December 28, 2008

Mazatlan (Sinaloa), Xmas 2008

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

For this travel we took a bus to the Pacific port of Mazatlán, in the north-western state of Sinaloa. We also took our bicycles in the bus, so we could visit nearby places cycling. In this way it was a beautil travel.

November 19, 2008

Acapulco (Guerrero), 16.11.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

For this ride we took a bus to the capital city of Guerrero: Chilpancingo, passing the night there at a hotel. Next morning we took the federal highway to Acapulco and rode along. Beautiful highway but infernal weather. Heat all along the road and a lapidary sun that did not went never behind a cloud. We finally arrived at Acapulco when the night felt. After walking in the center of the city, we choosed the Avalon hotel to stay at night. The next day was passed in the beach and swimming in the sea.

November 09, 2008

Pachuca (Hidalgo), 09.11.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

This ride was performed in the company of maybe hundreds of cyclists that were celebrating the third inter-state cycling ride, this time to Pachuca, distant 90 km from Mexico City.Gf and me joined a little late this multitudinous ride, but we could reach them approximately at km 40. The rest of the ride was a breeze. At our arrival to Pachuca we decided to return home also cycling, as a lot of cyclists also choosed. So, we cycled our way back home again in the company of several cyclists fellows, arriving at the city at 19:30. Good (180 Km) ride !

August 25, 2008

Puebla (Puebla), 23.08.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

This cycling ride was made from Mexico City to the beautiful capital of the eastern state of Puebla. It is a 130 km long ride, with a little more than 1,100 m of ascent. We choose the federal highway to arrive at Puebla. This road is a beautiful one, specially in the month of August, when all the road is sided by a green carpet. It was really a memorable ride made in the company of gf.

June 23, 2008

La Marquesa (Mexico), 22.06.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

We started this rode a little late, so we could not advance more that the touristic spot of La Marquesa, along the federal highway to Toluca, in the Mexico state. In La Marquesa we stopped to eat a delicious meal, which was more delightful because of the cold that was starting to build up. After finishing our meal, we started our journey back home, along a 1,100 m descent towards Mexico City.

May 02, 2008

Xalatlaco (Mexico), 01.05.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

Once again, we took our favorite road: the federal highway to Toluca. We climbed to the Tres Cruces summit and descended to La Marquesa. There we made a stop to eat in one of the multivariate restaurants that flourish in that location. After eating we continue ourtravel, passing by the Conejo Valley and reaching shortly afterwards the quiet town of Xalatlaco., in the Mexico state As it was already too late to intent reaching a subsequent location, we has to cut short our travel there and took a bus from Xalatlaco to came back to Mexico City.

April 28, 2008

Valle del Conejo (Mexico), 27.04.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

This ride although was short in distance, had its own physical requirements. First we had to ascent to the Tres Cruces summit, along the federal highway to Toluca. Then a descent towards La Marquesa, and after that, another ascent to the Conejo Valley. In this touristic valley, a lot of restaurants can bee seen and visited. In fact, there is an artificial lake at this location. The weather was a little bit frosting, so, after admiring the artificial lake, we headed towards a restaurant in order to regain those lost calories. After the meal, we cycled our way back to Mexico City, also along the federal highway.

March 24, 2008

Augustine Convent in Acolman (Mexico), 23.03.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

This ride was performed in order that gf could knew the Augustine Convent of Acolman, in the Mexico state. The route is certainly not a long one and the toll highway is in pristine conditions. The Convent is a very interesting cultural reference, with lots of religious paintings and church related item. The interior of the building is conserved as if it were still functioning. Remarkably, along the corridors of the convent there still remain frescoes of biblical figures. A monk's cell can be admired in the interior of the building. The garden in the interior yard is almost fully gardened with several fruit trees (mainly oranges). In the center of the main yard lies a big black stone cross with the symbols of the Augustine order. An finally, the baroque facade of the convent is superb and second to none.

We started our return to Mexico City almost at twilight, arriving home under the cover of the night.

Thank you for reading, till the next travel.

March 20, 2008

San Juan de Los Lagos 2008 Cyclist Pilgrimage (Queretaro, Guanajuato, Jalisco), 16-18.03.08

Photo Set ----- GPS Track

This cycling ride is one of those must-do in the whole year. It is a three-day almost 500 Km odyssey surrounded by lots of cyclists along a pilgrimage that took us to the holy town of San Juan de los Lagos, in the eastern (conservative) state of Jalisco.

This travel starts annually in Mexico City each Sunday previous to the Passover week. Hundreds of cyclists prepare themselves at the toll station of the Queretaro highway. Approximately at 07:00, hundreds of cyclists start this phenomenal ride. Although the pilgrimage nature of this ride is by definition religious, being a religious person is not a prerequisite perse. In fact, I could estimate (risking incurring in blasphemy) that the only true deity of this pilgrimage is the bicycle :-)

Along the road my gf and me decided to pay a visit to the beautiful town of Tepeji del Río, being it a small and picturesque town. After that visit we continued the ride towards Queretaro, destination of the first leg of the travel. At our arrival to Queretaro we decided to stay at the Hidalgo Hotel, in the center of the city. Apropo, it was 200 km long that Mexico City - Queretaro ride.

The second day ride had as destination Leon, in the state of Guanajuato. It is a 180 Km ride, mainly plain. As the second day of this pilgrimage is carried on Mondays, there was a little fewer cyclists along the route, but anyways, it was always fun to ride in the companion of fellow cyclists. Along the highway there were several trucks that gave away water bags and pieces of fruit to the thirsty cyclists. The weather was inclement as there were no clouds in sight. At our arrival to Leon we decided to stay in the same hotel we occupied the previous year.

