Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mazatlan to Tepic

Day: 83

Miles: 308

Total Mileage: 4,440

Money spent since last update: $58.50

Me, hurting big time on the climb up to Tepic!
A small, mountain village. You see lots of cowboys (cabelleros, i think i spelled that right) and little boys riding donkeys tending cattle and goats and sheep.

The lowlands are tropical and very beautiful.

This guy was stomping around my campsite. He was big too, about 2 and a half feet long. He was cool though, as soon as he looked around he went back to his little cave.

The not so glamorous side of Mexico. I saw little kids walking into bushes with handfulls of toilet paper.

A fisherman going out for his day´s work.

Another night spent on the beach!

====NOTE: You can now receive automatic email updates of my blog by filling in your email address in the new section on the upper left hand side of the web page. You will not receive any spam! Thanks a million to Steve for helping me with that! Also, updates will be more frequent, the last two times I was about to finish updating the blog, the power went out in the cyber cafe i was working in.====

Let me start by taking my foot out of my mouth. When i said i was in great shape, i should have added a caveat: I am in great shape for riding in the deserts of Baja! Riding through the hot, humid mountains of mainland Mexico...maybe not! Holy cow, talk about a major change in climate. The riding here has been difficult enough, with some major mountain climbing and rolling hills, but with the added difficulty of high temperatures and sweltering humidity, it is very difficult to get kilometers down.

The only flat terrain I have had was coming out of Mazatlan until I began the climb into Tepic. I was able to put down 100 miles that day but even then i was exhausted by days end due to the oppressive heat and humidity. I had some major cramps that evening that took a good while to work out. The humidity has me sweating buckets, constantly. I don´t even have to be doing anything, just lying in my tent at night with nothing but shorts on i still pour sweat. I look like i just got out of a shower, 24 hours a day. It makes it extremely difficult to stay hydrated, plus I smell awful half of the time. Even more so than in Baja, I am guzzling fluids constantly but I just can´t seem to stay hydrated. I even tried drinking some pedyalite, but it is cost prohibitive. I can get two gallons of water for the price of one liter of pedyalite, which i know will do more for me. By noon each day my legs feel like jello and the heat seems like it is just smashing me to the ground. It is very tough to keep pedaling all day. Apart from my one day of relatively flat ground, I have been climbing and descending all day, every day. I spend the majority of my time in my easiest gear crawling along at 6 to 7 miles per hour. I can´t wait for my body to adjust to this climate because it will only get hotter and more humid as I head south and progress further into the summer months.

However, apart from the difficult condions, it has been a beautiful ride. The countryside is gorgeous and goes from tropical in the lowlands to beautiful forests in the mountains. The highway, Mexico 15D, is a great road to ride on. It avoids the switchbacks of the older highway Mexico 15 and has less traffic as it is a toll road (free for bicycles). It is relatively new as well with mostly excellent pavement and a beautiful 6 foot shoulder which is a godsend after Baja. It runs through rural areas too for the most part, so finding a place to sleep every night has been very easy. My only complaints are that occasionally the shoulder is covered with loose red gravel that stinks to ride on and that often you go very long stretches without access to food or water, so you need to be able to cary a lot with you on the bike. I have upgraded my water carrying capacity to now carry 6.25 liters on the bike and up to another 3 gallons if needs be on the trailer.

Food is also much cheaper on the mainland. A lot of my staples are nearly half price. 50 to 80 cents for tortillas, 25 cents for noodles, 80 cents for beans or tuna. Some things vary a lot in price and I am still undecided on weather this is because of a vendor gouging me a bit because I am a tourist or not. I like ot think not as 99% of the people I have met have been so nice, and when things are more expensive I have been in remote areas where the price of shipping the inventory may affect the selling price. For example, in the city, a liter of milk is 85 cents, in the country I have paid as much as 2 bucks. In Mazatlan, I had a big plate of Seviche (raw fish served in lemon juice and salsa fresca) and a Fanta for 4 bucks. That is a good price for such a big and healthy meal. Produce is still a little pricey but better than Baja. However, this is offset by the increase in fluids I have been taking in. I seriously drink and sweat all day! It is crazy, by days end, my clothes are so covered in salt and dried sweat that my shorts just about stand up on their own and if I shook my shirt out over my dinner I could season it pretty nicely!
One little treat I have discovered is a drink called Agua Fresa (Strawberry water) and I have to say, it is one of the most refreshing things I have ever drank in my life! I am sure that is also because I was halfway up the mountain to Tepic and I was dying of thirst when i tried it, but it tasted really good.

