August 07, 2007

Tepexi de Rodriguez + Tecali de Herrera (Puebla), 05.08.07

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: 228 Km, Total Ascent: 2,056 m, Total Descent: 2,469 m, Time: 9:43 hr, Avg. Speed: 23.4 Km/hr, Max Speed: 64 Km/hr, Energy Expended: 39.12 MJ, Power: 280 W.

Travel Report:

Alas ! At last, a ride that starts early ! At 05:55 I was already taking the first picture of the journey. This means that at 06:00 I was already cycling towards my destination: the Tepexi el Viejo Archaeological Site, in the eastern state of Puebla.

From my house (near Mexico City center) I took Fray Servando Av., in order to gain access to Ignacio Zaragoza Av., a very long avenue that drives directly to both (free and toll) Puebla highways. I choosed to take the free highway, reaching the start of the Puebla free highway (and the end of the urban zone) at 07:15. According to this timetable, I could start the next time the ride half an hour before, at 05:30, since at 06:45 there is already sunlight on the road.

The landscapes along the route at that early hour, just when the sun has still not risen, were breath taking. It was almost phantasmal the combination of light in the sky and darkness on the mountains. The sun behind the mountains gave a strong contrast between day and shadows. It is maybe because I am not really accustomed to get up before the sun that those landscapes seemed strangely alien for me, just as if I were in another planet :-) You can have a glimpse of those precious vistas at the photoset show.

From Mexico City level (2,240 m) I continued the ascent to Avila Camacho (elev: 2,900 m), and later, up to the Llano Grande summit (elev: 3,200 m). On my way up to the summit, I was blessed with the companion of several fellow cyclists, die-hard ones. They were climbing this summit with one-speed bicycles ! You have to have legs if you want to climb this 1,000 m ascent along just 20 km (grade: 5 %) with just one gear ! And I have still to say that I was overrun by some of those formidable cyclists (but not by all).

A fellow cyclist and me reached the Llano Grande summit at 09:00, from where a steep descent drove me to Rio Frio, and after the Potrero Bridge, also to Santa Rita Tlahuapan, first town on the road once the Zoquiapan National Park ends.

Continuing the descent, I crossed several towns like: San Matías Tlalancaleca, San Lucas, San Rafael Tlanalapan, finally arriving in San Martin Texmelucan at 10:10. In Texmelucan I made a short stop in order to buy some fresh fruit and water.

From Texmelucan I took the road to Huexotzingo. This free highway is superbly pavemented, it even features a side lane, of the same quality as the car lanes ! A God gift. Besides, along the road some impressive vistas of the volcanoes could be appreciated. Reaching Huexotzingo at 11:30, I decided to pay a short visit to its beautiful church, decorated with a stunning and incredible beautiful orange color.

Later on the road I reached Cholula, home of the imposing Cholula Archaological Site, already visited (if you are interested, you could review my previous Cholula report). I could not enter in the city, since time was a scarce resource, so I continued by the Quetzalcoatl boulevard (painfully bad pavemented) towards Puebla City.

In Puebla City, again, I could not enter in the center of the city, since I had already been there, and more important: the clock was ticking. So I by-passed the center using the Circuito and soon gained access to the Valsequillo Boulevard, road that would take me directly to the Africam (an open-air Zoo), in the Valsequillo Dam. From the Valsequillo branch, the route took me towards Tecali de Herrera, a place which reputedly was once the house of Quetzalcoatl.

In Tecalli de Herrera a beautiful church can be appreciated but, its main attraction is the Franciscan Ex-Convent (properly a Basilica: three naves separated by columnades with semicircular arches), built between 1540 and 1569. It is an enormous and gigantic ruin, that in this day consists merely on its mail walls, columns and arches, since the rest of the building is no more ... even its wood roof was taking apart, for making a bull rodeo in 1920. Could you imagine that ?

I would certainly recommend you having a look at the imposing views of that gigantic Ex-Convent in the photoset. Those views are certainly a kind of its own. In fact, this was the first time I had ever seen such a magnificent opus, turned down to its mere ruins and vestiges.

