Baja California, that is.
So today would be the last day in the USA. I had a couple more days of visa left, but figured I might as well start on the Mexico leg soon. I’ve had a lot of rest days recently and the body felt good to go.
It was really nice hanging out with Joon Leng and talking about a variety of things. We seem to always find some nice topics to talk about and it’s always interesting to hear his opinions. I woke up at 6:30 and pulled Joon Leng along for an early b’fast. After the grub, we bid goodbyes and I rode towards the harbour to sync up with Krissi. She was planning to ride with me to the border and pop back again. I guess it’s nice to have an official completion with the Mexican Stamp on the passport.
The ride out of San Diego was mostly on bike paths, though bits of it was on shared roads. It was easy to navigate to get up to the border. We chatted a while along the way and I guess it’s the last time I would ride with her in this trip. She is headed back to Canada to get on with her winter job.
The border was pretty well marked and I was surprised by the lack of crowds. Hmm. We walked along the pedestrian route and the only hurdle was a turnstile at the Mexican border. Turned out that it was just big enough to fit me and my bike too. As we walked towards the immigration, a friendly officer asked us to follow him into the office and a couple of others helped us with the papers. It was absolutely the best border crossing experience yet for me. It was a 25$ charge for the visa if I intended to stay more than a week. Of course, I’d be here longer than that.
We saw that the queue of people waiting to get into USA was horrendously long though and I figured Krissi would have about a few hours of queuing to do. We stopped for a coffee and after a bit of chatting, we parted ways, I am sure going to miss riding with her.
There was a few times Joon Leng mentioned how San Diego was like Singapore. If I borrow his comparison, Tijuana is pretty much like JB. A bit of chaos, broken roads and crazy traffic. I tried to stay away from the passing trucks, but I suppose there is only so much I can do. I just had to trust that no one would intentionally run over me and hope that they are paying attention on the roads.
With the GPS, I managed to easily navigate to the main road that led to the highway. It went along the border and had a pretty steep climb at one point (about 13%) and pretty much swooped down at the same grade. I was looking out for the highway going south and got on to the scenic highway 1D. This one mentioned that bicycles weren’t allowed. Lo and behold a couple of k’s away, a traffic patrol stopped me and made me turn back. They didn’t care that I had to ride against the traffic with manic drivers. Dang.
I managed to rush across to the other side of the road and met a french cyclist, Jean Francois, who was also turned back by the same patrol. I realised that he can’t speak a lick of English and I can’t speak a lick of french. But the community of tourers is such that we instantly decided we could ride out together. May be we work fine, may be we separate ways. Let’s see how it goes.
We found the alternate highway 1 and this one was a bit of a roller coaster going up and down. At least the grade was gentle and I could crank up easily. We stopped at a taco joint for lunch and it was funny that the waitress couldn’t speak a lick of English or French and the 3 of us tried conversing in 3 languages. Eventually I got my veggie taco with some extra hot sauces. Dig the fact that it cost me just 2$ with coffee.
As we rode out, I was looking for the proper roads on the GPS. At one intersection, JF pointed to a different direction than the one recommended by the GPS. He pointed to the compass and I figured that is a possible alternative and we took it. As luck would have it, it was a secondary road and progressively got narrower and the surface deteriorated. Potholes, followed, by packed dirt, followed by rubble and to top it of, it had some super steep descents. Funny, I called it the Jean Francois boulevard and we shared a chuckle.
We got back on to the highway 1 and headed towards the town of Rosarito. We kind of hinted to each other on the camping arrangement and just before sunset, we spotted an open field out of town where we could be slightly hidden. We were on time for the sunset and without trees, I had to do a bit of an experiment to get my sleep system going. Eventually, I decided to do a Joe and sleep on the ground with the tarp overhead. I hope it works well and nothing flies off. It’s a bit tricky to get things back since we are on a cliff with the ocean below.
Ha, so much for the first day in a new country!
Route: San Diego to Rosarito (wild camp)
Distance: 94 Km
Ascent: 2500 ft
Descent: 2500 ft
Expenses: $ 56.75
Comment: Hot day and climbs everywhere.