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Nicholas Carman
September 16, 2016

Baja Blast

Posted by in Adventures   Tags: Baja Divide

We’re not talking about the Mountain Dew flavor here, folks. There are a few things we are stoked to talk about though: the route, the ride, and the scholarship.

The Route

So what is all this Baja buzz? In a short synopsis, it is a route developed by Lael Wilcox and Nicholas Carman during the winter of 2015-2016. With support from Revelate Designs and Advocate Cycles, it has turned into a robust mapping and bikepacking project. The Baja Divide is a backcountry route spanning the distance of the peninsula. Featuring a route that is 95% off pavement, it utilizes high quality graded dirt roads, sandy double track, as well as some roads that have been heavily eroded by strong storms in recent years. As mountain biking popularizes and a sustainable ecotourism model is expanding and providing useful resources necessary to make Baja a sought after bikepacking destination.

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This route connects the Pacific Ocean and the Sea of Cortez, historic Spanish mission sites rich with shade and water, remote ranchos and fishing villages, bustling highway towns, and every major mountain range in Baja California on miles and miles of beautiful backcountry desert tracks. The Baja Divide is a free route resource for anyone to ride at any time, self-supported, and is best enjoyed from November to March, when most off-pavement routes in USA, Canada and Europe are closed for the season.

Sandy conditions necessitate wider tires– 3” tires are recommended– while frequent cactus thorns necessitate a tubeless wheel system. Backcountry touring experience is recommended. GPS navigation is required. GPX tracks are now available for download, you can find them here.

The Ride

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Life on the Baja Divide is defined by a rhythm of riding, camping, and resupply. Baja California is a mountainous desert and resources are limited, although the route is designed to encounter resupply frequently enough to make a self-supported tour possible. Riders may need to carry up to 2-3 days of food and 10 liters of water. A warm, dry climate minimizes equipment needs. Pack light, and leave room for food and water.

You may have also heard about the group start taking off from San Diego early January 2017. There has been a lot of interest in this group ride and it is now “closed” to registration. But don’t worry, you an still ride the route at any time! This new route is a great opportunity to drag your closest buds to Baja and have your own group ride.

The Scholarship

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“How do we get more women on bikes?” That is a question that route developers Lael and Nicholas have been wondering lately. Named in honor of Lael’s adventurous spirit, and her recent success in the Tour Divide and Trans Am Bike Race, the “Lael’s Globe of Adventure” Women’s Scholarship is being offered to a woman of any age who plans to ride the Baja Divide during the 2016-2017 season (Nov-March). Women who have an interest in international travel and global cultures, some off-pavement bike-touring experience (or substantive paved touring, backpacking, or travel experience) are encouraged to apply. Willingness to share the ride on the Baja Divide through writing, photography, visual art, or music is a must. The generous scholarship package includes:

Applications must be submitted by November 11, 2016. Please spread the word and encourage the rad ladies in your life to apply! You can download the scholarship form here: Lael’s Globe of Adventure Scholarship Form.

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Other Resources

Photos by Nicholas Carman

Nicholas Carman left on a bicycle trip in 2008. Since then, he has have chosen to spend more than half of each year on the bike; to ride bigger tires, off-pavement; and to cover less distance every year, in trade for riding over mountains and drinking with locals. Nicholas has spent time working in bicycle shops and restaurants, as a pedicab driver and a marine forklift operator, and increasingly, as a freelance writer and photographer. Recently Nicholas has spent time on the 1000 Miles Adventure Route and the Adriatic Crest route. He shares words, images, and ideas at Gypsy by Tradeand Instagram @NicholasCarman.