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Baja Divide BikePack (pt 2)

Life after the Baja Divide bikepacking adventure got moving really fast. I tried to stop and look around for a minute, heeding legendary advice, so I wouldn’t miss anything. While my eyes and ears caught the spectacular moments both on and off the bicycle, my year-to-date adventures post-Baja lack the depth of feeling that strip of land provided. This post attempts to capture the lessons, experiences, and feelings that have stood the time test of the last 7 months. Perhaps those are the anecdotes worth sharing. The hyper-filtered, visceral moments that define my Baja Divide adventure.

Whirlwind Schedule Post-Baja

FEB: 24 Hrs Old Pueblo (support crew), DtD Tucson MTB Camp

MAR: Trans-Andes Stage Race in Chile (4th Place), Moab Rocks Stage Race (22nd)

APR: DtD Las Vegas MTB Camp

MAY: Gigantes de Piedra in Spain (21st), DtD Bentonville MTB Camp, Gunnison Growler (1st SS both days)

JUNE: Race Across Hidalgo Stage Race in Mexico, DtD Crested Butte MTB Camp

JULY: Firecracker 50, Trans Alps Stage Race in Italy, DtD Colorado Trail Excursion

AUGUST: Leadville 100 (support crew), Breck Epic Stage Race (1st SS)

This calendar, crafted with purpose, vision, and stoke, seemed manageable against previous years which boasted more than 16 races. My blurred vision of the travel, logistics, and total race days contributed to my Dorothy-like spin. In 2023 I’ve bike in Mexico (twice), Chile, Spain, Austria, Italy, and the US. My Instagram invokes both awe and envy from my MTB brethren. My passport has become a friendly pocket-passenger and my niece and nephew have doubled their foreign currency collection. Has it been the bucket-listing year I’ve portrayed? Yep. It has been absolutely insane. The bike. That silly toy. That tool so often neglected in the dark corners of garages across the land brought me to towns, people, and vistas unseen. I’m an adventurer on two-wheels and there isn’t an ounce of regret for the year I’m having, but still…


The stillness.

29 days on the Baja Divide stilled my heart and mind. It calmed my need to pursue and fed the previously-unacknowledged need to exist in a single moment. No finish lines. No timed efforts. No manic Strava uploads. For nearly a month my focus stuck on the bike or in the tent or on a desolate beach or alongside my Mexican, one-night family at their dinner table. Here are the memories that haven’t left me this year and may have solidified their residence in my heart for a lifetime.

Camping on the Pacific Ocean outside Faro fish camp

Just go. Everything works out.

I couldn’t walk upright when I landed in San Diego on December 26th. A couple days earlier, after the meticulous packing and prepping, I bent over to pull on a sock and experienced the spine-shattering, heart-stopping, breath-stealing pain familiar to the 40+ er’s. The dreaded thrown out back. Looking back I’m pissed off. Here I was, 39 years-old and the body breaks now?! It’s too early!!

Crippled on the floor I drag my pained body to a chair and lay slumped in an L-shape for 5 minutes. Breathing out the pain and in the good vibes I pull myself upright as Abbe exits our bathroom. One look let her know the MTB stud who trades family and friend events for desolate romps in the desert met his match. It took both of us to move me to a fetal position on our couch. 2 groans and a strained expletive cued her departure leaving me alone with the TV and my pain.

Nothing really changed over the next 2 days. I rolled and soaked. I vibrated and squeezed. I even resorted to eating turmeric by the spoonful but nothing changed. Cursing myself. Hexing that damn Swiftwick sock. I pointed and blamed a series of actions that led to my convalescence. In all the frustration, through that night’s family Christmas Eve dinner, the following morning around the tree, and the entire holiday I moved gingerly. I took timed breaths. I made my movement small and calculated, yet, I didn’t cancel my flight. The Baja Divide would go on.

100 mg of CBD, 4 aspirin, and a bit of grit aided me toward airport security and into that tiny seat. “Go to the trailhead”: the battle-cry of our No Ride Around podcast and cycling team. Those same NSAIDs got me into the Uber and to the wizard at LivKraft in La Jolla, CJ Epstein of Team Elite Chiropractic. He asked me my symptoms and issue. I told him my plan, set to begin in 2 days. His wide-eyes betrayed his calm response. “Yes, I understand what I’m asking of you,” I replied. And with that he spent two sessions over the next 2 days poking, lasering, moving, massaging, and coaxing my locked back into a workable solution. “It’s not ideal, but it’ll move,” he said as I dropped $400 and bid him adieu.

Added to the body work wizardry, was the shot of toradol, a couple anti-inflammatory raw juices, a fresh buzzcut (hey, look good feel good), 2 plates of spaghetti in San Diego’s Little Italy, and some false-bravado to quell Brian’s growing concern of my condition. Tomorrow the ride begins. Will I be ready?

An emphatic YES! Waking up to my now-normal routine of glut stretches, core activation, and mobility exercises, moved my hopes and dreams down the road. The pain had dropped from a 10/10 to a 3/10. Clicking into my pedals dropped it down another notch and by the time we left the UNC football cheerleaders who surrounded Brian outside the Holiday Bowl festivities I was in the clear. Pedaling fixes everything.

On that first day we rode from San Diego into Tecate, Mexico. 71 miles through roads, single track, and gravel. Not once did I question the back that had me corpse-walking through Christmas like Jacob Marley. My back never acted up over the course of the Divide. 29 days and 1700 miles. Nothing. My takeaway? Living in line with your stated purpose, and continuing that journey when all signs say turn around, provides a force unmatched. Do the thing and the obstacles disappear.

Let go of the identity.

March 2006. That’s the last time I ate McDonald’s. A spicy McChick’n and a yogurt parfait from Dillon’s golden arches after a ski day with Brady. The final time I ate fast-food and a point of pride during my 13 years running a fitness brand in Denver. A teaching lesson to the those seeking nutrition guidance and behavioral change. I could also recall my last slice of pizza, bottle of beer, candy bar, and chocolate malt. My strict attitude toward what goes in grew from pride to fundamental as I created the identity that aligned with my life’s mission. Going into Baja I knew I wouldn’t be able to rely on crafted sports-nutrition and sprouted bread but I didn’t know it’d have to crumble so quickly.

