The Rosarito-Ensenada Bicycle Ride is the reason that like clockwork I will return annually to Southern California from wherever I may live at the time, to inconvenience my friends in Long Beach and drive into Tijuana with an obnoxious gaggle of bicycles strapped to the trunk of an overpacked car and proceed to stuff my face with mariscos and parade my bike for fifty miles down the coast of Mexico with a few thousand like minded individuals.
Last year, this trip began with a drive to from Chicago to California which not so coincidentally began on my last day as a Chicago resident. After riding the race and abandoning my car in Long Beach for an impulsive last minute flight to South Korea, I found myself almost-living in Miami and then for-real-living in New York- which happened to be the beginning point for this year’s pilgrimage.
This year was actually quite the grown up pilgrimage. I flew non-stop from JFK to LAX, with my entire bicycle disassembled and crammed into a cardboard box designed to hold two wheels without the rest of a bicycle (this is the least grown up detail of this story), in order to circumvent American Airlines’ outrageous $150 per leg bicycle fee. After a few typical days (friends, beers, tacos, beach, hamburgers, bars) in Long Beach, we rented a rather ill-fated Nissan Versa from Hertz at Long Beach Airport, piled it with bikes, and drove it clean across the busiest (and most scandalous) international border crossing in the world to the Hotel San Nicolas Casino in Ensenada.
The ride was outstanding as usual. The morning was cool and hazy, with the sun coming out and the air warming just as the route cut inland to head up the big hill- the top of which being the location where the day took a brief turn for the worst. I’d been shooting photos of the ride on somewhat* of an assignment for certain publications, and I’d made sure to have my camera out while riding to shoot from the first person when conditions would permit. Unfortunately conditions ceased to permit at the top of the hill as a rogue gust of wind sent me grabbing for my handlebars and my Leica (RIP) to the pavement of Baja Highway 1 and under a stampede of cyclists. Needless to say there is a noticeable gap in my coverage of the ride.
We finished in about 4.5 hours, which is not fast, but definitely not slow considering the break at the halfway house to eat three tacos and numerous stops for photos and one for SD Card recovery, not to mention the fact that on track bikes we can’t coast down the seven mile downhill as all the freewheel-having cyclists can. Tecates and tacos at the end were rewarding as usual, though the highlight of this year’s arrangements was definitely not having to ride a shuttle back to Rosarito after the ride. Staying in Ensenada and shuttling to the ride in the morning is absolutely the way to go.
Less than ten hours after eating the traditional celebratory hamburger(s) at In-N-Out in National City, I was on a Chicago bound flight from LAX, where my dad would be waiting to pick me up to drive to Champaign-Urbana for my brother’s graduation from college. Quite sleepy from a bike ride across Mexico followed up with a drive to Long Beach for old fashioneds at the bar on the Queen Mary and a brief nap in the back of a cab to LAX, it was quite the pleasure to sleep through the flight entirely uninterrupted. Upon my May 15th arrival in Chicago it was 39 degrees and raining ice. I stuffed my face with Portillo’s, went to sleep in my dad’s passenger seat, checked into the Holiday Inn, and proceeded to get my Illinois on for a pleasant few days before flying back to New York.
The top of this hill is where my Leica died.