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Baja Divide – 2700km of Bike Riding in Baja California
The Baja Divide is a bike packing route that traverses the Baja California peninsula meandering through kilometers of dirt roads and sandy roads, starting in San Diego and ending in San Jose del Cabo.
The route crosses from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Cortes, crossing mountain ranges, Spanish missions, towns along the roadside, fishing villages and remote ranches. If you like adventure cycling you must continue reading.
What is the Lower Divide
The peninsula of Baja California has been traveled by thousands of cyclists from all over the world, mainly following the federal highway MEX 1. The Baja Divide route was developed with the aim of helping other and other cyclists to explore the rural roads of the peninsula connecting Unimaginable places.
Many of the roads on this route have been used by cyclists before, but others were discovered while trying to avoid the federal highway. It is composed of 95% of dirt roads and sandy trails and 5% of paved secondary roads, but with very little traffic.
The route is divided into four sections, each beginning and ending somewhere accessible via public transport. This makes it easier for anyone who can not travel the entire route, 1 or 2.5 weeks to make any of the sections.
In turn, each section of the route is subdivided into 20 sections. Each one starts and finishes in a place where you can get water and food, which facilitates the enjoyment of an autonomous journey with periods of 2 to 3 days before reaching the next point.
The Baja Divide was developed in two simultaneous routes during the winter of 2016-2017 by Nicholas Carman and Lael Wilcox, who became the first woman to win the brutal Trans-Am race after 7,000km and 18 race days in 2017.
Lael and Nicholas crossed the border in Tecate, Baja California Norte, after several weeks of walking and being amazed by the trip, they decided it was worth sharing their route with everyone.
As we already mentioned, hundreds of cyclists travel Baja year after year, but few are those who have ventured out of the federal highway and explore rural roads.
Although it is very popular among motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle enthusiasts, there was no important information for the cyclist; as supply points and sections in which the sand is too loose to pedal.
In the beginning, it was a simple idea to document the journey informally, but soon it became a whole project. It was not only a matter of mapping the route with the GPS but also cost hours of research, information gathering, and kilometers on the bike.
In January 2016, Nicholas and Lael toured the peninsula in its entirety, boarded a bus back to Tijuana and again descended once more, from February to March, to verify the route. It was then that they decided to call it The Low Divide.
The Best Season for the Baja Divide
The peninsula of Baja California has mainly an arid and semi-arid climate, so the best season to do this tour is from November to March, when it is not so hot.
During the winter months the days are usually warm and the nights cool. It is recommended that the route is followed from north to south as this way you can take advantage of the wind in your favor.
Bike and Equipment Recommendations
Lael and Nicholas recommend a hardtail bike for this route, mainly to be able to use bike packing bags in the frame and on the bicycle seat, which would be limited in full-suspension frames.
The front suspension is optional, but they recommend it especially for some very technical journeys. As for the tires, they recommend a width of 3 “and that they are tubeless.
The width is important to be able to pedal on roads that are too sandy and have the necessary traction when climbing rocky roads. The desert is full of cactus thorns so a rim with a camera, no matter how strong it is, will not be enough against them.
Due to the conditions, you will find, the route is ideal for bike packing. In this type of trips, off-road and with little capacity to carry luggage, it is important to plan very well what you are going to pack.
Remember to set aside enough space for food and water (8-10 liters of water) to maintain a good level of hydration. As we already mentioned, the route is drawn in such a way that every 2 or 3 days you reach a point where you can replenish. A GPS and GPX Track of the route is essential.