Brian and I carried everything needed for a self-supported journey to Cabo. We could set camp on any surface and force a night’s sleep but we knew there’d be an adaption phase so the first night of our trip we got a cheap room in Tecate. $35. At the time we didn’t know our pace would allow for more than 50% of our nights being in hotels, or rented accommodations. We did know we wouldn’t be carrying a month’s worth of food on our rigs and resupplies would force us to get creative at times. Brian, the navigator of the trip, set our daily route and outlined what would be needed for each segment. “Get 2 days of ride snacks, 1 dinner, and 1 breakfast,” he’d say as we headed into a mercado, tienda, or abbarrote (yes, they are all different). The morning of Day 2 I got my marching orders and Brian quickly followed them up with his plan for dinner. “I’m getting Subway,” he chimed. Subway?! In Mexico?!?! On our adventure into the Baja! So anti-Mexican on one-hand and just down-right disgusting on the other. I hadn’t eaten Subway in nearly a decade. That low-class sandwich shops smell alone could turn my appetite. No. Not happening. And yet… After searching for dinner options at the gas station, and small market, I relented. It would be the first relenting in a long list of identity-shedding activities. Ordering that Italian sub, wrapping it in 2 bags, and stuffing it into my Orange Mud hydration pack, was a first step on a monthlong journey to the new me.

8 hours later we pulled our bikes to the side of the dirt road. Somewhere between ranches, before the long canyon climb that would drop us into Ojos Negros, we hastily built camp before the rain really picked up. The temps dropped quickly as Brian and I crafted an agreement as to how much weather would be required before I let him abandon his bivvy sack and cram into my ultralight tent. Mostly dry and warming in my sleeping bag I dropped a check-in message to Abbe on my SPOT device and opened the smashed sandwich. Damn it was good. The mayonnaise and cheese were pounded into a gooey new condiment that kept the Italian cold cuts in just the right place. With each passing bite my stomach quieted and the rigid armor I’d worked so hard to carry started to fall off. This moment sticks with me not because the transition happened in a single moment but because there must be a first moment in the long journey of change.

Over the next month I would enjoy the following:

Pizza, soda, Snickers, Butterfinger, Whatchamacallit, donuts, cinnamon rolls, ice cream, cookies (often after-dinner and in bed), double-dish orders (at every restaurant), and cake.

Nothing would be off limits by the time we reached our destination. Calories = Energy. An equation as old as time and while we didn’t need to forage for our fuel we oftentimes entered stores with the shared look of a caveman finding a carcass. We would simultaneously eat and shop. We would take everything offered by our hosts and we never special-ordered.

The question I’ve most frequently fielded after sharing this identity-shift is, “How did you feel?” My answer: like a champ. I didn’t encounter a single moment of stomach discomfort, never had any issue with my bowels, and seemed to have an unending amount of stamina if I kept the calories coming in. The equation held strong from Day 1 to Day 29 and while I thought it’d be an identity shift that lasted just for the duration of the trip, I’ve kept this lesson all year long. I’ve better managed my travels, and my enjoyments, through various countries and races. It started with Subway. Damn…who would’ve ever guessed?

Mud Locked at a Marble Mine

“Quieres café?” he called out. “Café?” he repeated, louder this time. I knew the words he spoke. While my Spanish is far from complete, real far, I do understand the most necessary words. I’m a noun-man. I’ve got words but not much by way of conjugation so I knew what this voice was offering and it wasn’t my lack of desire that kept my voice quiet. Nope, I didn’t want to look like a crazy bastard talking to the sky for I knew there was no man behind that voice. No hot coffee behind that offer. The voice couldn’t be real for Brian and I were ankle-deep in the most challenging mud I’ve ever encountered. We were battling a rain/sunshine/rain/sun cycle that turned our route impassable and we were attempting to pass nonetheless. A cup of coffee would be the Heaven-sent perfect gift I was wishing for as I lowered my shoulder into my seat post for the final push to the road’s summit. 3 blown-out RVs come into view and then, giving sight to sound, showing me that miracles do in fact happen, was Carlos.

On just our 5th day on the Divide, Brian and I still had stubbornness, determination, and racer-boy attitudes in our hearts. The day began a New Year. January 1, 2023. Rain hammered down all night and, while we struggled to leave the dry comfort of our hotel room, we had a day’s route to complete. We’d fallen into a familiar routine of repacking, adjusting straps, and tightening our shoes in silence. Our movement revealed our readiness and we would begin each day with no more than a subtle nod indicating we were good to go.

The rain faded into a misty sprinkle and we agreed that it helped tamp down the dusty road. We even uttered those magical MTB words: hero dirt. We pedaled the morning away crossing a few riverbeds, battling sandy bits pockmarked with horse tracks, and keeping our pace steady. Our drivetrains started to reveal their frustration first. We’d stopped for relubing, then for rinsing, and finally we simply turned our music louder, so when the small market appeared on the edge of a farming community we took great pleasure in setting down our noisemakers.

This store had everything! My preferred chili-spiced mango treats, packets of oatmeal and complimentary hot water, some Cup-O-Noodles, and even a warm stocking cap for Brian. He got cold today and not because he preferred that dry hotel room. No, he was cold because of the unexpected. That morning, while alternating between coat-on and coat-off moments, his rain jacket slipped form his handlebar bag and dropped into his front brake rotor. In an instant the lightweight, packable, DWR-coated jacket transformed into tattered rags. No rain jacket. In a rain storm. So yeah, a beanie, pastel and glorious. But what is the purchased item that sticks out the most? Cleaning supplies. We bought some to get our chains back to doing their job, silently. The shopkeeper offered his hose and we went to work. Fed, cleaned, lubed, and ready for part 2 of the day’s route we pushed on.

More mud met us just out of town. Not enough mud to turn us around but just enough to make us aware of our tire path. An aware rider becomes a master of mud in less than a mile. Too dark, avoid. Too smooth, avoid. As we Goldilocks’d our way onward the weather started to change. Rain gave way to sun. Around the next bend, more rain. This alternating sequence turned our preferred mud on its head. Nothing was good. All bad. Yet, we continued on.

I ran 3” tires on 29” rims and Brian kept to 2.4” tires. The difference, in these moments, paramount. My ability to forge through some sections that Brian was forced off his bike created some distance between us. For the bulk, like 85% of the entire route, Brian remained a figure up ahead, in the distance. He’d scamper his light frame (body, not bike) up steep climbs and wait for me to crest. Never a complaint. Never a corner eyeball. So I understood his frustration, and directed frustration, with me as I rode away a mud man. As Carlos’s voice drew me to his hilltop oasis Brian was a 1/3 mile behind me. Both of his wheels so caked with clay that they couldn’t turn in his frame. His shoes so caked that he appeared to be wearing brown moon boots. He finally met Carlos after walking backwards up the steep road, dragging his bike sideways behind him. Not. A. Good. Look.

