Living the Dream
“Prepare yourself Andy, things will be very different when you get to mainland Mexico. It’s like a different country.”
As we were finishing up our Baja California section, I was looking ahead to our travels in mainland Mexico. I was trying to gather as much beta as possible from Lu, part of the 4 cyclist team from Guadalajara, who I met last summer on their ride from Anchorage, AK to their homes in Guadalajara, Jalisco.
In a sense, we were ready for it. Baja was amazing and the experience will always stay with me. However I was itching for the more colorful and culturally intoxicating experiences of the mainland.
Moreover, we were planning on riding to Guadalajara for a reunion with the cyclists. This is truly amazing because as a cyclist you often meet amazing people. However you only get to know for a few moments, then they are gone, just like shooting stars. They fill your life with a bright shiny moment of joy, then they are gone. You always know there will always be another shooting star in the future, but it is always a little different. Rarely do you get the chance to reunite with those people and share life again. This would be one of those moments. Stars colliding….
But first we had to get to Guadalajara…..
La Paz to Mazatlan
After some much needed rest and sightseeing in La Paz, Josh and I said our goodbyes to our wonderful host. We also had to part ways with Remo, our Swiss cycling buddy for the past few days. Remo, if you are reading this, thank you for joining us. We had a great time. However, the tour is the tour and the tour must go on. Off we were to the ferries! As any touring cyclist knows, long tours demand frugality. As such, we resorted to taking the “cargo” ferry versus the “tourist” ferry. The savings in $$$ were substantial and the great company and unforgettable sunset and moonrise more than made up for the utilitarian amenities. All in all, it was a grade A choice. The ferry set off around 5 and got us into Mazatlan around 9 the next morning. Just in time…..
Mazatlan to El Roasario
Feliz Dios de los Muertos! We decided that as much fun as it might be to stay in town for another day and celebrate in Mazatlan, the road was calling. For good luck we prepared ourselves with Looney Bean Coffee then headed off to the embarcadero. Before we knew it we were on a “plancha” (small boat) headed for Isla De La Piedra. We figured that a 10 km dirt road lined with coconut groves was a much better escape from Mazatlan than the uber-busy/dangerous highway. We were right. Aside from a few flats we made it out of the city and into the mainland of Mexico. We ended up in El Rosario for the evening and got to spend the afternoon in the town center watching families honor Los Dios de Los Muertos. It was a more somber event in the small town and it felt nice being a part of it. I also got to pay my respects to my own Lita, the person for whom I hope to one day see Machu Pichu. I also drank in her honor, mainly by drinking a beer straight from the can, “como un barbaro”. A nice free campsite on the hotel grounds outside town was wonderful, though we were curious about paying the “hourly rate” for the use of a shower.
El Rosario to Acaponeta
Another wonderful day riding on the cuota (toll road) putting in lots of miles early in the day. Upon entering town we were invited over to drink beer with a bunch of older gentlemen (including 3 generations of one family). So we sat in the shade of a tree as they plied us with beer and cacahuates (peanuts) and insisted upon showing us around town. It wasn’t until we were all on bikes that we realized they had been drinking all afternoon and were quite drunk. It was quite an adventure negotiating the backroads of Acoponeta with a surly crew of buzzed cyclists. We eventually had to “ditch” them as I was in need of a hotel room to relax in for a few hours and was not up for a wild night out. Maybe next time guys!
Acaponeta to Tepic
Damn. Double Damn. In an effort to meet the guys on time we were going to have to out in some mega miles in a couple days, including today’s ride from damn near sea level to 900 meters above sea level. Needless to say, we were wiped after pulling into Tepic just as the sun was setting after suffering through the humidity and hills all day long. As Lu warned us, “It was the hardest 30 km’s of the ENTIRE trip from Alaska to Guadalajara.” We promptly checked into the first hotel we saw, paying more than I wanted to but needing some good rest.
Tepic to Ixtlan Del Rio
Another tougher than expected day now that we are in volcano country. The deserts and coastline are a rapidly fading memory as we are now surrounded by a lush and refreshingly crisp landscape. We were excited to explore the ruins outside the town, apparently the only mesoamerican ruins in this part of Mexico. It was nice walking amidst centuries old structures trying to recreate life back then. It also got us excited about the vast archeological treasures that await us further into Mexico. All in all, a well rounded day.
Ixtlan Del Rio to Tequila!!!!
We awoke with a plan. Ride to Tequila, take a Jose Cuervo tour, explore town then meet the Guadalajata crew the following morning. However, if you ever want to make God laugh, just make a plan. Instead the day was a blur of mishaps, mechanical failures and unexpected successes. The day went like this: climbing, heat, flat tire (Josh), climbing, flat tire (Josh), heat, lunch, climbing, flat tire (Josh), joking about a broken trailer, broken trailer, ghetto wheel fix, hitchhiking, Josh’s baggage on my bike (double load), Josh’s trailer held on with electric tape and ending with a Tequila tasting in the hostel. Luckily we managed to find the humor in it all and made it through ok. While it would have been nice to have done our “planned” itinerary in Tequila, reality as always remains far more memorable and exciting.
Tequila to Guadalajara
It is truly amazing how drastically different your day can be from Sunrise to Sunset. We woke with the plan of meeting Lu and the crew in the AM, fixing/replacing Josh’s skewer issue when a shop opened, then riding to Guadalajara. After a wonderful reunion with Lu and Mario, we were off to find a shop to fix Josh’s bike. After a bit of running around we had the issue fixed and were off! It was great riding with a group again and nothing could get us down. Nothing except flats…. It only made sense that we would get flats. All in all, over the 60 km’s it took to get to Guadalajara our group of 4 riders had 6 flats! If only we could somehow turn flats into a drinking game. Eventually we made it into Guadalajara and headed straight to Lu’s family restaurant and were treated to the most truly amazing meal of our trip. Argentenian beef, lasagna, pizza and local beer were just what we needed and we wasted no time stuffing ourselves as we tried to remain polite for Lu’s wonderful family. Finally around sunset we joined Lu at a philosophical discussion he was hosting entitled, “What is man?”. Though I only caught bits and pieces of it, it was nice to watch the sun set over this great city surrounded by bright minds discussing life. Never a dull moment. I also had a chance to reflect on that question of what man is and this tour seems to answer that for me. Man is a sentient being with the capacity to create new experiences for himself that help further his understanding of mankind. This tour is just that. Fixing flats in the sweltering sun, dodging city traffic on bikes, learning a new language, waking up in a cactus garden in the desert, watching the sun set on the “wrong” side of the water, meeting old friends (and making new ones!), exploring new places and constantly absorbing. We are man!
At this point, Josh and I are unsure how long we will be here in Guadalajara. Regardless, I feel the winds of change and have a few ideas in my head. This country is simply to grand to fly through, I owe it more respect that that. Only time will tell.
For now, I have a city to explore!
p.s. If you read my blog do me 2 favors please.
1. Leave a comment with your name so I can see who all is reading this. I can see the numbers of viewers but don’t know who you all are!
2. Tell your friends/cycling buddies about this.
peace, love and tailwinds,
Mazatlan to El Rosario 52 miles
El Rosario to Acaponeta 60 miles
Acaponeta to Tepic 69 miles
Tepic to Ixtlan Del Rio 59 miles
Ixtlan Del Rio to Tequila 42 miles
Tequila to Guadalajara 44 miles