January 01, 2000: Burbank California

Got up at 4 AM, took a bus the staging area for the tournament of roses
parade. Mostly chaos. Had to strip down to just bike shirt and jersey
and stand around for about 2 hours in 40 degree weather waiting for the
parade start. They sent us off a few minutes early, and as a consequence, I don't think we were on national TV in the parade. We
started about 5 or 10 minutes before 8AM. Were freezing the whole way.
The only neat part was when the stealth bomber flew directly overhead
while we were riding the parade route. After the parade we had a stop
at the gear trucks to put on warmer clothes and then were off on the ride to Dana Point. The route followed a bike trail along the San Gabriel
river (bed) to SR1, and then down the highway. Got some light rain along
the way. Set up our first camp site, then stood in the chow line. The food
was great with fresh baked cookies for desert.
- Monika

January 2, 2000

Monika in the breakfast line, at
a Park in Dana Point California. After our first day on the
Road. Cold in the morning, but the food was good.

Later in the day way road through a military base, and I had to
stop and get my photo take with this old tank.

Tank on military base en route to San Diego

Jan 03, 2000

Traffic and road on the way to the Mexican board were both nasty.
But they were nothing compared to what we found after crossing into
Tijuana. We were both afraid for our lives trying to ride Mex 1 out of Tijuana Mexico to Rosarito. I thought for sure someone would die that day, and I suspected it might be me! There are were no paved shoulders,
heavy traffic zooming by, and so much broken glass and other crap in
the sand/dirt and gravel shoulders that we each had two flats within about 10 miles. There were other hazards also, like big 2 or 3 foot square storm drains with a grate comprised of slats about 3 or 4 inches
apart oriented parallel to the direction of travel. If you hit one of
those your bike would be demolished, and you would be seriously injured.

Things were not as tense by the time we reached Rosario. We stayed in
a very nice hotel room that night, which partially made up the the days
stress. The rest of the route past Rosario was not as busy, and also not
so hair raising as a result.

Food has been great!

January 04, 2000

Below a nice loncheria in the middle of the day's ride in Baja,
this was in the middle of nowhere, with nothing else around.

Lunch stop.

Wish I could stay here all day, but still a lot of miles to do.


January 05, 2000

There are two riders with "peg-legs" on the trip, and one of them
was hit by a car today, and was hospitalized.

Some people did not train very much for this trip and a lot of them
are taking the sag wagon. I had envisioned Baja as being flat, but it is NOT. The route is quite mountainous. The mountains are not real high, but we keep going up and down repeatedly.

January 06, 2000

On route to El Rosaario, Baja
We actually hit 20 kilometers of great new pavement today WITH a shoulder. Heard that 3 people have dropped out already. They might
return later. Great food, especially the fresh hand made tortillas.
We eat a lot. Usually have to stand in line for a half hour or so to
get the food. After dinner we go to bed in our tent at about 7 PM, and sleep until about 6 AM. Then get up and do it again.

Our day starts by packing up our camping equipment and everything we
don't need for the days ride. Putting it in the gear truck. Standing in
line to get breakfast, then getting on the road and pedaling for about 6 hours or so. Then we get our stuff out of the gear truck, put up our
tent, stand in line to take a shower, then stand in line for dinner, then go to bed and get up and do it again.

There hasn't been much time to sight see. You have to concentrate on the road while you ride, to avoid getting hurt or killed. When there
is a quiet moment, you can glace around while you ride, but you pretty
much have to stop to really look at anything.

I think we've seen most of the world's supply of saguaro cactus. There
is quite a variety of cactus in Baja, and some of the vistas are quite

<h3>Jan 7, 2000 - Catavina (Monika)</h3>
Overnight 2 bikes were stolen, they were chained together but lifted
over the fence. I don't know what the owners are going to do. It costs
$1300 to get a new bike. Breakfast was late, so people didn't get on
the road until 8 am. The first 40 km were very hilly, after that the
road flattened out a bit. Some of the road is in very bad shape, big
potholes. They fill them with dry clay and let it harden. The scenery
is beautiful, hill covered with a large variety of cacti. Near Catavina
are huge boulders all over with large cacti in between. This is the longest day yet, we didn't get in until 4pm, we were about #50.

