January 08, 2007

Friendship Race + Malinalco Archaeological Site + Chalma (Mexico), 07.01.07

Map Navigation: This dynamic Trackmap shows the GPS track (red line) and some geo-referenced photos (red dots) of the cycling tour. Wheel up and wheel down your mouse to zoom in or zoom out the map. Click on any point in the map to center it on that point. Or just drag the map with your mouse. To see the photos, hoover the mouse over the red dots. Click on the photo to go to the picture page.

Photoset Map

Photoset Show

GPS Cycling Data

Distance: 135 Km, Ascent: 2018 m

GPS Track: GPX (MapSource, et al), or KMZ (Google Earth)

Travel Report:

This cycling race started in the main square of the city, the Zocalo of Mexico City, at about 09:15 (altitude. 2240 m). I have no official participants count, but they were a lot ! We took Pino Suárez to head to Tlalpan, all the way south of the city, taking later Periferico in order to arrive to Picacho. Up to this point the pace was calm. But at the arrival to Six Flags, the race was declared open! Man, they were serious cyclists! I couldn't ride at the same speed as them all the climbing. I reckon that there are a lot of far superior cyclists in this races.

So, I continued climbing my way up to the finish line, at my pace, meanwhile riding astonished by the strength and cycling capacity of the rest of the competitors. As this was my first time that I made this route to the Ajusco, I was delighted by the landscapes and vistas that were present along this road. The pavement is in pristine conditions. There are no holes and the lines of the pavement are well painted. Being it my first time on this route, at 3200 m (altitude) I began to feel nervous about the remaining distance and elevation I had to gain in order to arrive at the finish line. We passed a lot of restaurants, camping clubs and recreational valleys, but the Cantimploras Valley (end of the race) continued out of sight.

Finally, the finish line appeared from nowhere, crossing it at the late hour of 12:04, after 48 Km of ride (and 2:50 hr of cycling), at an altitude of 3460 m (and an ascent of 1350 m). There were a lot of participants that had already arrived, but others continued arriving after my arrival. I found my friend Luis Rojas (who had arrived half an hour before) and we took some pictures. There was also a religious service.

I had decided beforehand to continue my touring after the race to the archaeological site of Malinalco, in the neighbouring state of Mexico. So, after an hour of resting, having observed the arrival of the rest of competitors, I continued my travel to Xalatlaco. This road continues the climbing to the border of the state of Mexico at 3620 m. After this summit, I descended all the way to Xalatlaco. After this town I took the road to Chalma, passing Coatepec (2750 m), and heading for the climbing to Santa Martha. In Santa Monica, I took the road to Tezontepec, in order to avoid going to Chalma before arriving at Malinalco. The disadvantage of this route is that it is required to climb almost another 300 m in order to arrive at Tezontepec. After this town, the road is all descent to Malinalco :-)

Once I arrived at Malinalco, I headed immediately to the archaeological site, since this site closes early, due to its big extension. I must comment that this was my third travel to Malinalco, having arrived twice before too late in order to get access to the site. But that Sunday was my lucky day, and I could enter into the archaeological center.

After passing the entrance, it is required to climb 400 steps (65 m) carved in stone in order to arrive at the ancient nahua temples. There are even labels referring to the history and geography of the place along the climbing steps in order to amuse the public and to encourages the visitors to continue all the way up.

When we finally arrive at the top of the ceremonial center, several magnificent ancient building emerged from the top of the hill. Malinalco was the military center that was used by the nahua army (ca. 1476) to make the initiation ceremony of its elite caste of warriors: the eagle and jaguar warriors. On the top of an extraordinary monolithic building called the Cuauhcalli there is a circular room where the heads (sculpted in stone) of an eagle and a jaguar can be seen.

Behind the Cauhcalli stands the Temple IV, which is considered to have been a Tecalli: a place for council meetings. Between both buildings stands the Cuauhtinchan, a pyramid that faces the whole Malinalco Valley, where beautiful vistas can be observed. We have to interrupt our exploration because the guards told us gently that it was time to leave.

On my way to Chalma (where I could take the return bus back home), I took some pictures of the main square of the town of Malinalco (we have been there before). Now, it was 18:06, and I have less than an hour to arrive at Chalma, if I want to take the last bus to Mexico City (19:00). Somehow I managed to arrive at Chalma at 18:50, only to realize that the last bus had already departed! Not desiring to pass another night at Chalma bus station (last visit accommodation), I rode uphill behind the bus, being finally able to catch it up in the town, where a traffic jam helped me to board the bus :-) We arrived safe at Mexico City (Observatorio terminal) at 21:00, using the subway for the last leg of our return travel.

Thank you for reading. Till the next journey!

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