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Biking

Biking in Baja

It’s May 1!  That’s exciting since it’s the first day of National Bike Month.  And since it’s cold and rainy in Ohio, and not a great day for a ride, this is the perfect time to share with you some beautiful prose and photographs by Susanne Wright, a friend and fellow bicyclist I met through the Slow Bicycle Movement group on Facebook.  Susanne is a freelance writer and tutor living in Mosier, Oregon. She loves books, bikes, beer – and now Baja.

Cactus blooming in Baja

“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”

My husband and I recently bid goodbye to our family dream home of twenty years; the house my husband built almost single-handedly when our children were babies, and life appeared long and broad before us. In a way it was and was not. Work, family, commitments, schedules, and long driving commutes all contributed to time passing ever so quickly. Now here we are, my husband and I, more than halfway to the other side of life, still lovers and friends, driving away from the SOLD sign at the end of our driveway. We have a new dream and this one includes Baja and our bikes. We are exhausted as we head south – a two-year remodel, home sale, and move will do that – but we are also giddy with anticipation of what the next three months in Baja will bring us. We already know about Baja’s bright sun, clear blue sea, gorgeous sunsets, and cervezas. What we have yet to discover is Baja on bikes.

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With a retirement check covering our asses, er, expenses, and our mountain bikes strapped securely inside our towed trailer, we roll ever southward from the rain forests of the Northwest to the mountainous Baja desert. Five days later we finally arrive in that special place on earth where rare cardon cactus forest meets the deep blue Sea of Cortez; a sea so rich in life, so diverse, so biologically blessed, Jacques Cousteau named it the “world’s aquarium.” Its shores just also happen to be crisscrossed with single track.

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We have one particular ride in mind; a metaphor for our life’s journey thus far. Not a single track to ride one behind the other but a remote road we can ride side by side. Enduring years of hurricanes and drought, this path has evolved into broad stretches so smooth it resembles hardwood and we effortlessly float across but then again, there are rutted, washed out trenches hardened to deep scars, and we traverse at our peril. Unexpected forks in the road force quick decisions which path to take; and just when I think we’ve almost made it, the sand deepens, becomes loose, and my fat, rugged tires instantly fishtail and I am dumped to the ground.

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At the end of this track lies la bufadora, a gusty marine geyser, and if we are lucky she is
blowing. The road narrows as it winds up the side of a sand dune. We huff our way to the crest and suddenly before us, a bright, sparkling, turquoise sea. We straddle our bikes, silent, taking it in; the tumbling surf, mountainous Isla Cerralvo ten miles out, the briny scent of a shifty onshore breeze, the thunderous percussion of la bufadora, and new, undiscovered trails of spiny green cactus forest. We look to each other. Our water bottles are full. Our adventure is just beginning.

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