Reasons to go on a bike trip have different origins; this one, in particular, originated when I saw a photo of several rock pillars lined together and I wanted to see them in person. Located in the heart of the Guarijío/Makurawe Native’s land in the southeast of my home state Sonora, “Los Pilares de San Bernardo” have witnessed the centuries that the Guarijío have made of this place their home, and in the last decade, the construction of a controversial megaproject by the federal government. Promoted with the idea of building a dam to prevent floodings further down the Mayo Valley and provide the local communities with water all year long, this project was given a fast forward before being fully evaluated and is also splattered with shady agreements between the government, big agricultural and mining companies and “local authorities” that some of the Guarijío don’t recognize as such.
Álamos is a town in the southeast of the Mexican state of Sonora popular for its colonial architecture and for hosting an annual art and music festival and is also part of the network of “Pueblos Mágicos” in the country. After taking the long way from the nearest city which took me and my friend Javo five days instead of the 65 km on the main road, we arrived looking for the commodities of a town with full services. As we ride on the cobbled streets and alleys that give this town part of its essence, the fresh memories from the days that brought us here are slowly replaced by the blurry, drunken memories from my college days coming to the biggest music festival in the state. I recognize porches where I slept or found my friends sleeping, and the house where an old man invited me for a morning sip of lechuguilla, a distilled liquor made from a local species of agave, which he was drinking from a repurposed coca-cola bottle.
Security in México is a topic I don’t usually talk about; in order to keep myself from falling into hopelessness, I try to focus and highlight the good actions of people. Nevertheless, it’s like a pebble that you always carry in your pocket: you know it’s there, you touch it when you reach for other stuff, and although you are mostly used to it, some days it just decides to poke your leg. Adventure cyclists in the country generally have this factor in consideration at different levels depending on region and other circumstances, so here we’ll go a little over the topic but hey, there are some happy parts in this story too, for good balance.
The doorbell of the Alaska bike shop jingled shut as another khaki shorts cruise ship goer left, leaving me alone at the counter for a brief moment to contemplate my future. My job at the bike shop would end in mid-September, and I wanted to be riding the Baja Divide in mid-January. These things were clear, what lay between them was not.
Karla and I were on route before Covid-19 had been detected in Mexico, but as we saw the situation develop we decided to pause our trip and go home. It feels weird to have our outdoor space reduced to a small backyard after being on the limitless open road, but we stay positive and hope you’re all safe and to see you on the road once all this passes. Stay strong and cheers!
We leave San Ignacio and after a chill ride we make it to Laguna de San Ignacio where we join a whale watching tour. On our previous segment we had seen whales spout from the coast, but seeing them dive under the tiny boat we were on was an amazing experience. Back on dry land we stop at the tiny store in town for a quick resupply, where the lady behind the counter is actively scrolling on her phone and she expresses her concern about “the new virus”. This area relies heavily on sea related activities and the main buyer is China, but because of Covid-19 all product shipping has been stopped, leaving people without part of the income they count on for the rest of the year. She’s also worried about being in a touristy spot, where most of the visitors are from abroad.
Last year, my partner Karla and I rode the northern half of the Baja Divide which soon, and as expected, became the hardest pedaling we had ever done, but also one of the most fulfilling experiences of our lives so when we went home we just kept on dreaming about going back for the second half of it.
This video is beautifully shot and will speak to fly anglers and mountain bikers alike!
In remote Baja, Mexico childhood friends stumble upon an untapped Mecca for two dissimilar passions – stalking striped marlin on the fly and progressive, freeride mountain biking. But in this part of the world, almost nothing, other than a cold beer at the end of the day, comes easily, and through hardscrabble adventure and misadventure this motley crew hopes to find never-before ridden terrain and experience marlin exploding into chaotic topwater action.
Be on the lookout here for the full feature-length when it drops online.
One of Lael Wilcox‘s dreams when it comes to the Baja Divide is to provide the route in Spanish. Well, thanks to Daniel Zaid, that dream has become a reality. The Baja Divide begins at the US/Mexico border and continues all the way down the Baja Penninsula, with the route describing each section in detail. This is a huge undertaking for Daniel to take on. Many thanks to Lael and Rue for making this happen!
See the translated site at Baja Divide.
