August 14, 2007

Jonacatepec Las Pilas Archaeological Site + Cuautla (Morelos), 12.08.07

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: 155 Km, Total Ascent: 822 m, Total Descent: 1,633 m, Time: 05:44:12 hr, Avg. Speed: 26.60 Km/hr, Max Speed: 64.70 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 23.47 MJ, Power: 284 W.

Travel Report:

This ride started at the very late hour of 10:00 (sadly). I guess that as I knew beforehand that this particular ride was not going to be one of extraordinary difficulty, I subconsciously decided to start it late. Well, that momentarily suited to me, as I had a previous hard Saturday, being able to go to sleep only at 02:00 on Sunday :-(

The purpose of this ride was to visit the Las Pilas Archaeological Site, in the town of Jonacatepec, in the southern state of Morelos. Jonacatepec is located 30 km south-east of Cuautla. So I had first to arrive in Cuautla. I decided to take to least-effort path from Mexico City: cycling first towards Amecameca, and from there, descending to Cuautla. The other route involves first arriving at Cuernavaca (Morelos capital), and from there riding again to Cuautla. But the route to Amecameca only involves a light ascent to 2,550 m (in Amecameca) from the 2,250 of Mexico City level. In contrast, to arrive at Cuernavaca, La Cima summit (3,000 m) must be reached first. So, the route selection was a no-brainer, although in the past I had once taken the Cuernavaca path, since I didn't know about the Amecameca route.

To reach Amecameca there also (at least) two routes. One involves crossing the south-east sector of Mexico City, reaching Tlahuac, and from there exiting the city in Amecameca direction. This is a picturesque route, since a lot of interesting city neighbourhoods are visited, being them one of the most intriguing quarters inhabited by the indigenous population of Mexico City. But this route has also the disadvantage of being too slow, since it comprises cycling along the usual city inter-quarters streets, with stop lights and traffic-negotiating corners. The other route involves arriving in Amecameca using the paid Puebla highway. This route is much less glamorous, since it only features a big and wide inter-state highway, and the associated landscapes which can be appreciated along the route ... but it is fast. No traffic lights, no corners to be worried about its traffic ... and no topes (asphalt protuberances on the road's asphalt carpet, built to deliberately slow down the traffic, in order to protect the pedestrians from speeding cars).

I took then the Zaragoza Avenue, in order to exit from Mexico City center to the toll Puebla highway. Fortunately, the gigantic traffic jam (owed to the construction of a big traffic distributor) that is usually in the place where both the free and toll Puebla highways diverge was not present at this time. I hope I had the same luck in my fore coming rides towards Puebla. This time I took the toll highway, since the Amecameca highway starts just before the Huixtoco toll station, along the Puebla toll highway.

Just at beginning of the toll highway, at Km 18, a 2 % slope opens the welcome, it is just an 80 m climb, but there was where I could reach some cyclists that were riding before me. Once again, I could ride with companion, although merely momentarily. A cyclist and me were trying to outdo the other, with this little race lasting up to the Huixtoco toll station (km 33), beating me in the last 500 meters or so. But anyway, it was a hell of fun riding against a fellow cyclist :-)

At the Huixtoco toll station I branched out of the Puebla highway, entering in the Chalco highway. The road to Chalco is a plain one, since Chalco was once a lacustre region, up to not much time ago. Fun starts at the Chalco exit, passing Tlapala, with a moderate ascent towards Tlalmanalco (2,400 m)n and later on the road to Amecameca, where a small summit of 2,550 m must be reached before descending to Amecameca (2,450 m). But heck, that was all the ascent I had to do in order to arrive in Cuautla, since from Amecameca there is only descent towards Cuautla.

In Amecameca (where I arrived after 2 hours of cycling) I took the by-pass to circumnavigate the city. I always choose the by-pass (if available), since they avoid me the ungrateful task of slowing me down passing by the center of a town I had already visited. But when the center of a town is located along the highway, I try not to lose the opportunity to pay a short visit to its main square.

Along the route, I reached Tepetlixpa, last town before the real descent towards Cuautla starts. It is a very commercial town, very apt for cliche-filling tourists. A lot of restaurants along both sides of the road offering cecina, a sort of dried and salt cooked cow meat, a really recurrent dish on that region. It seemed to me that the most appreciated cecina comes from Yecapixtla, a town in the neighbourhood. Why from Yecapixtla ? I really don't know (neither care).

I descended then from Tepetlixpa (2,333 m) to Nepantla (2.056 m) where Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was born in 1651. Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz was the best writer of her time. She was also a nun and a poet. I curse myself for not stopping in Nepantla in my route to Cuautla, but honestly, I was unaware of the fact that I was passing by Nepantla along the descent. I promise next time I remake the route towards Cuautla (hopefully, in two weeks time), pay a much obliged visit to the town that saw birth the tenth muse, America's phoenix.

I arrived at the Cuautla entrance just before 14:00. There is an impressive welcoming arch at the entrance of the city, decorated with a mural depicting Morelos and Zapata, both national heroes of Mexico. Morelos was the chief architecture of the Independence War (1810-1821) after Hidalgo hanging by the spanish, and Zapata was the leader of the southern Revolution War (1910-1921), assassinated by orders of fellow revolutionary Carranza. Sad history, indeed.

