Saturday, November 5, 2022

Dangerbird 2022

 I started getting my GPS tracks for this organized a few weeks ago. I remember loading the new track from RWGPS that had the points of interest on it and thinking it might have too many points for my eTrex, but it seemed to come up ok. And then I saw the track on bikepacking.com and just threw it on the eTrex also. Seemed like a good idea at the time.

Sarah mentioned this event to me while I was walking PACC dogs and I said sure, why not? It was filled up and then she got in after being on a waitlist and then I emailed Matt the organizer and he said "sure come on over". So on Friday morning we loaded bikes on her car and away to Las Cruces we went.

Pretty straightforward drive from Tucson, we found our hotel rooms and headed downtown. Scored a green chile burger at the little festival in downtown Cruces and then met up with the other riders doing Dangerbird which is a big group depart riding the Monumental Loop, a 250 mile loop through Organ Mountains National Monument. They passed out these big baguettes of bread and a cool bandanna wrapped around it to each rider, and then we went back to the hotel to organize.

Up the next morning, park the car at NMSU and rode to the start point with a couple from Duluth. Scored a couple of breakfast burrito's for the day, I managed to catch Grace who was rolling backwards and then we all started out with Grace leading the pack as we rode around Klein Park and then really started.

Sarah at the start in Cruces

Hit the bike path and passed where we parked the car and I started noticing that all I had were the POI flags on the eTrex and I didn't have the line I am used to following. Was puzzled by this and someplace as we worked our way through some suburbia before a single track trailhead I loaded up the last years track and I was back in business.

A break on the single track

Great singletrack at the beginning as we headed east and climbed. Couple of rough places down in drainages, but most of the group I was riding with was doing the same pace as me, sorta at the rear of the train. A few hours of this and it was beginning to get tiring and then I think we crossed into Texas and hit pavement. A quick downhill, a sketchy I-25 access rounder and I met Sarah who was ahead and had scored tacos at a roadside truck. I got some as she headed for the DG and then caught up with her at the DG. We then rode back into New Mexico and headed south along the Rio Grande's west bank. I think about 10 miles or so and we were at Vinton Texas and another DG. 

First disappointment of the day, we heard the little Mexican restaurant was closing at 5 and we had missed it by a few minutes! Bummer. Well, the day was getting on and we headed west back into NM and trying to make the Kilbourne Hole Crater as our stop for the night.

As I rode along my bike made some really weird noises. First issue was the shifting was messed up and I figured out that was due to the rear wheel's axle being quite loose. Easy fix. Shifting was now good, but I had this ridiculous rattle that couldn't place. Was it in the shock? I tightened bags and looked for loose crap in my frame bag and etc and couldn't figure it out.

The sun went down and about 4 of us rode into the dark. Twilight, then really dark. Finally turned on my light ... that Fenix BC22 works really well!  On past 7 and then 8 and I'm getting tired. Sarah and I are about 2 miles from the Hole and we decide to bag it for the night .. I was sooooo glad to stop.  

Heated some water for soup and the broth was great. Took a while for my system to take the noodles but I got the chicken noodle ramen down and went to sleep. Beautiful stars out and no wind to speak of. And it got cold!

Up at sunrise and packed and I rode out first in the cold ... hands hurt because I forgot to bring my gloves and I got the 2 miles in and got to the Crater. The SAG folks at the Crater were awesome ... all the water one could want, sodas, coffee, some bananas and cookies and I scored an apple for later!  And then I discovered the cause of the rattle ... my brake caliper assembly was about to fall off the frame because the two bolts had worked themselves loose! Easy fix, and I dodged a bullet on that one.

Kilbourne Hole 

Kilbourne

SAG folks at Kilbourne

No Country for old men

Desert views


Loved this section 

Cattle tank where we missed a turn

Almost back to town

Me

Sarah rolled up and refueled herself and then we rode out. Lots of riders were still there and they were packing up. Sarah and I rode north and at one point we were supposed to take a ziz zag through a cattle tank and we missed that and rode about a mile off route. Glad she saw it, I thought we were close to the route and just seeing a GPS error.

When we doubled back we ran into some of the other riders. I headed out fast and got to the railroad tracks as they caught up with me. We crossed the tracks and found the road on the other side and headed back towards town. Some good fast riding. I stopped with some of the guys across from the shooting range where the local yokels were wasting ammo and then back down the hill to the river.

A dry Rio Grande at the Mesilla Dam

I texted Sarah that I was heading into Mesilla to find some food. I found a little cafe where I could watch my bike and ordered some pulled pork tacos, because that was all they had! They were pretty good. Found out that Sara had missed my message because her phone was in airplane mode and she had gone further north and across Cruces, so I did a diagonal and caught up with her as we checked into a Motel 6 along the route. She needed to dry her sleeping bag that got wet due to condensation last night, and I was happy with a hotel stay and a good meal.

We walked to a restaurant, got fed, had a beer and back to the hotel.