A photo stop near the end of the days ride on Jan 7, in Baja, we look
pretty tired here. This was an interesting area with a lot of big boulders,
that reminded me of the baths along Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Isles,
except there is no water.

100 people were sagged in this day. We camped in the back of a beautiful
hotel, an oasis in the middle of nowhere. Wonderful dinner and as usual
bedtime at 7 pm.

Jan 8, 2000 - Catavina Layover

No riding today! Everyone is doing laundry. I am very tired, especially my hands.

<h3>Jan 9, 2000 - Parador Punta Prieta

This is I think the mid-day checkpoint on the way from Catavina to
Parador Punta Prieta (Baja)

Easy ride today. Terrain is flattening out, the road is pretty bad,
many holes and rough pavement. 1 1/2" - 2" rocks on the surface, in
some spots 3" and 4" rocks embedded in the pavement.
We camped in the middle of nowhere, dinner took a long time to serve.
There are virtually no services available, all the water was trucked in.

Jan 10, 2000 - Guerrero Negro

A long desolate stretch of Baja road, most of Baja actually seemed
more mountainous than this, but I didn't feel like stopping for
photo's during those stretches.

Pretty cold again in the morning. Tried a new routine. Since dinner
took so long, we stood in line first for breakfast and then packed.
Doesn't matter how we do it, always takes about 1 1/2 hrs. to pack up.
Road condition was pretty bad to begin with but improved. Slightly hilly
remote country side, little traffic. I feel pretty good today. Got a
hot shower today and a quick meal inside the restaurant. My butt is doing well. What more could I ask for.

Jan 11, 2000 - San Ignacio

Some nice pavement (for a change) in Baja, between San Ignacius
and Mulege. Both cities look like oases full of date palms.
Bought a kilo of dates in San Ignacius for about a buck.

Long bike day today, good road mostly, got a little hilly just before
San Ignacio.


We are staying at another La Pinta, inside camping.
Beautiful hotel and pool (way cold). Walked to the town and saw the mission. Bought some dates and date cake. Ate the whole cake after
dinner. The town is covered w date palm trees, beautiful setting. Called
Nikki tonight

Jan 12, 2000 - Mulege

It was 36 degrees F. when we got up. We were very cold when we started
riding. I needed to stop to put on my warm bike gloves. After 5 km we
were out of the valley, the sun was shining and it was 60 deg F. We
stopped and took off our clothes. The road was hilly with a significant downhill before Santa Rosalia. There was a truck in front of us making
a tremendous noise and taking our earned decent away. Found a bank and
bakery in St. Rosalia. The road flattened out and we got into Mulege
about 4 pm. Camped at Orchard Vacation Village RV Campground. They have
a little grass, mostly dirt. Campground is located in river, didn't
know there where rivers in Baja. The hotel where we ate is about 25 min.
walk. There are lost of very nice houses along the river, many are
shells which take an RV. Looks like Americans have poured money into
the city. The food is very good at the hotel and for a change we get
to eat inside. Mulege is a very clean and authentic Mexican town.

Jan 13, 2000 - Mulege Layover

Beautiful day, explored the town, did laundry. My legs are doing fine,
my butt is a little sore, but my hands are very tired. I can't use my
fingers very well.

Jan 14, 2000 - Loreto

The Sea for Cortez, near Loreta (These photo's look nice, this
is the first time I've seen them full size myself). We haven't had much
time to enjoy the scenery yet, because we have to keep
moving most of the time. It takes about three days to feel rested
after we stop, so maybe after we are in Santiago Chile for a day,
I will feel more energetic).

It wasn't too cold at night (40 deg F.). We had a quick breakfast at
the hotel and left at our usual time, about 8:15 am. We hardly stopped
and made the ride in 6 hrs. It was a little hilly in the beginning w.
roller coaster ride the rest of the day. We are staying at another
La Pinta hotel. Weather is getting hot during the day.