I got it at a roadside stand and the woman took some water, some strawberries and some sugar and blended it up. It tastes incredibly good and is lighter than a milkshake; perfect for a hot day. She even gave me another cup for free when I told her she had given me too much change back by accident. Karma in action!

The people on the mainland are nearly uniformly nice too. Everywhere I go, people are nothing but helpful, kind and friendly. Unlike in places like Western Europe where often a traveler gets the cold shoulder from locals, here, everyone is very nice and goes out of their way to give you a helping hand. I could rattle off a dozen examples from the past few days of the kind people I have met, but I will settle for just a few.

I was in a little town called Jala two days ago picking up supplies. I bought my usual load and sat down to eat my cookies and drink my daily liter of milk (got to do it!) when an older gentleman saw me sitting on the curb in the sun and pulled a chair out for me to sit on in his store in the shade and made me a little table. It was a little thing, but he didn´t have to do it and I could honestly say you wouldn´t see that happen too often in the states. So i sat down and shared my cookies with him and we had a broken conversation in spanglish. Pretty soon he had gotten his wife and daughter into the action and everyone was wishing me good luck on my travels and wanted to check out my bike and offering me advice and water, etc. It really was a great feeling.

Another example was when I stopped in the Tequila growing region for some supplies, and an older gentleman who was selling homemade tequila in 5 liter jugs, came and sat down next to me. We started shooting the breeze (my Spanish is improving daily) and he told me he had worked in Oakland for a while in the 80´s but liked Mexico more. He said there was too much crime in America! At any rate, he gave me an Orange to eat and I gave him a few of my tortillas and before I left, he poured me a shot of his special brew tequila. At first i wanted to pass as the idea of drinking a shot of tequila in the broiling heat when I still had to get over a pass before day´s emd wasn´t so appealing, but then i thought: how often will i have the chance to drink home brewed Tequila in the land where it is grown again in my life? So i drank it down and let me tell you, the special brew is strong stuff! Wow. But, it was pretty dang smooth. It was simply pure agave tequila with nothing in it, no chemicals, etc.

One last little story that I think is good to share, was a gentleman I met coming out of Tepic who was selling tacos at a bathroom stop on the side of the freeway. He was a super nice guy and he hustled those tacos like I have never seen before, chasing cars, shouting out his wares, wheeling and dealing to sell his entire load before the day´s end. He sold me four tacos and two grilled jallepenos for a buck thirty (can´t really say no to that!) and we started chatting and i told him the taocs were great and he smiled and told me he had been in his job for 10 years! Can you imagine that, selling tacos every day out of a cooler on the side of the road for 10 years?! He said it with pride too, like you´re darn right those are good, i am a master taco slaesman! It just makes me really thankful for what I have and for being born in the USA. If that guy with his go get em attitude and work ethic would have been born in the states to a good family, the sky would have been the limit for him. But in all fairness, he seemed happy enough.

At any rate, I have really been enjoying the mainland apart from the agony of riding in these mountains! At the rate I am going I will be lucky to get to Mexico City by the 5th, so it was really good to have caught that monday ferry.

I am off, I need to get some kilometers down.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Made it to the Mainland!

These views never get old.
The Kiwi and Aussie surfing couples respectively. Have a great trip guys!

Dowtown La Paz.

George, you rock! Thanks for showing me around Mazatlan.

Myself, Janine, Suzy and Mark. Thanks so much for your kindness, it was truly appreciated.

Going for a dip at sunrise.

Another beach to myself!

I could handle living here =)

Clever marketing!

Another beach, all to myself.

La Paz to Mazatlan

Day: 79
Miles: 0

Total Mileage: 4,132

Money Spent since last update: daily expenses: $48, Ferry Ticket: $98, Spare tubes, new tube of chapstick, sunscreen, fuel for the stove: $20
(A note on my budget: I am eating for about $10 to $12 a day now, which is good. Incidentals keep my over budget, but I have noticed cheaper food on the mainland, 40 cent tacos!, and in time i will come back to being on budget. I am confident within a few weeks I will be right back on track.)

