The Bikes We Ride

The second half of 2017 was full of preparation. We made up our minds that the time for adventure was near. We decided that we would depart New Mexico in December, leaving us with approximately seven months of planning and prep.

First we had to decide our mode of travel; bikes, mountain bikes. Both of us are keen on being far away in the backcountry, so the decision to land on bikepacking as our mode of travel was a simple one. Paloma, confident in her backpacking and backcountry experience, agreed even though she’s never ridden mountain bikes.

Next up, where are we going? That one was the easiest, south! Paloma being Mexican-American and myself Colombian-American, heading to Central and South America made sense. Also, both of us have been speaking Spanish since we were babies, so that helps.


Next up, bikes!

In a time when several brands are producing high quality bikepacking bikes and gear, decisions can be hard to make. For us however, Surly was the brand for us from the beginning. For the past two years I have been lucky enough to be part of the team over at The Broken Spoke bike shop in Santa Fe, NM. Among many reputable MTB brands, the shop also represents Surly Bikes. The whole crew at the Broken Spoke rides Surly and we love them.

Mike- Karate Monkey

Dylan- ICT

Owen- Troll, Instigator

Jet- Krampus

Paul- Long Haul Trucker

Sarah- Cross Check

Paulie-….. Soma Wolverine…..*cough, cough*

Nathan- Krampus

Kevin- Troll

Ask any of us, or anyone who owns a surly for that matter, and we’ll tell you the truth. Surly makes great bikes and gear. Working among these characters, full of knowledge and experience, I was able to learn a great deal of life lessons on and off the bike. I could go on for pages about the crew at the shop but for now we’ll leave it with a massive thank you!                     

Weapon of choice:

                                           SURLY TROLL 26+

                                               26 AINT DEAD

                                                RIDE OR DIE


I will go further into the bags and accessories in later posts, for now here is a parts run down:


Large Surly Troll Frame: Maroon

D.T: 2x10

Crankset: Surly OD 175MM

Chainrings: 22t-36t

Cassette: Sram 11-42

F. Der. Deore

R. Der. Deore

Front Hub: Busch and Schmidt SON 28 Dynamo Hub

Rear hub: Shimano XT

Rims: WTB ASYM I35

Tires: WTB Ranger 3.0” Tough Rolling

Rear Rack: Surly Rack

Front Rack: Sunlite Goldtech

Headset: Cane Creek 10

Bottom Bracket:  Surly BB

Stem: Salsa Guide 60MM

Bars: Jones Bars 710mm

Grips: Ergon GC1

Brakes: BB7 MTN

Rotors: F. 180 Sram centerline R. 160mm Certerline

Pedals: Deity TMAC

Saddle: WTB Pure




Small Surly Troll Frame: Black

D.T: 2x10

Crankset: Surly OD 170MM

Chainrings: 22t-36t

Cassette: Sram 11-42

F. Der. XT

R. Der. XT

Front Hub: Busch and Schmidt SON 28 Dynamo Hub

Rear Hub: Shimano XT

Rims: WTB ASYM I35

Tires: WTB Ranger 3.0” Tough Rolling

Rear Rack: Surly Rack

Front Rack: Sunlite Goldtech

Headset: Cane Creek 40

Bottom Bracket:  Surly BB

Stem: Raceface 60MM

Bars: Soma Osprey / Rusty Bars

Grips: Ergon GP1

Brakes: BB7 MTN

Rotors: F. 180 Sram centerline R. 160mm Certerline

Pedals: Kore

Saddle: WTB Deva


Aside from a few subtle differences we are both running almost the same parts. Working at the shop with the inspiration of many friends and colleagues we built up two awesome beasts. The bikes are performing to their best and pushing our limits. They are certainly the tool for the job; the job however is very challenging. Bikepacking is hard and The Baja Divide route is a huge challenge. With our combined experience and persistence, we are making it happen.

For the crew, and our group of friends reading this: Thank you guys. Thank you for the time we’ve spent together, you guys rock!


And We're Off!



SAN FRANCISCO                                                                                        


EJIDO SIERRA JUAREZ                                                                                  


77.1 MI, 124.1KM

On Saturday December second, we finished cleaning up our room and packed our friend Sally’s truck with our remaining belongings. Sally, Kevin, Reel and I hopped in the truck and started our trek towards Tecate, Mexico.

Our first stop was Lotaburger for Kevin and I’s last green chile hamburger, at least for a very long while. Second stop was Flagstaff, AZ to visit our friend Jake who lives out of his camper in the woods. Here we organized our belongings and decided to leave extra stuff behind (theme #1).


After a comfortable fire and a good night’s sleep in the cold, we had a light breakfast, Jake sharpened our knives, and off we went. After a long drive with good music and delicious picnic food, Sally dropped us off on a hill overlooking Tecate. Here we camped under the super-moon.

The next morning we rode downhill towards the border. We crossed with no problem, ate some tacos with coca cola (theme #2), purchased some cycling gloves and continued on toward San Francisco. On the outskirts of Tecate the night overtook us as well as the wind. We ended up camping beside hills of large boulders below sparkling Colonia Mirador. The next morning the fierce wind continued. As we began to fully wake a couple came to visit, Narcio and Maria. They invited us into their home for coffee, which lead to delicious pan dulce, then to a couple of bowls of warm posole. We conversed about God, Love, and extraterrestrial life (Narcio saw a space ship in the deserts of Arizona). Narcio told stories about his own travels, meeting Maria, building the house and the love they have for their plants. They have fruit trees, grow chile, and raise doves for their caldos. We left happily with our bellies full.


Getting out of Tecate was a relief; we were now away from the city and continued into the quiet desert. We camped in the Cañon Manteca area and had soup for dinner with goat cheese tacos. The surrounding hills and boulder fields are endless and feel like New Mexico with a hint of ocean air. The wind continued and was rough day in and day out. There were moments we would be pushing our bikes up large hills with dust devils and gusts of wind threatening to topple us over, bikes and all. We’re glad the wind didn’t take Reel away, as she was also struggling up the hills beside us with her ears pinned back by the continuous gusts.


We miss calculated the amount of food and water we needed for the three nights we took to arrive at Ojos Negros. We had miss read our route guide, there was no re-supply in Ejido Sierra Juarez, but a kind rancher allowed us to re-fill our water bottles. The night before arriving at Ojos Negros the wind storm increased and caught us in a very sandy section of trail. Setting up the tent was hell. COLD.


We were hungry, cold and afraid the wind would take away the fly and or break the tent poles. The next morning we awoke caked in dirt, packed up in the wind and off we went for the last stretch. On the decent to Ojos Negros I had my fist wipeout and later met two German bike packers who looked comparably much cleaner that the three of us.


The first thing we did at Ojos Negros was eat at La Rosita:

Paloma – Three burritos de Asada and half a donut

Kevin – Torta de carne Asada, quesadilla, and the other donut half

At the restaurant we met Norberto and his sisters whom we ended up visiting and eating with at their family reunion the day we took off toward Uruapan. We stayed two nights in Ojos Negros to recover from the hunger and dehydration. This route is difficult yet beautiful and rewarding. Several lessons were learned during the first section of the Baja Divide:

1.      Pack more food than you think you’ll need

2.      Send back/ditch extra clothes/misc. items

3.      When it gets tough, acknowledge the negative thoughts but recognize the reality of the adventure


Ya Casi

Aquí estamos en casa acurrucados en las bolsas de dormir que Kevin hico con sus propias manos.