Up early, had coffee on Halloween morning, and rolled for Dona Ana, riding along the "ditches", a bunch of mostly abandoned irrigation canals. Went well and we saw a Mexican restaurant and stopped for breakfast. Chachi's was great!!  Huevos rancheros to start the day, and we scored some burritos also.

Sarah rolling on the ditches

Happy with huevos rancheros on board

Finished breakfast, then under I-25 and then uphill to the Dona Ana trailhead and more singletrack. Great riding, one little area with some walking where there was a jeep road and Raul another rider we ran across was down in a drainage and Sarah and I were on top of a hill and we weren't sure which was the real route but it worked out!

Back across I-25 and more canal riding and then bank riding on the Rio Grande.  We got to the Blue Moon and it was closed for the day. We had decided to ride pavement to Hatch and away we went, with me thinking about a burger and shake at Sparky's!

Alas .. it was Monday and Sparky's was closed and I settled for ok tacos at a little burrito place, but the chilie was great on the rice and beans. Sarah rode up the river on that part and I met her at the Circle K and then away we went out of town up highway 26.

Made my turn near the dairy farm and then managed to go up the wrong road for a couple hundred yards. Recovered from that, Raul caught up and went ahead and Sarah caught up. One rocky, bumpy little road. Walked some, rode some, walked some more. The grade wasn't bad at all, but crazy rocky and hard to ride on. We got to the cattle tank with the old ranch house, took a couple of photos. Back up the mountain into the Uvas. Couple of switchbacks to do some serious climbing and I was out of gas, with a real struggle to get to the top as the sun was completely setting. I was beat, could barely stand.

Old ranch house headed toward White Gap

Top of White Gap - Exhausted

Headed down the mountain

Up before sunrise

Took Sarah and I together to get the cattle gate open and reshut and we started walking down in darkness. Then I discovered that my front tire was flat. Was looking for a flat place to camp with none to be had and now had to fix a flat. Added a bottle of sealant to it, spun the thing and then refilled with a CO2 cartridge and off into the dark. We got to the cattle tank and I was now fried and we stopped.

Heated up a can of chunky soup and felt much better and Sarah had a little bottle of Jim Bean! Perfect! 

A good nights sleep for Halloween evening..

Sunrise the next morning and we had about 2 miles to get to the next SAG stop. Think it took me a bit over 30 miles to do it. Mark and his pup Cookie were there and Raul from the previous day had camped there. A soft drink, some coffee and a bunch of Oreo's made me feel better. Petted Cookie a little bit and talked to Mark and Sarah came up and refueled and we rode out.

Cookie the SAG Dog

What a beautiful downhill! A paved road with zero car traffic on it. Great views, riding along with a raven over my head talking to me and we stamped out some miles.

So I knew a turn was coming up and I was in front by quite a bit. I made my turn and then started waiting for Sarah. Turns out she was waiting for me a little further back. She was on her track and I was on my track. So we each ended up running with what we had. Turns out this was the difference between last year's route and this years and I was on last years because of the POI thing that I ran into on day 1.

I was supposed to take the green track 

My route went well, Sarah's had some sandy stuff and some mud I think. I got to highway 70 and made a turn south thinking we were going back through Mesilla to get to where the car was.  I waited for Sarah but she thought I was already at the car, so she got to the car first, changed and then picked me up at a little park near the river.  

Loaded up and drove back to Tucson. Was a great 4 days of riding and we had fun, no major issues although I may have caught a cold from sleeping on the ground the first night when it got so cold.  We did the whole route except for the hills west of Radium Springs. Matt and the folks who set this route up did a great job. I think everyone had fun regardless of how much of the route they did. 



Sunday, April 3, 2022

Stagecoach 400 2022

Me talking to Paul, my son, after finishing on Wed night:

Me: "I'm hungry"

Paul: "What did you eat today?"

Me:  "Some cookies, some Cheetos, some beef jerky, a chocolate milk, a bear claw, a strawberry milk, some cokes"

Paul: "So you eat like an unsupervised 8 year old"

Me: "yeah, that's about it"

I was in Idyllwild two years ago. Got sick the night before the ride started, and barely was able to get my bike into my car and drive home. Think I drank one Coke the whole day, then slept for a whole weekend. Not sure what the heck happened, but was hoping it didn't happen again.

Left Tucson on Thursday morning and made the dash to Idy. Scored a great hot dog at the rest stop on I-10 where the CAP crosses west of Buckeye ( who would have thought, but this guy was selling hot dogs like ganbusters! ). Into Idy in time to checkin to the hotel and get down to a rider's meeting. Hooked up with Sarah and Ed and Mike and we had dinner and then went back to hotel rooms to pack our stuff, figure out where to park cars and get ready.

