Baja California – Winter bikepacking adventure

Stunning coastal views leaving San Evaristo heading to La Paz

Being located in Arizona with Baja just a few hours away it seemed like it was about time we go explore our southern neighbor. The work that has gone into the Bajadivide.com website has paved the way for bikepacking to pick up momentum in Baja the last two years and it’s quickly growing in popularity. Given the limited time I had for the trip, I appreciated having the route beta and a GPS track to follow so I could spend more time riding and less time navigating.

Oh look I found Chase

The whole Baja Divide route is 1700 miles but there are shorter options as well, most notably the 280 mile Cape Loop at the southern tip of the peninsula. Given my ruffly 2 week window, I opted to do something of a hybrid route starting on the Southern end of the Divide and finishing with the Cape Loop, about 480 miles in total. This was convenient because it also allowed me to fly in and out of Cabo both ways, maximizing my time on the bike (only a 3 hour flight from PHX !).

My route started in Ciudad Constitucion and continued south from there. From the Airport in San Jose del Cabo I took a shuttle to the Bus stop for the main north-south bus run by Aguila. This bus got me all the way to Ciudad Constitucion, although it was an 8hr ride, arriving at 11pm. A long day, but still plenty of hours to get a nights sleep before starting riding in the morning. Here I met up with Chase in CC and she even helped me carry my bike from the bus stop to the hotel. Chase had winter break off and was riding the whole divide, and we had picked CC as a good meeting point that I could “easily” get to in one day’s travel.

From Ciudad Constitucion, the divide route heads southeast to the Sea of Cortez through some very remote and rugged landscapes dotted with old Spanish missions and little Ranchos tucked away in the most unlikely places. It a dry and sun-blasted landscape but there are a few oasis that we passed where we could get water. The roads are rough dirt, sometimes little more than a two-track. It took us two days to reach the Sea and we saw only a few cars during that time.

We spent the night in San Evaristo, a tiny fishing village on the Sea of Cortez with no store and only Maggie and Lupe’s little restaurant. This was a highlight for me, one of your nicer camp spots and we had a nice fish dinner with cold beers and a big breakfast in the morning as well. They are very friendly and accommodating to cyclists, we bought some tortillas and bananas from them for provisions to get us down the coast.

Heading down the coast from San Evaristo to La Paz was fantastic riding with stunning and dramatically rugged coastal landscapes. The weather was cloudy with gusty winds further adding to the awesome feeling being emersed in an alien land. And eerie too, we didn’t see anyone on the road till we were nearing la Paz.

For once in my cycling carrier, I arrived somewhere early, with the help of a strong tailwind and Chase’s insistence that I not “loly gag” we made it to La Paz in one big push. I checked us into a nice hotel with the intention of spending the following day resting poolside and exploring La Paz’s vast culinary offerings, AKA eating our faces off!

From La Paz we headed to the Hot Springs beach of El Sargento where we enjoyed more beachside camping. El Sargento is a windsurfing mecha and also has a decent network of mountain biking trails which we explored after a night of shinanagins drinking tequila and trying to dig a pit in the hot springs beach to soak in.

Needless to say after all that and a full days ride to La Rebara we where exhausted, which was perfect because Chase’s aunt and uncle invited us to stay with them there for a few days in a house they had rented for the winter. Can’t pass up a hot shower and bed, not to mention all the awesome family breakfasts we had over the next few days. Chase’s trip ended here as she had to get back to work. So I was rolling solo for the rest of the Cape Loop.

My highlights from the Cape Loop were spending a day riding clunky city buses around Cabo trying to find a bike box, riding over the Sierra De Laguna on the Las Naranjas Road, and spending a day in Todos Santos in a neat loft apartment that I randomly found asking around because all the hotels were full.

The best part was I decided to ride back over the Las Naranjas road so I got to enjoy the views heading in the West to East direction as well. Much steeper going West to East but I enjoyed it, my last day riding in Baja, and the long downhill back to San Jose was Awesome!

Well, that pretty much sums up the trip, I can’t wait to return to Baja next Winter!

The End

Bikepacking in Costa Rica, A trip to Central America in search of getting our bikes off the beaten path

Catching a Taxi at the Liberia Airport


Winter in North America is a great time to head south for those of us that like riding bikes. Both Chase (my girlfriend) and I were able to take a few weeks off work so we headed south, way south, to Costa Rica. This is more meant to be a photo essay of our trip.

