12 Dec Cycling along the Coast of Cortez
Santa Rosalia to Mulege, it’s a doggie dog world, 45 miles
Since it’s been getting warmer the further south we cycle on the Baja Peninsula, we try to get going early again. Sometimes we are more successful than others. Although we try to get on the road as soon as possible, there are small setbacks, such as no breakfast or stores opening before 8:00 am.
We do manage to push our bikes out of the hotel and toward the colorful “ Santa Rosalia” sign shortly after 9:00.
Apparently this is still too early for the local stray dogs who are still napping by the town sign. They lazily open their eyes and keep one half open eye on us as we cross the plaza. Yet, they are too lazy to move even an inch. They are sprawled out all over the public area and they don’t like to have domesticated dogs on leashes disturb their early morning snooze.
We snap a few quick pictures of the town sign and of course of the dogs as well, and head out of town.
Dogs seem to be everywhere today. Unfortunately, they are not all as quiet and easy going as these guys. As soon as we reach the outskirts three more aggressive looking dogs come racing down a hill, barking, growling and chasing after us on our bikes. As soon as Ron puts on his breaks, the dogs too come to a screeching halt. Confused they suddenly slide to a stop, tug in their tails and start backing up.
Along our way to Mulege we get to play this dog-chasing and cycling game a few more times. It always baffles us why dogs feel like they have to chase after bicycles. For some reason this chase game is only a favorite with domesticated dogs, while stray dogs could not care less about us cycling past them.
The ride to Mulege is otherwise pretty uneventful. There are several gentle climbs, but nothing too long or too steep. We are greeted with many more giant cacti all around us. Some have ravens and vultures ominously perched on top of them waiting for an unfortunate soul to lose their way in the desert. There are beautiful mountains to our right and occasionally we get a glimpse of the ocean to our left.
Along the route are a few small places to buy something to drink or grab a bite to eat at a small family restaurant.
Eventually, we reach Mulege, another oasis town, located where the Mulege River flows into the Cortez sea.
We turn left through the town arches into the historical part. The roads narrow and traffic is a little bit more hectic here, until we get closer to the river. By the time we reach the campground, there is hardly any traffic left. The campground is located at the outskirts of town right by the river and only a few minutes walk from the ocean. To top it off, it has all the amenities we could hope for, including a restaurant and washing machine. It is clean and it looks a little bit like a colorful, lush tropical garden, complete with date palms, banana and orange trees. The perfect place to relax for a day, take a short ride to the beach to check out the lighthouse, work on our blog and video, and to wash our well worn clothes.
Unfortunately, shortly after we finished washing our clothes and hanging them up to dry, the wind picks up and it starts to drizzle. As we grab all of our wet clothes to hang them up inside the tent, the wind continues to strengthen even more and stirs up sand, knocks over chairs and tucks hard on our guy lines holding down our tent. What a freak storm! Needless to say we postponed any sightseeing in town for the day.
Mulege to Loretto, 83 miles, a surprisingly hilly ride along the beautiful Coast of Cortez.
Since we didn’t have a chance to do any sightseeing yesterday, we decide to make a quick detour out of town to visit the old mission church on a small hill at the edge of town. Sadly, it is closed, but we still appreciate looking at the outside of the church and enjoy the views from the small hill.
Since it is over 80 miles to Loretto, we decided to only have a short cycling day today and plan on camping at Coyote Beach for the night. According to maps-with-me there is a small store and eatery located in the vicinity, to get food and water, since the beach camp has nothing but a palapa and a drop toilet to offer.
After taking our time checking out the mission and restocking our panniers with food and drinks we slowly head out of town.
It is still surprisingly windy this morning, luckily it ends up being mostly a tailwind. It is also surprisingly hilly again, and it takes us much longer than anticipated to reach our camp for the night. Maybe the frequent stops along the way to take in the amazing views of mountains and the beautiful beaches with clear, turquoise and blue water slowed us down a bit as well. Stopping at the eatery for chicken quesadillas and cold fresh lemonade probably didn’t help either.
We pull off the main road shortly after the eatery and head down a dirt road to the beach where we are greeted by a handful of palapas neatly placed between a few bushes.
A few people walking past us from the adjacent beach tell us to pick any one of the palapas to claim ours and so we did. According to them a man will come by later to collect 200 pesos for camping. Luckily, for us we were charged much less by the man. Apparently bicycle touring comes with some perks, to include cheaper camp rates.
There is hardly anyone around. To one side of us, two Mexican motorcyclists have set up camp under another palapa and a little bit further away on the left an older couple has their RV set up at the beach where they will stay for the whole winter.
We set up our tent somewhat protected from the wind halfway under our palapa, pull out our chairs and savor the moments of pure relaxation. There is nothing more soothing than listening to waves gently lapping the shore and watching pelicans soaring inches above the turquoise water. In the background we watch mountains across the bay changing colors as the last rays of the sun caress their surface.
The long stretch into Loretto
Since we cycled less than 20 miles yesterday, we still have a long 68 mile ride ahead of us to make it Loretto today. Although the road appears fairly close to the coast, we only see the ocean on and off for the first 18 miles. For the rest of the ride we feel like we are crossing the mountains again. The day is filled with several rollers and two significant climbs. The mountains in the distance appear more rugged than before. An overloaded semi truck with two trailers is playing leapfrog with us. We see him several times creeping up the mountains, barley able to pass us. Actually, he is not much faster rolling downhill as he has to keep his massive load under control. Occasionally we see him parked along the road, maybe to cool off his brakes or maybe to cool his engine….who knows. Yet, it does not take long for him to pass us again further down the road.
Today turns out to be a long, hot, and tiring riding day and we finally arrive in Loretto as it is getting dark. We check on a couple hotels which were supposed to have good prices and reviews according to Google. To our disappointment they do not actually exist once we make it to the address. Eventually though, we find a room for the night as it is already dark. After a quick shower and change of clothes we head out to grab a bite to eat. To our disappointment, the chicken-place and taco stand right around the hotel are already closed. As we head closer to the more touristy historical part of town, we notice that the restaurants also come with touristy prices. Luckily, we happen to walk passed an outside market with a taco stand and a few tables and chairs outside. There are also a lot of locals standing in line to order or waiting for their food. Obviously a good sign and a good cue for us to have dinner here.
The following day, we spend a nice relaxing day wandering around town. We visit the mission Church, walk the historical part of town and enjoy people watching while sitting at a small cafe and sipping on delicious coffee.
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