Tecate- Preparing for the Baja Divide

27/11/17

Here is the Baja Divide route we are following. It is going through beautiful stretches of desert and remote areas mainly.

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This resupply sheet (Resupply chart for Baja Divide_V1.4) we found on the Baja Divide website (https://bajadivide.com/) helps us keeping track of distances and how much food and water we need at any time on the trail. Not shown here, there are also more detailed notes for each section to which to refer to, to know what to expect in terms of route conditions.

After crossing the border, it was time to regroup in Tecate for a few days. We had to sort out a lot of things before heading out on the Baja Divide we wanted to follow. The Baja Divide is a mountain bike trail joining Tecate to La Paz in Baja California. Most people take about 6 weeks to complete it but we plan on taking a while more to do it. While Ian is fit from months of touring on the road I’m still finding my rythm to pedal and don’t have much “trail legs”. We are also quite loaded, due to bulky vegan food we eat in large quantities, and other essentials for us. A lot of people doing this trail are on an ultralight bikepacking setup, which doesn’t include a stove or a lot of warm clothes. This is to be more comfortable riding on the dirt and to be faster. If you are on ultralight though, you have to be sure to reach the next town in a speedy time to avoid resupply issues !

mountain-bike-bags-and-racks-ortlieb-adds-to-packing-collection-with-new-frame-13
A typical bikepacking setup, with front roll, frame bag and seatpack bag.                                 Source: http://tvorbawebu.info/mountain-bike-bags-and-racks/mountain-bike-bags-and-racks-amazon-com-wildman-bicycle-handlebar-frame-pannier-front-19/

While in Tecate, we sorted out the gear we wanted to send ahead to avoid carrying it with us on the trail to still be as light as possible. Between camping gear (sharing while on the Baja) and stuff each of us like to have while touring but not essential there we ended up sending 14kg in 2 cardboard boxes to a Warmshowers host in La Paz at the bottom of the peninsula.

We also stocked up on some bike supplies (not much bike shops on and around the whole route, more on that later), food and water. We are carrying 2-3 days worth of water for each section while on the trail, about 10L each. Research about the trail and some other stuff also took some time.

Warning: the following paragraphs contain a lot of technical stuff. If you are more interested to hear about the travel side of things of my journey, see you on next post!

The first important thing we had to do was switching from touring road tyres (Schwalbe Marathon Mondial 2.1in for me) to mountain bike tyres.

We had decided not to run tubeless tyres (although they are especially recommended for the Baja Divide) as we didn’t really understand them. After much research and headache to find a fat, sturdy foldable mountain bike tyre which would survive the trail (lots of thorns and shitty bits along the way) I settled on a specific type of Maxxis minion 2.5 inch wide only to realize it had run out and the narrower versions I could buy online were not the tougher, resistant type. I then settled for the Schwalbe Hans Dampf 2.35inch, which we had been told pumped up was equivalent to a 2.5 inch tyre.

When I received it, I tried swapping my marathon mondials for the Hans Dampfs, only to find out I could not get them on! I went to a bike shop who did it for me and checked everything worked fine with the extra width. They said they had trouble with them too but managed to put them on and off.

Setting off from LA I was running the mondials until Tecate, carrying the folded Hans Dampf and hopping to swap them over there, where Ian assured me “it’s only bad technique, I’ll put them on alright!”

But trying them out at the hotel we struggled and struggled, put one tyre on…not managing the rear one. We then decided to swap Ian’s tyres for the trail, Maxxis Ardent 2.4inch, with mines, as his rims were narrower than mines, and the Maxxis more flexible than the tough Hans Dampf. The Maxxis went kind of alright on my rims (Velocity Cliffhanger) but still were hard to put on and off and a couple of tubes were pinched in the process. Ian gave me his tyre liners too with them so hopefully I won’t have a puncture too soon but it looks like it won’t be too fun when it happens !

I’ll probably tell more on both sets of tyres and on my rims in later posts as we test them out on the Baja, but so far it look like the Cliffhanger rims, while definitely looking beefy and sturdy make it pretty hard to put on and off ANY tyre on them ! It’s been hard removing and putting back on the Schwalbe Marathon Mondials on them as well.

The Maxxis are quite softer compared to the Hans Dampf but so far so good, they make for a really nice ride on the Baja. The Hans Dampf look very sturdy and durable but definitely don’t look like a 2.5inch wide tyre and not even like a 2.35inch on Ian’s rims (Though I must admit his rims are fairly narrow compared to some other mountain biking rims) .

After all that planning it was time to get out on the Baja !

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Our bikes set up for the Baja Divide !

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