Ride the Baja Divide, 2017

Update 9/13/16:  Due to a high level of interest in the Jan 2, 2017 group start on the Baja Divide, “registration” for the ride is now closed.  Anyone who has e-mailed or commented on the site with the intention of the doing this ride will soon receive a message verifying participation and providing further details of the event.  If you have already made plans to begin the Baja Divide on Jan 2, 2017 and have not yet contacted us, please email Nicholas at bajadivide@gmail.com.  Note, the Baja Divide is a free resource and the route is open to ride at any time, while this message pertains only to the event on Jan 2.

Join a group of riders on the Baja Divide Route.

Meet in San Diego on Jan. 2, 2017.  Ride over Otay Mountain to the border crossing in Tecate, continue riding south at your own pace, build your own group ride.  Ride as much of the route as you want; plan up to 6 weeks for the complete route.  Bring a bike with at least 2.3″ tires (3.0″ recommended), up to 8L water capacity, and with the ability to carry up to 2 days of food.  Tubeless tires are required, not recommended.

Three airports serve Baja California Sur, in Loreto, La Paz, and San Jose del Cabo.  Daily bus service is available back north to Tijuana from most larger towns along Hwy 1.  Several ferries are available from La Paz to the mainland, connecting to Topolobampo and Mazatlan.

Leave a comment below if you plan to join the ride on January 2, 2017.  Include your name, hometown, and the bike you will be riding.

Contact Nicholas Carman at bajadivide@gmail.com for further questions.

Nicholas Carman1-5831.jpg

277 thoughts on “Ride the Baja Divide, 2017

  1. Question about gpx files. I know that the latest files are under the ESSENTIAL folder. However, I also noticed that the sectional gpx files have been updated as well in the other folder and are quite a bit larger over all. Are these sectional files more detailed versions of the “CompleteBajaDivide-Reduced_V1.3(preferred)” file? Or does the latter file represent the latest and greatest? Thanks! Herb

    1. Hey Herb, I can chime in here as I think Nick is south of the border at the moment. The CompleteBajaDivide-Reduced_V1.3(preferred) is the entire route reduced to about 10,000 points, which makes it much easier for most GPS units to handle. The sectional routes files provide more detail but might require some file management while on route if you need to delete one section and upload another, etc. My Garmin Edge easily handled the entire route, but that will really depend on your device. Nick can comment on the efficacy of using the reduced version for navigation, but I suspect it to be just fine.


      1. Herbert, As Rob describes, the reduced file is preferred because it is compatible with all Garmin devices (and smartphones) and you will never have to load another track while on route. I have been riding the reduced track file in the north for the last week and the level of detail is adequate.

  2. Sleeping pads…what have people used in Baja? I have an inflatable pad that I was hoping to bring, but am wondering if anyone has had any problems with punctures down there and what they’d recommend.

    1. Most of us are using inflatable pads down there. There are puncture risks but with careful site selection you might get away without a puncture. A durable groundcloth is advisable, compare the thickness of a Big Agnes Fly Creek groundcloth (very thin) to some DIY plastic or other solutions. Lael and I have never used the NeoAir pads, but I’ve known lots of those to have holes in them, in any climate. I generally prefer less expensive pads an every inflatable pad eventually fails, and cheaper pads usually come with heavier and more durable materials. We’re currently using the Klymit Inertia O-Zone (which comes with a pillow!), seems like a durable option. It features a 75D bottom fabric, whereas the NeoAir Xlite uses a 30D bottom.

  3. Comments welcome on my evolving bike selection . . .

    I can borrow a friend’s XL Surly Troll that fits me well. I can relatively quickly piece together a 26″ wheelset w/ 35mm internal rims, to which I’d add a WTB Ranger 26×2.8″ rear and a WTB Ranger 26×3″ front. Web reading implies 2.8″ Ranger is no problem in rear of Troll. Would be full rigid, as finding a 26″ suspension fork that will clear 2.8″ or greater rubber, with 100mm travel and a straight 1 1/8 steerer appears challenging.

