Part Sixteen: Mid Baja California – Santa is Dead/ Santa Lives

23rd December (San Quintin – El Rosaria) (62km)

The traffic has become a lot lighter now and the ride 50km down the coast is a breeze. The road then cuts inland to El Rosario. Lobster Burritos at Mama Rosalita’s Restaurant (“world famous” reportedly) are not too bad at all. Have taken a motel room with a decent bed in the hope of knocking this cold on the head. Mama’s inexplicably has a tin dinosaur T-Rex out the front.

The whole story really
Prime Real Estate

24th December (El Rosaria – Camping) (85km)

This morning is what cycling is all about. A long desert road in the middle of Mexico on a cool clear sunny day with little traffic other than the odd truck or camper. What’s more there is energy back in the legs and breath in the lungs. Quite a long and gentle rise of 500 metres to start out of El Rosaria for 35 km and then an undulating plateau through the desert for another 50km. Lunch (more tacos) at an oasis cafe out in the middle of nowhere. Through the afternoon the wind picked up and and by 2pm was so strong that it was literally blowing the bike sideways off the road in places. Found a nice little shoe horse in the hills far enough away from the road to avoid attention in which to make camp and cook up the pasta, bed down and await the arrival of Santa. Oh, how the rest of the non-hardcore adventure cycling fraternity out there in their comfortable beds must be holding their collective personhoods cheap tonight for not being out here in the wilds under the stars with me.

El Rosalita Taco Shop

25th December (Camping – Camping near turn off at lake) (94km)

No Santa.  Santa is dead and Christmas this year has been cancelled due to lack of interest.  Today started out as an examination of character.  With the prospect of getting across the remaining plateau before the wind starts up and before an anticipated long downhill to the flat seaside road beyond, I pedaled off early bemoaning the non-arrival of Santa, yet brim full of intent.  Ten minutes later I had a flat tire (a thorn gathered from my camping retreat) and then managed to pinch the tube twice while trying to fix it causing two more punctures.  Enough to prompt a quiet, considered and substantial dump.  An hour later and off again and it was not too long before the wind (Easterly) started in again only this time even stronger.  If the road turned east it was nigh on impossible to make headway into the wind. Turning South-East one could almost keep the bike from blowing off the side of the road yet forward motion was possible.  Turning South the wind became a tail wind.  The day’s progress therefore turned markedly with every twist in the road. At mid afternoon, a broken man, I found a boulder and huddled behind it to shelter from the onslaught for an hour.  To top it off I chose the worst camping site in living memory.  The wind then blew up untrammeled across the adjacent huge dry lake bed and blasted up and across my campsite lifting the tent with it. Through into the night I sat in the tent battening hatches thinking the next big blast would launch all and sundry into the ether.

More Desert
North Baja Desert

26th December (Camping – Guerrero Negro) (180km)

The wind must have calmed sometime during the night as I did in fact get to sleep after re-pegging the tent for so many hours. Was awakened by the start up and the renewal of the flapping of the tent. The day’s cycling was then something to relish. 180km, that’s right, 180km which is well over the old tonne in miles and a new record for your correspondent. Over the plateau and then blasted out onto the plain and into Guerrero Negro just on dusk. Checked into the place that has the whale watching tours (Mellimarro) and there, on the restaurant roof top is Santa. Yes, Santa must have given me this day. He does move in mysterious ways it seems. Santa is indeed lord of all.

Santa Lives
More Desert
Road Through Desert

27th December (Guerrero Negro)

Whale Watching out in the bay this morning was very nice indeed.  Loads of Gray whales migrate from Alaska to the coast of Baja each year to breed.  The whales came close and in one instance right under our boat (they like to use the boats to scratch I’m told).  The seals were a bonus.  They evidently have to build up a lot of speed in the water to make the leap up onto the buoy – where they can then luxuriate to recover from the exertion (I empathize as I  rest up in the hotel here).

Whale Tail

Part Fifteen: Baja California – North



20th December (Rosalita – Ensenada) (80km)

Ensenada caters for cruise ships that pull into port with all manner of cheap souvenirs and strip clubs a plenty. It marks the end of my first day’s riding in Mexico and despite the road shoulder disappearing in places and the traffic being more unpredictable and careless than in the USA, it was not the nightmare scenario that I had anticipated. Your correspondent kept up a healthy clip along the coastal road and was in by tea time.

