The first days on mainland are an attack on my body. From the very dry (20% humidity or less) to a sudden 95% or more makes my body squeak. Less effect on Frank.After the very short ride yesterday we decide to try some secondary roads which get us closer to the people.
Red hot chili peppers
Fields and fields of bell peppers, tomatoes, mango, dates and coconuts.
Understanding how peppers are dried. 5 days on top of a wood fired oven. Then 10 days in the sun. No washing beforehand!
Trucks full of bell peppers, just picked from the land. Me sweating and struggling to keep up with Frank. We planned a route along the sea and we find a fish restaurant where you can choose the fish you want to have grilled, but I am so nauseous and Frank can’t stand the very (very!) loud music so we decide to keep on going. Next small village we top-up with electrolytes and sweet stuff and after some time I start to feel better. Think I need to drink even more.
Don’t look back
Did we tell you Gavin saved me from biking in the back (as Frank’s mirror broke off when biking the Baja Divide). Last week when biking into La Paz we checked with 3 bikes shops if they had bike mirrors, but they did not have any. When Gavin heard about this he straight away offered his spare! Thanks again Gavin. It is working perfectly! And now I don’t need to see how trucks speed past Frank.
When stopping for a picture we meet Eduardo and his son Eduardo Junior. He is a passionate surfer and mountain biker and invites us for dinner but we would have to do a significant detour and as I am not feeling 100% we kindly decline.
Hope to meet them again and be able to accept the invitation. The cookies were great!
We did not realize, but after calculating the distance of this week we notice we have passed the 10,000 km milestone this week!
Wandering through the city of El Rosario on Sunday evening we see that the church is so full that people have to listen outside.
Rules, what rules?
As we are now in an area with a lot of agriculture resulting in heavy truck traffic we decide to take the 15D, the toll road with a decent shoulder. HWY 15 Libre (no toll) would have brought us through some smaller villages but is not recommended as there is no shoulder and people drive too fast. This feels safer!
Rules are no rules it seems, as biking on this toll road is prohibited but that seems to only be applicable for locals. The police officers kindly wave to us. One small delay: I managed to flatten the un-flattable tire.
Managed to get a 5 cm long nail in my back tire, flat within minutes. Notice the food stalls next to the road. On a highway!
Acaponeta is a busy town with a great square where in the evening thousands of birds (Quiscalus Mexicanus) try to find a resting place in the trees which surround the square. The noise and the sh.t they produce is unbelievable. Fun chat with the local photographer who is a dedicated Canon fan.
Even if it was fun to cover so many km to Acaponeta so quickly, we plan a bike route with Google maps for the next day. It starts with a normal road through tobacco fields. What a work, pick, thread each leave on a rope to dry and bring them the factory for 50 euro cents per kilo. Interesting chat with the farmer!
We see again cows in the road, which are herded from one field to the next. The asphalt road ends in a village and when a local sees us looking at the Garmin he bikes in front of us to show us where we have to cross the river.
Seems that there is no bridge and you need to wade through the water! Haha Google Maps!
After some more kilometres of sandy, bumpy, great, slow road Franks shoulder is begging to call it a day.
Highway or Byway
Stopping in the next village we ask if there would be a possibility to get on the 15D again. We know there is no official access for cars but we have seen locals coming onto the HWY in other places. We are lucky that also here a local man bikes with us, showing us the very small access and helping us to get on the HWY 15D. Pity about the noise but we can at least cover the planned number of kilometres. It is still very hot and humid, but it seems that my body slowly is adjusting.
Ruiz in the first village we can access from the HWY. Such a strange village. It feels like biking in a parallel zone.
Even if you say hello, people don’t reply. Also for the first time we see traditional dresses, long skirts with flowers and very bright colors. Don’t feel like sneaking around with the camera.
We find the most bizarre place to sleep. Our room is just renovated but they kept the old mattress. For the first time we put our non-inflated air mattresses on top of the matrass. The hallway is a mess, furniture and old matrasses everywhere and construction workers are mixing cement and concrete on the floor.
We do have a shower with hot water but the design is poor and the water is running under the door to the bedroom. How long will this renovation last?
