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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How Much to Bring and Weight
Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames
Steel Repair Myth.
and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
Bicycle Touring Wheels
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs
Panniers / Bike Bags
Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets
How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps
Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground
Pots and Pans
Solar Power for Camp
Bike Touring Shorts
Bicycle touring lights
Pictures of Equipment Failures
all 3 book)
Travel Journal for
the State of Michoacan, Mexico
Guanajuato to Toluca, Mexico
(July 18 - Aug 22, 2002)
||Guanajuato- Irapuato. On the road again, I have been itching to get
on the road again for one week. The weather was favorable too. We had lunch
with Terry, Michelle, Martha, and Shari. They are all students at the Spanish
school, Casa Mexicana and whom we became friends
with during our stay. It is always hard for me to say goodbye.
The ride out of
Guanajuato was a bit stressful, the traffic was heavy and the air was thick with diesel
fumes. We took the libre (free) road (as opposed to the toll road which is illegal
for bicycles) and it dropped us off on to a busy four lane highway. Again the air
was thick with diesel exhaust and the noise was so stifling I could not talk to Tim.
I was ready for a break and we were looking for a place to pull over when POW, Tim's back tire blew. Luckily ,
we were going up hill, slowly. Under the over pass we went to change the tire.
The expensive Continental tire side wall was blow out completely and the tire was
history. Tim had an emergency foldable tire just for times like this. It is
too small to use for very long but works well enough to get you to a bike shop. We
had only 6 miles (10 km) to go to Irapuato so we planned to get a new tire there. As
we were riding into town, Tim saw a cyclist with a Banesto jersey on. Tim
asked him where the local bike shop was. He started to explain and decided to show
us instead. We would have taken hours to find the bike shop. We bought our
tire and then asked Rodrigo where a hotel was. He then showed us a hotel that was
way over our budget. We asked for the location of a cheaper hotel and he then asked
us if we had sleeping bags. We said yes and he said that he had to work first but
after that he would take us to his house. He happened to be an instructor for a spin class. We followed him
to work and somehow we ended up at a modern mall with Radio Shack and all. Tim fixed
his tire while we waited for Rodrigo to get off work. By now it was dark and we
started riding to Rodrigo's parents house for some dinner. On the way I got a flat
tire. Two flats in one day, at least my tire was not ruined.
We got to Rodrigo's parents house just in time for dinner and before the rain
started. So we were invited to stay in the living room of the Ferrero family.
Rodrigo's family took us in and treated us like one of their own. They said our
house is your house and they meant it. We spoke a combination of Spanish and English
||Irapuato - Labor de Peralta. The next morning Mrs. Ferrero made us
a wonderful breakfast of eggs and chorizo. Rodrigo went to work to teach swim
class. He is one of Mexico's best swimmers, goes to meets all over Latin American
and probably would make a great coach. Mr. Ferrero showed us the way out
of town on his bicycle. Again it would have taken us hours to find our way out of
town. We headed down the road through fields of corn, cabbage, beans, and some kind of
crop that I have never seen before. We could see volcanoes on the horizon and little
towns dotting the landscape. The terrain has gone from high and dry to high and
wet. There is green grass everywhere, a truly wonderful site for an Arizona
girl. We made camp on some high ground between two corn fields. We set up camp
about three in the afternoon. The rain started at five and did not stop until past
eleven. I went outside the tent once and there were streams of water on both sides
of us and then streams of water began to run under the tent. The floor inside of the
tent was not wet but it certainly was cold. The tent held up well in the torrential
storm that had plenty of lightning and thunder. Our first time camping in the rain
||Labor de Peralta - Pastor Ortiz. When we woke up this morning the fog was so thick I could barely see the
corn field next to us. Somehow we needed to dry everything out before we broke camp.
We had a nice leisurely breakfast and then the sun came out, we dried everything
and packed up and left. We stopped in the town of Pastor Ortiz for some lunch.
During lunch we talked with the locals about our trip, camping among the fields and
the weather in this area. On the way out of town it looked like it was going to rain
so we stopped and pitched camp.
Just as the rain came a family showed up in their truck and invited us to their
house. The mother said that the kids rode by earlier and when the rains started they
begged her to come out and get us. So out they came just before another big
storm. We were torn, I wanted to go and Tim wanted to stay. Tim wanted to
stay because our gear was piled inside nice and neat and most of all dry. It would
all get wet if we started to break camp now. It made more sense to stay so we asked
them to come back in the morning and we would visit with them then. The kids said
that they would ride out in the morning. The women said she would make us
Menudo. OK, I have never had Menudo but what I have heard is that it is made with
tripe (cow stomach). Oh! I am not looking forward to eating this. The rain
came and went quickly, so it was not as bad as yesterday. It is going to take a
while to get use to riding during the rainy season in Mexico.
||Pastor Ortiz- Angamacutiro (we thought it was Amecuaro). We woke up this
morning and it was foggy as usual. At around 10:00 am Salvador Jr. (11 years old)
showed up on his bike to take us back to his parent's house. He helped us pack up
the rest of camp. We got to the house and we were invited into the kitchen.
