July 30, 2007

Huamango Archaeological Site + Acambay (Mexico). 29.07.07

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

GPS Cycling Data:

Distance: 166 Km, Total Ascent: 1,840 m, Total Descent: 1,575 m, Time: 7:17 hr, Avg. Speed: 22.7 Km/hr, Max Speed: 72.2 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 32 MJ, Power: 306 W.

Travel Report:

This ride started past 07:00 (one hour later than expected). I took the usual route to Toluca (Constituyentes, and later, the Toluca free highway). On my way up to Las Cruces summit, I was lucky enough to find several fellow cyclists riding along the ascent ! As I am already accustomed to ride solo, this companion was a very fortunate coincide for me :-) I could take some photos of them after reaching the summit at 09:00.

After La Marquesa I continued descending towards Lerma and Toluca, where I took the Atlacomulco branch (just where the Tollo God monument stands) at 10:10. I knew that the Huamango Archaeological Site closes on Sundays at 15:00, so had to make few stops (if any) to take photographs along the route. This saddened me a little, as I love taking pictures of the landscapes and important landmarks of the road, but this time, I had no time for such divertimentos. From Toluca, I had less than five hours to reach the site, and the clock was ticking.

Fortunately enough, I had already made the same route (up to Atlacomulco) just a couple of weeks before, when I paid a visit to the Mazahua Ceremonial Center, so, if you are in the mood of having a look at the beautiful landscapes along the route, please check my previous Mazahua CC report.

The road between Toluca, Ixtlahuaca and Atlacomulco is a superb paid highway. It even features a good side lane (plus the two usual automotive traffic lanes). But as I had no time to lose, I decided not to use the side lane (a little bumpier), using instead the right side of the first traffic lane. In this way I could ride a little faster. I had thought that the autos would be honking me for using their lane (existing an available side lane), but to my fortune, the drivers along that highway were always courteous and polite, by-passing me using their left lane ! This was important, since cycling that 60 km ride on the cars lane is always an uneasy ride :-)

The 60 km highway to Atlacomulco is mainly a plain ride. The weather was beautiful: not a strong sun, no rain and no winds: a cyclists dream ! This allowed me reaching Ixtlahuaca at
11:30 and Atlacomulco at 12:50. (My self-imposed limit for reaching Atlacomulco was 13:00).

After stopping a little in Atlacomulco for buying water and some food, I started the required climbing along the road towards Acambay. This climbing consists of two peaks, the first of 200 m and the second of about 100 m, nothing to worry, but I had already started cycling with an eye in the clock.

I stooped once more in Acambay (reached at 14:11) to replenish my water bottle as I knew a good ascent was in front of me: an almost 400 m climbing in 7 km (grade: 5.71 %), with the last leg of the journey (after the site landmark in Dongú Puerto) being a cruel climbing: 150 m of ascent in only 1.5 km: a 10 % grade ! This road has even deep markings on the pavement, in order to avoid autos skidding !

Everything was going right, I passed Dongú, Dongú Puerto, Bovini ... and passing by the site entrance, I continued riding, this time downwards to La Florida, where a police man gave me the bad news: I had already passed the Huamango Site entrance. Man ! I was already 100 m down. So I had to re-climb those 100 m (with the clock against me) and from Dongú Puerto, take now the right path towards the site.

I managed to made those climbs and at 15:10 I could finally reach the Huamango Archaeological Site, situated at an elevation of 2,900 m (GPS coordinates: 19.978985796, -99.864121629).

After 160 Km and 1,850 m of climbing I had arrived ten minutes later ! Man ... but I had to do something. So I talked to the site guardian, whom by an extremely fortunate coincidence, was still at the site, picking some things on his truck. So I told him from where I was cycling, and the purpose of my visit. I politely asked him if, by any chance, he could allow me to enter in the site, just in order to take the compulsory photographs. After some tries, he acceded .. and I could finally enter in the site !

More than happy I roamed a little across the site, taking some pictures of the incredible beautiful Otomian buildings. Those buildings included a Palace, a Warrior Temple (with a christian cross at its top) and an Adoratorium. There are even still some vestiges of the stone wall that once protected the ancient city.

