The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
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more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
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Steel Repair Myth.
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Tires for Bike Tours..
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Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
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all 3 book)
Travel Journal for
The States of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, Mexico
(June 1 - July 17, 2002)
||Wow, Zacatecas immediately impressed me. The first thing I noticed
was a big cross lit up on the highest hill around. Most of the roads in Zacatecas
are cobble stone, not the easiest surface to ride on. We rode up and down hills,
past an old aqueduct, and into the central district. This is our first Silver City
and the architecture is magnificent. I am glad we are not paying for film because
Tim is taking a lot of pictures. Today, Saturday, is market day and oh what a
gathering of merchants, everything from strawberries, which I am very tempted to eat but
have not, to cheese, to videos and walkman. We went window shopping and found a
wedding store with the most beautiful dresses. I have noticed that through out
Mexico, there are more young women then young men around. We are staying at Hotel
Zamora located close to the center of town. It costs 125 pesos ($13.25) for the night, it
is a bit stuffy but we love the location..
||Tim woke up feeling under the weather, possibly a case of the
tourista. So we decided to have a mellow day of sight seeing. First we went
to the Pedro Coronel Museum, it was housed in the former Jesuit College. The Jesuits
were kicked out of Mexico in 1767 by the Spanish crown because they felt threaten by the
highly educated and compassionate priests. The Jesuits tried to help the plight of
the indigenous people. In this area, the indigenous people were forced to work in
the mines 12 to 18 hours a day from as early an age as 10 until their death which occurred
in their mid 20s. After the museum we decided to tour the local mine El Eden.
We met Paolo on our tour and she translated from Spanish to English for us. The mine
was dug by hand with a chisel and hammer. The laborers would chisel a hole in the
rock and then insert a piece of wood with the chisel then they would wet the wood, when
the wood expanded it would break apart the rock. There were multiple levels of the
mine and each level had a shrine to the patron saint. The miners would pay homage to
the saint for each day that they got out of the mine alive.
Paola is on a
fellowship here in Mexico. It was very interesting to talk with her about the
changes going on in Mexico. We talked for hours about Mexican politics and customs.
||Cruised around Zacatecas looking for a laundry and never did find
one. We strolled through a different part of town today. Monday's are a very
busy day and there was hustle and bustle everywhere. We ended up doing our laundry
in our room. As we were leaving for dinner we met Jose, the owner of the hotel and
an avid racing cyclist. He showed us around parts of the hotel that are not
currently in use, there were beautiful views from the roof top. He said that he
would take us to the top of La Bufa, the highest point in Zacatecas, tomorrow by car.
||We strolled around Zacatecas in the morning and tried some of the local
cuisine. Fruit vendors are everywhere and I had to try some. The fresh fruit
available was papaya, mango, watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and hicama. I
decided to try cantaloupe, the locals put red chili powder and fresh lime on their fruit.
I though, what the heck, I'll try it. Wow, what a combination of sweet, sour
and hot all at once. I am hooked. The next thing we tried was roasted corn in
a cup with cream, red chili, lime and goat cheese on top. A meal all in itself. We
met Jose and his wife and they took us on a trip to the surrounding mountains. We
ended up at a little church out in the middle of nowhere. This church was near the
very first mine in the area. Jose said that the conquistadors trotted along these same
cobble stone roads. We learned some more Spanish along the way. Jose was very
animated and enthusiastic about life.
||Zacatecas - Panfilo Natera. We set out from Zacatecas towards San
Luis Potosi today. The ride through town was fast and on a three lane highway.
It was intense getting out of the center of town. We have been off the bike for a
while and I soon forgot how nerve racking it is riding in heavy traffic. We did not
have any close calls and I relaxed after a couple of kilometers. After we got off
the main road to Aguacalientes the country side turned to farm land intermixed with large
prickly pear cactus and very large plants that looked like Joshua trees. The weather
turned to stormy in the early afternoon and we were again riding into a head wind.
Tim is a great wind block and makes the riding much easier on me. We got to our turn
off and found a truck stop with a hotel. Given the weather conditions, we decided to
stay the night, it cost 100 pesos ($10.60). We had a huge thunderstorm come through
in the middle of the night.
||This is the first day that we wanted to ride but decided against it
because of the weather. The weather was wet and cold in the morning and rainy in the
afternoon. We decided to wait a day to see what the weather would do. The
monsoon season is obviously just around the corner. We walked into the town of
Panfilo Natera, population less than 5,000, and it was obvious that they do not get many
visitors. However, everyone was very friendly and we did meet someone who had worked
in Las Vegas. I am amazed at how many people, mostly men, have worked in the US.