Rio Hotel

The ‘Hotel Rio’ here in Ensanada makes no claims to grandeur and indeed deserves none. It and Rio de Janeiro have much in common. They both have doors. They both have ‘Rio’ in their names and they both share a planet. That, regrettably, is where any similarity ends. I saw this place marked on the guidebook map yet neglected to note the comment that, “this is the cheapest place in town”. True, it certainly is cheap at 10 Yankie dollars so can’t complain too bitterly on that front. It wears its cheapness like a badge of honour. Disconcertingly it would appear that someone had attempted to slaughter a pig in my room (I hope a pig) and forgotten to hang the ‘please tidy’ sign on the door. The victim must have put up quite a struggle as there are what look to be aged blood splatters still adorning each of the walls. Oh well, What the hell. At least there are crappy food outlets and dodgy strip bars conveniently located in the same street. There is also a profusion of chaps wondering about willing to provide prostitutes, pot, cocaine and pretty well anything else one could possibly desire.

My Spanish language skills continue to come on a pace. Spurred on by the lyrics of Bob Dylan (as is, it would appear, a lot of what I do – I once visited Mozambique solely on the basis that, “the sunny sky is aqua-blue and all the couples dancing cheek to cheek and maybe fall in love just me and you”), am making headway through the phrase book and am well beyond ordering two beers (which I can now do blindfolded).

Spanish is the loving tongue
Soft as music, light as spring
Was a girl I learned it from
Living down Sonora way,…

It may be that I could well be in Argentina by the time that any of my Spanish phrases are anything softer than the current industrial diamond or lighter than mercury yet I shall persevere.

21st December (Ensenada – San Vicente) (88km)

Best Tacos

The photo is of the best little taco shop in San Vicente. It’s just about the only little taco shop in San Vicente. The town lies and the junction of Highway 1 and nothing at all and does not have a lot to recommend it other than the palatial Palm Hotel (see photo) which has as it’s prime selling point that it is not the Hotel Rio in Ensenada.

I have had a rough day on the bike as am still suffering the ill effects of a cold. The energy drains away quickly during the day and this compounds with a nasty little climb in the afternoon and my not having been on the bike in recent weeks to make the going rather tough.  Regardless, I achieved the 88km required to get body, soul and bike to San Vicente and what looks like being the next in a long procession of cheap crappy hotels.

A belated study of the map is now revealing the full scale of the Baja Peninsula and indeed of Mexico itself in all of their awful glory. I may have underestimated the size of this task. The Baja could be up to 15 days ride and there would appear to be at least two more Baja’s worth of biking on the main land of Mexico. This is therefore going to be an epic part of the trip south and could take a month and a half, possibly longer, to complete. The countries of Central America look to be mere piddlers in comparison.

Palm Hotel

Looking further southwards it might be prudent to have a more detailed look at the timing of the travel through South America. This is important as it would not do to be enduring the rigors of the southern tip of Argentina in mid-winter  (June/July0. Therefore arriving there around late Spring or if there are delays, summer, would appear to be the best course of action. That means 9-10 months of 2012 (Jan – October) for the trip from Mexico to the end point at Tierra Del Fuego.

22nd December (San Vicente – San Quintin) (103km)

Mr Truck

Quite a blast along the straight flat road today and just the thing for a cyclist getting his legs back after a break and still suffering the ill effects of the cold. Have included photos of my new friends, Mr Truck and Mr Bus. You will no doubt be pleased to learn that your correspondent is on the mend and now looking forward to getting down the Baja to Guerrero Negro (about 420km south of here) to do a spot of whale watching.

Mr Bus

Part Fourteen: Northern Baja California – Mexico

“When it’s fiesta time in Guadalajara,
Then I long to be back once again in Old Mexico.
Where we lived for today,
Never giving a thought to tomara.
To the strumming of guitars,
In a hundred grubby bars
I would whisper “Te amo.” (Tom Leherer)

The above is presented here in homage to that masterful exponent of the excruciating rhyming couplet, Tom Leherer, who’s ability to wed the likes of ‘…lajara’ and ‘tomara’ in such gentle poetic unison puts my own meager efforts to shame.

Crossing the USA Mexico Border

I must admit (obviously putting my self-proclaimed hard-core credentials at risk) that it was with a sense of trepidation that I  crossed the border into Mexico having taken some of the received warnings of impending danger a tad too seriously.  It is all too easy to let your imagination run away when presented with exaggerated warnings from one side of a border about the impending doom that lurks on the other.  Long ago crossing from Turkey into Georgia I similarly started to believe the hype that on entry I would be strung up on the nearest tree. So much so that I ended up spraying my bike black and brown to make it look cheap.  On entry to Georgia I then received nothing but assistance from the Georgians.  Regrettably somewhere along the line I must have un-learned this lesson so was somehow expecting bandidos to be lurking with pistolas behind each bushel just over the border in Mexico.