The guard had allowed me only a limited amount of time to visit the site, so I could not make a more detailed tour. I just could have a look at its more imposing features. But they were anyway imposing enough to stunne me. Besides, the whole site is covered with a beautiful green grass carpet :-)

After finishing my visit, I started a slalom descent (400 m in 5 km) towards Acambay, where I had planned a visit to its center and man square. But, the weather had thought otherwise, since as soon as I entered in Acambay, a cold diluvial rain (hail inluded) started to fall ... Man, is good to be in town when one of those rains starts to fall !

I waited for half an hour, hoping the rain would soon disappear and let me make my visit to the town's main square, but after waiting almost an hour, with the rain showing no signs of weaning, I decided to take the bus to Mexico City.

I had previously planned cycling back towards Atlacomulco at least, since I had plenty of time in this ride, but no one with a healthy mind was not going to ride under hail, if he could avoid it :-) So I left this time the rain for the next occasion and, for a 85 pesos fare, I boarded the 18:00 direct bus, from Acambay to Mexico City, which promptly (after 2.5 hours) delivered me to home's safety :-)

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.

July 23, 2007

Tepapayeca Archaeological Site + Izucar de Matamoros (Puebla), 22.07.07

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

GPS Cycling Data:

Distance: 210 Km, Total Ascent: 1,600 m, Total Descent: 2,470 m, Time: 8:56 hr, Avg. Speed: 23.5 Km/hr, Max Speed: 62.7 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 35.76 MJ, Power: 280 W.

Travel Report:

This ride started at the very late hour of 08:45. From Mexico City center I took Zaragoza Avenue, and later the Puebla free highway, up to Ixtapaluca. From here I branched out to the Puebla toll highway. I cycled along it up to the Amecameca deviation (just before the Huixtoco toll station) and took the Chalco branch.

After reaching Tlalmanalco, I continued towards Amecameca. But I did not enter in town, as I preferred to take the bypass in order to save time. Riding south I reached soon the town of Tepetlixpa, last point before the descent towards Cuautla starts. Just before arriving in Tepetlixpa, the deviation towards Ozumba can be found in the corner of a gas station.

In Ozumba I paid a visit to the local market, a lively and colourful market place where I could purchase fresh fruit and a new litre of isotonic drink. The beauty of that place is remarkable. You can get a glimpse of this atmosphere in the photoset. I did also pay a short visit to its magnificent Church. Beautiful town indeed !

A little later down the road, the Atlaula town can be found. This is the last big town before Tetela del Volcán. So, if you need to buy food or water, please do it there. After Atlaula, a hilly criss-cross road starts. There were ominous signs of the previous day rainfall along the road. Fallen enormous trees, fallen big stones over the pavement, rivers crossing the road ... hair rising road conditions, indeed ! Along this road, I crossed the small towns of Tecomaxusco, Ecatzingo, Ocoxaltepec and Tlalmimilulpan. Each one of those curious small towns consists of no more than 20 houses scattered along the road, with no visible shops.

At my arrival at Tetela del Volcán, I was lucky enough to be present when a 15-year party was abandoning the church. There were lots of people, cheering and saluting the celebrated teenager. A northern (here ? in Tetela ?) music band was playing. The girl fancied a beautiful violet-white dress, with a big flower ensemble. She was being escorted by six young chaps, all dressed in black smart suits. Interesting arrangement, if you mind.

The purpose of my visit to Tetela del Volcán had been to observe the impressive vistas of the Popocatepetl volcano that this town is known to offer. Unfortunately, that day (and the day before) had been of a very pluvious nature, so those precious vistas were absent the day I were there, being replaced by an ominous white cloud that blocked the volcano view. Maybe next time I could have better luck.

At my exit of Tetela, I made a mistake that costed me 20 km of cycling. I asked for directions in town, and the locals directed me towards Cuautla, in spite of me having in the GPS the route marked directly towards Amayuca. Usually, I do prefer to follow the information given by the locals, over the route I have stored in my GPS, since the information received by the locals is usually better (owed to the fact that they actually live in the place). But this time, for an unknown reason, the locals directed me to Cuautla, and I forgot to check my route in the GPS. Obviously that was a mistake on my side, since I must always check both my path and the route of the GPS. But this time I forgot to enforce the proceeding. End result ? Cycling down towards Cuautla, instead of Amayuca, losing 20 km (and associated time). Man, I do promise to always check my course in the GPS !

