There is a white t-shirt with a green cactus on the front, hanging on the door of a small knickknack shop in Todos Santos, Baja California Sur. It reads in English and Spanish: “On the Right Side of the Wall/Del Lado Preferido de la Pared.” I think, I need to own this shirt.
It’s coming into winter on the U.S. side of the proposed wall and there is no better time to visit the preferido side than right now—and no better way to do so than by bikebacking. The Baja Divide is an off-road bikepacking route created by Nicholas Carman and Lael Wilcox, two experienced and intrepid bike travelers. Rather than sending riders from San Diego, California, to San Jose del Cabo down MEX1, the peninsula’s principal—and frankly, boring—North/South artery, the duo spent four months meticulously plotting a much richer, 1,700-mile course.
“In developing the Baja Divide,” says Carman, “our main priorities were to help riders discover backcountry Baja, avoid paved MEX1, and make contact with unique places on the peninsula via routes that are fun to ride.”
The Baja Divide accomplishes just that: It’s actually a package deal chock full of suggestions on how and where to camp (I recommend half-constructed beachside resorts), where to ditch the frame bags and ride singletrack (cactus-strewn Vicente Guerrero), how long you will travel between water sources (three days at the most), and—most importantly—which towns have the best fish tacos and coldest cerveza (too many to note).
The Baja Divide website answers many important questions, such as when to ride (November to March), which direction to ride (North to South, with the prevailing winds), and what to wear when riding (bring one of everything: a long and short sleeved top, shorts and a long underwear bottom, a raincoat and a light jacket). Its most invaluable assets, however, are the GPX files available to download and information on food and water resupply.
In many ways, browsing the Baja Divide website is like leafing through a Lonely Planet guide written by your hippest and most competent friend. The most important thing, though, is that you don’t get stuck dreaming behind the screen while your bike gathers winter dust in the garage. Real adventure awaits on the other side of the wall.