Rosarito Beach - Ensenada Bike Ride

Experiencing a regional "institution"

Trip Report 20120929

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The Experience

For the past 33 years, there has been a 50 mile bike race that starts in Rosarito Beach and ends in Ensenada in Baja California, MX.  Our buddy Kai asked us if we would accompany his wife on a trip to Mexico in support of this race.  His wife, Tina, was tasked with delivering Kai, his son Parker and another mutual friend Scotty to the start of the race and picking them up at the conclusion and returning them to the USA.  Kathleen and I accompanied them as the moral support.  Being a rather immoral fellow, the concept of providing moral support seemed somewhat ludicrous but I went anyway.  Weather-wise, the luck of the draw offered a sunny Santa Ana condition with brisk winds, sun and high temperatures at the beach (perhaps 90 degrees).

The photos below are what we saw.

For whatever reason, getting to Rosarito Beach this time proved a breeze.  There were no delays at the border and the roads were not (yet) crowded.  We took the so-called "toll road" to Rosarito Beach.  The free road is very congested and has many side roads and stop signs.  The toll road, despite the $10 cost, is the fastest and easiest route.

We found a place to park and unload the bikes.  It has been about a year since I was in MX last and I had forgotten about the different standards on signs and advertising in general.  In Mexico, advertising is more "in your face" with no question about the goal of the ad.  Subtlety really does not work and without exception, sex sells.  More on this later.

We headed over to the Rosarito Beach Hotel on foot to do registration and check-in.

The Rosarito Beach Hotel is the social nexus in this city and the hotel is quite nice; very old school in a charming way.  Note the nice tile and landscaping.

The registration area was a mad house and we were actually early.  There was an endless stream of people coming into the courtyard to register as we were leaving.

This gal was dressed for the occasion and brought smiles to many faces.

The riders were starting to queue up for the start of the race.

The group decided to get some tacos at a nearby stand and check things out.  Note the massive crowd in the distance; these are all riders.

We walked back to the car, got the bikes off the rack and the riders prepared to leave.  From the left Scotty, Parker and Kai.


A little more zoom, please.

After the riders left us, we loaded the mini-van and attempted to find the entrance to the toll road.  That turned out to be a bit more difficult and time consuming than expected, but we did succeed.  While we were looking for the entrance ramp, the riders were off like a shot.  By the time we got on the toll road, the race was well under way and we could see them on the free road that generally parallels the toll road.  There were plenty of other support teams that had pulled over on the road to watch the riders go by.

The road was not crowded; everyone was stopped on the side of the road looking at the riders.  We were able to make good speed on the highway and soon overtook some of the front riders.

Further on, we passed the lead riders and their highway patrol escort.

These folks were a determined lot, you can see it in the expressions in their faces.

We continued south at high speed and passed one of many nice beaches accessible from the highway.

As the road winds through the coastal mountains, we finally got a nice view of one of the bays down below.  In the photo above, note the large plume of smoke on the horizon and the circles in the bay.  The smoke was from a brush fire burning near Ojos Negros; it was a pretty large fire.

The circles in the water are actually nets that enclose an aqua-farming venture.  The nets keep the desired fish in and the predators out.  The nets on the left have a fence around the top to prevent the fish from jumping over the net.

On the outskirts of Ensenada, we encountered a sign for this race.

Ensenada is a major sea port and frequently hosts cruise ships.  Above are ships from Disney and Carnival in port the day of the race.

We found a reasonable (aka free) place to park and walked to the finish zone of the race.  Since we drove with purpose, we were ahead of the riders and the finish zone area was essentially deserted.  That would not last for long.  We ate a nice breakfast and when we were done, the first riders had started to arrive.

The finish line area quickly turned into a zoo.  The 12 massage tables that were empty only minutes before were totally filled with sore muscled riders seeking relief.

Some of the first wave of riders showed pleasure at their times and placing in the race.

Other rider's faces showed the strain of extended physical exertion.

Still others showed determination; right to the bitter end.

Our team was about 90 minutes back in the pack, so we decided to walk around a bit and see what was up.  The Port of Ensenada has a huge flag that can be seen for miles and miles.  In the distance are some of the homes on the hill with nice views of the bay.

I was rather surprised at the reach of American products and advertising.

Our riders arrived and we followed them into the finish zone area.  The place was packed and walking was difficult because each rider had their bike with them frustrating any hope of walking in a straight line.  Chaos reigned, but we did get to an area where we could sit on the grass.  The race ended at the Hotel Corona which is a pretty nice place.

The first order of business for the riders was food and drink.  Food of the day was tacos.  They are not just for breakfast anymore.

Scott shows his happiness at successfully completing the ride.

On our departure from the finish line madness, we passed a booth that was offering photos with a lion cub for $20.  Jackie signed right up with her own allowance.  Above, she gets the briefing.

The cub was pretty big and it could surely hurt you if it had a mind to.  But, I believe that the keepers had the cat lightly drugged to prevent any incidents.  The yawn above supports that theory as do the state of the eyes in the photo below.

Jackie was very pleased with her $20 investment and took home some nice physical photos of the event. 

Sex sells and big sex sells big.  I doubt that the feminists in the USA would tolerate this ad, but I have to tell you that after seeing this ad I was searching for a department store to purchase some of this perfume.

Any trip south of the border involves a border crossing to return home.  And, any border crossing involves dealing with the street vendors that hawk their wares to captive audiences trapped in their glass lined cages.  The crossing at San Ysidro (Tijuana) is the busiest crossing in the US and there are world class street vendors there.  They have snacks, food, drinks, cheesy trinkets, blankets, hats, nauseum.  Eye contact always results in a knock on your window.

The marketeers have figured out that the 2-3 hours that it takes in line at the border would be a great way to sell things.  Note that in this one field of view, Dr. Carlos has two large billboards.  The sign on the cart says that you can get shaved ice in many flavors, delivered to your car, even if the traffic is moving.

In addition to the in-your-face street vendors, there were all manner of beggars.  Unlike some of the other pathetic urchins that we passed, this girl is offering entertainment in return for her tips.  She stands on the shoulders of her partner, likely her brother, and juggles.  She was actually pretty good and we gave her a buck for her efforts.  Word traveled fast and soon we were deluged with others demanding money.

By the time we made it back to our house, it was fully dark.  We had a full moon and the skies were quite clear.

Despite the heat and the intense sun, we had a great time.  Rosarito Beach and Ensenada are nice areas and are fully accustomed to handling large numbers of tourists.  Any trip across the border needs some preparation and one of those items is a passport.  You may leave without a passport, but getting home will be problematic.  Since we all had passports, we only had to suffer the 2 hour wait in line enduring wave after wave of vendors selling us everything from ceramic Tweety Birds to shrimp cocktails.

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