Lupe made us Menudo as
promised. She added a lot of onions which gave it a good taste. I did not eat
any of the meat, I couldn't, but the soup itself was not bad. Tim ate it and said,
"No immersion into the Mexican culture would be complete without at least trying the
national dish, Menudo". Funny, he never orders Menudo in a restaurant. We
also had a fruit that grows locally and tortillas and coffee. Salvador came in and
we talked about politics and family. Salvador is a carpenter, mechanic and
machinist, he even has a drill press in his living room. Obviously a very talented guy,
but he could not find work down here so off to the States he went to work. In the
United States this man would be extremely prosperous, in Mexico he is just living at
poverty level. We asked about his kids going to university. He said that
primary school is free and so is going to University. However, it costs a lot of
money to go to secondary school (high school) and preparatory school, so if a family can
not afford the higher education then there is no chance of their children going to
University. I did not know this.
As we were getting ready to leave Lupe asked us
if we wanted to take a shower. We could not pass this up, I have been taking bird
baths for the last three days. Then Lupe started showing me her needle point and
offered me a piece to take with me. I could not turn her down. What a generous
family, not very rich but extremely generous.
We did not start riding until 1:30 PM and it was steamy hot by 3:30 PM. We were
tired and hot when we arrived in Amecuaro. We found Hotel San Francisco but
they wanted 200 pesos ($21.00) for the room, we decided to look else where.
Suddenly, the price dropped to 100 pesos ($10.50). By this time we had attracted a
crowd of kids too. They helped us carry our gear up the three flights of
stairs. The room was excellent it had a grand view of a couple of volcanoes, cable
TV and a private bathroom with hot water. A great place to spend the night.
||Angamacutiro - Penjamillo. We started out today thinking that the
next town was within a mile. After we had ridden 5 miles we decided that maybe we
went the wrong way. After another 4 miles we stopped and asked a gentlemen at a bus
stop where we were. Yup we were off course. We decided to keep going and
circle back at the next large town rather than turn around completely. Again, it was
steamy hot. We stopped in the town of Penjamillo. Of course, there was not
hotel around but a guy at the Pemex gas station took us to a place that rents rooms.
We were right on the plaza. The room was huge, had three beds in it and
looked like it was used as a closet more than anything. What a difference a day
makes. We went scouting for a restaurant and that is when we found the internet
cafe. I could not believe it. We walked in and met a women (Leslie) who spoke
fluent English, yet another surprise. It turns out that she is a teacher and is
teaching class online through a school in Oregon. Wow. The curriculum is set up
already all you do as a teacher is answer the students questions via email and grade
papers. Leslie got 240 emails that day. This type of work may suit Tim and we
plan on checking it out for future work. Who knows, Tim may be a part-time teacher
as we travel. We met Leslie and Bernardo later on at the Internet Cafe. Bernardo took us over to meet his
family on the farm. They had cows, pigs and goats along with dogs and
Later, we returned to our rented room. As we were settling in I
notice some movement and it turned out to be a rat running around. After looking rat
up in the Spanish/English dictionary, I ran out to the owner, told him there were rats in
my room and asked if he had a cat. He said, "no but I have dogs".
The dogs came into our room and chased the rats out, I hoped. Tim made jokes about
the great breed of Mexican rat hounds. Both Tim and I had a sleepless night. All I
could hear was the scurry of rats on the floor. It made my skin crawl. In the
morning, the owner seriously asked me if we had been bitten by the rats during the night.
He was surprised when I told him no. We paid him the 40 pesos ($4.20) for the
room and got the x@! out of there.
||Penjamillo - Zacapu. We had a lot of riding to do today to get back
on track. The road was windy and climbed forever. We road through many small
towns. The country side has changed more to high lush valleys surrounded by volcanic peaks. One of
the peaks is said to be smoking but it has been covered in clouds so we can never tell if
that is true. Since we have left Guanajuato the wind has been to our back. A welcome
We arrived in Zacapu and stopped at what looked like a tourist booth but
it turned out to be the local police officers station. We asked were a cheap hotel
was. Even though we could speak Spanish to the officer. The officer said,
"Wait here and I will call one of my friends who speaks English". The police truck showed up with a half
dozen cops totting M-16 machine guns and they said that they would show us where a hotel
was. They gave us a police escort through town lights and all. We followed the
police truck for four miles. I had a hard time keeping up with them but for once
traffic was no problem. We finally came to rest in a hotel and went to sleep early.
