway. It would get us to San Ignacio today instead of tomorrow (45 highway miles vs 66 highway/off road miles). Harry had said he would hang with us as long as he could. I thought if we could paceline, he would be able to recover when he wasn't in the lead. I decided 2-mile pulls would allow for good speed, and good recovery. When Brent was in the lead, I'd tell him to rotate to the back after two miles (he doesn't have a computer). I'd do the same with Harry. It worked so well, that our average speed at around 38 miles in was 15mph! You'd think we were riding road bikes instead of plus bikes!

Just outside of town there is a bike hostel called La Casa De Ciclista. There's tent camping for 100 pesos. There's laundry, showers, and wifi. Rich and Amy are here, as are Sarah and Tom Swallow (haven't seen them since Tecate). They're not camping here tonight, but we had a great time chatting with them.

After we got our tents set up, we went to explore the town. San Ignacio is a little oasis of palm trees and water. We are about 66 km from Laguna San Ignacio (we'll get there tomorrow). The Mission San Ignacio is also right in town. It is an active church. We saw Rich and Amy. They recommended a Loncheria in town. After riding around the town square, we stopped in at the Loncheria. I had sopas, which I'd never had before. They were pretty good. The owner of the restaurant was pretty funny. He rattled off the menu in English. Said if it wasn't fresh, we didn't pay. Well, it was fresh and delicious! Still, it cost me 100 pesos ($5.00, and that included a Coke). Then we went over to a Datil (date) place and got datil cake (I ate the cake for dinner).

Afterward, we rode back up to the bigger mercado, and bought way too much food! Still, I managed to get it all packed away. Now we are back at the hostel. Shane, from Arizona, is road touring. He is here tonight too. We noticed in the guestbook, that not too many Baja Divide riders have stayed here. I think it's because it's a little off the route (by little, I mean maybe a mile or so).

It was good to get here today, and have time to explore. We'll move on tomorrow.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Jan 22--A Pretty Speedy Day on the Sand

Boy was it cold this morning! I didn't look at the temp on my bike computer, but it was probably a little below 50 degrees. I know, to those of you who are in snow, and all that, 50 seems balmy. However, for those of us without so many clothes, 50 is cold! Anyway, we were back to being on the road by 7:00. Once we got into the sun, we warmed up nicely.

The first 18 miles went by very quickly. Before we knew it, we were in El Arco. El Arco is an old factory town that is kind of dying. We think it used to be a mining town because we could see old rusted equipment. We also came upon the church. Because we were looking at the church, and there were two roads, we missed a Baja Divide sign. As we started going the wrong way, a guy came walking toward the church, pointing to the other road. Then we saw the sign.

The church in El Arco 

The next part of the route was supposed to be sandy, and a 10 mile section of straight road. It really was pretty straight for a long time. It wasn't too sandy...yet. Here's a photo of the straight road.
The main thing we had to watch out for was prickly bushes growing out into the track (since almost every plant is prickly here, one just assumes every plant can poke you). Sometimes there were alternate tracks. Some we took, some we didn't. Some Harry took, and some we didn't. Here's Harry on an alternate, while we stayed on the main track.
The road wasn't really going uphill, I just took the photo while riding.

There was an alternate at one point that we could have taken to avoid the most sandy part. It was a lot longer, and would have meant riding on Mex 1 for awhile. We were doing the sand okay, and didn't want to ride on Mex 1.

We finally made it to the end of the sand, and onto a much nicer road. From there, we popped out to Mex 1 in the middle of Vizcaino. Vizcaino is a pretty big town--the biggest we've been to since Vincente Guerrero. 

Our first order of business was to get more pesos. There appears to be one bank in town. After we got  pesos, we went across the street to get something cold to drink, and some food (second lunch). I finally had a carne asada torta. Torta is similar to a flat bread sandwich. It was delicious! It had carne asada, cilantro, tomato, avocado, and onion. It's my new favorite!