Sitting inside, yes inside! Oh boy, a warm shelter that seemed to appear straight out of the ground from our prayers! An empty room would’ve met every single one of our needs but we were treated to so much more. Carlos, in between swigs on his 32 oz Tecate bottle, told us about how this area worked. He, along with his wife’s father, operated the marble mine that is financed by a group in China. Behind us were 4 rooms, a couple bathrooms, and solar ran their electricity. Internet? You bet! Speedy and reliable internet. This would be common in our journey. In the most isolated parts of the desert we would be treated to internet fast enough for video calls with Abbe, downloading new entertainment, and uploading our Strava data in an effort to keep the FOMO vibes alive and pumping with our community back in Colorado.

Carlos didn’t stop there. He made us hot soup, treated Brian to his very fist cup of coffee, and showed us to our room for the night. We’d address our riding strategy in the morning, he said, but it wasn’t looking good.

I woke prepared for my packaged breakfast. Bimbo panqué con nuez. 960 calories of shelf-stable gluttony made even better with a generous slathering of peanut butter. I kept a peanut butter jar with me the entire trip. It was a non-negotiable. Just as I reached for my breakfast delight Carlos beckoned us outside. His wife and her mother had breakfast ready. What?!?!?

Eggs, pancakes, chorizo, tortillas, more coffee. It was a marble mine feast for kings! Unaccustomed to so much friendliness from complete strangers, I hesitated to dig in until everyone had their plate. Silly me. They weren’t eating. They simply sat and enjoyed watching us eat. Their graciousness went beyond simply preparing the food. They built us a feast and got their pleasure not from sharing the table but by making the table ours. Pinch me. I must still be pushing my bike through the mud and rain. That voice really was a fantasy. Can people truly be this amazing?

Yes. And while they recommended we stay another full day and night so that the road can dry out and become passable, they understood our need to move. After loading our muddy bikes into their pickup, they kissed their loved ones goodbye, including Carlos’s newborn baby, and took us back down the muddy road toward the river. We learned about the miles of pipe they set so there was reliable water at the mine. They talked about how this canyon had been in their lives for decades. They were a 5-star Uber in a remote canyon navigating impassable roads. For us. For a couple of bike packers they’d never met. That family is the essence of the Baja. People compassionately serving strangers for no reason other than humanity for the sake of humanity. The voice was real. More real than any voice I’d heard before.

Lobster Tails & Kindness: The Ultimate Mood Enhancer

Cataviña to Santa Rosalillita promised the longest section of the Baja Divide without a resupply. Rancho El Cardon, 100 miles in, has a well for water access but that’s it. Most accounts of this section recommend 8-12 liters of water. At max capacity Brian and I could each carry a bit over 7 liters. Fortunately we move along at a pretty decent clip and we’ve outpaced water recommendations thus far. Onward!

Our water concerns never had the chance to take residence in our minds. We were distracted. The plant diversity in this section had my head swiveling. Strange cacti, forests of strange cacti, covered hillsides as far as I stretched my eyes. Perhaps it was the days of repetitive landscape that had me struck but I’m not sure I’ve seen a prettier bit of desert. We bumped, skidded, and jostled down the rocky road toward our night’s destination: a campsite on the Pacific.

We bumped. We jostled. We bumped some more and before long my fully loaded water supply wore down my aluminum, fork-mounted bottle cages. The first 48oz Nalgene torpedoed off my bike only to be chased by his brother bottle a few meters later. I”m not sure I would’ve stopped any quicker had my feet ejected from my skeleton. Losing water on this section? Sign the death certificate now!

After retrieving my docile projectiles I reinforced my fork mount cages with secondary straps and continued down the road. Looking back on the experience I understand slowing down would have been a workable solution to my next 2 hours. Knowing this, and knowing myself, much as I thought then, I agree now, I’ll never slow down. Not for some damn flimsy bottle cages. So I ejected them once again. Then a third time. By the 4th bottle departure I’d really started to unravel. I can’t be exactly sure how far it went but I do know I Tom Brady’d one of those damn bottles at some point. With 130 mile section of desert our chief objective I worried my sorry attitude would be a passenger for quite some time. I begged Brian onward. Alone. I didn’t want to be a sour puss in front of him and I wasn’t sure any amount of gummy candy treats would turn me back into my smiling self. He pressed on toward the water and what we would soon discover was the San José del Faro fishing camp.

Strapped down, secondary velcro straps in place, and a keen eye on those rambunctious bottles reunited me with Brian at Faro and a reunion it was! I figured for a short stop, perhaps a cookie or two, and then moving up the coast to find our night’s home, but I was woefully mistaken. Oh I ate the cookie. I monster-munched it before even removing my helmet. What I didn’t know was that cookie would be the appetizer to our most appreciated meal of the entire Baja Divide trip.

She asked Brian if he wanted langosta. Brian’s Spanish has better structure than mine but it also has it’s own limitations. He’s a savant in so many areas that we often give him an embellished amount of credit as being an “old soul”. He’s still a young guy who cuts the corner a time or two. His Spanish has great structure because he fulfilled his 4 years of foreign language high school requirement in a unique way. He took Spanish 1 four times! What a crook! What a slacker! What a….incredibly efficient and stress-free way to work the system. 2 points for Brian, 0 for the administrators at his school. Guess what word isn’t part of Spanish 1? Lobster. So when the matriarch of this little fishing village came around the corner of her house with 2 live lobsters Brian had to think quickly and think he did. Before I made my way to Faro he had said yes to the lobsters, articulated that we had no way to cook them, and accepted her offer to cook the langosta for us. 2 more points Elander.

I forgot my worries. For the rest of the day. After learning that a meal of epic proportions was being prepared, right here, on the shell-crusted shore of the Pacific, complete with coffee and endless water refills? Well, my mood changed in an instant. When the 4 lobster tails found their place on our table I nearly cried. Big, delicate, tender tails waited to be wrapped up in the accompanying warm tortillas and refried beans. I tucked those puppies in and ravished the dish. How was this meal even real? Not an hour ago I was chasing disobedient water bottles down a rocky road. I was hollering at inadequate pieces of aluminum who were even more inadequate in their ability to respond. My salty attitude almost won the day. And now. Now I sit in abundance with salty air blowing off the Pacific and found myself nourished in motherly way from another stranger. Laughing at our fortune Brian and I nodded in silent agreement once again. This time our silence agreed: The Baja is the most magical place I’d ever been and those who call it home have hearts of gold.

