Baja Divide- Published!

Nine months since crossing the border at Tecate and committing to a route project in Baja California, MX, the Baja Divide is done!

From San Diego, CA, USA to San Jose del Cabo and back to La Paz, BCS, MX, the route is 1700 miles (2735 km) long with 92,000 feet (28,000 m) of climbing and is expected to take about six weeks to complete.  The route is conceptually divided into four chapters: Northern Sierra, Valle de los Cirios, Missions, and Cape Loop.  These groupings provide convenient distances for riders seeking shorter trips, ranging from 1-2.5 weeks, and each of these chapters can be reached by public transportation (plane or bus).  In total, the Baja Divide is divided into 20 shorter sections, each beginning and ending at major resupply points and almost always on a paved road.  These sections range in length from 44 miles to 167 miles and are largely defined by access to food and water, which is a frequent consideration for the Baja Divide traveler.

The Baja Divide route and equipment guide covers a variety of topics and is our best effort at providing the information needed to properly prepare for a ride on the Baja Divide.  The Overview page is the best place to begin browsing the new site, while the route History page provides insight into the development process, including the many challenges to routing in Baja.

Each route section is described in detail including distance, notes, resupply points, and a narrative which prepares you for the the rigors and rewards of that section.  Full-screen images also provide a flavorful impression of each section.  Of the four route chapters, the Northern Sierra (306 mi) and Cape Loop (283 mi) are the shortest and most accessible.  The Northern Sierra begins in San Diego and provides about a week of riding to Vincente Guerrero at MEX 1, where a bus will quickly return the rider to Tijuana, which is only a short bike ride back to San Diego and the airport.  This section is the most accessible on standard 2.25″-2.5″ mountain bike tires.  The Cape Loop is easily accessed by flights into La Paz or San Jose del Cabo and provides about a week of riding.

The mapping page features a simple Google-based interactive map of the route.  For more advanced web-based viewing visit the Baja Divide on Ride With GPS, which features elevation profiles and multiple map layers.  A series of downloads is available from a Baja Divide Google Drive folder including GPX tracks, a resupply and distance chart, as well as a waypoint file indicating resources along the route.  GPX files are available in multiple configurations, including a full-resolution file, a downsized 10K version for smaller and older devices, and individual files for each chapter of the route (Northern Sierra, Valle de los Cirios, Missions, Cape Loop).  The resupply guide and distance chart is a two-page PDF which could easily be downloaded onto a smartphone or printed onto a single sheet of paper.

The “Lael’s Globe of Adventure” Women’s Scholarship is offered to one female rider who plans to ride the Baja Divide in 2016-2017 and posesses an interest in international travel and global cultures, has some off-pavement bicycle touring experience (or substantive paved touring, backpacking, or travel experience), and is willing to share her ride on the Baja Divide through writing, photography, visual art, or music.  The winner will receive an Advocate Cycles 27.5+ Hayduke or Seldom Seen, a complete Revelate Designs luggage kit, and a $1000 community-supported travel grant (minimum amount).  Applications are due November 11, 2016.  The recipient will be expected to provide one substantial written piece each to Advocate Cycles, Revelate Designs, and the Baja Divide website.  Once a recipient is selected we will launch a crowdfunding campaign in their name to finance the travel grant.  Spread the word!

We are proud to announce Revelate Designs and Advocate Cycles as sponsors of the Baja Divide.  We have given months of our lives to route research, writing, editing, and publishing to produce this massive new resource.  To show their support, these companies have pledged to offset transportation expenses and are donating generously to the women’s scholarship.  Their financial support will also enable the development of a printed map and resupply guide and will support some expenses associated with the January 2, 2017 group start.

Revelate Designs produces the highest-quality bikepacking equipment in the world and is committed to creating durable goods, minimizing waste, and innovating a better riding experience.  Eric Parsons has experience bikepacking on several continents, from the Himalayas and the Andes to the Iditarod Trail in Alaska, and has supported the Baja Divide since the beginning.  Lael and I have been using Revelate equipment since 2011 for both long-distance tours and ultra-distance races.

