If you’ve ever wondered where “Hotel California” is, it’s in a town 0n Baja named Todos Santos. It’s right next to some surf spot that allegedly goes off all year long. I’m no surfer but I wish I was, this is a shot from the highway near the town as we raced past from Cabo on our way to La Paz a few days ago.
Myron and I packed up and headed south of the border just in time from what the Durango Herald says since southern Colorado has been getting hit with snow this week. Instead of shoveling the driveway I’ve been slathering on the sunblock and trying to drink enough water all weekend for the retrobajamtb.com .
I didn’t know what to expect having never been to Baja before so I brought the Scott Scale. I knew the race was mostly dirt road so I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the HT, I would probably bring the Spark next time. Even though the 120 KM MTB race was mostly on dirt road there were a lot of fairly primitive sections of “road”, mostly in the Sierra La Laguna. And speaking of the Sierra La Laguna it was amazing, if you visit Baja and go to the beach all you really see on the coast is Cactus and raw hillsides. Once you venture inland the desert blooms with small streams, huge trees and tunnels of green, it’s awesome. I didn’t bring my phone with me for the race so you’ll have to take my word for it or come see it for yourself next year.
That is one of the cool things about doing a mountain bike race at a beach destination, you get to see places most people that go there never do. In fact, I didn’t talk to one local that had been through that park outside of the race.
So about the race, we started just as the sun came up outside of La Paz. There were a few hundred competitors, not bad for a 2nd year event. It also had some awesome single track that race promoter Travis, personally built. I have been to plenty of races south of the border and while the locations are awesome, the single track usually leaves something to be desired, not here. There was probably 7-9 miles of desert single track in a 70ish mile race which is pretty good. It reminded me of the trails around Patagonia or Mt Lemmon in Tucson.
So I spent the 1st half of the race in a group of 3, only 1 of the guys would work. When we hit the the 55 KM mark where the majority of competitors finished their race, I upped the pace and was able to gap my amigos and rode solo for the rest of the race. That was where we jumped into the National Park and the race got scenic. For anyone that’s been to Baja, riding through a tunnel of foliage is not something you think of when you’re surrounded by cactus but that’s just what we did in the race. It was awesome and totally unexpected. I rolled across the line in the town of Triunfo to take the “W” in just under 5 hrs. An interesting fact about the town is that a huge chimney towers over the town and was designed by the same guy that created the Eiffel tower. It use to be some big mining town and has a big French influence.
So USAToday named Balandra beach the best in Mexico, but more importantly fellow MTBer and Baja adventurer Max Plaxton suggested I check it out. We’re staying about 20 k from there so I figured I would check it out this AM, it’s pretty rad. The area is so rough and the sand typically isn’t sugary in this area but you ride out into the desert away from everything and there is this little oasis. I would agree with Plaxton that’s it’s a must hit for any beach lover in the area.
Tomorrow Myron and I headed back to reality. I have a few more CX races this season and thought I’m not looking forward to the cold I am looking forward to the racing. Since I stopped racing World Cups nearly 4 years ago CX is the closest thing I get to that intensity. It’s incredibly painful but it’s a great test and I think that’s why we all race, to test ourselves.
Before I end this post here is one more photo from the warm waters of Baja, swimming with the whale sharks our first day here. These guys are huge, up to 15 meters long but gentle as can be. It’s still a little scary swimming next to them but also super cool. You gotta look close but you can see it just below the surface.
I wonder how excited Coop is to see the snow…..