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Matt & Jenny’s Baja Divide – The Middle

Matt and Jenny continue their bikepacking trip down the Baja Divide Route, on board Salsa Fargo bicycles.

Welcome to the “middle” of our Baja Divide trip! This blog post starts up where the “beginning” left off. As a bit of a recap, the first blog post covers the initial 11 days of our trip from San Diego all the way to the Mex 1 town of Cataviña some 460 miles later. We certainly experienced many lessons during that first week and a half, and I think you’ll notice a change in tone as you read the “middle” portion of our journey.

The Middle

Still feeling groggy from running my battery down too low, I was slow to rouse myself and investigate what the morning had to offer on day twelve. Jenny was sporting her usual enthusiasm, urging me to come “check it out” and see what nature had graced us with outside of the community center. I peered out the door-less portal of the building and thought for sure we were inside a cloud. A fog so dense that anything moving through it would be covered in moisture that had rolled in off the ocean. I was glad we had the shelter of the community center to keep us dry.

Feeling a bit wobbly as I emerged from the building, I took in a deep breath of the moisture-laden air and my lungs fully expanded for what seemed to be the first time this entire trip. The mind is a mysterious thing. How could I go from feeling so low the day before to waking up and feeling elated the next? I suppose some things are better left alone, and I was grateful to feel well and ready to pedal onward. After a quick breakfast and packing up camp, we rolled into the clouds that surrounded us with much excitement. The dense moist air had never felt so good on our dry lungs and skin. My wool shirt became heavy with water and I had to remove my glasses and we made our way towards the mighty Pacific Ocean. I spotted a beautiful spider web off the side of the road made golden by the sun’s rays piercing through the clouds, and we took several photos and smiled with the hand we had been dealt.

On day twelve we would not be thwarted in any way shape or form. The day was meant to be ours, and we were not oblivious to our good fortune. I felt as if the entire tide had turned in our favor, and perhaps for the first time on the trip, the miles came easy. We came quickly around sweeping bends and were graced with views of the coastline below us. In no time, we were upon the small fishing village of San Jose Del Faro, known for its lobster fishing this time of year. Alas, 10 a.m. was a bit too early for tequila and lobster. We had timed that poorly, and instead we passed onward to our own alcove overlooking the ocean for cookies and a beverage. After our prior experience, I was sure to hydrate well and often, and the views afforded us made stopping for a rest that much more appetizing. Whereas the day before the journey to El Cardon had seemed an impossible 65-mile trek, today it was well within reach. With the wind at our backs, we had a spirited pace and only stopped to enjoy the scenery, not because we desperately needed the rest. Our confidence was high with an ample store of water, and we drank our fill knowing that we would find more in the next day or so. A small hand-made sign pointed the way to the El Cardon camping spot, and we careened down the steep road to a beautiful beach surrounded by dunes. There were several vehicles present and all had surf boards atop them. We made haste to find a spot for our tent and relieved ourselves of our steeds in favor of inspecting the beach. Not long after arriving we were greeted by a friendly group of surfers with a prime spot to share. As we set up our tent, one of their crew came with an offering of cold cervezas and the promise of more if we should be interested in joining them. A dip in the ocean followed by a sunset viewing from atop the dune would serve as the icing on our cake day of riding. The evening hours were spent getting to know our new friends, eating their delicious food, and imbibing in their cold beverages. And so was the first day of the “middle” of our journey.

Naturally, as is the ebb and flow of the Baja Divide, there was a toll to pay for such a luxurious day. That toll would be the 20-some-odd-miles of wash-boarded road to the small oceanside settlement of Santa Rosalillita. The last few miles into town were paved and glorious indeed. Not sure of our next move, we elected to stock up on goods and fluid at the small store in town as well as gorge ourselves a bit before departing. It was quite possible to make it to the next point on the route of Rosarito, but we would not be fooled twice. The route was back to its old tricks, and we plodded along, but at least we were in plain view of the ocean and had the time to enjoy a sit wherever we pleased. Having pondered much of what was available to think about, we had recently begun allowing ourselves to enjoy some music as we rode and typically reserved it for dawdling sections or ones of particular note. The trip guide informed us that the road up from the ocean to Mex 1 was merely a rugged jeep track so in went the earbuds. I found that having some upbeat music with a good cadence did wonders for riding the chunky and slow terrain that was omnipresent. I queued up the Lonerism album by Tame Impala and set about picking my way through the chunky rocks in the midday sun. Something had most certainly changed in our demeanor and even this rugged terrain evoked a smirk on our faces as we chugged along steadily. Sweat poured down on the toptube and Garmin, but it felt good to churn the pedals. Popping out onto Mex 1 and pavement, we cruised on into Rosarito in the late afternoon. It felt great to have another day of covering good ground and feeling well. We checked into some basic roadside lodging and hit the restaurant next door for some hot food. We were looking forward to the next leg as we would be traversing the peninsula over to the Sea of Cortez which we had yet to lay eyes on!

Awaking early, we eagerly packed our gear and elected on another quick meal at the restaurant to fuel up for what could be a long day. It would be a slow upward grind to the Mision San Franciso de Borja up in the mountains. The terrain changed not so subtly along the way from low desert cacti and shrubs to towering Cardon cacti and Cirios trees. It was crazy to think that in two days or so, we would be traversing the whole peninsula from the Pacific Ocean to the Sea of Cortez, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. The pedal upward was enjoyable if not slow. We approached the Spanish mission site around the heat of the day, and we promptly located a palapa in the plaza under which to park and relax. A nice gentleman approached us – the property owner – and had a seat to enjoy some idle conversation. He kindly offered to give us a tour of the mission, and we couldn’t say no. Although we were on a trek to get to the southern end of the peninsula, we still wanted to allot ourselves the time to take in history and meet new people. It was great to tour around the old structure and hear the stories from this gentleman’s perspective. He had grown up there and spent nearly his whole life in the area and the mission. It was worthwhile to take a few hours out of our day to learn about the area and our guide. He kindly took us to his spring and let us fill up with ice cold water before waving goodbye. We climbed more before we were granted a descent towards the ocean. It’s thrilling to crest the highest point in a day and know that it was “all downhill from here.” The daylight had grown long as did the shadows while we wound a serpentine path through the mountainous desert. It looked like we would make it to the next stop; Bahia de Los Angeles!

The guide designed by Lael and Nick has a couple of pages boiled down to mileage, location, services, and mileage in between. These two pages were the most heavily consulted, and the locations are either in a normal font or bold for large towns/oases. It’s always a bit exciting when you’re approaching a location listed in bold as there is almost certainly going to be a restaurant and somewhere to lay your head. Bahia de Los Angeles was one of those locations, and it was also exciting because it marked being over 1/3 of the way into our journey! Cresting the last roller on the small paved highway into town, we caught breathtaking views of the Sea of Cortez at dusk. We were giddy, stoked, jazzed, excited, and any other term you can conjure up. Rolling into town, we wandered the area as was typical in search of somewhere to eat and rest. As we stood in the street mulling over our options, I spied a curious sight heading down the road; a fully decked out off-road bicycle complete with friendly rider! It had become a game since before we even started to see who was on the route, where they were, and whether or not we might cross paths with them. This was our first encounter with another Baja Divide rider, and it was one of the two Italians known on Instagram as @becycling! We exchanged greetings finally meeting Daniele who was in search of some repair items for his bike. He was kind and shared the information on the area which helped us make some quick decisions. We bid him adieu and figured we’d cross paths again shortly. Following some hand-painted signs, we found a great place to rent for the evening and unloaded ourselves of the gear. Casually strolling down the hillside, the energy between us was noticeable. I had yet to put my finger on the change in our demeanor. As we ordered food at a roadside stand and sat down on a small table overlooking the ocean it hit us all at once, we had finally hit our stride! I suppose after the ups and downs of the first week we were reluctant to admit it, but things were going great and, we were on a roll. We celebrated with shrimp tacos and soaked in the good vibes of the town. It felt great to truly feel in tune with the ride and have our legs beneath us – things were going well, and we were stoked! After assessing our schedule, we elected that this would be the perfect time to soak in the good fortune and take a rest day just kicking around the beach and giving our bodies a well-deserved break. It would be our first full day off the route.

