After 2 months of intense and very varied journeys in Mexico, from Tijuana to Acapulco passing by La Paz, Ixmiquilpan, Mérida, Tulum, Bacalar, Palenque and Oaxaca, 1500km of cycling and the double by bus and ferry, we are ready to take the sea !
Since our meeting at La Paz, in Baja California, appointment was taken with Robert and Milagro, his double mast veissel all wooden of 38 feet. Freshly retired from in Designer activites, he re-built the ship from 2002 and embarked on this adventure last September: from his city of Seattle, he’s sailing on the Pacific waters towards the Panama Canal and the Virgin islands where he plans to arrive on mid-2020.
We are happy and lucky to join him to realize the sailing trip from Acapulco to Costa Rica with our 2 bikes on board! 2 weeks of navigation off the coast of Guatemala, Salvador and Nicaragua who promise to be full of adventures and marine challenges!
You can follow our itinirary on this small card (updated in real time thanks to an embedded GPS):
From the Sea of Cortes to the Caribbean, including cenotes and lagunas, the aquatic world takes a good part in this twelveth episode video Cycloclock, filmed in no less than 7 States of Mexico!
You will also discover poetic scenes of cyclicing life, colorful streets of colonial cities and the jungle where many mythical Maya’s temples and animal/vegetal wonders are hosted. Open largely your eyes and ears!
To end in beauty and in cycling this year 2019, we chose to migrate to the extreme south-east of Mexico, in Mayan country towards the Yucatan peninsula and the Quintana Roo. From Mérida to Bacalar, we took advantage, despite mass tourism, of a large, invigorating sun and natural wonders. Here are our best memories 🙂
From Mérida where we are welcomed with onions by our hosts Warmshowers Ken & Erin, we leave on a small road to Izamal. The day is very peaceful, punctuated by multiple “topes” (donkey backs in good shape) and a few typical villages: a large sleepy square decorated with tropical trees, some shops and Christmas decorations of course!
In Izamal, the yellow city, we stroll through fairly quiet alleys reminiscent of Andalusia, then we visit the huge central church and an ancient Mayan pyramid, small and rather conquest.
In Valladolid, we celebrate Christmas at the youth hostel around a buffet shared between backpackers and then discover our first cenote the next day (natural pool, generally quite deep and with crystal clear water). The city is not particularly charming elsewhere.
60km further south, after a somewhat monotonous road, full of plastics and wild dumps, we discover Coba and its large Maya archaeological site. Ironically, tourists travel by the hundreds by rental bikes (after coming by bus and pick up …) but we are forbidden access with our own mounts! We will therefore spend a good two hours on foot but the place is worth the detour. Then we stop for the night in the cool, at the edge of the jungle, at the Malinche Inn Café which we highly recommend!
Next step: Tulum! We land on December 27, at the heart of the holidays of hordes of Europeans and Americans who have come to seek the sun and relax on the Caribbean coast. Suffice to say that at first glance, we are a bit wary. But ultimately the charm operates, largely thanks to Ursulla, an Austrian converted into a local guide, captured by magic via a Warmshowers contact. In 2 quick days, we visit a new cenote and enjoy local and varied food in town.
What’s next? Punta Allen by a somewhat bumpy road along luxurious hotels for 10km then 40km on a rather wild tricky path in the reserve of Sian Ka’an. The sea, very close to the path, takes on its sublime blue and green hues but also, as in Indonesia, its piles of waste on the shore.
We spend the end of the day at a charming campsite which was advised to us by Ursula. The atmosphere is tropical: coconut palms, songbirds and … mosquitoes!
From this fine arm of land, the next day, we reach by boat a deserted path that winds between mangrove and jungle for more than 50km. We can see a couple of foxes, spider monkeys and some birds that camouflage themselves decidedly too well!
170km further south, after a stop at the edge of the lagoon, and hours of boring pedaling on endless straight and flat roads, we find the Caribbean Sea at Mahahual. High diving site, and stage of gigantic cruise ships, the village remains pleasant and lends itself well to cycling. We cook and rest in a nice campsite and hop here we are in 2020!
On January 1st, we meet at 10am to make two beautiful dives along the coral reef. We wish a happy new year to some parrot fish, angel fish, groupers, moray eels, a stingray, a turtle or even crayfish. But let’s not embellish too much, the corals are still well damaged by human activity…
Last step at Quintana Roo, we spend 2 days in Bacalar and Xul Ha on the edge of the famous lagoon with 7 colors.
Biking is again very practical for getting around the various sites, where the vast majority of tourists flock to taxis and buses … A kayak trip and a few swims round off these two beautiful weeks in the heart of winter!
As a long-standing promise, after her visit in 2012 as part of the student project aiming to construct solar dryers and solar ovens “Mexisol”, Clea dreamed of going back to Ixmiquilpan and Orizabita, in the state of Hidalgo. And from Baja California, it is quite far!
Just arrived on the “continent” in Mazatlán, after 20h of ferry, we borrow a night bus to Queretaro then a second in the rug to Ixmiquilpan. 48h after our departure from La Paz, we find with joy in Iximiquilpan the Cruz family (Irving, Joanna and their two small Lia and Sam) then Maricela, Irving’s mom, who was at the origin of the partnership with the students of Perpignan. The streets are crowded since Christmas approaches and we spend a wonderful week in the area with our guests.
We wanted to share two special sound environment atmospheres.
