Syo (Japan)
riding from Alaska, USA to Ushuaia, Argentina
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We had quite a language barrier to hurdle when we ran into Syo on the outskirts of Dolores Hidalgo. Hailing from Chiba in Japan, Syo speaks minimal English and virtually no Spanish; our Japanese, needless to say, is non-existent. However, we did manage to establish that Syo’s riding the classic southbound A-to-B from Alaska to Patagonia, he started in July 2014, he’s riding a vintage steel-framed bike (downtube shifters, quill stem), he crossed the border into Mexico at Ciudad Juárez, and he’s got two more years in which to finish his journey. Judging by the size of his luggage, and particularly by the chaotic assemblage of bags, tarps and tyres (two spares!) bungee-strapped to the top of his rear rack, he’ll need every last day – it’s a while since we’ve seen a cyclist hauling quite so much stuff. Fifty pesos says he’s downsized by the time he reaches the Andes.
just outside Dolores Hidalgo, Guanajuato, Mexico
3 February 2015

 


 

Benoît, again (Canada)
riding a loop from Mexico City around the Sierra Gorda & Sierra Alta Hidalguense, Mexico
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After his six-week tour from Playa del Carmen to Mexico City, Benoît – whom we’d met on the Yucatán Peninsula (scroll down for evidence) – had flown home to Quebec for Christmas. But then, after learning that he’d landed a job at an NGO in Mexico City, he flew straight back again. The day after he returned, he joined Will and about 250 other cyclists on Bicitekas’s weekly night ride through the capital, and then headed off into the mountains, where we ran into him not once but twice – in Molango, where he’d been looping the Sierra Alta; and then, totally by chance, in another village way over in the Sierra Gorda. If we’d known we were going to remake his acquaintance, perhaps we wouldn’t have chucked away the shoes he left at the lakeside campsite where we’d first met back in November.
Ciudad de México, Distrito Federal, Mexico | Molango de Escamilla, Hidalgo, Mexico | Cadereyta de Montes, Querétaro de Arteaga, Mexico
14, 20 & 26 January 2015

 


 

Moisés (Mexico)
riding from Oaxaca de Juárez to Mazunte & other nearby beach towns in Mexico
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The first Mexican bike tourist we’d encountered en route, Moisés was also the best dressed: he’d just made the steady 1,300m climb south from Miahuatlán in jeans and loafers, and hadn’t really broken sweat in the process. Although he lives in Mexico City, where he works as an architect, Moisés started his ride in Oaxaca, with a rucksack and camping kit bungee-strapped on to a plank of wood atop a basic rear rack. When we met him, he was a day away from the beach towns on Mexico’s south coast, where he’s planning to idle away Christmas. When he gets there, he might find Ruth – while Will had dragged himself from the sand and surf to ride north to Oaxaca, Ruth had bought herself another couple of days in paradise by resolving to take the bus instead.
San Miguel Suchixtepec, Oaxaca, Mexico
14 December 2014

 


 

Tyler (USA)
riding from Alaska, USA to Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Mexico
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Like Andy and Rob (see below), cheery Tyler’s been making quick progress, but perhaps not quite as quick as he was expecting. As the subtitle of his blog makes plain, he’d planned to end his six-month trip in Panama, but the serpentine path he’s followed has meant that he’s calling it a day close to the Mexico-Guatemala border. His sporty touring bike has helped him make the miles; a good-looking Jamis Aurora Elite, it’s equipped with 700c wheels, slim tyres (just 28mm) and disc brakes. It’ll surely be tough retreating from the beachside idyll of southern Oaxaca, where the three of us traded road stories over a very agreeable dinner, to the famously uncompromising winters in his home state of Minnesota. But a little inclement weather won’t keep Tyler from riding: to cope with the inevitable snow, he’s invested in a fat bike, which should be waiting for him when he arrives home in Mankato two days before Christmas.
San Agustinillo, Oaxaca, Mexico
12 December 2014

 


 

Andy & Rob (UK)
riding around the world
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Dropping towards the Pacific through a forest of wind turbines, we had a glorious, gale-force northerly at our backs. Heading inland, Rob (on the left) and Andy weren’t so lucky, but bore their burdens with a pair of ready grins. Like us, the two brothers started in July 2013, but they’ve been going much faster on their Koga Signature World Travellers (KS-TR 26 frames, Schmidt and Rohloff hubs, Brooks saddles): their odometer was nearing 37,000km, almost 15,000km more than we’d covered in the same time. Their hubs, seat collars and shorts are all neatly colour-coded (Andy red, Rob blue), as is their luggage. And what luggage: they’re carrying the largest loads we’ve seen since we met a rather tired-looking Marcel in Peru. It was a real pleasure to chat with them, and lovely to discover that their enthusiasm for the road and for each other’s company hasn’t diminished after 17 months. They’re riding to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support, the UK’s largest cancer charity, and St Richard’s Hospice, in their home county of Worcestershire. You can donate at their website.
La Ventosa, Oaxaca, Mexico
6 December 2014

 


 

Álvaro, Mario, Óscar, Roberto & Sebastián (Mexico)
riding from Dzitnup to Coatzacoalcos in Mexico
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From left to right, Roberto, Mario, Sebastián, Álvaro and Óscar are quite unlike any cycle tourists we’ve met thus far. They’re riding more than 600km between the tiny Campechana village of Dzitnup and the unheralded port city of Coatzacoalcos on battered bikes, their few possessions stuffed willy-nilly into wooden crates jury-rigged on to makeshift racks. At 28, Álvaro is the oldest; the youngest is Sebastián, a mere 13 years of age. Their journey is more pilgrimage than tour; although their explanations were a little vague, the ride is in some way a devotional act to the Virgin of Guadalupe, perhaps timed to coincide with the Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe in early December. As well as the images on their shirts, each of them is carrying a large framed portrait of the Virgen in their wooden crates, along with various other homemade keepsakes whose significance we didn’t fully understand.
Ruta 180 between Champotón & Sabancuy, Campeche, Mexico
29 November 2014

