The border city of Tijuana, Mexico, is unfortunately more well-known these days for its drug-cartel violence than for its outdoor recreation.
But that hasn’t slowed down Ignacio Anaya. The 44-year-old Tijuana-based lawyer, teacher, REI member and father of 2 has forged a remarkable resume of adventurous journeys. In recent years, Ignacio has summited several major peaks including Denali, Aconcagua and, in May 2010, Everest. On the latter, he lost 6 toes due to frostbite. He is also an Ironman triathlete.
Above: Ignacio at his route's starting point: New York City.
His latest adventure is another doozy: a 3,200-mile bike ride from New York City to San Diego, California, just across the border from his home in Tijuana. The self-professed REI fanatic is stopping at several REI stores along the way. As of this writing, he’s cycling across western Ohio.
Jose Gonzalez, REI’s outreach program manager from the San Diego area, knows Ignacio and recently made The REI Blog aware of his latest epic journey. Jose also translated Ignacio’s responses to our questions from his native Spanish to English for this blog post.
Above: Ignacio stops at the REI Pittsburgh store.
REI: Is this your first bike tour?
Ignacio: Yes, this is my first tour for very long distance. I’ve ridden from San Diego to LA and many rides in the San Diego and Tijuana-Ensenada areas.
REI: How much training did you do?
Ignacio: I train almost every day for Ironman triathlons. I have done 5 Ironmans in the last 2 years. I train 4 hours a day and rest 1 day a week for the last 6 months.
REI: How did you get interested in outdoor recreation living in Tijuana?
Ignacio: I got started when I was a kid in Tijuana by climbing mountains in California.
REI: Why are you doing this ride?
Ignacio: I am making this journey simply because it is possible. It is possible that any of us can take our bike and ride in this beautiful country. It is possible that we can do what we like without causing harm to anyone. It is possible to ride in the U.S. for many days. And, because it’s possible even for adults like me to get on a bike, move many miles and see the sights and history of the country.
Above: Crossing one of the many beautiful bridges of Pittsburgh.
REI: What keeps you motivated?
Ignacio: I am encouraged by those who fight terrible diseases like cancer and those who struggle with physical limitations to get ahead in life.
REI: Do you have a personal connection to people battling with cancer and disabilities?
Ignacio: Yes, I help support a foundation in Tijuana for children with cancer, the Fundacion Castro-Limon.
REI: What are your biggest challenges on a ride like this?
Ignacio: The main challenge is to have the mental stamina to reach my destination. Physically, it is a big challenge but I can stop to rest and recover. On the other hand, I can become exhausted mentally without being physically exhausted.
REI: How do you find the time to do these amazing adventures?
Ignacio: I have my own law firm, and my wife is a doctor.
REI: Why did you choose this route in particular?
Ignacio: I chose this route because it crosses 13 states of the American union and Tijuana. I'm following a northern route because the climate in those states is more beneficial than the southern states which are warmer.
Check back for an update on Ignacio’s ride in a future REI Blog post.
States along Ignacio’s route: New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California.
Selected cities along Ignacio’s route: New York, Jersey City, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Sedalia, La Junta, Chama, Santa Fe, Phoenix, Palm Springs, San Diego and Tijuana.