A rest day can be a strange thing when you’ve been moving every day for two weeks. The ritual of packing up in the morning and hitting the road was delayed for the future. We had no goal destination or oasis in mind for a midday snack. Just the two of us, wandering around a foreign town amiably. Naturally, we hit the beach on fully unloaded bikes and pedaled along the ocean. Out on a point in the bay, there was an amazing array of seashells and remnants of crustaceans. Like kids, we squatted down to check out each new shape and color, and if it were interesting enough, we would run over and consult each other. We took photos, we dug holes, we waded in, and relaxed. It’s a strange concept to know you’ve traveled over 1,000 kilometers only by your own power to somewhere so remote, and it’s a concept we embraced. I suppose I’ve dawdled enough, but it’s tough because there’s so much that happened and so much I want to tell you about. If you want to know everything, then find me to grab some beers.

Onward and forward to the next destination. The next section was rumored to have sand; big surprise. The leg from Bahia to Vizcaino is 140 miles and what I’d describe as mildly remote. There are ranches and some houses, but generally, it’s not a busy stretch. The Italians had leap frogged us and were somewhere ahead. It was a fun game to look at tracks in the sand and try to figure out who it was, and we had come to know the track of the BeCycling duo. A quick visit to Poncho at San Rafael filled our minds with stories and our bellies with his leftovers. It was time for a few nights of desert camping, and we were excited to be back out under the stars after two nights indoors. We made a long push that day, and anyone that’s been bike or backpacking will understand this feeling. It’s that feeling when you don’t exactly know where you’re gonna camp, and the sun is getting low. That feeling when every spot you look at just isn’t quite right. You’re ready to be done, but you’re being a bit fussy about finding just the right campfire spot, or rock to sit on, or wood to burn. Then, finally, you step off the trail a bit and find the perfect one. I both love and loathe that feeling. Well, we found our spot beneath a giant Cardon cactus with great sitting rocks and even a large boulder bar for making backcountry margaritas. It was a glorious evening.

Picking up the pace – don’t fall asleep yet por favor – we fought the sand, but the sand didn’t win. Miles and miles of sand, only interrupted by one super steep mountain pass road that they paved so it wouldn’t wash away. The tracks were still there. At Rancho Piedra Blanca we finally reunited with the BeCycling crew. It was a blazing hot day, and we sat idly under a thatch roof, finally all four of us meeting in person. We felt like our trip of 1,800+ miles was big, but these fine folks were on a whole other trek. Having crossed several continents already, they were en route to South America. You should google BeCycling and look them up on Instagram, Daniele takes some amazing photos. In any event, we parted ways as our paces differed and we knew at some point we’d see them again. Not far ahead we were faced with a route decision; take the “official” route and potentially face tens of miles of deep sand or take a secondary route and cruise the highway into town. We had yet to make any serious compromises on the official route and feeling good, we elected to face the unknown. Long story short, it wasn’t that bad. I think when you get this idea in your head of just how bad it might be, and it’s even just one notch easier, it’s a huge mental win. We enjoyed yet another fine backcountry campsite and awoke to a mysterious fog. The town of Vizcaino lay ahead, and it was an important milestone as it’s the halfway between the start and the southern town of San Jose del Cabo. The stoke was real.

Vizcaino is a vibrant Mex 1 town with all the services one could ask for. Showing up to town early, we had tacos and ceviche for brunch which hit the spot. It was time for some WiFi so that we could check-in back home, post some Instagrams, and see what was up. Glad we grabbed some internet because we had a message from BeCycling that they had also rolled into town. We made plans to join them for dinner and set about sampling the local cuisine for the remainder of the day. It’s an amazing experience to make friends from abroad while traveling abroad. We were lucky to share a meal and stories together, as well as celebrate Simona’s birthday! Hearts and stomachs full, we retired for the evening to discuss the next leg of the trip. The section between Vizcaino and San Ignacio has a fair bit of riding on Mex 1 as there simply aren’t any great routes through the surrounding desert. We dutifully followed the route and enjoyed the quick miles on the not-so-busy highway. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and we turned off the highway onto some soft and rugged roads. The next turn was even less inviting with yet deeper sand. Just when we thought we’d seen the worst of it, the silty sand began. Sand is one thing, but this powdery sand of the devil is just wrong. When you step on it, you’re immediately enveloped in a cloud like Pigpen from the cartoon Peanuts. It coats the drivetrain and makes some of the worst creaks and groans imaginable. But we were loyalists so onward we trekked. The heat and sand walking wouldn’t have been the end of the world, but when the flies showed up it was sort of the last straw. We found shade beneath a Cardon and consulted the route and GPS. We were approaching a paved road where we could bail out to the highway. This was good news.

The road improved as did our attitudes. Upon meeting the paved road, we paused for a bit, and I employed my famous tactic of informing Jenny it was “up to her.” Ha! What a great way to shirk any form of culpability. We’re still dumb enough I suppose, so onward with the route which immediately deteriorated again to soft silty sand. After one of our longest days on the route, we limped into the small oasis of San Ignacio and located the hostel we had heard about. It was exciting not only to see our BeCycling friends but also new folks traveling various routes down the peninsula. What a day, capped with tacos and animal cuddles. The next leg from San Ignacio to Mulegé is an interesting one. You could easily just ride down Mex 1 in a day or so and roll into the wonderful oasis of this old mission town. The other option is to ride away from it to the Pacific Coast then traverse a storm damaged mountain road all the way back to the Sea of Cortez. The route says the latter is the ideal way, so we followed. We were whisked along a paved road, wind at our backs, to the Pacific Coast. Between the heat, several miles of washboard and suspect tacos the night before, I was feeling less than stellar. Arriving at the coast, I motioned for us to find a shaded spot and have a bit of rest. Crouching beneath an abandoned truck camper, I sipped water and relaxed. Jenny being the ever kind soul she is applied her loving attention to me, and I felt a bit better if only just mentally. This leg of the route is known for extremely minimal resources, and there would be no hotel or bed to recover on. Lucky for me, the rough and sandy roads gave way to salt flats shortly thereafter. These salt flats were wonderful, and some of the smoothest riding the entire trip. As the heat relented and the sunlight softened, I began to recover. Good fortune was certainly on our side as we came across a snack truck in the middle of the salt flats. The driver was stopped having a chat on his phone when we approached. Checking to see if he was ok, he nodded and waved, but this would not be enough to satisfy my wife. You see, Jenny has a love of all snacks salty and Mexican. It was as if she had met a Hollywood crush in person. She fumbled a bit with words and professed her love of Barcel chips. The driver was a clever fellow and could read the way to her heart. Out he climbed and dug into the back of his mobile warehouse. “Would you like jalapeño or sea salt.” Sea Salt it would be, and onward we went. I had witnessed perhaps one of the happiest moments in my wife’s life.

