Part XI: Riding in Baja

Thursday October 25th

I wake up to loud roosters and dogs way before I want to. Even with earplugs I can’t ignore all the commotion around me. A $15 motel is a favorite for truck drivers and they are definitely loud leaving at 4:30-5:00 am. Reluctantly, I head out too.

The road takes me out of Ojos Negro along many fields. Soon, I leave the flat valley and the road starts to climb at an even pace. After an hour, I stop at the top of the hill to have a breakfast of a banana and nuts. In the distance I hear a loud roaring noise getting louder. From the hill to my left comes a Baja 1000 race car practicing for the upcoming event. It crosses the road and soon disappears out of sight. I take the road less traveled. Pretty soon I am in a remote area climbing and descending for miles and miles. The eroded road gets so steep and rugged at times that I have to push and pull The Beast over granite slabs, huffing and puffing and cursing as well. Just a bit after noon I stop at, what I believe, might be close to the highest point for the day. I find shade under a huge tree. A nice breeze is cooling me off and as I take a pee, a doe, a deer, a female deer runs no more then 20 feet away from me. I snack on leftover pizza and have long sips of warm water. Today I make sure I have plenty of water with me. It gets over ninety degrees during the day. Sitting alone under the ancient tree, it really hits me.

I am doing this! I am out here all by myself and I love the solitude. I wish I could share this beautiful place with you right now. I am alone but far from feeling lonely. I feel the love and support of my family and friends who, at the moment, are so far away. 

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Ok, lunchtime’s over! Get your ass back on the bike. The day isn’t over yet and as Jim would say, ”We are burning daylight!” Oh, by the way, I broke my reading glasses this morning so I am kinda writing half blind. Send some down my way please! 

The descent is steep and eroded from the top, so I walk the bike. There is no point taking the risk of falling and getting hurt way out here. Out in the distance I see some palm trees and some structures. It looks like an abandoned ranch, but then when I reach it, a few cows scatter and there is an old pickup truck that could not possibly run any longer, parked by what is more of a shack then a house. It is difficult to imagine someone would actually live this far out in the middle of nowhere. The dirt road stretches before me as far as the eye can see. It crosses mountain after mountain. I finally reach the valley of Uruapan and I might as well have arrived to Tuscany. The area is known for vineyards and they stretch into the hills on both sides of the valley. The village doesn’t have anything else but a couple of small stores. Somewhere along the way I missed any signs that might have pointed to the hot springs. Even so, I stop and celebrate with a cold Corona then continue to Santo Thomas where I know there is a restaurant and a campground. After the whole day of solitude in the mountains, it’s shocking to be back on busy HW 1, but I look forward to tomorrow- I will ride along the Pacific coast. I will see the ocean for the first time on my trip.

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Friday October 26

Gooood morning legs!

The climb out of Santo Tomas is as steep as promised. I can feel my legs are still tired after riding through rugged, challenging terrain yesterday.

I pass several beautiful vineyards and wish I could just ride a horse in the hills. I am in high anticipation of seeing the ocean, but the road is still taking me up and down and around the hills. And then it comes. I fly down a steep and rocky descent and avoid the really soft sand sections that want to throw me off The Beast. The views don’t disappoint though. At a fish camp I take a break and eat a snack of an avocado and nuts. The road leads me along the spectacular coast to the town of Ejido Eréndira. It is an active fishing town and I have my first fish taco meal. I contemplate staying here but decide to ride another 26 or so miles toward the town of Colonet.

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If I stay here, it will add to many miles I’d have to ride tomorrow. I am sitting by myself at the restaurant overlooking the ocean listening to the big waves crashing. I feel at home by the ocean. I just wish I had someone to share this beautiful moment with. That’s the biggest price to pay when you travel alone. I arrive to the town of Colonet by the guidance of a flashlight. I pass a hot dog and taco stands, but no motel or camp. I should have stayed somewhere along the coast and camped, I think. I go to a store to ask directions and a young guy tells me that there is a hotel either three miles back north or three miles further south out of town. I start riding south but am skeptical as the dirt shoulder ends and I have to get on the freeway. I turn around. The guy must have been mistaken. There has to be a motel in a busy town like this. I pass a couple with a stroller and they tell me the same thing. The only hotel is the one about a kilometer out of town and up the hill. I have no choice. I turn around. I walk the bike in parts, so I can stay as far off the road as possible. I reach the Hotel Paradisio and it does look like a paradise to me at that moment. I am filthy and exhausted. The restaurant, of course, is closed but the manager sends me a quesadilla and a Corona to the room. A shower and a clean soft bed never felt better.

Alenka Vrecek