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In every bike tour, whether two weeks or (like this one) two years, there comes a point when the cyclist realises that the best riding is behind them. It’s not that there aren’t stretches of splendid cycling ahead, because there often are; and it’s not that the countries themselves don’t hold plenty of off-bike appeal, because they generally do. It’s simply that the majority of the most memorable rides have already been enjoyed or endured.

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We’ve been thinking about this as we’ve circled the Yucatán Peninsula, which occupies the sticky-out bit at Mexico’s eastern extent. (We’re writing this entry in Mérida, the region’s biggest city, which on a crow’s flight is roughly halfway between Mexico City and Miami.) The Yucatán Peninsula receives the lion’s share of Mexico’s foreign tourists, and for good reasons. Whether your taste is for unspoiled solitude (the dirt road from Tulum to Punta Allen, which Will cycled) or high-rise resort comfort (Cancún and Playa del Carmen, which we avoided), there are beaches to suit you. The weather is peachy. There are handsome colonial towns, dazzling nature reserves and an incomparable array of ancient ruins. There are hotels and restaurants and hammocks and all the other things that make a tourist’s life more agreeable. And there is none of the drug-trade violence that blights some of the country’s northern states.

The appeal of the region’s landscape and history is in direct contrast to the appeal of its cycling, which is some of the dullest in the Americas. We’ve eaten dinner off tables less flat than some of the roads around here, which stretch out in pleasant monotony for miles. Even the back roads are nearly arrow-straight, with every tiny kink marked by a parade of signs to warn auto-piloting drivers that they may need to steer. It’s a long way, literally and figuratively, from the Peruvian Andes, the rural highways of southern Brazil and the peaks and valleys of Colombia, to name but three of the regions through which we’ve most enjoyed cycling.

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We realise that there’s a school of cycling thought that’s broadly in favour of flat roads, but we’ve long since graduated from it. If we treasured such highways, we’d have chosen to spend the last 17 months pedalling around East Anglia. Our headphones have barely been out of our ears for the last couple of weeks as we’ve sought aural distraction from the ceaseless sameness of the landscape. (Ruth favours Radio 4 podcasts. Will has returned to Bach and Reich.)

There’s more of this to come. As we leave the Yucatán Peninsula, head west along the Gulf of Mexico and then drop south to the Pacific coast, we’re not expecting to see anything you might call a hill for the better part of 1,200km. Only our eventual ride back up from the Pacific beaches to the city of Oaxaca – ‘a good, honest climb,’ wrote a fellow cyclist in an email to us last week – should get our pulses racing. It’s three weeks away. We can’t wait.

from Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico