Montana Miller and Colleen O’Neil spent three months traveling from Flagstaff, AZ, USA to La Paz, BCS, MX and were riding in Baja at the same time that we were racing up and down the peninsula investigating the Baja Divide route. They made their own path down the peninsula, from Mexicali to La Paz, while some of their routing and reports helped shape the final route. In particular, they helped to develop the routing from San Javier to Ley Federal de Aguas Numero 1. All images by Montana Miller.
Name: Montana Miller
Bike: Waltworks 29+ single speed
I’m pleased as a pancake with my bike. Contrary to what most companies are marketing, super-short chainstays are rad for bikepacking. A loaded bike usually handles about as well as wheelbarrow full of pickles, so anything that makes the bike more maneuverable is a good thing. After some short experiments with squishy stuff and gears, I’m back on a rigid single speed with a 34×23. It feels right. Our zipper-free Defiant Pack bags are working great too. -Montana Miller, 12/9/2015
Previous bike and touring experience: Tour Divide, Colorado Trail Race, XC racing background before that
Wheels/Tires: Maxxis Chronicle 29×3.0” tires, Velocity Blunt 35 rims, Industry Nine rear hub and Shutter Precision dynamo (bearings failed)
Tubeless notes: Gorilla tape and sealant–no problems for three and a half months, until the sealant dried out and I had a slow leak going into La Paz.
Luggage, water capacity, and packing strategies: Defiant Pack zipperless bag setup. 4L bladder in framebag, regular water bottle on the downtube, and a disposable liter bottle jammed in for extra storage on really dry sections.
Shelter: Tarptent Double Rainbow (really nice size for two).
Navigation: Etrex 30, Hillmap.com (displays Google Earth and Google Maps imagery side by side) for planning, and a Rough Guides map of Baja that I found on the side of the highway outside of Coco’s corner. Unfortunately out of print, but a really great map.
Equipment recommendations for Baja: I’d bring fatter tent stakes so that our tent didn’t blow over so easily when we set it up in the sand. Next time I’ll also carry a spare external bottom bracket (I go through them too fast on a singlespeed), and some extra sealant. I thought Slime would at least be easy to find in Baja, but it turns out that not much is easy to find down there. Except Tecate and limes.
I carried two spare tubes, which was a waste- Colleen broke a spoke and punctured her rim tape, we tried putting a tube in and it went flat immediately from the dozens of cactus thorns that were stuck in her tire. We never could have gotten them all out, so I had to fix the tape and reseat the tire tubeless. A CO2 inflator might have been a good idea to help get the tire back on.
I found a good waterproof, in-print map of Mexico in the book store yesterday. It’s a map of the whole country, but it has all little roads stuff on the peninsula marked. Really nice for an overview.
Note: The National Geographic adventure series maps of Baja California and Baja California Sur provide decent coverage for Baja Divide riders. The tear and water resistant maps include much of the routing used on the Baja Divide, with basic topography, in a packable size.
MSR Blizzard tent stakes are recommended for sandy conditions.