Pan America 2011 - 2012
American writers like Kerouac and Miller influenced me a lot when I was in my Twenties. And I heard lots about the West Coast from American travellers, recommending great national parks and the Route 101 that is sort of famous thing to do for cyclists. So I decided to postpone other planned adventures and flew to Vancouver BC, equipped with my good old pushbike, a tent and a (warm!) sleeping bag.
After fantastic landscapes and forests down South to San Diego I teamed up with Kathrin, a great cycling mate. When we reached the Southern tip of Baja California, we decided to move on together, crossed Mexico into Guatemala and Belize. After living in a rented house on the Lake Atitlan we ventured out for snow capped mountains of South America, crossing the Andes from Santiago to Mendoza and moved up North again, to Machu Picchu. After 11 months and 11000 kilometres I arrived back in Germany, with Kathrin...
- Category: Pan America 2011 - 2012
Marty, a kind Warmshowers host, lets me stay four nights in his nice appartment in San Diego while I wait for an appointment with some famous researchers. While waiting, I meet Ellie from Seattle again, who just came down with a friend by car. And I meet with Kathrin, a young Swiss cyclist who has already been cycling a few months on her green Bike Friday folding bicycle. We met earlier in California, and share the same destination for the next few weeks: going South on the Baja California. With nowadays drug war in Mexico, security is a concern for both of us. Therefore we decide to ride together for a while. Actually, Kathrin is the one who has the detailed map, speaks Spanish and did a huge portion of route planing. We cross the border at Tijuana, enjoy our first great Mexican street food and manage to survive the first 20 or 30 kilometers to Rosalito in really heavy traffic. My first experience with Mexico. Unlike South-East-Asia, there are mainly cars and trucks on the road. No scooters at all, and the trucks are less overloaded and less noisy. A few dogs stray on the side of the road, but no pigs or naked children...
Markus, the Austrian cyclist who is about two weeks ahead of us, writes us to take a bus from Ensenada to San Quitin to avoid the heavy traffic on the narrow and shoulder-less road on that part. We cycle still to San Tomas, some 30 kilometers South of Ensenada. There we meet Pat, an American on his way down to La Paz with his truck and his boat. He offers us a lift to San Quintin on the next morning. Without much words Pat passes through the dusty bustling town of San Quintin and brings us a few dozen kilometers further to El Rosario, a rather laid-back, neat and charming town. Somehow I leave the handlebar bag on his truck, with the spare tubes and tools and stuff. The desert adventure starts. Fully loaded with gallons of water and food for two days we enter the desert, climbing up the Sierra and countless vados, dry river beds. Headwind, blood sweat and tears, not more than 10 kilometers an hour. Cactus of all sorts and sizes and some dry and thorny bushes are the main vegetation out here. Loneliness, no trace of civilisation for kilometers, not even power lines. The few truck drivers greet the cyclists. The first night we camp in a flat and sandy riverbed beside the road, sharing tortillas and fried beans with tuna on the camp fire under the stars. The following day is already a highlight. We cross great flats covered with big boulders and cactus and enter Catavina, a small village in between. Nearby are some ancient cave paintings, and a neat hidden place to camp between boulders and cactus. After four nights in the wild without running fresh water, we reach Guerrero Negro and really enjoy the comfort of a cheap motel. A hot shower, what a blessing!
More days out in the desert, on endless straight roads in pan-flat areas. Vultures and eagles circle on the cloudless blue sky. San Ignacio, a vivid green date palm oasis between naked brown rocky hills is a real highlight. Not only for its old mission, but for the chilly fresh water lake where we put up our tents, swim and share a great dinner with Mel and Chenoa. Shall we leave this paradise on a Sunday? A sudden breeze carries my tent into the lake while I'm packing other stuff. And so we stay another night. Big head wind on the way for the first 30 kilometers on the Santa Rosalia, and an incredible ride down the Cuesta Del Infierno to the Sea of Cortez. Next station is Mulege, a neat Oasis town at the entrance of Conception Bay. Beautiful beaches South from Mulege, with crystal clear azure and turquoise water and the unique desert feeling. Young and retired Americans occupy the beaches with their RVs. We have a break. Tortilla-Banana for breakfeast for us, fish for the minutewise into-the-sea-plunging kamikaze pelicans and cormorans. We snorkel and hike arround Playa El Coyote. The water is not quite warm enough for extended snorkeling, nor did we reach the Southern tip of the Baja, and so we move on. The next stop over is the somewhat put-on town of Loreto, with the beatifull red and white striped rocky mountain chain in the west. After passing the beaches South of Loreto we climb up the Sierra Gigantes and camp between amazing mesas. A splendid scenario - quite like a mix between Monument Valley and Sedona, with just a few trucks roaring on the road at night.
A gray cloudy morning, another baja Breakfeast (Tortillas, bananas and Peanut butter resp. Nutella). A big day riding hundred fairly charmless kilometers bring us to Ciudad Constitucion, a young prosepering junction town along the MEX1. From there it is another 200+ Kilometers to La Paz. The first 100 kilometers are a somewhat green, pan-flat agriculturing area, followed by another challenging 100 kilometers through countless vados in the half desert again, with a charming head wind. We did it - cycled in 22 days some 1300 kilometers from San Diego to La Paz.