We guess maybe 1 in 5 have worked in the US. I'm sure that most of them do
not have green cards either.
||Panfilo Natera - Noria de los Angeles. (see full description at One Fine Day Down The Road) Woke up this morning to find
that the hotel was full of cyclists. There was a group of ten riders from
Guanajuato staying the night, they had their families with them. Unfortunately they
were on there way to Zacatecas, where we had just come from. The cyclists ranged in
age from teenage to retirement. It was nice to see a group of recreational cyclists,
it reminded me of the Chain Gang, a local cycling club in Prescott, Arizona.
down the road towards Pinos, we were heading east and again we had a head wind. We
stopped in Noria de las Angeles to take a look at Tim's crank because it had been making a
clicking noise all day. As we were sitting there we saw 15 buses turn towards the
town plaza. We just had to investigate. It turns out that it was a political
rally. They had bused in people from the surrounding area. There were hundreds
of people milling around the square. They had a band set up and a rally was in
progress. I set off to look at the local church and it was the most breath taking
church I have ever seen. Beautiful paintings every where with numerous statues.
When we first got to town no one noticed us but as soon as we began talking to people
the kids just mobbed us, there must have been thirty kids around us. In the middle
of it all a women asked us if we needed any thing and we said yes, anything to disperse
the mob. Off to her house we went with at least twenty kids in tow, she was kind
enough to let us use her bathroom. When we were done we sat down next to the police
officer and talked with the kids for a while. Tim asked the police officer if there
was a hotel in town. He said no but we could camp next to the police station.
We rode around town looking for a restaurant and could not find one, so we were once again
back at the police station asking if there was a restaurant in town. We got directions but
had difficulty finding a restaurant. We rode past a dog barking at us from behind a
fence, he was wagging his tail so he didn't look particularly mean. When we rode by
again suddenly a goat jump up to take a look too. Just to cute. We spoke with
a group of women outside their house and she said she did not have any chicken
today. We said we would be happy with eggs. She invited us into her house and
we ate at their kitchen table. Three young boys lived in the house and they had lots
of questions for us. We talked through dinner and beyond. We finally set up
our tent just before sunset. Then the boys came over and asked us if we wanted to
take a shower at their house. Of course we did. Mean while we met Victor a
local teacher. The women who made us dinner happen to be his grandmother. We
could of stayed up all night talking but I was exhausted so off to sleep we
||Noria de las Angeles - Pinos. We woke up to the sound of burros -
eehhhww, roosters cockadoddledoo, ducks quack quack, assorted birds tweet tweet, and cows
moo. "Todo I think we are in Kansas". We set out late this morning, Tim's crank
is making a clicking sound, not good. We again had a head wind. I could use a
tail wind right about now. In addition to the wind we climbed 1500 ft. and the last
300 feet was in the last 1.5 miles. We went to the Plaza as usual and met Francisco
and his family. Francisco looked about 7 years old and he had a million
questions. He didn't look bad in my helmet and glasses either. He looked like
my nephew James, it made me miss my family too. We found a hotel, carried our bikes
and bags up two flights of stairs and landed in the hotel room exhausted. We decided
to have a beer and Tim went off to the local liquor store. He was gone longer than
usual and I began to wonder what he was up to. Tim came back with the beer and told
me that the boys at the liquor store gave him a couple of free shots of the town's pride
and joy, home-made mescal. Mescal is considered hallucinogenic by the Mexicans but
in reality it is a popular liquor made from an agave plant. Tim said that "I
wasn't in the mood to drink mescal", but when a Mexican offers you a free drink it is
considered a great honor so out of respect Tim didn't turn down the shots. The
mescal came from a large oak barrel with a gravity tap and sealed with a cork on
top. Well maybe Tim should have turned down those shots. Although Tim was not
drunk, he got extremely sick with stomach cramps, nausea, fever, and dreaded
diarrhea. He was up all night with a fever. I don't think the oak barrel was
very sanitary. Tim thinks the worms were floating at the top of the barrel instead
of at the bottom of the barrel where they should be.
||Pinos. Tim wasn't in any condition to ride so we decided to stay
another night. We pretty much slept for most of the day because we were up most of
||Pinos. Tim is coming around, but is still pretty weak. We
watched the World Cup in Spanish. You don't need to know much Spanish to watch a
soccer game. A huge thunderstorm came rolling in during the middle of the night.
||Pinos. I was ready to ride put the weather was not favorable.
Oh well we can watch more world cup. We went strolling around Pinos some. Some
people can understand our Spanish and some people can't. It is so frustrating not to
be able to communicate beyond my basic needs.
||Pinos - Ojuelos. Oh joy the weather cleared and we could ride.
