BAJA DIVIDE 4: Be Here Now

“Colonet to Vicente Guerrero”.

Sitting in my hotel room in Vicente Guerrero, Baja, Mexico, I’m suddenly struck by the different sounds, and more… Here, the sound of trucks whizzing by streams through the window. The sound of a saw whirring from nearby construction competes with the sound of traffic. The sounds are different here, in this big town, on MEX-1. Even in Tecate, roosters woke the day. Every town has had a chorus of barking dogs, children playing, roosters crowing (all day), music blasting from somewhere nearby, so many vibrant sounds. And yet, even here, in a good size town, on the busiest highway in Baja, there is little pavement. MEX-1 is paved, but very few other streets are… The dirt streets are lined with eateries, coffee shops, little stores, and banks, then houses and schools and churches. Just a few blocks further, the sounds of the city changes to the sounds of blowing wind, water pumps, and farm workers in agricultural fields. And further still, away from town, away from the agriculture, I rode for days through one of the quietest landscapes I’ve been. There were signs of life: two-track roads, a fire ring from an old camp, and a bit of garbage strewn about… and yet I felt so far from anything. Out there, the world just disappears. It’s an odd place to be, when the moment strikes, and I realize I am in the middle of nowhere, in a foreign country, just tootling along on my bike. And there’s nowhere else I desire be…
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We made a few stops, leaving Colonet. I’m still sore from climbing Picacho del Diablo, but the bike feels good on my muscles, like long slow stretches with every turn of the pedal. Near the edge of town I remind Neon of the dogs that chased us the last time we passed there. He slows to let me get ahead so I can ride in front. The dogs always run out in the street when the first person passes, making it easier to gang up on the second rider. The dogs aren’t there this time, but two colorful roosters with big plumes are roaming about. Music is playing across the street. A couple walks holding hands. Three boys are hanging out. Some garbage blows around as a big truck speeds down the highway; it lands and gets caught in the weeds on the side of the road. I’m still getting used to all the garbage. No one seems to mind it, but it’s everywhere, in every town we’ve been so far, and deep into the back roads too. 

We turn onto a dirt road, passing a few ranches, and then farms and more agriculture. We turn again at a little town, Ejido Benito Juarez. It’s a cute little town, nestled in a large valley, surrounded by mountains and bustling farms. We ride a little past town and find a place to camp in some tall wispy bushes, between irrigation pipes. The sand is soft. The ocean breeze brings misty clouds as the sun goes down. I can feel the dew forming on my sleeping bag. We both fall asleep before it even gets dark. I wake in the night, hot. I can’t see the stars now the clouds are so thick. And the mist too, is so thick, it almost feels like tiny rain drops hitting my face. I wake near dawn, to bright truck lights on the nearby road. I can see a little sky through the clouds, and my sleeping bag is almost dry again. 

The day starts off with easy riding through the valley. The air is cool, and the clouds break as the sun rises higher. We turn into the mountains. Our route climbs, up and down, and up. My leg muscles still sore and tired, I push my bike up the steep hills. Around three in the afternoon I announce I’m ready for wine, and I’m all done biking for the day. We find an opening nestled in some short trees. The clouds roll in again with the setting sun, dew forms making my sleeping bag wet. I wake again in the night, hot. And by morning my bag is almost dry again. 

My muscles are still sore and I wonder when the riding might turn a little easier. The roads are eroded, and steep, most of the way to Rancho El Coyote, a place we’d heard a lot about, and was recommended. We stop for water, and hoping for a meal. A lady escorts us into the office kitchen and shows us where to get water. She informs us that meals require a room reservation. I’m not sure if I’m disappointed, but I had heard a lot about this place. The riding gets easier for a while, until we come to another ranch, Rancho Meling. We ride up to a gate. Neon is just about to get off his bike, when a guy comes out of a barn, smiling. He opens the gate for us, and asks about our bike trip, where we started, and where we’re heading to. He points ahead to the roads, directing us to the right. The roads become steeper, and more eroded in parts. I’m feeling powerful pushing my bike up the first few gnarly, steep, hills, singing things like “up, up, and away, in my beautiful balloon.” But after a few more steep ups–so steep that I can’t just push my bike, I have to take a small step, then push my bike a little forward, with all the might of my whole body, a few inches, and then lock the brake while I take another step, being careful to claim good footing so I don’t slip–my attitude slowly slips to… “why am I doing this. We’d be there already if we took the highway.” I argue with myself for a few minutes, yelling at the next few steep hills. And then announce again, that I’m exhausted, and we’re camping at the next flat spot we see. There are several more steep hills I have to push my bike up before we find a place to camp. Somewhere along one of them, my mood softens, and I remember that this is exactly what I want to be doing right now, it’s just a tough stretch to pull off while I’m still sore from climbing Picacho del Diablo. And even that doesn’t matter. This is what I enjoy. Pushing myself, again and again. And sometimes I break, and that’s part of it. Learning what brings me to that point, and reminding myself that there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, than “here now”, an animal, free and wild and sweaty and sore and yelling at the wind and smiling at the sun. 

We set up camp atop a small pass. The clouds roll in again. I wake in the night, hot, my sleeping bag wet with dew. I wake again later, stars over head, and my sleeping bag dry. By morning the clouds roll back in and we begin a long difficult descent down to Vicente Guerrero, and I’m happy and singing as I walk down the hardest parts. I catch up to Neon, pushing his bike through some deep sand in a wash. He says, “this sucks, maybe we should have taken the other road.” I say, “Nah, then we’d have missed this cool canyon. And this is why we’re here. To see all of this… and “to be here now”, doing just this.” 

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Farmland outside of Colonet…

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The town of Benito Juarez, nestled in the valley around the mountains and agricultural fields…


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A “new to me” cactus…

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Early morning misty clouds




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Sunset, west of Rancho El Coyote…

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On top of the world…

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Neon walking his bike down a steep hill, he turns up me and says, “I think this one is a rappel.”

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Recent burn area with fall color…

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Rancho El Coyote…


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Neon pushing his bike up an easy steep hill…

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All smiles after a good night’s sleep….

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Riding through a storybook; puffy clouds ahead, windmill to the left, vineyards to the right…

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Out on the horizon the ocean comes back into view, after several days of riding through the mountains…

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Starting the descent down to Vicente Guerrero. This part was still rideable…

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Cool graffiti on an old building in Vicente Guerrero…


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Hotel California !!

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After 1500+ km across AZ, CA, and south through Baja, we decided the bikes could use some love, so we left them at the Baja Divide’s best bike shop, Fass Bike, for a little extra TLC…

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Walking back to our hotel after leaving our bikes at the bike shop. That’s MEX-1 on the right, two horses ahead of us on the dirt access on the side of highway.


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7 Comments

  1. Hi Nomads,, You say ” where else would I rather be” I’ve said that a lot in difficult areas on a bike trip,,,,,

    but I also say “what else would I be doing?” That thought works too. Good to have a backup thought. (:

    Lee

    On Wed, Nov 1, 2017 at 9:03 PM, The Redheaded Nomad wrote:

    > The Redheaded Nomad posted: “”Colonet to Vicente Guerrero”. Sitting in my > hotel room in Vicente Guerrero, Baja, Mexico, I’m suddenly struck by the > different sounds, and more… Here, the sound of trucks whizzing by streams > through the window. The sound of a saw whirring from nearby ” >

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Whenever I think back on a trip, it doesn’t matter how comfortable I am, the least comfortable moments of that trip seem to surface first and I invariably wish I were right back there.

    Liked by 1 person

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