The hotel room was 160 pesos ($16.57) a night.
||Rest Day - Zacapu. My legs were tired and I felt like I needed a
rest. A rest day is really just a day off the bike. We had to do laundry, find
a bank, and go grocery shopping for the next couple of days of camping. So much for
sitting around. Zacapu appears to be more of an industrial town then the villages we
have been riding through.
||Zacapu - Chupicuaro. We left town knowing we would be doing a lot
of climbing today. The road winded in and out of valleys and was not too steep,
however, traffic was heavier than I like.
I thought that all the traffic would be
on the Autopista located to the north of this road. The Autopista is a double lane
road in each direction, and goes from Guadalajara to Mexico City. The road is wide
and well maintained but does not have any traffic on it. Then I realized that the
toll on the road was very expensive, 100 pesos ($10.21) to drive just one short section of
the road. That is expensive even for US prices. To expensive for the local
Mexicans and truckers. So only the rich drive on the Autopista and everyone else
drives on the free road. Of course the free road is a two lane road only. The
Autopista is an example of how the Mexican Government uses money the wrong way.
We arrived at the north end of Lake Patzcuaro around 2:00 PM. We found a little park next to the lake and decided to camp
there for a couple of days. We celebrated our fourth anniversary by having a couple
of beers with our dinner.
||Rest Day - This was truly a rest day. I spent the day watching the
livestock running around, I particularly enjoyed the horses and goats.
||Chupicuaro - Patzcuaro. We rode around the west side of Lake
Patzcuaro. We were looking for a restaurant and took a detour into the small town of
San Andes, it was like stepping
back in time 200 years. There were no cars on the road, and definitely not a
restaurant in site. The town was inhabited by Purepecha Indians, they are more
reserved than Mexicans. The road was rolling, peaceful and scenic. Livestock
used the road as much as we did, we saw burros, chickens, cows and horses in the street. We arrived
in Patzcuaro just before the rain came. We met Masa, a Japanese student studying
marketing in Calgary, Canada. To save a little money we shared a room at Hotel
Posada del Rosa. The room was 140 pesos ($14.60) a night.
||Patzcuaro. Rest Day We did a whirlwind tour of Patzcuaro today with
Masa. We toured the Artesian Museum, the floor was made of cow vertebrae, basilica adorned in gold, and met the
road cyclists from
||Patzcuaro. We decided, more like my stomach decided that we should
stay another day. We toured the mansion with 11 courtyards. Very interesting
architecture. We saw a weavers loom in one of the rooms, how did they get that in
there? My impression of Patzcuaro is that it is a very old town that has gotten in
all the tourist books, consequently the prices of food and a room are higher than normal.
Still I liked the town and the basilica was awesome.
||Patzcuaro - Km 30 from Morelia. We left Patzcuaro planning on
getting as close to Morelia. as possible, depending on the rain. We had a wonderful
lunch in Tzintzuntzan (say that three times fast), we wanted to see the prehispanic ruins
but the skies started to cloud up so we pushed on to Quiroga. As we were heading
into Quiroga we could see the rain coming across the lake, we just barely out rode the
rain and landed in the Plaza. It turned out that the rain did not really last so we
pushed on after an hour. Up we climbed and as we got to the mountain pass it began
to rain again. We pitched the tent as quickly as we could. As we were pitching
the tent at feverish pace we heard giggling coming from the bushes. Three little girls with
their little brother in tow came over to see what we were doing. We ended up having
dinner at the restaurant located 200 meter from out tent. The kitchen was as old as
the hills. The women rolled out the tortilla dough on an old matate made out of
basalt. I wonder how long it took to make that and how old was it. I was fascinated
by the kitchen and the ladies let me wander around as I pleased. Two orders of carne
asada, four quesadillas and two sprites cost 70 pesos ($7.60)
||Km 30 - Morelia. We had breakfast at the same little restaurant, we
had a rooster stroll in while we were eating breakfast and he crowed to let us know he was
there. The kids were asking lots of questions and I tried my best to answer them.
I always want to give them a little something, but I really did not have anything.