Jan 15, 2000 - Ciudad Constitucion

Did some climbing in the morning. Nice switchback, felt really good.
Road flattened out after checkpoint. Slight headwind and the road
seemed to go on forever. I am very tired today, can't wait for a rest

Photo of Antulio (more about him below) cranking his tricycle
up over a pass on the way to Cuidad Constitucion.


Jan 16, 2000 - Las Pocitas

Breakfast was a little late, but plenty of good Mexican food. I need to eat less, I don't' think I am pedaling that hard. The road was
flat as a pancake with just a few hills at the end. This was a short, easy
day which was good because it got really hot (98 deg F.). We are
camping on the school campgrounds. Tonight is the annual birthday party
for everyone. Someone threw a beer can out of the car window at me. I
guess some people don't like bikers.

January 17, 2000

Just found our first cyber-cafe entering La Paz Mexico,
our big discovery about Baja is that
Baja is NOT flat
We've pedaled over a thousand miles so far (without taking)
the sag wagon. About 10 more miles and we get a couple of days off.
Will try to get back in the next few days to fill in the details
a little more, and maybe add some photos. So far we have not been
sick or hurt. Just sore muscles and butts.
-Dan & Monika

Jan 17, 2000 - La Paz

We slept under the stars in a little shed and had to get up early in
the cold again to vacate the school property. The road was hilly at
first and then dropped down to the Sea of Cortez. Nice view, but road
was not very good. We rode through La Paz and stayed at two very nice
hotels by the marina. We made it! We have biked every mile in Baja and
earned a rest day and beds in the hotel. We took a cab to the True
Value store in town and got some missing screws so we can put the
fenders on the bikes. Sometime it is going to rain. Dan cleaned the
bikes and put a new set of chains on.

Jan 19, 2000 - San Juan, Costa Rica

Breakfast was at 5 am and at 7 am when it got light we pedaled to the
airport. The two planes arrived the day before and we were told to just
relax and go with the flow. No one knew how our first flight would work
The lists of who was on plane 1 and plane 2 got jumbled up over night
and caused a little confusion. While loading the planes with bikes and
gear the crew realized early on that 2 727's are not going to do the job. Plane 1 finally took off about 10:30 and we on plane 2 about 1 pm. Our plane apparently exceeded the weight limit slightly so we made a
short stop in Acapulco to refuel. We got to San Juan after dark which
killed the first plan which was for us to bike to the hotel 15 km away.
By the time we arrived they had organized shuttle buses and drove us to
the hotel. By the time we finally arrived, stood in line to eat, stood
in line to get our room, we were tired and went to bed.
Most of the bikes are still in La Paz and Tim was organizing a 3rd plane. We have another day off tomorrow and will do some sight seeing.

Jan 20, 2000

We're sitting in a cyber-cafe in San Jose Costa Rica, writing this.
We survived Baja!
One the interesting events there was that early on we passed this one
legged Mexican man in a 3 wheeled cart that he had made hand-cranking
his way over a pass. Every few days we would see him again. He didn't go
very fast, but he must get a real early start, and not take any rest days
to get ahead of us. It turned out he as on his way to La Paz also. As we neared La Paz, we started seeing him every day and found out a little
more about him. It turns out his name is Antulio, and does the trip
from Tijuana to La Paz several times a year. One day recently, one riders chain came apart, and he stopped and fixed it for her with his bare hands and a couple of rocks. I hear he used to be a bike racer and
owned a bicycle shop. He doesn't carry much with him, just a blanket, and a little food, which I think he gets mostly by donations. The last few days in Baja, he camped and ate dinner with us. He was in inspiration to many of us to keep going on our trip even though things
get tough. Antulio said he was also inspired by the many older people
on our trip, and also the younger ones, because he sees most young
people on motorcycles and in cars and not enough on bicycles. On our last day in La Paz, someone took up collection to get him a gift, and are working on getting him a recumbent hand crank bicycle which should arrive about May. He said he had dreamed of owning such a bicycle, but had no idea of how to get one.
On our final morning at the airport he was there to see everyone off,
on our way to Costa Rica.

