Pedal a bicycle into the mountains. The Sierra Pedro in Baja. At the last tienda before the pavement ran out a guy in a funny hat said [ back, you go back ]. All right, he really broke a stick into pieces in an attempt to show me what to expect from the road.
I have a good stock pile of water, three days worth. Route finding should be easy, my map shows only a couple of roads. The road follows the river, river of sand. Soft sand great for camping. A little hard to pedal in though. With most of the water gone my bike gets a lot lighter and easier to push through the sand.
The canyons in the lower foot hills are, worth a look. The pools of cool clear water appear, and flow under ground again. The caves show signs of human use for thousands of years. Lost on the wrong road. A blessing. A wonder land. people know not from wince they came. The caves show signs of human use for thousands of years.
Another day, I meet a man in a truck, taking some sheep to market. Sir, is this the road to San Pedro? Taking his hat of, he puts his hand on his head and shakes it no. There is a language barrier. He is pointing and then motioning to go left. This becomes the daily routine.
A man invites me into his mountain home for coffee. Adobe bricks, palm frond roof, dirt floor. His wife makes the best coffee. When I ask about the road to San Pedro, he motions that I have to go up up up. With a stick he draws a map in the dirt. He talks on his CB radio. The only words I pick out are Americana, and San Pedro. He says the odd motor cycle passes this way, but this is the first bicycle to pass by.
Sometimes the road is fist sized rocks, sometimes football sized rocks., other times, hard packed dirt, always more sand. Some times I pedal sometimes I push. My map does not show all the roads all the small ranchos. I am told there are many ranchos that have no road. Every person I meet asks if I have food and water, I do, yes.
One afternoon; I accept an invitation to lunch. Rice with small pieces of tomato cut on top, beans, tortiass, and coffee. The plates look like depression glass, the kind my great grandmother had. I try to use my best manners and eat only a little. His wife and two daughters are beautifull. His open air, palm frond roofed dinning area separate his sleeping quarters, and his dirt floor kitchen. on the way out I hand him 50 pesos. He reaches back from his chair and picks two oranges and a lemon for me. There are some fine horses here. Did I forget how to live right?
As I gain elevation the road gets steep. I take three steps up, slide back two. and give the bike a push. The cowboys are riding donkeys now. They look at me take their hat off and scratch their head. San Pedro? By know they all heard about the loco gringo crossing the mountain. When was the last time a cowboy stooped to let a bicycle go by? I find gates open, 100 feet up the mountain I look back and see a man close the gate. I see five more cowboys in leather chaps push a tree branch aside and ride donkeys out of a rocky creek bed. Muchos ranchos no camino.
Is the mountain to much for me? No. I can make it. Dark this early? Full moon, winter solstice. I have to make it to the top. Going down is not so easy. I have modern brakes, they are no match for the mountain. miles go by, at last a flat spot to lay my tired self down. To tired to cook food, guess again. Plain rice never tasted so good.
Shortest day of the year. Plenty of time to explore an old mission. My supplies all but gone, my water very low, I can not find the mission water. Two oranges and a lemon, yes!
The hills are ride able now. The 29 inch wheels roll over football sized rocks quite well, when I need water, I'm brave on the long down hill. A bridge building crew has running water piped in from Huh? Running water all I want. Drink, wash, all I want. Cool clear water.
At last a tienda in a mountain village. Tuna, crackers, cold coke. Does the lady yell at me for having a weeks worth of dirt on my shirt? No. She knows I don't read Spanish, so she puts what I think are crackers back on the shelf, and hands me crackers with a picture of tuna on them, thanks.
More miles of rocky down hill, one last camp, last of the 20 patches on my tubes. Only 20 miles of highway 1. Whats wrong with the fat lady in the silver Honda with the California plate, must be her road.
hotel, hot water, sleep.