From Cuautla, I cycled south-east direction, towards Izucar de Matamoros. On my path I crossed the towns of Tlayecac, Amayuca (where I could have a look at the impressive mountains that guard the Olmec Chalcatzingo Archaeological Site) and finally Tepexco, this last town already in the state of Puebla.

In Tepexco I purchased water and food, since this is the last town before the small sierra (range of mountains) that forms the geographical boundary between Morelos and Puebla starts. After crossing the towns of Calmeca and Rijo, I found finally Agua Dulce, a small house gathering, where the Tlapanala deviation stands. Five kilometers along this road I finally arrived at the Tepapayeca Archaeological Site, at 20:00 !

But alas ! It had already been closed ! Something fully comprehensive since the site closes at 18:00. But asking the locals I was directed towards the responsible of the site: Don Teófilo Hernández. So I went to his house and asked him I he could give me the chance of getting inside the site a few minutes, just to take the compulsory photographs. Up to my big surprise, he accepted and escorted me to the site ! My luck does not abandon me :-) Once inside, the guide insisted in escalating the pyramid, something I was less than convinced, since I was wearing only my carbon-fiber SPD shoes, and also owed to the fact that we had to make that ascent in the complete absence of light. But anyway: orders are orders ... and we climbed the pyramid, only to find a jewel on the top of it: the ruins of a christian chapel at the top of the ancient pre-hispanic pyramid.

Don Teófilo Hernández told me that those chapel ruins compose what is left of an intent of the spanish to erect a christian church over the pre-hispanic and pagan (in their eyes) pyramid. It was only the War of Independence (1810 - 1821) that avoided they had their way, interrupting the chapel construction. The building remnants is what is left of that unfortunate purpose.

Once finished the visit to the archaeological site. I had the tricky task of arriving cycling in Izucar (a 7 km ride), under the cover of the no-moon night, safely. In fact, this was easier said than made, but some how I managed to arrive in Izúcar at 21:30, in one piece.

I had already missed the last bus to Mexico City, which departed from the Sur bus terminal at 20:00. The next bus was an en-route bus that came from Tlapa (in the southern state of Guerrero). This bus pass at 01:30, in the outskirts of the city (1 km from the center). So I decided to roam across town meanwhile, taking photos of the Cathedral, Municipal Palace, the Red House and other Main Square buildings. To my surprise, the local market was still open, so I had the opportunity of palating the cocido, a local dish composed of meat, just like a barbecue, but obtained from cow meat (instead of ram), and at only 80 pesos per kg: a real bargain !

After that delicious delicacy, I continued roaming the center of the town, noting that up to midnight, the center of the town resembled like midday: lots of people walking and talking in the park, as if the next day were Sunday, and not Monday. Lots of people in the streets at midnight, just walking, chatting or laughing. Man, this was a curious town.

At 01:00 I abandoned my position at the Izucar Zocalo and cycled towards the bus stop, waiting for the Tlapa bus, in Mexico City direction. It arrived punctually at 01:30, and for 85 pesos (plus a 15 pesos unofficial fare for the bicycle, but anyway: who is going to argue at this hour ?), I could board the bus that would take me back home, arriving in Mexico City at 04:30. From the TAPO bus station, a 15-minutes ride and I was again back at home's safety, where a couple of sleep hours awaited for me, at last ! :-)

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.

July 17, 2007

Mazahua Ceremonial Center (Mexico), 15.07.07

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

GPS Cycling Data:

Distance: 230 Km, Total Ascent: 2,360 m, Total Descent: 1,971 m, Time: 10:21 hr, Avg. Speed: 22.2 Km/hr, Max Speed: 73.1 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 42 MJ, Power: 282 W.

