Mountain Biking Down The Baja

Slow way to go but it’s doable
BY: MALIA DURBANO
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Mountain biking trails weave throughout Baja California from the U.S. border to Land’s End on a trail called the Baja Divide. Visitors and locals who love riding will find hundreds of miles of trails to explore.  They are supported with repairs, guided tours and bike rentals by stores in La Paz, Cabo, Los Barilles and in many small towns along the way.

The most recent addition to the string of stores is in Todos Santos, an hour north of Cabo. Over the Edge Baja is equipped to support local riders, tourists and seasonal residents.

Dave Thompson and his wife, Ann Patsy, opened Over the Edge Baja bike shop in Todos Santos after selling Flat Tire Bike Shop in Cave Creek, Arizona which they ran for 12 years. 

They had visited southern Baja numerous times and picked Todos Santos since it is a growing hub for adventure seekers who come to surf, fish, whale watch and scuba dive.  “Mountain biking is something the whole family can enjoy together.  The local trails accommodate all riders from beginners to advanced,” Dave explained.

The sport originated in California on Marin County's Mount Tamalpais. It was not until the late 1970s and early 1980s that road bicycle companies started to manufacture mountain bikes using high-tech lightweight materials for the frames, front forks with shocks, and fatter tires to accommodate the rugged terrain. 

Mountain biking has steadily grown over the years since then, and is now a multi-billion-dollar industry with millions of riders world-wide.  “The modified frame and suspension design allow riders to take on different types of terrain more efficiently,” Dave shared. “Soil on the single track can be loose and sandy or rocky and hard-packed with big drops.”

“Cycling enthusiasts are choosing mountain biking over road biking because it feels safer. “Mountain bikers like being out on trails in nature, and avoiding traffic and breathing exhaust fumes.”  While exercising, riders can enjoy the beautiful natural surroundings, serene atmosphere and clean air.  He says, “Putting butts on bikes is my passion and riding affects people’s lives in many ways.”

The couple also chose Todos Santos as another logical stop along the route of the established Baja Divide route.  Baja Divide is the 1,000 mile trail traversing the Baja – all off road.  Dave explains, “It’s similar to the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trail that hikers do.  People do the trail in total or do it in segments over many years.”  Since shops were already established in Los Barriles, Santiago and La Ventana, along Highway 1, the growing Todos Santos was ripe for the picking.

 “A bike store is a life-style business. We want to show people a good time,” says Dave. “When they get out and enjoy nature, it translates to other areas of their lives.  They eat a healthier diet, they love being out in nature, and are more likely to recycle and care for the environment.”  The bulk of their customers and biggest segment of recreational riders are pre-retired empty nesters ages about 45-55 who want to get back in shape.

Mountain biking is challenging and demands complete attention.  “Riders enjoy it because it becomes almost meditative, as you are not able to think about your problems or much else,” Ann shared. “Riders must focus ahead on the trail in front of their front tire, all the time.”

This time around, Dave and Ann chose to make their store part of the Over the Edge brand. Over the Edge, founded by Troy Rarick, is a cooperative of six stores around the world.  Rarick turned the almost defunct town of Fruita, Colorado into a mountain biking mecca in 1996.  His successful formula is now used by shops in Hurricane, Utah; Lake Tahoe, California; Melrose, Australia; Sedona, Arizona and now Todos Santos, BCS.

The store is involved in creating and building a single track network of trails throughout the desert surrounding Todos Santos.  Experienced guides choose a route based on the skill level, fitness and experience of the riders. “We can accommodate novice as well as hard-core technical riders, with exhilarating trails.”

One of the easier, family-friendly trails close to town starts at the Colorado State University campus, near the restaurant Jazmango, and winds through the desert and deposits riders at the beautiful beach at Punta Lobos.  The recreational, multi-purpose trail is relatively easy for the average rider.  Approximately a half-hour in each direction, the trip toward the beach gently slopes downhill.  Of course, then, the ride back is where your heart gets pumping.  A few hills require some strong thighs or gear shifting.  In places where the sand is deep and loose, stick to the side of the trail, but watch out for the thorns on the cactus!

interconnected network of single track was built by hand using picks, rakes and hoes utilizing the natural terrain. Approximately 35 miles of trails are accessible right from the shop that weave throughout the community accessing the raw desert terrain.  Tours include: Las Lunas with vistas of Picacho Peak and the distant ocean; the Sierra Madre foothills of rolling desert with giant cardon cactus and elephant trees; and the historic Old Port trail which skirts the ruins of the fisherman’s cannery and ends right at the ocean.

The multi-platform bike shop carries street and mountain bikes, offers service and parts as well as guided tours or rents bikes for self-guided tours. Trino and Alejandro, local Todos Santos guides and mechanics love to ride and chat about local trails. All bikes are custom fitted, always in excellent working condition and top of the line. 

The shop which is on the corner of Obregon and Juarez offers a full-range of hard-tail or full suspension carbon bikes.  Those choosing self-guided tours are given a map of the trail system.

Full-day rentals   - price varies slightly with exchange rate

Hard-tail bike -  $50

Trek Aluminum Full Suspension- $70

Pivot Carbon Full Suspension- $85.

Guide for the whole group -  $20