Baja Divide: Preparations, Gear & Bikes

I’m writing this as I sit at the dinner table where we will not dine for at least 45 days. The temperature hovers just above freezing outside our Grand Rapids, Michigan home. The remaining few items we’re carrying on the plane with us sit spread across the table awaiting their rightful place within my well-aged hydration pack. Jenny sits on the couch drafting an email to our friends Pam and Antrone who will graciously be hosting us in San Diego for a few days until we hit the road, letting them know when we‘ll arrive and by what means. It’s surreal after days, weeks, and months of planning to write down all of our preparations, but in a way very simple. Being an engineer in my previous life lends a certain structure to the way I do things and it certainly carries over to trip planning—you’ll see in the photos!

Nearly a year ago, I contacted Salsa to discuss our plans for our year hiatus and planted the seed for the Baja Divide. After research on the route, and the minimal content at the time that existed, I knew we needed bikes built to haul lots of water, fit wide tires, and be comfortable for some long slow days. Our goal is to tour the Baja Divide as opposed to setting a blazing pace, so we’ve allotted ourselves six weeks to travel from San Diego, California, USA to Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., MX. Lucky for us Salsa had just released the Salsa Fargo 27.5+ model which has ample room for the recommended 3″ tires needed to manage the sandy and loose terrain. The Fargo also has a comfortable geometry and combined with the Woodchipper bars, there’s plenty of ways to situate yourself. Having a CroMoly frame to handle the abuse of long-distance touring, tons of mounting braze-ons, and Alternator Dropouts, there’s not much this bike can’t do. They arrived at our house early this year and naturally I had to get one together right away!

THE BIKES

Fresh out of the box, bars aren’t even taped yet!

So, we had the bike in hand and of course I set about determining what changes or modifications I wanted to do to make them Baja Divide ready. First off, I knew that I wanted a dynamo hub to be able to charge GoPros, iPhones and Garmins during the ride, so I contacted Velocity USA to build up some of their 27.5 Dually rims to a front dynamo hub and Industry 9 rear hub. We decided to stick with the stock gearing (32t, 11-42 cassette) because if that’s not enough low gear we might as well be walking. For tires, I turned to Teravail as I knew they had some sweet new 27.5 x 3.0″ treads coming out called the Coronado. I’ve had good luck at races like Dirty Kanza and down in Copper Canyon, Mexico on their durable casing tires so it just made sense. Other than that, I down-sized the rotors in the front to 160mm to match the rear so that we can swap things around easily, commonized some hardware on the bike so I had less spare stuff to carry, and of course, mounted up our preferred saddles.

Hand-built wheels from Velocity USA!

Jumping into the bike accessories, we have a full complement of Salsa EXP frame bags where applicable, and went with a Revelate Designs Range bag on Jenny’s smaller frame, a couple of feed bags, and swapped the Salsa handlebar roll bag for a Sea to Summit lightweight dry bag (Salsa one is awesome, but we just wanted something a bit bigger). To carry the massive amounts of water we’ll need on dry stretches, we have two Anything Cages mounted to each bike’s fork and one on the downtube. To charge our gear along the way, K-Lite USA wiring gets the power to a Sinewave Cycles revolution USB charger. Realizing that at many times we may not be maintaining enough speed to charge our stuff, Jenny will be carrying a solar roll to make use of the abundant sunshine in Baja. Wolftooth Components provided some B-Rad options which came in handy to help strap some spare tubes on and relocate bottle mounts to do so. They also provided the orange bling to match our theme!

Super stoked on this front pouch for maximum snack storage and access. The Anything Cradle gives the front load the structure it needs!

So, what exactly did we stuff into all of that awesome bike packing luggage? Well, let me show you in well laid out photos!

ACCOMODATIONS

This Tarptent Double Rainbow will be our home on the trip. We elected to go for something with a screen and floor to keep as much debris as possible out of our gear.

We’ll each be sleeping in Feathered Friends Flicker 30° quilt/sleeping bags. We used these bags all year from the Arizona desert to the alpine terrain of Crested Butte and were very pleased. The full-length zipper and cinch footbox allows you to go full quilt mode or batten down the hatches when the temps hit freezing.

The tent all packed is hardly bigger than my inflatable pillow. Thermarest Neoair sleeping pads round out our sleeping kit. Of course always some extra stakes and cordage for if things get a bit wild.

Personal clothing kit is minimal. I wanted one full kit for long “business” days when we need to knock out some mileage between water sources. For casual days some liner chamois shorts with camping shorts and a wool 45NRTH tee will do the trick. A rain cape is always good for wind/sun/rain protection and super versatile for the weight/bulk.

A smattering of gloves, socks, long johns and headwear cover the gammut from cool nights to scorching days. I also packed arm sleeves since I’m a ginger and have super fair skin.

FOOTWEAR

Work and play shoes, although I’m still on the fence about the sandals…we’re both rocking these Giro casual shoes since we still wanted clipless pedals, but didn’t want to be strutting about town in carbon-soled click-clackity race shoes.

PERSONAL ITEMS

Ah yes, the personal items kit! Well stocked up for a case of Montezuma’s Revenge, 50 SPF for full ginger skin, and ample Joshua Tree products to protect everything in between. Rounding out the personal items, there’s cleansing options (actually Dr. Bronners Castile soap), ample chamois cream, and plenty of random medications and bandages in case we go full-send on some singletrack! I personally use Sound Probiotics to help keep myself healthy, and since my gut isn’t used to full Mexico life, it’s a good insurance policy.

HYDRATION & WATER PURIFICATION

We’ll be carrying an assortment of water treatment options. If the water is murky, the squeeze filter will help clear it up, and the Aquamira will kill off any residual viruses or bacteria. Light and simple is the name of the game.

We elected to just buy juice or water jugs en route to hold water in our Anything Cages since they’re cheap, light, and we don’t have to worry about shipping them. For the really dry stretches, we’ve got 5.5 liters worth of collapsible storage. We’ll each also be sporting hydration packs with two-liter bladders.

We decided that we didn’t need a stove to cook, but I NEED coffee in the morning. I love a good cup of warm coffee in the morning while I’m hanging out and taking in the day. Since we just need to boil water, we decided to use Esbit solid fuel and a small Ti pot. Can’t forget the Ti dangle!

ODDS & ENDS

While I’ve gotten by on many trips with lesser tools, the Leatherman has always had my back so I’m going that route. I think Jenny has some Bear Grylls knife for full-moon critter hunting. Throwback Natural Wonders temp keychain and loin cloth for good measure.

Tenacious tape for patching the inevitable pin holes in our sleeping pads, sewing kit for who knows what, and the often overlooked can opener for muchas frijoles consumption.

And rest assured, we have packed a very hearty bike repair/maintenance kit. I’m confident we can keep the machines rolling.

Follow along with us as we ride the Baja Divide via Instagram (Jenny: @buttcrackjenny and Matt: @attackeracker)!

This post filed under topics: Bikepacking Explore Fargo Gear List Matt Acker Mountain Biking Sponsored Riders Touring Travel

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