Stealth camping in the salt flats is rad, the stars are dialed, and it’s utterly still at night. A good night’s sleep, tasty food, and ample water had me running on all cylinders again. Our next target was the fishing village of El Datil, and it was a critical one. This would be the last potential resupply for the next 100 miles, and it barely qualified as a village. The one market in town, run out of a woman’s house, had mostly barren shelves, but the proprietor was kind enough to fill our water jugs from her own personal filtered stash. The next section that lay ahead was described as extremely storm damaged, rugged, remote, and hard to navigate in spots. It was foreboding, and the approach wasn’t much easier. On these long and difficult sections, our approach was to tackle as many miles as possible and rest once we hit a town. Making the turn into the canyon, we weren’t even sure if it was a road at all. Rocks upon rocks comprised a meager path, and the GPS showed it crossing the arroyo, but our eyes told us otherwise. After some considerable wandering, we put our faith in the line on the screen and picked our way through the boulder field. I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into. Finally, on the other side, I clambered up the bank to find a two-track that looked as if it were recently used. Goats bounded about leaving their digested food nuggets on the path as they trotted in excitement. Relief poured over us as we navigated up the canyon and came to an actual homestead. We didn’t expect to see anyone let alone a homestead out here. We were warmly greeted by the owners and welcomed into their home for snacks and a drink. The matriarch was clearly an entrepreneur in this forlorn landscape and urged us to tell everyone we knew they could stop here and even camp if they choose. Such kind people in a remote canyon in the Baja Peninsula. We got the beta on an oasis up the canyon where there was surface water complete with palm trees. Pesos and gratitude exchanged, we hurried up the road to find our home for the evening. They were spot on and we enjoyed every minute of that campsite. The water was a windfall, and I carefully filtered then treated it as there were numerous livestock present.

The remote and rugged canyon between El Datil and Mulege was one of the highlights of the trip. Although extremely difficult, the camping and solitude were hard to beat. The views and ecosystems were amazing, with layers of mountains, oases, and wildlife. This section would also be one of the toughest for Jenny. The terrain was extremely challenging with innumerable water crossings, massive cobblestone fields, and deep sand. The floods that mangle this terrain leave in their wake a most difficult to manage path. I had to call upon all my mountain biking skills to cleanly ride the fields of stone and steep pitches and gave up on trying to stay dry while crossing the water. I was most proud of Jenny during these two days of riding for quietly pushing on despite the pain and struggle. Our feet took a beating from being constantly wet and chafed with sand and rocks. It was now my turn to console and tend to her needs as she had done multiple times for me already. At first, I failed miserably with unsolicited advice for the water crossings and bike riding which she was clearly proficient at. Seeing my error, I quickly turned about and unearthed chocolate from my frame bag as a consolation. A rub on the back and reassurance was all that was truly necessary. The final death throes of the ascent were brutal with steep pitches followed by harrowing descents. When we finally reached the top, it was with great relief. Theoretically, it was “all downhill from there.” Camp was camp, and the rest of the arroyo was not keen on surrendering us to Mulegé without a fight. If you could skip and prance on a bike, I’m sure we would have coasted into town. Just as I witnessed Jenny light up with glee at the sight of the Barcel truck, she witnessed me fill with happiness as we sat down at the counter of Magos Bakery for all things bread.

When you’ve hit your stride, it can be hard to slow your roll. Our pace just came easy, and we loved the rhythm we had found in our daily lives. We once again crossed paths with Daniele and Simona in the old mission town. They encouraged us to stick around an extra day as others would soon be arriving and it would be a good time. Jenny and I consulted one another – we had already dawdled most of a day and wandered about. Surely there was more to see but we had become restless. We just loved the nomadic lifestyle and looked forward to what lay ahead each day. We pressed on. It’s not that we didn’t want to spend time with friends, but, rather, we were compelled to return to the road. After the exhausting push over the mountains to Mulegé, we did decide that the day would be short. We had heard wonderful things about Bahia Concepcion and were keen to see for ourselves. We elected to take the road route as opposed to the boat crossing to the far edge. The winds were far too strong for boats that day, and we liked the idea of finding a nice beach along with a stand serving ceviche, shrimp tacos, and empanadas. It didn’t take long before we found a pleasant stretch of beach named El Coyote with palapas for rent and several nearby food stands. No time was wasted unloading and strutting about the beach. I lazily cruised over to the Mercado and grabbed a six-pack of Tecate to soothe our sore muscles for the day. It was a true beach day complete with great food, lounging, barefoot walks, and a campfire under the stars. The next section promised more rugged canyons, little chance for re-supply, and ample mileage.

We reveled in the paved miles as the road hugged the water’s edge of Bahia Concepcion. Fueled by empanadas for breakfast, we powered over the short pass and ripped the descent down to the truck stop of El Rosarito. There is little to El Rosarito other than a dining establishment and a working farm. The service was good, and the food was better. Before every long remote push, we gorged ourselves on frijoles, tortillas, ceviche, and huevos to keep the fire burning strong. The rugged terrain ebbed and flowed in difficulty, but we were feeling strong and confident. Backcountry campsite selection became second nature, and we were greeted in this ecosystem by the magnificent Tarantula. We met several large furry friends along the way just ambling down the remote desert roads. The terrain would dive deep into lush canyons with fresh water, date palms, and cool shade. A brief stop in San Jose de Comondu revealed a store without its proprietor. Lucky for us, Jenny is a social creature equipped with great Spanish-speaking skills, so it wasn’t long before a kind inhabitant topped off our water stores for the next leg. More climbs and more descents. Our legs were strong and hardened beneath the sun’s rays. I’ll never forget the sights of these mission country canyons stretching in every direction for an unidentifiable distance. San Javier provided a pleasant oasis for both food and rest. The small town burrowed deep in the mountains was quiet but well kempt. Waking in the early morning, we were greeted by towns folk sweeping the street and attending to morning chores. We had a big push ahead of us if we wanted to get to the next oasis, but we were prepared to sleep in the wilderness. The apple in our eye was the small town of Ley Federal de Aguas, and it lay somewhere over the mountains. The guide noted that there were several water crossings and I knew Jenny wouldn’t be too keen on that detail.

The road leaving San Javier is pleasant enough and follows the valley along a serpentine waterway. These arroyos are interesting because while there is persistent water in many of them, it isn’t always on the surface. We arrived at the turn off for our route into the mountains and said goodbye to the wide and twisting road. The climb up wasn’t all that bad, and we managed the water crossings without getting our feet soaked. The temperature slowly crept up on us throughout the day, and by the time we stopped for lunch, it was taking its toll on us. Hunkered down in a small canyon, I made some noodles and prepared a hearty lunch for the stretch ahead. The road was deteriorating, and I knew we’d need our strength to press on. The next several hours dragged on for an eternity with sandy water crossings followed by piles of river stone. I’d push on then wait a bit for Jenny to rejoin me to be sure we didn’t get too far apart. Although I knew the water crossings and terrain were taking their toll, she didn’t complain that I could hear. My favorite time of day was the last few hours before sunset when the temperatures dropped, and the light softened. We rolled into town just in time for the store to open for the evening, and as happens when you shop for food whilst hungry, we grabbed more than we needed. The proprietor of the water purification center engaged in conversation with us and was very helpful in giving options for where we might stay. She said we could stay in the town square without an issue, and we were too tired to choose otherwise.

