Magazine article Sunset

Baja Biking

Magazine article Sunset

Baja Biking

Article excerpt

With organized groups, you can explore northern and southern Baja California by bike

Mexico natives call Baja la frontera, the frontier. To adventurous travelers, this still-wild desert peninsula-bordered on the west by the Pacific Ocean and on the east by the Sea of Cortez is a playland for sportfishing, sailing, surfing, diving, windsurfing, ocean kayaking, and now bicycle touring.

October through June, four firms offer dozens of trips some on easily cycled, paved roads and others on very nominal roads suitable only for mountain bikes, They take you into both the northern and southern regions of Baja.

Itineraries offer a wide range of choices

and explore varied terrain. You can sleep under the stars on a rugged mountainbike adventure in the northern mountains, or join a leisurely, paved-road tour of the southern "cape," with overnights in the region's finest hotels.

Baja's 800-mile-long peninsula has only a few very long paved roads, but innumerable dirt roads penetrate its mountainous interior and follow sections of beacb-lined coast. The paved roads are usually only two lanes wide and without shoulders. However, they see little traffic and are well suited to bike travel. Dirt roads typically are rock-and-sand washboard, cut by rain gullies.

Some tours are serious about cycling

Last spring, our reporter joined a mountain-bike tour of the Sierra Juarez, cycling between Tecate and Ensenada in northern Baja. Put together by Baja Expeditions, the eight-day trip began with a 3 -hour van ride south from San Diego and took us through high alpine meadows, boulder-strewn granite peaks, and forests of ponderosa pine mixed with saguaro, cholla, and prickly pear cactus.

On this trip, we rode from one campsite to another, sleeping in the open or in tents for several nights of the trip. Temperatures ranged from the low 40s at night to the high 70s during the day. We spent three days based at a small rancho in the heart of Baja's Parque Nacional de Constitucion de 1857. From there, we took day rides to Laguna Hansen-a large fresh-water lake-and hikes into the surrounding countryside.

As we explored dirt roads on sturdy 18speed mountain bikes, a sag wagon followed the group, carrying food and gear-and offering bail-out transport for the occasional tired rider. We rode 20 to 35 miles a day.

Others are serious about the beach

By contrast, seven-day paved-road tours (offered by Arrow to the Sun Bicycle Touring and Backroads Bicycle Touring) follow Mexico's Highway 1 from La Paz to the coastal resort towns of San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas. …

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