By Magy Hoyer
The award-winning Rosarito Ensenada Bike Ride, known to many as “The Original Party on Wheels,” will celebrate its 33rd anniversary on May 5. Each year, thousands of cyclists flock to the starting line at Rosarito Beach for the 50-mile ride through Baja.
Amateurs and experienced cyclists alike cruise down the coast, confront the formidable El Tigre, and cross rural countryside to the finish in Ensenada. But the fun doesn’t end there: at the Finish Line Fiesta, cyclists relax and enjoy refreshments and live music until sunset on the Ensenada waterfront.
The Rosarito Ensenada Bike Ride is a celebration of Cinco de Mayo, the date in 1862 when an ill-equipped Mexican army at Puebla defeated 8,000 French troops sent by Napoleon, who planned to establish a Latin Empire in Mexico. The victory prevented the French from taking over Mexico, and no European forces have invaded a country in the Americas since.
The bike course
The ride starts at 10 a.m. and follows a course on entirely paved roads. The course is rated “moderately difficult,” and avid riders can expect to finish in approximately 2 hours. More casual cyclists average about 4 hours. The first 22 miles follow the ocean, taking riders through charming beach towns and through rugged, undeveloped coastline. The terrain is mostly flat with some rolling hills, until riders turn inland to meet El Tigre, a mesa that towers 800 feet above the valley floor. Many riders aren’t too proud to walk the worst of the 2-mile climb; however, it’s a great place to take in the scenery.
Cyclists then enjoy 8 miles of rural countryside, followed by an exhilarating descent back toward the ocean. There are four aid stations along the length of the course, where cyclists can rehydrate with free Powerade and Ciel purified water, use a restroom, or access bike repair services. Food is not provided at the aid stations, so plan to bring your own fuel.
Where to watch
Spectators attending the event should head south for the Finish Line Fiesta at Hotel Corona. Cyclists and their friends and families are invited to enjoy food from Ensenada’s finest restaurants, Corona beer, great prices on T-shirts, posters and other souvenirs, massages, and live rock-n-roll until sunset on the waterfront.
Registration is available online through May 4. The cost is US$35, plus US$10 for an elite start, which applies to cyclists who will average 15 mph on the course. Participants can also purchase extras including medical insurance, jerseys, and shuttle-bus transportation when registering for an additional cost. Refer to the Rosarito Ensenada Bike Ride official event page for specific information.
Cyclists can register at the event for US$40, and slightly higher prices also apply for additional amenities. Only cash is accepted at day-of registration, which will take place on May 4 and 5 in the parking lot of the Rosarito Beach Hotel. For cyclists who register online after April 20, this is also the location of will-call for race packet pick-up.
How to get there
Rosarito Beach is located about 45 minutes south of the U.S. border in Baja, California. As of June 1, 2009, U.S. citizens must hold a passport or passport card in order to cross into Mexico. The nearest international airport is in San Diego, and there are a number of lodging options in both Rosarito and Ensenada. See you there!
Need more encouragement? PBS’s Crossing South recently covered the ride:
If you’ve participated in or been a spectator at previous Rosarito Ensenada Bike Rides, share your story with us!