I plan on picking up some pencils when I get to Morelia. The ride was down hill
and fast, traffic was heavy at times. Before we knew it we were in Morelia., a town
about the size of Tucson, 500,000 inhabitants. The roads were wide and one way so it
was not to difficult to negotiate are way to central plaza. We knew we were close
when the building started to take on a colonial
look. We intend to stay a couple of days to tour the museums and do laundry, then it
is on to Toluca. We stayed in Hotel Allende, a Mexican Hostel,
for 130 pesos ($13.64) The room was clean, had a private bath, clean towels and best
of all a toilet seat (a luxury in Mexico). What we did not count on was the bus load
of Mexican youths that arrived in the afternoon. They were a little noisy in the
||Morelia - We dedicated the morning to laundry. When we were doing
laundry we met Connie who lives in LA. She is married to a Guatemalan and had a lot
of information about Guatemala for us. We spent the rest of the day sightseeing
around Morelia. Our first stop was the Regional Museum. When we were at Casa
Mexicana we got a student card before we left. This allows us to get discounts at
Museums, 1/2 price on the bus (a perk we have yet to use), discounts at movie theaters and
sometimes hotels. Because we had our student card we saw the Museum for free rather
than 30 pesos apiece. The museum contained prehispanic artifacts, geology of the region and
furniture from the 19th Century. We turned in early thinking we might get a good
nights sleep. Not going to happen when a bus load of youths are around. They
kept us up past midnight.
||Morelia - We went to the Mercado Dulce (Candy Market), everything was
made out of sugar, a specialty of Morelia is a sweet made of sugar and milk. They
also make sugar coated dried fruit. I had to try some. Then we rushed around
finishing our chores such as grocery shopping and Tim sent his letter out. I had to
try a local restaurant which was out of our price range but Tim humored me anyway. I
had Pechuca a Azteca (Breast of chicken, Aztec style) it is made with mushroom that grow
with the corn. Tim had spaghetti Carbonara (a type of Alfredo sauce with ham), a
calabasa crepe (pumpkin crepe), tons of garlic bread with cheese, two mineral
waters. All this cost a mere 300 pesos ($32.00) including tip. A meal like this in
the US would cost around $100. I had to promise Tim I would camp for the next week
to stay on budget. We have a balanced budget agreement. We got back to the
room late and I really wanted to sleep because we were leaving in the morning. Not going
to happen, the youths were having a party right outside our door. I was awake a 1
am, 2 am and 5 am.
||Morelia - Jose Ma. Morelos Nation Park. I was so tired in the
morning I decided to have a little coffee to get me down the road. We stopped at a
local cafe for a snack before we set out. The traffic through town was not to
bad. We climbed out of Morelia approximately 1000 feet into the surround hills, the
mountain peaks are still off in the distance. The farmland was extremely green and
productive. We decided to stop at the National Park for the evening. The park
was more like a county park then what I think of as a National Park. We thought that
it would be easy to camp here, however, as nightfall came it became clear that we needed a
permit to stay in the park. Then it started to rain, Tim basically told the park
ranger that we could not leave in the rain at night, they understood and so we stayed the
||Jose Ma. Morelos National Park. It rained during the night and it
was extremely misty in the morning. It is so wet here that there is moss on the
ground. Water drips from the trees when the wind blows. Today is Sunday and we
try not to ride on Sundays because it is the nations day off and many people drink on
Sunday. I do not want to give the impression that Mexicans are a bunch of drunks,
they are not. But, we feel that we avoid problems on the road when we stay put on
Sundays. We decided to stay and take our chances on staying the night again. By noon
the park had filled up with families picnicking. It was not long before we were
invited to eat with Carlos's family. It happen to be grandpa Abelos' birthday, he is 74,
and he looked fit as a fiddle. Carlos said he did not drink or smoke his whole
life. There were at least 5 brothers and sisters with their spouses or
boyfriend. There were at least three doctors in the family, an accountant and an
engineer. They spoke English so they taught us Spanish while we ate lunch.
They had the best guacamole I ever had. Guacamole is made with mashed avocados with
onions, tomatoes, lime juice, and garlic. It has to be eaten fresh because the green flesh
of the avocado turns black when it has been at room temperature to long. Soon the
families were leaving and we wondered if we were going to be asked to leave. One of
the park workers came over and talked with us in Spanish for an hour, we helped him pick
up trash and he went on his merry way. We got to stay the night after all.
||Jose Ma. Morelos NP - Km 175. We woke up to a foggy morning, we
kept packing because we knew it would clear off soon. Well today was not a typical
day, it stayed cloudy longer. When we took off from the park it was cloudy but a
comfortable temperature. We immediately began climbing, slowly at first then we
started climbing up switch backs. As we climbed the mist began to build. We
could see the mist coming up from the valley below then it flow over the road in front of
us like a wave crashes on the shore. The mist began to get as thick as pea soup. We decided to keep moving,
how do you wait out a misty cloud. Occasionally the air was so saturated with water
it would drip thick heavy droplets on us. Still we climbed, we took a break for
lunch and I got a little chilled. We continue to climb and finally reached the pass
at approximately 9,350 ft. Our climb started at approximately 7,000 ft. Soon
after reaching the top we found a flat place to camp off the side of the road. Tim
decided we should press on because we could not access the creek nearby very easily.
