San Ignacio to Mulegé - The Not So Long Way Down - CycleBlaze

December 3, 2018 to December 4, 2018

San Ignacio to Mulegé

Doing a bit of cycling

"I'm turning my life around now. I used to drink lots of alcohol, had many problems. Now I'm turning my life around. I haven't had a drink for one year and one month now." These were the words that I woke up to this morning. It was Juan, the cheerful, always smiling man that was often around La Casa Del Cyclista, arriving in his little white car with Mexican music on full blast, doing odd jobs and helping out Othon, who he'd described to us as being like a father to him. "Papa," he could often be heard calling to him. Now he was telling us a little more about himself, in his impressive English, describing how he worked as a volunteer fireman,"Because I love my town," and how it was a little tough to make enough money, but he got by and he was happy to be here with his friends and his family. It was nice to be able to talk with this local Mexican on our last morning in this town. Then he noticed I was looking at the front of his car which was pretty badly dented. "I hit a cow," he explained.

The highlight of our morning came when Juan pulled out an old red tandem bicycle. "It's Othon's, he rides it to work with his wife and his son on the back," he smiled. "People look at them and can't believe it! Othon and I, we plan to soon ride it to Loreto together." We all laughed at the idea of these two men cycling this old bike together to the coastal town several hundred kilometres away. It would be quite an adventure, for sure. "Do you want to try riding it?" Juan asked us.

I'd never ridden on a tandem before, and yet Dea, who'd only ever sat on the back seat of one, insisted I should sit at the front. It was difficult to find our balance as we pushed off down the dusty street, the handlebars with a mind of their own, wobbling back and forth as I tried to wrestle back control. Somehow we proceeded down the street a hundred metres or so, before a couple of waiting dogs had me thinking it was time to turn back. Unfortunately the turning circle of the tandem was considerably wider than the street, and we had to step off to turn it around. I took the opportunity to insist that Dea should now take over the reigns and the front seat, while I hopped on the back and put my faith in her to guide us safely back. She did a tremendous job.

Juan shows off the tandem.
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Well I think this photo says it all about the slightly-out-of-control fun we had riding it!
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Leaving our mark on the wall at La Casa Del Cyclista.
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"Are you sure you want to leave today, what about the wind?" Juan said, tossing up some sand into the air to show the strength and direction was against us. It was our own fault, not having consulted Windy before staying here for two rest days. Now the forecast was for headwinds on the next stretch for the next few days, and we were going to have to take them on. Once we got over the summit of a pass, 40 kilometres away, we would have more favourable winds as we turned south down the Sea of Cortez coastline, and we insisted that it was time for us to get moving again. We bid our fond farewells and headed on out of town.

As predicted, the winds were against us, and with the long, gradual climb it made for painfully slow progress all day. We were hoping to make it the 140 kilometres to the coastal oasis of Mulegé in two days, but it was soon apparent that it was going to be a real challenge with this headwind. We decided not to overexert ourselves, a running theme of this Mexican journey so far, and stopped for a well-earned omelette lunch in a restaurant, and then not long after we called it an early night and made camp having covered only 30 kilometres. But it was a lovely campsite, in amongst the desert plants and with a great view of a mighty volcano, a volcano which we had been cycling towards all day.

Our view for most of the day - with the headwind it felt like we were never getting any closer to it.
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A tricky assault course into our campsite.
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Great wild camping once again in the Baja desert.
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We awoke to our alarm the following morning. We'd decided to get up early and try and ride the remaining distance to Mulegé if we could. It wasn't a normal way to split 140 kilometres between two days (30 one day and 110 the next), but we only had eight or so to the top of the pass, then there would be a descent to the coast and a nice tailwind to blow us south from there, so we thought it would be possible with an early start. And it was really very nice to be on the road early, before the traffic or the headwinds got started again, and while it was still cool, and we made light work of the rest of the climb. From there a descent, then a bit more flat desert, then another little climb through some really interesting rocks that reminded me suddenly of Turkey, before the last glorious descent down to the Sea of Cortez.

Image not found :(
Now we finally got past that volcano, we're really moving!
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"♫ Cool desert bird of the day ♫"
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Scott AndersonTake five, Bill. Even I know this one. Turkey vulture!
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6 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonWe have a winner! :-) Good job!


https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Turkey_Vulture/id
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6 months ago
It felt briefly like we were back in Central Turkey.
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One last little climb...
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...and then a swooping descent back to the east coast of Baja.
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A brief ride on a poorly maintained bumpy section brought us into Santa Rosalia, a busy little town, a real Mexican town, with far too many cars jamming its narrow one-way streets. After a quick resupply in the supermarket we took a break in a park and watched the energy and life going on around us. 

Santa Rosalia.
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Dea took this photo and it is unclear as to whether either she or the woman in the photo knew they were taking part in such a photoshoot.
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A man was busy painting a mural across the street.
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On our way again, heading out of Santa Rosalia.
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The esplanade was not very busy, but had some cool bins!
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The promised tailwind blew us along quite nicely for the rest of the day. The road didn't stick beside the sea, instead crossing through more desert and with its lack of shoulder and long, straight, flat nature, it was reminiscent of much of the rest of the Baja peninsular. Only towards the end of our ride, within ten kilometres of our goal, was our rapid progress interrupted by a line of mountains on the horizon. We climbed up over a 100 metre pass, and a similarly sized descent brought us down into the town of Mulugé.

What's this?! The line of mountains that blocked our final approach to our goal.
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But we weren't to be denied.
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It felt good to have made it to our destination, to have proved that we are capable of putting in a good distance when we really put our minds to it and try our best (and the wind is blowing the right way). Now one thing was for sure, we were going to need a good long rest. After a bit of searching through the narrow streets we found a hotel that we really liked, the Hotel Hacienda, and booked for two nights at 400 pesos ($20) per night. What we especially liked about the hotel was that it had a big open courtyard with a swimming pool, and still hot from our long day of cycling we jumped right in. Well, we didn't exactly jump in, the water was kind of freezing cold actually, but we got in, and it was perfect to cool off.

Sitting beside the pool was a fellow Brit, a guy named Lee, who I got chatting to. Travelling with his Japanese friend, Mas, they had only just started their travels, having flown into California about six days earlier. With plans to spend the next three months travelling through Central America, they were enthusiastic and full of the joys of starting out on a great adventure. We got on well with them and went out to eat together from a food stall in the town's central square, just next to the hotel.  Lee, Dea and I had tostadas, which are tortillas that are toasted, and then all of the usual fillings are placed on top. Mas was even more adventurous, opting for flautas, which are tortillas that are rolled into 'flutes' and filled with the usual fillings, leaving us to muse on how seriously impressive it is how many different ways the Mexicans have developed for eating tortillas and beans.

Today's ride: 137 km (85 miles)
Total: 971 km (603 miles)

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Paul CurtisI don't think I could help feeling a bit cheesed off if I had cycled all that way, going south into ever more exotic territory, only to find another English guy lying by the pool who said he had pretty much just arrived from England!
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4 weeks ago