    I could use my Turner Czar w/ 30mm internal rims and 2.3″ Ground Control Grid tires that are stable w/ tubeless down to 15-16psi if I’m not cornering hard-ish. XXL frame w/ custom frame bag and the frame design has shock tucked tight to seat tube, so still have good frame bag volume (unlike most full-sus bikes).

    Last option is to wait until late January and grab one of the first 2017 Karate Monkey’s off the boat. I have all necessary gear to build it up 27.5+ with fork, so would be pretty ideal Baja bike.

    In all cases, I have appropriate bikepacking bag setups for each rig. Tempted to roll w/ the Troll as its only barely “under-tired” in the rear, and can be ready to roll in < 2 weeks. Love the Czar and it would require no new parts/work, so path of least resistance, but am concerned about tire flotation given the firmness of recommendations for 3" tires. Would love to run a Karate Monkey and have no bike compromises, but worry the availability could slip (in theory it won't, as I'm told the containers are on boats on water, so time to port and on to QBP is relatively deterministic now +/- a week or so).


    1. Tom, Both bikes sound like they could do it, if you are up to it. Our recommendation for 3.0″ tires stands firm, but is it only a recommendation. Some riders may prefer a 4.0″ tires to reduce the struggle in soft sections, some riders might be fine on 2.8″ or 2.5″, some riders would probably benefit from full-suspension bikes to reduce fatigue, so long at there is a reasonable way to carry food and water. The Troll would be a fine bike, but the expense of building wheels for a borrowed bike makes me wonder if there might not be a reasonable solution in a new bike. I’m not sure the rigid Karate Monkey 27.5+ is the absolute best option out there (it is a good one). In that price range take a look at the Jamis Dragonslayer Sport, Specialized Fuse Comp, Marin Pine Mountain 1 which all come with decent quality suspension forks. For someone that regularly rides a full suspension bike, I would strongly recommend a suspension fork. While most tracks on the Baja Divide are vehicular width doubletrack, a lot are best described as jeep roads and some sections ride like loose chunky singletrack.

  4. Howdy! Noticed in one of the latest rider profiles that they recommend a water filter. I am bringing some water tablets for emergency. Just wanted clarification on the need for a proper water filter. Sounds like a filter may allow access to questionable water streams, etc up in the mountains, alleviating the need to carry so much water thru those areas. However, is it necessary for water sources in the small towns?

    1. I’m not bringing a filter, some people are bringing chemical or UV treatment, a lightweight filter might get a little use. However, you won’t be filtering a lot of water in towns. Most often you will buy it from a purification stand (either a small storefront or a machine in a store), or you will buy 4-6L bottles. In some places in the mountains people have wells and the water is generally cool and clear and safe to drink. Anytime you will be staying in a place with a municipal water source, at a motel, you will have access to purified water. Most municipal water sources in Baja are brackish (saline) due to the desert climate and sometimes the proximity to the sea. I don’t think a filter is essential, but if you especially concerned about water then it might get some use. Not a lot of surface water sources on route, a few in some of the mountain sections, but they only really help in one or two places, else where the distances are not that great.

      1. Thanks to all for answering my sundry questions the past couple months. My Huffy Champion is ready to go! 🙂 Herb

  5. Nicolas, (or others), I’ve been giving some thought about to how best deal with an innertube in the worst case scenario that a tire situation reaches that point. We all dread needing a tube once your tire is riddled with thorns. I’ve ridden many 100’s of miles in AZ and have typically carried one pre-slimed tube in my pack. Thankfully never needed them. But the size/weight of a plus size tube AND sealant is prohibitive, especially if you bring two. So then I started thinking about tire liners. Then I started looking at my Tyvek ground cloth. And I wondered . . . 4 or 5 layers of Tyvek inserted between the tube and the tire might just serve as a semi-functional tire liner. I imagine rolling up my ground cloth lengthwise and stuffing it in the tire. Tyvek is surprisingly resistant to penetration despite being lightweight. At sub-15 psi pressures it might work. Certainly its not bulletproof, but it might aid one’s path back to civilization.
    Thoughts? Think this could be beneficial if one faces the dreaded pull-out-every-thorn-from-the-tire, insert-tube, and pray scenario?