G.O.A.T. Farm

Journeys labeled destinations remind the traveller to slow down, to embrace the moment. Well magnets, stickers, t-shirts, and puffy-painted Trapper Keepers haven’t travelled 1700 miles, off-road, in deserts. On the Baja the journey drew us to the place but the destinations along the way kept reminding us why we came. A ranch operated by a weathered leather maker and his wonderful wife fed us, sold us Cokes, and provided satellite WiFi. A young kid found us in a defunct, oceanside, semi-trailer turned tienda and showed us to his grandmother’s home for the freshest fish tacos in the world. The oldest man alive boiled us water on his smoldering fire while cleaning snails from their shells. (In a game of “Him not Me”, Brian learned that you can in fact eat fresh, raw snails AND drink instant coffee from a bike bottle for breakfast.) These destinations, albeit brief and mostly unexpected, acted as individual landing pads and as days turned to weeks they served as magnets pulling us further south.

One such landing pad experience stood above the others. A combination of being unexpected, being relatively new to the Baja Divide route, and being so damn unique, dare I even say cute, made the goat farm at Rancho Rinconada Mini Destination Numero Uno.

Unexpected. Established in 2016 by Nick Carman and Lael Wilcox the Baja Divide Bikepacking Route has provided a mostly off-road path from San Diego to Cabo, and officially ending with a southern loop bringing riders back to La Paz. Each year a couple hundred, give or take, make the pilgrimage. Each year more beta is provided on, Facebook groups, and navigation apps like iOverlander and MTB Project. Together with the Baja 1000 Off Road Race participants a mini economy grew to areas previously unvisited. The small ranches started providing for-hire showers, resupply stations, and lodging. Most of these options are well documented and became planned parts of Brian and I’s adventure. Rancho Rinconada was not one of them. Earlier in the day we met the leather maker and were treated to a meal but as the day grew long and we started to plan our camp location Brian and I fell into a silent rhythm. Pedal, river crossing, pedal, river crossing. The 75 mile section through a long canyon had been listed as the hardest part of the Baja Divide route. Stories flooded the FB group telling of challenging road and sandy washes that suck the power from the most accomplished legs. Planning for a 2 day slog through the canyon Brian mapped out a suitable camp location and as I pulled ahead of him, slightly and briefly, I used his mile marker as a countdown clock. The nearer we drew to that magic number, the nearer I came to my preferred camp dinner: a bag of Isadora refried beans and a 12-pack of tortillas harina (that’s flour to you silly English-speakers). Both bags, in their entirety, and probably a pack of cookies. 3 miles to go. 2. Then just around the corner here we should see the, wait, what is that? A signpost. A basic signpost with a handwritten cardboard, covered in plastic, nailed to the board. An empty Tecate can hanging from its branch. The sheet read, “Rancho Rinconada / Camping / Food / Cold Beer / Welcome Cyclists”. Having pulled over to investigate the sign, I waited, slack-jawed for Brian to share my wonder. Not only was the stop unexpected, it had not been documented in any of our preplanning, but it was so new the ink on host’s message seemed to be drying before our misty eyes. A destination!

Unique. Falling asleep that night I knew the world as I came to understand needed an update. Update #1 must happen with Abbe and I’s sound machine. It travels in our camper van and on our hotel stays. It has 15 different fan noises, a babbling brook, ocean waves, and several other nature sounds. It’s irrelevant now. Outdated. Archaic. The machine needs the greatest of all lullabies. Braying goats. Specifically braying baby goats. Most specifically braying baby goats penned just next to my sleeping bag as I drift asleep with the taste of goat cheese crema lingering on my tongue.

The challenging road noted in our resources proved to be relatively smooth. The whole day we kept a quick pace and wondered where the dreaded sand began. Then the unexpected, unique home we found ourselves added to our confusion. Isn’t this the hardest section of the Baja? It seems pretty easygoing and supported. The goat farmer shed light, in his shed turned camping platform. The road we pedaled had just been completed a couple weeks earlier. The 75 mile canyon, home to just 8 ranches and without phone service, connected only by an old radio system allowing each family to share news down the canyon, got a huge update. The completed road being so new that this year’s Baja cyclists would still be on route, unable to update the online database. His ranch? Prior to the new road was invisible to Divide users. In a fortunate twist of fate the new road passes directly by his goat farm and in an instant brings new economical opportunities to these two. He and his wife. Goat farmers for the past 35 years in this remote canyon.

We plopped down into a couple plastic chairs with the man. His wife got to making tortillas immediately. In less than 5 minutes we had cups of coffee, warm bean burritos and a plate of goat cheese cream that became my favorite taste in the world. I took a reasonable bit of this farm-to-table treat and released Brian on the rest. It never stood a chance. That guy absolutely crushes food. Between bites we learned the couple’s kids have all grown and moved on. They operate a hotel and a restaurant on the coast in Mulegé. We’d be there tomorrow midday and should look them up they recommended. Show them pictures of the goats and we’d be treated like family! And a family it is. The adult goats made their way back to the ranch just before sundown. The lead goat’s bell foreshadowing their arrival. With the gate opened they corralled themselves for the night and the farmer couple opened a divider gate allowing the baby goats, around 75 of them, to interact with their parents. By nightfall the goats were separated once again, Brian and I shown to our sleeping area, and the couple retired to their room. I elected for the ground and Brian enjoyed an elevated sleeping platform, almost bed like in its suspension. The baby goat noises matched perfectly the colorful sunset. This being the only night on the entire trip that I slept under the night sky. No tent. No hotel. Open-air sleeping, next to the goats, in a canyon, a world away from the world I know.

Pedaling away the next morning Brian and I commented on how special a place we just enjoyed. How special we were to have timed our arrival just after the new road. Sadly we also commented on how short-lived the opportunity. With their children moved on, drawn to bigger opportunities in bigger locations, the goat farm seems without a succession plan. A world economy that rewards growth over serenity, scaling over bottle-feeding goats one at a time, and more, the energetic pursuit of more, will leave this goat farm behind. Months removed from that night, and that incredibly mature and wise conversation with a 21-yr-old Elander, I think about the insanity of it all. Many of us, many reading this, will work a handful of decades to grow the wealth required to settle down in our Golden Years. We’ll work to find a space in this world where we can slow down, find some peace, and simply exist with the one we love. Maybe it’ll be in a canyon somewhere. Maybe we’ll get a few animals to keep us routined and purposeful. Maybe after a long career we’ll find that space in a canyon in Mexico, with a few goats braying us to sleep. Maybe a place like that exists. Just maybe.