We descended at approximately 25 mph, it sure beat the 4 mph grind up. Since
it was chilly I decided to put on my rain jacket to block the wind. We stopped again
to check out another camp site, but we were both intoxicated with the descend that we
decided to push on, besides it was sunny now. We descended one corner after another.
Maybe we could make Cuidad Hildalgo today. No such luck. We turned a
corner and went from sunshine to hail in a matter of seconds. At first it was
difficult to register what was happening. We pulled off to the side of the road
immediately. We started to put up the tent. As we laid the tent down on the
ground, I thought, we waited a couple of hours this morning while the tent tried. A
lot of good that did. The rain and hail was coming down so hard that it filled up
our tent in a matter of seconds. As we put the poles together the tent gather more
and more water. Finally the tent was up and the fly was on. Tim said (more like
yelled over the sound of the hail), "Get inside and towel off the bottom of the
tent". I said, "Sure". Happy to get out of the hail/rain.
As I crawled into the tent I felt like I was getting into a sinking boat. I
had to bail the water out of the bottom of the tent with a pot. At the same time I was
getting our gear inside. All my pannier are water proof so I had nothing to worry
about. But Tim's back panniers are not water proof so we wanted them inside quickly.
We got everything inside and Tim finally came in soaked to the bone. It
hailed/rained for at least two hours. A river of water went flowing by as we
dried out inside the tent. We had soup for dinner and managed to go to bed in our
dry sleeping bags on top of our air mattress.
||Km 175 - Cuidad Hidalgo. Surprisingly, I woke up from a good night's
sleep. We packed up as quickly as possible, wet tent and all. We just wanted
to get into town and dry everything out. The ride down the mountain was one of our
best. Crystal clear, fresh air, and even snow/hail on the side of the road. We
descended for approximately 10 miles. We stopped at a restaurant for some breakfast
and continued on into Cuidad Hildalgo. We looked for a hotel and landed at Hotel
Alameda. We left a flyer about our travels at the front desk. We had to take
the bicycles up a flight of stair but that was fine, the price was right at 150 pesos
($15.46). We had a private bathroom, toilet with toilet seat (a priority of mine) ,
and a large room. We settled in and started to relax. Soon there was a knock
at the door. A women was standing there, speaking in English, she introduced herself
as Marti and said, "I am a bicyclist too". Oh in that case, come on in.
She came in and gave us a short synopses of how she came to Cuidad Hildalgo. This
town is not even in lonely planet (probably a good thing). She had started a world
bike tour 5 years earlier in Philadelphia and this is as far as she got. She was now
setting up a English school. She showed us where the internet was in town and then
we went to the market. We picked up some smoked pork chops, thinly sliced beef,
onions, potatoes, and bananas. She made us a great dinner of zucchini, onions, tomatoes
and dill, mashed potatoes, and carne asada (cooked beef). I did not realize how
hungry I was until I started eating and could not stop. We talked about our travels
on bike and looked at her extensive map collection. She also told us about some
caves in the area and the hot springs near by. She said that they had capped about
five geysers at Los Azufes for electricity for Morelia. This I had to see. So
we planned on visiting the caves and the hot springs the next day.
||Cuidad Hidalgo. I woke up with some energy so I started doing
laundry, lots of laundry. We had to was out our tent, tent fly, ground cloth, and
tarp. I washed a few of my clothes and put them on the roof to dry. Marti and
I then went to the market, it was market day and time to buy fresh produce. Marti
bought some bread cooked in a clay oven, then we had gasphachi (sp). It is a
wonderful combination of fresh fruit; melon, papaya, watermelon, with orange juice, cheese
(most likely goat), onion, chili, cilantro and salt. A meal all by itself.
Then we went to the market and bought bananas (we eat tons of them), tomatoes, onions,
cerano chili's, and peaches. The food is so fresh the air is filled with salivating
smells everywhere. Tim, Marti and I caught a combi (taxi) to the cave. Once we
were there we were given hard hats and a tour of the cave. Carlos was our tour
guide, he spoke some English and Marti did a lot of translating. The cave is a haven
for four species of bats, nope did not see any; fruit eating and even the blood sucking
kind. They say they loose a goat every now and then. This cave was used during
prehispanic times and even had a map of the tunnels carved in a rock near the cave
entrance. This cave was also used for private meetings by Hildalgo and his gang when
they were plotting the revolution. After the cave tour we waited for a combi to take
us back to Ciudad Hildalgo. In the mean time we got treated to a hail storm with
hail the size of marbles. On the way back to town we were invited to a bull roast,
not one bull but two. The occasion is a local on just graduated from
||Cuidad Hidalgo. We had plans to go to the hot springs this evening
so I went about my chores because we are planning on leaving tomorrow. I had to get
to the market because things were closing for the day at 2:00 PM. Tim hand washed another
round of laundry. It costs 10 pesos ($1.03) to do one kilo (2.2 lbs.), and we had at
least 10 kilos, so Tim became the laundry man. We had dinner with Marta, zucchini,
tomatoes, onions, fava beans, and dill, mashed potatoes and filet mignon. Yes, filet
mignon, the cost was 60 pesos ($6.00) per kilo or $3.00 per pound. A lot cheaper
than the US. We did not make it to the hot springs but we are thinking of staying
for the big party on Sunday. An event that does not happen to often and what better
way to spend a Sunday.