I was itching to head down the road. Tim was feeling better so we were both
were ready to ride. We headed down into the valley towards Guanajuato. We
steadily went down hill and it was one of our most pleasant riding days yet. The
wind had decided to stay home today and it was calm. We got to Ojuelos sooner than
we thought. As we turned off the rural road on to the highway we noticed a huge
increase in truck traffic. The dreaded semi trucks was everywhere. We weren't
on the road for two minutes and I hear the air brakes behind me and move off to the right
as far as I can. It was so close yet it didn't touch us. We passed mountains
of ceramic frogs and even a tweetie bird curios so Tim had to stop for a picture. As
we rode into town a dog came out to do battle. Again, I went to the front and Tim
rode towards the dog. I heard a vicious dog barking and Tim growling back, then Tim
spit on the dog and the dog ran off. For some reason spitting on the dog works. Tim
said, "I won", I get the feeling that Tim enjoys these battles. In to town
we went looking for a hotel, and took the room on the ground floor. This room was
way over priced and wasn't worth the 200 pesos ($21.00) it cost. Then we go to get
gas for our stove and a guy yells at us "you suck, Go back to America". Hmm not a
very friendly jester, I thought it was going to be another dog attack so I put Tim between
me and the truck. People who yell things out of a cars as they drive away are just
cowards. However, it is still disturbing to me and Tim hates racism.
||Ojuelos - San Felipe. The morning started as badly as yesterday
ended. Tim went to get water for his coffee and no water came out of the faucet.
Tim was furious, it was the last straw and he wanted to get a refund. I don't
often see Tim get mad and he was on the warpath. So we woke up the women we
paid yesterday and he demanded a refund. Tim said he would pay 100 pesos, no more.
All in Spanish too. To my utter amazement, she refunded our entire nights
bill, but complained about having to wash the sheets. So Tim gave her 100 pesos and we got
out of there as soon as we could. We ate breakfast and set off for San Felipe.
As we were heading out of town we were once again chased by not one but two dogs,
Tim had one on each side, he raised quite a racket growling and spitting at those two
dogs. Again, the dogs backed off. Tim comes riding up to me and said "I
won". I was never more glad to get out of that town.
The scenery has changed
to greener fields with mountains riming the valleys. The clouds began building and
the humidity started going up. As we topped a hill the rain began to come down.
First, in droplets here and there and then a complete down pour. We ditched to the
side of the road and pulled the tarp between the two bikes, staked down the tarp, and
dived in for cover. It rained hard but not for long, I even found it enjoyable.
This was the first time we have been catch riding in rain since we left Prescott on
March 30, 2002. The sun came back out and down the road we went. We were in
San Felipe an hour later. San Felipe is a pleasant town with people riding bikes
every where. Every one from the town hammer to mom toting her two kids around were
out enjoying the day. We got a room at the Hotel Posada for 150 pesos($15.70)
||San Felipe - Dolores Hidalgo. We set off earlier today hoping to
miss the afternoon rain. The scenery is beautiful, rolling hills with river
crossings. In between towns there is miles of farmland. They are growing corn, peas,
of coarse chilies, and beans. We made it to Dolores Hidalgo in 2.5 hours, a record
for not stopping. Dolores Hidalgo is the home of the Mexican independence movement
from Spain that took place in 1810. It seems that every Mexican makes there way here
sometime in their life. We got the smallest hotel room yet, we had to take off our
bags and park our bikes at the foot of the bed. It is amazing what I can put up with
for just one night.
||Dolores Hildalgo - Mountain pass near Santa Rosa. We asked for
directions to Guanajuato and the man we asked told us not to got that way. "The
curves are dangerous" he said. The road from Dolores to Guanajuato goes from
the high plains (6,200 feet) over a mountain pass (8,200 feet) and then descends rapidly
down to Guanajuato (6,600 feet). We told him we didn't have a problem with that and
off we went. We started climbing immediately. We rolled through the foot hills
and on into the mountains, the climb reminded me of the climb from Skull Valley to
Prescott, Arizona. As it turns out, the traffic was light and the road surface new.
Sure we went around switchbacks, but nothing we have not done before. This is
another example of how motorists don't understand what it is like on a bike. We
stopped when we thought we were close to the top, more like my legs didn't want to go
anymore. We found a great place to camp for the night among the scrub oak with
vistas of the plains below.
||Mountain pass near Santa Rosa - Guanajuato. We didn't think we had
much climbing to do today, but we were wrong. We climbed steadily for an hour.
It was a quick descent into town. Town is a maze of narrow cobblestone
streets with lots of one ways and tunnels that go underground. An underground tunnel
is not a place for a bike. Luckily as we stopped to contemplate which direction to
go, a street parade with musicians and dancers went by and closed off the street. We
pushed our bikes down a one way the wrong way, a common occurrence in Mexico, and stumbled
onto the main Plaza, Jardin de la Union. Whala! we made it. We met several
Americans this afternoon. It was great to have a conversation in English. We
wandered around the streets for a couple of hours looking for a cheap place to stay.