  6. Curious about the Southern Loop and the 3″ tire recommendation. It seems that section is a bit less rugged and remote. Can anyone comment? Bike fleet currently includes a GT Zaskar and a Niner SIR9 but I don’t think 3″ is feasible.
    Will be riding the loop early March.

    1. The section is about as rugged as the rest, maybe a little less remote although there are a few places that feel distant. There are definitely some sandy sections in the south, and some rough tracks. The SIR9 is probably the better choice for tire clearance and luggage capacity. I bet you can fit 29×2.4″ tires on the Niner, or even a 2.5″ in front. Check out the Maxxis Ardent 2.4 EXO and the Minion DHF 2.5″ EXO.

    2. I was just down there a few weeks ago and rode part of the Cape Loop. There was one particularly sandy section along some power lines where I was happy to have three inch wide tires, and some other rough sections, but I wouldn’t let not having the ideal bike stop me from going on a trip. Ride smart, and know that you might walk more than if you had plus tires, but I bet you’d still have a blast.

  7. Hey! I have a friend riding the baja divide right now and his *phone (tracker, camera, etc) is having trouble being charged because of a cable issue. I was wondering if it would be possible for me to send him a cable and battery. Are there any known addresses on the route that I could send this stuff to? Thanks!

  8. Hey folks! My buddy and I started the Baja Divide recently and unfortunately we got robbed at gunpoint right outside of Tecate at the marked possible campsite in Canon Manteca. Our unfriendly assailant was on a bike as well and we believe that we just had some bad luck and happened to pass this asshole right before we descended the canyon. He then passed us again at full speed going towards the canyon and we think he laid in wait for us to pass him and for us to be in the canyon away from other people. He waited until nightfall to rob us, and was wearing a hoodie, mask and baseball cap, so we have no idea what he looked like other than that he was young male and skinny, riding an older mountain bike. The fact that he was on a bicycle leads us to believe that he lives in the area. To avoid the same experience, we reccomend the following:

    1) Don’t arrive to Canon Manteca around nightfall.
    2) Don’t camp in plain view of the road.
    3) Beware of any cyclists that pass you twice.
    4) Consider camping further down the route from Canon Manteca.
    5) Have good travelers insurance!!!

    Bottom line: We ran into some bad luck but still have our bikes, almost all our gear and our lives (also he didn’t steal our beer, so that was a big plus).

    We plan on continuing our trip although we will be exploring an alternate, less remote route as we now lack GPS capabilities. Everyone in Baja has been super friendly and we aren’t gonna let some lone ranger piece-of-shit ruin our trip. In fact, I think a cold Tecate and some tacos are calling my name right now! Happy biking people!

    1. Keith,

      It concerns me to hear this. Most of us that have spent time on route can attest to the fact that Baja feels very safe. I appreciate that you have extended your trust in the people of Mexico even after this experience, even though you were only a day or two across the border.

      Considering that this seems premeditated, someone in Tecate has taken notice to the pattern of riders through town and into the backcountry. I surely hope this never happens again, but to avoid risk, I think the best solution is for riders to leave Tecate during the morning and continue down the route before camping in the backcountry, farther away from town. I personally do not mind camping in sight of the road and I enjoy meeting passing locals, but as a general precaution camping just out of sight makes sense, at least enough so that a passing car in the night does not take notice.

      It is my understanding that the police in Baja are strongly invested in protecting the tourism industry so if you have not reported the incident already, I would recommend that you do so. I have a contact at the Bureau of Tourism who is very supportive of the route project, I will reach out to him to notify local authorities of this incident. If you have not reported the incident, perhaps you can confer with Salvador at FASS Bike to make a report locally, and the document can be forwarded to Tecate.

      I don’t intend to change the route at the moment. This is the best routes out of Tecate on dirt, and even if we redirected riders we could not ensure that something similar cannot happen along another route. However, if anyone else reports suspicious activity near Tecate, I will be forced to make changes to the routing in this region, which would necessarily require more paved riding.

      You can contact me with any questions or concerns at bajadivide@gmail.com.


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