Pedal Your Way Through Todos Santos

On a bicycle built for 14
BY: MARLA KING

With seating for 14 and 20 pedals, the multi-rider bike contraption looks a bit gimmicky. But thanks to thoughtful planning and great staffing, the LocoMotion bike tour through Todos Santos is a surprisingly authentic and fun experience.

Custom-built in the US, the bike has seats for up to 10 people who sit around in an elongated circle, very similar to a dining room table. They sit on a bicycle seat and pedal the contraption around town. There are four seats with no pedals for those who just want to kick back and relax. It’s equipped with nearly every conceivable convenience – storage for your purse, stereo system, and even misters for extra hot days. No, not quite every convenience, as there is no bathroom. This is a bike, after all.

A captain steers the bike through the streets while a guide explains the sites and answers questions. The pedaling wasn’t hard, though I could feel resistance going uphill and felt like I got a bit of a workout. There is a hidden battery onboard and when the tourists start slacking off, the driver/captain cranks up the battery and it quietly helps out with the work.

The company is the brainchild of two couples, one from California and one local Mexican duo, who became friends and went into business together in 2014.

“We wanted to do something different, something new,” says one of the founders, Abigail Tovar. “Our friends mentioned how popular the bike tours with multiple stations were in some US cities, so we took a ride together in San Diego, liked it, and decided to create the same business here.”

These are not the booze bike tours famous in most cities in the States that allow riders to legally imbibe while pedaling. Those usually go from bar to bar and were created for pub crawling tours while avoiding the draconian drunk driving laws there. On LocoMotion’s bike, the cup holders are strictly for non-alcoholic drinks and the focus is on experiencing the town.

Because this is Mexico it took three years to get the proper permits and licenses to start the tours. They still can’t get the permit for tours in Cabo, and with the taxi union so strong in that city, it’s going to be an uphill struggle. Tours have been offered in Todos Santos since July 2017

When planning the route of the tour, the company took into consideration the culture of the town and which local businesses would work with them.

“In Todos Santos, what we do is different than our plans for Cabo,” Tovar explains. “We want to help the people in the town and follow the rules of its federal tourist designation as a Pueblo Magico.”

The LocoMotion Todos Santos tour is a four-hour experience geared towards adults, and focusing on the history, culture and culinary treats of the village. Cost is $89 US for those who don’t require transportation to Todos Santos, or $119 including a round-trip van ride from Cabo. And getting people there was a struggle, too. Taxistas don’t like it when tourist dollars don’t take their taxis. Other tours that have not been so tenacious have foundered on the shores of opposition from the taxi cartel.

Currently, day tours are offered on Tuesdays and Fridays and can be organized other days for groups of six or more.

Typically I am quite averse to organized excursions, especially anything that seems cheesy or geared to tourists. My husband loathes them. But we both found the LocoMotion experience absolutely enjoyable and instructional, even though we’ve been in Todos Santos for several winters.

The tour made six stops highlighting Mexican culture and cuisine. We learned how beetles are pounded into smithereens to make dyes for traditional weaving, savored wine from Baja Norte’s Valle de Guadelupe region, and made corn tortillas on the only wood-burning tortilla oven left in the state. A mojito-making lesson and visit to an ice cream shop ended the tour, where I enjoyed corn-flavored ice cream for the first time (unexpectedly delicious!). Visitors are then given some free time before catching their van back to Cabo.

Food and drink are included in the tour price; LocoMotion says they pay the businesses for these stops, contributing to the local economy. There is the option to buy extra drinks during the lunch stop for those who want more buzz, followed invariably less pedaling. Remember that battery, it comes in handy.

There were two other couples on our tour, both from the US and staying in Cabo, and none had been to Todos Santos before. One couple from California had the tour recommended to them by a colleague who had been on it before, and the others found it on TripAdvisor.

Despite all my positive raving, Tovar admits it took a while for the company to gain acceptance from locals who were against more tourists and traffic in the town. However, many have come around to recognize the benefits that responsible tourism can bring. As in more money spent, of course. After all, money is the reason the government has declared Todos Santos a magical town; the designation draws tourists who want to see the magic. (There are no card tricks, just a quaint looking town with lots of galleries and trinket shops).

One of our guides quipped, “We’ve gone from getting the one-finger salute to the five-finger wave.” That’s a minor miracle, as the contraption of more than a dozen people pedaling down the street is quite an obstruction.

The company has also contributed to local charities, including the Palapa Society, and hopes to eventually dedicate a portion of revenue to help worthy causes on a regular basis.

When I reflected on the day, I realized the bike is a great way to see Todos Santos. Sure, you could walk between all the locations, but first you’d have to know about them and you’d have to dodge cars and passersby. You could do a vehicle excursion, but then you wouldn’t be in the open air and you’d be going too fast to appreciate all the fascinating details, nooks, and galleries.

It’s anybody’s guess when the permits will be in place for tours to begin in Cabo San Lucas - that’s still on the government’s desk. But the plan is to offer three types of tours there: a cultural tour similar to the Todos offering, one focusing specifically on cooking Mexican food, and an evening party tour that will take riders between Cabo’s famous watering holes.

For more information or to book your outing, visit locomotionbaja.com.