After buying water at Cuautla entrance, I took the by-pass in order to avoid the havoc of traffic in the city center. After 7 km of by-pass, I could finally enter in the Izúcar de Matamoros (Puebla) highway. This road is a well pavemented, clearly marked road, decorated with stunning vistas alongside: a cyclist paradise, albeit full of up and down-hill swings. After 16 km, having passed by the towns of Tlayecac, I reached Amayuca, where the Jonacatepec deviation stands. From Amayuca, it's only a 3.5 km down road what was left to me before finally reaching the Las Pilas sites, arriving there at 15:40.

Las Pilas archaeological site (which has been inhabited since 1,000 BC) is unique is some interesting way: it is the only site (up to my knowledge) that is housed in a swimming pool recreation center ! Really ! In fact, I was just hoping that I would have to pay to 30 pesos required by the swimming pool administration (although on Sundays, there is no fee for the archaeological sites), but no. The door that gives access to the archaeological site is a different one, being it run by the INAH (National archaeology sites administration). Curiously, both doors (swimming pool and INAH) gave access to the same track :-) Man ...

Once being admited, the track that leads to the site passes by the pools :-) I guess that you could just jump into the water, if you were inclined to do (and avoid paying the fee), but I had no time for such divertimentos, unfortunately, as I had a mission to run: the visit to the site :-)

The Las Pilas site is not a gigantic site like others (Cholula or Xochicalco, just for mentioning some), being rather one of modest dimensions. But it is interesting in its own way, as the site features channels, as a unique water collecting system. In fact, must of the pyramids and temples in the region are associated with the water cult, which had its main religious deity in Tlaloc (rain god). The main function of those channels was to collect the water that came of the water springs, drive it to a central register box, and from there, conduct the water towards a big receptor located in the South-west bound of the plaza. From here water was diverged towards the population centers and agricultural fields. In fact, those channels (and associated water cult) were so important to the population, that some of the out-of-use channels were used to perform ceremonial burials. In those burials, the people was earthed in the channels in special positions, like the Lotus, accompanied by religious artifacts, as the small statuettes (Tepictocton) representing the Tlaloques: Tlaloc helpers. Aside from the engineering feats of this site, it was a beautiful place to be. The green grass put an idyllic touch to the scene, along the delicately modulated slopes of the hills that built the site.

Once finished the visit, I proceeded to visit the downtown, where a beautiful yet abandoned Augustine St. August Ex-Convent can be appreciated in all its past glory. It certainly give its viewers an impossible feeling of melancholy. You can have a look at it in the photoset.

It was time now for the return leg of the journey, although merely to Cuautla. I rode back towards Amayuca (a gentle uphill slope), where I could buy a much needed water replacement, since those places are really hot indeed, and the sun had been the Highness it is accustomed to be, with no rain or even clouds that interfere with its power. From Amayuca I cycled back towards Cuautla, reaching its downtown at 18:30.

The Cuautla's downtown was absurdly full of people ! More people per square meter than in the Mexico City Zocalo ! I asked a local if there was some festivity in town, just to explain myself the cause of so much people, and he told me that no special fiesta was hold on that Sunday, It was just that every Sunday was the same. There was a Danzón public ball between the kiosk and the municipal palace. A lot of elder people were taking part. It was an interesting show to witness. After taking some pictures of the beautiful and imposing Cathedral, I decided to return to Mexico City.

At 19:30 I took the Estrella Roja bus (74 pesos fare), which, owing to the rainful weather conditions along the highway, a trip that is usually made in 2:30 hours, this time was accomplished in 5 hours ! Arriving in Mexico City at 00:30, there was no more Metro (subway, closes at 00:00) to take this time to arrive home, so a modest ride from the South Bus Terminal (in Taxqueña) to the center of the city was all that was required to arrive back at home's safety :-)

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.


Nigel Bird said...

Wow, what a ride. Is that an active volcano in the satellite shot right of the route?

looks like fun


Erasmo Perez said...

Yes, that volcano (the Popocatepetl) is still active, although dormant nowdays :-)

Thank you for your visit

Charlie said...

Great ride. If you ever get to Mazatlan you are welcome to crash with me.
Charlie McKenna

Erasmo Perez said...

Thank you Charlie for your offer :-)

I will think about it when I visit Mazatlán next time (had been there a while ago and found it precious)


Anonymous said...

Erasmo: Siempre muy interesantes tus relatos de las excursiones, y las fotos por supuesto.

Me llama la atención que incluyes la potencia en watts del recorrido, además de los otros datos de distancia, altimetría, etc. ¿Cómo la calculas?


Fausto García

Hollito said...

Have not been here for a few weeks, so now I am happy I can find new cycling reports here.
As always, very interesting and nicely written. Thank you.

Erasmo Perez said...

@ Abuelo Fausto:

Potencia = Trabajo / Tiempo

El trabajo lo obtengo de mi GPS Forerunner 205, el cual me da el consumo calórico de la rodada, Sólo requiero convertir las Kcalorias a Joules (1 cal = 4.184 J).

El tiempo efectivo de rodada (eliminando las pausas) también me lo da el GPS Forerunner.

Con estos 2 datos (trabajo y tiempo) obtengo el total de la potencia invertida.

Sin embargo, no toda la potencia invertida por el ciclista se va al tren motriz de la bicicleta (cadena). Se estima (1) una eficiencia del 25 %

Por tanto, a la potencia dada por el GPS hay que multiplicarla por 0.25 para obtener la potencia invertida en el tren motriz de la bicicleta.

Si aún no me expliqué, comentámelo por favor.