By Aleck McDouglas
I have always been an outdoorsy kind of person. I love walking around in parks, gardens and even on neighbors’ lawns (much to the dismay of my neighbors). Moving through the fresh, greenness of trees and grasses brings a wonderful sense of freedom and tranquility that life in the city lacks tremendously. Thus, when I discovered country biking, I thought that I found that perfect activity where I can appease my love for nature and the outdoors.
On a memorable February afternoon however, I received a text message from a friend inviting me to come along to a biking trip somewhere in Loreto, Baja California. Loreto is a little municipality located in Baja California and I was quick to assume that we were about to do some biking along desert-lined roads. Yes, it was February, but surely Baja California deserts are almost as hot as they are in the winter as they are in summer? Nonetheless, the trip seemed a promising one since I have never biked along desert dunes and arid concrete roads.
But surprise of all surprises, we arrived in a relatively cool mountain side where the impressive peaks of the Sierrra de la Giganta and the expanse of the desert equally vied for attention. Fresh from the winter rains, the road side desert that stretch for hundreds of miles was an equal mixture of vivid green and glistening gold. Large clumps and groups of vegetation threatened to completely cover the desert sands as they glisten with morning dew under the still weak rays of the sun.
To say that Baja California deserts are flat and lifeless is both cruel and wrong. And aside from the bushes and shrubs whose names I have never known, there were also towering cacti and trees all over the place. Every so often, a large bird which might have been an eagle, a hawk or maybe a vulture can be seen from afar flying over head or swooping down to catch an unobservable little animal off the ground. Strangely enough, there seemed to be quite a number of flattened frogs which we passed by during our trip. I had no idea were these little amphibians came from since we were in a desert, but cyclists should look out for them cause passing over one can cause a cyclist’s bike to slip slightly.
There was also a profusion of colorful flowers lending their hues and fragrances to the entire desert atmosphere. In fact, all around the road side are beautiful flowering species of cactus, some of which have bright orange, blue, pink, red, white and yellow flowers. If it were not for the fact that there is a law prohibiting us from bringing back plants from Baja California to the United States then many of my friends would surely have brought some home to plant in their gardens. I also noticed that whenever there are large clumps of flowering plants and shrubs near the roadside, expect there to be plenty of bees and insects. I had to swerve to the opposite side of the road whenever we pass by these flowering areas to avoid running into bees and being stung.
Our entire biking trip was ran along a sort of looping, leaving of the Rosarito highway only to return to a point near where we started riding after one hundred fifty miles or less. Whenever we needed to stop to rest of to eat, we were pleased to find several oases, roadside inns, picnic grounds, little restaurants, ranches and small communities along the way. It amazed me during one of our stops when I went to ask an elderly man feeding his goats when I can find a convenient store and his answer was longer and friendlier than I expected to get. In fact, many of the people we met and talked to along the way seemed eager to ask questions and to tell stories although some of them barely spoke English.
I enjoyed every minute of our entire trip and am sure to come cycling back anytime soon.