It has been three weeks since I was on the bike and it can be difficult to get back on and going again.  A week in Vegas and one in The Maldives on a dancing gig to instruct a wedding party in the art of Samba, and another in San Diego made the idea of getting packed up and pedaling off in the morning a particularly difficult one to process. However, am now back into the swing of things and with the border formalities negotiated without problem, the Baja Peninsula now lies to the south.  Tijuana was a bustling border town and venue for a bikie gang Christmas teddy bear hand out which belied the image I had acquired recently of a place to be pedaled through as quickly as possible.

Tijuana bikies are soft
Rosalito Wharf

The sea-side resort town or Rosalita a mere 20 miles south of the USA border has a long photogenic wharf (refer photo) and a load of cheap motels within which a cyclist can recover from a cold and sleep deprivation and the rigors of the first Mexico road – sans road shoulder. Armed with my five words of Spanish I can now embark on the route down through the Spanish speaking Americas

Rosarito horses

Part Thirteen: Beer and Loafing in Las Vegas

Vegas and five days to eat, drink, gamble and be merry (and not ride a bicycle)!  Yep, there are pokies/slots at the airport lounge. Yes, you can go and shoot a machine gun. Yes, there are no clocks in casinos.

There is, of course, an incongruity at the core of Vegas in that there is so much superficiality yet the core is indeed very hard. Hard Cash! It is a healthy assumption to take along with you that pretty well everything and everyone here is specifically focused/designed and honed through years of practice to liberate you from your hard-earned. Pretty well every punter loses and the longer you play the more likely you are to lose. Having got that out of the way you can then get stuck in and joyously waste some money, suck on a plastic guitar full of some god-awful concoction of fluorescent alcohol and have a rollicking good time.

I  spent a good amount of time playing roulette at Ceasars where the dealers are classy ‘old school’ wags and have nick names like ‘Lightening Eddie’. The atmosphere is great with good banter over the tables as you consume gallons of free drinks, passive smoke a few packs of cigarettes each day and pretend to know what the hell you are doing while you make increasingly flamboyant and irrational donations to the casino. In just a few short days I must have heard every febrile and misguided theory as to why one number or another should or  should not appear soon, all equally ridiculous and well founded. Small stakes gambling should, of course, be fun and it certainly is great fun there (unlike some of the more faded places along the strip). As an added bonus Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra actually stroll through occasionally which is just great. Went to see Mystère Cirque du Soleil (The original format show) which was just marvelous stuff and wonderful athleticism and costumes etc.

We do our level best each posting to bring you the very latest in hard-hitting social commentary; something for which this blog is becoming rightly renowned. Therefore since hitting town I have conducted some field research over at Hooters Casino to test the contention in the recent academic literature that the proximity of large breasts is a contributing factor in punters losing more money when gambling*. The RAAck n Roll Dancers are the latest sensational disrobing act to hit the Vegas strip and with the addition of your delusional correspondent, we became Buff3y & the Buff3ettes for the night (refer photo below). Regrettably we had to let the Robert De Niro impersonator into the shot as he is the slightly retarded brother-in-law of my girlfriend (second from right**). ( * it does) (**if only it were half true)

Buff3y & The Buffettes

The National Rodeo Finals are on in town so of course it behooves your correspondent to go and spend some time rubbing chaparejos with the good ol’ boys and gals. Buff3ysbicyclingblog is always poised to perform all manner of daring stunt (refer photo) to keep my readership entertained so here is the latest offering; mechanical bull riding. Now don’t do this at home kids. You need years of preparation for this kind of stunt and at least a few days to recover. I think I may have put my hip out and then un- and re-strangulated a hernia or two. Don’t do this unless you are seriously hardcore! Please note the graceful back-flip on dismount. As students of the work of Tom Lehrer are no doubt aware, “There is surely nothing more beautiful in this world than the sight of a lone man facing single-handedly a half a tonne of (stuffed) angry pot roast!” He actually wrote this in relation to bullfighting but climbing onto one of these things must qualify as a feat of courage and stupidity equal to (stuffed) bullfighting. Square dancing (below) without your own matching black knickers and chaparejos is never a good look so this is best approached as a spectator sport.