Day1

Tanya and some folks at the coffee shop had a great breakfast thing going and we got well fed and at about 8 am, started rolling. I stayed in the back, letting the fast people hammer down that steep hill leading out of Idy. The ride went well, past Lake Hemet, up Thomas Mountain and down the back side of it towards Anza. It seems like that descent goes forever. I stopped at the Jilberto's and grabbed a couple of taco's. Ate only one of them, but drank a giant Coke and felt pretty good. Nice ride to Sunshine RV park where I met Sarah again. The two of us rode out of there together and started towards Warner Springs. 

Ready to roll out from Idyllwild 8am on Friday morning


I felt pretty good, all along that section of CRHT, climbed up the hill south of Chihuahua Valley Road. Started getting tired by the time I got to Indian Flats campground. There still is a bunch of uphill and I had forgotten about it, and I was starting to get slow. Also, I knew the gas station in Warner Springs was going to close at 5 and didn't have cell reception to call and ask them to stay open just a little bit longer.  Finally got on 79 and called them, and they stayed open for me and then two or three others came in, including Sarah. Think we had about 6 of us hanging around. I ordered a couple of cheeseburgers to go, got water, topped off my camelback and started out.

CRHT in the land of a thousand false summits 


By the time I got to the Warner Springs info center, my back and butt were soaked from the leaking Camelback. I pulled the bladder out and looked at it and didn't see an obvious problem. Put it back together and by the time I got to the Caltrans yard, I was even more soaked. And it's beginning to get dark. Turned onto 76 and then turned at Josie's and Sarah was there. We got a couple of cokes, and then started up Mesa Grande Road. 

No good places to camp and Sarah wanted to get some more miles in. Stopped at one place where a road went off to the right that looked like a possibility and we walked down it ... skunk smell all over the place! ... this is NOT the spot.

Sarah remembered the wide spot in the road campground after the turn off Black Canyon and we stopped there for the night. Something like 80 miles in for the day.

Day 2

We both work up at about 5:00 or so and were on the road by 5:30, riding out of the campground area in the dark. Up Forest Road 12S07 and by sunrise were were at the gate to the single track along Pamo Road. That was a cool section of singletrack, I really enjoyed it. And we heard some turkeys calling and saw them way over by the creek.

Getting to the top of Pamo Road, back on pavement, we decided that we were hungry for real food ( my cheeseburgers were just awful! ), and took the mile off route detour into Ramona. That was an excellent decision. Found a breakfast place, and coffee, eggs, bacon, toast, jam are so much better than some beef jerky and tortilla's.

Got back on route, and the rest went really well. I think we both rode more of the Raptor Ridge trails then before and we got to the Chevron in Escondido. Saw a big rattler on the bike path and waited for him to move along, and then hit the Lake Hodges singletrack. Did better than last time, only walked a little short uphill rocky piece and we stopped at Hernandez Hideaway for lunch. Can't go wrong with sit down food again, and we were ready for the dam and the switchbacks. Was good to finally get onto pavement by Fairbanks Ranch. Del Mar came up pretty quickly and we hit a Starbucks. Probably the slowest service of the whole trip, but drinks finally came.

Almost to the pavement near Fairbanks Ranch .. and missed that hole next to the cattle guard

The Beach


Stopped at Torrey Pines beach, got a couple of photo's and made that climb up to UCSD. There's a section of single track through some woods and it was really fun. And lots of improvements have been made on the bike path going to the In-Out-Burger. The route by Mission Beach is one convoluted thing, so many, many cars! But finally you get to Dog Beach.

As we left, we heard a couple of people cheering and asked if we wanted ice cream or anything. It didn't register to either of us that they might have been watching our dots and we both said we're good and kept on rolling. I feel bad that we didn't stop and chat for a little bit, so whoever you were, we were just a little bonked and wanted to get over the big hill and into a couple of hotel rooms for the night.

There was a deli on the route and we did stop there and scored a couple of great sandwiches! Then navigated through the area by Sunset Cliffs mostly in the dark, up Hill Street and found a Ramada. For $259 each for a room, we were done.

Day 3

Up at about 6, and went to McDonald's and got a couple of big breakfast's. Those things are about the only thing I will eat at McD's, and I really like them. Then we started riding towards the airport and discovered some traffic lanes were blocked off for a half marathon. So we rode in these great blocked off lanes down to the Midway avoiding all of the bike path that starts and stops at every little parking lot. The marathon was starting a little past the Midway, stopped and cheered a few of them on and south we went.

The climb up Sweetwater to the pagoda went really well this year. Last time it seemed like I was walking/pushing through a bunch of tall grass and I knew I was going to get snake bit. It did take us on one piece that had a sign saying something like "this isn't a trail" and we were def routed straight onto it and other riders came down it. At the top at the pagoda we ran into three other riders and they were tracking us!  

Pagoda at the top of Sweetwater

Apparently we're not supposed to cross this bridge .. ever!

Sweetwater River Bridge 

More riding along the Sweetwater, up and down, up and down, amazing how that area is so close to all of the metropolis and still isolated and fun to ride. Before we got to Sloan Canyon we had turned onto Dehensa and saw the restaurant at the golf course was open. Stopped there and waited a few minutes, got a table outside, and had some lunch. Then rode Sloan Canyon, which is a fun isolated section.

