Distance: 77.1 mi (124.1 km)
Notes: enter Mexico!, climb out of Tecate, desert camping begins several miles outside Tecate, highest point on route is between Neji and Ojos Negros at 4700′
Warning: No water available between south end of Tecate and Ejido Sierra Juarez (63 miles), do not camp immediately at the bottom of the first unpaved descent after Tecate due to a potential security risk
Resupply: Tecate-FWMCRB$ Bus including large supermarkets, San Francisco-fWR is last chance for resupply to Ejido Sierra Juarez-fWR, Ojos Negros-FWCR
Tecate is one of the largest and most pleasant cities on the Baja Divide. From the border, the route passes a large shaded plaza, a small commercial alley with two bike small shops, the towering Tecate brewery, and a shopping center with an expansive modern supermarket and other resources. Be sure to obtain cash from a bank ATM, which won’t be available again until Vicente Guerrero (247.2 mi); and food, which should get you through to Ejido Sierra Juarez (63 mi from the edge of town).
The route climbs through a series of neighborhoods from the city center, onto unpaved streets, and rejoins a two lane highway for the final miles out of town. Resupply, camping, and motels are available along that main road and the final point of resupply is a commercial plaza including an OXXO convenience store in San Francisco, immediately before turning onto dirt. This is the last water resupply until Ejido Sierra Juarez as well, although in wet seasons there may be two streams flowing along this section. Wild camping is possible several miles after leaving the paved highway south of Tecate, and free camping is abundant beyond this point along the rest of the route. Be respectful of the land and local residents.
Update: Feb 2017– A group of riders report being robbed by a local man on a bike while camped at the bottom of the first unpaved descent out of Tecate, at the waypoint marked Cañon Manteca. The incident took place just after dark. Presumably, the man followed them from town.
October 2017: Two riders were harassed and threatened by several men outside the OXXO convenience store in San Francisco just south of Tecate (the small community on MEX 3 where the route leaves the pavement and continues to Ojos Negros). Several men were curious about the bikes at the store, which escalated when they began asking and demanding for money. The couple moved around to the front of the store to be more visible and the men left the scene. However, they reappeared a short distance down the road– now on a segment of the route on dirt roads– and demanded money, threatening personal harm. No weapons are known to have been present. The riders turned back toward the highway and flagged down a truck driver, which defused the situation as the vehicle of would-be assailants sped back to the highway. After a couple hours, including some time reporting the situation to the police, these riders continued on the route and safely passed to Ojos Negros.
To avoid such risk leave Tecate during the day, preferably in the morning; ride in groups of two or more; and do not camp in Cañon Manteca at the bottom of the first steep, unpaved descent, but continue several miles before stopping for the night. To report any suspicious activity in the area please email Nicholas at firstname.lastname@example.org and contact local police.
From Cañon Manteca the route slowly climbs small dirt roads to join a larger dirt road at Neji where no official services are available. Continuing south the route ascends to 4700′, passing several pine stands and sage meadows at elevation near the highest point on the Baja Divide. Descend to Ejido Sierra Juarez and Ojos Negros from the high point.
Ejido Sierra Juarez has a good store, a small restaurant and a tiny beer shack. Purified water is available at the store and there may be informal camping near the edge of town. Ojos Negros is a larger community just 3-4 miles down the road and has several stores, restaurants and is a popular checkpoint on the Baja 1000. There is a campground on the left as you ride into town. Stock up in Ojos Negros for a day ride to Ejido Uruapan and Santo Tomas, which should take about 4-6 hours.