I came across an ultra cycling event called Baja Divide in January of 2016. The term ‘event’ is a loose term, in that there is no registration fee and just the like Tour Divide, there’s no support. You’re on your own for food, water, repairs, all of your needs to follow the route to the destination. It’s an event in the sense that I’m on a list of about 100 people that commented on the Baja Divide website. It’s organized by the duo of Lael Wilcox and Nicholas Carmen based on their two consecutive rides down the peninsula in the winter of 2015-2016. You can read about that here. Leaving San Diego on January 2, the group will ride the first day together to Barrett Junction, just north of the Mexico border. We’ll have a meal there, camp and cross the border on the 3rd. After that, we are on our own.
The Baja Divide in uncharted territory for me. I do want to go back and do the Tour Divide again, it holds a special place in my heart. The people, the town of Banff, the YWCA, the Grand Depart, and places along the way pulls you back into it. Doing TD again this year would be well, not easy, but familiar. I pretty much know the route and places along the way. But I have to tell you that riding where it’s warm in the winter, down the Baja Peninsula has to be better than cold in Kansas in the winter!
Lael and Nicholas have developed a route to follow as much as possible, taking alternates as necessary, but for the most part it zig zags down the Baja Peninsula to almost the tip. It doesn’t go quite to Cabo, which is ok since it looks like a tourist town. The route was recently awarded the 2016 Best New Route (Odyssey) by bikepacking.com
‘one of Three worldwide bikepacking odysseys we’re sure you’ll never forget.’
Ask any cyclist how many bikes they need and the answer is always N+1. Just one more than what you have! With two capable bikes in the stable from Salsa in the Fargo Ti and Cutthroat that were used on the past two Tour Divides, you would think that one of these bikes with their 29” wheel and 2.2” tires would be just right for Baja Divide. As bikes evolve, they become much more capable of new adventures. Manufacturers are now making mountain bikes with 27.5” wheels and 3” wide tires. The overall diameter is what the Salsa’s have, but the new bikes have a wider footprint for stability on sand and rougher surfaces.
Working with Mark at Apostle Bikeworks, we selected a 2017 Jamis Dragonslayer Pro with the new wheel size. The frame is made out of steel, which will make it a very compliant ride. The Jamis Dragonslayer was a 2016 bikepacking.com award winner, as well as recently being one of the top 5 backpacking bikes for 2016. My Dragonslayer is also being outfitted with a Schmidt Dyno front hub to generate power for electronics, and my Revelate frame bags from the previous bikes will transfer over to the new Jamis.
A cause I am proud of being part of is Living Water International, which is a ministry that drills water wells in 3 world countries. Sanitation and Hygiene, Education on disease prevention, Justice Issues and Livelihoods are also taught through LWI. I was able to raise $5,000 to drill a well in India from Tour Divide 2016 for Living Water International. In America, we are so fortunate to have clean water at our finger tips. So many parts of the world do not have fresh drinking water available to them. Again this year, I’ve set up a fundraising effort raise funds to drill another well. Check out Baja Divide 2017 for Living Water International.
Like bike rides in the past, my approach will be to start and see how far I can go. On the Tour Divide, it’s eat, sleep and ride, day after day from Banff to Antelope Wells, averaging about 100 miles a day. Baja is more in the range of 50 miles a day, taking 4-6 weeks to complete. I’m not sure I have 6 weeks to be gone, maybe half that. I want more than eat, sleep and ride on this adventure. I hope you’ll follow me with my spot tracker here starting January 2nd.