Jan 21 2000:

Today we went on an all day bus tour. First we went to the top of Poas
volcano. It was foggy and rained in the cloud forest and we couldn't
see the crater. Afterwards we went to the Sarapiqui river for a boat ride
again in the rain. We saw a lot of wild life, a sloth, howler monkeys,
lots of iguanas in the trees, birds and a crocodile.

Our guide was very
knowledgeable and told us a lot about Costa Rica. Everyone here is
entitled to a free university education! During dinner we watched some
local dancers and musicians.


Jan 22 San Isidro

Today we started using a regular truck for our gear. We all got to love the gear trucks but they were left in La Paz to be shipped to Europe.
The other set of gear trucks will meet us in South Africa. Our bikes
arrived just in time from La Paz.

Today was a really hard day. We had to ride through San Juan to get out
of the city. I must be getting used to some of the traffic on the road,
because I am not so stressed out about it any more. After that an uphill
climb of 80 km started to a pass at over 10000 feet. It started raining
shortly after the climb and the road had no shoulder and there was
quite a bit of traffic. My glasses fogged up and I had to take them off.
Since my mirror is attached to the glassed I lost my view back. Whenever
we crossed an open area the wind gusts where very strong and it was
difficult to stay on the bike.
We endured this for 50 km and decided that this was very unsafe. We were
able to flag down a cab which took three of us for $70 over the pass
and down the mountain. The downhill was even more scary than the uphill.
It was foggy, wet, poor roads, and heavy traffic.
Until this point we had ridden every single mile but we decided that it
wasn't worth while to bike in these really bad and dangerous conditions.
We do want to come back home alive.
We got into camp at 3 pm and only 3 riders had made it over the mountain.
After dinner there were still more than 100 bags sitting on the ground
and I felt very sorry for people who made it to the top but had to wait
there until very late to be picked up.
Some people are getting up at 4 30 am and don't wait for breakfast and
are still on the road when it gets dark. Some people get into camp so late that there is no dinner for them.
It is a very difficult trip. Some people are on a very tight budget and
can't afford the extra money to take cabs or buses to get off the road.
Today was a day that Tim needed to provide some alternate transportation.

Jan 23 San Vito and Panama Border

The morning provided a very pleasant ride up to km 82 where we turned
off to go up to San Vito. This was a climb of 3200 ft. It was very hot,
the hills were very steep, as were the down hills. I got so tired that
I had to walk many of the steep sections. People who never in their life
pushed their bike instead of riding, ended up walking this day. The last two 2km it started raining
but I didn't really care at that point. One guy who I just passed,
slipped in the wet downhill and scraped his legs up pretty badly. We
don't have a doctor on this trip, there are quite a few injuries and
lots of sick people and we could really use a doctor.
After 7.5 hrs and 6000 ft accum. climb we made it into camp. I was
completely exhausted. I have never in my life worked so hard physically.
Dinner was at an Italian place and it was good and plentiful.

The next day we took a cab off the mountain (it involved another 17 km
climb) and a very steep down hill. I was so tired that I could just do
the fairly flat 70 km to Panama.

Costa Rica was very tough biking. The rode between San Jose and San Isidro,
is very bad road, no shoulder, pot holes that could be classified as
craters, horrendous traffic and it rains ninety percent of the time. Plus
the rode climbs over 60 kilometers to pass which is higher than 10,000
feet. It was raining when we got there, and as we got higher up there
were strong wind gusts which threatened to blow you off the road. We found
we could make only about 8 kilometers and hour and knew we would not
make it over the pass at that rate. The support services were very
inadequate this day. So we bailed after about 50 kilometers by taking
a taxi with another rider over the pass down to San Isidro. The route
as too risky. This is the first day we did not rider everything, but
my number one priority is to make through this trip without getting
injured (or killed). -Monika

The day (started out really nice until the diversion to
San Vito, which was tremendously hard, we made that one, but decided
the next morning which called for 17 kilometers more to climb out of
San Vito, and then another 20 kilometers down very steep windy treacherous
roads, to get back to the main highway and pedal into panama, was
also a bad idea. So we took a taxi (with our bikes) back to the main
highway and rode from there. This was a good move also, as it took
us two hours putzing around in lines at the most disorganized
border crossing I've ever seen to get into Panama. People who got there
later had much longer to wait. After crossing the border we still had to pedal
50 kilometers to get where we were going for that day.
I liked Costa Rica, but I wouldn't recommend doing much biking here.

