The 60-kilometre road is only as daunting as the vehicle you are riding in. An old camper might take four or five hours.
Two pro windsurfers later told me they got to the Mexican coast at San Carlos in 28 minutes while riding in an 850-horsepower Baja 1000 racer.
Jim DeMarco's Tundra was somewhere in the middle of those times, which allowed for a scenic drive through the mountainous desert landscape without getting bored as we headed to our destination.
Travel companions Bones and Michelle Skelton were a bit behind, having a vehicle 20 years older and bit more burly. A few times we got worried and would pull over and wait for them — this was not a good place to get stranded. People don't exactly roll by all the time here. Yet every time our concern compelled us to pull over, we would eventually see a dust cloud in the distance and keep rolling on.
We made it to Punta San Carlos in the early afternoon. Jim was the only one who had been there before, and had a rapport with the property owner whom we saw as soon as we got there. A gringo who married a Mexican woman, Kevin had set up a fly-in wind-sports camp with the amenities of a bar and kitchen and several dozen tents, which could be rented out for $2,500 a week. For those just camping nearby the fee was a much more modest $5 per night per person — basically just enough to cover the outhouse and garbage fees.
We found a spot to set up our camp, and within an hour our home for the next few days was ready to go. Jonesing for some activity after spending the majority of the past couple days driving, we lubed up our chains, put socks on for the first time since leaving Canada, and pedalled into the Baja hinterland.
Sometimes you forget how good the riding in Whistler is when you travel. I haven't been anywhere that could even hold a candle to what we have here. Yet the ability to get on a bike, get your heart beating, and cover some ground that looks nothing like what you're used to is still completely worth it every single time.
The rolling desert canyons provided ample terrain for a decent workout. The heat certainly added to the level of difficulty — it is easy to forget how much of an asset a shady forest is to riding. By the time we were back we were definitely happy to crack a few beers and relax as the sun slowly sank toward the western horizon.
The next few days were all about maximizing the fun in our immediate environment. Mornings were usually spent surfing, followed by breakfast and coffee. Then we would wait for the wind to come up for kiting — those with experience went out for some of the best open-sea kite conditions I've ever seen.
It had been over 10 years since I had kited, and the technology had drastically changed in that time. One wrong move and they'd be calling the neighbouring fishermen to come rescue me.
So I opted to stay near shore and wait for the ideal learning conditions the next week in La Ventana.
Luckily Jim's similar affinity for fun meant that there were no shortage of toys around, and I stayed busy whether in the water, on a bike, simply reading a book next to the breakers or collecting exotic shells on the beach.
The time flew by faster than expected, as is always the case. We could easily have stayed longer if we had more supplies and fewer obligations further down the Baja. But four days on the desert coast was just enough time to enjoy the tranquility, activity, and friendship for an ideal break up of our road trip — already 2,600km — with 1,200 km yet to go.
But the memory of being in an isolated outpost with a truck full of toys will remain. It's not often that you can find somewhere on the Pacific coast with bike trails, surfing, kite boarding, and a bright starry sky on a beachfront property all to yourself.
TO GET HERE:
The 60-km road to Punta San Carlos is roughly 30km south of El Rosario off Highway 1 in Baja California, about six hours south of the border. If you prefer to fly in for a hosted experience, visit www.solosports.net. For more words and photos of the Baja California adventure, visit whererusteve.com.
Click http://www.piquenewsmagazine.com/whistler/the-road-to-san-carlos/Content?oid=2646230 to read Part 1 of the Punta San Carlos adventure, published in Pique, April 30.