When you get to the end of Sloan, the road pitches up a little, but after that, it's very rideable, and climbs and climbs and then you make left turn back onto the CRHT and it's pretty much straight up hike a bike. Push, push, push towards a red barn on top of the hill and finally get there!

We got to Alpine, stopped at the Shell station where Brendan, Shelly, Cedar and I watched a guy get busted for car theft 5 years ago. We headed out of town and weren't sure if we were going to make Descanso before Veronica's closed, so stopped for pizza. Each of us took some to go and headed out.

Viejas Grade just goes on and on. And the mileage signs tell the mileage past the top, when you get right to the top you have one mile to go!

It was cold, cold, cold going downhill to Descanso and we hit Veronica's at about 7:30 and they close at 8. I got taco;s and Sarah got a soup ( better choice! ), then we rode up the Merigan fire road and camped for the night on the side of it.

Day 4

The weather forecast for Monday in Alpine was going to be an inch of rain and much colder weather. We woke to clouds and a low hanging marine layer. As we went up 79 the sky cleared and then it cleared quite a bit. It was pretty on the trails to Mt Laguna, but towards the top of Indian Ridge the weather really started moving in. Got to where the Pine Mountain Trail came in and I stopped, then immediately continued down Indian Ridge. I thought we were supposed to hit Pine Mountain Road ( there's a difference! ) .. got down this hill and the weather was really coming and we took Skyline Road to Sunrise Highway.

Where the single track intersected Indian Creek Road .. and the sun was out

When we finished the summit Evan was there to get our photos and the storm had moved in!

As I get there, a camper truck is parked and I see someone scrambling around and a guy comes out and says "I'm supposed to photograph you" ... It was Evan, from Bikepacking.com. He took a couple of photos as Sarah and I tried to dig out warmer stuff for the descent.

We tookoff, fighting heavy winds and cold and rain that was just starting. Felt luck to get down the mountain and made the turn towards Oriflamme and the sun was back out.

Rocky descent as always, stumbled, almost crashed, banged a rib on a handlebar that came around and walked entirely too much. Finally down to the sand and Sarah points out a rattler in full on strike ready mode!

Nice quick ride to Butterfield and we resupplied at the store there. The rain was lightly coming down and you couldn't tell if it was going to just blow over or come a deluge. Rode out of there with awesome tailwinds, bathroom break at Vallecito and we bypassed Aqua Caliente.

As we turned off the pavement, Eric and Shaun (sp?) pulled up in a car and chatted. They were packing it up, between numb fingers and a knee that got hurt hammering up Hill Street in Ocean Beach. 

The sand in Arroyo Tapiado wasn't too bad, but the wind was against us, so the combination made for slow going. We were close to Diablo Dropoff at sundown and the wind was picking up so we camped. I got some cover from some bushes that worked a bit and Sarah ended up having to setup and then move her tent due to the wind. I rained quite a bit in the night, but the tent kept me dry.

Day 5

Up early, beautiful sunrise. Diablo Dropoff was rideable! Sweet riding until we encountered some mud and then it went really really slow. I left camp first and somehow Sarah passed me ... the Fish Wash area is just all spread out. Cleaned mud off the bike a few times, carried it a few times, I could ride in some of the wet sections and the water would help wash the mud off the bike. In other places just crossing two or three feet of wet stuff would muddy up the bike and make it unrideable.

Early morning before Diablo Dropoff 

Smiles before the wind kicked in

Could hear the metal in the sculptures moving in the wind

But we finally got out and I met Sarah at Split Mountain Road. 

And then the wind started.

I think that was the worst wind I have ever ridden in. When I passed the American Legion on Borrego Springs Road I could barely peddle forward. Got blown into the traffic lane once, scared the daylights out of me as I just had no control. I walked a little bit, stopped and saw some of the metal sculptures and finally got to Jilberto's. Ordered huevos rancheros and it was delicious!  Resupplied at the liquor store and went to the little park at the circle. They have bathrooms and few electrical outlets and I recharged for about 15 minutes or so. Sarah came over and we left about 3 pm.

The wind was still kicking and we were thinking Bailey's for the night. At sundown I was still a mile or so south of the gate to the Middle Willows. I camped and knew Sarah was behind me. Told a driver going the other way to tell her I was camped at that spot for the night. I left a blinkie on the back of my bike so Sarah could find me. The wind blew and blew ... I finally pulled my tent pole down on top of me and fell asleep.

Day 6 - the finish

Woke up and the tent almost blew away as I was packing it up. Wondered where Sarah was and I was pretty sure I saw her tracks, so she had passed me earlier before I woke up. Ran into her at the entrance to Middle Willows.

