Did we bite off more than we can chew

Trip Start Jul 04, 2010
Trip End May 10, 2011

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Where I stayed
Valentina Hotel

Flag of Mexico  , Baja California,
Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday July 19, 2010  

From: Santo Tomas to San Vicente  25 mi/40.24 km  13 % max climb. "Max Temp 41c"

Trip Altitude 467m

Total Distance (cumulative) 607 kilometers

We woke at first light, packed and were on the road at 6:45 under a cloudless blue sky. The first 5 miles clicked by quickly and the temp was a mild 26c. Then a long uphill grade began. Up, up and more up. We gained over 300meters in about 3 miles. Traffic consisted mostly of huge trucks. Without a shoulder to ride, we tried to stick to the white line as much as possible but that is tough and takes practice.  As a rule, the truckers leave us plenty of room and patiently chug along at our speed behind us when there is a blind curve ahead or oncoming traffic. Then there are the few cruel drivers who seem to derive pleasure by leaving us only inches and leaving us no choice but to ride off road in sand, gravel and glass if we're lucky, down in the ravine if we’re not! So far we’ve been lucky!

By now, Michelle’s legs have turned to rubber, no energy left and walks the final slope to the pass. Dave thinks it’s my meds but I think it’s the intense workout and heat combo! He is not flying up those hills either!!!! We still need to build up strength and stamina.

With the never ending up ended, we had a great 3 mile down ride, a brief up, then 2 more miles of down or pretty level terrain. With 6 miles left to our destination it became 11AM and 40C degrees. With another climb ahead of us, we decided to take our mid-day break. A shady spot was nowhere in sight so Dave became crafty and tied our tent ground-cloth to a rancher’s fence and made a lean-to for shade. It blew away a couple of times but in the end we got it to stay. The shade was sorely needed as the temp peaked at 41c. At 2ish we were tired of napping and decided to start our climb. The breeze helped and the thermometer read 37c. But we were now out of water and happy to see what looked like a small store in the distance at the crest of the hill. We hoped it would be open. As we got close, we were dismayed to find it had no roof and no windows. It was just a ruined shell of a building no longer in use. But fortunately, we spotted San Vicente on a plateau in the distance and could see we would drop down quite a ways before climbing back up to the town. We were happy to reach Buenos Aires Ranch along this stretch which had a small store near the road with drinks, cheese, and honey for sale. It was unattended but Michelle got someone from the house next door who sold us water and a pound of tasty cheese. We sat in the shade there and slugged down almost a liter of water. A Hyundai with California plates pulled in and a young Mexican with white cowboy boots got out. We said “hello” as he came out of the store. We were surprised when he spoke in very broken English. We asked: “You’re not from California?” “No, I Ensenada” “But those are California license plates on your car”. “Ah yes, I pay for it with cash and whoosh…” he said as he motioned upward with his hand, spun around and jumped into the driver’s seat, then drove off. We speculated he did not register or license the car in Mexico to save the taxes and fees. He probably could drive indefinitely in that status as long as he paid the occasional gratuity to a policeman. Or is there another reason they leave him be?. Who knows?

We find San Vicente to be a sprawling lively little town reminding us of the 'old’ Mexico pueblos of the past. Dave tracks down Gabriel at ‘Mary's Little Hotel-English Spoken’. It’s his mother’s hotel but business became so slow, he now rents the rooms by the month and they are now full. But he gave Dave a rundown of the other hotel options. The one across the street runs about $40 for a basic (overpriced) room. Valentina, a few doors down, is okay with room at $30 and is attached to a great place for breakfast. Or one at the edge of town for $18. Nothing fancy. Dave could tell Valentina was his recommendation and let Gabriel walk him over. The granddaughter of the owner showed room 1 which is a spotless fan room with a wonderful shower. 250 peso’s is really closer to $20 so Dave said ‘bueno’ without negotiation and thanked Gabriel and bid him adieux.

The first thing on our agenda was to shower. We explored town for a bit in search of maybe a margarita and dinner. No luck in the margarita department but as we were about to sit down at little taco stall a guy parked in a truck called out to us “hey, Americanos, if you want a great place to eat, try the place across the street, Valinine”. (It happens to be at our hotel). Angel is an amputee and was orphaned. An American couple living here adopted him. He ran away from home at 17, ended up in USA where he learned about manufacturing prosthesis. He also learned welding along the way. He now makes customized prosthesis for housebound children and adults who are missing limbs. He even makes beds with specially molded foam so people don’t get bedsores. He had a picture album full of people whose lives he had changed. He told us where to find internet café. Before he left told us we were crazy to ride our bicycles in the hottest time of year here in Baja. And it will get hotter as we head south. Michelle is starting to agree with him. Thinking that riding a bus through the desert is the way to go. Dave is not so sure!    
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yc on

Nice going guys, been following the road show!!!! Glad you are enjoying it so much and fun talking to people along the way. Nice bed! I agree with Angel.........
Have fun!

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