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Old 01-27-07, 04:25 PM   #1
vik 
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Baja Tour

I spent 3 weeks in December riding Hwy 1 from Guerrero Negro to Cabo San Lucas and back to La Paz. Covering 1200kms with lots of rest days, eating and drinking of beers along the way. I can't recommend Baja highly enough. The drivers are considerate and friendly. The people in general are totally stoked to see someone traveling on a bicycle and the landscape is beautiful. I can't wait to go back.

I was fortunate enough to team up with Eleanor Meecham for the trip. She was 3 weeks into a 5 month solo tour around Mexico - Los Angeles to Cancun via Baja. She was a pleasure to travel with and certainly made the KMs more fun - especially the uphills. She is having her first bike touring book published this spring called "Llamas and Empanadas" keep you eyes open for it. She is a fellow Bike Forums member and if her book is half as funny as she is, it should be a great read. She is still on the road somewhere in Mexico - eating lots of quesadillas and beers I am sure...

I put a ton of pics on my blog http://www.vikram-banerjee.com/ - you need to click on the January archives and scroll to the bottom of the page - the pics are at 2 Jan 2007.

My LHT did well with no mechanical problems. I am glad I put on 700x 35 marathon XRs - they handled great and I had zero flats. Old Man Mountain racks front and back were also rock solid and ortlieb panniers were wonderful as usual.

Some Baja notes:
- HWY 1 is in great shape and pleasant to ride
- HWY 19 from Cabo to La Paz is very busy and the drivers were aggressive (this is the only bit of the trip I would not recommend)
- drivers - especially truckers are super friendly and courteous (except HWY 19!)
- there is food and water at least every 30kms along the Hwy
- you can free camp pretty much the whole way down the peninsula
- meals will run $5-$10 at the roadside restaurants
- decent hotels are in the $20-$30 range (cheaper was possible)
- temps were 15 - 30 deg C and we had only one super light sprinkling of rain
- the bus from La Paz to TJ is $150USD
- the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan is ~ $250USD

The only problem I had was that the drivers and folks on the side of the road were so friendly I had to wave back at them so much I nearly crashed a couple times. What a contrast to the anti-cycle vibe in Canada and the US.

Shamless plug for Eleanor's book. Disclaimer I receive no empanadas in return for book sales...

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Old 01-27-07, 07:13 PM   #2
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The border towns of creepingdeath's experience and where you were in Mexico are as different as chalk and cheese. Glad to hear you had such a wonderful trip.
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Old 01-27-07, 07:28 PM   #3
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I think you meant Guerrero Negro. That's a couple of hundred miles south of where creepingdeath's trip ended.
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Old 01-27-07, 09:41 PM   #4
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I think you meant Guerrero Negro. That's a couple of hundred miles south of where creepingdeath's trip ended.
Yup that's right, but I have spent 4 winters in Baja - kayaking and traveling around. I have spent time in every part of the peninsula and never had a bad experience. Eleanor rode her bike from LAX to TJ and down to Cabo without a bad experience.

I feel really bad for what happened to him, but I also don't think it is fair to paint Baja as a dangerous place to travel at all. In the last 6 years I have spent 12 months there - almost all of it free camping and I cannot report a single bad thing.
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Old 01-27-07, 10:55 PM   #5
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Hi,
I agree with pretty much all of Vik's comments from my trip: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Baja2006
Regards,
Lee
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Old 01-28-07, 09:56 PM   #6
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Hi,
I agree with pretty much all of Vik's comments from my trip: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Baja2006
Regards,
Lee
Nice tour diary Lee. I am glad you had such a great trip....
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Old 02-05-07, 11:42 PM   #7
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Thanks for the positive post, Vik. I am thinking about (maybe fantasizing about is more correct) a trip from Vancouver to Cabo but am a bit hesitant because of the bad rep the area seems to get about being rather dangerous and lawless. Right now there is so much in the news about the drug wars and the two Canucks that were caught in the cossfire (Acapulco, but who's counting). Anyway, glad to hear that all went well for you. How is the English down there?
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Old 02-06-07, 07:29 AM   #8
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Baja has been a wonderful place for me to travel. I can recommend it without hesitation. My Spanish is quite limited to a few basic phrases and I have had no problems getting by. In larger towns you'll find English speakers pretty easily. In smaller towns you might not, but everyone is eager to help you out so they'll do their best to understand you and you do your best with a tiny bit of Spanish and it works out. Eleanor spoke fairly good Spanish on this last trip and I have to say that really opened my eyes to the benefit of being able to connect with people. I am starting to learn Spanish so my next trip to Baja I'll be able to converse more, but it hasn't been necessary.