Middle Willows is amazing, so much water in the middle of the desert. Went well until my chain fell off and somehow the chain got wrapped around the derailleur into one tightly bound mess ... couldn't roll the wheel forward or backward. Knew I'd break things if I forced it, so stopped and tried to pull the rear wheel .. too bound up to even do that ... then undid the screw holding the derailleur on and got enough looseness in the system to get the rear wheel off, and straighten things out. Got it all back together without destroying anything as Sarah came back from scouting out the best exit ... seemed like there were tracks going in a couple of different directions from that point.

Middle Willows

Things were pretty rideable after exiting the Willows. Slow going but rideable and the wind had died! Got to Bailey's and someone had left some water and I drank one of the bottles. The road from Bailey's was pretty sandy and the wind kicked up a little more and it was slow going for me getting to the climb.

At the climb Sarah and I met a wildlife biologist lady. She was scouting bighorn sheep. Seemed nice enough but she started going on about how she "rode all of this stuff" and her husband "rode the willows nonstop" and it was kinda annoying. Actually it ticked me off but that was what I needed as I said a few words under my breath as we pushed up the rubble to more rideable sections.

Get to the entrance gates at the top and it's all graded smooth stuff going forward. Got to the top of one of the climbs and some local folks, the "Anza Peloton" were waiting for us. We talked with them for a bit and they rode with us to Terwilliger Road. Sam, one of the members, decided to ride with us to Paradise Valley Cafe.

Sarah, Sam and I

Got to Sunshine and turned my phone back on and found out that my wife was in the hospital. My son had taken care of getting her there. Talked for a bit and nothing to do but ride to Idy and get this thing finished so I could get home. Sam, Sarah and I rode on out, up Burnt Valley Road and back to the CRHT. Sam is from Laos and had some good stories about growing up and how his Dad rode his bike until he was 96. We said goodby at Paradise Valley and Sarah and I started going fast to Idy.

We stopped at Lake Hemet, and then up Keen Camp summit. I stopped and a car pulled up behind me and it was Sam and his dog Cookie. Petted Cookie and talked to Sam and then Sarah pulled up and Sam had these bananas from Thailand that were delicious!

One quick downhill and we climbed into Idy, briefly chatting with Brendan as the sun was sitting and finished at 6:24, so about 5 days 10:24, call it 5 1/2 days. Pretty much the same time as I had in 2015 and 2017.

Finishers sheet at Idyllwild Inn ... we made it!

Susan got discharged from the hospital by the time I finished, and was resting at home. I drove downhill, hit an In-Out-Burger in Indio ( still having dirt and mud from the Willows on me ... one stinky old man waiting for his burger! ), and then drove to Blythe, got a room for the night and drove home the next morning.

Got home, checked on Susan and washed my bike. My poor bicycle was making so many weird noises ... it would squeak and squeal going forwards or backwards ... turned out to be just dirt in the brakes ... pulling the wheels and washing both calipers really good fixed that issue, and the derailleur is working just fine, so ready for more miles.

Thanks to Brendan for originally setting this thing up and to Meg for organizing and running the current event! It's crazy hard and just amazing that some folks finished in under 2 days!

Maybe next year? Who knows?



Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Baja 2022

It was so quiet. I sat on a rock and I didn't hear anything. Even the ringing in my ears that bothers me from time to time was gone, just silence. Then we hear someone yell and Sarah goes "there's someone standing on that hill". I thought she was imagining, but yep, there was someone standing on that hill. Now who could that be? We had camped off the main road just so we wouldn't be bothered in the middle of the night and I thought it could be some of the family from a ranch a couple of miles back. 

Day 1 We left Tucson on Tuesday morning, cruised right along until just outside of Gila Bend when the traffic on I-8 came to a total standstill. Got out and wandered around with all the other people getting out and then suddenly it all started moving and had to run to get back to Sarah's car. Off to San Diego and we hit rain west of El Centro and drove in rain off and on until we found the parking garage near the airport. Pulled the bikes out and off we went to downtown San Diego where we caught the San Diego trolley headed for San Ysidro. Lots of rain, changed money, easy crossing into Mexico and over the bridge to the bus station. Paid $215 MX I think, for a ticked to Ensenada and at 8:30 pm we were on our way.

Changed buses in Ensenada, and it took us about 10 hours or so to get to Vizcaino, which is just a few miles into Baja Sur just south of latitude 28. We pulled the bikes out and reassembled them and rode off to find breakfast and score some resupply. We got about 30 miles in, a little stop at a Tecate tienda to pet a kitty cat and stopped for the night past the rancho out in the Vizcaino desert.

Riding through the Vizcaino desert 

Day 2 started out well, sandy tracks, a little bit of pushing due to my narrower tires. ( my freehub died on my 27.5 wheelset and that wheel was still at the bike shop and I had a 2.35 in the rear and a 2.6 in the front )  All in all it went pretty well and we began to think we were getting close to San Ignacio. Kept thinking we were getting close and at some point, we crested a hill and saw a palm oasis and I thought for sure were were on the outskirts of San Ignacio. Alas, that was a ruse, and we were still 10 miles away, having thought the distance to be covered was from Vizcaino when in reality it was from the Tecate tienda!

