We left off at the (near) southern tip of the Baja California Peninsula.
I then took the ferry from La Paz to Mazatlan, which on the mainland Mexican state of Sinaloa, at the end of November. Thank you to my Mazatlan host, Diana! Hope to see you in Guatemala! I met french cyclists Florent and Marjo on the ferry and continued to ride with them for the following few days. They were riding from Alaska, and plan to continue to Chile. Very similar to my route, so I really hope to see these folks again. They taught me how to live a little cheaper by getting free water and cooking more meals. Thanks guys, and I hope to ride with you guys again, soon!
The same day I parted ways with the french cyclists, I hit the mountains.
I’m talkin like volcanic-formed mountains, not the wimpy tectonic-formed Mountains of the US and Canada.
I tried to receive a package in the mountain city of Tepic, but it was stuck at customs in Guadalajara. After a quick detour to the coastal town of La Peñita de Jaltemba, close to Puerto Vallarta, I rode through more dramatic mountain terrain to Guadalajara, to get my package. Guadalajara has the second largest Book Expo in the world, but of course almost all the books were in spanish. When I called DHL to find out about my package, though, I found out – in Spanish, of course, because even “pressing number 1” did not get me an english-speaking agent – that it had been AUTOMATICALLY RETURNED TO THE US.
The worst part was that it was my birthday that day, December 5th.
I guess the bright side is that I’m 25 now? That means… um, I can legally get a hotel room in Massachusetts, or rent a car in some states. Anyway, at this point, I was accompanied by spanish cyclist Sandra, who taught me lots of good and pure Castilian spanish (but sorry, I refuse to speak with a lisp.) She joined me for a good week and a half. Believe it or not, despite that she was riding a bike (as in 2 wheels), I had to wait and/or slow down for her 90% of the time. Sometime after Guadalajara, on my way to Santiago de Querétaro, a few important things happened:
—I was using longer crank arms. That’s the part to which the pedal attaches. Increased size from 127mm to 137mm. The part, along with a new tire, with shipping, cost in the hundreds of dollars (fortunately this package DID arrive.) Ten millimeters might not sound like a lot, but it means less torque and therefore an easier and more controlled ride. Mounting, controlling, and riding hills became that much easier!
—The terrain got flatter, thankfully. From days of relatively low 60-80 km (40-50 mi) back to 80-100 km (50-60 mi)
—I bought a slingshot. That’s right – and it was only 15 pesos (barely over $1). This will bring me unlimited joy, I’m sure. I got it to deter stray dogs.
—I tried fried crickets, with salsa and lime! It didn’t make me queasy, but I just wasn’t a big fan. It was like fried cardboard, but with little legs and such.
—Thanks to the generous donations from my lovely fans, I have been able to buy some new gear. -A new camp stove (to cook meals more often and ultimately save money.)
-My third tire, from Coker.
-My third disc rotor (for disc brake).
-My fifth pair of riding shorts.
-My second pair of riding shoes (my big toe could touch the ground.)
-One pair of pants ($5) to replace my beat-up gym pants.
—I got the incredible pleasure of borrowing a unicycle (24in Muni) from my newly acquainted Mexican friend, Raziel. We went off-roading outside of Mexico City.
(pictures of dinamos muni riding)
So I’ve made my way from the capitol of my country to the capitol of Mexico, our neighbor, and as of reaching Mexico City (where I am currently resting), I have ridden:
10,517.65 km (6,573.53 mi) TO DATE, which is exactly 72% of the World Record.
States, Provinces, and Districts so far (24):
Maryland, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New York, Ontario, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, Baja California, Baja California Sur, Sinaloa, Nayarit, Jalisco, Guanajuato, Michoacan, Hidalgo, Mexico (State), Distrito Federal (Mexico City).
For anyone wondering or worried – Mexico is not as dangerous as the American media would like to claim. As long as you stay out of certain neighborhoods, you’re generally fine (which is true of almost any place in the world, even the US.). I keep my eyes open just in case, though. To be honest though, I feeler safer and more welcome in most of this country than the US. Asking for directions/water/place to camp usually results in a full-length, friendly conversation, and sometimes more.
One guy chased me down in his truck 5 minutes out of town screaming, “Sir, your numbers! Your numbers!” He was waving his credit card and pointing, hanging half his body out his truck window. He was trying to say, “You forgot your credit card! It’s locked in the ATM.” I ended up speaking better Spanish than his English, and he offered me a ride back into town! Once the bank agent retrieved my card from inside the ATM (I’m a goddamn idiot), and I rode back to the same spot to reset my GPS, I was on my way. Crazy Mexicans, I gotta love ’em.
And speaking of crazy, I’ve been kept awake at night by roosters (in every single place I camp), as well as people yelling, trying to sell their wares on the street. Not to mention, since Mexicans use EVERY chance they get to celebrate, being woken up several times a few nights in a row by what sounded like gunshots. A guy later told me it was people celebrated with fireworks. This was – not joking – throughout the night, at least once or twice EVERY half hour.
It’s bad enough being a pale-skinned gringo,
the addition of the unicycle means that – without fail – EVERY person I pass stares out at me, unabashedly. I can only guess it’s culturally accepted, because not one person has seemed to feel bad about staring at me, eyes locked and with silly smile.
These people are pretty excited though, you have to hand it to them! They probably think I’m some famous guy, and cars will literally come to a dead standstill in the right lane of the highway just to take pictures/video. Lots of folks actually pull off to the side, get out of their cars, ask for me to stop, shake my hand, and then get pictures WITH me (when I’m in the mood, of course).
While I was riding with Sandra, from Spain, two cops in a federal patrol car put their lights on, and slowed down next to us as we rode. I was worried we were on the road illegally something. No, of course they just wanted to see what we were about. They asked us about our journeys, while their lights signaled the huge line of traffic stacking behind them to pass them. (Of course, it was a two lane highway, one each direction, so they basically had to sit. You know they wanted to honk – but no-way-man, not with those federales). They were our unofficial escort for like 3 kilometers, going only 15 kph. We eventually pulled off and did photos. When we resumed, they gave us directions over their loudspeaker and bid us farewell! Funny, flattering, and only slightly ridiculous (there should be one word for all that.)
If you don’t already know – you can donate by scrolling up from this post to just beneath the overall trip description – click on the PayPal “Dontate” button and fill out the stuff. Thank You!!