The idea began in 1979. A bike ride from Rosarito to Ensenada that would be fun and scenic. Each year, the race grew more popular, eventually becoming a twice-annual event, now held in May and September.
In recent years, for reasons that are elusive — perhaps the media’s obsessive and inaccurate portrayal of Baja as unsafe for tourists — the number of riders declined. But this trend began changing in the past year. Now, the organizers of the event call it Baja’s “largest party on wheels,” and these days it is not just the riders who have fun: Along the 50-mile bike route, fans cheer and shout and capture future YouTube videos all while enjoying their margaritas or coffees in the mild Baja climate.
The ride officially begins at 10 a.m., but participants begin gathering hours earlier on Benito Juarez Blvd., which fronts the iconic Rosarito Beach Hotel and its shopping arcade. Riders can register online or at the event, itself. But it is important to note that only those riders who begin from the actual starting line at the appointed time are eligible for medals. Avid cyclists will finish in two hours; some cyclists will not finish at all, and it is not unusual to see dejected bike riders with flat tires staring in disappointment out at the Pacific Ocean. More typically, casual cyclists average about four hours and the course must be completed in less than 6.5 hours and by 4:30 p.m., at its final destination in Ensenada, at the Hotel Corona, which also serves as destination lodging for many riders. The course record of 1:52.54 was set in April, 2007, by Peter Andersen of San Diego with his teammates Karl Bordine, Chris Dimarchi, Matt Johnson and Nate Diebler. Here are a few of the ride’s benchmarks:
- Aid Station 1 at 16 Miles closes at 1 p.m.
- Aid Station 2 at 27 Miles closes at 2:30 p.m.
- Aid Station 3 at 42 Miles closes at 3:30 p.m.
- 50 Mile Mark Aid Station closes at 4:30 p.m.
Just south of La Fonda (one of Baja’s most famously funky hotels and restaurants overlooking the ocean), the road turns inland, heading into El Tigre. This is where the wheat separates from the chaff. The course begins an uphill climb, passing through the working village of La Mision and heading up the steep El Tigre road. It is a spectacularly beautiful ride…but it takes riders away from the cool ocean breezes and into the slightly hotter, rural environment that can be tough on the novice bicyclist. Finally, the road heads back down towards Ensenada, passing the entrance to the luxury retreat Cuatrocuatros, and then meeting up with Highway 1, the toll road, for the final leg of the journey.
This truly is an event where it is all about the experience. Winning is not the goal — in fact, the organizers stress that it is NOT a race — and that is obvious by watching the happy bicyclists as they ride by. As those who live in the Rosarito-Ensenada area know, however, it is also an event that dictates driving patterns. REALLY bad idea to be on the toll road or the free road between the two cities between the hours of 10-4 p.m.! So, why not just book a room at one of the area hotels, eat a leisurely breakfast, and then step outside to cheer those valiant road warriors on?
The bike ride is becoming one of Baja’s most popular events. Check out this video of a past event: video.kpbs.org
Indeed! Want to find out how to be part of or watch the Rosarito-Ensenada “Fun” Bike Ride?
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