||We had attole and tamales for breakfast. Attole is a type of
cornmeal drink, the flavors available this morning were blackberry and chocolate. It
also comes in rice flavor. I would highly recommend this drink. The tamales we
had with breakfast were dulce (sweet, a bright pink), verde (green and mildly hot), and
one with chile peppers (I forgot the name) which was hot. We met Paco Garcia today,
he happens to be a blues and rock and roll oldies buff so we went to his house and Tim
copies CD for literally hours. We met Paco's family and they fed us lunch while we
were there. We agreed to go to the ranch early the next morning.
Marta and I went for a
hike in the early evening with some kids
she knew. The hike was down a basalt flow through the valley, up the backside of the
basalt flow and back down into the valley and back up again. The kids ranged in age
from 7 to 10 and were a lot of fun to be around. After the hike we went to a birthday party. While i
was hiking, Tim stayed at the hotel and worked on the computer. I did bring him some
delicious cake from the party.
||We woke up early and started walking to the ranch. I though that it
would be a 45 minute walk up hill, instead, we walked for at least two hours. It was
a pleasant hike and we had great views of the city and near-by mountains. On the way
to the ranch we passed a drill rig and I got to thinking about work. It turns out
that these guys were not drilling but the bit was still in the hole. Hmm looks like
problems to me. It turns out that the well was a large well designed for the city,
and they were stuck. The workers really did not want to talk about it so we moved
on. The ranch was up in the hills. The swimming pool was in the process of
being painted and the well was being hand dug. Old and new technology in progress at
the same time. It was debatable whether they were going to reach water anytime soon.
I cringed when I looked down a 3 foot diameter hole about 15 feet deep and saw a
man digging deeper. My only relief was the fact that the upper layer was a tight
clay. It was stable and I did not expect it to cave in anytime soon.
walked back from the ranch and met Victoria and we went to Los Azufres hot springs. Tim stayed
behind to relax in the hotel room. The hot springs had four pools and increased in
temperature. I had to try them all. I could only stay in the hottest pool for
2 to 3 minutes. Meanwhile back at the coolest and greenest (but pleasantly warm)
pool Marta is teaching the kids how to float and swim. A natural teacher.
The hot springs were a nice relaxing way to end a day full of exercise.
||We slept in today and then began to gather our things. We planned
to leave in the morning. Marta and I went to the market once again (my favorite
thing to do) and bought supplies for our next leg of our journey. I picked up a few
things from the dulceria. I
also tried a fruit called a megay which is a combination of a sweet potato and avocado.
We (Marta, Tim and I) went to the graduation party and it was winding
down. We looked for the women that invited us and she was not there. We really
did not know anyone and felt like we were imposing but as always, the women in charge of
the food happily fed us. I now am convinced that I would never go hungry in Mexico.
We headed back to the hotel and helped Marta with some computer issues.
||Cuidad Hidalgo - Zitacuaro. We woke up early, packed (it took
hours) and left about 12:30 PM. We said our good bye's and were off. I love
meeting people and getting to know them; but I have a hard time saying good-bye. It
was especially hard to say good-bye to Marta, we have so much in common and she taught me
so much about food in Mexico. As I left I said, "We will see you in
Philadelphia some time". I hope that we do.
The road to Zitacuaro. is
rolling. The road to Zitacuaro may be down hill but the head wind we had diminished
the reward of zipping down hill. On one particular stretch the wind was blowing hard
and I was drafting close behind Tim. Suddenly, I went through a pretty deep pothole
and wham, my lower back was jarred pretty good. As we pedaled on I still had
shooting pain in my lower back. We continued to ride because the clouds were
building and we did not want to get caught in a rain storm. As we were riding
through San Felipe (the road to the butterfly sanctuary) it started to rain. It did
not rain hard so we pressed on. We got to Zitacuaro (47 Km) in less then 3 hours.
A good pace for us, thanks Tim for blocking the wind all day. My back was
still sore and I was glad to get off the bike.
We got a room at Hotel Plano for 100 pesos ($10.28). We walked around a bit and I
decided to go back to the hotel and put some bengay on my back. It worked for awhile
but I had a restless night.
||Zitacuaro. I woke up this morning a did not even want to think
about going up hill with a lower back ache. So, we decided to stay another day and
give my back a rest. Going uphill with a load requires a lot of balance and I did
not feel my back was up for it.
