59.4 mi / 10.9 mph / 3017 ft. climbing
Home: South Loreto AirBNB
How do we plan things in this nomad life? A couple weeks ago, Rett had been looking ahead to tours in La Paz, but I had read some good things about Bahia Concepción from blogs of previous bike tourers, so I suggested that maybe she should research options there first. She ran with the idea, and came up with a plan for us to spend “at least a week” camping on the beaches there. That sounded like a good stretch-goal to me, but I wasn’t sure if we’d last a week, whether due to lack of resources, boredom, or far more outdoor-living than we’d done in months. I read of one bike touring couple who stopped for about three nights, but most stop for one if they stop at all.
But because of the open-ended life we’ve set up for ourselves, and our lucky timing, in the end, we stayed nine nights across our three beach stops. Which meant nine nights without a shower, two brief uses of Internet, about one hour of electricity, and zero TV. And collectively, I’m quite sure it was the best nine-night stretch of our six months of traveling, and would be a serious contender for a “best nine nights in my life” stretch.
So why leave paradise at all? Hard to say! A lot is just the feeling that we should be moving on, but a better reason is that there is other places out there that we are currently as ignorant about as we were about Bahia Concepción a couple weeks ago, and while the weather has been consistent and close-to-perfect, eventually it will become too hot here to be enjoyable.
Anyway, moving on! Rett woke up in the middle of the night with stomach pain and needed to exit the tent. Some Gas-X let her get back to sleep, but that’s still not ideal since the ride would be our longest in distance since we’ve been on the road, and given the significant amount of climbing, almost surely our longest in riding time. Will the time off have rested us up, or been so long that it let our strength dwindle away? Rett’s stomach was feeling better by morning, but being up before 6am (which got us on the road by 8:15am) meant that she didn’t get a lot of restful sleep.
Luckily, the scenery was gorgeous, and reminded us that this “riding bicycles” thing isn’t a bad way to spend our time either. It was especially interesting, because last night, Tony, who seems far from a mindless, unobservant driver, had told us that our ride south from Playa Buenaventura would be pretty boring. That just reinforced for us how “bicycle speed is the best speed”, since in their truck, it seemed like he mostly remembered the flat parts of their previous day’s drive north (a section we wouldn’t even reach until after a couple of big days of riding south), and then this end-of-their-day section didn’t even really have time or space to register.
We passed the last few beaches on the bay, a couple that looked like we really would have enjoyed as well, but I guess we can try those next time! There was a several-mile section near the south end of the bay that suddenly felt like we were riding Highway 1 on the California coast, like we’d accidentally turned north (since the water was on our left side!) and made it near Big Sur again. I realized that much of that feeling came from simply riding a two-lane highway right up on the edge, looking down to the water, which, despite all the water around the Baja Peninsula, the Mexican highways rarely seem to do. They all tend to be routed more inland, so this unusual bit was really enjoyable.
At the 20-mile point, we stopped at a middle-of-nowhere, cute palm-and-palapa covered loncheria, the only place to stop on the whole route, and got ourselves some second-breakfast. A really-good quesadilla split between us, plus cold drinks, including a giant limonade mineral (carbonated water + lemon) for Rett, her new favorite drink in Mexico.
Unfortunately, about ten miles later, Rett’s stomach pain started up again. It seemed like this wouldn’t be a quick one-and-done event. I felt bad because when I went through my own stomach issues, we were holed up in town and I could just lie in bed. For Rett, we were out in the middle of our longest day. No fun at all, but she impressively kept fighting through it! At least it was cooler than it had been, with the temperature topping out in the mid-70s, though of course the sun shining through the endlessly clear skies made it feel plenty warm.
We found a random bit of roadside with some shade-providing trees(!) to sit in our chairs under and eat some lunch (“force down some lunch” in Rett’s case), and just as we were pulling back on the road again, making sure there were no big trucks coming up from behind, I instead saw two distinctly non-car shapes coming up, and since they were going too slow to be motorcycles, the only other possibility was bike tourers!
We’ve heard of a lot of bike tourers riding through Baja now, seen several, and spoken with one for a few seconds, but Brian and Tom were the first (in our month-and-a-half in Baja!) that we were able to stop and talk with for a while as bike tourers are supposed to do! And when Brian pulled up, he immediately said “Rett?” Whoa! Through some small-world-of-Baja connection that I didn’t quite get, they had heard of us! They’re from the Olympia area in Washington, not far from our last home, though their actual ride began in San Diego. As nice as it has been to share experiences over the last couple weeks with people who share the “nomad traveler” attributes with us, it’s even better to commiserate with a some who match further as “non-motorized nomad travelers”!
Once we started again, we rode together a bit, and leapfrogged a couple times, but then Rett, who understandably feels some discomfort with group-riding since it’s something she has almost no experience with (especially on a narrow highway where she’s used to having full visibility ahead of her), put the hammer down to pull away from them. Which was particularly amazing, since we were in the later stages of the longest ride of our entire nomadacy, battling our usual afternoon frustrating headwinds, and she was battling a digestive system that was both causing active pain, and making it unappetizing to consume the energy her muscles needed. I continue to marvel at how our brains can find sources of power inside our bodies when conditions tell them that’s what they must do.
So we crested the top of the final hill with at least a small amount of gas left in the tank, and at least for me, it was a great ‘wow’ moment to see the jagged mountains of Isla Carmen, across a strait in the Sea of Cortez from Loreto. Pleasantly, while Loreto is a relatively large town, for some reason the usual traffic-increase didn’t begin until we were nearly on the city streets. We navigated them to the south end of town, without stopping to look at any of the charming tourist places, and instead experienced the roughness of walking our bikes down and up a gravel road crossing a broad dry riverbed, a place I was shocked that a bridge did not exist.
Our AirBNB house thus wasn’t in the cutest neighborhood, but it was nice and relatively modern. And once we used our experience to remember how to get the tankless hot water heater to turn on (turn on the bathroom sink as well to get enough water flowing to trigger it), we luxuriated in the long showers that tankless enables. Rett’s appetite was telling her that instant ramen were the only thing that sounded good, so I picked up some of that for her, and I had a can of our gifted baked beans with tortillas. A true celebration for succeeding at our longest day!