Since there appears to be no camping in town, we got a hotel room. The three of us are sharing a room that cost 550 pesos (about $27). Since we are splitting it three ways, it's the cheapest hotel yet. Being the solo female, I get my own bed. The boys will either share a double bed, or one will sleep on the floor (although, with three bikes in here, there's not much floor space). The only room left was on the second floor. Leah and Joe are here too. I took my panniers off, and Joe carried Mama Cass up the stairs for me. I thought that was mighty nice!

Brent and I walked down the road to the Super Mercado. It was a pretty large store, but not a Calimex. We don't need to carry much food as we only have 66 miles to the next resupply opportunity. On the way back from the store, we stopped at a roadside fruit stand. They had big bags of oranges, but they also sold some individually. Brent bought three for 12 pesos. I wanted one (for 4 pesos), and the guy gave me two for 5 pesos. I told Brent it must have been because I was wearing my skirt!

Also, apparently, we have passed into the Mountain time zone. That means it will stay light an hour longer, but won't get light until about 7:00. I hope that means we won't be getting up so early!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Jan 21--A Little Update From Last Night, and Today's Ride to Rancho Piedra Blanca

So, the wind did blow last night. It was coming from one direction (the side that I put my sand stakes in). At about 2:30am I was rudely awakened by the wind blowing from the other direction, and unceremoniously blowing my tent over on its side with me in it! All of a sudden all my stuff went from one side of my tent to the other, and I was laying on the door that was on the ground. The moment the wind eased just a bit, I rolled the tent back upright, moved my sleeping pad and myself over to the windward side to weight the tent down. Obviously, the stakes had been pulled up. Both vestibules were flapping in the wind. Then it started to rain. I'd brought my bike shoes, camp shoes, and dromedary bag into my tent (along with a bunch of sand). I layed down, and waited for the rain to stop. Fortunately, it didn't rain all that long. After it quit, I got out to put the stakes back in. The windward stakes were on the other side of the tent. I got everything staked down as best I could, then crawled back in my tent and went back to sleep.

When we got up in the morning (not much of a sunrise, sadly), Harry found his bike tipped over, and one of his dry bags torn to shreds. A bunch of his food was gone (some scattered around). Neither Brent or I heard anything, but it would have been hard to hear over the flapping of the tents. We don't know if it was one of Pancho's dogs, or a coyote.

Now, onto today's ride. We got lucky with just a tiny bit of rain early on in the ride. The road continued to be horribly washboarded, and also gently climbing. We moved away from the Coast, heading inland for the next several days.

The road became quite sandy, which is pretty easy to ride with our three inch tires. We popped out onto a very wide road, and turned into the wind. Even though it was just a little after 11:00, we stopped for some lunch. Harry had been behind us, and as we were getting ready to continue, he caught up. He ate some lunch too, and caught up to us not long after we took off.

We were steadily climbing again. Then the real climbing began.
Looking back where we had climbed

We continued climbing with short bits of easier riding. Then we looked ahead and saw what was coming up. Basically, it looked like a concrete wall.
See that white line in the distance? Yeah, we had to go up that. At least it was concrete. It would have been a pusher if it had been dirt. 

Finally, we arrived at Rancho Piedra Blanca. It is a working ranch that is also an ecotourism place. They have cabins, showers, and a great covered spot for our tents. They also have a small tienda where we bought sodas, and snacks. We were going to eat in the "restaurant", but the owner's wife is the cook, and she is not here. Believe it or not, I managed to understand all that in Spanish! I was even able to tell him it was no problem, we had our own food! Obviously, they have wifi too. In fact, it is the best wifi I think I've had the entire trip! 
Our little cabana

An orange tree!

It's a cool place, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere! Tomorrow we head to Vizcaino.

