First Annual Ruta El Cardón – Mountain Biking Todos Santos, Mexico

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Over the Edge team member Pierce Kettering, recently visited Todos Santos in Baja, Mexico for the first annual Ruta El Cardón. Check out his video and then check out the story and photos below to learn more about the Ruta El Cardón and mountain biking Todos Santos, Mexico.

A video showcasing the landscape and wonderful people of Todos Santos, Mexico.

Over The Edge Todos Santos has been a staple in the local community for the better part of a decade. Keeping the town rolling on two wheels is their raison d’être. Located near the bottom of the Baja-California Peninsula the town of Todos Santos feels like the edge of the world. There’s an endless expanse of ocean with whales breaching and fisherman looking for their daily quota. With such a beautiful and unique landscape it was only a matter of time before cyclists started taking note of the small yet lively town. 

  • Three smiling women around a table with an Over the Edge Todos Santos burro-on-a-bike mural in the background.
  • A large group of smiling people sitting on mountain bikes on a city street.
  • Two vaguely smiling men wearing baseball caps in a bicycle service shop.

Above left: Ann and volunteers at the sign-up booth before the race. Upper right: Pre-ride excitement at the starting line. Lower right: Alex and Trino from the Over The Edge Todos Santos bike shop.

The Todos Santos area has multiple bike packing routes, explored and documented by notable and accomplished riders like Kurt Refsnider, Brad Keyes and Millard Allen, a.k.a. Mills Pablo. These same coastal-desert trails and double tracks are the training grounds for the talented and welcoming Todos Santos Over The Edge Cross Country Team.

To show off the beautiful Baja California terrain, Dave and Anne, owners of Over the Edge Todos Santos, put together the first annual Ruta El Cardón cross country group ride. The 23-mile (37k) route starts right at the intersection where Over the Edge is located. With just a few pedal strokes, you’re riding out of town onto a twisty singletrack climb that takes you through thick, highly-vegetated coastal desert. For the first ten miles the route follows the contours of the land and straight bits of trail are almost non-existent. 

Two mountain bikers pedaling up a steep desert trail with a small seaside village in the background.
Pierce and Aaron, trading blows before regrouping for “party pace.”

After phase one of the course we paused at the first feed zone for a social break. The Esker Cycles crew was there and the locals were admiring their beautifully-crafted bikes. The diversity of the fifty or so passionate cyclists attending the event was a truly beautiful thing. There was a wide range of fitness and ability. However, the Ruta El Cardón is about comradery and enjoying mountain biking Todos Santos—no one was there to win. 

A mountain biker in a green jersey and yellow helmet is dwarfed by a huge cactus under a dark blue sky.,
Over The Edge founder Troy Rarick, pedaling past a massive cactus.

After everybody rehydrated (or dehydrated with some tasty cervezas), we headed out on phase two of the course. We were all looking forward to this part of the ride, and with good reason. The back half of Ruta El Cardón climbs up the Old Port of Todos Santos Trail. The town of Todos Santos disappeared behind us as we climbed up to the Old Port vista.

We climbed past beautifully preserved, abandoned buildings as the trail got continually steeper and more scenic. Parker Roenfanz of  Esker Cycles, conquered the climb on his singlespeed—an impressive feat to the rest of us, who suffered to the top on our fancy 12-speed bikes.

A mountain biker in a blue T-shirt rides down a dirt desert trail in on cliffs above the Pacific Ocean in Todos Santos, Mexico.
Matt Whitman, ripping one of the best downhill sections of the Ruta El Cardón.

Everything came together at the summit of the Old Port of Todos Santos Trail – the ocean view, the smiling faces, and the satisfaction of finishing a good climb. It was a reminder that bikes bring us together and bring out the best in everybody. I’ve always believed people are at their best when they’re exercising outdoors. The happy group at the top of the climb validated my belief.  

It was all downhill (in the best of ways) from the beautiful Old Port vista. We descended back into the desert, rehydrated/dehydrated at feed zone two and headed back towards town on the last leg of the course.

A few of us weren’t done for the day and decided to check out some local dirt jumps. Hitting the jumps with the locals is an apex memory for me. Whales were jumping out of the water while we were jumping over piles of dirt. After discussing the beauty of life and Todos Santos we headed back towards the finish line.

I had no idea the finish was going to be such a fiesta. The whole block where Over the Edge Todos Santos is located was closed to traffic and everybody cheered as we crossed the finish line. Because of our dirt jump session we were the last ones to finish the Ruta El Cardón. Everyone else was already enjoying tacos, margaritas and sharing stories about the ride.

A photo of a mountain biker riding a wheelie down a city street with an out-of-focus police car with blue lights flashing filling the foreground of the photo.
Jordan Rarick holding an effortless wheelie in front of the local policía (they helped close down the block).
A photo of a group of smiling people sitting at a table outside a stucco building. The table is covered with paper plates of tacos and cans of cerveza.
The Over The Edge Todos Santos Cross Country Team, high on life, post-Ruta El Cardon.

I spotted Over The Edge founder and spiritual leader Troy Rarick, sipping a margarita on the patio at the finish line. He was ecstatic to see the Ruta El Cardón come to fruition.

I love Troy’s vision and passion for the sport. His community-focused mindset and down-to-earth demeanor are a refreshing contrast to the oversaturated, commercial, and egocentric nature of the cycling world in the age of social media. Ruta El Cardón reminds us that bringing people together in cool places and putting butts on bikes is what really matters.

A vertical photo of an outdoorsy man with white hair and beard, wrenching on an old mountain bike clamped in a stand while a young man in glasses looks on in the background.
Troy Rarick, tuning up a local’s bike during, “free day.”

To thank the Todos Santos community for their hospitality, co-organizer Matt Whitman and Troy held a “free day” before the event where locals could bring their bikes to the shop for a free tune-up. The joy on the faces of the people who got their bikes fixed was priceless.

A small, smiling Mexican boy wearing jeans, a black T-shirt and a red baseball cap, surrounded by adults in blue T-shirts.

Photo of a smiling boy wearing a red baseball hat riding a bike on a street next to agave plants in Todos Santos, Mexico.
A local ripper, ecstatic to have his red racer rolling again, thanks to Matt and Troy.

Community, nature, cool places and amazing people to share them with—these should be our goals. It’s all out there. We just need to prioritize better. Thank you, Over The Edge Todos Santos. I look forward to seeing you and your beautiful people again soon. Keep doing your thing and never lose sight of how special you are to so many people.

Scroll down for more photos of Ruta El Cardón and mountain biking Todos Santos, Mexico.

Event by Dave Thompson, Ann Patsy, Michelle Cools and George Gatseos
Words and Video by Pierce Kettering
Photos by Jason Chang
Free Day by Matt Whitman and Troy Rarick

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