The line in red is our route, starting from Liberia CR. The dead end lines are backroads we explored but unable to make in through on.


Our main goals were to explore some remote sections of cost in the northwest area of Costa Rica and to then ride our bikes south down the Nicoya Peninsula.

As always things sometimes don’t go quite as planned. Although we accomplished must of what we set out to do, we had some setbacks and unanticipated challenges that ended up shortening our route to some degree.

Attempted to stitch up my tire side wall

On day one I realized my fork was unable to hold air, and getting it rebuilt in Costa Rica was not an option. And on Day two I cut my tire side wall open and ultimately had to put a tube in, which then started to leak as well. This all meant that we had to return to Liberia to find a bike shop to get and new tire and a shock pump, which cost us a day of riding.




The wide open beaches of Bahia Salinas, are most northern point, Nicaragua is at the other end of the beach

The northern area where we started our trip, around Santa Rosa NP and Bahia Salinas had some exciting possibilities for long backcountry/ back road routes that would take us far from the main highway. The Park personnel turned out not to seem to want us camping or exploring outside of the main entrance on our bikes, but we found a pretty cool route that skirted the park boundary and ultimately brought us back to the ocean, without riding on any pavement.


Jungle riding

It was a bit unnerving being in a totally foreign environment like that and being kinda lost in the endless twist and turns of the jungle, not knowing if we would have to turn back, or if we would be able to get though. Camping in the jungle is not my idea of a good time, unless you can find a nice place by a river, which we did.



We never saw any crocodiles… but it certainly crossed my mind on the river crossings 





Once we sorted out the bikes and made into the Nicoya Peninsula we were rewarded with some of the most enjoyable bike riding I’ve ever experienced. Stunning beaches all to our selfs and miles of dirt back roads paralleling the ocean ideal for bike touring.

Much of the sand we encountered was hard and flat, making it ideal for riding bikes on.



Hopping between Beaches on back roads



Hot, humid, and way too sunny. But boy that’s a good view



Although there are many beach towns in Costa Rica built up with resorts, we also rode through many small fishing villages that seldom see outside visitors. 


Fruit market for our daily Papaya, eat it with lime, breakfast the champions

Hot and sweaty, but damn does that 2 liter bottle of artificial apple juice taste good!!  Chase bought water… she is majorly missing out.


Everything in Costa Rica is so colorful and bright. Be it the natural world of neon flowers and birds, or the paint people use to brighten up their homes, or in this case a bridge.





We spent a morning hanging out with these little guys. There were thousands of sea turtles hatching in Ostional, they just pop out of the sand and make for the waves… which is like a 2hr endeavor for their little hopeless selfs. Very cool to watch, a trip high light for sure. We stayed at the Turtle Lodge in Ostional which was a great as well.




Beer on beach, almost as cheap as water, end of day shenanigans 


Chase looking for good coconuts on a beach that had miles of coconut trees and perfect sand and no other people that we could see.

Nearing the end of the Nicoya, so may cool places to check out. Santa Teresa so our final stop

Some much-needed R n R and some surfing in Santa Teresa, a bit of a crazy place with all the people but the waves were good. In Santa Teresa we rented a car one way to the airport and flew out the following day. Better to spend our time riding on the beach than tangling with hot stinky traffic on the busy road back to Liberia. I did find the driving a little nerve racking… right of way? not a thing in Costa Rica, ha


They end


25 Hours In Frog Hollow, The Longest One Day Race


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Bacon-Egg rice balls and Tailwind 24hr of endurance fuel!

And there we were in Hurricane, Utah with a van packed to the brim with bikes, coolers, cases of Honey Stinger waffles, an easy-up, 20+ water bottles, 4lbs of Tailwind, bacon rice balls, and enough lights and batteries to illuminate the trails all night long. We had arrived at 25 hours In Frog Hollow, the last race of the season for both Chase and myself, and the final race in the N24 Series (National 24 Hour Mountain Bike Solo Championship). This was the n24blue-e1460657914333first year for the N24 Series which in its own words was created because “We at the N24 think 24 hour Solo riders deserve more recognition regionally and nationally.”


Usually, when I show up at a race, I’m generally not too worried about whether I do well. Because it’s about having fun and riding bikes right? But this time there was a different feeling in the back of my brain, I wanted to win the N24 Series, and not only did I want it but I knew I had a good shot at pulling it off. Assuming nothing went wrong, and there is a lot that can go wrong in a 24hr race. I was ahead on points in the series, after winning 24hrs In The Enchanted Forest earlier in the year.

