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Stuck in Ensenada, having Bike Troubles

Stuck in Ensenada, having Bike Troubles

Searching for Help

This morning we wake up with only one thought on our mind…..getting Ron’s back wheel fixed.

So after a short walk to the neighborhood OXXO to get our morning coffee and pastry, we sit on the back patio of the motel and have breakfast.

Then it’s time to strap our walking legs on, grab the back wheel and head into town. Although, Greg offered to come with us to help translate, we figured sooner or later we’ll have to manage with the little bit of Spanish we know. Plus, what are translating apps for anyway!?

Part of the screw is still in there


After crossing a few sketchy intersections and managing not to stumble over any obstacles and cracks or falling into any holes on the sidewalk, we make it to our destination: the machinist.

At first we weren’t sure if we have the right address, since his shop is located in the back of a residential building. A lady is peeking out of a door and calls for someone. A nice man comes out and helps us. His English is much better than our Spanish. Unfortunately, after taking one look at the sheared off screw on Ron’s Rohloff, he is certain he can’t help us. He is used to working on big machines, which means all of his tools are too big. But, he gives us the name and location of another place we could try.

We grab the wheel and hike a couple miles into another direction of town. The shop we are looking for has a service window facing the street. A man greets us. Between his broken English and our Kindergarten-Spanish mixed with lots of gestures, we come to the same conclusion: he is unable to help us. He does have another place in mind where they might be able to sauder a metal rod to the screws to pull them out. Yeah, we’re not sold on that idea. So what else to do than grab our wheel and march on to another place. This time we’ll try another bike shop, which is supposed to be a little bit more sophisticated than the first one we’ve been at.

The shop is modern, roomy and clean. The mechanic speaks some broken English. As soon as he sees what our issue is, he shakes his head and rattles off the same names of bike shops and machinist we have already been visiting today. Apparently we have reached the end of our journey for today.

Tired and discouraged, we return to our room. Our feet hurt from walking all day and we are out of ideas on how to get our wheel fixed in this town.

Only Option Left: Mailing the Wheel

This leaves us with only one other option: mailing our wheel back to The States to have it serviced by an official Rohloff service place.

After some research and sending a few emails, we mail our wheel to Cycle Monkey for repair. The customer service person initially informs us that the turnaround time is over two weeks for Rohloff repairs. Fortunately, after she finds out that we are currently on the road and stranded in Mexico, she puts our wheel as a first priority once it will arrive at their facility.

In the morning we say our goodbyes to Greg and Jill as they ride past our little motel. Afterwards we are excited to check the computer to track our wheel.

Greg and Jill on their way out of town


Although we spent the extra money to send the package via 2 day delivery, we notice that it is stuck at customs for a few days. To add to the anguish, it somehow takes a detour through Cincinnati before heading back to Northern California, where Cycle Monkey is located.

Passing Time in Ensenada

Looks like we will spend some time in Ensenada!

To our surprise we learn of another couple, Cassy and Tim, who are stranded in Ensenada as well. They are also waiting to get their Rohloff hubs serviced.

What else to do than explore town and enjoy the local cuisine with new friends.


After two weeks, we finally get the long awaited news, that our wheel is repaired and on it’s way. To avoid having it stuck in customs again, we decide to have it shipped to our daughter’s friend, Ian, in San Diego.

Getting our Wheel back

We watch the shipping tracker. As soon as it appears to be out for shipping, we walk to the ABC bus station to secure two tickets for the 6:30 am bus.

In the morning we grab a cup of coffee and rush back to the bus stop to catch our ride to Tijuana. From the bus terminal it is a short walk to the border. As we walk over the bridge to the pedestrian crossing we see tons of cars in several lines waiting to cross the border. Looks like we’ll be spending some time here. Luckily, the pedestrian border crossing is not as busy and after a few minutes of waiting for our turn at passport control we find ourselves back on US soil.

Right outside the border control building we see the Blue Line Trolley. We buy our day-ticket and are off to San Diego. Easy peasy.

The day went smooth like a well oiled machine. We hopped off the trolley near a Bestbuy to get a new screen cover for Ron’s phone. We walked back to another trolley station to hop on to make it close to Ian’s home. Shortly after we arrive there the FedEx man arrives there as well and hands us our long awaited wheel. We chat for a moment with Ian and are super thankful that we were able to use his address.

Thank you Ian for helping us out


Afterwards, we hike back to the trolley station and hop back on. We hop off again and march to a hardware store to buy a small drill and a screw extraction tool. Hopefully, this will prevent us from having to go through all these hoops again should we ever shear off a screw again.

Then it’s off again on the trolley, heading south to the border.

Once off the trolley, we follow the signs “to Mexico ” and before we know it, we crossed the border and get back on the bus to Ensenada. Phew….what a busy but successful day!

Are they going to let us back in?


The following day is the start of the Baja 1000, which starts right here in Ensenada. Since it will occasionally crisscross and follow the same route we plan on going, we figured we’ll wait another day, before we start cycling again. Instead we went down-town to watch the ceremonial start of the race. After all it’s not every day we get to see this many cool off road vehicles.


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