Let’s start with the Ixmi market! Every Monday, the village metamorphosis to offer fresh fruit, vegetables, spices, clothing and other unusual objects. If the smells are less pronounced than in Asia, the colors are exacerbated and we find the great conventional Mexican products: Tortillas in bulk, (ji)tomatoes, chile, jalapeños, nopals, goyaves, mandarins, etc. ! All in a festive atmosphere and a sound of cumbia different at each corner of the street 🙂
Second atmosphere, in the village of Orizabita one evening of “Posada”. This Catholic tradition very rooted in Mexico consists in organizing a ceremony and festivities every night during the 8 days preceding Christmas Eve. The religious part in itself is nothing particularly exotic but the festivities are worth the detour! This is suited to a lamination of luminum guided by an accordion-guitar-singing trio, punctuated by fireworks at irregular intervals, then to a candy distribution, tamales *, local punch, coffee and chocolate drinks for all! The winter freshness is well and we appreciate this family and friendly atmosphere, so far from the dangerous or inseurical reputation that the country usually wears!
Difficult to detail all other fun things we experience in Hidalgo: Tolantogo and its supernatural hot sources, the mystical and revigorous “temascal”, the excellent meals always based on “tortillas” and (a little too much of) meat like the “barbacoa” and its cooking smoked under the maguey leaves … or a nice walk on surrondings of Pachuca !
After 6,500 km on wheels, on 2 continents, it is high time to tell you about the genesis of the choice of our bicycles!
To go on a bicycle trip for 1 year, we had to think precisely about our mount, the one that would accompany us under the sun, in the wind (🎶), the rain, from the seaside to the desert, without ever getting used to it. false good, we hoped. The choice was long and complex for our brains. Disc brakes, v-brake, hydraulic or not, which development, which handlebars, which saddle and which size? So many questions that we asked ourselves as a lot of travelers before their first trip.
Comment s’équiper ou se réequiper, et avec quoi ?
After going around all the bicycle travel forums 20 times, carrying out a spreadsheet of the characteristics, prices and advantages / disadvantages of each brand and brainstorming with our cycling friends, Cléa chose a Genesis, having no touring bike and Sylvain has opted for an adaptation of his Specialized Sirus being barely 2 years old and some 1000km in the wheels. The modification of the Sirus consists of:
Un changement de la jante arrière en 36 rayons pour plus de solidité vu le poids des sacoches (arrière uniquement)
Un remplacement de la cassette (11-32 8 vitesses pour 11-36 10 vitesses ) pour un meilleur développement ce qui implique un changement de chaine et du dérailleur.
Pour finir nous avons ajouté deux pneus schwalbe tout neufs. Le porte bagage et le guidon papillon avaient déjà été ajoutés pour les précédent itinéraires en France.
For more details, here are the exact characteristics of the bikes below :
Genesis – Tour de fer 20 Taille M Année 2018 Freins : Disques – Promax rendear Dérailleurs : Shimano deore Plateaux : 44 – 32 – 24T Cassette : 11 – 34T Jantes : Sunrims Rhyno lite Pneu : Schwalbe mondial 700x35C Porte bagage avant : tubus Porte bagage arrière : tubus Miroir : Cyclestar Garde boues Béquille : Ergotec Selle : selle italia gel flow Porte téléphone : Décathlon Dynamo : lampe Lumotec premium – moyeu de roue avant SP dynamo hub PD8
Specialized – Sirius basic Taille M Année 2017 Freins : Vbrake specialized Dérailleurs : Shimano deore* Plateaux : 48 – 38 – 28T Cassette : 11 – 36* Jantes avant : Specialized Jantes arrière : Shimano* Pneu : Schwalbe marathon plus* Porte bagage avant : néant Porte bagage arrière : Racktime* Miroir : Lecyclo Garde boues Béquille : Lasus* Selle : Specialized d’origine Porte téléphone : Décathlon Dynamo : néant
*Equipments modified from basic Sirius Specialized.
Thanks to Cycle Expert in Lyon for their efficiency in carrying out the modifications and their advice!
And the feedback?
The bike is very comfortable and enough development to go everywhere.
The dynamo works very well and allows you to feel a little more secure when darkness arrives. Disc brakes (cable) work very well in all weathers and are quite durable
The connection cables can be a little inconvenient when disassembling the bike for transport. Better to avoid manipulations like this.
The stand works correctly but causes, due to the weight, a slight deformation of the stand support on the frame.
The handlebars with horns were comfortable for the first 6 months but a multi-position handlebars could be appreciable after 8 months.
The mudguards are very close to the wheels and rub regularly, especially with mud.
The “Ortlieb” front bags are not fixed at the bottom on the “Tubus” front luggage rack.
Strengthening the rear wheel was a good idea given the weight it supports (~ 18kg of luggage + my little buttocks) and the regular potholes!
Ditto for the change of development, it is always more pleasant to wind than to mash even on “benign” ribs 🙂
V-breaks are simple to adjust or change.
Negative points, the v-breaks skates wear out quickly. The dynamo lights would have been appreciable and more effective than the Decat ‘loupiotes. The handlebar bag “Ortlieb” is useful but difficult to organize and its fixing is impossible to adjust according to its weight so it falters. Finally, the very basic mudguards are sometimes more troublesome in transport and noisy (vibrations) than useful!
2 weeks after our departure from Tokyo, we are pleased to present the tenth video clip of our bicycle trip 🙂
100% Japanese, these excerpts filmed mainly in Kyoto and in the central mountains of the island of Honshu will give you an overview of the (good) road conditions, the facilities (bike paths of the lakes of Mount Fuji, special edges in tunnels, etc.) and the the fall weather. All colorful and at a good pace!
For this ninth video episode, we’ve put together the best of our Vietnamese adventures. From Ninh Binh with friends to Hanoi, via the island of Cat Ba, the roads were hectic but still charming! Not to mention the highlight of the show: the packaging of our cycles before we fly to… Japan 🙂 Let’s go!