We quickly discovered that the town square is the hot spot for the local youth. Not long after setting up camp in the pavilion we noticed groups of kids and teenagers congregating amongst us. Naturally, we were an oddity, and it was only fair that they were curious. All was well until the sunset and the hours ticked by with a group of local teens carrying on loudly into the late hours. I did my best to tune it out, but they came right up to the pavilion and carried on yet louder still. It’s not my home; be patient I tried telling myself. They’ll get tired and go away soon enough. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I jumped up from my sleeping back and approached the edge of the pavilion. “Can I practice my Spanish with you?” I asked in my broken Spanish. They looked at each other in surprise at this ghostly apparition whom uttered their own language. Cautiously they approached, and I engaged them with the worst Spanish anyone has heard this side of the Rio Grande. My questions were supremely mundane ranging from “What do you do for fun?” to “Do you like basketball?”. It wasn’t long before they were kicking at the ground and dropping like flies. My tactic had worked, I had officially bored them to near death!

The ride into Ciudad Constitucion was a paltry 26 miles and we knocked it out in time to get there for brunch. Here we were, two-thirds of the way to the end of our journey and only 170 miles from the bustling city of La Paz. It was surreal to think we had made it this far, and it was probably the first time where we began talking about the end of the ride, and how long it might take to get to Cabo San Lucas, our end goal. It took us 28 days to pedal to Constitucion, and it was hard to comprehend that in a week we could be standing in Cabo. We ate well that day and celebrated our success of having made it that far. No major mechanicals or issues had befallen us outside of the dehydration scandal and some minor discomforts. Now we were facing the end of the ride, however, and it wasn’t something we could wrap our heads around. This had become our life. We took well to living a nomadic life and actually thrived once acclimated. What would we do when it was all over? How would we feel when there was no more land left to pedal south? Guess you’ll just have to stay tuned for the “end” and third part of this blog series now won’t ya?

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TO BE CONCLUDED…STAY TUNED FOR PART THREE…

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MATT & JENNY BOTH RODE SALSA FARGO 27.5+ BIKES FOR THEIR JOURNEY DOWN THE BAJA DIVIDE, EQUIPPED WITH SALSA EXP SERIES BIKEPACKING BAGS. CLICK THE LINKS TO LEARN MORE…

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PATAGÓN – A Film By Montanus

Patagón is a new short film from Montanus that shares a bike and packraft adventure in a remote area of Southern Patagonia, where, between the Austral Andes and the huge glacial lakes, the traditional Argentine culture of the gauchos still survives.

Patagón is a new short film from Montanus that shares a bike and packraft adventure in a remote area of Southern Patagonia, where, between the Austral Andes and the huge glacial lakes, the traditional Argentine culture of the gauchos still survives.

The endless and arid steppe, the wonderful and jagged peaks of the Andes, the huge fresh water basins with their incredible colors, the awesome glaciers that fall into the deep depressions of the Cordillera, the extreme and changing weather conditions, and the incessant and exhausting wind make Patagonia one of the few places in the world that is able to convey the feeling of being on the edge of the Earth. A slight and lonely stretch of the South American continent, conditioned by the turbulent intersection of two oceans, and located in the southern hemisphere where medieval imagination has positioned monsters and fantastic creatures. “Patagón” is the name by which Ferdinand Magellan called the natives of that region, which in his eyes appeared as giants. Dressed in animal skins, devouring raw meat, he likened them to the figure of “Gran Patagón”, a huge wild creature of whom he read about in a chivalric novel at the time. Patagonia is still a “wild creature” where the guanacos, the pumas, the Andean condors, the flamingoes, the crested caracara, and other species populating it share this boundless land with the Gaucho, proud guardians of an ancient rural culture. Almost five centuries after the voyage of the Portuguese explorer, the “Tierra de Gigantes” keeps alive the call of its wild lands, fueling the desire for exploration in one of the most beautiful and remote corners of the planet.

PATAGÓN by Montanus from MONTANUS on Vimeo.

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Coast To Coast Gravel Grinder – A New Epic Is Born!

Coast To Coast Gravel Grinder co-promoter Matt Acker tells us what makes the Coast To Coast rider so special, what riders should expect, and how the event came to be.

A FRESH RACE ON THE FRESH COAST

The Coast to Coast route is a new, truly a one-of-a-kind gravel experience in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Where else in the U.S. can you ride from one freshwater coast to another freshwater coast? I think the people that have never been to Michigan or seen a Great Lake before will be pretty blown away by just how much our lake shores resemble a true ocean and how beautiful the beach and scenery is in the town of Ludington. Our goal in creating the route wasn’t to just string together whatever gravel roads we could find and call it good. We truly put a lot of time into deciding what routes to use, what the rider experience would be and what we wanted folks to see along the way.

We’ve had some Debbie Downers in the peanut gallery say things like “Anyone can make a gravel route,” and while we totally agree, we really put the time into making this into something more. Mark, my co-promoter, and I have even debated on whether or not to include sections as short as a mile in length versus another road. We’ve taken the time to pre-ride everything we’ve routed, and even when it created more work, we’ve made the changes to really dial everything in.

The Coast to Coast route is quintessential Michigan; rural country roads, farmland, dense forest, creeks, rivers, rolling hills, white pine stands, two-tracks, and of course, beautiful coastline! Riders will begin their journey at the marshy shores of Lake Huron – the race’s Sunrise Coast. The route meanders on the flat and fast country roads that mark the first portion of the course, and farmland is abundant in this area. Before too long, the route begins to roll crossing through game areas and state land before arriving at this first checkpoint in Gladwin. Immediately following Gladwin, the hills become more apparent as riders climb the backbone of the state towards the central high country. This central section of the course has fewer inhabitants and more stands of pine and hardwoods.

Near the halfway point riders will enter the small town of Marion before once again setting out into the countryside. The hills come more frequently now and become steeper in sections. A nice respite from the gravel roads comes in the form of the White Pine Trail (Rails to Trails) which will deliver riders onto the other side of one of our major highways and to the edge of the Manistee National Forest. The adventure turns up a notch here as riders are introduced to four-digit forest roads, some qualifying less as roads and more as paths. The soil becomes sandy on this side of the state and the pine needles mixing with the dry earth creates a most pleasant aroma. These forest roads are one of the trademarks of the Coast to Coast route. Other races might be known for their B-roads or Minimum Maintenance roads, but the Coast to Coast will be known by its forest roads.

Riders will have the great fortune of riding along the Pine River National Scenic River corridor on 100-plus feet bluffs above the clay and sandy bottomed waterway. A fast descent to Low Bridge and up the other side will poise riders for the third and final checkpoint in Dublin. Likely famished cyclists will be greeted by the famous Dublin General Store with its vast array of cured meats. Some snowmobile trail makes an appearance shortly thereafter before riders enter the Udell Hills and forest roads of the Big M recreation area. The crossing of the Little Manistee River will be a signal to riders that their journey is nearing an end. The terrain from here on out becomes more civilized although not too much so. Nearing the lakeshore, one will be able to smell a certain freshness in the breeze. The path ahead flattens out as riders push on towards the freshwater coast of Lake Michigan. It won’t be until the last mile that riders catch a glimpse of the mighty lake. Rolling into Stearns Park, you’ll be greeted by a beautiful sandy beach, pier, and lighthouse. We’ll be there waiting for you with high fives, hugs, and salutations!
































