Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Guadaljara to somewhere in the mounatins.

This is what I go to sleep to most nights.
At the higher elevations, it cooled off, which was a relief.

These were the mountains at lower elevations, very hot and humid!

Climbing higher into the mountains approaching Mexico City.

A shot of lake Chocherra.

One of the little towns I stopped in for supplies.

Some locals playing futbol in Guadalajara.

a Ranchera and her burro.

I have seen enough of these to last a lifetime.

Day: 86

Miles: 200

Total Mileage: 4,840

Budget: 6-1: $13.50, 6-2: $17, 6-3: $8.50 so far.
Where to being.

Well, the beggining is a good place, so I will pick up from where I left off last update.

I updated the blog last time just outside of Guadalajara and rode into the city after posting. Guadalajara is a big, big city and so I decided to take the Preferico around the city. It was longer than going right through the middle but riding in the heart of a city on a bike, especially a loaded touring bike, can be a real nightmare. So i figured a multi lane bypass around the city would save me time and stress.

I have never been more wrong in my life!!! The Preferico should be renamed the arena of death! That was the most insane ride of my life; I was scarred out of my wits nearly the entire ride! Imagine, if you will, a horribly maintained highway consisting of huge potholes, and massive cracks in the pavement that is littered with garbage and that is so choked with dust and smog you can barely see. This highway has on and off ramps coming from the left, the right, and from below! I kid you not, there were even roads that came up out of the guts of the city and spewed cars out into the middle of the Preferico! I would not have been surprised if cars would have started dropping out of the sky!

Now populate this highway with huge amounts of very aggressive drivers, busses, big rigs, pedestrians, taco vendors, cats, dogs, and insane motorcycle riders weaving through everything. Put it all together at a break neck speed and you have an idea of what it was like. People were making left hand turns from the right hand lanes with no signals, honking, peeling out, it was madness. I just pedaled for my life, half blind form all the crud in the air with both fingers crossed for luck! The road was so bumpy that I lost the head rest to my camp chair, and my head lamp! two painful loses. Also, this is the worst, my sleeping mat fell off of the back of my bike going over a particularly jarring pothole and then got run over by a big rig! Doh! Now it wont inflate and i get to experience the joy of every rock on the ground when i camp out at nights. Sweet.

After an hour of this insanity, i finally got to the end of the Preferico where I was expecting to connect with the Mexico 90D highway to get back onto the 15D. This is what my map said (my map is turning out to be fairly worthless) and what all of the signs along the Preferico indicated, but instead it dumped me onto a dirt road that took me through some of the poorest neighborhoods of Guadalajara. The awesomeness just kept increasing.

So I am trying to find my way through the winding streets of the wrong side of the tracks in Guadalajara. These houses are all made of clay and baked brick with dirt roads, and many of the people are pretty hard looking, with full sleeve tattoos running up there necks, etc. For the first time on this trip, I got a little nervous for my safety. Here I am a sticking out like a soar thumb on a bike with a yellow trailer, wearing a bright orange shirt riding through neighborhoods where people obviously do not have a lot of money.

I managed, with the help of some locals, to finally find the way to the 90D. I had to climb up a horrendously steep switchback road that at times had to be at a 15% grade. I couldn´t even ride, I had to push the bike.

After climbing up that monster of a hill I had been going non stop for 2 and a half hours and i still wasn´t out of the city. I had to stop for some food and a drink. So I pulled over to one of the little shops that are everywhere in Mexico and got some Pan Dulce (sweet bread) and a Fanta for some sugar. As I was sitting there catching my breathe and eating, two guys come walking up to me and both were totally covered in tattoos, on their faces, etc. They looked like straight up gangsters. The one guy says hi and asks me where I am riding too, and i start thinking, great, i am going to get messed with. So I tell him i am going to Mexico City to meet a buddy and that I had rode here from Miami (i tell people my trip in reverse order, its just easier that way for me with my feeble Spanish) and the guy says that is awesome and hi fives me and then wishes me good luck on my trip and walks away. Then, the owners of the store give me a 1.5 liter bottle of water and some sweet bread as they had overheard our conversation and wanted to wish my good luck, too. I tried to give them money, but they insisted I take it for free! I just keep meeting so many incredibly nice people that are so generous. I felt bad for judging some of them before i knew anything about them.

So I hit the road thinking I had finally escaped from Guadalajara, but I was wrong. The road i thought took me out of the city was under construction and so i had to take a detour through another really old, windy neighborhood that finally popped me out next to the 15D. The only problem was that there was no onramp! The 15D is a toll road so it has controlled access. I had to drag my bike up a 45% incline to get it onto the freeway. That was stupidly hard to do. Every time I tried to pause to catch a breathe, my bike started sliding down the embankment. A group of locals had gathered to watch the rediculous spectacle i must have been making and everyone cheered and whistled when I finally got to the top.