Travel Report:

At 08:30 (I know, too late), I started this ride towards the Huamango Archaeological Site, in the northern extreme of the Mexico State. I took, as usual Constituyentes Avenue (just 4.7 Km from home), in order to have access to the free Toluca Highway, reaching the Tres Cruces summit (elev: 3,200 m) 1:45 hr later. From here comes a fast descent to Lerma (2600 m), and then a gentle slope towards Toluca, capital of the Mexico State.

At the Tollo God Monument, I took the Atlacomulco branch. After this beautiful bypass, I entered in the toll Atlacomulco highway, a superbly pavemented road linking those important cities: Toluca and Atlacomulco. The highway is full of impressive vistas, and, in spite of the late hour, I could found two more fellow cyclists along the road. The terrain of the road towards the city of Ixtlahuaca is painfully plain, honouring the Ixtlahuaca name, nahuatl for In the Plains.

Between both toll stations I could have a look at the Pasteje Hacienda entrance. This Hacienda, now a site of the IUSA industrial complex, is also a famed bull (and horse) breeding ranch.

At my arrival at Atlacomulco, I had to re-check my possibilities. Although my stated goal for this cycling ride was to reach the Huamango Archaeological Site (25 km north of Atlacomulco, after passing Acambay), this site closes at 15:00 on Sundays ... and it was already 14:05 ! That was the moment I cursed myself for starting the ride almost three hours later than intended :-(

So I had to re-think my route. I decided then to visit instead the Mazahua Ceremonial Center ! I had already heard something about this ceremonial center. That it was the Mazahua equivalent of the Otomi Ceremonial Center, also in the Mexico State (both built by ex state governor Jiménez Cantú, in the 70's), but I had not the faintest clue about how to arrive at it ! That is the problem that aroses when you make changes along the route. But I had at least the old and proven method of navigation by asking ... Just ask the locals :-) You know: asking for directions can lead you to Rome.

So, after asking some locals in the way, I took the Atlacomulco bypass, and then ride back to the south, in order to reach a town named San Felipe del Progreso (picturesque name, if any). From there, I continued my way to San Agustin Mextepec, and then, leaving behind those plains I had started to love, a new ascent started: the climbing towards San Pedro el Alto.

The visit to San Pedro el Alto paid by itself all the hardships of the travel. Its Church is beautiful, but the lucky point was a religious pilgrimage made by the inhabitants of the surrounding of San Pedro el Alto to the church, carrying a full-size image of the Carmen Virgin (the one with a kid on her arms) across all the quarters of the surrounding towns.

I found the procession at my exit of San Pedro el Alto, and they were already coming from uphills. I did not get their starting point, but it must be really uphills. The procession was entirely composed of women, as just women seemed to be allowed to carry the religious images and flags. Those women were fully dressed in a yellow (and sometimes blue) ceremonial dress, complete with a special hat, and each of them carried a small religious image on their dresses. I should mention that I found quite beautiful those yellow dresses.

Once the vividly coloured procession had passed my position, it stopped in front of a house and the owner of that house kneeled down in front of the Carmen Virgin image ... and started to pray to it, on the street ! I was 15 meters away from that meeting, when a man directing the procession invited me to get into the meeting and continuing taking photos ! He also instructed the people to make me a little spare room in the middle of the meeting, in front of the Virgin image. An best of all, he told the people: This is our culture ! That was my lucky day :-) I really do suggest you to have a look of the photos of this religious procession at the Photoshow link.

Once the procession moved on, I continued my way uphills, towards San Jerónimo Navati and Santa Ana Nichi. As you can see, the names of those towns are no more in nahuatl laguage, but instead in Mazahua language, so that meant I was nearing the destination of my ride :-) Just before the Santa Ana Nichi deviation, I took the branch that would take me directly to the Mazahua Ceremonial Center, located at al elevation of almost 2900 m (GPS coordinates: 19.573214594, -99.960342441).

Once there, I was lucky enough to be granted the entrance (after paying a 12 pesos fare). This Mazahua Ceremonial Center is not as impressive as the Otomi Ceremonial Center (being it certainly not as extensive as the Otomi), but it certainly has its own dignity. It has three buildings that resemble big huts (they house the Museum and Exhibits Collection). In front of the buildings stands a stoned plaza, with stone-made stairways. The Museum had already closed, but I managed my way for taking photos of some Museum exhibits ... across its big glass windows :-) Once I roamed a little bit across the site, I decided to leave, as rain was looming.