Entering Panama:

The border crossing took several hours and we needed to buy a stamp, stand in a line to leave Costa Rica. In Panama we needed to buy another
stamp for the passport, stand in a line to get a customs form filled
out (very slowly) and stand in another line to get the little stamp put
in the passport. They also decided to take a lunch hour so people just
sat around waiting for a long time. The third world is truly different.

The road immediately improved when we entered Panama but still no
shoulder and lots of traffic. We stayed in a stadium in David that night
and the meals were at a beautiful hotel nearly.


The Highway in panama after the Costa Rican border changed to cement
and was in fair condition (still no shoulder for most of it).
Riding was not to bad, up a gradual incline, but hot jungle climate,
keeping us drenched in sweat. We are getting used to the system of driving
down here. You have to be very alert and watch traffic both in front and
behind when you ride. Not just bicycling, but driving also. It takes more
concentration than driving in the USA where the roads are good and things
are more orderly. Here the road is barely two lanes wide, and any time we
have a shoulder it is a real treat! We just keep on the edge of the pavement
and hold a steady course. The drivers adjust their speed to pass you
(some times very close). You have to trust that they will give you room,
but be vigilant. The traffic is generally light enough so everyone can get
around. Tourists are the worst drivers in these conditions, fortunately we
haven't seen many of them since we left Baja. There were plenty in Baja
driving big land zeppelins pulling cars and boats behind them.
The biggest thing to watch for here is someone passing in the oncoming
lane which means they are in your lane, coming head on at you! You don't
see this too much.

Gear truck unloading
      in David Panama
The gear pile unloaded from the truck in David Panama,
We miss the gear truck with the individual lockers, we will get that back
in South Africa. This is much more work.

Monika and Donna
      at Lions Stadium, David Panama
Monika sitting on the curb with Donna, posing for the camera.
We camped at the lions club stadium in David Panama. The Lion's
club set up a kiosk of free beer with a cute hostess to fill the glasses.
We walked about 600 meters up the road to the Grand National Hotel for
dinner, which was very nice.

East of David
Panama east along the Pan-American highway from David. Imagine sitting
in a wet sauna while viewing this, in order to get the proper feeling of
the climate (and this is the dry season/winter)

Panama is much flatter than Costa Rica. We enjoyed a couple of roller
coaster rides. They would have been easy except for a really strong
head wind which made this another hard ride. The wind makes the hot
temperature and humidity tolerable. We even got a decent shoulder for
quite a while and were able to ride on a newly paved road which is not
open for traffic yet. The highway patrol is driving up and down the
road creating an illusion of safety. They must think we are all crazy
riding on these roads. We find that the truck drivers in general are
very careful and try to move over if possible. Frequently two vehicles
are passing at the same place and there is really no room for the bikers.
Quite a few people have horror stories to tell about close encounters
and having to get off the road.
My butt is getting rather sore, my lips have blisters, and my hands are
numbs. Other than that I am feeling pretty good. I think I am getting
stronger but every long day without a rest and am getting just a little
more tired.
60 or more people decided to bag the biking and went already to Panama
City. I really want to get into shape because there is a lot of
difficult biking ahead.
We are becoming more pragmatic about biking. We take other forms of
transportation when we are too tired to push on. We don't have our heart
set on biking 20,000 miles but we do want to bike around the world.
We took the sag wagon into Panama City because it was a very long day
(150 km) and the last 40 km where very bad road and dangerous. We
crossed the Panama Canal bridge (which was apparently closed to bikes)
and had a beautiful view of the area.
We are staying at a very nice hotel in the middle of town and have a
wonderful view from the restaurant on the 7th floor.
We had a meeting with Tim last night and some people are very angry. I
don't think much will change about the way the trip is organized. If
you don't like how things are going your only choice is to leave. I am
sorry that so many people are discouraged (we have only done this for
a month). There are a lot of neat and positive things about this trip
and I think its important to concentrate on that. I guess adventures are
just that, unpredictable, difficult, and not always fun.