Jan 20--Pancho's Beach of Shells

Harry arrived this morning just as we were going to eat breakfast. Nicholas loaded the route onto his Garmin, and showed him how to access it. Harry came into the restaurant and had some orange juice while we ate breakfast. I ate the most breakfast I've had in a very long time. I ordered the avena (oatmeal), and the plata de fruta a temporada (plate of fruit of the season). I also got two pieces of toast. The fruit was great--banana, kiwi, watermelon, apple, and pear. The oatmeal also came with some fruit. I put most of the fruit in the oatmeal. As for the oatmeal, it seemed like more of a cream of oatmeal. It was very soupy, but very filling. I was so full! Then, we got on our bikes--oh my! Well, actually we waited a short bit for Harry's Garmin to be done. Nick also showed me how I can get the route to come up much faster by going to "Where to?" instead of Track Manager. It was a productive lesson!

We still managed to leave a little before 8:00. We were back on the dirt just out of town. The route climbed gently for awhile. Brent and Harry were ahead of me (I think I was busy digesting my huge breakfast!) Harry doesn't have the mount for his Garmin. We rigged it up on his stem with a Velcro strap I've been carrying. He said it worked great.

The road was pretty good today, except for a lot of washboard. We zigged and zagged to try to find the best place to ride. We were not always successful. We had some good downhills, and only a few steeper climbs.
Back to the Sea of Cortez

The place we were headed was San Rafael.
The only inhabitant of San Rafael is Pancho. He lives in a trailer on this white sand beach. He allows camping on the beach and has even built a couple of structures. One is a little shed/shack that we parked our bikes in, and the other is el baño. It's pretty rustic, but does the job.

The beach here is covered in shells. Pancho has a whole bunch of conch shells that either he fishes for, or have washed up on the beach. They are about the size of my fist. He also has Marlin skeletons, and jaws of maybe shark. I walked into the Sea of Cortez. It is cold. It'd have to be a pretty hot day before I would go swimming! Harry and I walked down the beach looking at various shells. I picked up a couple small ones for souvenirs. There are also pelicans, egrets, and a gull type diving bird. It was fun watching the birds dive for fish.

The wind is blowing, but we have set up our tents behind the shack in the hopes of getting a wind block. This time I made sure to really bury my tent stakes, and I put my two sand stakes in as well.

There are some clouds, and it's supposed to rain overnight. The bikes should stay pretty dry, and it's okay if our tents get wet. Just hoping it's not raining when we have to take them down in the morning.

This is an awesome campsite on the beach. We're hoping for a spectacular sunrise.

Finally, Some Photos!!!

I've finally been able to upload some photos from the past few days, well, since Cataviña. So here they are!
The cafe we ate at on the way from Cataviña to Punta Prieta

Sunrise outside of Punta Prieta

Aberrotes in Santa Rosalillita 

The Pacific Coast outside Santa Rosalillita 

Cool shell on the beach south of Santa Rosalillita 

Lunch on the Pacific

Some blooming cactus

The Mission San Borja

Inside the Mission

Sunrise on the Sea of Cortez in Bahia de los Angeles 

Scooby on his tiny bed

So, that's a selection of photos for the last few days. Of course, there are many more, but that will have to do for now.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Jan 19--Oh How the Wind Does Blow!

So, we went to sleep in our tents on the beach. At about 1:00am I awoke to the wind fairly howling. The stakes for the vestibules had been pulled out, as well as the two corners facing the wind. The rainfly vestibules were flapping like mad. Brent and I both sat up in our tents wondering what the heck was going on! I tied back my rainfly doors so maybe the wind could blow through the tent. At least it wasn't quite so noisy. The wind would gust so hard that I had to use my body weight to hold the tent down. I brought my panniers, my Sweet roll, and my dromedary (that had about 4 liters of water), into my tent. I laid them on the windward side, to help hold the tent down. A fine coating of sand worked its way through the mesh of the tent. Fortunately, there was no rain. The wind howled for about an hour or so. At one point, I fell back to sleep. That must have been when the wind stopped.

In the morning we woke to a fabulous sunrise. Tomás was right, we did have the best view! We decided to pack up our stuff, and go to a hotel for tonight. We did a little tour of the town. We really wanted to do some laundry (here in Mexico, we've found you don't really do your own laundry--you pay someone to do it for you). We also wanted good wifi. On our tour, we stopped and had breakfast at Alejandrina's. They had wifi, but I figured we'd get wifi at a hotel.