I have been making tracks in a big way as I race the clock to make it to Mexico City to meet up with my friend Mike. He flies in from New Zealand on the first of June, and considering the fact that he only has about a month to ride, I want to get there as soon as possible. In order to get there by the 3rd or 4th as we agreed, I have to make some compromises, but I do not mind. The benefits of being able to ride with a good friend, I feel, far outweigh the negatives.

I have been riding hard, putting down about 160 kilometers a day (roughly 100 miles) which is a tough thing to do under ideal conditions. Riding in the rough and hilly Baja terrain on the rediculously narrow Mexico Highway 1 makes it even more of a challenge. I had my closest call with traffic while riding two days ago. A bus came within about three inches of my handle bar as it passed me coming over a hill. I dang near had a heart attack. The problem was, there was traffic coming from the other direction so the bus driver could not make room for me, and i had a gaurd rail pinning me on the road. It was not an enjoyable experiance, to say the least.
I am still alive and kick however, and barely made it to La Paz on time to catch the ferry to Mazatlan yesterday. I had to make that ferry as it only goes three times a week, and if i had missed it Monday, I would have had to wait until Wednesday to catch the next one. In order to make that deadline, I had to cheat a little bit though. I had to get a ride in a truck for about 50 miles.

I did not want to do it, but I really had no choice. If i had not taken that ride I would have missed the ferry and my friend would have been waiting two extra days by himself in Mexico City because I was too inflexible to take a ride that was offered to me clear out of the blue. I feel that that would have been fairly selfish of me to do.
I want to thank Mark, Suzie and Tia Janine for giving me the ride. You all were so incredible nice and hospitable! It was impeccable timing too, as they picked me up as I was buying some water literally thinking to myself at the exact moment they pulled up that i was never going to make it to la paz on time.
I had bumped into Mark, Suzie and Janine a few days prior outside of a market. We had started chatting and they had given me some great advice on traveling through Baja. Mark and Suzie are American farmers who live and opperate out of Baja. It was pure chance that they had passed me on Saturday as they were on their way to take a little vacation with their friend Janine. When they pulled up next to me and offered to give me a lift without me saying anything about my predicament at all, it felt like serendipity, like the universe was offering me a helping hand when i needed it. So I took their help and am glad i did. I was even lucky enough to get treated to lunch and Suzie insisted i take a few bucks as i had run low on cash and was not near an ATM. There hospitality was truly incredible and i feel very lucky to have ran into them. Thanks so much!
That night I slept on the beach again, and again, I had the entire place to myself! It was crazy and fantastic. I have been sleeping on the most picturesque beaches i have ever seen and have been the only guy there! It is wonderful, i feel like i have been living in a corona commercial. The only thing that could have made it more enjoyable would have been a special someone to share the moment with.

I made it to La Paz on time, but only just. The tire on my trailer had gone flat about 70 kilometers outside town in the middle of nowhere and I thought I was well and truly up the creek. I had used up my last spare tube earlier in the trip and when i pulled out the tube to use my last patch, i saw that it had three punctures in it! Rats! However, it was a slow leak, and luckily the patch slowed the loss of air to the point where I could ride about 10 kilometers and then stop, pump it up again, and keep going. So I was able to limp into town Monday morning.

I rode through La Paz, which is a beautiful place. Right on the water and it seems like a very lively, fun place that from what I have been told, lacks the tourist trap feel of Cabo. The ferry terminal was about 17 kilometers outside of town and there I met Mark and Kels, as Aussie couple on a surfing trip that will take them through America, Mexico, Europe and South East Asia. They were great people and they gave me a ride back into town so we could grab some food for the upcoming 18 hour ferry ride.

On the ferry we met another couple, some Kiwis (New Zealanders) who were also on a surfing trip through Mexico. Caleb and Julie were bussing it through Mexico carrying three surfboards and a skim board; mad! They also were incredibly nice people and we all hung out on the ferry drinking a few beers and passing the time.

That is one of my favorite things about traveling. The friendships you make with total strangers. I have friends from prior trips years ago that i met only breifly under similar circumstances and still keep in touch with today. I plan on seeing some of them on this trip! When you meet someone in a foreign place that you can communicate with and that is also out on a journey of their own, you have an instant and strong bond of friendship that cuts through all pretences and inhibitions you would have in befriending someone new back home. I have done things and have had favors done for me by people I just met that would astound most non travelers. Both the Aussies and the Kiwis offered to put me up at their places when I get to their neck of the woods and i know they mean it, just as i was sincere in offering to let them stay with me if the opportunity ever comes up when i settle back down.....eventually!