Coast-to-Coast sans coasting.

I alternated between choosing the Banker and the Carpenter on The Oregon Trail. The original. That 3.5” black floppy shoved into the giant brick of a computer. 6th grade at Pleasant View Elementary School. “Geesh Justin, how old are you?” Yep, that old. This was the year we got Netscape. The nerds knew how to dial up and I wanted to be a nerd. Preferably a sporty nerd. But I always alternated on my character selection. Each had their advantages, and downfalls. If we updated the game, made it a downloadable app, and called it “The Baja Divide Bikepack” I wouldn’t be so confused on my character. For this game I am The Money & Brawn and Brian is The Navigator.

Early on we agreed on a lodging strategy. I really enjoy a shower. Pre-ride, post-dump and post-ride, pre-bed. Camping is great. Wonderful nights were spent in remarkable locations but we never turned down the chance for a real bed. The agreement was that if Brian didn’t call me an aged-softy for wanting a room, I’d pay the way. As for the brawn, whenever we encountered a blockade: barbed wire fence, gate, or wall, it was my duty to lift not just my fully-loaded rig but also Brian’s over the structure. My years in the gym may slow me down on the climbs, leaving me in Brian’s dust, but without those lingering abilities he’d still be stuck at the 5’ gate on Day 3.

And the Navigator. Brian. The brain. His remarkable ability to read maps, set routes, and foresee the day’s journey kept us on-track and in good standing for 29 days. So skilled he proved to be at setting our daily goal that I never questioned the plan. Each morning I would wake to the sun, no alarms on the Baja, and, after gobbling down the first 1,000 calories I could get my hands on, would turn to Brian for our marching orders. He’d detail the total day including resupply stops, water access, and any particulars that needed our attention, things like missions or date palm groves. On this day he had a spectacular plan. We could cross the entire peninsula in a single day, touching the Pacific Ocean in the morning and the Sea of Cortez in the evening. It’d be an effort. We’d need to cover 82 miles of dirt roads, washboard descents, horse paths, and river crossings. There’d be a single water refill opportunity but if we accomplished our goal we’d spend the night at a hotel in Bahiá de Los Angeles. Veterans of a similar journey, the Cruce del Istmo race in Panama - me in 2021 and he in 2022, we high-fived in agreement. Let’s cross this thing!

Our big day began hopscotching the outgoing tide as surfers and fishermen finished their breakfasts on the shore. Santa Rosalillita attracts ocean lovers who can van camp along an amazing break and enjoy fish tacos, bottomless beer coolers, and a growing nomadic community. We met a writer who commutes down from the States every weekend to reset himself and bike packers. We met another group pedaling south and took our largest group photo of the trip. We’d started to be know within this year’s Facebook group as “The Racers”. Strangely my goal for the trip had been to shed the racer tag for a bit and simply pedal. We weren’t racing the Baja but our Strava uploads and the ground we’d been covering labeled us as such. Admittedly Brian did know the exact days, hours, and minutes of the FKT (fastest known time) and we discussed how it could be done. No, we weren’t racing but we were purposeful. We rarely stopped for a lunch but when we did stumble into a restaurant we’d eat at least 2 meals and would linger enough to soak in some relaxation and juice our devices. Our purposeful pedaling meant around 8 hours a day on the bike. Even at a moderate speed one can cover quite a bit of ground in 8 hours. So we took the photo and purposefully moved on from our 5-minute friends. We had a coast to leave and a coast to gain.

Brian the Navigator. Justin the Brawn…with a credit card. Our roles defined, and respected, unless one of us gets hungry. When hunger strikes identities devolve. Bellies growl. Eyes bulge and pedals spin faster and desires become fantasies and “where are the eggs?” and “I’m stopping at the next place” and “where is the next place?!”. I pulled over. Brian guessed there would be another cafe just down the dirt road but I saw a sign indicating that there was absolutely a cafe up the highway. We took the highway. This was 1 of 2 times I rooted my heels on route finding. Always able to pivot on a dime, Brian relented and inside of 10 minutes we were delivered 2, well 4 because we each ordered 2, hot plates of breakfast. Desayunos. Perhaps the most beautiful word in Spanish. Gorging on breakfast comes second only to that other most-carnal human activity. Properly replenished and resupplied at the market next door we continued on.

Faith in our abilities proved powerful as days stacked into weeks. We always made our daily goal. Every single time no matter the obstacles and we had plenty of obstacles. Like… Brian losing his only access to cash on Day 0 in San Diego. My seatbag exploding on Day 3 rendering it useless until we patched it with duct tape, bungee cords, and Voile straps. Brian losing his SPOT device, fortunately we communicated that to those tracking us for I didn’t want to be accused of murdering him in the desert outside Cataviña. My derailleur’s b-tension screw failing and limiting my options to just 5 gears for 3 days. And more. 29 days banging through the desert on 40+lb bikepacking rigs takes a toll on gear. But every single problem found its solution. Each setback so minor that our daily goal never got pushed. Maybe we were racers, who knows? Determined and purposeful. Responsive and flexible. Endurance racers.

Our day’s single water refill came outside Misión San Borja. Under a thatch roofed seating area we dropped our salty-streaked bodies into padded chairs meeting another set of 5-minute friends. We got their names. We saw their bikes. We politely declined their offer of beans-in-a-bag. Then they blew our minds. They effectively Super Mario Bros. Level 4’ed us to peanut-sized cyclists. They weren’t bikepacking the Baja Divide. Well, they were bikepacking the Baja Divide but only as a necessary connection on their real journey. These two started in the state of Washington and were pedaling to Argentina! Argen-freaking-tina in a single bikepacking trip! He had a high-end camera chronicling their journey and she a ukulele, ensuring the journey stayed lively and communal. “2-3 years. We aren’t really sure how long but we sold all we could and put the rest in storage,” they replied when we asked for details. Mind. Blown. Someone with greater wisdom than I once said comparison is the thief of joy. That person never had their amazing bike adventure shrunk by a couple of bikepacking savants outside a historic mission in Mexico. Steal my joy and with it take my sheer admiration.