Still Bulll Riding
Square Dancing
Mounting Issues

At least I didn’t have to suffer the ignominy of the chap (in photo) who bravely attempted to mount the beast while clearly being too fat to do so thus requiring a shunt.

Off for some culture. It has to be noted here for the record what people have known for a long time but have just been too scared to put into print; until now. ‘David’ has a tiny todger and very large hands (refer photo) (Paul, its still true). Foreshortening – shmortening!, he just got the willy and hands wrong. This is the original statue here in Vegas, there being two copies in Florence. In his defense, it is cold in Vegas at the moment with the blowing in of the Santa-Anna winds might have had an impact.


Part Twelve: San Diego

Have taken a few days in San Diego to absorb the enormity of the achievement to date, eat lashings of $3 pizza slices and explore the plethora of Irish pubs in the downtown area.

A big thank you goes out to all those who have been offering encouragement and sending lovely messages. There does, however, still seem to be some lingering confusion regarding comments that could in anyway be construed (by a reasonable person, or me), as critical or negative.  This needs to be cleared up right here and now.  The previous advice regarding where to post your comments remains in place.  To assist further we’ve set up another feedback portal so please forward all negative, idiotic or just boring comments to the link provided below,  The team will then do its utmost to respond appropriately and as quickly as possible.  As you would no doubt appreciate there is a huge back log of such comments for us to get through so we beg for your understanding in this matter.  For those who have left return mailing addresses, please appreciate that it takes time to individually pack the freshest and moistest of dog turds and post them off to you.  Therefore please remain patient.

San Diego offered the opportunity to attend a football game (Thanks for the ticket Ian).  A great day out was had by all.  The temptation is, of course, to follow in the well-trod hoof prints of any number of critics of American football and rabbit on inanely about the steroid fueled gladiatorial machismo of the game.  That is along side the temptation to dredge the harbour of banality and go on about the undeniable fact that not a great deal of the playing time appears to be spent actually footing a ball.  Yes, of course ‘hand ball’ is more appropriate yet to go down that track would be puerile in the extreme.  It is also very true that only skirt-wearing school girls wear helmets and that amount of padding to play a game but that need not be gone into right now.  Yes, the boofy lads had the opportunity to express themselves by slamming into each other and the girls similarly through high-stepping ad infinitum. All great stuff.

At the Footy

We at buff3ysbicyclingblog feel that it is far more important to celebrate the game and the theatre of it for what it is; a great opportunity to get out into the car park of a large stadium and ‘tail gate’ up some wieners.   The local team is, of course, the San Diego Bustards.  Odd they should name their team after the flightless Bustard yet there it is.  Quickly inducted in the Denver fan hall of fame, we (the away side) taunted the hometown team as the game went into overtime and the mighty Denver Ducks inevitably exerted their authority.  Oddly for a quarterback (the chap charged with the responsibility of throwing the ball), Mr Tebow, the Denver Ducks quarter back is best known for his reluctance and/or inability to throw the ball, preferring to run at the opposition (and sometimes towards his own goal line, much to the chagrin of his team mates).   The very enthusiastic and charmingly attired cheer leaders (The San Diego Scrubbers) high-stepped and shook their pom-poms bravely right up until their defeat was secured.  Admittedly some points were deducted from San Diego, cruelly many maintain, for having a coach called ‘Norv’ (short for ‘Norv’).  To their credit the Bustards fans took the defeat in good humour, the local crowd choosing to take out their justified frustration on Coach Norv through the media at their leisure.

Lads in Gaslamp district

There are more Irish Pubs here in San Diego Gaslamp district per square foot than anywhere else in the world, including Ireland.  The Welsh, Irish and Australian contingent spent the bulk of the short stay here in Gastown, sucking on yet more rounds of IPAs at one of the innumerable Irish Pubs.

The Irish, Welsh, Australian triumvirate of pan-continental cycling dominance dissolves here in this city into the annals of pan-American bicycling and IPA drinking folk law (see photo) and we go our separate ways.  The Irish continent now takes the easy option of crossing the border into Mexico; The Welsh is return home to clamber up trees while the Australian is left to somehow struggle on through the USA and endure the relative hardship of a side trip to Las Vegas.  The good people at San Diego Bike Shop have been kind enough to fit a new set of Continental Travel Contact tires to the beast and look after her for two weeks while I am away.

Off to Vegas.