At any rate, I am in Mazatlan and this is a cool place, no questions. You can tell right away if you will like a place and i could feel it instantly. This is a fun place with a ton of character. It is not so touristy as it is where Mexicans go to vacation more so than Gringos. The people here are incredible too, within minutes of getting off of the ferry a super guy Named Gorge rode up to me and upon seeing me studying my map, offered to help me out. When I told him i was looking for a bicycle shop he offered to guide me there (he was also riding a bike). When the first one was no open (he told me to expect that, things open here when they open, not necessarily when the sign says they will open) he took me to another an helped me get some spare tubes. Then he took me to the phgarmacy so i could get some fuel for my stove (no more cold beans and tortillas three meals a day, yes!) and then to the Internet cafe! Truly a kind man and I am glad we met and had a chance to practice our languages together.
Well, this is a long one, so I will cut it short here. I am about to head out to Mexico DF, and the next 8 days would be some very challenging riding. I have to go over two mountain ranges to get to the city, up to 10K feet twice! Ouch, but i am in great shape now, so i know i can do it.
Until next time!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Homeless Man´s Trained Attack Pero!

In Santa Rosalia

Day 74

Miles 213

Total mileage 3732

Money Spent since last update $44

Fishing boats in Santa Roslaia.

The Sea of Cortez.

Beautiful view coming dwon from the Volcano.

Do not make a mistake on this road!

The view from the tp of the descent.

Sleeping under the Volcano.

The oasis town of San Ignacio, out in the middle of the desert.

Camping outside of Guerrero Negro.

I am currently in Santa Rosalia on the Sea of Cortez, and it is nice to be near the water again. I can not help but smile every time I am near the ocean (or sea in this case), I guess it is the California blood in me.

As for the title of this entry, i will jump straight into this story, because it is a pretty funny one.
I was riding through a very small town out in the desert coming across the Baja peninsula when I saw a homeless man standing on the side of the road. He looked pretty strange just standing there as it was out in the middle of nowhere. He had this big, strange smile on his face and I assumed it was because he had not seen too many people riding a loaded touring bike so i figured I would wave at him just to break the tension a little and as soon as I did, he whistled and raised his arms in the air and this little white dog that was as dingy as he was came bursting out of some trash that was piled on the side of the road and tore off after me. This was accompanied by some maniacal laughter from the homeless man. The end effect was to scare the bejesus out of me!

Luckily, I was on the beginning of a downhill so i was able to outrun the little mutt, but only just. I have to hand it the the dog, he was fast! If there were a dog Olympics, this guy would be a shoe in for the 100 meter dash! I was hauling butt downhill and he kept up with me until the very end.

It is funny in retrospect, but it was weird as can be and a little scary at the time. Oh well, I´m still rolling, so as is well.

As for the ride itself, As soon as I got out of Guerrero Negro, the weather cooled off substantially and the terrain became much smoother. I also had a nice tailwind all day and was able to put 100 miles down fairly quickly. I decided to call it quits a little early so that I could camp out under the Volcano of the three virgins. I have never slept under a volcano before, so that was a first. It is a big imposing thing too, although it is dormant.

Today, i had a screaming tailwind which was fantastic and made great time into Santa Rosalita. It will become a cross wind as soon as I head south again out of town, but oh well, it was great while it lasted. I had two amazing downhills too, coming off of the volcano. They were extremely exhilarating, but also pretty treacherous. No gaurd rails, and a sheer cliff to one side with big rigs coming from both directions! I definitely did not want to make a mistake here.
I am also really excited to jump in the sea today, it will be the first thing resembling a bath I have had since Ensenada. It is strange how I have become accustomed to not bathing. It just does not bother you after a while. But it will be nice to get some of this sweat off...and the caked up dirt.

I have really enjoyed sleeping out here. Normally I have a great deal of trouble sleeping, but out here I sleep like a rock and for long periods of time, like 9 to 10 hours. I think it is a combination of being physically tired, and the peaceful feeling you get out here away from everything. The only thing I can say negative about it is the fact that the moon is so bright some nights it feels like the universe is shining a flashlight on you. But that is a minor complaint.

