Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mexico City to Xalapa

Day: 91

Mileage: 6-7: 60, 6-8: 68

Total Mileage: 5,086

Money SPent: 6-7: 14, 6-8: 26

Well, I have to hand it to Mike, he certainly jumped into the deep end of the pool with his first attempt into cycle touring. We began by riding through Mexico City, the biggest and one of the most congested cities in the world. Riding a bike in a city is tough, riding a loaded touring bike, for you first time no less, is even more challenging. Add to that the fact that nothing is in English and you get a pretty tough introduction into cycle touring.

At any rate, we managed to find our way to the bus terminal and got a ride two hours down the road out of the greater Mexico City metropolitan area to a city called Puebla. The Mexican bus system is top notch too, I must add. For 11 bucks, we got a ticket on a direct route bus (no stops) that included a movie, a snack, water and complimentary ear phones for the ride. It was about ten times better than greyhound and at a much lower cost.

Once in Puebla, we had to fight city traffic once again to get out of the city. To make matters worse, it was absolutely pouring rain, like buckets. We were both absolutely soaked, drenched to the bone. Mike didn't have a rain coat either, which really stunk. He had a smile on his face the entire time though and didn't´t complain at all. We trucked out of town and when we came to the junction in the highway where we could either take the direct and easier ride to Veracruz, or ride the mountains to Xapala in order to check out the city and to catch some ruins on the ride out of the mountains to Veracruz, I told Mike it was his choice and he said to go for it.

We decided to take the toll road as it is a two lane road with a 6 foot shoulder, less steep climbs and less traffic, and I have been riding on them every day till Mexico City. However, as we passed through the booth, we were stopped and the man working told us we had to go back as the toll road was off limits to bikes. I told him I had ridden them all the way from Tijuana but I couldn't convince him to let us press on. He told us the free road was safer, which is total malarkey. The free road is two lanes with heavy traffic and no shoulder. Super safe. He also said we wouldn't want to ride the toll road as it was secluded with not many people around (which is exactly what we want!) When we turned to head back, the guy stopped us again and told us to ride against traffic as that was safer! What was this, opposite day?! I know the guy had good intentions, but he was an idiot.

So we rode the free road with no shoulder very similar to Baja, and I must admit, having a buddy to ride with makes it so much safer. We quickly developed a system where I watched oncoming traffic and Mike watched traffic coming on us from behind. We would call out the number and types of vehicles coming and if we had them from both directions one of us would yell Off! And we would bail off of the road until traffic had passed. It makes for slow going, but better than getting run over by a semi.

We passed over a mountain range and decided to press on through a small town which was a bad call as it turned out to be a big town and we nearly got caught without a place to sleep. But, just as the sun was setting we found an abandoned farming building in an empty field and made to set up camp. We were in for a fairly funny surprise while we were trying to set up the tent Mike had bought in Mexico City.

The tent had two sleeves that ran along the top where you put in the tent poles. However, there were no pockets at any corners to hold the poles, so basically the thing lay flat on the ground with the poles spead out in all four directions! We both started laughing pretty hard and then took the poles out and put them inside the tent and duct taped them in place which worked. It rained again that night and I am happy to say that at least his tent kept water out.

Today we had a great ride through some gorgeous mountains and when we cleared the final pass we had a smokin down hill into Xapala, which is a very beautiful city. Mike´s bike is nice, carbon fiber and aluminum with racing wheels. It is much faster than my bike, but it wouldn't hold up over a long trip. It also performs very poorly off road. As I had feared, it was tough to find spare tubes for a 700c wheel so we bought all we could from the one shop in Mexico City that carried them. Hopefully they last a month, we already replaced one flat! He is also able to travel light as I have a ton of stuff that he didn't need to get so it makes it much easier for him to ride himself into shape and enjoy the trip.

It is great having a buddy to ride with and I am glad he is here. Tomorrow we will head to Veracruz and see some ancient pyramids, which I am very excited about. Until next time!

The ride from Puebla to Xapala was filled with scenery like this.
The mountain country is just gorgeous.
The ride through the mountains east of Mexico City felt like riding in a fairy tale.

Mexico City was a blast and I really enjoyed the place. Mike and had a great time and I could whole heartedly recomend the place to any traveler.

Just a tiny fraction of this massive city.
Some of the architecture was beautiful.

Mike and I in the main plaza.
This is our new buddy Per, who was from Nroway, backpacking around Mexico.
We met some great people in Mexico City, among them backpackers from North Carolina, Korea, and some American guys that lived and taught in the city. I obviously had more than a few shots of tequila by this point!


jesstheonlyartist said...

Well I'm glad Mike is holding up well so far! That is good to hear. I didn't know if he could help up with your awesomeness! ;)

I love the new facial hair... very SWEET! :) Way to change it up!

Hope the next month is Mike keeps going well... I think it will be nice for you to have company. I'm glad you have great people in your life!

p.s. I have another thing done for you but I am having trouble where to load it up so I have to figure it out and then it will be out to you!

jesstheonlyartist said...

I got it worked out Reece! Finally found a place to upload it. Check out my myspace and your messages!

LSUtri-guy said...

let me know if you encounter a city that beats N.O. on the crazy-party scale

Reecius said...

i have not been able to log into myspace to check my mail, it is annoying.

and if i find a crazier city than NO i will let you know, but i almost doubt that is possible!

Evanapolis said...

That is a very nice mustachio you've got going on there.