It got hot, we had a headwind, I got sand in my shoes, my feet hurt and I think Sarah was hurting too. Finally we got to the real outskirts of San Ignacio where water from the lagoon there was inviting from the side of the trail and I took my shoes off and stuck my feet in. We rode over a carpet of date palm fronds and got to a closed gate that we had to lift our bikes over. And then we hit pavement and 50 feet away was an STX store and cold Cokes and a couple of dogs to pet and life was good again. Took a mile or so ride to the Rice and Beans hotel ( there were closer ones but I was confused about where we were exactly ).

We thought the greenery in the distance was San Ignacio ... Nope!

Day 3 we got breakfast and rode to downtown San Ingacio, checked out the mission and stopped and talked to the folks at Kuyima. Found out the deal for whale watching and rode to Laguna San Ignacio. We followed the signs and got there. Talked to David and he told us we would probably see whales tomorrow and pointed us to the restaurant. We had a great lunch and then he comes in and says if we can be ready in 15 minutes we can go now!  A little while later, we're in a panga headed out in to the lagoon with Ramon as our boatsman. 

Fascinating as we saw whale spout after spout and the boat slowed near the other boat. We splashed our hands in the water and a couple of grey whales appeared, and we scratched their backs just like you would a dog's. So incredible to be out there, sharing this extra-species communication with a creature of the deep. We came back to a beautiful sunset and early to bed in our tents that were pitched in the briefing area for Kuyima to protect us from the wind. Much appreciated!

Grey Whale at Laguna San Ignacio

She's coming up on the side

Day 4 We got up and rolled for El Datil across the salt flats. Cruising along at nearly 20 mph for quite a bit, it was fun riding and we were in El Datil looking for the restaurant. Found the one I went to 4 years ago, but the store had only beer in the cooler. We rode around trying to find the other tienda and finally did. We thought we were getting some macha ( meat ) burritos and instead ended up with a fish and rice mixture that was pretty good. Sarah cleaned her's up and I was doing pretty good and then the lady who was still cooking puts this entire fish on a plate! We were both stuffed and maybe a little dehydrated still and there was no way we could eat that fish! Felt embarrassed that we had over-ordered. Rolled out and we got to where the road from El Datil intersected the road that went to San Juanico and we camped.

We were already eating but the little girl invited us to her house for food ... El Datil

Day 5 was an early up as we wanted to make some serious progress on the way to Mulege. We took photos of a sign with a "Bad Hombres" sticker on it ( the same name as Sarah's 24HOP team!)  and were about 5 miles into the turnoff to Mulege when Sarah realized she didn't have her phone. Nothing to do but turn around and go back and look for it, so we rode, and rode and rode and pretty soon we were almost to the Bad Hombres sticker sign and that's where her phone had bounced out of a badly designed Revelate gas tank bag. So 20 miles of riding, it's 11 or 11:30 am and getting warm and we have chewed into our water already. We got to the La Ballena turn and decided to head for San Juanico instead.

Well it sounded easy on paper, but nothing is easy ... rode through El Cadege and got into San Juanico in a couple of hours or so and scored a nice casita with a couple of rooms owned by a couple from Oregon. Made a ride to get tacos and beer and had a nice lazy afternoon with time to recharge our electrical stuff and sleep in a bed.
Overlooking the bay at San Junaico

Day 6 We waited for the folks across the street from the casita to open for breakfast and rolled at maybe 9 am. Nice riding along the Pacific coast and then we got to where the road turned to a sandy steep uphill track away from this beautiful paved road we were on. Pushed a couple hundred feet up and decided I didn't want to deal with sand even though this would cut miles off our route. It was a nice ride down the coast on a brand new highway with almost zero traffic. We got to a little town on the coast called Las Barrancas. Found a tienda with Cokes and then found the mini-super and resupplied again and rode to La Purisima. I was doing pretty good until I took about 3 ibuprofens and in a short while my stomach was pretty toasted. Struggled up a hill, getting warm and decided I just needed to lie down, so I did and poor Sarah had to wait on me. Napped for maybe 20 minutes and fortunately a lot of the rest of the ride that afternoon was downhill and we got to La Purisima and found the hotel Sierra. The fellow that ran it was very nice and friendly and he fixed us up with coffee the next morning!
This one had lit candles in it ... on the highway to Las Barrancas

Hotel Sierra .. Sarah getting ready to roll while the kitty takes a little dirt bath

Day 7 Started with an 8 am breakfast that took until 9 or 9:30 I think by the time we got away. Dealt with a valve core issue on one of Sarah's tires, got that fixed and got past San Isidro and started up that long long long hill. And we saw riders! And then we caught up with them, it was Jon and Jess who had started in Mulege. And a few minutes later Will came rolling up the hill followed by Brandon and Troy.

This was a hard section. Joh and Jess and Will, Brandon and Troy all  went ahead. I pushed and walked a little bit, and we finally got to Comondu and they were all there refueling. Hung out at the mini-super for a bit and knowing that we still had another big climb Sarah and I left.