For those of you not ready to “Commit to the Mitt” fear not, we’ve got something special in store for you too! The shorter Coast Loop event offers much of the same scenery in a pleasant but challenging 100-mile loop format. The Coast Loop will start and finish in Ludington, MI. Coast Loop riders will be treated to many wonderful and quiet forest roads and will join the Coast to Coast route at the checkpoint of Dublin. Riders will get a taste of those last 50 or so miles from Dublin to the shore and we’re sure it will leave you craving the full trip across the Mitt in the future!

The weather in Michigan is largely a question mark in the spring months. We’ve been known to be graced with 80 degrees and sunshine but also 35 degrees and freezing rain. Being surrounded by freshwater oceans means the wind can change at a moment’s notice. Riders should come prepared to tackle anything from cold rain to dry heat and headwinds.

Having ridden the course, I can tell you firsthand that while 32mm tires may seem like a great idea in the first 50 miles, they’ll have you walking in the Manistee National Forest. If we have a wet spring, then the forest roads should be fairly firm, but if it’s dry you’ll wish you had a fatbike. I’ve sampled the course on the Salsa Warbird with 42mm tires as well as the Salsa Cutthroat on 29x2.1” tires, and both treated me well. Keep in mind you’ll be riding your bike for 210 miles, so those extra few millimeters of tire cushion aren’t exactly a bad thing.

A good frame bag, hydration pack, or bikepacking seatbag setup should leave you with enough room for a few layering options as well as reserve snacks. There are several convenience stores along the route and at least one at each checkpoint. If you run out of food or water, it’s no one’s fault but your own!

On the fence about signing up? Don’t be. This is the perfect excuse to explore a beautiful state whether it’s where you were born and raised or a place you’ve never set foot. The coastal town of Ludington is a vacation paradise with wonderful beaches, delectable delicacies, and nice accommodations. Michigan is known for its sweet treats such as fudge, maple syrup, and ice cream. Reward yourself with a couple scoops piled into a freshly made waffle cone at House of Flavors then stroll down the pier to the lighthouse. The peaceful Northwoods are ripe with nature and solitude – the perfect place to dig deep and push your limits. Come join us for a truly unique adventure and Commit to the Mitt!

The Backstory

The birth of the race was fairly innocent. I got a message from Mark over a year ago and we began chatting about bike races, course designs, and gravel racing. One day, he sent a note and said he was looking at doing a bike race on gravel across Michigan and had a few ideas to bounce off me if I was interested. Naturally, I was curious, and as coincidence would have it, I had been designing a gravel route across the state for my own personal use – it just hadn’t occurred to me to make an event out of it. Even more of a coincidence, Mark had been using my mapped gravel roads on http://www.gravelmap.com to rough in a route but didn’t realize I was the one mapping them until sometime after we began chatting about it!

I suppose it was a bit of a perfect storm that brought the creation of the Coast to Coast race about. The more Mark and I chatted and sent ideas back and forth, the more excited I think we both became at the prospect of the event. Mark brings a hearty background in race promotion and directing from years of putting on adventure races, and I bring the gravel racing and endurance riding aspect to the mix. Between the two of us, all the gaps get filled in when it comes to putting on an event like Coast to Coast.

Mark’s background with gnarly adventure racing and running events took its toll on his body, and he was turning to more cycling for its lower impact. He’s been into mountain biking for a long time and has also finished the infamous Marji Gesick 100, so he’s a legit rider. With time it was only natural he’d start thinking about putting on some cycling events. My background up until a few years ago was primarily on the racing side of things as I had a full-time career. My wife and I decided a couple of years ago that we’d take some time off from work and just travel and enjoy life. In the back of my head, I couldn’t help but also use that time away from the rat race to feel out other avenues of work. I enjoy getting people together to ride bikes and don’t mind organizing and leading rides or events. The timing for both of us was perfect, and we could really focus on creating a great event.

For me, I’d have to say that my love of gravel racing began with the Barry Roubaix right here in Michigan. I loved the huge question mark of conditions and strategy for a mid-March event in Michigan. What really cemented my love of gravel, especially the long stuff, was Dirty Kanza. I had never ridden 200 miles prior and just sort of thought “What the heck” when I took an entry that Velocity USA provided me. It was a super muddy and nasty year, and I remember thinking that it was crazy when everyone was walking the fence lines and cleaning bikes at the first minimum maintenance road. At the same time, I was loving that everyone was in it together.

When Mark approached me with his idea of racing across the state, I knew it could be an event of epic proportions and in the same spirit as some of the truly awesome gravel grinders out there. Events don’t happen unless people take the initiative to create them and it just felt right.

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THERE IS STILL TIME TO REGISTER FOR THE FIRST EDITION OF THE COAST TO COAST GRAVEL GRINDER! REGISTRATION ENDS MAY 9TH, 2018.
CLICK HERE FOR THE EVENT WEBSITE!
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!
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CHASE THE CHAISE AT THE FIRST EVER COAST TO COAST GRAVEL GRINDER!



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New Devour Jerseys!

Salsa Cycles introduces our new Devour mountain bike jerseys.

​READY TO SHRED

Whether it’s the old school flat-track moto look, or the fit and feel when you’re twisting and turning on your favorite trails, the new Devour Jersey is sure to please. We’re offering both Men’s and Women’s designs.


Men’s & Women’s Devour Jerseys

  • Great technical cut for unrestricted movement on the trail
  • Breathable, moisture wicking, fast drying 100% synthetic material
  • Women’s jersey features a ¾ length sleeve, Men’s falls just above the elbow

    Women’s Jersey Available In Sizes - SM-2XL

    Men’s Jerseys Available in Sizes - SM-2XL

    MSRP & AVAILABILITY

  • MSRP $60

    Available Now! Head to your local shop that orders from distributor Quality Bicycle Products to grab one!

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    Matt & Jenny’s Baja Divide – The Beginning

    Matt and Jenny Acker share the story of their bikepacking trip down the Baja Divide Route, onboard Salsa Fargo bicycles.

    Every adventure has a beginning, middle, and an end. Being that our Baja Divide trip qualifies as an adventure, I will set about sharing it in three parts. What you are now reading is the beginning. It’s not always easy to put words down on paper that reflect a trip properly. The content of these blog posts required several weeks of gestation after our return to “normal life.” The goal is to bring our experiences and adventures to life for you and hopefully inspire you to enjoy an adventure of your own (this blog may suggest that very adventure to be the Baja Divide). If this blog post is the first you’ve heard of our trip, might I suggest reading our other two blogs on the Salsa cycles website which explain why we chose the Baja Divide and how we went about preparing.

    The Beginning

    The first day of a trip can often be a confusing one. So much leads up to that one departure day, and often times the sheer size of an adventure can make you feel as if all the buildup may cause you to implode. The mix of emotions are sure to be diverse – spanning from great concern to pure relaxation. In any event, once your shoe clips into the pedal for the first time and you make that downward motion to propel your bike forward, there’s no doubt that your trip has begun. The day was November 16th of 2017; the time approximately 8 a.m. when we departed from our friend’s home in San Diego, California. To say that our bikes felt a bit encumbered by all of the gear mounded upon them would be an understatement. The GPS pointed the way as we pedaled towards the sunrise and down the paved boulevard. We were still adjusting to the clime as only two days prior we had been at our home in Michigan where winter was settling into its freezing tendencies. Donning only shorts, liners, and a t-shirt, we welcomed the cool breeze of morning knowing that soon enough the sun would climb high into the sky and thrust upon us the full radiance of warmth one can expect in southern California.