Pre-race sunset on Friday night, Chase relaxen before the big day.

To make sure that we would get a good spot Chase and I arrived at the race course a day early, where we met my parents. They had graciously offered to drive out from Californa to be our support crew. It was their first time at a 24hr race. Both Chase and I were going to be racing solo.

The weather on Race Day was clear with perfect temps in the upper 60s. After eating a big breakfast and attending to the last details I headed over to the ever classic Le Mans start where everybody runs down a rocky dirt road in their cycling cleats and tries not to sprain an ankle. I have always felt that starting a 24hr race with running a sprint is a bad idea, but I did it anyway. (Last year at the Old Pueblo I became infamous for walking the Le Mans start and still winning the co-ed duo).But there is something to be said about getting in front of the slower riders early so you don’t have to pass them later on the singletrack.


Credit: Crawling Spider

The first few laps went very fast, the course was in great shape, and thanks to water bottle hand-ups from Mon and Dad I didn’t have to get off the bike. My main competition (Mike W) for the N24 Series got ahead of me on the first lap when I lost him on the decent. I tried not to worry about Mike being out front, and instead focus on pacing myself for the long haul, but I pushed a little harder knowing he was up there. In a 24-hour race, it’s usually not worth looking at the standings till you hit the half way mark. And sure enough, on the start of the 5th lap, I caught Mike. After that, I started to slow my pace down for the long haul.


The shadows grew long and the November dusk settled in early, by 5pm I had picked up my lights. I had just bought a new Light and Motion Seca, which I mounted to my helmet in addition to an older bar mounted Seca. The bar mounted light is more for a backup. The 2200 lumens on the helmet is more than enough to light the trails for high-speed descents and is better than a bar mounted light because it illuminates where you are looking. Batteries were perhaps our biggest logistical issue of the race, between the two of us Chase and I were running 4 Seca lights. At a race with over 12hr of darkness that equals a lot of batteries. Fortunately Light and Motion was supporting the event with charging as well as extra batteries to those who reserved them, which I had, we ended up haveing just enough to make it work.

The New Light and Motion Seca 2200, Supper bright, and light-weight, makes for a great helmet mounted light.

The hardest part of the race for me was the 3am to 5am the “witching hour”. I kept dosing off on the long road climbs at the start of each lap. I was literally falling asleep in my seat while peddling! On numerous occasions, I would find myself riding into bushes because I couldn’t keep my eyes open. This was a first for me, I’d never fallen asleep on a bike before. Next race I’m going to add more caffeine to my 3am race regime to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Continue reading “25 Hours In Frog Hollow, The Longest One Day Race”

Coconino 250 mile Thru-Ride bikepack

This fall marked my third year in a row of bikepacking the Coco 250, a self-supported 250-mile loop starting in Flagstaff. The route goes down to Sedona via the Arizona trail, then across the desert low lands to Cottonwood, then up and over Mingus Mt to the Verde River and then up to Willams, and finally back to Flagstaff. The first year I did the stage race, organized by Arizona Endurance Series which breaks the route into 4 stages. The year after that  Chase and I made an attempt at thru-riding the route but ended up bailing and getting a Hotel room in Willams.

This year I decided to give it another go and try to do all 250 miles in one push. I had just bikepacked the Colorado Trail the month before so I was feeling strong. I set a goal of 42hr but really I was just going to get out there and give it my best. I decided to bring a sleeping bag, but other than that I was packing light, warm layers, a repair kit, and a 2.5L MSR bladder in the frame bag.

I started at 730am on Saturday from my house in Flagstaff and rode to The Place Restaurant, which is the official start/finish of the race. The first segment down to Sedona went well and I was treated to a great view from Schnebly Hill vista of freshly rained on red rock.

Rain storm over Sedona from Schnebly Hill. Turned out to be a great day of bike riding, cool and firm tacky trails.

The riding in Sedona was great after having just gotten some moisture, and I enjoyed the killer single track over broken arrow and out lama trail. Red Rock Park was just closing when I arrived, but I had enough water to get to Cottonwood so I didn’t need to fill up there. The Lime Kiln section was also wet and that made the sandy sections firm which was nice for sure.

Lime Kiln Trail, or what’s left of it is a historic trail that at times seems to have all but disappeared.

