Saturday, 29 December 2012

To Coyote beach and on to Loreto

We had been doing quite a decent mileage for about the first 10 days into Mexico as Tim with whom we were cycling needed to catch a flight on the 25th of December out of Cabo, down at the very southern tip of Baja.

There have been some beautiful sunsets down along Baja.
With Nick and I not under the same time pressure we eased up on the pace significantly about half way down the peninsula a few days after making it into the state of Baja Sur. Some other touring cyclists had told us about a good beach where you could camp by the water that was just south of a town called Mulege. The thoughts of a few days off by the beach certainly appealed to all of us.
We said our goodbyes to Tim after his two days off as Nick and I were in no rush to leave the beautiful beach location.

One of the days up at the supermarket I happened to bump into fellow touring cyclist Mikael from Denmark with whom I had cycled the Cassiar highway, a very isolated stretch up in northern British Colombia back in August. Mikael was a bit under the weather so didn't take any convincing to take some time off at the beach to get his energy back. There was a lovely community here of mainly American and Canadian families many of whom have been coming to Coyote beach for years. They were all very welcoming and took special interest in nursing Mikael back to health.

Coyote Beach proved to be quite a difficult place to leave and a few days turned into the best part of a week. I almost felt sad to be saying my goodbyes to the various people we had befriended during our time there.

We did not have far to go until our next stop over as we planned to spend Christmas in Loreto, little more than 100 km further down the road. Having camped out the night before we arrived into Loreto on the morning of the 24th December. Once we settled on our accommodation it was time for a 10 minute shower, which was a very refreshing Christmas present after well over a week of camping! That should do me until next Christmas.

Loreto has a beautiful old town centre as it was the historic capital of the Californias.

Old colonial church in centre of Loreto.
Keen to check out the nightlife on Christmas Eve, Nick and I soon discovered that Loreto resembles something of a ghost town on the 24th.

Central square in Loreto
Even had the red Christmas togs on

Christmas day was very relaxed, catching mass in the lovely old church, Skyping family and friends, a quick dip in warmer waters than I am used to for my Christmas swim and treating ourselves to a good Mexican meal.
It wasn't my mothers usual incredible Christmas feast but the Mexican mixed  plater still hit the spot!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Down Baja

So I am over a week into Mexico now and loving it.

The first few days involved some pretty treacherous traffic with little in the way of a shoulder for the most part. Thankfully the further south we progressed the lighter the traffic became. After a few days in, leaving the coast past El Rosario there was not much on the road as we headed into the desert for a few days. We had been warned to make sure to have enough food and water as there was not much in the way of towns or facilities.

It has been great traveling with Tim and Nick who have been putting me through my paces with a few challenging days in the saddle! 

Some of the desert landscape that I have witnessed in the last few days has been one of the real highlights of the trip so far. It is certainly not like anything I have seen before.

I had been warned to be very careful around the cacti as they have been the cause of many a touring cyclists puncture. Strolling along one evening I still managed to get one embedded in my leg. Getting it out took a while as the spikes were at all different angles!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Goodbye USA, Hola Mexico

San Diego
Today, 4th of December 2012, I cycled from Pacific Beach, a laid back beach suburb of San Diego, to just south of Rosarito in Baja California, Mexico. I have had an amazing experience for the last 4 months cycling from northern Alaska to San Diego but I was looking forward to crossing the border and starting a new chapter in the adventure.
In the last week I had coordinated with two other cyclists that we would cross into Mexico together. Nick, from England and Tim from Canada will be my new cycling buddies! Before today we had not actually done any cycling together but you strike up friendships pretty fast in the land of long distance cycle touring. I bumped into Nick briefly in Smithers, British Colombia a few months ago. Nick was heading off to cycle the continental divide when I met his which is the longest off road mountain bike trail in the world stretching from Banff in Canada to the Mexican border so I was not expecting our paths to cross again. Nick actually started out in Prudhoe Bay less than a week after me and had a very close up bear experience on that early stretch along the Dalton highway needing to get a new tent upon getting to Fairbanks as a bear had ripped holes in his first tent!
Nick, Billy ad Tim about to head for the Mexican border
 I bumped into Tim when I was camping in Humboldt State Park in the Redwood forest north of San Francisco. We had kept in touch when we heard that we were both Pan American cyclists heading for Argentina.
I had been staying with Julie (of fame) since I got to Pacific Beach in San Diego so the two guys arrived up this morning and after a few photos we headed off on in the direction of the US/Mexican border.
 I think we were all pretty excited at the prospect of crossing into a new country and a new culture not to mention a new language.
After a bit of to-ing and fro-ing at the border needing to head back to get out passports stamped by immigration we exited into the streets of Tijuana.
Trying to squeeze our packed up bikes through the turnstiles was great craic.
The next hour involved some hectic urban cycling including just managing to avoid a large man hole that wasn't covered. Having been given advance warning of the joys of trying to cycle out of Tijuana by some other touring cyclists we some how managed to find the hole in the fence and after a little off-roading we were onto the toll road with little traffic and a nice broad shoulder. We had made it out of Tijuana and were heading for Rosarito.