Sometimes you just have to ride it out
Most of the time riding on quiet dirt roads brings incredible smiles to our faces. There was, however, a point during our last stretch when I would have given anything for a bit of smooth pavement to ride on, just to get me into town quicker. Once you’re committed though, sometimes you just have to ride it out.
Our destination from Tula de Allende was the town of San Juan de Teotihuacán, a little bit north of the Mexico City metropolis. We had a couple of routes plotted and opted to take the one with the biggest chance of quiet dirt roads. As it turned out, we had a fantastic ride out of Tula with almost all of it on near-deserted tracks. Although dark clouds framed the horizon when we left the city, the sun eventually showed itself, warming the air and brightening the day.
Traveling out of Tula on some nice quiet back roads.
Passing behind a huge factory, or was it a power plant?
We were able to see these fire-breathing stacks when entering the city too.
A perfect road for us.
After stopping for lunch, our dirt trails sadly were replaced by a high-traffic, shoulder-less roadway. That was much less enjoyable to ride on but we made do, taking the good with the bad.
The sun lit up the flowers bordering the roadway.
There was the odd puddle to navigate around due to the recent rains.
Mountains in the distance.
A nice descent coming up.
We rode through several towns, one giving way to the next without much of a break. Some time before this, we had been cautioned that a couple of these places were dangerous but not knowing specifically which ones we were supposed to be wary of, I couldn’t tell the difference between the good towns and the bad ones! Surprising? Not to me.
There were some rough tracks to follow too.
Steeper than the photo lets on.
Several different shades of yellow.
Approximately 10 miles out of Teotihuacán, we left the highway to once again begin riding on dirt. Unfortunately, it was not long after this that I developed a very bad stomach ache. It was so bad that at times, I had to walk the bike. Even worse, there were times that I had to stop moving altogether. Even though the roads we were riding were excellent from a bikepackers perspective, when the pain was at its worst, I would have given anything to have a smooth and fast route into town. I might have even considered hitchhiking had there been traffic but the road we were traveling on was completely devoid of any. We had no choice but to continue on. Unfortunately, in my state, the trip probably took twice as long as it should have.
Our daughter and her husband breed these dogs. Their business: The Bully Market
Canadian Thanksgiving is approaching!
Waiting until the rush-hour traffic had passed.
When we arrived into town, we fired up our iPhones to search for a place to stay. Given its close proximity to the Teotihuacán pyramids, our reason for traveling there in the first place, most of the hotels we found were a bit more money than we wanted to spend. At that point, however, all I cared about was finding a place to lie down. Money was the last thing on my mind. As luck would have it, as we rode towards what Google indicated was the closest hotel to our location, following the directions on our phone, we stumbled upon an auto motel with both vacancies, and rates less than half of the one we were heading towards.
After remaining horizontal for some time in our motel room, my stomach pains receded, making both Rebecca and me much happier. It would have been a long and tiring day even without that added stress, so we both retired early, resting up for our trip to the pyramids that we had planned for the following day.
We awoke to a rain-free, and fortunately pain-free morning, perfect for a walk to the nearby pyramids. Not knowing exactly where we were going, we inadvertently ended up at some of the secondary, adjacent ruins before ultimately finding our way to the primary pyramid location. Interestingly, as we struck up a conversation (in Spanish) with the security guard there, explaining that we were traveling by bike, he asked if we were heading to Argentina. He is the first non-cyclist that we have come across who has said anything like that. We are “on the corridor,” he said.
The Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacán.
The steps getting to the top are steep!
Being careful with my footing.
I won’t attempt to relay any history of the site as a Google search will give you all the info you could want. I will say that the massive pyramids are truly impressive. As we walked around the complex, climbing both the Pyramid of the Sun and the Pyramid of the Moon to gaze down on the other structures, I couldn’t help but visualize what the city must have looked like at its height, with thousands of people gathered below in the Avenue of the Dead.
Looking down the Avenue of the Dead at the Pyramid of the Moon.
I thought this was supposed to be a rest day?
View from the top of the Pyramid of the Moon, looking back towards the Pyramid of the Sun.
We spent an entire day in Teotihuacán, resting up for our ride into Mexico City. Just as we had people warning us about the “dangerous” towns the day before, we had even more people cautioning us about the ride into the city. This time, however, instead of bandits to fear, it was the traffic that would get us. Those are warnings I take much more seriously!
At the very last minute, and by that I mean about 10 minutes before we were set to depart, we made a significant routing change, deciding to ride into the city via Texcoco and the toll road instead of on the other roadways. This decision turned out to be a fantastic one. Surprisingly to us, we even had about 50% quiet dirt roads on the way to Texcoco, and the remaining paved roads were quiet too.
A last-minute route change really worked out for us.
Dark clouds threatened but we had no more than a few drops of rain here and there.
Every town seems to have a noteworthy church.
Now that we’ve done it, I’d have to say that our ride into Mexico City was extremely painless. We made great time on what may be the flattest stretch we have yet to ride, and even though the traffic rushing past us on the toll road was not what I would describe as pleasant, we had a wide shoulder to ride on, giving us some separation from the cars and trucks. Yes, our ride into the downtown area was a tad chaotic but no different than it would be riding in any city. We even found some bike lanes to ride in, reducing the stress. When we finally reached the Zócalo, the heart of the downtown area, we did so with big smiles on our faces. We had ticked off another significant milestone on our long, southbound journey.
The Zocalo in downtown Mexico City. We made it!