The sun set on me mid way on the Line Kiln and I adjusted to the change of pace that night riding tends to bring. There were many hours of darkness and night riding ahead of me and it was with no small amount of dread that I watched that last light fade from the sky. Continue reading “Coconino 250 mile Thru-Ride bikepack”

Bikepacking the Colorado Trail

It had been on my dream list for awhile, to bikepack the Colorado Trail in one long thruColorado_ref_2001_with_trail.jpg ride start to finish. On the 18th of August, I loaded the bike on top of my little Corolla and drove to Durango to start what was going to be a fantastic and truly challenging adventure. The 18th also happened to be my 31st birthday and what better way to celebrate than embark on a 2-week solo trip through the mountains.

The plan was to drive to Durango and leave the Corolla at my friend Richard’s house and then take a rental car from there to Denver. This way I would be riding back to my car in Durango, which would make logistics easier once I finished, and more or less force me to finish the route. I had to be back at work on September 1st, which only gave me 11 full days of riding.

Getting to the trailhead started early with riding around Downtown Durango with Richard delivering his kiddos, by extra-cycle, to there respective day camps. Then picking up a work truck and dropping me off at Enterprise rental. After filling out paper work and loading the bike I then drove 6 hours to Denver in a new 2017 Toyota Rav 4 (Oh boy did it go fast!).

After dropping the rental car off in Littleton Co, a suburb of Denver, I got on my bike and rode for about 20 minutes before a massive downpour forced me to take cover in a little league dugout. After downing rain gear and waiting for the worst to pass I continued on via a somewhat confusing network of urban trails and back roads. Ultimately I made it to the Waterton Canyon trailhead, the start of the Colorado Trail, just as it got dark. First camp of the trip, under a picnic table cover about a mile up Waterton Canyon.

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End of Day 1, Lost Creek Wilderness bypass

Day 1, as I’m calling it, started with being woken up by these nutty Denver joggers that like to go up Waterton Canyon in droves before the sun even comes up. I decided that the bast plan was to go big and get as far away from Denver as I could in a hard days ride. The trails once up and out of Waterton were quite good and I enjoyed many fast flowing descents, although overall there was a lot of elevation gain–8,000 feet on the first day–coming up out the front range into the high country. I made it part way around the Lost Creek wilderness bypass and camped at dusk after a full 12 hours of riding.

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Day 2: Lost Creek/Tarryall to Kenosha Pass with a  nice leisurely lunch break at the Jefferson town store. The 75-mile detour on roads was an ass kicker (another 8,000ft of climbing), the Kona Hei Hei was not ideal for all those road miles, especially the pavement (though she made up for it later). Also, my shammies proved under-prepared for the trip as they started to wear through by the end of the day, a theme that would plague me for the rest of the trip. There are no resupply points between Denver and Jefferson so by the time I got there I was pretty hungry. Turns out I had underestimated how quickly my metabolism was going to explode into a nuclear furnace of calorie consumption.

There are no resupply points between Denver and Jefferson so by the time I got to the Jefferson store I was pretty hungry. Turns out I had underestimated how quickly my metabolism was going to explode into a nuclear furnace of calorie consumption.

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The Jefferson valley, 9,500ft. Hungry Hungry

After gorging myself on sandwiches and soda pop I was about to leave when the owner offered me a cheese burger so, of course, I had to eat that as well. I barely made the 4mi peddle up to Kenosha Pass, I was so bloated, a good feeling though.

Day 3: Kenosha Pass to Gold Hill outside of Breckenridge. Georgia Pass was the days highlight, it was the first taste of alpine on the route, a good preview for what was to come. The trails leading into Brek were fantastic as well and made me glad I was on a trail bike and kept my dropper post.

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Georga Pass, My rig the Kona Hei Hei looking so sexy!

Day 4: Gold Hill to Leadville. This was a fantastic day, starting with the “10mile” climb over to Copper Mountain Resort, and after that, the Kokomo Pass section was a truly spectacular section. Perhaps the steepest climb and descent of the trip was going up and over 10mile (called that because it’s a ten-mile climb).

Nearing the Top of Ten Mile climb

There were sections gong up that I was grabbing onto trees to pull myself up. It was more like “drag-a-bike”, not “hike-a-bike”. Coming down the back side, into Copper Mt, was exhilarating and a little terrifying. A white-knuckle brake burner for sure! Without the dropper post, I wouldn’t have been able to ride the whole thing.

Continue reading “Bikepacking the Colorado Trail”