Advocate Cycles innovates steel and titanium bicycles and donates 100% of profits to bicycle advocacy organizations such as Adventure Cycling Association, People for Bikes, NICA, and IMBA.  Their 27.5+ models– the Hayduke and the Seldom Seen– are perfect for the Baja Divide.  Lael was one of the first riders to put a steel Hayduke to long-term test in Mexico while investigating the Baja Divide.  Tim Krueger contacted us early in the development of the Baja Divide and offered to support the route in any way.

The group start on the Baja Divide scheduled for January 2, 2017 is nearing capacity and “registration” is now closed.  To maximize rider enjoyment and minimize impact on small communities and the natural spaces of Baja California, the group start will be limited to about 100 riders.  If you have expressed interest in the ride via e-mail or a comment on the blog, you will receive an e-mail soon inquiring about your intent to ride.  If you have already made plans to start the route on January 2 but have not contacted us, please e-mail Nicholas Carman at bajadivide@gmail.com.  We will share a rider list once the details are finalized.

The Baja Divide is going to Interbike!  The Revelate Designs booth (21070) will be dressed in a wall-sized map of the Baja Divide route with images from our ride, while Lael and I will be there to chat about the route.  Visit the Revelate Designs booth on Wednesday at 4PM for a brief presentation about the Baja Divide.

Finally, we’re excited to move past this phase of this project, just a month before the Baja Divide season begins. Once tropical storms have passed for the season we look forward to seeing and hearing about your experiences on blogs, Facebook, and at #bajadivide on Instagram.  If you wish to share impressions or reflections on the Baja Divide site, please contact us at bajadivide@gmail.com.  We will be updating the “News” page on the site over the next few months to share other tips and insights from our experience on the route.  A “Baja Riders” series will survey a half-dozen riders from the 2015-2016 season and my inspire you to carry a small guitar, ride a singlespeed, or not to get a steel fatbike with a Rohloff.

After Interbike, Lael and I will be riding in AZ, NV and CA for the rest of the year.  We are interested in presenting details of the Baja Divide in communities around the region, including Sacramento, the Bay Area, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Enjoy the new site and the Baja Divide!

-Nicholas Carman

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31 thoughts on “Baja Divide- Published!

  1. If I remember right? The road around mile 845 was some soft sand, (very). When I explored the Reserva de la Biosfera El Vizcaíno back in 2010 I choose not to take that road to San Ignacio. Perhaps because of all the pushing I had done through the beach like sand between Bahia Asuncion to Bahia Tortugas.
    or
    Maybe you rode that way and it is fine. Perhaps I am thinking of a different road I could not ride on 29 x 2.55 tires. The road I am thinking of was a long push route in that area.

    You are doing a good job

    1. Chris, The area around mile 845 isn’t bad, a little soft with some crumbling gypsym cliffs if I recall, but mile 780 and 820 are real sandy. These are some of the sandiest tracks on the route. The others which are especially challenging are storm-damaged roads further south, from La Ballena to San Miguel (to Mulege). That drainage changed a lot in recent storms and the current road is rough cut out of the sand, cobbles, and thicket. It was mostly ridable, but a big effort for a 35-40 miles day. Thankfully, there is water in that valley.

  2. Great work folks! I hope to do, at least, a couple weeks on this in the winter. Is there a way to donate to “Lael’s globe of adventure” scholarship? It’s always great to be able to help and get help when we can/need.

    1. We’re planning a crowdfunding campaign once the recipient is selected, although we could do it now. The benefit of doing it later is that we can all get to know the recipient through the funding process. Thoughts?

      1. That makes a lot of sense to wait. I wonder if Komorebi bicycling team or Sisugirls would be interested in supporting this. I think Lael would be a great Sisu ambassador. I’m not affiliated, I just like what they’re doing.

