Just how demanding is the route? Though she normally sleeps for only three or four hours a night during speed rides, Lael found herself needing around five hours of sleep each night in Baja. She stopped to sleep at 9 p.m. (instead of her usual midnight turn-in) each night—an adjustment she found necessary for a very demanding route.
Lael packed ultra-light for her blazing ride down the peninsula, which made 29” x 2.6” tires the ideal choice. These tires are narrower than the ones generally suggested for the Baja Divide, but were still able to float over sand and rocks with ease thanks to Lael’s low pack weight.
By her own admittance, Lael’s choice to go without a sleeping bag and only a bivy proved to be a mistake. Nights in the northern section of the route can get really cold—she actually stopped mid-route to buy a trashbag and set of sweatpants for those desert sleep-outs.
The challenges of the terrain were exacerbated by logistics. With its relaxed pace and small towns, Baja doesn’t conform to the typical American schedule, making for very limited resupply options when on a race pace. Arriving in one town in the wee hours of the morning, Lael found herself having to sneak around just to find water.
Unlike on the Tour Divide, water is not readily available. Sometimes riders must travel more than 130 miles before coming to the next water source. That water source might only be a tienda that may not open up until after 10 a.m. the next morning.