Novermber 5th is a little late to be biking out of Tacoma. Following two months of rain-soaked shoes and a brief snowstorm near Shelter Cove, we crossed the border from San Diego into Mexico on New Years Day. For the next three months, we didn’t see a drop of rain. Baja was a dream– a great climate and a great introduction to Mexico. We found dirt tracks on the peninsula that uncovered remote fishing villages and missions with olive groves. The Sierra de la Laguna, at the center of the southern cape region, was a highlight with fresh water streaming out of canyons carved into the mountains. Aside from two freshwater oases at Mulege and San Ignacio, these streams were the only surface water to be found in Baja outside of the brief rainy season. From La Paz, we had planned to take a ferry to Mazatlan on the mainland at close to 100 dollars a person. Rather, we met a young French-Canadian captain named Gael in La Ventana who offered us a few days of cruising around Isla Espiritu Santo, and swimming with gregarious, if not a little aggressive, sea lions. A female sea lion, inverted, hugged both Lael and I. Gael deposited us at Marina de La Paz, where we were able to connect with other English speaking captains from home ports like San Francisco, Astoria, Bellingham, and Vancouver. Club Cruceros is a social club at the marina designed to connect the cruising crowd in La Paz, and is a great place to fish for a ride to the mainland. Within minutes, we were introduced to Dennis, formerly of Astoria, OR and the United States Coast Guard. We were to leave on the fourth day after some brief preparations and grocery shopping.
Dennis’ 38″ Island Packet was comfortably large for the three of us, with room for our bikes below deck and away from the saltwater. The arrangement was that we would cook meals and split food costs in exchange for passage. On the final night, we would make the overnight crossing to Guymas, each standing watch for three or four hours. The first three days at sea we would motor north along the islands of the Baja peninsula to improve our angle of approach and shorten the voyage across the Sea of Cortez. In all, the trip was a leisurely few days of motoring and reading; and nights in magazine-quality anchorages, swimming to shore to explore the surroundings. The crossing on the final night afforded us the experience of real cruising, although minimal winds made for a safe, uneventful passage– music to a Coast Guardsman’s ears.
From Guymas, we traveled paved highways south to Navajoa, and inland to Alamos, which marked the end of pavement. The following days mark the most memorable and challenging riding either of us have ever done; Alamos to, La Higuera, Chinacas, Chinipas, Temoris, Bahuichivo, Mesa de Arturo, and down to Urique. Consecutive days climbing five thousand feet of switchback dirt roads with classically inadequate Mexican maps, and descents that would have been impossible ascents left us gasping, gripping brakes, riding as little as 23km one day. But this was what we were here for, challenging the limits of 47mm touring tires, even if Lael promised never to do it again. Fun isn’t always fun, and never doesn’t always last for long– she is, we are, back at it.
Merry Christmas and to all a good night…
A retro-post, thanks to a disc of photos awaiting us in Alaska from our captain, Dennis.