Karla and I had planned to explore a route that has been in my books for a while now which would connect Naco at the México-USA border to the city of Hermosillo via mostly dirt roads, as part of a project I tend to call “Ruta Trans-Sonora”, a way to cross the Mexican state of Sonora from north to south offering a continuation from the GDMBR, the AZT, and the most recent Wild West Route. This could, eventually, connect with the also recently released Trans-Mexico Route, which so far assumes you’d do the Baja Divide first. Although I don’t know why anyone would miss the opportunity of doing the Baja Divide, the idea is to put another option in the menu, and well, it’s my home state after all.
Riding through a landscape gives you a deeper appreciation for that place. It’s sensory. You breathe the air and you feel the sun and the wind and the weather. You muscle over the hills and your tires surf through the sand and over the rocks. You learn why roads exist and where they lead and who lives among them and what grows there. Sometimes you meet the people and the animals. Sometimes you share the space with fellow travelers and sometimes you ride alone. The farther you pedal, the more your mind becomes part of that space– the space between your body and your bike and the earth. Your mind is in the sky and the tall golden grass. When your body and mind relinquish control over expectations and judgments and find connection to your surroundings, you enter the spirit world, a place of truth and acceptance.
The name “California” was first given around 1535 to what’s now Baja California Sur when it was rediscovered by the Spanish conquistadores, and the term didn’t extend to the now USA-California until 85 years later, a territory commonly referred to as New Albion. Some years later for land management purposes the former was then named Antigua (old) or Baja (lower) California, and the latter Nueva (new) or Alta (higher) California; in 1848 as a result of the Mexican-American War, Alta California becomes the American state of California. Then in the 1970s a trend is born: Newcalifornians start calling peninsular California simply “Baja”, as a brand name for investing in commercial, touristic and real estate development.
Giveaways and contests like this are like turning this plane – the website – into a mirror. It opens the viscera to expose how people ride and recreate. All with a simple click! It shows and shares their passions and their communities. That’s the easy part. The hard part is picking winners! After lots of back and forth with a few judges, the two posts that everyone agreed on were these two photos!
Kawika‘s caption didn’t hurt either! “Fuck these half ass tied, fake food flys… but hey, selfie time, get my good side!” ~ Mr. Peacock Bass
Jose‘s group shot on a bikepacking trip around Real de Catorce showcases his community and the caption is so good!
We’ll be sending off a Leatherman Free to each winner.
Cactus Fruit and Community at FASS Bike – Locke Hassett
Words and photos by Locke Hassett
A few weeks back, I found myself an hour from the Mexican border with no real plan. This impromptu trip was a response to bad weather in Moab and a spooky snowpack in the La Sals putting a damper on a spring break sufferfest that had cooked up. I found my passport in my truck, and we decided the night before leaving to head to Baja instead. This would in no way be the same trip, and I’m ok with that. Still, I couldn’t go on a week-long road trip and leave the bikes at home. Luckily, my co-pilot understood my addiction and played along. Before the border crossing, I sent some friends a message asking for tips of cool places to ride in Baja. Lael came through with the recommendation of checking out FASS Bike in Vicente Guerrero and the trails near there. Lael knows what’s up, so I heeded their advice.
DFL the (Baja) Divide
Photos and words by Spencer Harding
I went into the Baja Divide grand depart expecting it to be more of a social occasion than a bike tour. I’ll admit, despite the plentiful resources provided on the Baja Divide website, I barely looked at the maps and descriptions of the route. All I knew was that there would be a bunch of really wonderful people there that I wanted to hang out and ride bikes with. So I piled my car full of chubby bikes and wonderful humans and headed south to San Diego.
Photo by Doug Dalrymple
When I saw this on Crihs’ Instagram from the Bicycle Film Festival‘s Joy Ride art show in Mexico City, I had to get a higher res photo for Merckx Mondays. Luckily, Doug D was there and shot a proper photo. I’m so stoked on this piece and if I had the wall space, I’d try to purchase it from the artist! Here’s the scoop:
Materials: wood and acrylic paint
“This piece is based on Eddy Merckx’s hour record done in Mexico’s Agustin Melgar velodrome in 1972. The name of the piece comes exactly from that: 148 laps and fraction that he did to complete the record. The rasterized image is carved on wood pieces with the regalement size for velodromes. Also the colour lines are official except that the cuerda line is red instead of black just as it was back then.
Generally in my work I use a contrast between antique techniques and new concepts. That’s what gives all my work a discursive character. In this case this piece was specially made for the Joy Ride art show of the Bicycle Film Festival Mexico.”