At the Mazahua CC exit, I was confronted with the big question: How do I get out from here ? Having not planned this route beforehand, I did not know which way did I have to take in order to arrive back at home. I asked a local woman (just at the Mazahua CC exit) and she presented me two options: one was to remake my path towards Ixtlahuaca, and then ride the toll highway to Toluca. The other option was to continue cycling uphills towards a town named Yebucivi, and then descend to the highway to Toluca (I intended to take the bus back to Mexico City from Toluca). She made me clear that getting back to Ixtlahuaca was far more harder since there were a lot more climbings along that road. So, I choosed to continue my upward road towards Yebucivi and Toluca. It was a completely unknown route to me, but, at the end of the day, it proofed itself as the most reliable way to arrive at Toluca.

15 km later, I arrived at the highest point in the route: Yebucivi (elev: 3000 m), a Mazahua town lost in the top of the hills. I must comment that on my ride on those heights, I did always find towns and people, in spite of the height and apparent solitude. It seemed to me that those towns were in place since hundreds of years, and that its people just liked them so much, that abandoning their hometown was just an unthoughtful action.

After Yebucivi comes a steep descent towards San Joaquin del Monte, at the junction with the 15 federal highway to Toluca. At least in the civilization ! But from here I still had 45 km to go, with rain, and darkness looming, as it was already 20:10 ! The great advantage was that the strong descents were already behind me. Under the cover of the rain I cycled my way towards San Miguel Almoloya and San Luis Mextepec, riding also under full cover of the night. The weather conditions (rain + night) were so dangerous, that a SUV driver stopped along the highway and offered me a lift ... invitation which I politely declined, just because I was sure I could finish this ride without motorized help :-) Talk about nonsense ! But anyway, I would like to thank the SUV driver for his offer.

At the end of the highway, I found an Oxxo shop (best cyclist's friend) where I could purchase chocolate bars and a big Moka coffee, which enabled me regain my body heat, previously lost in the rain. A little later, I arrived at the Toluca Center at 22:10, where I was lucky enough to take a couple of nocturnal shots of the Cathedral and Government Palace. After that I cycled my way towards the bus station in order to take the bus back home (last bus to Mexico City departs at 22:30, fare: 34 pesos).

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.

July 09, 2007

Tejupilco (Mexico), 08.07.07

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

GPS Cycling Data:

Distance: 188 Km, Total Ascent: 2,228 m, Total Descent: 3,068 m, Time: 8:16 hr, Avg. Speed: 22.4 Km/hr, Max Speed: 76.4 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 35.56 MJ, Power: 300 W.

Travel Report:

Upsss, I did it again ! Another cycling ride that starts at the early hour of 07:30 ! We are again back on the right track :-), although still an hour and half later than intended ...

This ride had the stated purpose of arriving at the San Miguel Ixtapa Archaeological Site, but as we will later discover, it proofed impossible to make the visit to the site on Sunday, and get back to Mexico City in the same day

I took Constituyentes Avenue (less than 5 km from home) in order to exit Mexico City and gain access to the free Toluca highway. This is an interesting ascent of 1,000 m up to the Tres Cruces summit (alt: 3,220 m) in 25 km (4 % grade), where I arrived at 09:20. From here comes a descent all the way to La Marquesa and Lerma, from where a gentle slope took me up to the state capital: Toluca.

I couldn't pay a visit to the Toluca center, as I took instead the highway to Temazcaltepec (Pacifico Avenue), in order to save time ... and started the second summit of the day: the ascent to Buenavista.

This road climbs up to a pass between La Calera and San Antonio mountains, reaching a higher altitude than Tres Cruces at 3,300 m. And the climbing is hard, as it is also a long way, from Toluca to the Buenavista summit. But the landscapes are superb ! You are riding near the Xinantecatl (Nevado de Toluca), an impressive broad volcano. As the sky was clear (owed to the previous night rainfall), the vistas of the volcano left me speechless. Man, it is great to ride early and have a clear sky ! I would recommend you a visit to these superb panoramic views at the Photoset Show link, above posted.