My plans have altered slightly, too. It turns out I can not sail out of Cabo San Lucas as I had originally thought. I will have to sail out of La Paz, which is about a day´s ride north of Cabo. So i will not go the entire length of the peninsula, but oh well. From what i have been told, Cabo is very Americanized and very expensive, so I am not concerned about missing it.
I need to hit the road. Until next time!
And thanks to Jess for making the awesome banner that now graces the top of the blog, i love it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In Guerrero Negro

Day: 72

Mileage: 244.5

Total Mileage: 3,518

Money spent since last update: $59.50

Its been a tough few days of riding, no doubt. First of all, the weather has been a little crazy. It has been VERY hot, dry and windy. I feel like I am riding into the mouth of a blast furnace. Secondly, the terrain has been very challenging. It is extremely mountainous with constant climbing and descending on the same, winding two lane road with no shoulder. The road conditions are hit or miss as well, with portions that are very well paved and other sections that are incredibly rough with potholes so big that if they filled with water, i could swim laps in them!
Once you get south of Ensenada, all traces of American influence vanish, which is nice. After I left San Quitin, I began climbing into the mountains that run through the middle of Baja Norte. These are some really challenging climbs that are made doubly treacherous due to the constant traffic that you have to always be on the lookout for. Once I got up into the mountains the riding got a bit easier but also much more windy. Thankfully the road is winding, so it was not a constant head wind, but at times just a crosswind or occasionally even a bit of a tail wind.
Dehydration has been a constant threat, as well. Riding under tough conditions climbing constantly in hot weather requires a lot of fluids. I have been consistently drinking about three gallons of water a day, and a few extra sweet drinks here and there too. Each day there is at least one point where I get light headed and start to have tunnel vision. It is not easy putting down kilometers out here. I load up my bike with two gallon jugs of water, plus all five water bottles and that is usually enough to last a day, then i refill to get me through the night and next morning.
Fluids have really impacted my budget. I spend a lot of my money each day on liquids to keep me from passing out while riding. When you are dying of thirst and you finally come across a little road house out in the desolate desert mountains that has a few Fantas in a bucket of ice (at a buck fifty a pop) you thank your lucky stars and down at least one of them. Its tough to stay hydrated when your water it so hot it feels like it is nearly steam.
After San Quintin I hit a little town called El Rosario, then there are really no sizeable towns until I got to Guerrero Negro which is a good distance south. I survived on the occasional road house I come across and the odd little village. Most of these don't even have electricity apart from the occasional generator, some don't even have running water. You take what you can get in terms of food and drink. My diet has consisted of pretty much beans, tortillas and the occasional piece of fruit. It is a bit of a surprise, but i have not been able to eat any cheaper here than in America. Most things cost just about the exact same, and when you factor in three gallons of water a day (which cost about 3 to 5 bucks total) plus the occasional cold drink where i can find it, i am actually spending more here than in the states on just the basics of food. Hopefully that will change once i get into some cooler climates.
Aside from the challenges, I am really enjoying Baja. It is a wild place, and i sure wouldn't want my bike to brake down in most of these places, but it really gives you a sense of freedom. The little road you ride on is just a ribbon of blacktop that runs through these vast, open spaces, or that winds its way up through really rugged mountains. You go hours without seeing any buildings at all. There are nearly no fences either, which I love. It gives you a sensation of openness and of being out in some of the wilder parts of the world. It really is beautiful out here too. Its funny, as a kid, I hated driving through the desert, but now traveling by bicycle, I have really come to love it. There is a lot you miss in a car and the desert has a beauty to it that you can only come to appreciate after spending some time in it.
When it comes time to sleep out here, its as easy as pulling off the road and finding a flat spot out of sight from the highway, laying down your bag and clsoing your eyes. I have been sleeping really well too. Partly from exhaustion, and partly from such a sound feeling of solitude.
There really are nearly no people out in the highlands. There are no critters to worry about either, at least no big predators. I have seen foxes, coyotes, eagles, humming birds, snakes, etc. but they all leave you alone out here. I have to say, i like it. I enjoy the sense of freedom and the personal responsibility that comes along with it. Out here, you have to look out for yourself, but I am fine with that. The people are pretty much universally nice as well. I have not had a single bad encounter, knock on wood. Most people are genuinely kind. It reminds me of the American south here, things are slow and they go without a lot of the things Americans take for granted, but they rely on one another to get by and are very friendly.
Well, I need to hit the road to get out of town before dark. One last note, I bumped into a group of Americans driving down to Cabo and they were super nice. We talked a bit and they had never heard of cycle touring and thought it was a pretty cool way to travel. We have passed each other a few times as we have gone south, as they camp on the beaches as they go, and i roll along on the bike. Speaking of beaches, it blew me away the first time i came to a big, beautiful beach here with great waves and NO ONE in the water surfing, no one even on the beach apart from three fishermen. It was crazy, a camping trip down here would be heavenly.
Until next time!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Im in San Quintin!

