Featured

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
Advertisements

Chickens, Eggs, and Building your own Coop

After buying a house last winter, one of my first projects was getting chickens. Having grown up on a farm with chickens and fresh eggs, I always wanted to get my own flock. Having backyard chickens and producing your own eggs is great. I get a real sense of satisfaction when I eat something delicious right out of my own backyard, be it eggs or fresh veggies from the garden. The best thing about the chickens is that the eggs keep coming all winter, unlike the garden which is long dead and under snow. Not having to buy eggs, and selling a few extra dozen on the side, is a valuable step toward financial independence as well.

Coop
Casa de Pollos

Continue reading “Chickens, Eggs, and Building your own Coop”

Small Car Adventuremobile

In addition to being small, cheap, fuel efficient, and utilitarian, my 1996 Corolla can carry Five, yes five, bikes. Five is also the number of seatbelts that it possesses. Winter in 7000ft Flagstaff is snowy, which is great for skiing, but not so good for mountain biking. This inevitably leads to the seasonal pilgrimages south to the lower elevations and higher temps. And what better way to do so then to load up the small car Adventuremobile with a few bikes and friends and hit the road in style.

small cars rule croped
You know you’re doing something right when your bike is worth more than your car.

Sedona AZ has some of the best mountain biking in the country and is about a 45min drive down the hill from Flagstaff. As much as I dislike driving, and think that driving to bike is a particularly ridiculous, the desire to get on my mountain bike and ride those delicious Sedona red dirt trails is irresistible. Still driving the better part of an hour and a half round trip is pretty wasteful in both dollars and pollution, even at 30+ MPG.

Unlike most vehicles seen at mountain bike trailheads, the Corolla is not a 4×4, nor is it lifted or have any clearance at all to speak of. It stands out in size and stature due to the seeming overabundance of 4×4 trucks, SUVs, and Jeeps. There is obviously some perceived correlation between having a knobby tired full suspension mountain bike, capable to riding over most things, and thinking that one’s vehicle should have similar attributes.

Your car is not a toy
Your car is not a Toy, if you drive one that looks anything like this picture then you are very confused.

On the contrary, there is no real reason for this to be the case. The vast majority of driving to get to most trailheads is paved, and if the last bit of the road is to ruff for a little Corolla then you simply unpack the bikes and ride from there. I can’t count the times I’ve parked next to the guy with the big lifted V8 truck who has driven alone to meet his other buddies, who also drove there big trucks, all to park at a paved trailhead. I don’t mean be overly judgmental but we live in a world with finite resources, climate change is happening as we speak and I think it’s time we started acting like these things matter; because they do. Cycling is human powered transportation, it’s supposed to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.

The Staycation Vaction

 

After requesting a chunk of time off from work over winter break, I decided to stay at home. So far it’s been a great vacation, I’ve been skiing, biking, going to yoga, cross fit, working on long overdue projects, dinner with friends, oh and starting this blog. There is a certain joy to be found in hanging out at home during the snowy months. The routine of splitting wood, stoking the fire, feeding the chickens and collecting eggs, shoveling snow, and getting ten plus hours of sleep a night is somewhat addictive. Not to mention the mad frugality and sustainability points for not driving, heating with my own firewood, and eating eggs from our chickens every morning for breakfast.IMG_20160114_182835615 Throw in a few backcountry powder ski days, evening soaks in the hot tub, and you have a fine Staycation indeed. Perhaps this could be looked at as a glimpse of early retirement. One might be concerned about running out of things to do. On the contrary, the list of potential projects, plans, and possibilities for enrichment is ever-growing in the back of my mind. I’m in no way ready to go back to work.

That said Chase and I are going on a 4-day bike trip to Southern Arizona at the end of my time off. It is good to get out of town, from time to time. After years of dirtbag climbing trips, we are both well versed in spending long periods of time living in our vehicles on next to no money. These days we have moved on to mountain biking trips. Which are similar, but given the shorter duration and advent of full-time work in both our lives there are more hot showers and meals eaten out on our trips these days.IMG_0175

The Free Hot Tub, DIY Style

Prior to the fancy new nursing career, I owned a free hot tub. Now two years later I have a comparatively expensive Soft Tub that I love and paid real money for. But the free hot tub came from the Craigslist Free section, which I used to, and still do, visit frequently. There are all kinds of cool things on the Free Craigslist. I’d seen free hot tubs on there before but this one looked batter than most and I was ready to give it a shot. I called the number and spoke with a gentleman who didn’t know that his hot tub had been listed for free on Craigslist, because his wife had listed it and put his number on the add! Turned out that the tub in question had been sitting in their yard, out of order, for a while and if I wanted it I could come and get it. Continue reading “The Free Hot Tub, DIY Style”

Small Cars Rule! How to Buy One

35 MPG on the highway, that’s the estimated fuel usage for a 1996 Toyota Corolla. I bought one of these for 1550$ on Craigslist about two years ago and it has been nothing but good to me since then.  At that price with 124,000 miles, it was a great Craigslist score, not quite as good as the free hot tub, though.  Sure it had a busted grill, dented hood, broken door handles, and the upholstery had a “vintage” look with a unique mix of sun damage, stains, and dog fur stuck to it. But the engine was perfect and there was a well-kept stack of maintenance receipts from a local mechanic. So far the only maintenance I’ve done is change the front brake pads, which really did only take about 10 minutes and cost a mere 20$.

How to change Corolla brake pads in 10 minutes, narrated by an adorable little Japanese man.

 

Continue reading “Small Cars Rule! How to Buy One”