About 200 miles south of the border lies a road which turns off from the main Highway 1 and travels upward and eastward to the San Pedro Martir National Park and National Observatory located on the crest of mountain range which traverses down the center of the Baja Peninsula. The road is well paved, and has very little vehicular traffic making it an awesome route for a bike ride. Along the way, you ride from low desert scrub at the coast, through the wide pastoral valley of the San Telmo river, into the chaparral and oaks of the high desert, and finally to the pine forests at the top of the mountain. At the top there are breathtaking views down the precipitous eastern escarpment as it drops into the Laguna Salada and Sea of Cortez below.
This is not an event, but simply a challenge we are throwing out to whoever might be interested in seeing this beautiful part of Baja and accomplishing a pretty extreme ride. The Observatory is at 9200 ft elevation, and the total ascent over the 60 miles is a little over 13,000 feet. There are a couple sections of the road that are over 15% grade, and long stretches over 7% - it is a challenging route for even the most seasoned of climbers. On top of that the air gets dry and thin as you pedal up to 9200 feet - if you're not used to elevation it definitely adds to the difficulty of the route.
If you do this ride, you should be proud! We'll be proud too, and we will be giving out a free t-shirt to anyone who does the full 60 mile route and posts it up on Strava.com. I have a limited supply of shirts and this is first come first serve - I can't guarantee that we'll have shirts left or in your size. Additionally, because our sponsor is footing the bill for the shirts, we are limiting the offer to residents of the US, and we are requiring you or someone in your group to be a customer of BajaBound.com for the free shirt.
We highly recommend doing this as a group and having someone drive the route for logistics and support. Meling ranch is exactly half-way up the road and makes for a perfect stop over for those who want to do the ride over two days. Alternatively you can stay at Baja Dark Skies, but they are situated on a rough 4 mile dirt road off of the main observatory road. More on lodging below.
We did the route in two stages - we had a vehicle drop us off at the foot of the road on the first day. We rode up to Meling Ranch, spent the night, and then had our vehicle go along with us up to the observatory and give us a ride back. You could also ride back down to Meling, but after that climb its nice to linger around in the San Pedro Martir park and not have to get on the bike again.
This area is one of three re-populating areas for the nearly extinct California Condor. With up to 10ft long wing spans, these are impressive birds, and you are almost guaranteed to see them gliding in the updrafts of the western slopes, especially around the lookout at KM 72.