 


 

Alex (USA) & Tom (Germany/USA)
riding from Seattle, USA to Colombia and possibly beyond
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The north-easterly wind that was blowing us down the Gulf Coast highway one sunny Saturday morning was proving an irritant for Alex and Tom, who were riding straight into its teeth. Shortly before we met, their day had gone from bad to worse when the bolt on Alex’s seat collar snapped. Still, they raised a collective smile when we pulled up to say hello, perhaps because we were the first touring cyclists they’d met in ages. Having ridden down the west coast of the US from their home in Seattle, the couple had then spent six months pottering across Mexico. From here, they’ll be riding around the Yucatán Peninsula, into Belize and on through Central America to Colombia, where they’re planning to decide whether to keep going or call it a day. The 80th and 81st touring cyclists we’ve met on our way around the Americas, Tom and Alex are the ninth and tenth to be riding Surly Long Haul Truckers.
Ruta 180 between Champotón & Sabancuy, Campeche, Mexico
29 November 2014

 


 

Dave & Sarah (UK)
riding from Banff, Canada to San Diego, USA; then from Mérida, Mexico to Santiago, Chile; and then flying to Australia and carrying on from there
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It was touch and go whether we’d have time to visit the ruins at Kabáh on a day that called for 120km in the saddle. As things turned out, we’d have just about managed it – had we not met Dave and Sarah at the entrance. A laconic, immediately likeable pair from the West Country, Dave (a retired police officer) and Sarah (previously a senior NHS nurse) have toured extensively in the past, but this trip qualifies as a biggie by anyone’s standards: the Great Divide off-road route from Canada down through the US; Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula to the Chilean capital of Santiago; and finally, after Australia, possibly riding home from somewhere in the Far East. They’re doing all this on a pair of gorgeous, custom-built Robin Mather tourers, equipped with derailleur gearing, disc brakes and light loads. By the time we’d stopped chatting, 45 minutes had vanished and it was time to get going without giving the ruins the attention they deserved. Our routes diverged just 10km down the road when Dave and Sarah turned off along the Ruta Puuc, but we enjoyed their company immensely. They’re blogging at Iron Man, Donkey and the Duck. (Don’t ask.)
Zona Arqueológica Kabáh, Yucatán, Mexico
25 November 2014

 


 

Benoît (Canada)
riding from Playa del Carmen to Mexico City in Mexico
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Over dinner in Xpujil, Alex and Sandra (see below) had recommended to us the municipal balneario in Bacalar as a lovely place to pitch camp. Québécois rider Benoît had heard the same thing, and had been ensconced at this peaceful lakeside spot for a couple of hours by the time we rolled in. The long-distance travel and short-term contracts that define Benoît’s working life as a project manager for NGOs around the world means he can usually build a one- or two-month cycle tour into each year. On this trip, he’s given himself four weeks to get from the Yucatán Peninsula to Mexico City via Oaxaca, a ride he’s taking on his tried-and-true Kona Caldera. Unusually for a cycle tourist, his luggage has grown rather than shrunk with each passing trip, perhaps a consequence of the capacious Bob trailer in which he carries most of it.
Bacalar, Quintana Roo, Mexico
10 November 2014

 


 

Alejandro & Sandra (Spain/Canada)
riding from Cancún, Mexico to Panamá, Panama
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Building engineers by trade, Alejandro and Sandra moved last year to Calgary in Canada from their home in Spain (Sandra is originally from Asturias, Alejandro from Granada). Having finished one job, the couple decided to escape the Canadian winter by cycling through Central America. As we discovered over a lovely dinner following our chance encounter in the grubby junction town of Xpujil (we didn’t have our camera, which explains the grainy cellphone photo above), they’re taking their time – for cyclists in a rush, the journey from Cancún to Xpujil is rideable in four days, but they’d spent a leisurely month on it. From Xpujil, they’re heading south to San Cristóbal de las Casas and Palenque, back north through Campeche to Mérida, and then south again down the coast road through Belize and into Guatemala. They’re doing so on bikes they’ve built up themselves around Surly Ogre frames, using Shimano dynamo front hubs, disc brakes and the obligatory Brooks saddles. There wasn’t much on their blog when we met, but it was early days.
Xpujil, Campeche, Mexico
8 November 2014

 


 

H (USA) & Leroy (France)
both riding from Mexico to Panama, H from Tijuana and Leroy from San Cristóbal de las Casas
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It’s become – well, not a common sight, but not an unusual one either: two cyclists parked in the main square of a random Latin American town, loaded bikes by their sides, laptop on the nearest flat surface as they vulture whatever free Wi-Fi they can find. That was how we found Leroy (left) and H on our first afternoon in Mexico. H started a while ago in Tijuana – so long ago, in fact, that she’d previously spent two weeks riding with Álvaro, whom we’d met near the Colombia-Ecuador border way back in June. The delaying culprit, as so often for cycle tourists, was Mexico City, where she stopped for eight months before running out of money and heading back home to New Orleans to earn some more. For Leroy, a Frenchman who speaks idiomatic English with an accent picked up during his time living in Leeds, the day we met had been his first day on the bike. The pair are taking their time: they’re planning to ride the Carretera Fronteriza del Sur along the Mexico-Guatemala border before circling the Yucatán Peninsula, heading into Guatemala via Belize and carrying on towards Panama City.
Comitán de Domínguez, Chiapas, Mexico
26 October 2014