Brian and I swallowed hard against the reality that we were still doing something cool, just maybe not as cool as we originally thought and pedaled onward. A rocky return to our route East helped bounce any negative thoughts from our minds. We regained our rhythm and chased through the early afternoon in our own little worlds. I scrolled to an EDM playlist. The thumping tunes matching the thumping my ass took while going full gas on rocky descents. I stopped for a snack after a considerably challenging stretch of sand. My 3” tires again proving advantageous over Brian’s 2.4’s. A few minutes later he appeared and my childlike demeanor drew his attention. “What’s got you so happy,” he asked? I turned, slowly, revealing my snack. A Rice Krispies treat, and not one of the sports-bar companies version of that sticky goodness but a bonafide Rice Krispies treat. I can honestly say I hadn’t had one in over 20 years. The sugar and crispness. The melty goodness as it hits the back of my throat. Every bit of it more magical than I remembered. For all the challenges bikepacking presents, it’s glorious moments like these, moments when the world stops rotating, just for a second, and reveals the grandness that is life. Damn.

15 minutes later Brian was so far ahead of me I couldn’t see him down the paved highway and I was cursing not only him but also the wind blowing 15 mph into my face, the hot pavement cooking me from below, and the seemingly endless stretch of road ahead. So much for the sticky Zen moment. How can the last 5 miles of a ride, any ride, be the hardest? We’d pedaled from the Pacific and were bearing down on the Sea of Cortez. I could see the darn thing and yet I felt so far from done. That goop between our ears is damn powerful. Simply because stopping isn’t an option I forged on, albeit slowly. I saw the end of the road and pedaled toward it. I topped out that last climb and tucked in behind my handlebar bag for a ripping, pedal-free descent into BOLA. We crossed the landmass. We slapped hands into the opposite sea and saw another goal notched on our bikepacking belts. And why? Why push when we could chill? When we could take in that mission and hang with new friends? Because we can. Just because we can. That attitude got us committing to this trip in the first place. We can so we did. Now that we did we can chill and chill we did. I rode a horse down the paved street after turning down an invitation for some time with a prostitute. Brian learned what a quesa-taco is and had 4 of them. Consequently I haven’t ridden a horse since and Brian is still searching for another place to get a quesa-taco.

New Bike Day in La Paz

I knew I had an issue. 26 days on the same bike, hundred of hours feeling the handlebars, the pedals, and the seat combine man and machine. We were a single unit, we were a bike packer. Together we’d seen so much. Apart neither of us would have seen anything. We’d developed our own language, a symbiotic communication, and my 6th sense knew something was amiss.

The steed: a fully-rigid Specialized Fatboy. Aluminum frame, carbon fork, 1x10 Shimano drivetrain, and 3” WTB tires. Honestly there isn’t much to the bike. My daily routine included checking air pressure in the morning and reapplying Squirt lube at night. Simple care for a simple machine. Being so basic means not much can go wrong but if something is off, it’s pretty obvious. We used a very simple, probably terrible, assessment tool each morning. Simply spin the cranks backward. Do they spin or stick? Make noise or glide effortlessly? The smoother they spin the better the health of the bike, specifically the bottom bracket. The morning of Day 27 started so well. We had a huge breakfast buffet at our fancy hotel in La Paz. We even snuck in our guest, a writer for Bikepacker Magazine who was featuring us, and several other bikepackers doing the Baja Divide, while he rode the uncommon northern direction. Fed, showered, and in clean riding kits we were pulling out of the room when my crank spin betrayed me. Not even a single rotation came from my healthy toss of the crank. And the noise? Terrible. We’d battled cranky drivetrains over the past 3 weeks. Remembering I’d stopped at a hardware store some time ago and purchased a can of old-school WD-40 as a just-in-case measure got me digging into my seatbag. I launched a healthy stream of solution into my bottom bracket, hoping for the best. I got the worst. No improvement. No problem. We always find our way around obstacles so Brian and I struck out on the town to the Specialized dealer.

Now to this point we’d been in Mexican towns in Mexico. We’d battled our language inefficiencies with grace and we’d been welcomed as unique visitors, celebrated even. La Paz is different. Not 24 hours in this town and we’d had $14 açaí bowls, hand rolled pasta, and heard English being spoken all around us. We weren’t in the Baja we’d come to love, no, we were in America’s Baja vacation spot. The exotic luster had faded but in that reality came the silver lining: tons of commerce and opportunity. 2 miles of proper city street riding delivered us to Thunders Bikes. One step into the air conditioned shop and one could close eyes and be in America. Overpriced water bottles stacked next to sports nutrition and fancy multitools and while our hearts panged for the dingy shop in Vizcaíno my bicycle begged for a Shimano brand BB30. Got it. The shop owner lacked the personality of a welcoming bike dude but he had the part I needed. The only problem? He didn’t have the mechanic to put it in. The post-Covid labor shortage knows no borders. He sent me down the road, part-in-hand, to the Giant dealer who had a mechanic on staff.

Explaining my situation, in my noun-filled Spanish gibberish, for a second time got the ball rolling. My required timeline, now, stopped said ball in its tracks. “No es posible hoy,” the mechanic shared. I knew what he said and I didn’t like it. We asked how much it’d cost to do the BB install and when he gave a number I said I’d pay double if he could do it now. Funny, his scheduled freed right up. So while he swapped out my marbly bottom bracket, Brian and I headed out for a bite. Not two steps from the door we learned the next issue had nothing to do with time or money. Without the required self-extracting bolt my cranks couldn’t be removed. Like a swift kick in the rear my memory fog cleared and reality snapped into focus. The last time the bottom bracket was changed on this bike our mechanic had a small issue and rendered the required bolt useless. He admitted the next time this bike needed a bottom bracket we’d need a whole new crankset. Now bringing a known problem onto a bike ride is a no-no so bringing a known problem to a bikepacking adventure is just plain stupid. Why was I so stupid? Because. Because this bottom bracket issue happened a while ago. Back when I thought I’d become a bikepacker. Back on my first solo bikepacking trip: the Kokopelli Trail. In 2016. 7 years ago! I’ve raced a hundred events on 8 different bikes since that trip! I plum forgot.

So we did what you’d expect. We continued on as is. We only had about 180 miles left on our journey and fortune had been raining down on us since December 26th, the No Ride Around ethos must carry us forth.

50 miles. We got 50 miles south winding through dirt roads, sandy washes, and the grinding in my bottom bracket became more than a concern, it became a death cry. By the time we hit pavement, and our sole resupply stop for the day, pieces of metal were pedaling out of my bottom bracket. I lamely attempted to tighten things down, borrowing a ratchet from a roadside mechanic, to no avail. My situation had gone from maybe to no-way-baby and I saw my Baja dreams disintegrate into a thousand metal shavings. Unable to cope with the reality of my situation I limped to the store and told Brian I couldn’t solve anything before a cold drink.