BTW - she has been riding through mainland Mexico on her way to Cancun for 6 weeks now and except for the heat she has had no troubles other than a few whistles from optimistic guys...
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Old 02-06-07, 09:04 PM   #9
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You have a very interesting eye behind the lens that not everyone can replicate!
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Old 02-06-07, 10:40 PM   #10
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Good to hear the positive feedback. I have been to Cozumel twice and always felt comfortable wandering around there. I tried to learn Spanish back then and have been thinking about heading back to night school for it again. I think you get a lot farther with people if you at least attempt to learn the language. When do you think the best time of year to travel there is? To avoid killer heat which for me can e a real deal breaker. Your temps of 15-30 are in the good range.
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Old 02-07-07, 09:13 AM   #11
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When do you think the best time of year to travel there is? To avoid killer heat which for me can e a real deal breaker. Your temps of 15-30 are in the good range.
For Baja I'd say Dec/Jan are ideal months to ride down the peninsula. Oct/Nov & Feb/Mar are totally fine, but heat will become a factor during the middle of the day. You'll just have to manage your heat and sun exposure more - perhaps bring a tarp or spend the middle of the day in a restaurant relaxing.

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You have a very interesting eye behind the lens that not everyone can replicate!
Thanks Shemp. I was really pleased with the way the pictures turned out. If you are interested in another side of Baja check out my April 2006 archives. I spent the winter kayaking down the sea of cortez last winter. The pictures from the coast are nice and it really shows you how even being just a kilometer inland is a totally different experience in Baja.
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Old 02-08-07, 11:40 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by sth
Good to hear the positive feedback. I have been to Cozumel twice and always felt comfortable wandering around there. I tried to learn Spanish back then and have been thinking about heading back to night school for it again. I think you get a lot farther with people if you at least attempt to learn the language. When do you think the best time of year to travel there is? To avoid killer heat which for me can e a real deal breaker. Your temps of 15-30 are in the good range.
Hi,
I left San Diego October 29, got to Cabo San Lucas on November 15. For me the conditions were fine, temps from around 70 at night to around 90-95F during the day. I would rather face the heat than cold and rain when camping.
We had only one partially cloudy day, no rain.
Two years ago, I had planned to go with an informal group from San Diego. I had to pass due to a medical condition, later one of the riders reported that it rained everyday of the ride and was cool to cold. Many of the riders sagged, hitched or found other ways to avoid riding everyday.
I'm in Tucson now and have been watching the storms pass thru Baja during January on their way here. Check a climate chart for history.
I would rather put up with the heat than the rain.
The closer to December 21, the less daylight you'll have. That was a problem for us in November.
Every year is different with weather, all you can do is look at the norms and hope for the best.
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Old 02-10-07, 09:29 AM   #13
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this thread has been great resource so far as i am planning a trip down baja, through mexico and all the way down to panama if all goes well. my question is...and i want an honest answer...is it suicidal to ride through baja end of june, mid july?
a second question would be...is there any cheaper way to get from the tip of baja to the mainland? 250 dollars ferry sounds a bit too much to me.
thanks.
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Old 02-10-07, 10:00 AM   #14
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this thread has been great resource so far as i am planning a trip down baja, through mexico and all the way down to panama if all goes well. my question is...and i want an honest answer...is it suicidal to ride through baja end of june, mid july?
a second question would be...is there any cheaper way to get from the tip of baja to the mainland? 250 dollars ferry sounds a bit too much to me.
thanks.
The answer to your first question is that it is not suicidal, but you had better be comfortable cycling in hot temps (45 deg C+) - some people are okay with that and some people just can't do it. Be honest with yourself as to which group you fit into. You'll need to carry at least double the water you would in Dec. I would cycle in the very early AM and in the evenings - taking a long siesta in the middle of the day. Wear a long sleeve shirt and long pants to avoid being burnt alive and a hat that provides shade for your face - you'll be headed south the whole way and your face will take a beating. You can absolutely do the trip in July, but it will be kind of EPIC. If you are ready for that and can manage your hydration, heat & sun exposure it will be fine. Personally I wouldn't try ride in Baja that time of year - it would be just a little too EPIC for me...

Also check the temps for southern mainland Mexico that time of year - they could be pretty brutal as well. Eleanor is there right now and the feed back I am getting is its DAMN HOT and its only early Feb.

The only cheaper way to get to the mainland that I can think of is to go to the marina in La Paz and see if any private boats would take you to the mainland. That would be pretty hit and miss, but who knows you might get lucky. I would budget for the $250 and then try your luck at the marina.
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