For the summer holidays, with travel disruption everywhere, I did the one thing that I know best – off I went on my bike without a tent, as they say, just credit card touring.
The first trip was to the state of Michoacan, the capital of which was Morelia. I left Mexico city pedalling and after 3 days arrived at this historical city, the colonial architecture of this city was impressive. The best was the high mountains all around. To get in to this city or to get out one has to go over some high mountains. The route out from Morelia to Ciudad Hidalgo was the highlight of this short trip. The road numbered fifteen goes over a big pass at approximately 2900m and the route was aptly called ‘ruta de mil cumbres’, translated word-by-word ‘route of thousand peaks’. The 30 km ascent, starting from 1800 to 2900 was not as difficult as I anticipated, the gradient was not steep – more or less a relaxed climb. The stunning views kept the legs moving.
The second trip was to the states of Guerrero and Oaxaca. I left my house pedalling towards the coast. Given the altitude of Mexico City one would expect downhill ride, but there was a mountain pass every day. After 5 days I arrived at this party town called Acapulco in the state of Guerrero after pedalling 419 kilometres. The coastal breeze was no match to the sweltering heat at this time of the year. So, I abandoned my plan to cycle along the coast. Instead, I took a bus from Acapulco to another popular beach town, Puerto Escondido which was a lot smaller and also more pleasant.
From the start of this trip I had my eyes set on the mountain pass, the road numbered 175, between Puerto Angel (near Puerto Escondido) and Oaxaca. A curvy road that goes all way from sea level to 2740m before descending to the city of Oaxaca. Google maps showed no towns or villages for about 70 km and also ascent all the way which meant I had to do all this ascent in just a single day. I was a bit anxious, but had planned well. I had studied the elevation profile just to prepare mentally. An overall ascent of 3000m on a single day was a challenge with no precedence. The last place, before this ascent, where I could find a hotel was at Candelaria Loxicha where I had plenty of rest the day before. I left here at 6.45am the next day with some anxiety. The ascent was relentless, just up and up for about 50 km and I was at an altitude of approximately 2400m having started at 450m and the whole time the road was quite empty, with occasional eateries along with side of the road. After 5 hours of cycling I was relieved to have arrived at this altitude and I assumed the rest would be relatively easy. The undulations made the next 24 km more painful, but after 7 hours of cycling I arrived at my destination, San Jose del Pacifico.
This town was interesting, not just for the magical location, nested on a mountain top with views over the rolling mountains, but also for the locally cultivated ‘magic mushrooms’ which apparently was a tradition of the indigenous in that area. Although, modern times attracts a certain type of foreigners and the story goes even Beatles went to this place for the organic produce. However, one can get high pedalling which had more long-lasting effect than the herbs. The sunset here was a fabulous experience, quite magical. I spent an hour at least watching the clouds rise up the valley. The tranquillity was overwhelming and strangely no body speaks louder. Nature has its ways to induce a state of meditation and with zero effort.
From San Jose del Pacifico, it was a two-day ride to Oaxaca city from where I took a bus back to Mexico City. The beaches of Mexico are well known but Mexico has plenty of beautiful mountains too, which I keep discovering.
First trip (489 km): Mexico City – Villa del Carbon (50km) – Maravatio (124) – Morelia (94) – Ciudad Hidalgo (104) – Zitacuaro (47) – Valle del bravo (70).
Second trip (731 km): Mexico City – Cuernavaca (82km)– Iguala (99) – Chilpancingo (109) – Tierra Colarada (58) – Acapulco (71) – Puerto Escondido (by bus) – San Pedro Pachutla (74) – Candelaria Loxicha (30) – San Jose del Pacifico (74) – Ejutla (72) – Oaxaca (62).