I’d been in my own dilemma. I was wrapped up in my own tragedy and didn’t pay much attention to Brian. It was only when I returned from the store with a cold Coke for him and an Electrolyt for myself that I recognized an equal amount of discomfort on Brian’s face. He was broken as well. Not in bike or body. Not in mind or spirit, but actually broke. Penniless. He’d now learned that his tattered Ziploc baggie containing his passport and all of his cash didn’t find its way back into his saddlebag. It didn’t climb into any of his bags. He’d left that critical companion sunbathing on the counter outside the fresh orange juice stand outside of La Paz. Broke, without documentation, and stranded alongside me. We were a classic FUBAR on the road bisecting San Juan de los Planes.

I called Harley. Whenever I break a bike I call Harley. If I break a bike in my garage? Harley. If Andy breaks his bike on Mag 7 in Moab? Harley. If I’m in Spain and my hub spontaneously locks up mid pedal stroke? Harley. My friend, my vital-organ-worthy friend who also happens to be a bike shop owner and wizard with a wrench always answers when he knows I’m out adventuring, answered my video call. Thousands of miles away, and connected via WhatsApp, Harley told me what I already knew, “no go amigo.” Without so much a hesitation I stood up. I gathered my empty drink bottles and tossed them in the bin and got my thumb ready. We were going back to La Paz. We’d make a stop at the orange juice stand that most recently opened up as a secondhand passport store and then get to La Paz.

“Sorry, we are heading to La Ventana,” said the Brits who were heading to the epic windsurfing location in Baja.

Then nothing. No cars big enough. No empty trucks. Just a hot dusty road until Carlos appeared. It had to be Carlos. Remember the coffee angel from the marble mine? It must be him because there are only so many angels in the world, or so I assume, and we couldn’t be lucky enough to garner help from 2 different ones could we?

It wasn’t Carlos. Just another amazing local resident willing to help. His help hit spot on as he’d been driving a cargo van doing deliveries. It just so happened he’d dropped his second to last package and his van was completely empty providing ample space for our bikepacking rigs. The last package? A simple envelope dropped at the convenience store down the way provided me a chance to grab more cold drinks for Brian and our new friend before heading back to La Paz. The orange juice stand? They were closed and not because they went off to spend their newfound wealth. They closed to head into La Paz for supplies but left us a note saying they’d retrieved Brian’s passport, and money, and have it held safe in their house. They’d be back after 5PM and he could retrieve it. We learned more about them after our new friend, the most gracious non-Uber, Uber ride in the world, called the number on the note and articulated our situation and that we’d be back in the morning for Brian’s identity. The streets of La Paz appeared shortly thereafter and we expected to be dropped on the outskirts of town. We were wrong. That simply isn’t what the people of Baja do to those in need, no, they go the full distance. Our friend delivered us to the doorstep of an unmarked bike mechanic shop, the best in town, the man recommended to me by the owner of Over the Edge Bike Shop in Todos los Santos who took my frantic call. After unloading our bikes I offered the largest bill I had on me and was rebuked. “I have enough,” he replied and with a handshake he bid us adieu. Yep, the fortune rains heavy in Baja.

He’d need the morning to work on the bike. Aware of the bolt-extraction issue, he claimed to have some tricks up his sleeve but would need to get some parts and tools that were not in his shop. The Banker, eh-hem me, booked us a room and we soft pedaled our bikes across La Paz once again. We paid for an expensive dinner, once again. And then The Navigator took over. We made a few plans contingent on what happened with my bike. One plan included bus rides. Another, a rental car to Todos for a loaner bike. The worst option? Calling it. A bus to Cabo and the trip pretty much completed, sort of. We even scoured used bikes for sale in La Paz and new bikes available. We dug deep and The Navigator proved his worth in gold as he continued to come up with “hey, not so bad” options. I fell asleep shooting good vibes to the Bike Mechanic God.

We dropped my jalopy off with the mechanic in the morning and took a walkabout. We hit a cafe, hit some street markets, and even popped into a few bike shops, you know, just for a look. Circling back to the mechanic we had to wait a bit longer. After a game of HORSE on his kid’s outdoor hoop, I dominated by the way, our dreaded news arrived. “No es posible,” his voice shared what his slumped shoulders already gave away. FUBAR.

Without so much a hesitation, I stood up again. We’d already been the Thunders Bikes, the Specialized dealer. I knew their inventory and that one-size-too-small, hardtail Rockhopper 29” aluminum bike in powder blue was going to be mine. My determination rivaled Pee-Wee’s. I didn’t have a Francis to contend with, my bike wasn’t stolen, but my dream wouldn’t be stolen either. We were finishing the Baja Divide on two-wheels, period. In a flurry of activity I’d purchased the $1,200 entry level mountain bike, Brian and I hastily swapped over pedals, seat and seat post, computer mount, bottle cages, all of my bags, and did my damndest to make the fit manageable. I rebuked the idiocy of taking a tubed bike onto the cacti and thorn infested route ahead. I ignored the fact that I didn’t have a solution for transporting the broken bike to Cabo. I simply moved forward as I trusted to do on December 26th. Go forward.

We called a 5-minute friend we’d met at the previous mechanic’s shop. He offered us transportation back to San Juan de los Planes in the event we found a solution and, as we waited his arrival at Thunders Bikes, Brian and I reloaded our snack and water supply. I bought us each some ice cream, more for emotional reasons than physical, and we developed our ride plan for the afternoon. Leopoldo runs Baja Adventures alongside his girlfriend. We learned they tout conservation tourism and have built a network of adventure spots across Baja. In short, he’s pretty damn cool and like to ride bikes. In less than 24 hours we’d been returned to our doomed spot from the day before. Brian had his money and passport. I had a new bike and a renewed confidence that we’d finish the route. 23.5 miles and 2 hours later I took the mandatory New Bike Porn Pic just north of Los Barriles on the Gulf. It was sunset, Brian had built a fire, and we were about to dig into our traditional meal of beans and tortillas when we looked back at that power blue Specialized. “That’s a helluva commitment,” he said. I simply nodded for I knew nothing could stop us.

Start as bike racers. End as bike racers.

January 25, 2023. Prior to this trip the idea of sleeping on a beach, wooed by the lapping waves, pleased my heart but the practicality of beach life culled the dream. Sand. Sand works its way into your tent, socks, bodily orfices, into your movement and your soul. And it never leaves. I still own some sand from a 2013 trip to Colorado’s Great Sand Dunes. However, 29 days into this trip and I’ve changed in more ways than I could’ve anticipated. This morning, as I awoke to the sunrise and deflated my sleeping pad, I paused. I curled up a bit of sand beneath my tent floor and looked out over the ocean. We’ve come a long way. We’ve seen much and we’ve got just 2 more days on the Baja. “What will it feel like to finish” thoughts started to creep in and I reached for my Bimbo Panque con Nuez. With each bite I my smile grew wider. I can’t wait to find out!