From Tecali and before I reached Ahuatepec, only cruel desert awaited me. The landscapes of those desert places made me remeber the phrase that Dante (in the Divine Comedy) put at Hell's entrance: Abandon all Hope all You who enter here. Man ... the desert is indeed a desolated place. I was just hoping nothing bad occurred me (as a broken chain or whatever other mechanical failure) in those desolated realms. At some point in the road I found the famous Sifon, an enormous aqueduct cliff bypass. It is really an imposing piece of architecture. I don't know when that Sifon aqueduct was built, or by whom, but certainly it's a breath-taking building, not just by its enormous size, but also by its location: in the middle of a desert.

In Ahuatepec the desert finishes and lots of water appears from no-where (as far as I could see). As soon as I was reaching Ahuatepec, the humidity of the air increased, and for a reason: there is an open water channel, that coming from Ahuatepec, I imagine, supply water to Tecali. In fact, there is so much abundance of water after Ahuatepec, that in Atoyatempan (the following town), I could observe fields being irrigated ... by aspersion ! Just a few kilometers after the desert. A strange land, indeed.

In Tepeyahualco (next town along the route) I decided to make a second short stop, because I was starving, and lacking water. After the renewal of my reserves, I cycled towards the last stop before reaching the destination: Molcaxac. Molcaxac is a picturesque town, last big town before Tepexi. I decided to pay a short visit to its simple yet beautiful church, painted with a pale blue color, and its adornments in white.

Just before I reached Tepexi de Rodríguez, along the road I could enjoy and
indescribable view: A Saguaro forest. I had only seen once the Saguaros (on a previous car travel to Oaxaca), but this time I could stop along the road and breath its beauty. Being the saguaros desert plants that grow to an enormous size, the panoramic view was just incredible. The sheer beauty of those desert plants and the imposing silence of the valley gave the scene an almost surreal atmosphere. And in the background, my destination: Tepexi de Rodríguez.

I reached Tepexi de Rodriguez at 19:30. I went straight forward to the church, to have a look at it and to take the compulsory photograph. From the church the road to the Tepexi el Viejo archaeological Site could be observed. It was a 10-km off-road hill-crossing way. I needed at least a couple of hours to get to the site and return to the town, and I had only 30 minutes of light ... Man, what else could I do ? Nothing. I had to accept the fact that on that day, I was not being able to visit the site. Although I had started the journey at 06:00 and I had tried not to make too many stops, the full route (up to the archaeological site) proved to be, at the end of the day, too long to be made in only one day. I need two days for that visit.

So, after accepting that fact, I had to contempt myself with roaming around town and taking pictures of it. Another problem: the return to Mexico City: the last bus to Puebla had already departed at 19:30, with the following bus passing by at 04:00. I was tempted to pay one room in the town's hotel, but heck, I had never needed a hotel room (on my previous one-day cycling tours), so, I was not going to change this trend ! I went to the local market to eat some (ten) tacos de cabeza (only delicacy available in town), roamed a little more, and when I was so tired that I could stand no more, I went to the town's park, in order to rest at least three hours, just to wait the oncoming 04:00 bus to Puebla. I almost felt asleep, but then I remember the cost of my equipment, and somehow I lost the sleep, having to contempt myself with resting the body, although not the mind. At 03:45 I went to the junction were the bus was going to pass and waited.

The town at that hour made me remember Comala, the ghost town of the Pedro Páramo Rulfo novel. The town resembled in fact a ghostly town. I was just half-heartily waiting to appear some anima at the round of the corner :-) Anyway, the bus arrived punctually at 04:15, and for a fare of 65 pesos (plus a 10 pesos unofficial fare for the bicycle) I arrived in Puebla's CAPU (bus central station) at 06:30, from where I again took another bus, this time direct to Mexico City (82 pesos), which departing at 06:50, put me again in Mexico City (at the TAPO eastern bus terminal) a little before 09:00 (delay caused by lots of traffic at that rush hour). A 10-minutes cycling ride and I was again back at home's safety, but with a hard day oncoming ... and hardly any sleep. But heck, this is what cycling is all about, isn't it ? :-)

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel.

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