We covered a lot of ground from Bahia de los Angeles to where we sit now, over indulging in fish tacos and margaritas on the Sea of Cortez.
The road from Bahia de Los Angeles took us south, cutting through mountain passes and wide open valleys full of deserts once again greener then our expectations would have had them. If you look at the plants you can still see it is a thorny inhospitable landscape but taken as a sweeping vista it welcomes you down from the mountains. And then keeps you there, sucking you down with sandy washboarded roads that defy the fitness you acquired over the weeks of mountainous sandy roads behind you. We had gotten a late start waiting out the rains that greeted us the morning of our departure and despite fearing the Baja mud, far worse then the sand, we managed to put in a solid afternoon before my sit bones had absorbed all the washboard they could before crumbling into calcium powder.
Our camp site wasn’t the best because we raced sunset too long and settled for what was convenient. The flatness of the valley had us up to an early sunrise though and we returned to the coast and back to the mountains during the day, not sure what each turn in the road would bring or how far we would be towards our goal of Viscaino. We surprised ourselves though and made it to “The” ranch for water, which just meant we asked for water and a cowboy took our bottles, filled them and waved as we headed down the road. People are amazingly generous here but a lot of the official resupplies we’ve passed are more or less asking people if they have water and being grateful when they do.
The road to Viscaino passed through an almost ghost town and then we shot off through the desert, making some of our best time on roads that were supposed to be getting worse. We couldn’t believe it, until the roads finally fell apart as forecast and we were left crawling through deep sand on deflated tires. We stopped for shade under a skinny cactus to eat lunch and recharge and then pushed the final stretch into town. It is billed as the best highway town on the route and it was probably the best so far. A little hustle and bustle, but not too much, and dynamite taco stands. Street tacos here can be amazing but not every town has gotten on the wagon so when we find the good ones it’s doubly appreciated.
Viscaino was also a destination of note because it had regular bus service and we had decided we needed a bus. Racing deadlines and avoiding exploded knees and snapped tendons was a wearing race and so onto the bus we got. Danielle’s bike rolled right into the luggage space underneath but I awkwardly and uncoordinatedly started taking things off mine until it fit as well. I probably just need to take the front tire off but I’ll test that on the way home. Our destination was Ciudad Constitucion, another highway town further south, now only a couple hundred miles north of La Paz. From there we stocked up with four days of beans and tortillas and saddled up our bikes, I reattached my seat, and rode off into the desert. And into a steaming dump! The route failed epically taking us through the local dump. In hindsight there is an alternate if you ride the highway south a bit and cut east back into the Baja Divide and not knowing what it’s like I’ll say it’s waaay better then riding through the dump. The dump set our whole impression of the desert that followed, which was browner and drier then any we had been through before. It just had that wasteland feel to it. And it went on for a long time in a very slow ascent towards mountains on the horizon.
What changed everything was descending into a canyon and finding a flowing body of water crossing the road, with herons and egrets wading along the shore and small fish darting away from us. The canyons made for a tortuous road that would climb up one wall just to plunge back in and repeat, all while twisting and turning towards the better route through the mountains. We camped in one of these water filled canyons on a sandy beach with pink walls as a back drop and took a leisurely morning with hot coffee made over our little wood stove. We refilled from the stream and set off again to reach the Sea of Cortez for the final time. The days of riding up the mountains were undone in hours of plunging down over melon sized rocks and blown sand. Danielle’s rear rack liked it enough to stay, snapping a bolt and falling onto the road during the descent. We managed to redistribute the load a bit and carried on. The dramatic change in topography bordered us on the west for our ride south along the coast to La Paz. The cliffs were stacked in a layer cake of pinks and greens and whites, very patriotic geology and every new twist in the road or the mountains brought another landscape that had us staring and wandering back into the miserably wash borded roads until a jolt to the backside reminded us to hug the shoulders.
Our last night of camping was climatic only for the wind. The sunset caught us in a long stretch of dust far from white sand beaches in a funnel of gusts that threatened to blow us away or blow one of the numerous balls of thorns we’d discovered, under our sleeping pads. We survived the night though and after a wind fanned fire for breakfast coffee, which seemed like a bad idea but happened anyways, we were off. We made the first market in days in time for some fresh lunch food and then were pedaling a paved road for the final miles into town.
La Paz is a big city. We shared the road with traffic and even navigated a couple overpasses on our way to the historic center of town. We have arrived! Now it’s time to unwind, let the callouses from the bike seat take on some soft sand near azure waters and enjoy the easy access to fish tacos margaritas.
We’re hoping to do a little exploring of the region before heading back to California via Loreto at the beginning of the month.
This was a HARD ride, ignorance of the challenges got us to the start line and being stubborn got us here. I’ve gone through a the whole spectrum of opinions about sitting on a bike for days at a time, and I expect we will be doing it again soon enough.