Day: 69

Miles: 67

Total Miles: 3274

Money Spent: 16.50

m in San Quintin, Mexico that is. I just really wanted to say that!

At any rate, the ride so far has been pretty dang tough. Thursday was nice, on a four lane highway with a good 4 to 6 foot smooth shoulder with beautiful scenery. The only thing that irked me were all of the Southern California style home developments and American fast food joints and chain superstores (walmart, the home depot, etc.) Granted, there were not a ton of them, but still, it made it feel like I was partly still in America.

I made it to Esenada on Thursday evening, and I had the intention of going further south and camping out but the direction I got to get out of town had me going in circles and I ended up not getting far enough out to camp anywhere before sundown. So, I had to get a hotel and since Ensenada is a very touristy place, the cheapest I could find was $400 pesos. My budget is definitely not off to a good start.

Very Fancy Church. Possibly the finest Ive seen!

A beach just south of Rosarito.

Beautiful views along the entire ride.

Me, happy I did´nt have a heart attack on the way up after two weeks of anti exercising!


Friday though, was an entirely different experience. As soon as I rode out of Ensenada, the road turned into a two line highway just barely big enough for two big rigs to pass one another. There is no shoulder either. At all. Since this is the only Highway that goes top to bottom in Baja and carries nearly all of the regions traffic, the end result is a very dangerous ride for a cyclist, or for anyone for that matter. I was only able to ride 67 miles yesterday as it was just so physically and mentally draining. For one, it was a very tough ride through the mountains, for two, I had to be constantly on the look out for traffic. Anytime two vehicles passed me from both directions at the same time, I had to get off of the road completely to make room. This really takes it out of you, especially when climbing as you have to get going again from a dead stop going uphill in loose gravel or sand. Add to that the fact that it was very hot and I was sweating buckets and you get an idea of what kind of day it was. I drank three gallons of water throughout the course of the day!

The downhills are even more dangerous as you are flying down a road and if two vehicles pass you at the same time you cant just veer off the road going 30 or more miles per hour. By lunch time i felt totally exhausted, and by 4 pm i had to quit. I found a nice place to conk out and i didn't even bother with my tent, the weather was nice so i just laid out under a tree and was asleep before the sun went down. I didn't wake up until 6:30 either!

These are the moutains I had to climb out of Enseada.

And this was the road I had to climb them on!

The white stuff on my shirt is salt from my sweat after just a half day of riding!

Camp for the night. I slept like a rock.

Sunrise from my camp.

One last item I wanted to note, is that I have noticed that the food prices here are noticeably higher than the last time i was in Baja, two years ago. I remember being able to eat at a taco stand and get up to three tacos for a buck, but not, everywhere I go, its a buck a Taco. At first I thought it was me getting the tourist prices, but it has been universal, and in some places the price is even listed on the wall. It is strange, I have never paid that much. This may sound like a minor grips, but you have to understand, I love fish tacos more than some people love their spouse! I swear i may have even dreamed about them a time or two. So, not being able to gorge myself on tacos left as right is a bit of a downer, but oh well. It is what it is.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

In Baja.


Miles: 83

Total Mileage: 3,290

Money Spent Today: $35 ($23 of which was my Visa)

Quick update, I left San Diego this morning bright and early at 6 am and made it to the border in good time. I have to admit, i did have some butterflies about going out of the country by bicycle, even though I have been through Tijuana a million times. In my college days, we would go there before we turned 21 and 10 bucks got you into a bar and covered all of your drinks for the night! So, we were frequent fliers.

However, I made it across the border with no problem, got my visa and was rolling. I have to say, only getting two days of light riding in in two weeks and spending every day in that period of time partying, eating and cavorting certainly doesn't do much to maintain stamina. Baja is pretty hilly, and on a few of the tougher climbs i swear i was sweating beer! But, I made it to Ensenada in good time and parts of the ride were just stunning. Light traffic with a very good shoulder on a winding, mountainous road that goes along the pacific is about as good as it gets. Add to that that Mexican drivers are about twice as curteous to cyclists as American drivers and you have a winning combo.