We made the big climb and got through most of the red gravel area until we found a cow wallow on the right and camped there. A little later Jess and Jon passed and Brandon and Troy passed. 



Day 8 we got up and had a pretty nice ride to San Javier. Think we got there before noon, scored some breakfast at the restaurant near the mission and then saw a sign welcoming Baja riders, and got ourselves a room and a palm thatched casita for the night. We hung out that afternoon and Brandon and Troy were feeling sick from some passion fruit they had mixed with their water. The folks running the place were wonderful. We went to the restaurant and scored macha burritos to go for the next day and then somehow missed the fact that they closed a 5 pm and found ourselves without a restaurant! But the folks at the casita's fixed us up a meal and we were saved!  Jess and I wandered down and looked at the 200 year old olive tree and early to bed.
These three ladies were wonderful! They took such good care of us.




On the way to San Javier


The Mission at the end of a very pretty town square

Got up at 5:30 am to roll for the long ride to Ley Federal. Switched on my light and it was dead ... evidently there was enough leakage in the light to drain the batteries. Charged them for a few minutes and we had some coffee and away Sarah and I went. Jess and Jon were going to roll at 6:30. 

Sarah and I made good time, nice fast roll until we made the turn at the cave attraction and did well until about 3 pm and washboard and heat were wearing both of us down. So we pulled over in a mesquite thicket and napped for 30 minutes or so. We got up and made it to Ley Federal ...  I could see a communications tower for the longest way, still a long way, still a long way ... the darn thing wouldn't come any closer ... and then we were there and it was across highway 1. 

I had  a couple of the burritos left and tossed them by the local basura pile and a couple of small doggies came over and scarfed them up!  We got sodas and some things to eat and headed to highway 1.

A quick ride across three bridges on highway 1 and we were glad to be alive and turned off that road and headed to one of that washes and found a place to camp for the night. It was one of those areas used as an impromptu dump.

In the middle of the night some sort of bird came by, sounded like the call of a hawk right in the trees above us. Sarah texts me 'did you hear that!'  Yeah, I sure did ... it came by a little later and then we heard no more of it.

Crossing part of the Sierra Giganta from San Javier to Ley Federal

Resting in whatever shade we could find on the way to Ley Federal

Day 9 we awoke with clouds, packed up and rode alongside highway 1 on dirt until we turned away from it and then we hit serious fog. Some sort of marine layer thing and we were in fog for maybe 5 miles. A bit of washboard and some sandy sections and quite a bit of tailwind. It all went pretty well and we got to Ciudad. I was in front and made a right turn on the main highway instead of a left like the route showed, and then realized I had lost Sarah who was a bit behind me. We managed to reconnect and rolled toward Hotel Paraiso.

We scored some resupply at the Bodega next door and met Jon and Jess for drinks later. Managed to find a restaurant that closed it's kitchen while they were looking at the menu. Epic fail on choosing a place!  
The Orange Farm

Day 10, Sarah and I started early. We found coffee on the street and headed for the dump .. the route takes you through the city dump. Stinky and on fire, but not too bad. Good miles to San Luis Gonzaga and it comes at a place in the ride where you're ready to stop for a bit. Looked into the tienda and it was closed, full of dirt and dust like it had been closed for years. But a family just across the street from the mission offered macha burritos and coffee and we had those and we got some water resupply too.

We rolled out, Jess and Jon passed us and we passed them. We got to a connector road that I completely had forgotten about. Rode more, connected back with more of a main road and we got about 55 miles in for the day, leaving us with 35 miles for the next day to get to San Evaristo.
San Luis Gonzaga 

Jess found a friend

Day 11, there was so much dew on our tents! Everything was soaked, and we are in what appears to be a totally dry desert, just rocks and cacti. Packed up a wet tent and we started to move. Right outside Las Animas I paused at the top of a little rise and a group of goats entered the road in front of me. Then more and more goats entered, possibly nearly 50 altogether. I started down the hill and Sarah got a nice photo of me behind the herd. We got to Animas and waited for some cattle to come down to a stream and drink and then walked our bikes past them to not scare them. And right at the top of the hill was a little mini-super in someone's home. She had iced cold Jumex's and I drank two right there and took a third to go. That came in handy as there is a sustained long climb out of Las Animas and then you get to what some have called the "Grand Canyon" of Baja. A long downhill and more riding until later in the afternoon we are at the overlook where you can see San Evaristo and the Sea of Cortez. Stopped there for photos and down we started. The road is totally bombed out and really steep and I walked and stumbled a lot, probably walked a good couple of miles. Finally made the climb up to a little descent into San Evaristo and there we were with the comforts of civilization as Lupe and his family welcomed us. Casita's for the night, cold beer and fish tacos!