Well tomorrow we'll try to get everyone and everything into one L1011
airplane. That's another story.
Sag bus (extra
      for Panama)
Waiting for the Sag bus to leave for Panama City.
We boarded this after going 75 kilometers of a 150 kilometer day to
Panama City. Yesterday was 160 kilometers which we rode. We just wanted
to get to Panama City earlier, so we would have a chance to do laundry
the same day and not be too worn out. The later part of the ride had
heavy traffic which we would like to avoid, oh and I forgot to mention
a stiff head wind and some climbing.

Yesterday (Jan 26) had strong headwind the last 40K also, otherwise it
would have been easy. We are getting some help from the Panamanian
highway patrol with cars shielding traffic in some particularly busy parts.

Panama City: (Jan 28 2000)

Picture I took this morning after breakfast on the top of our hotel in Panama City:
View from top
      of hotel in Panama City

Tomorrow we are supposed to ride at 0630 when if first gets light 22K to
the airport (over a new highway which the police said was closed to bicycles).
We lined up a 4-door pickup taxi cab, just in case there is no police escort,
or the route changes. Its hard enough crossing the street in Panama City,
let alone riding a bike. When we get to the airport we supposedly have a L1011
charter waiting to take us to Santiago Chile. If we can get there and get the
bikes back soon enough before dark we are supposed to ride to our hotel in
Santiago. It didn't work that way from La Paz, because the whole process
took too long. If we are there after dark, they will have to round up
buses and trucks to get us to the hotel. The travel days for flights are
as much effort as the biking days. The Central America leg of the trip
was very difficult. It should be much easier in Chile. One of the riders
is from Chile, and he says it will be a "piece of cake". -Dan

No one is complaining about the food. It is usually plentiful and good
but there are always lines and sometimes it takes an hour to get your food. Oh
well, it's all part of the fun.

Panama City Jan 29 2000 12:28

Still here. Got up at 5 AM, loaded bags on the gear truck,
stood in breakfast line about 1/2 hour, waiting to eat so we
could pedal the 22K to the airport at dawn (0630), then got the
word plane was delayed and we would leave for the airport at 0900.

Went downstairs in the hotel at 0830 to stow our carry-on bags in
preparation for leaving at 0900, and got the word the plane was
still in Florida and we would be leaving about 1200. Went back
upstairs to watch a movie on HBO.

Just about to go downstairs at 1115 to check on progress, and our
room-mate returned with news that they got the part for the plane
which was still in Florida, we will have dinner here at 1600-1700
and leave for the airport at 1800 (the last chance to pedal there
in daylight). The plane is to leave at 2300 and get to Santiago
at 0600 tomorrow. (maybe). Went out to lunch, and to post this
update. It will still remain to be seen if we get out of here
today, or spend the night at the airport. The adventure continues.


P.S. The ride to the airport: Went downstairs an hour before we were supposed to leave and found most everyone already on the street in front of the hotel with their bikes. Had to scramble to get our bikes. Waiting for the police escort to the airport. The police were going to escort us along the toll highway to the airport (which normally does not allow bike traffic).

We finally left for the airport about 1715 to ride on the new toll road with a police escort. This was about the last minute we could leave to get there before dark. There were two toll booths along the route that we were supposed to pass free (being on bicycles). On the second one, the police car lead the way around the far right lane, and a bunch of us started streaming through the lane next to it which was closed (with orange traffic cones). Just as I was getting there I guy jumped out and tryed to block the lane, with another guy with a machine gun (pointed up in the air) next to him. He then saw the police car and stepped out of the way. Another mile or two down the road however, another police van (I think from the toll booth) stopped our escort, and a woman got out and I think counted heads as we started moving again. My guess is they inteded to extract the toll from someone. It was a rather nice ride for about an hour.

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