  3. I like this. I ride motorcycles in Baja several times a year and taking an extended bicycle ride on this route sounds intriguing. I’m curious about a route choice. Why did you go from Piedra Blanca through El Arco? The road to El Arco is perhaps my least favorite in that area. Just past Piedra Blanca, you can turn left onto a dirt road that goes through the Miraflores intersection (turnoff to Santa Gertrudis mission) and links up with your route before Vizcaino. Just a thought.

    1. Jeff, the first couple hundred feet of that road were so sandy that we turned back. We actually like the ride to El Arco, but the section from El Arco to Vizcaino does get very sandy (although technically rideable) for about 7 miles. Does the road through Miraflores improve, coming from the north. Would it be less than than the current routing?

      1. Caveat: it’s been 2 or 3 years since I rode the road (and at least twice that many years since riding the El Arco road) but as I remember it, it’s less sandy than El Arco and is a more direct route. There is one short technical rocky climb which will be a hike-a-bike followed by a bumpy ridge top road with nice views. My memory is that overall it is less sandy and it is a shorter, more direct route. I never ride the El Arco route anymore.

  4. Regarding the strong recommendation for 3″ tires, what do you think of using Schwalbe Procore as an alternative method for low psi? For those of use with bikepacking rigs that lack the clearance for 3″ tires, but are otherwise suitable for the trip, it seems viable to use Procore to run 2.3″ tires at 12-15psi when the trail/road surface is soft. The Procore system is non-trivial to install initially, but I see no obvious reason that this wouldn’t be a sub-$200 alternative to acquiring an entirely new bike for the unique conditions of this route.

    1. The ProCore system doesn’t really address the issue of tire volume. Low tire pressures are used in soft conditions to maximize effective tire width. I rode 29×2.4″ and 2.5″ tires on 35mm rims last season and while I rode almost everything, I was often required to output considerably more effort than riders on 3.0″ tires to stay upright. I ran tire pressures under 10psi at one point, and spun the cranks at high rpms. The route could be completed on 2.3″ tires although several sections would require walking.

  5. Procore addresses reliability at low psi (beads are locked, no burping, no pinch flatting) so gives any benefit that low psi gives, while avoiding most of the negative trade-offs that accompany very low psi on traditional set-ups.
    So were the folks on 3″ tires running pressures even lower than 10psi? Or did they appear to outperform you 2.4/2.5″ tires even at the same psi’s?
    Sorrry if this is a tangential/blackhole topic . . . but 10psi on 2.4″ tires and 10psi on 3″ tires will yield identical tire contact patch surface area. The contact patch may be differently shaped on the 3″ tire (presumably wider and “shorter”), but not any larger (ie sq. inches) than the 2.4″.
    You seem to be saying that a wide patch is superior to a narrow patch for flotation in soft/sandy surfaces, even if they are the same area. I don’t have enough experience on fat and plus tires to judge that directly.

    1. The two tire configurations definitely perform differently. Not sure of the size of the contact patch, mathematically, but you must also keep in mind that the 27.5×3.0″ tires are on 45mm rims (I.D.) and my 29×2.4″/2.5″ tires are on 30mm (I.D.). Neither my wheels nor Lael’s had any issues with tubeless sealing or bead retention at ultra-low pressures, thanks to Lael’s WTB Scraper rims and my Derby and Light Bicycle carbon rims. ProCore isn’t design for this application and I don’t really see the advantage. Both wheels were ridden down to 10psi or less.