    It wasn’t long before we encountered some adventurous terrain in the form of singletrack trails and a canyon in need of crossing. Wanting to pedal directly from our friend’s home to join the route, I elected to pick as much off-road terrain as possible in the spirit of the Baja Divide. It was in this greenspace where we enjoyed our first hike-a-bike as well as learned just how fast our loaded rigs gained speed careening down steep grades. I can’t speak for Jenny, but I know for sure this was the moment when I felt it had truly begun, that we were embarked on a fantastic voyage! We meandered through the suburbs of San Diego and outward through many other towns whose names escape me. After several sections of off-road terrain, it was clear that despite their load, our Fargos were sure-footed and nimble. Prior to the trip we had each spent fewer than 300 miles on our bikes, so the first week or so of our trip we spent getting to know our steeds, how they preferred to be loaded, and what their limitations were. The first day of our trip we were transfixed on the route and our goal of getting to the Mexican border town of Tecate before nightfall. The ascent of Otay mountain proved to be a surly one with steep grades and blazing heat. It was at this point that Jenny mentioned her desire to have ridden more and perhaps enjoyed fewer chips and cookies prior to our departure. Perhaps my reply that we had the whole trip to get into shape wasn’t as comforting as I had intended.

    As would become the theme for the rest of our trip, we met our goal of arriving in Tecate before dark regardless of how the day had went or the struggles we faced. Truth be told, we both enjoyed that first day quite a bit despite the arduous riding and being exhausted. One question we’ve been asked frequently since we’ve returned is “what were the best tacos?!” and I think we both agree that they were in Tecate. We sampled Suadero, Cabeza, and al pastor varietals with great vigor and elation. It was a day of milestones and we were riding high on a wave of joy for many reasons. Leading up to the trip, we had no idea what pace would be reasonable, how we would feel powering our 60+ pound rigs, and what the terrain would be like. We were allotted 42 days to complete the 1,700-mile journey so it was important to average at least 40 miles per day. The first two weeks of the trip, our focus stayed on that number and banking as many extra miles as we could for the unknown that lay ahead. Covering nearly 60 miles that first day alleviated the concern about our ability to ride the required 40 per day. The sheer fact that our bikes, gear, and setup performed well that first day was a cause for celebration. Prior to this journey, our longest bikepacking trip was five days at best, and while that’s good experience, we still questioned nearly every detail leading up to that first day.

    The first week of the route had us pedaling through the mountains as we slowly weaved our way towards the Pacific Ocean. The days were long, and by the time the sun made its way below the horizon, we were fighting to stay awake by the fire. It always takes a while to get your legs underneath you and find your rhythm on these long trips. Each day that passed, we found a slightly better way to load the bikes, clean the drivetrain, and fuel our bodies for the long hours in the saddle. We learned as we went just how much food and water we would need for a day’s ride, and a few times we also learned how much was not enough. It’s hard to conceive finishing such a monumental ride when its only in its infancy and thus we chose to set smaller targets such as major towns where we knew a warm shower and fresh tacos would be awaiting us. One of our early struggles was finding a diverse menu that was both appetizing and nutritious. In many of the smaller villages and towns the selection was extremely limited, so we tried to bulk up on vegetables, fruits, and dairy when it was available. Thankfully the long days gave us plenty of appetite so by the time we sat near the fire for dinner pretty much anything edible sounded fantastic.

    To say that the route was rugged and strenuous would be an understatement. We were used to riding rugged terrain from our summer travels to the mountains but did so on unloaded full suspension mountain bikes. Riding our rigid and fully loaded bikes through similar terrain was a totally different endeavor. Throw in some sand and extreme heat for good measure and you’re looking at a certified epic experience. On day five we had our first coastal riding experience riding from Santo Tomas to Colonet. After four days of hard and dusty riding it was a welcome sight to see the mighty Pacific crashing into the rustic coastline. Much of the coast was unencumbered with structures and other man-made objects allowing us to take in the simple beauty of the rocky shore and sea mist. The moist air was very welcome indeed having ingested large amounts of desert dust over the previous days. I had brought a sinus and chest congestion along with me from Michigan that was further aggravated by the extremely dry and dusty air in the desert. Taking in deep breaths of the salt water mist renewed my spirits along with the sights and sounds. As we rolled into a small fishing town named Erendira, we stopped along the cliffs to listen to the sea churning medium sized rocks. With each wave crashing and receding you could hear the stones rolling back and forth. This was the experience we had come looking for and we both smiled as we excitedly approached town and the tacos that lay within.

    Arriving in Colonet just prior to the sunset, we found ourselves in search of a warm shower to wash away several days’ worth of dust. With little to no cell service, the majority of the time we were reliant on the guide for information unless we were fortunate to find Wi-Fi. This makes locating hotels a bit of a challenge as the signage in most of the towns isn’t always the greatest. Wandering up and down the small Mex 1 town, we inquired at a few local establishments where we might find a good place to stay. Acting on a hot tip, we went south to find that the hotel was unoccupied, and the doors locked. Thankfully their Wi-Fi was unlocked, and we conducted a quick google search to find Hotel Escondido (translates to hidden hotel in English). Another few miles back to where we had originally joined the highway, and we found a small sign pointing the way up a hill into a neighborhood. I share this story because it’s just one example of a common circumstance where we found ourselves tracking down a hotel, grocery store, or ATM. Not always an easy task to stay patient after an eight-hour day in the saddle but the warm shower, cold Tecate, and The Simpsons in Spanish more than made up for the trouble. We were very fortunate to have my wife’s Spanish speaking skills along for the adventure, and although it’s not necessary to speak the language, it sure does make the trip that much easier.

    The route wanders back into the mountains from Colonet in a southeastern direction towards a couple of family-owned ranches known as great places to stay. This stretch would be our first legitimate arroyo encounter as the roads leading into the mountains travel along sandy tracks for many miles before finally ascending into firm terrain. Being equipped with 3” tubeless tires on wide rims afforded us the luxury of being able to run low air pressure and keep moving through the sandy gravel of the arroyo. This portion of the trip was where we encountered the highest temperatures of the entire journey and we regularly saw triple digits on the thermometer. There would be no relief from the heat for another week. Higher up into the climb we came across some surface water which felt great on the feet as we carried the bikes across and stopped in the shade for a rest. To make the hard days more pleasant, we would take several rest breaks in shaded areas and have light snacks as it was difficult to eat a proper meal in the daytime heat. Due to our differing strength and pace, we often found ourselves riding apart which was healthy for us since the rest of the day we spent in close contact. When we would regroup for snack time we could share our stories of what we had seen, random thoughts that popped into our heads, or discuss plans for the day. We didn’t have a schedule laying out every nights’ stop so it became a daily conversation based on how we felt and what our goals were. We didn’t want to go into the trip with every detail planned out since we knew two things; the best laid plans are often laid to waste, and the best adventures have as little planned as possible.