From this second summit, comes a slalom descent all the way down to Temazcaltepec (alt: 1,700 m). It is a 1,600 m descent in 45 km (3.5 % grade) ! Temazcaltepec is a picturesque town lost in the sierra, with beautiful roofs made of teja (red colored curved bricks) ... and weather more akin to tropical states like Tabasco or Guerrero. Really, once in Temazcaltepec, you could feel the hot and humidity that is usually found in southern Mexican states, but alas ! I had not get out still of the Mexico state :-) I could even say that the people also started to resemble more akin to the tropical towns in Mexico, meaning with that that they were becoming friendlier and happier than its northern neighbours. Needless to say, Temazcaltepec has no problem at all with water: they have lots of it.

From Temazcaltepec to Tejupilco the road is a sierra-crosser, as I had to climb two summits more, albeit less higher. The highway between this two towns is in pristine conditions. I imagine it has just been re-pavemented, or it is being expanded to a 4-lane highway. Besides, the vistas along the highway are wonderful: you can admire the magnificence of the sierra that was just being crossed. Lots of vegetation, hills, mountains, and a beautiful silence.

Once I crossed those small summits, a descent comes, which enabled me to arrive at Tejupilco at 16:00. Tejupilco is a beautiful town like no other one. Its Cathedral, Main Square, Market and Municipal Palace are so loaded with tradition, that you could swear you were standing in a town of a century ago. It looks so old, yet in a very sustained condition, that it gives the illusion of being aboard a time machine. I loved this town ! I roamed a bit around the Main Square, just admiring the beauty and tradition of its main buildings. What I liked most was its Cathedral, all in white painted, and located at the top of what appeared to me as a hill. It is accessed by stairs. The whole Main Square of Tejupilco made me ask myself if, by any chance, Macondo (the eternal town in One Hundred Years of Solitude) would be a lot different from what I had in front of my eyes. I was waiting (just half-hearted) to see appearing from the corner to Jose Arcadio Buendía :-)

But the show must go on, and I had to take a decision whether continuing or not the trip to San Miguel Ixtapa. Problem was: the archaeological site had closed 1 hour ago (really, that site closes at 15:00 on Sundays !), and there were no buses taking me back from Ixtapa to Tejupilco (being it a 400 m ascent), and the last bus to Mexico City departed at 19:00. If I went to Ixtapa, just to know the town, I would not be able to climb the last ascent back and be in Tejupilco before the last bus to Mexico City departed. So I decided not to go to Ixtapa, leaving that visit to the next occasion I come to Tejupilco. Instead I choosed to roam around town, visiting for example the road to La Estancia Ixtapa, just before the descent road to San Miguel. I also looked for the house were Miguel Hidalgo, the founding father of Mexico, was born, but up to my dismay, not even the police was able to tell me were in hell the house was located !

At 19:00 I reached the bus central, and tried to take the bus, but ... the bus had no big luggage boxes, and I was not able to load my bicycle. I had to wait for the next bus (that came from Altamirano City, Guerrero, at 19:30, fare: 80 pesos) in front of the Church, but again, no big luggage boxes. But this time I was in no mood for waiting for the next (if any) bus, so I had to take off the frontal wheel and ... voila, here we go in the bus :-)

The return bus trip back home took nearly 4 hours, arriving at Observatorio Terminal at 23:00. A short subway trip and I was finally back at home's safety.

Final thougths: Tejupilco represents the first leg of a three day cycling touring from Mexico City to the coastal fishing town of Zihuatanejo, Guerrero (old nahua Cihuatlan: Place of Women), target of a cycling ride that I have already in mind. The second leg is Altamirano City, in the southern state of Guerrero. So, simply stated, stay tuned ... :-)

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.

July 02, 2007

Tula Archaeological Site (Hidalgo). 01.07.07

Photoset Map

Photoset Show

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

GPS Cycling Data:

Distance: 152 Km, Total Ascent: 975 m, Time: 7:23 hr, Avg. Speed: 20.5 Km/hr, Max Speed: 51.8 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 31.51 MJ, Power: 300 W.

