Total Mileage: 4,440
Money spent since last update: $58.50
Me, hurting big time on the climb up to Tepic!
Let me start by taking my foot out of my mouth. When i said i was in great shape, i should have added a caveat: I am in great shape for riding in the deserts of Baja! Riding through the hot, humid mountains of mainland Mexico...maybe not! Holy cow, talk about a major change in climate. The riding here has been difficult enough, with some major mountain climbing and rolling hills, but with the added difficulty of high temperatures and sweltering humidity, it is very difficult to get kilometers down.
The only flat terrain I have had was coming out of Mazatlan until I began the climb into Tepic. I was able to put down 100 miles that day but even then i was exhausted by days end due to the oppressive heat and humidity. I had some major cramps that evening that took a good while to work out. The humidity has me sweating buckets, constantly. I don´t even have to be doing anything, just lying in my tent at night with nothing but shorts on i still pour sweat. I look like i just got out of a shower, 24 hours a day. It makes it extremely difficult to stay hydrated, plus I smell awful half of the time. Even more so than in Baja, I am guzzling fluids constantly but I just can´t seem to stay hydrated. I even tried drinking some pedyalite, but it is cost prohibitive. I can get two gallons of water for the price of one liter of pedyalite, which i know will do more for me. By noon each day my legs feel like jello and the heat seems like it is just smashing me to the ground. It is very tough to keep pedaling all day. Apart from my one day of relatively flat ground, I have been climbing and descending all day, every day. I spend the majority of my time in my easiest gear crawling along at 6 to 7 miles per hour. I can´t wait for my body to adjust to this climate because it will only get hotter and more humid as I head south and progress further into the summer months.
However, apart from the difficult condions, it has been a beautiful ride. The countryside is gorgeous and goes from tropical in the lowlands to beautiful forests in the mountains. The highway, Mexico 15D, is a great road to ride on. It avoids the switchbacks of the older highway Mexico 15 and has less traffic as it is a toll road (free for bicycles). It is relatively new as well with mostly excellent pavement and a beautiful 6 foot shoulder which is a godsend after Baja. It runs through rural areas too for the most part, so finding a place to sleep every night has been very easy. My only complaints are that occasionally the shoulder is covered with loose red gravel that stinks to ride on and that often you go very long stretches without access to food or water, so you need to be able to cary a lot with you on the bike. I have upgraded my water carrying capacity to now carry 6.25 liters on the bike and up to another 3 gallons if needs be on the trailer.
Food is also much cheaper on the mainland. A lot of my staples are nearly half price. 50 to 80 cents for tortillas, 25 cents for noodles, 80 cents for beans or tuna. Some things vary a lot in price and I am still undecided on weather this is because of a vendor gouging me a bit because I am a tourist or not. I like ot think not as 99% of the people I have met have been so nice, and when things are more expensive I have been in remote areas where the price of shipping the inventory may affect the selling price. For example, in the city, a liter of milk is 85 cents, in the country I have paid as much as 2 bucks. In Mazatlan, I had a big plate of Seviche (raw fish served in lemon juice and salsa fresca) and a Fanta for 4 bucks. That is a good price for such a big and healthy meal. Produce is still a little pricey but better than Baja. However, this is offset by the increase in fluids I have been taking in. I seriously drink and sweat all day! It is crazy, by days end, my clothes are so covered in salt and dried sweat that my shorts just about stand up on their own and if I shook my shirt out over my dinner I could season it pretty nicely!
One little treat I have discovered is a drink called Agua Fresa (Strawberry water) and I have to say, it is one of the most refreshing things I have ever drank in my life! I am sure that is also because I was halfway up the mountain to Tepic and I was dying of thirst when i tried it, but it tasted really good.
I got it at a roadside stand and the woman took some water, some strawberries and some sugar and blended it up. It tastes incredibly good and is lighter than a milkshake; perfect for a hot day. She even gave me another cup for free when I told her she had given me too much change back by accident. Karma in action!
The people on the mainland are nearly uniformly nice too. Everywhere I go, people are nothing but helpful, kind and friendly. Unlike in places like Western Europe where often a traveler gets the cold shoulder from locals, here, everyone is very nice and goes out of their way to give you a helping hand. I could rattle off a dozen examples from the past few days of the kind people I have met, but I will settle for just a few.
I was in a little town called Jala two days ago picking up supplies. I bought my usual load and sat down to eat my cookies and drink my daily liter of milk (got to do it!) when an older gentleman saw me sitting on the curb in the sun and pulled a chair out for me to sit on in his store in the shade and made me a little table. It was a little thing, but he didn´t have to do it and I could honestly say you wouldn´t see that happen too often in the states. So i sat down and shared my cookies with him and we had a broken conversation in spanglish. Pretty soon he had gotten his wife and daughter into the action and everyone was wishing me good luck on my travels and wanted to check out my bike and offering me advice and water, etc. It really was a great feeling.
Another example was when I stopped in the Tequila growing region for some supplies, and an older gentleman who was selling homemade tequila in 5 liter jugs, came and sat down next to me. We started shooting the breeze (my Spanish is improving daily) and he told me he had worked in Oakland for a while in the 80´s but liked Mexico more. He said there was too much crime in America! At any rate, he gave me an Orange to eat and I gave him a few of my tortillas and before I left, he poured me a shot of his special brew tequila. At first i wanted to pass as the idea of drinking a shot of tequila in the broiling heat when I still had to get over a pass before day´s emd wasn´t so appealing, but then i thought: how often will i have the chance to drink home brewed Tequila in the land where it is grown again in my life? So i drank it down and let me tell you, the special brew is strong stuff! Wow. But, it was pretty dang smooth. It was simply pure agave tequila with nothing in it, no chemicals, etc.
One last little story that I think is good to share, was a gentleman I met coming out of Tepic who was selling tacos at a bathroom stop on the side of the freeway. He was a super nice guy and he hustled those tacos like I have never seen before, chasing cars, shouting out his wares, wheeling and dealing to sell his entire load before the day´s end. He sold me four tacos and two grilled jallepenos for a buck thirty (can´t really say no to that!) and we started chatting and i told him the taocs were great and he smiled and told me he had been in his job for 10 years! Can you imagine that, selling tacos every day out of a cooler on the side of the road for 10 years?! He said it with pride too, like you´re darn right those are good, i am a master taco slaesman! It just makes me really thankful for what I have and for being born in the USA. If that guy with his go get em attitude and work ethic would have been born in the states to a good family, the sky would have been the limit for him. But in all fairness, he seemed happy enough.
At any rate, I have really been enjoying the mainland apart from the agony of riding in these mountains! At the rate I am going I will be lucky to get to Mexico City by the 5th, so it was really good to have caught that monday ferry.
I am off, I need to get some kilometers down.