While I walk through the city to find a laundromat, without any luck as they are already closed, Frank is fixing my bike, new brake pads and re-adjusting the outer tire, which had a wobble after fixing the flat.
During dinner we chat with Fernando, whom we meet the next day when leaving Ruiz. Best spot in town for corn!
To camp or not to camp
Now you may ask; why don’t you camp anymore, well the high concentration of population, agriculture, seeing roadkill of fist tick 4 meter long snakes, lots of small snakes, armadillo & a racoon during the first day, in combination with low priced, easy accessible rooms has reduced the amount of camping. It also feels a safer. We will camp again but only if we can get away from urbanization and agriculture.
The next day we decide to bike HWY 15D again, as we will ascend from 0 to 1000m. And having a nice shoulder and no more than 5% incline is tempting. There are only a few opportunities to eat/drink something and they are located at the toll booths which are located at the exits to cities. For us are at the beginning or the end of our biking days most of the time. It is funny to see that locals create their own business opportunities, make steps at both sides of the fence next to the highway and drivers can cross to have a cool drink and some fine food!
After a long climb with some very winding and scary road sections (not everywhere the shoulder was that good) we reach Tepic. The climbs are serious and every 5 km trucks have access to water and we see quite a few trucks with their hoods open.
Tepic was founded in 1531 and has lots of different parks with very old beautiful trees. But is also an expanding city with lot’s of new houses and very busy traffic.
Isabelle, who is a fanatic biker welcomes us to her town!
Laundromat (check that song)
Challenge we have in Mexico is getting our laundry done. Where in the US you had a self-service laundromat on almost every corner, or in a motel you would always have access to washing and drying machines. Here I was only lucky a few times finding a self-service laundromat. Also in Tepic I can’t find any, only solution is to drop everything at a laundry service and the lady is so sweet to take care we can pick it up the next day.
Getting there by 8:00 with a taxi and it is the same driver as yesterday, so I don’t need to explain where to take me. What a coincidence in a city with 300,000+ people and he was not waiting in front of the hotel. Just passing by at the main street!
Back in the hotel I discover something is missing so we pack everything and bike to the laundromat. It was the one item I had ask not to put in the dryer 😊.
The vegetables market, a cooperation where farmers sell directly to end-users/resellers. It is a treat for your senses, great explanation by one of the locals in English, on how it works and what we can buy!
Fun to see how the cactus meat (nopales) is prepared so people don’t have do to take out the thorns.
Then we want to leave but I see the first possibility to have a fresh coconut! Pablo, 58 knows the best way of preparing the coconut meat.
Another brick in the wall
Biking out of the city is challenging, busy, polluted, people creating a 5 lane where normally there are only 3. Almost out of the city we see the production of tiles and bricks.
We spend quite some time walking around. They even want to take photos of us.
As we leave so late and we won’t be able to cover the whole distance to Guadalajara in two days we decide to have a short trip today and bike to Santa Maria del Oro. In the city the google maps indicated hotel is not there and a few locals are so sweet to call them and find out they are an other 15 km down the road. We decide to stay in another very basic hotel as it is already 10 km paddling back to the highway.
Dinner is only taco’s as again all restaurants are closed.
Fun detail: a lot of the sideroads in the small villages are still covered by cobble stone. these are worse to ride than many roads on the great divide.
Long bike ride past sugar cane and “agave azul” to Ixtlan del Rio.
Here we are lucky to find a beautiful, recently renovated historical hotel. As there is a Zona Archiliogica we take a taxi to visit our first azteck ruines. Build and used between 400-1500 AD.
We see fields and fields of agave azul because this is the base for Tequila and yes we do visit Tequila.
From the solitude of simple, quiet villages, with no tourists, we enter a mad house of (mostly local) tourists. We join the crowd and book a tour of one of the trendy Tequila producers, La Coffradia.
Great explanation, great tasting. Late night, but we will have to get up early tomorrow to bike to Guadalajara, 5th biggest city of Mexico with 5+ million people. Frank really wants to stay there for 3 nights to discover the city! After a week of 496 km, with 5676 m ascend and 4504 m descend, I don’t say no to 3 nights in the same bed and no biking for 2 days!
Want to find out what was happening in Guadalajara. Stay tuned for the next blog.