We went back to the place where Tomás was. We saw Leah and Joe there, and they said the Costa Del Sol Hotel was better for about the same price (1000 pesos for a double room--about $25 each). They also had wifi. So we ended up here at Costa Del Sol. The wifi is good for email, Facebook, and uploading blog posts, but not uploading photos. There is a Great Dane here named Scooby. First thing he did was pee on my wheel. He belongs to the owner. In the restaurant, he was supposed to stay on his bed. It was a chair cushion, not much larger than his head!

As the morning went on, the wind really picked up again. We were glad to not be camping on the beach. We also got all our laundry done for the princely sum of 50 pesos ($2.50) each. Yay, my clothes smell good again!!! We resupplied at a mercado for the next few days.

Harry heard we were here, and came by to talk to us. He got his saddle fixed, so will continue to ride with us tomorrow.

We were sitting in the restaurant having something to drink, and some chips, when I saw Nicholas and Lael. We haven't seen them since Tecate. We got to catch up on how our rides have been going. It was great to see them! I'm sure they will power on ahead of us tomorrow (unless they decide to stay another day here). The other great thing is that Nicholas has his laptop, and thinks he can download the route onto Harry's Garmin. That way, Harry doesn't have to stick with us if he chooses, yet he can still do the route.

We are mostly packed for tomorrow. The wind has continued to blow most of the day. Hopefully it will get it out of its system by our departure tomorrow.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Jan 18--A Visit to the Mission, and The Sea of Cortez!

Ah, another beautiful sunny day! They do start out rather chilly though. The temperature in my tent this morning was 50 degrees. How do I know this? My bike computer has the temp on it, and I bring it into my tent so I can see what time it is. Anyway, we waited until the sun dried out our tents a bit before heading out. We were still on the road by 8:00. Brent is a very early riser (I may have mentioned this before), but that's okay since we retreat to our tents at about 6:00pm at the latest. I usually do my blog post, then read for awhile. It's still lights out by about 7:30.

This morning we were headed to the Mission de Borja. It was founded in the mid-1700s by the Jesuits. It was later taken over by the Franciscans, then the Dominicans. It was valuable because it was the farthest north Mission. It was also on the route of the Camino Real. Once the Mission closed, it made travel on the Camino more difficult.

We got to the Mission at about 11:00. Lecia and Socha gave us a tour of the building. It was pretty interesting. The current building was finished in 1801. There was an adobe structure that was likely the original Mission. After the tour of the building, the husband of Lecia showed Brent and I the hot springs. It was down a path through the trees. There was a mango tree that produces 3500 mangoes. He said they weigh 1 kg each! Unfortunately for us, mangoes are ripe in October and November. They also have aguacate trees (avocado). The hot spring was nice. The guy asked us if we wanted to go in, but we were continuing on, so we declined (had we been camping there, I definitely would have gone for a soak). He also took us on a part of the Camino Real path that still exists. Somewhere nearby, there are cave paintings, but we didn't see them.

We ate some lunch before we left. As we were getting ready to leave, Joe and Leah rolled in. We knew they had stayed at the hotel in Rosarita last night. They were going to see the Mission, so we said adios, and headed back to the route.

Originally, we thought we would camp somewhere before getting on the pavement into Bahia de los Angeles. It was quite a few more miles to go all the way to BOLA. However, we made pretty good time (there was a long downhill), so we decided to go all the way. Supposedly, it was 8 miles on the highway into town. Really, it was more like 12 (the first 4 were a gentle uphill, but into the wind--not fun). But, the last several miles were all downhill to the town and the Sea of Cortez.

We rolled into town around 4:00 or so. The resupply said there was camping here. We asked at a hotel that had a sign saying RVs. Young Tomás directed us across the street to the beach, telling me it was 100% safe (I wasn't really worried). It doesn't cost us anything, so it's fine.

Because we got in late today, and we need to do some laundry and stuff, we're going to stay here two nights. Supposedly the Sea of Cortez is warmer for swimming than the Pacific. Might have to check it out...