We went to the internet cafe for a while and I just
plain relaxed all day. I hope to start up the mountain in the morning.
||Zitacuaro - Km 83, Highway 15. We woke up this morning to a round
of bottle rockets going off at 6:00 am. Well I guess it is time to get up. My back
was feeling better so we decided to go for the pass today. The weather was a bit
cloudy and the mountains were covered with mist. Climbing out of Zitacuaro was steep
and into the sun. I was sweating so much I could feel the drips of sweat roll down
my legs (hope I am not grossing to may people out). The road continued to climb and
the clouds rolled in. Still we climbed. At one point a dog was barking at us,
but he was behind a fence so I did not really pay attention to him. Suddenly, he was
right next to me barking at me. Yikes! Tim came from behind and chased him
away. Thanks. This encounter was really just the beginning of the great battle
between Tim and the dogs. We rode steady uphill for another kilometer and out came
momma dog barking at us. Then two more dogs came to her rescue, a total of three all
together. There were no cars in our lane so I got to the left side of Tim. I
looked up ahead and two more dogs were running down a hill towards us, they did not look
like happy dogs. We were riding at about 3.5 miles per hour, obviously not fast enough.
I stayed to the left of Tim while he spit, yelled and rammed the dogs with the
front wheel of his bike. This ramming technique is a site to see and borders on
crazy. Tim weaves his bike out into the road and then turns and sprints towards the
dogs. Trying to ride over them or knock them silly. Double Yikes!
My heart was pounding so hard I could hear it in my ears. Finally, Tim singled out
the lead dog and rammed him good. They all back off after that. Tim won yet
another dog battle, the biggest yet, and at the same time kept the dogs off of me. He told
me later that the lead dog had grabbed on to the back of his right pannier and was being
dragged down the road. I am glad that the dog decided to go after the pannier and
not Tim's leg. We decided that maybe we would get a weapon to keep the dogs off of
us. I am thinking of strapping an old radio antenna onto my top tube just for the
moment when I need to fed off a vicious dog. I think this little encounter exhausted
me more than Tim. Tim said, "that if he had a pistol there would have been at
least one dead dog that day."
At km 83, about 1:30 PM I felt like I needed a break
and we pulled over to the side of the road. It started to rain within five minutes
so we put the tarp over the bikes and waited out the storm for an hour and a half. I
really wanted to go on after the storm passed but physically was not up for it. Tim
convinced me that having a good place to camp was a good find. So we pitched out
tent in the high pines for the night. The pines reminded us of Prescott with a soft
thick bed of needles to place our tent. We had climbed a lot today, 2000 feet in 10
miles but I knew we had more to do tomorrow.
||Km 83 - Km 51, Highway 15. We were woke in the middle of the night
with the sound of bottle rockets going off. I really do not know why these bottle
rockets are going off but it has been something that has been going on since yesterday.
packed up and started out climbing again immediately. We stopped in the village of Macho
de Aqua to have a snack at the only store around. While we were eating our cookies
and drinking our cokes we heard a bell ringing. I thought that it was someone
herding goats and Tim said it was the gas man selling propane. We were both wrong.
The sound of the bell grew louder and louder, then a group of Indians carrying incense
came around the corner, at least eight women in groups of two went by. Behind them
were four men carrying a religious shrine draped in a white cloth with a thing that looked
like a Hawaiian lea strung around it. Dangling from the string were bananas,
marshmallows, and hot dogs. I strange arrangement. Then more people behind
them and another shrine carried by four men. A total of about 50 men, women and
children walked by. They stopped traffic on the road and walked across the
street. As they were crossing the street a bottle rocket was set off. A number
of the men looked back at us to see our reaction to the rocket. Same as always, I
We made the pass at about 12:30 PM, it was about 13 km (7.5 miles) from camp. We
pulled on our rain coats and cruised the next 10 kilometer in 15 minutes. We still
had 60 km to go to Toluca. At kilometer 51 I needed a break so we pulled to the side
of the road in front of a restaurant. It turned out that the restaurant was
abandoned and the door was open. About 10 minutes after stopping it started to rain
and rain hard. We pulled everything into the restaurant out of the rain. We
set up camp for the night on the barren floor.
||KM 51 - Toluca. We got up early and left the restaurant/house at
around 9:30 am. It was early for us, but we still had 50 km to go to Toluca.
The shoulder was virtually gone and then it widen to about a car lane wide. Good
thing too, because traffic was getting heavy. We had to go slower because the
pavement had gravel and debris everywhere. I did not care, I had room to ride.