As we were eating Jess and Jon came in, noticed that we were showered and more or less presentable and go "how long have you guys been here"? Jess had a banged up knee having crashed on the descent that I walked most of. It was a good evening, could have sat there and drank beer for the night, but again early to bed and up the next morning. Was so good to be inside as the wind was really blowing .. exactly the same as it was 4 years ago when I was there. And it turned out that it was Jess on top of that hill the night before!
The goats just kept coming out of the field to the right

The climb is done ... now for 2000 feet of rugged descent ... there was walking

Lupe Sierra and Maggie May's ... must stop in San Evaristo

Day 12
. Breakfast of huevos rancheros ( my go to Baja breakfast order ), we scored a 10 litre bottle of water to split between the 4 of us and off we went. Guess I forgot to tighten one of my voile straps as my water bottle popped out making a hell of a racket. Was going to go back, but Sarah had a spare strap at the handy ( mine was deeply buried ), and away we went. 

What I thought was about 6 separate climbs turned out to be mostly one really long climb, several sections with concrete on the road and maybe 18% grades (??) .. we got through it and had some beautiful riding along the Sea of Cortez, some of the best of the trip. Some washboard getting to and from  Punta Coyote and a quick little stop at the tienda in a lady's house where she provided cold Pepsi's and cookies! More washboard that continued until we got to the shrimp factory. Then the road improved greatly!  

More riding along the sea, past the wrecked boat, past the pier for the phosphate plant and to San Juan de la Costa. Glad I knew the tienda was way up on that hillside .. I know Sarah was behind me and wondering why in the hell we were having to climb this stupid hill, but there it was. It serves the miners for the phosphate mine, so is really well stocked. We refueled, fed another street dog, ate the last of the burrito's we scored at Lupe's in the morning and went to find a camping spot on the beach for the night. Took about 3 miles to find the perfect place, an open gate with a little trail that went towards and along the beach and behind a small hill. It was a perfect place for our last night on the road.
Yes Sarah, there really is a tienda at the top of that stupid hill :-)



Day 13
 had a beautiful sunrise. Packed up and began to roll towards La Paz. We were on pavement now, a couple of steep climbs but all rideable, and then the road moved away from the coast range and flattened out and with a little tailwind we were doing 17 or 18 miles/hr for a good distance.  We stopped at El Centenario and I remembered to take my Camelback with me this time! The last few miles unwound quickly and by 10:30 am we were on the Malecon taking photos. Got some breakfast, couldn't get two rooms at the Pension California hotel and went to the Quinta Lolita hotel. The water was hot, the shower was great and a bit later we went back to the Malecon and ran into Shelby, Brandon, Troy and Will in front of the ice cream shop and then Jess and Jon came in. 

Had a nice dinner that night with them and a bunch of other folk, everyone talking about where they started, how their rides went, just a fun time. And I'm sitting there twice or three times older than a bunch of these folks, but we all got there one our bicycles.

WE MADE IT !


In front of the ice cream shop ... Jess and Jon had just arrived


Day 14, I get a text from Sarah and she's researched the cost for a flight and we decide to fly instead of taking a 24 hour bus ride to Tijuana. We score breakfast and find a bike box at the rental place near the Malecon. She calls another bike shop and they say they have a box and we walk about a mile or so there and get the box. Head back to the hotel , ride back downtown and borrow a couple of tools to unscrew pedals and we found some packing tape. Packed up the boxes and drag them to the curb, and I try to get an Uber. Immediately realize they don't have an Uber XL and no one is responding so I send Sarah up by Pension California to where the cabs hang out and she comes back in a cab. He opens the trunk and drops the rear seat and only one bike is going in this car. We ask him to call one of his friends, and in 5 minutes or so, another identical cab shows up and we drag Sarah's box to it and away we go in two cabs to the airport.

Sarah had the tickets all lined up, we checked in the bikes and went through security. I walked straight through except for having to remove my bike shoes. Sarah had to argue with them about her little toolset that was in her back back, and they finally relented and we got on a Califa flight to TJ.

In TJ we wait for our bags and Sarah's box comes off the baggage carousel and it's completely open. They opened it for inspection and didn't bother to tape it back up. ( This happened to Jess coming out of SJDC going to Oaxaca also ). Found a cart, bought tickets for CBX at $500 MX and headed for the US. Obnoxious disneyland crowd control things getting pushed out of the way by the two of us with a cart with two giant bike boxes on it, but we finally got through and were out waiting for an Uber XL to show. She drives up and can only take one of us because she had the front seat screened off because Covid. So Sarah takes a ride to San Diego to get her car, and I sit with bike boxes until she returns.

Sarah gets to CBX, we load up and score burgers at McDonald's and drive to El Centro. Up the next morning, breakfast at a Cracker Barrel and home by about 11 am I think. 

Baja was everything I hoped it would be this time around and Sarah was a great person to ride with and camp with and put up with my slowness in the sand! Ready for the next adventure.

 



Dangerbird 2022

 I started getting my GPS tracks for this organized a few weeks ago. I remember loading the new track from RWGPS that had the points of inte...