  6. Great experience and adventure, congratulations. I have a question for you guys, I am doing the La Paz Los Cabos trip (the sections that you call La Paz to la Ribiera and La Ribiera to San José. I am planning on using a 3.0 tire, do you think I will be ok with this size or do you really believe is mandatory to be on a fat bike on that specific terrain? Please help, this is the only pending item that I have in the planning agenda. Many thanks. Hernan Ramos from Mexico City

    1. Hernan, We recommend 3.0″ tires for the Baja Divide route. One could ride that section from La Paz to San Jose on narrower tires, but there are some sandy sections so wider tires will help. Fatbikes (4.0-5.0″) are not required nor recommended. Enjoy!

    1. I’d think that if you like riding a fatbike on the Great Divide it would work just fine in Baja. Due to frequent sandy and rough sections, we recommend 3.0″ tires for the route as our optimal choice for flotation, efficiency, etc. Please read through the site to find more information about the route, including equipment recommendations, section narratives, and a number of essential downloads and resources for the route.

      1. Thank you. Well, we committed, changed our flights, and are going to Baja. Currently in Cuba, NM, on the Divide, and will continue on to Antelope Wells. Still haven’t figured the A Wells to San Diego, thinking that renting a car might be better than the train. I am going on the one bike I own, a Fat Bike, 4″ tyres. Going to give ourselves lots of time, flight back to Australia from LA is now 2 Feb. want to make sure we get to do the whole ride, plus enjoy extra time in Baja. I’m an almost 59 year old river guide ( summers spent rafting in Eagle, Colorado ) my girlfriend 48, so we aren’t as fast as you. Getting stuff organized, going to get the almanac and Nat Geo maps you recommend. I’m technically challenged, but will figure a way to get GPS files etc. I have a Garmin Edge Explore 1000, so it should cope. I’ve had a Garmin Edge Touring, and it gave lots of troubles, got a reconditioned one from Garmin, which also doesn’t work properly ( still need to hassle Garmin about that ) so had to buy the newer one a few days into the GDR. I hope to figure it out on my own, but I might be back asking more stuff.
        But, a big big thanks for putting all this together. Very excited to do this.
        Peter

        1. Is there a link to download all the written info on each section, without downloading the photos? As I’m traveling by bicycle now, my only computer access would be somewhere like a library.
          And, I tried to pose this question a little earlier, it got lost in the ether – is there any point to taking a spare tube ( I’m not keen to carry the weight of a fat bike tube, if my tire is likely to be full of thorns anyway ). Maybe if you can indicate something like 30% yes I should/70% no, just to help sway me one way or another. Thank you, Peter

          1. Bring a tube, just in case, although if you have been riding for weeks and weeks in Baja there will probably be about 50 thorns in your tire. I’ll work on compiling a PDF version of all the section narratives. Sorry for the delay, we’re riding in California at the moment.

  7. In a Captain Jack accent, I am haveing a thought here Barbossa.
    Below is a link to a google map with markers on it. Why not make a similar map for Baja? With 100 or more scouts, you could mark some of the more interesting places on your map. Archaeological sites both discovered and undiscovered, ground water, bike repair shops, a note that the sulpher springs before El Arco have too high of a sulpher content for drinking water. Perhaps a danger symbol near El Ruidoso, so people dont stray to far from the path and into a 100 hector field of marijuana.

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1n-hdQruBCNWAFL46eal54VTg_1c

    1. There is a waypoint folder full of points like that indicating food, water, lodging, bike shops. One would download those points onto their personal GPS along with the GPX track.

  8. Looking at the site whenever I have internet. Going to do the ride, on my Fat Bike, should start around 6 to 8 November ( depends when we finally reach Antelope Wells ). Tubes! I’m tubeless. Is there any point at all, carrying a spare tube, if the tire is likely to be thorn filled. Would love to save the weight.

    1. Bring a curved needle and thread to repair a sidewall cut, bring a tubeless tire plug kit for larger punctures that won’t seal, some extra sealant, and single spare tube just in case. If you have super durable tires that you trust, you could go without a tube, but it seems prudent to bring one even though it might be problematic to install it. If you needed to use it, spend the time to remove all thorns from your tire.

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