"If you're waiting to feel ready to go on an adventure, you will never go." These are words that have been resonating in my mind for the past week as I remember how petrified I was in the week leading up to my flight to San Diego. 21 days and 660 miles into the Baja Divide, I'm finally settling into the bikepacking mindset that I've been dreaming of for the past two years of bike travel lust. My senses of urgency and schedule are declining; I'm feeling less anxious about how far behind schedule we are—or even that we may not finish the route in the amount of time we'd allotted. When I bind myself with anxiety, I can't enjoy anything.
I'm learning that every day that I wake up, unzip my tent, and join a collection of similarly-minded individuals around smoldering coals from the previous night, all bets are off for expectations until I am reunited with my sleeping bag. Before embarking on this journey, I planned it incessantly, my mind always trying to dial a schedule in preparation. I thought, in this many days, we should be this many miles into the route, and we should be camping in this town. Some hopes have manifested—a dance party last week with Lael Wilcox, learning enough Spanish to get around, the most difficult mountain biking I've ever done—and others have not. Even though the US dollar goes far in Mexico, I had planned to camp mostly every night, save for the rare occasion we'd need to wash clothes, take showers, and maybe escape a storm.
Three weeks in, I've stayed in eight brick-and-mortar structures with running water and electricity. At first, the act of staying in a hotel seemed weak and unnecessary, and I really wanted to camp as much as possible. As I've been traveling with a group of four to eight cyclists and this has been one of the wettest seasons Baja has ever seen (La Niña), sickness and weather have landed us indoors just about every three days. My expectations for the Baja Divide have been constantly evolving, but it's becoming so much more than I had ever hoped.
One of my favorite parts about this event (so far) is the people it drew to the "start line." I had hoped to make some pals on this trip, but I didn't expect to be so constantly inspired and motivated by them. My future is definitely being molded based on the interactions and relationships I've built with other Baja Divide riders. Being surrounded by individuals who crave true adventure and non traditional lifestyles seems to normalize the mindset—I totally understand why massive gatherings like Burning Man are so powerful and formative. When you're no longer the outlier in your life aspirations because everyone around you gets it, you feel undeniably free of limitations.
So even though I've been fighting the feeling of being behind schedule, I'm growing to love the people I'm traveling with and the camaraderie takes precedence; if someone needs to take a rest day because they're sick or wet or tired, I don't complain. This would be such a different experience without them, and I feel like I'm in a great position to absorb wisdom and energy from other experienced travelers. Also, I finally found cool humans who love bikepacking and rock climbing—something I never thought I'd discover! My future travel plans and travel partners are multiplying daily.
As I write this, I'm sitting on the porch of a beachside cabana where I slept outside, listening to howling winds and crashing waves from the Sea of Cortez last night. One of my travel mates has a gnarly bout of bronchitis and has been in bed for a day. We'll stay here another night before reassessing her condition and our continuation of the route tomorrow. It's so hard to be mad at another rest day when I'm paying $10 USD a night to sleep and play in paradise. Baja sure is beautiful and mysterious; I can't wait to see what the rambling road has in store next.