    Arriving at Rancho El Coyote after a full day of riding was pure bliss. The small working ranch sits neatly among rock outcroppings high in the mountains and is a veritable oasis among the parched landscape. The man running the ranch was very welcoming, and promptly handed us ice cold sodas as we stopped into the lodge to claim a camping spot. It’s amazing how simple things like having a picnic table to lay your gear out on and running water to drink can really raise the stoke! Part of the journey was getting to know people along the route and socialize with natural born residents as well as expats. We enjoyed great conversation over machaca burritos before retiring to our camp for the evening. People along the remote stretches of the Baja Divide route were generally kind and accommodating. It was refreshing to travel through an area where general concern and care is expressed towards others on a regular basis, but I suppose this is due in part to the fact that life in the desert isn’t easy. The ride from Rancho El Coyote to Vincente Guerrero was not any easier than the prior day, but the scenery made up for the hike a bike as was generally the case. The long descent back out of the mountains to Mex 1 was thrilling and satisfied my mountain biking thirst. It was exciting to roll into town as not only had we covered 300 miles of the route, but it was one of our goal towns that we were aiming for. After stocking upon pesos at an ATM and tacos de pescado across the street, we ventured down the highway to find FASS bikes and the proprietor Salvador who had become quite famous on the route. We were warmly greeted upon our arrival and Salvador was quick to ask if we were in any need of assistance. Thankfully our gear was solid, so our visit mostly concerned discussion about the route, info on the terrain ahead, where to eat, and a recommended re-route to avoid unnecessary arroyo crossings. If you find yourself riding the Baja Divide you must stop by and say hello at the very least!

    Hotel California in Vincente Guerrero offers quaint and simple accommodations. After gathering a key, we headed for our room and just as we rounded the corner were greeted by fellow cyclists. This was our first encounter with other touring cyclists in Baja, and the couple from Scotland made for fantastic company. Along the route we would gather more acquaintances that would soon become friends and I suppose that this is one of the magical things that happens on these long trips. We would spend Thanksgiving Day pedaling from Vincente Guerrero to Nueva Odisea and beyond. The route once again arrives at the Pacific Ocean and this time we got to ride the beach for several miles! The wet packed sand made a great riding surface and the sunshine glinting off the water made it a special day for sure. It was like a scene in one of those cheesy movies, pedaling towards flocks of sea birds to have them all erupt in flight as we passed by, fishermen using hand lines off the beach, kids playing at a nearby campground. Returning slightly inland we arrived at Nueva Odisea for what would be our Thanksgiving meal; enchiladas, tacos, beans, and tortillas. The icing on the cake was having just enough cell service to get a phone call out to each of our families. This massive stockpile of morale-boosting experiences would be critical for the difficulties that we would encounter over the next several days.

    The guide notes mention that the section after Nueva Odisea is comprised of rough jeep tracks. What we learned afterwards is that these jeep tracks last for over 30 miles and entail many miles of hike-a-bike. Lucky for us we didn’t have enough water to begin with, so several hours in to the ride we were down to a bottle each and rationing in the 100+ degree weather (insert sarcasm). We incorrectly assumed that this 50+ mile stretch would be much likes the others, and as it turned out, it was our most difficult day of riding of the whole trip. The route is an ever-changing creature with tropical storms, dry and rainy seasons, and off-road races that use the same roads. This particular section had been recently used in one of these off-road races and did not particularly benefit from said race. As the French would say, “C’est la vie”. The miles ticked by ever so slowly, and despite the rising concern, it was clutch to play it cool. Any sort of fret or panic wouldn’t make water start bubbling out of the ground and every bit of energy was best not wasted. I wouldn’t say we were delirious, but the Dr. Seuss like landscape with the Cirrios trees and giant Cardon Cacti started to make me wonder if we were indeed awake or not. Never in my life have I seen such a sight as the roadside restaurant in El Sacrificio. Immediately we sat down and began consuming cold water and Coca-Cola. After a quick meal we limped our dehydrated bodies down the road to El Descanso for one last snack and re-supply before heading into the desert to camp. Now, this is where a more learned man would have decided to camp at the truck stop, especially since they offered just that. Nope. We’re still plenty young enough to continue making poor decisions. We did buy lots of water which was good, but even better would have been staying there and consuming liter upon liter and then re-stocking again in the morning.

    The next day’s ride towards Catavina would prove to be a difficult one as well. The heat had yet to relent, and the going was slow. We made the turn off-route to San Agustin for lunch and water. Once again, we enjoyed cold sodas, hot food and some sweets to top it all off. The route from here until a small pass wavered between sand and large stone. In any event it was hardly ridable, and we second guessed our decision to stay true to the route versus ride the highway which was still within sight. Upon cresting the small climb, we ate our words though, as the desert opened up into large boulders with every type of cacti imaginable wedged in between. This would also be a common theme in the Baja Divide with brutal terrain breaking down body and spirit only to relent once you had neared a breaking point into some of the most beautiful scenery you could ever imagine. It was a cruel game at times, but we were keen to keep playing along. The descent into Catavina was most enjoyable with sweeping turns and thrilling speed. We rolled into town with the waning sun and once again promptly acquired some cold beverages prior to locating our lodging for the night. We elected to treat ourselves to the nicer option in town after the previous long days in the desert. After enjoying some fine cuisine across the road, we settled into the hotel bar for a few micheladas prior to hitting the hay. What should have been one of the most enjoyable night’s sleep on record was not to be. I awoke far too many times to count either burning up or freezing cold. My head ached so bad it swept down my neck and every muscle in my back was taut as a drum. After thinking long and hard about the possible cause of my malady, I came to realize that I had not urinated in over a day, and that most stops we made I either had a cola or a beer. The severe dehydration from several days before had put me into a debt I had yet to repay. During the early morning hours, I consumed over a gallon of water before even an inkling of having to use the restroom arose. Completely devoid of energy and unable to think straight I told Jenny we would have to sit tight until I could correct the problem. It was probably the least advantageous point in the trip to be in such a situation as the next leg was over 120 miles with zero water.

    It wasn’t until after noon that I was able to drag myself out of the room to eat something. We strategized about our next move and elected to carry on just up the road to a community center where we could camp. Leaving the hotel in the midday heat wasn’t exactly ideal but I was hoping the fresh air and scenery would help lift me from my funk more effectively than a dark hotel room. It took most of the afternoon just to cover the 28 miles to our camp for the night. Upon arrival I inflated my sleeping pad and lay prone on the ground only stirring to consume water. Jenny is a kind and patient soul, and she looked after me the rest of the day assuring me I’d feel better. We listed to podcasts in the evening inside of the community center, and I drifted in and out of sleep. My morale was low, but I kept reminding myself it was just a phase, and that soon I would return to my normal self. I was reminded of how wonderful it was to be on this journey with Jenny, and how having the right partner on a trip makes all the difference in the world.

    Stay tuned for Part Two…

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    Active Working Mom – Making It Happen

    Salsa product project manager Laura Haraldson is an “active working mom” and shares a bit of her training road map preparing for Land Run 100 and a host of gravel events this season.