Also, as in every other time i have been to Baja, everyone I have met has been incredibly curteous and helpful. People go out of their way to help you out, and with my broken Spanish and their broken endlgish, we manage to work things out.

I need to get out of Ensenada as fast as possible though, this place reeks of fun! I used to lead tours to Mexico and I know how fun Baja can be.
I need to split, so i will add pictures later, but one last note. One of my best buddies from High School emailed me and has decided to join me for a month on my ride! He is flying into Mexico City from New Zealand the first week of June, so i need to hustle to make it there to meet him, however, it will be totally worth it as having a good friend to ride with will be great.

Thats it for now, and on the whole, riding in Baja is as fun as i thought it would be. More to come.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Time off in the Florida Keys, Miami and San Diego

Day: 62

Mileage: 85

Total Mileage: 3,124

Ok, well life has been going at a frenetic pace these past two weeks as I have been running all over the place trying to say my final goodbyes, and prepare to enter into Mexico.

I dang near didn't make my flight home on Wednesday. I had rode up to Palm Beach to visit some friends, which is a good distance away from the airport, and so on Wednesday I had to ride back, pack up, get a bike box (which is a box big enough to carry a bicycle safely on a plane) and then ride on a super busy road to the airport on my loaded bike carrying this massive box! Every time a car went by, i felt like i was going to get blown away as the box acted like a sail. Plus, it was very hot and humid and i had to go a long way so i was just sweating like a pig by the time i got to the airport. I had a bear of a time getting all of my gear on to the plane and it ended up costing an extra $100 over what i was quoted to get the bike on board, which really ticked me off. After all of the drama of getting the bike broken down and into the box and on the plane, i had to sprint to the gate and just barely made it on as they were boarding. I feel for the couple that sat next to me as i was pouring sweat and must not have smelled very good.

It feels like a million things keep popping up as i prepare to head south and i keep pushing back my departure date. I was originally going to leave today, then Monday, but now i dont think i will be on the road until Tuesday. But I am fine with that, if i have anything in abundance right now, it is time. The fact that I have been running around having a laugh and more than a few beers with my friends sure has not helped to speed me on my way either, if I am going to be totally honest ;)

I plan on heading south through Baja down to Cabo San Lucas, and from there i will sail over to Mazatlan, through Mexico City on into the Yucatan Peninsula. At that point I plan on heading south into Belize and on through Central America.

I am really excited and a little nervous to be leaving the country, which is weird. I have traveled abroad by myself plenty of times alone, and I have been through Baja many, many times, but the newness of going it alone by bicycle is definitely a little bit intimidating. I knew i would feel this way though, and the feeling will pass quickly once i am past the boarder and rolling through the desert. I have a feeling that this will be a pretty incredible leg of the journey. Life in Baja is nice and slow, there will be lots of sleeping on the beach, eating fish tacos and drinking cold beers.

I am so glad I came back to san diego for a few days before heading south. I came on a great weekend and was able to watch one of my best friends graduate from his masters program, which was awesome. A few of my buddies were also home from Iraq on leave, and so it was nice to be able to catch up with them as well. Plus, being able to see family and friends and run around town having a really fun few nights made me feel ready to set off for the next leg of the journey, which will also keep me away from everyone here for a long time.

I want to thank everyone who hosted me, bought me a beer and wished me well while i was home. All of your support and encouragement means a lot to me.

Here are some pictures from the Keys, Miami, and San Diego. I will miss California and all of the people that make this place special to me, but this trip will be a life changing event and in a big way, I feel like leaving the country will be the true beginning of it.

The Keys

There were roosters all over the place on the island.

I actually ate all of this food in one sitting. Its crazy how much you eat when traveling by bicycle.

Trisha and I on the beach in Key West.

The main drag in Key West.

Beautiful, clear water.

Trish and I went to a drag queen show, which was hilarious. I highly recommend checking one out.

I can honestly say this was the coolest guy I have ever seen. He even had a bird that rode on his head!

Trish got pulled into a street performer's show.

Thanks for having me at your place Chris, and for taking me to the Radiohead show, that as a great time!

Hanging out in San Diego with some of my best buddies.

It was great to be able to see so many of my friends.

We always love to go out and dance, San Diego has some great night life.