The Baja Divide Route, Mexico

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Don’t ride MEX 1, ride the Baja Divide.  Lael descends toward Ejido Uruapan on her Advocate Cycles Hayduke.

It’s called the Baja Divide.  The route touches the Pacific Coast and the Sea of Cortez multiple times.  It crosses every mountain range in Baja California, a desert where freshwater streams and springs are not uncommon in winter, and where traditional ranching and fishing lifestyles persist.  The route climbs and descends on well traveled graded dirt roads, popular 4×4 and moto routes, and forgotten jeep tracks.  We’re planning a connection across Bahia Concepcion by panga, the durable fiberglass fishing boats used by local fishermen, to access a little used dirt road on the other side of the bay.  The Baja Divide is a personal project of Nicholas Carman and Lael Wilcox to give back to the bikepacking community.  We’ve enjoyed routes in Israel, Arizona, South Africa, Slovakia, Montenegro, and elsewhere.   

The Baja Divide is a dirt bikepacking route from Tecate to the southern cape.  When the route is complete, it is expected to be nearly 2000 miles long and over 90% unpaved, recommended for bicycles with 2.3” tires or larger.  Thus far, 3.0” tires as on Lael’s Advocate Hayduke have proven to be perfect for the route, and 4.0” tires would not be out of place.  As always, pack light, leave room for food and water, and leave most of your cold weather gear at home.  The route would be best enjoyed between November and February, when most dirt routes in the USA, Canada, and Europe are closed for the season.  

What began as a personal project to craft a pleasant ride down the peninsula– an experience and a route which we hoped to casually share— has developed into a commitment to publish a real route in Baja.  As such, a real route is thoroughly researched, tested, and recorded.  A GPX track, route narratives, and a resupply guide will be prepared.  Most of all, I hope to be able to publish a printed resource similar to the high quality maps we have come to appreciate from the Adventure Cycling Association.    

There is much work remaining to complete the route.  Thus far Lael and I have connected San Diego to La Paz by a series of dirt routes, and we plan a few more weeks of exploration in the southern cape with a rotating cast of friends who have joined us to escape winter and help with the route.  Thereafter, Lael and I plan to take a bus back north to Tijuana to ride down the peninsula a second time.  We will ride alternate routes, make detailed notes and waypoints regarding resupply, and record more GPX tracks from which the final route will be compiled.  It is a big project, seemingly growing in scope every day.  

The future of the Baja Divide requires your support.  We are looking for corporate and individual sponsors who wish to promote the project and the culture of self-supported bikepacking through financial or technical assistance.  In-kind equipment sponsors are also welcome to offset costs associated with building the route, including worn tires and drivetrain parts, camping equipment, etc.  For instance, Lael and I are both using threadbare sleeping bags, worn from nearly four years on the road.  Additionally, I am looking for a high-quality 27.5+ wheelset for my Meriwether, as I’ve been jealous of Lael’s 3.0” tires on the many sandy and rough jeep tracks in Baja.  My six year old Brooks B17 saddle has bent rails and has lost two rivets. We are also seeking assistance in building a high-quality custom website for the project.  For now, I have built a simple WordPress.com site for the project at www.bajadivide.com.

I expect to have a complete GPX track available later this spring.  An informal group ride is scheduled to start on January 2, 2017.  Lael and I will be there.  Ride self-supported at your own pace, form your own groups, ride as much of the route as you want. 

I will begin sharing stories on the blog from the process of route building in Baja in the coming weeks.  Look for more stories on Lael’s Globe of Adventure, the new Baja Divide website, and our new Instagram accounts @nicholascarman and @laelwilcox.  

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23 thoughts on “The Baja Divide Route, Mexico

  1. Hi Nicholas,

    I’m pleased to read your adventure and to find you well. Are you aware of the openstreetmap project and do you realize that your path surveys could interest the community of mappers ?

    All the best to you and Lael, we follow you with deep interest.

    Matthieu (sur iMobile)

    >

    • I’d rather not take individual donations, unless someone is looking to support the route in a big way. I’m hoping to line up some key sponsors, about five in total, to cover the main expenses of routebuilding, website development, and publishing. I’m shooting for companies whose business and products relate to the route such as SRAM, REI, MSR/Thermarest, Revelate, Advocate, etc. I haven’t decided yet if I will accept smaller individual donations. Rather, I prefer to keep it “for the people” in this sense, and the GPX track will be freely shared once complete. Any priced materials will be available for sale.

  2. looks like my winter 2017 plans have been made.

    as always, i look forward to reading about your adventure. and if you can let us know where we can send parts/good vibes/cold hard cash, i’d be happy to contribute.

    cheers

  3. I love Baja. If you go through Bahia de Los Angeles, go to the hardware store and ask about mountain biking. I spoke with a guy who works there who was part of a wildlife mountain bike tour through the mountains or something, can’t remember the exact details but he would have lots of info on trails in the area.

  4. Corporate sponsorship – Monster? They *own* Ensenada and the Baja moto world. 🙂

    Best of luck guys. It might make sense to collaborate on the physical map making part. We have a route in desperate need of a such a thing, as well.

    • Almost all of the route will be passable by motorbike or 4×4. At the moment there are a few gates (not illegal to pass) and a few segments of singletrack, but there will be easy and mostly obvious detours.

  5. Baja is one of my top 5 places in the world to spend time. A great landscape, great weather for Canadians fleeing the winter, amazing people, delicious food and so many different things to do when you are down there.

    I’m looking forward to checking out this route as soon as I can. Thanks for putting all the hard work. I know creating a good route is not easy. 🙂

    • Thanks Vik! I spent the night on the beach in La Ventana the other day. Got a guided tour of the MTB trails by a Vancouver native. There is a great new trail along the coast out to Punta Gorda.

      I’m excited for Baja rats like you to get a chance to explore the Baja Divide.

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