The desolate desert Divide disappeared drastically the further we traveled the coast. Beach towns, expat housing communities, and growing evidence of a tourism economy increased feverishly and it wasn’t all bad. While we agree the true Baja exists north of La Paz, this version provided confident resupply stops and the North Star of each of my morning’s rides, coffee. While I didn’t bring coffee on this trip, zero, I left it to fate for accessing my morning Joe. Most of the time it was instant coffee, Nescafe specifically and generally without anything added. Sometimes it was brewed coffee from a pot, this became my “good stuff”. I’d been the recipient of a morning break, cup in hand, with 80-somethings paddling the Bahía Concepción on a remote coastline we thought we had to ourselves. I’d sipped steaming goodness from styrofoam cups at a roadside stand. Each morning, without fail, I’d gotten a cup. On this, which would prove to be our final morning, we slowed our rigs at the first tourist town at a bustling cafe. The holy grail of morning coffee stops. A delicately steamed oat milk latte. In Baja?! And with the lessons learned over the past month I looked fate not directly in the eye but just askance. I smiled and thanked the powers guiding our journey. I relished that bourgeois coffee and took a few more minutes than normal before remounting my steed.

We weren’t anxious to finish. We weren’t dreading the finish either. We were just pedaling. Specifically we were simply living our lives, it’s just that our lives had completely changed. Brian and I’s cycling habit now a complete lifestyle and an incredibly simple way of living. We hadn’t tired of the effort nor of each other’s company (I confirmed this with him in a “trust circle” conversation post-trip). So as we ate our fish tacos outside a school-bus-cum-taco-stand and gazed over the coastline we didn’t need to finish our journey. …but we could.

Brain the Navigator pulled his eyes up from his phone. He had a habit of digging into that glowing box when WiFi came available and I generally assumed it was a frantic update to his godlike Snapchat activity but most often he had a more noble aim. Research. Specifically route research and this time was no different. “We could finish this today,” he said flatly. Licking magical taco sauce from my palm I met his determined look and replied, “what are you talking about?”

“We could make Cabo today. We could finish the Divide and it’d be in glorious fashion with a last-day century,” he explained.

“Really? Sure. Done,” I responded. Blindly following Brian’s navigation proved successful thus far and I wasn’t about to start questioning him in the final hours. Plus a century to finish the 1700 mile trip? A heroic-like Strava upload? A big goal? The stings of my bike-racer-heart plucked quicker than the Hotel California riff. We wrapped up our taco stop just after 3PM, 70 miles into the day, and had a measly 35 miles to the finish line. NOTE: we are damn fast but we also had a 15mph tailwind all day long.

I should’ve asked more questions.

I could’ve been more involved on this final push decision.

I would’ve been a better bikepacking partner.

Assuming we’d be enjoying the same view we relished all day I found myself completely miffed, and then pissed, when Brian turned away from the coast and up a steep paved road. I became more incensed as the helpful wind reared its head, its hot breath now pushing against every pedal stroke. Brian became the prime target of my frustration in less than 2 miles and when he slowed just enough to let me close the gap that’d grown between us I dug in. I drove my pedals with start-line fury and blasted past my unsuspecting frenemy.

Selfishly I never thought about how he’d respond. I’m not proud of my devolving. Frankly, I’m incredibly apologetic about it. I didn’t just pedal past him for a few minutes. I kept my effort pinned for the next 45 minutes. I tucked behind my bars on descents and harnessed my inner Marco Pantani on each ascent. It was only as I reached the outskirts of San Jose del Cabo that I slowed to a stop. The ugliest truth is in how much satisfaction I took with the amount of time that passed before Brian caught up. Like a jerk in a dually diesel, I raced someone who didn’t know we were racing. I fought someone while they sat peacefully. I’m an idiot.

Our understanding of one another aided my realization. I knew he was miffed. Actually more than miffed. I’d offended the dude solely responsible for getting us from Point A to Point B and because of my piss-poor attitude. As we pedaled away I promised to make it up to him.

San Jose del Cabo not Cabo San Lucas, our final destination. We had a bit over 20 miles to go. 20 miles along the heavily trafficked highway connecting the two tourist centers. 20 miles contending with not just commercial traffic but those tourists who’d flown in and were rushing to umbrella drinks at secluded beachside resorts. 20 miles of the highest-consequence cycling we’d do of the entire trip. Bring it on.

I closed my elbows close to my body. I shifted my pelvis into my saddle, increasing my power to the pedals. I started racing. Glancing back every so often, confirming Brian still sat in my draft, I counted down the miles as we chased the vanishing daylight. The burn in my legs irrelevant in my quest to apologize to Brian. Cresting the final hill and seeing the lights of Cabo below removed any inclination of fatigue. That glorious finish-line-spurt that athletes enjoy when the end nears flooded my body. We streaked down the hill and smack dab into the frenetic energy of Baja’s Vegas. The sun completely set and darkness would’ve filled the streets if not for the taxis, buses, discotecas, street peddlers, and endless distractions. The final mile through town felt like a video game. We dipped, ducked, and dodged through Cabo and only grabbed our brakes when we ran out of land. The tip of the peninsula. A water line inhabited by Cabo’s famous Pancho.

Our new bikepacking identities brought depth to our Baja Divide experience. Our racer identities brought the experience to a close. Another, much longer, story would be needed to describe the culture-shock we experienced upon reentering society. A darker story with less revelation. A story unworthy of telling. 7 months removed from our adventure the feelings I’m left with warm my spirit. They lighten my feet. Detaching from life, if only for a month, and existing one pedal stroke, one random coffee, one bag of beans at a time reminded me why I started riding bikes. Freedom felt infinite. Possibilities boundless. These thousands of words only scratch the full experience. An experience that can only be lived to be understood. Thank you Baja. For everything.


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Wow. I experienced so much emotion in y’all’s entire journey, in the comfort of my armchair. Life. People. Perseverance. Truly the bike brings it all together. I feel a tad bit changed by what I read. Hmmmm….to myself… :)


Steve Wurst
Steve Wurst
Sep 11, 2023

Fantastic! Incredible writing and explanation few would ever take on and fewer still that would complete! Thank you for sharing.

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