We finally found Posada De la Condesa for 140 pesos ($14.65). It will do for
the night. Somehow, we are going to try and stay up tonight because it is US vs.
Mexico in the world cup. It figures I have a Spanish entrance test in the morning.
This should be old hat for Tim, it reminds him a lot of college although I don't
think he can stay up as late.
||Well so much for the soccer game. Instead I got my first case of
Montezuma's revenge. It started suddenly with nausea, the heaves, fever and then in
the morning diarrhea. Ugh I felt like a punching bag. So much for the first
day of Spanish school too. I had to send Tim on ahead. I stayed in the our
room, the dungeon, because I didn't have the strength to do anything. We call it the
dungeon because the room has no windows and two suits of armor great you at the door of
the hotel. Welcome to Guanajuato. I have decided not to drink the water here
at all. In the past we would filter the tap water but I think that this tap water
has more problems then bacteria, so it is best to stay away from it. This area has
heavily mineralized soil so I wouldn't be surprised if the water was mineralized too.
Mineralized water is not good for the digestive system.
||Luckily for me my sickness only lasted 24 hours. I feel a little
weak today but not near as bad. We looked for a better room at a decent price but
couldn't find one. We decided to eat out only once a day to keep in our budget.
We found the large modern grocery store. Tim had a donut attack and we bought
ten donuts and/or cookies for 20 pesos ($2.10). I had my first day of Spanish school
and realized that this is going to take a lot of work. So for the next three weeks I
don't intend to have extensive journal entries and may do a summary of Spanish school at
the end. It looks like we will be moving to the hotel associated with the Spanish
school. Casa Mexicana usually charges 95 pesos ($20 total) per person for a room.
We declined and stayed in our originally room, the dungeon. When we went to
school they said that there was a room coming available on Thursday and would we be
interested. Tim said only if it is 140 pesos or less. They said they would
rent us the room for 140 pesos a night because we are going to school there. Tim
says it has more to do with the principals of supply and demand. We will take a look
tomorrow but will most likely move on Thursday.
|Well we stayed in Guanajuato longer than we wanted. However, we met
some great people at Spanish School and definitely got to know the town. We tried to
ride daily until I got sick for a week and then Tim got sick the following week. We
ordered a new water filter from REI and it arrived quickly. We decided to order
Tim's crank from Performance Bikes too. We waited 7 days for a package that
never came. We ordered the crank over the internet, Performance usually sends an
email when they ship an order and when I did not receive an email, I sent another email to
customer service. Still no reply, after waiting 7 days I called Performance customer
service, not a cheap endeavor, and they said that they do not ship to Mexico. I was
a little more then mad, what, then the customer service rep said that he could not find
our order, how convenient for them. Since we were not waiting anymore, we decided to leave
the next day.
Cindie and her new friends
Cindie on her way out of the city of Zacatecas.
Tim riding in the backcountry in the state of Zacatecas.
Tim and his 100 lb. rig make it to the top.
Francisco is suited up and ready to go.
Plowing a field the hard way with two burros.
Our campsite high in the mountains near Guanajuato.
Cindie looking down at the city of Guanajuato, where we hope to learn more
North and Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03
(July 18 - Aug 22, 2002)
The State of
Guanajuato to Toluca, Mexico
Other essays by Tim
Into the Mist State
of Michoacan, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Michoacan,
Full size Picture
- Guanajuato to
Penjamillo to Patzcuaro, Mexico
Patzcuaro to Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan,
Into the Mist Mexican highway 15
Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan, to Toluca, Mexico
The Velodrome in Toluca, Mexico
(Oct. 12 - Nov. 8, 2002)
The States of Tabasco and Chiapas,
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Tabasco and
Chiapas, Mexico Pictures
Full size Picture
- Museum La Venta and the
Olmec Heads Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Ocosingo,
Palenque #1 Photo Picture Page
Palenque #2 Photo Picture Page
Misol-Ha Waterfall Chiapas, Mexico
Agua Azul Chiapas, Mexico
Tonina Mayan Ruins Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico
Mexico's Day of the Dead Ocosingo, Chiapas,
Ocosingo to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
(March 15 - April 10, 2003)
Costa Rica #2
Manual Antonio to Monteverde
Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Tim's Emailed Newsletters
Costa Rica #2 (incomplete)
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Costa Rica #2 Pictures
Full size Picture
Parque National Manuel Antonio, #2
City of Santa Elena
Santa Elena, Monteverde
Frog Pond (Ranario), Santa
Santa Elena, Cloud
Forest, National Park
Sky Walk, Suspension
Bridge, Canopy Tour
Sky Trek Zip Line,
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground