It doesn’t rain much at Punta San Carlos, and when it does, every small ditch along the 60 kilometer dirt road becomes a river of flash floods that can leave any car – or caravan, in our case – stranded for longer than you want to imagine. We pulled off Highway 1 in Baja, Mexico and debated our predicament: turn around and stay the night in a town some 40 kilometers in the opposite direction, or gun it through the sloppy road and hope we don’t get stuck. Camp was too close to give up, and the thought of waking up to a bounty of private singletrack was enough of a reason to try our luck. Tequila-fueled shouts of encouragement drowned out the sound of giant mud puddles that curled over the top of our vans as we crept closer to PSC. If Kevin was hesitant about our decision, he didn’t show it.
Kevin Trejo has operated SoloSports Adventure Holidays at the PSC alcove since 1987, when he and a few friends stumbled upon a plot of oceanfront land in Baja Norte. Originally conceived as a remote windsurfing outpost, PSC has attracted windsurfers and kiteboarders to its famous breaks for years. Now in its 25th year, Kevin has started hosting shreducational camps for mountain bikers who want to polish their riding skills alongside a few pros, like during the Brian Lopes’ Baja Bici Adventure last November.
| Tired travelers happily arrive after a long drive and are greeted with fresh margaritas at the Solosports cantina|
An elixir of salty air, ocean breeze and a blazing, yellow sun woke me from my canvas tent at 6am the next morning. Whatever grey, drizzly weather that had been chasing us the night before cleared up when we arrived at camp. This little outpost had been spared most of the previous day’s squall and saw just enough rainfall to turn the desert Baja talc into smooth, grippy soil – if only for a day or two before drying back up.
We headed out on a group ride that morning – our first real chance at feeling out everyone’s personalities and riding styles. Group dynamics were nothing short of eclectic and random. Between the 15 of us, we covered the spectrum of skill levels, from pro-level crushers to occasional weekend warriors and every style in between. On and off the bikes, entertaining didn’t begin to describe it.
Brian, along with Richie Schley, Leigh Donovan and PSC’s Joey Sanchez, took to the front, while the rest of us fell into a steady riding order, working our way to the Top of the World. From our vantage point atop this trail, Kevin pointed out the confines of the property – bound by the Pacific on the west and south; barricaded by the 2,000-foot mesa to the east; and limited only by your physical endurance to the hazy north. Whatever this little world was that we had traveled to, we definitely seemed to be standing on top of it.
| Punta San Carlos has it's own hazards, the main one is probably cactus. From the top of the Top of the World trail it's a long hike to the top of the mesa overlooking the camp, but once you're there you're greeted with amazing views of the surrounding countryside. Leigh Donovan, stoked to actually be on top of the world.|
| From the top of the mesa it's an epic rip down to the Top of the World, and then a choice of which way to go. Whichever way you choose to descend, be wary of the cactus...|
The geography at PSC is unique. Vast, deserted and parched. Desert life is depended on the unique micro-climate that rolls into the U-shaped cove at PSC. Arroyos are eroded by years of muddy flash floods and continue to etch out geographic features that invite scorpions, tarantulas, coyotes and mountain bikers to explore the hoodoos and other curiosities within the dried creek beds.
Altogether, nearly 100 miles of handbuilt, private singletrack are up for grabs at PSC. The terrain isn’t extreme, but it’s far from dull. Climb a little. Descend a little more. Flowy and fast. Loose and playful. Whatever swooping, low-angle trail you choose, you’ll eventually funnel back towards PSC, where the camp meets the rhythmic waters of the Pacific and a cold Baja Fog is waiting at the bar. If you don’t like any of your options, there’s no IMBA to stop you from blazing a new trail. If you do, bring a shovel and carve your own line, Rampage style. “It’s like the Wild Wild West out here,” Brian said to me. “No one’s gonna tell you what you can and can’t ride.”
But we didn’t come here to film or throw down serious tricks. In fact, few of us had anything to prove on a bike. We were just there to ride – and maybe learn a thing or two from Brian, himself. It’s a choose-your-own-adventure here at the PSC camp, and that includes learning (or lounging) at your own pace.
Throughout five days, we flowed trails like Dad’s and carved huge slalom turns on the sandy Snake trail, picking up a few riding tips along the way. Whatever idea of “progression camp” I had, this wasn’t it. No structure. No scheduled group sessions. No unsolicited advice on improving your style. Simply put, it was the Baja way. But ask for some help on powering through technical switchbacks or balancing your flow on the pumptrack at basecamp and Brian would break it down, step by step.
Between rides, most down time was spent exploring tidepools on kayaks, standup paddleboarding among curious seals or gorging on whatever homemade Mexican feast the senoritas de la cocina whipped up three times a day. Tamales, enchiladas, lobster tacos, pozole soup and huevos rancheros induced pre- and post-ride food comas every few hours. And the friendly fisherman from the village two miles down the road were happy to exchange their catch of the day for some cervezas and a few laughs.
Free-flowing Baja Fogs only added to our comatose state. This regional beverage is known to result in rowdy nights and haggard mornings. Its recipe is simple. Corona, tequila and lime. But it’s a mind-erasing mix of a generous shot with a built-in chaser that quietly picks off its victims, one at a time, until this little slice of paradiso shuts down for the night, only to reopen for business a few hours later.Getting there:
Brian Lopes will return this November for the second annual Baja Bici Adventure, November 10-17. Punta San Carlos is located 250 miles south of the California-Baja border, and about 20 feet from the Pacific Ocean. Arrive to PSC by either van or plane via San Diego. Expect a 10-hour drive with a few pit stops along the way in the van. Or cut significantly down on your travel time and fly along the Pacific coastline in a single-propeller plane. You’ll pay a little more, but the extra time on the ground and the views from the plane are worth it.
Check out www.solosports.net
for more info on the Baja Bici Adventure and to book your spot, or email firstname.lastname@example.org