60.7 mi / 11.5 mph / 2527 ft. climbing
Home: Casa Cardon AirBNB
In a sign of ever-increasing strength, we were up at 5:45am and feeling ready to duplicate yesterday’s record distance, while also throwing in way more climbing. Though, I did still spent a while scouting out wild-camping possibilities in case our reach ended up exceeding our grasp.
Despite being a tiny town, Las Pocitas held the first Oxxo (the Mexican convenience-store chain that has everything) since El Rosario, more than 600 miles north. It seems some states/counties have attempted to protect their small businesses from the giant corporation, so that may explain some of its absence in our lives. Anyway, since it’s open 24 hours, we walked over there in the pitch-black to acquire coffee, a quick breakfast, a big load of water, and get on the road at first light.
Except…the Oxxo was also pitch-black. Well, no; it had a 40-foot lit-up sign that said “Open 24 Hours” below the logo, but that was a bright glowing lie. Looking on the door, there was a sheet of paper saying that they open at 6am, but that was a lie by that point too. Crap. Oh well, the only thing to do was to trudge back to our room, get packed up, and hope we could collect food and water on the road.
I was surprised to see a house/loncheria advertising breakfast only a couple miles outside of town, and their door was open, but when I inquired about water, they oddly said they had none. Coffee though! “No, gracias”. Ok, onward. A few miles later we see a similar place (also not marked on Google Maps or iOverlander), with a man outside watering plants. “Agua purificada?” “Si!” was the friendly response, as he went around the back to open up for us. In addition to buying a refrigerated gallon of water (partially as insurance in case we can’t make it the 60 miles to the next town and need to wild camp), we also couldn’t resist adding a bunch of snacks too. He asked if we were going to La Paz today, and then helped us with our Español when we gave our “maybe?” shrugs. Nice guy, and that stop now made us feel a lot less stressed about heading deeper into no-man’s land.
Then came a line of loncherias that were on Google Maps, and we stopped at the furthest one, Loncheria Otatave, for breakfast 13 miles into our day. The loncheria-density here is pretty unusual, we’re used to them being single isolated outposts in the middle of nowhere, so it’s not clear how all of these survive with all their local competition just a couple miles down the road. Anyway, the breakfast (again with no menu, just a recited list of options, with some flexibility) was good, fast, and filling. So, screw you Oxxo Corporation! In retrospect we’re glad you weren’t open for us to give our money to!
The pattern of humid + cloudy morning continued for at least the fourth day, and the holiday traffic picked up just like yesterday too as the morning tilted toward noon and the sun broke through the clouds. Oddly, the bad drivers we encountered today were several angry truckers, honking loud and passing close. That wouldn’t even be an effect of the holiday (the truckers aren’t going to the beach), unless it’s just that all the extra traffic on the road is making them mad, and they’re taking it out on us?
Our toughest section was heading straight south after breakfast into the now-standard strengthening southwest wind, but then at mile 22 we made nearly a 90-degree left turn, and the rest of our day would average nearly straight east. Climbing back up over the Baja spine for the second time in three days. Again, the slight-headwind converted to strengthening-tailwind helped us out, and somehow we lucked into a relatively quiet traffic period for most of the big climb.
And then near the top, at mile 31, the shoulder reappeared! It stuck with us for most of the rest of the way, making our lives so much more relaxed when I don’t need to watch my mirror for every car/truck and call it out. Luxury! We stopped for a roadside lunch of peanut butter sandwiches in the now-hot sun, across from a power station connected to a line of windmills on the ridge, the first time we’ve seen those in this rather-windy peninsula. By that point Rett was confident that she could make it the full 60 miles and wild camping wouldn’t be necessary, so we booked the AirBNB I had in mind (despite the lack of humans around, we had cellular service the whole day).
The last part of our ride was a 12-mile downhill. I knew about it from the maps, and also knew that we were forecasted to have a strong, direct tailwind as the road actually angles northeast in that section. On paper it looked like it could be the perfect setup, and could essentially make the 60-mile day a 48-mile day with a no-effort finish. So it felt like a glorious victory when, for once, the terrain and the weather did in fact combine to grant us a ridiculous surplus of cycling riches. Rett was grinning ear-to-ear as we cruised at 24mph down the straight, wide shoulder, just eating up those miles to the end.
And I’d say those riches we were lavished with were very well-deserved. A new record-breaking distance, not after a big rest, but breaking a record that was set just the day before! Today with far more climbing, but an even faster speed than yesterday! 121 miles in two days, a distance that would have taken at least five days to cover at the pace we were going when we restarted from Redlands with Rett’s still-healing back. And when we stopped at the Oxxo (sorry!) for celebratory cold drinks and ice cream while we waited for check-in, she was able to walk just fine. And even remember fondly the moment on our first bike tour together that this “sitting outside a convenience store and eating ice cream” moment mirrored. That was the first time I spoke the words “I love you”, and here together in this place that we never could have predicted on that 2014 afternoon in Auburn, New York, I love her even more!
We didn’t quite make it to La Paz (El Centenario is a suburb about 10 miles from the center of La Paz), but that’s details: we’re close enough!