Allan is a cyclist, adventurer and enthusiastic storyteller. A bike messenger for 10 years in 8 different cities around the world, he’s bikepacked across 26 countries (and counting) and currently lives in Mexico City. In recent years he’s completed self-supported, off-road, ultra-distance bike races like the Silk Road Mountain race and Tour Divide. He runs his own cycling cap company Gay’s Okay, encouraging and empowering more LGBTQ+ people into cycling.
Recently Allan once again took to the saddle day-in and day-out to ride a portion of the Baja Divide Trail. Read on for his experience in his own words.
We wake up in our tent to the sounds of the waves lapping the shore, the calm rhythm of the sea of Cortez. Either that or we wake to the gentle sound of distant cowbells, cattle that we hear but rarely see, as they wander between dense collections of cacti and desert shrubs. The hours around dawn can bring a little chill to the air, but we both know in a short time the fiery heat of Baja California will be back to embrace us for the day.
It’s the end of another big year and I opted to round it off by taking my good friend Noah on his very first bikepacking trip, covering 1000km of the infamous Baja Divide trail in just under two weeks. As we both live in Mexico City, it’s a mere 2-hour flight over to La Paz, but it feels like a world away. The landscape is rugged, rough, and rolling. Razor-sharp mountain ridge lines frame the cacti strewn, green and rocky terrain. The sunsets (and sunrises) are spectacular day after day, and the trail itself goes from deep sand to chunky rock, demanding technical skill to keep from spending a good portion of the day on foot.
We arrived in La Paz and were picked up by my friend Cat and a fellow bikepacker she’d picked up along the way, Andrew. Both from Colorado, they were well attuned to the vibe of being off-grid, self-sufficient, and riding rough trails. We decided to ride the South Cape Loop of the divide as a group for a week, camping on the beaches and getting a feel for the peninsula. We set off from our camp on Christmas morning, feeling as jolly as could be.
"The hours around dawn can bring a little chill to the air, but we both know in a short time the fiery heat of Baja California will be back to embrace us for the day."
The first days were relaxed and easygoing, getting a feel for our different setups. We followed the South Cape Loop of the Baja divide route out of La Paz, a mixture of coast-hugging windy rocky trails and passing innumerable empty sandy beaches.
After Cabo Pulmo, we climbed up through steep and sandy trails to follow the ridges of the central mountains of the very south of the Baja peninsula. The heat of the afternoon was intense, but the views were spectacular. A certain amount of walking was inevitable, as some of the grades reached over 18% in places, and we spent some days pushing into the early evening, after sunset to reach more distant resupply points for food and water.
By December 30th we’d made it back to La Paz, completing our loop on a mixture of tough and steep rock, quiet backroads, and eventually skipping back onto the main highway. Here we said goodbye to our two Coloradans and began the second half of our trip just Noah and me.
We spent New Year’s Eve following the route North out of La Paz and hugging tight to the coast on a road that quickly changed from asphalt to gravel. The landscape changed from lush green foliage to dry desert stone. The stone was shades of terracotta, pinks and greens, ancient lines of sediment and history. The mountains were magnificent, the roads lost in time and the opportunities for resupply went from sparing to scarce.
The days that followed continued to be some of the most beautiful and most remote of our trip. The route took us away from the coast and up into higher and greener canyons, oases of palm trees, and more frequent water crossings. The remote and isolated nature of the surroundings felt so much more authentic to Baja than the more touristy south, but it also required more care to keep a healthy stock of supplies always.
We started bumping into more and more southbound riders of the Baja Divide route. Most of whom had started all the way up in San Diego. They had over 1500 km under their belts at this point, and with the relatively little experience we had by comparison, I found myself truly inspired and impressed by their efforts, their setups, and their diverse backgrounds. This route is defined by how tough, time-consuming, and isolated it is. But it’s also surprisingly accessible if you do your research.
In the end, we covered around 1000 km in 14 days on the Divide route. 14 days without a shower or a rest day. 14 days that challenged me, inspired me, and revived me for another full year of epic riding and discovery as we kick off 2023. I hope one day to come back and complete the full route, inspired by the people I met and shared the trail with, as well as by the stunning beauty of this truly unique corner of the world.