4 hours to get out of Guadalajara! I was so exhausted after that I could barely ride much further that evening.

Back in Mazatlan, George, the gentleman that had showed me around, had told me it was impossible to ride into Mexico City because it was too big and trafficy. At that time, I had thought he had been embellishing things, but after riding through Guadalajara, i think he might have been letting me down easy! I can only imagine what Mexico City will be like.
The next two days I really put my head down and pedaled for all i was worth. It has cooled down considerably as i have gained altitude and at nights its actually a bit chilly. It is not nearly so humid either. I was able to put down 80 miles both days which was something considering how much climbing i had to do. I continued to meet nice and generous people everywhere i went. One day at lunch a woman gave me some bananas for my trip, and another time a woman gave me a bowl of soup to eat with the tortillas i had bought from her. Also, the produce here is so cheap, if you buy it from the farmers, they almost give it away. I got 10 bananas for a buck!

I had forgotten to mention the Policia. They have been wonderful! Even in Baja at all of the military checkpoints all they ever did was stop me to ask where i was going and to wish me luck. The police have been polite and have helped to point me in the direction i need to go and have even let me fill up my water bottles at their police stations. Often they saulte and give me a thumbs up when i ride through the checkpoints, its pretty cool.

Today was a bit of a buzzkill though, I climbed way up into the mountains yesterday and had a nice evening smelling the clean air and pine trees and woke up ready to crank it. I was only 195 kilometers away from Mexico City, which meant i would be there tomorrow if i had a decent day today. I was going to make it on schedule! However, At the very top of the pass through the mountains, my trailer went flat...again! That is the second time in two days! Seven flats now on the trailer. I am getting really frustrated with it. I don´t know if it has just been bad luck, bad tubes, or what. Every time i change the tube i check the tire to make sure no there is nothing sticking through to puncture a new tube. The bike tires are monsters, they nearly never go flat, but the BOB has been blowing flats lately like its the cool thing to do. I wish i could just put a solid rubber tire on the dang thing. I don´t care if its heavier, it would be worry free.
I had to walk 18 kilometers back to the nearest town with a bike shop and was able to buy three new spares for the trailer. Now I need to get back up the damn mountain. The day is killed, by the time I get back up there, change the flat and head out, I will only have a few hours to ride. That means that I won´t be getting to Mexico City until the 5th most likely as I don´t want to ride into the city tomorrow night and try and find my way around. Every local i have talked to has warned me about the crime in el D.F. as they call it.

Well, that is it for now, I need to get myself sorted and back up the mountain. I think i might just get a cab, walking nearly 12 miles straight up hill really isnt appealing to me for some reason.


Zee said...

Oh Reece, that sucks about your trailer getting a flat! I would have opted for the taxi, I hope you did! Be careful and watch out for any 'bad guys'.
You are looking very fit and I'm sure your heart appreciates all the clean air and exercise you've been providing it with.
Did you see the sexy picture Mattis took of himself in the hotel room? Woah...please take one like that for me! I'll blow it up and post it at work and make all the hormonal women I work with, envious!!
Love ya

Evan Lane said...

Roads in Louisiana not lookin so bad, eh? That sounds really scary! It's good that you keep running into nice people. I hope you don't run into equally scary people in "el D.F." Stay Safe!

Evanapolis said...

I forgot I had a blogger ID.

jesstheonlyartist said...

Well I'm glad that despite all the craziness that there are still nice people around helping. I would of probably been scared of the 'scary' guys but heck, I would of been scared of almost everyone because it is all so new and unknown to me! I would be miss cautious and over-protection girl *hahaha*

Hope you make it into Mexico City all safe and sound!

I'm learning a lot of useful Spanish right now in my class... maybe I'll give you some pointers ;)

until next time... dream sweet *hahaha* ;)

Lisa in Louisiana said...

Wow! That was some blog!!!! I had been wondering how going through Guadalajara was gonna be for ya and it was almost as bad as i had imagined. I had to stop reading about half way thru because it was so much to comprehend. But by the end, I felt like those locals who watched you push your bike up the embankment. i.e ". . . and everyone cheered and whistled when I finally got to the top."

Man, Reese, sorry you lost so many of your essential pieces of equipment. I wish there was a General Delivery P.O. address we could use to send you another sleeping pad. Hopefully you can restock when you get to Mex City. I'll be glad when you have a traveling companion, that's for sure.