We stopped for lunch at Km 32. The road was rolling and it seemed that on every
uphill I was pedaling slower and slower. We got into Toluca and the traffic was
intense. It seemed that the drivers were closer than usual. When we got close
to down town we walked our bikes. Toluca is a city of approximately 300,000
people. It is a prosperous city because of the numerous industries here like car
makers. We went to Hotel Rex near down town and the going rate for a room was 210
pesos. We decided to look around, after searching for an hour we found Hotel Albert
for 200 ($21.00) pesos a night. We were on the second floor but the elevator
barely fit one bike at a time. The first trip up an elevator for my bike.
||Toluca. We went searching for a bike shop today. We pasted
the Toluca Plaza Mall with a movie theater and McDonalds and ended up going past the
Wal-Mart Superstore down the road. This city is more like a US city then a
colonial Mexican city like Morelia. We ended up in Action Bikes and met the owner
George. He spoke fluent English and he invited us to a Criterium the next day.
Everyone meets at the shop at 9:00 am, a reasonable time, and rides to the
Criterium where they block the street off. This I had to see.
||Toluca. Off to the races. I am always nervous when I think I
am the only women riding. We met Jorge, Ricardo, Rolio, Rodrigo and Irlanda (another
women yeah) at the bike shop. We rode about 5 km to the race course and sure enough
they closed off the road. They said Tim could ride with the pack of racers as long
as he did not get in the way of the final sprint. Tim was thrilled. This is
his favorite way to ride. The race was 10 laps for a total of 48 km and there were
approximately 25 racers. Tim stayed with the pack for five of the ten laps and was
pretty tired when he pulled off. We rode together while the rest of the racers
continued the race. We watched the final sprint, five racers were left together at
the end of the 10 laps. We rode back to the bike shop and then went back the hotel.
I was pretty tired the rest of the day.
||Toluca. Today is Tim's 36th Birthday. Congratulations Tim. I
told him I wanted cake for his birthday. We settled on donuts from Wal-Mart instead.
Since it was Tim's birthday he got to pick the restaurants and activities today. Of
course we went interneting. We took in the sights of down town Toluca and went
shopping at Wal-Mart. We had received an email from a cyclist who saw our web page
in Zitacuaro. When we log onto a computer in an internet cafe we always change the
home page to our page, it is easier to surf. Well Jeff sat at the same computer and
sent us and email a couple days back. I thought that he would be through Toluca by now but
I sent him and email anyway. All and all Tim had a quiet but pleasant birthday.
a friend of mine from Albuquerque, New Mexico has decided to come visit us while we are in
Mexico City. We plan to visit the ruins of Teotihuacan and Tula, located near Mexico
City. I am so excited I could burst.
||Toluca. We were thinking of going to the Nevado de Toluca but decided to
go to the Cosmo Vitral
Gardens instead. When we went to the internet cafe we had an email from Jeffery,
he was in Toluca and he told us where he was staying. We met Jeffery later in the
evening and went out to eat. We made plans to ride up to Nevado de Toluca the next
||Toluca. I was feeling ill from eating green peppers the night before so I
opted out of the ride today. Tim and
Jeffery went to Nevado de Toluca. We
some more of Toluca with Jeffery and came across a band playing in a small amphitheater.
The band was made up of clarinets, flutes, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, tuba,
English horn and my favorite the French horn. They played a melody of show tunes,
and other pieces that I was familiar with but I do not know the names of. They were quite
good. Then we head back to the hotel and passed a band playing Caribbean music and
good old rock and roll. We made plans to see a movie but the show was sold out
before we got there. Wednesday is discount day, the charge for a movie is 17 pesos
($1.80). We went back to the hotel and watch "Not Without My Daughter", a
true story of an American women trapped in Iran for over a year and her daring escape with
||Toluca. My challenge for the day was to figure out how to fix Tim's
camp chair. Do I take it to a sewing shop? I spoke to the clerk at the desk
and he recommended I go to the shoe repair shop. I found the shoe repair shop and it
was packed with people. They did have the machine needed to fix the chair, I had to
change out clips because the clip had broke, it cost 60 cents to fix. Tim's
challenge for the day was to find the Velodrome. First we took a taxi, we found the
sports complex and the taxi drive went looking all over until he found where the Velodrome
was. At last, we found the infamous Velodrome in Toluca, Mexico. The
Velodrome was definitely in disrepair, but the good news was that they were working on
repairing it. The workers told us that it should be ready in December 2002. I
hope to come back some day and watch Tim race on this Velodrome.
Down the Road we go!! (Oscar, a stray dog, followed us out of town)
Rush hour in another traffic free village.
Camping in the endless corn fields of northern Michoacan
Our guide book never mentioned this.
Cindie stops to inspect the remaining snow on the lower slopes.
Crowded road going into Toluca, Mexico.
The finish line and turn one, the locked entrance to the velodrome is to the left.
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