Loreto was such a lovely town, we ended up staying four nights, giving three full days to explore in more depth, recharge the batteries, do bike maintenance and laundry. A ride towards San Javier, inland into the mountains, was very peaceful giving fantastic views.
Riding toward San Javier from Loreto
Back on route the ‘holiday’ feel continued with a short, 20 mile, easy ride. The road hugged the coast of the, sparkling blue, Sea of Cortez to the pristine, but little used, marina development at Puerto Escondido. A strategic move so that we were well placed to tackle a long climb up into the Sierra Los Gigantes mountains in the relative early morning cool the next day.
Sea of Cortez
The only accommodation was at the very comfortable Tripui Hotel near the marina. After a shady lounge around the swimming pool, complete with a picture of a whale and her calf painted on its bottom, we pedaled a couple of miles up an extremely bumpy dirt road to the foot of a dry river canyon. This turned into a boulder hopping exercise as we scrambled our way, on foot, upstream until we eventually found a series of small fresh water pools, a rarity in the Baja. Fortunately we made it back with no twisted ankles and a whole set of different muscles to remind us of their presence!
The ‘big climb’ at the start of a 70 mile ride to Cuidad Constitucion was a scenic 400 metre ascent, switch-backing up into the mountains. As is usually the case, although a bit steep at the start, it was much less onerous than feared. After coming down off the ridge, the dead-straight road to Cuidad Insurgentes was a grind into a prevailing wind which did little relieve some rather boring miles back through cactus desert.
Following the road south to the larger town of Cuidad Constitucion, we were back in ‘farming’ territory, with several small lots of beef cattle and a number of different vegetable crops including a large area of brussel sprouts. The importance of agriculture here is very apparent as one enters the town. A row of gleaming green, brand new, John Deere tractors, in a dealership on one side of the road is rivalled by an equal number of, shinny blue, New Holland’s on the other. Childhood memories flooded back at the row of new, New Holland balers, the sort that made ‘little’ bales that could be tossed with a pitchfork.
As if in penance for the days off in Loreto, another two long days in the saddle followed. The first half of the 63 miles to Las Pocitas from Cuidad Constitucion was arrow straight, dead level and, again, quite boring to ride. Pockets of, irrigated, farmed land interspersed yet more sandy, arid, cactus desert.
Las Pocitas was a welcome site; where a brand new Oxxo store (Mexican equivalent of Spar) facilitated a reviving cold drink and ice-cream. Even better, our rubbish Spanish managed to elicit from the checkout lady that there were some rooms to rent just along the road; we had been expecting to have to camp behind a small restaurant.
Not only did we get a room, the cold shower a small price to pay for not having to camp, but two more cycling couples, of similar age to us, rolled up also. Jacinta and Frank from Holland, who are en-route from Canada to Argentina and who we last met in Cataviña, and Cindy and Erik from Colorado, who we met at the Hostal in Loreto. We had a very enjoyable evening comparing notes and swapping stories over a meal of tacos, rice and beans cooked for us by Isabelle in the tiny family ‘Cantina’ next door.
Monday 13th was yet another 70 mile ride; across the region’s central spine through more interesting terrain. The first half of the ride was hilly with little or no shoulder and quite a lot of traffic to contend with. The road then undulated along a ridge for several miles, before ended with a long and glorious descent to La Paz, on the east Coast’s Sea of Cortez. The provincial capital, La Paz is a thriving cosmopolitan city of circa 250,000 people.
Just as we were setting out to explore, Jacinta and Frank rolled up and checked into the same hotel. We thoroughly enjoyed another evening with this delightful and inspiring couple at the annual Carnival, which coincides with our stay. Huge numbers of people were present, with decorated floats, street dancers in colourful costumes and an array of tradespeople selling all manner of foods, toys, balloons and textiles. A memorable extravaganza.
We have now cycled 1,048 miles!