Travel Report:

Cycling from the center of Mexico City, I reached the center of Tlalnepantla at 08:20, rendezvous point with the fellow cyclist: Michaela Lochova, a determined touring cyclist from the Chezc Republic. Let me state that she was able to cycle the whole round trip, from Mexico City to the toltec Tula Archaeological Site (and back to Mexico City), without stating a single complaint, fierce desert sun and dilluvial rain notwhistanding.

We took the road to Cuautitlan, via the free highway, since It had been previously agreed to use as few high traffic highways as possible. We continued up to the Tepotzotlan deviation, but we took instead the road to Coyotepec, a beautiful town which I had always passed by the paid highway to Queretaro, without having entering in it once. I had now the opportunity to know its beautiful Cathedral and Convent, so we made a little stop at that location.

In order to arrive at Jorobas, we took a secondary road that circles the hill after Coyotepec. The road conditions were one of the worst I had ever seen. In fact, this road was closed to the traffic, as it was under maintenance. Some parts of this road had no asphalted carpet at all, as it had been removed to put another, I guess. So the floor of this road was sometimes plain ground. And as the previous night had been one of thundering storm, you can imagine the quantity of mud that covered this road.

Well, it was in this road that I broke my Dura-Ace chain ... just at our arrival at Jorobas. At least I broke it in a town ! Unfortunately, the only mechanic that was in town was an automotive one, and he was unable to fix the chain, as he lacked the right tools for the job. From here we weighted our choices, and decided to take a bus to Tula (via Tepeji del Rio), where I hoped I could find some bicycle mechanic.

At the arrival at Tula, and aided by the directions given by a fellow cyclist, in 5 minutes I had found a cycling repair shop, and in less than 3 minutes, my chain was fixed. Alas ! The wonders of civilization ! From here we could continue cycling to the nearby Tula Achaeological Site, arriving at the site at 12:45.

The site is really impressive. It houses several buildings: three pyramids, a whole palace, an immense ball game court, a tzomplantli (skulls wall) and also: two museums ! I think that the best way to describe you the site is to show you the photos I obtained there. You can have a look at them in the photoset show link posted above.

We roamed through the complete site. Some of the visited buildings were: the Burned Palace, Pyramids B and C, Ball Game Court, and of course, both museums. Of particular interest were the two museums of the site. Each one of these houses an impressive collection of
archaeological findings. Stone sculptures representing Chaac-Mol and Tlaloc (rain gods), atlantes (toltec warriors), reliefs, ceremonial pottery, stone stellaes, ceremonial flag carriers, etc.

Once the visit to the site was concluded, we started cycling the return leg of our journey. It was 15:00, and the sun was at its hottest point. At the exit of Tula we bought water bottles, as in front of us rested 40 km of desert, as we had decided to take the Refinery road, which drives back to Jorobas, crossing mountains in the midst of the desert, with barely a town along its route.

The desert has always been something that fascinates me. Its profound silence, its climatic hardness, its endless landscapes. I think I have started to love the desert, having previously disliked it a lot. But sometimes I believe to find poetry in its hardships.

At our arrival back at Jorobas we took a rest there, and enjoyed the town's speciality: ram barbecue. Not being great fans of eating lots of meat (neither Michaela or me), but being it the only available food in town, I think we could learn to appreciate the dish :-)

Resuming the ride, we took the paid highway to Mexico City (in order to save time), and branched out of it at Cuautitlán, where we paid a visit to its beautiful Cathedral and Convent. Taking the free highway to Mexico from there, we rode to Tlalnepantla, but at La Quebrada, the sky started to fall in pieces. What a rain, man ! And, worst of it: it didn't stop raining the whole night. From La Quebrada to Satellite City, we cycled an hour under a fierce rain. Well, it had rained so much that water was felling down from the elevated bridges along the route, fabricating occasional immense urban waterfalls, some of them felling above us.

Michaela and I parted ways in Satellite City, from where I resumed my way back home with a 50 min, 20 km long ride to Mexico City center under a dilluvial rain, arriving back at the safety of home at 20:45. All I can say is that this ride, performed under inclement weather conditions (heat and rain) was one of those rides that makes you remember why you are a cyclist: to challenge the elements ! :-)

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.