    In what bizarro world is it even OK that a 4 a.m. wakeup call isn’t early enough? As I was kicking myself for hitting snooze one too many times the other day, the thought occurred to me that I could possibly share a bit of my training schedule, but not to brag (though I am proud of the effort); more, to be honest, to share those times I did hit snooze, or read a book with my daughter, or slept off a sinus infection—because however you make it work, it works.

    a typical wintry day in early 2018

    4 a.m.: Alarm

    4:10 a.m.: Wake up*

    Breakfast

    Make sure kids lunches are ready, bike is tweaked, clothes out, lights charged, podcast set

    4:30 a.m.: Check email while “TCB” (taking care of business, my acronym at the office for pumping, as my 5-month-old is still 100 percent breast milk-fed—there, I said it)

    5 a.m.: Weights or other cross-training

    6 a.m.: Morning park-and-ride** (Most days the past three months temperatures in Minnesota started around 0 degrees F)

    7:30 a.m.–4 p.m.: Work; some days a midday lunch run, 3–4 miles fartleks or hills***

    Ride-to-park, pick up the “littles”

    6 p.m.: Home for dinner****

    Reading with first-grader

    Times tables with third-grader

    7:30 p.m.: Kids bedtime

    By 9 p.m.: My bedtime

    schedule asterisks:

    *this is sometimes 5:10 a.m., then I miss either my cross training or my morning ride, which means it’s the trainer for me in the evening. Boo.

    **some mornings a run instead; or, when too tired or Baby Bash was up too many times during the night, ride relegated to trainer in the evening (see above)

    ***most of my runs are done on weekends and, let’s be honest, my best-laid plans of running up to 26 miles capped this past week instead at 20. I’m still confident: Between the freezing temps and the mounds of snow we’ve been dealing with up here in Minnesota, I’m thrilled with any and all I can get

    ****it needs to be said here: a huge THANK YOU to my amazingly supportive husband, who rotates childcare drop-off duties with me every other day so that I can have longer early rides, makes the ever-popular dinners of waffles/pancakes/pizza at least once a week so I can ride right into the dinner table some nights, and in general is my grounding light. It is NOT lost on me that this “active working Mom” thing could not be accomplished without a selfless, yet balancing partner, who knows how much to let me take and when to remind me about the important things, like books and times tables and movie nights with the kids]

    The asterisks are what’s important, people: Nobody’s perfect, and the effort is what matters to me today. But even as I give myself grace for my training indiscretions, I’ve discovered it’s what I need—this ridiculous schedule, this early morning adrenaline rush, this “me” time. After all, what is all this bicycling business if not a long, winding, hilly (or in my case this past month, snowy) gravel road to self-discovery? In January and February, I’ve discovered I am a better version of my whole self when I’ve gotten in a workout, and preferably a ride at that. It’s grounding. It’s stress-reducing. It’s my “think” time. I’m a better mom. I’m a better wife. I’m a better worker and, I hope, coworker. Thank you, Land Run and other gravel events, for the excuse to find more of me.

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    The Good, The Bad, & The Compromises

    The Clark family checks in from the Baja Divide Route, as they continue their Simply Propelled family bikepacking expedition.

    The Baja Divide is challenging us on a daily basis, stretching our abilities, and testing our endurance. Heat, wind, sand, and rough tracks make progress uncertain even after 1000 miles. Each morning we set out wondering: How far will we have to push our bikes up that climb? Can we find shade in the heat of the day? Will 14 quarts of water get us to the next town?

    Under ideal conditions we are challenged, but enjoy the adventure. When the tracks are reasonably smooth and temperatures moderate we make good progress, averaging as much as 40 miles a day in some sections. Five good days of riding from Bahia de Los Angeles to Vizcaíno take us along the Sea of Cortez through majestic uplands. We camp on the beach and watch a full moon rise out from the sea. We ride through towering cactus and successfully repair a broken part on our towing attachment along the track. Every day has surprises that keep the riding interesting. Near the end of our second day we race dusk to a nearby ranch, riding hard in our train with father, daughter and son tethered on one track and Alice racing along beside us. The speedometer on this slight downhill reads a rare 15 miles per hour and the cool evening air is luxurious. We are filled with wonder at the hues in the sky and talk excitedly about what we will find at Rancho Escondido. It is moments like these that bring us to these distant places.

    When conditions are less than ideal the challenge often seems too great for our family. A week later we are at an important intersection: turn into the mountains for three hard days to Mulege, or take a shortcut to the south. Our morning progress is fifteen hot and sweaty miles to a pine tree in a river valley. This is the only shade in miles. Even out of the sun we are baking in a hot northerly wind unlike anything we have experienced. We cannot move in this oppressive heat that exceeds 100 degrees in the shade. Our two hour siesta stretches into the late afternoon and yet it is still too hot to be exerting ourselves. Soon we are joined by a herd of goats seeking respite from the heat. To make this vital route decision, we launch into a difficult discussion where everyone has a say. We lay out the details of the options, and encourage the kids to share their opinions. As parents we worry about the kids and their ability to regulate their temperature in the intense heat. As adults, we worry about our own ability to function with our heavy load. Consensus evades us. It is dusk by the time we decide on the easier route south to a nearby town. I am disheartened to leave the route, but cannot reconcile the difficulties required for our family, the heat wearing down our physical and mental reserves. As darkness overtakes us, we turn on our lights and ride rolling hills to San Juanico. It is still hot at 8pm, and the decision feels right.

    Back in the Sierra days later, we ride between Spanish Misions on the route. Much of the road is littered with volcanic rock that tinkles like broken pottery as we roll over it. In the sandy sections there are more goat tracks than tire tracks. The riding is hard, but doable. Each night we sleep in a date palm oasis hidden in a remote valley - cool, humid and comfortable. On our last day, rain fills the sky we are again forced off the route, making 14 river crossings on our way to the paved highway and some rest days.

    Attempting to ride this difficult route as a family requires a few compromises and leaving the route on occasion to deal with rain, sand and heat. While we rest in Constitucion and plan out the final 300 miles, we hope we can successfully ride the last portions to La Paz and then to Cabo San Lucas. Experience has taught us to take it a day at a time.

    Today the kids are enjoying a first for this trip: a swimming pool at our hotel!

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    For more on the Clark family, and their Simply Propelled journey, click here…

    Simply Propelled: The Canadian North…click here…

    Turning Dreams Into Forward Motion…click here…

    Introducing Journeyman

    Introducing the Salsa Journeyman, our new All-Road bike designed to take on missions from backroad wandering to bikepacking, to riding or racing gravel.

    We are please to introduce Journeyman­ – our new, super versatile all-road bike designed to take on missions from backroad wandering to bikepacking, to riding or racing gravel. We offer Journeyman in both drop and flat bars, and in two different wheel sizes; 700c and 650b.

    Select a drop bar or flat bar build. Then, choose your Journeyman based on how and where you like to ride: fast and efficient with 700c x 42mm tires or robust and comfortable 650b x 2.1” tires.

    Journeyman’s aluminum frame accepts racks, fenders, and bolt-on bikepacking accessories, or keep it light and stripped to the basics. The new Fantail fork in carbon (Shimano Sora builds) or aluminum (Shimano Claris builds) keeps the feature train rolling a crown light mount, fender eyelets, mid-blade low-rider rack mounts, and two Three-Pack mounts for our Anything Cages or water bottles help add to the potential length of your rides.

    A Salsa through and through, Journeyman is the perfect vehicle for exploring your environment and your growing cycling ambitions.

    JOURNEYMAN MODELS

    Journeyman Sora 700 - $1,099.00

    Journeyman Sora 650 - $1,099.00

    Journeyman Claris 700 - $899.00

    Journeyman Claris 650 - $899.00

    Journeyman Claris 700 Flat Bar - $899.00

    Journeyman Claris 650 Flat Bar - $899.00


    AVAILABILITY

    Journeyman is in stock now!

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