The third and final day had as its destination San Juan de los Lagos, already in Jalisco state. From Leon it is only a 80 km ride, with some ups and downs along the route. The highway is in pristine condition. We arrived at our destination at about noon. The church was already packed with locals and strangers queuing in the main corridor of the church to gain a place to stay momentarily in front of the image of the virgin oflos Lagos.

We decided to pass the night in San Juan, staying in a cozy hotel just one block in front of the temple. Next day we walked along the busy market streets of San Juan. In the afternoon we took the bus that transported us again to Mexico City.

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel !

February 12, 2008

Texmelucan (Puebla), 10.02.08

A short ride indeed (merely 105 km), properly departing at a very late hour and unfortunately, handicapped by mechanical incidents along the route.

After we have fixed all our mechanical problems along the route (I would like to thank the cyclist Carlos, who in the Autodrome helped us fixing a unbalanced rim), Gaby and me started the ascent to Llano Grande, crossing Zoquiapan ... ten minutes before 16:00 ! The best thing was that all the crossing of the Llano Grande pass (ascent + descent) was carried out in a non-stop ride. The most incredible thing was that although we had started the ascent too late, we were able still to overcame another two cyclists along the ascent :-) It seems as there is no late hour to ride to Llano Grande :-)

Along the road between Zoquiapan and Texmelucan a lot of cycling pilgrims could be observed, riding in big groups, scorted by gigantic trucks that were carrying the cyclists belongings. Those pilgrims came from all places in Puebla and were heading to visit the Guadalupe Virgin of the Tepeyac, north of Mexico City.

Reaching the summit less than two hours later (at 17:42) we started the descent to Texmelucan, where we arrived at 19:10, under full cover of the night. Although the original plan was to ride to Tlaxcala and the archaeological site of Xochitecatl, it now seemed impossible to reach our original destination and get back to Mexico City an the same day. That being said without still mentioning that we had to ride the 25 km that were required to reach Tlaxcala with no solar light at all and ... with no lights. So we decided to cut short the ride there in Texmelucan and leave the Tlaxcala ride to the following weekend.

In Texmelucan we dinned at an Arabian Tacos restaurant, which was fully booked by the locals. Indeed, the food was delicious and generous (all a cyclist could ask). After a short visit to the Texmelucan Cathedral and the central Kiosk Cafe (where Gaby could have her chocolate cup), in order to take the de rigueur photographs, we took our pre-booked return bus to Mexico City at 22:00, arriving just in time to still use the subway to arrive back at home.

Story lesson: we must get up early on Sundays and start the ride early, at least at 07:00. We hope we could achieve this milestone for the next ride :-)

As usual, all the pictures of this travel are available at the following photoset. And the GPS track of the ride is also here available.

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel !

February 06, 2008

Tlaltizapan (Morelos), 03-04.02.08

This ride started at the insanely late hour of almost 11:00, owed to the fact that I arrived late at the rendezvous point with Gaby, and that we needed extra time to pack al the things that we were going to need in our two-day journey.

So, just minutes before 11:00 we started cycling towards Tlalpan, in southern direction, all the way up to La Joya and the Caminero Monument, just at the junction where both paid and free Cuernavaca highways start. We took then the free Cuernavaca highway.

We started the ascent from this point all the way up to La Cima summit, stopping just some minutes at El Mirador restaurant (elev: 2700 m), in order to have a glimpse of the imposing almost aerial view from the Mexico City valley that is available at this sightseeing point, located 500 m above the city level. After taking the de rigueur pictures, we continued our ascent to the summit (elev: 3000 m), and after reaching it, we started the descent to Tres Marías, where we arrived at 14:30. In Tres Marías we re-charged our liquids and continued the descent to Cuernavaca, reaching the Zapata Monument (at the entrance of Cuernavaca) at 15:20, continuing our descent to the center of the city.

As Gaby had never before arrived cycling in Cuernavaca in day hours, we decided to stop at the center of the city in order to have a look at the main buildings. So we headed to the Cuauhnáhuac Museum, located in the Cortes Palace, to have a look at it, after having visited the Morelos Statue and State Government Palace, both located in the Main Square of the city.

Once in front of the Cortes Palace, it was a crime not entering in it, since Gaby had never before known the museum (being myself twice before a visitant of it). So we attached the bicycles at the entrance of the Museum, and voilá, there we went. The Cuauhnahuac Museum houses an impressive arrangement of cultural riches and anthropological findings, along with several murals (frescoes) painted by the revered post-revolutionary painter Diego Rivera. You can have a glimpse of all those riches in the photoset.

Once exiting the Cuauhnahuac Museum at 18:30, it was realized that we had to pernoctate at Cuernavaca, since darkness was already looming. We choosed then to visit the Cuernavaca Cathedral and attended part of a mass. After the mass, we roamed a little bit alongside the cathedral and its outskirts, even playing a little ball game with a local. Once taken the de rigueur photographs, we started the haunting of a room in a decent hotel. But as this was a long weekend (three days of weekend in fact, owed to a national holiday), it was a little bit difficult to find a room in a decent hotel, as all of them were fully booked already. It was required the visit to at least five hotels before we could find an available room to pass the night (at the España hotel).

Once downloaded all our luggage at the room, we started then the haunting of a good meal, since it was already 22:00 and we had eaten no real food in all the day. We were told that the best option was to dine in front of the Estrella Blanca bus terminal, so we headed in that direction, fortunately not far from the hotel (just a couple of blocks away). The dinning was wonderful ! Lots of food (Cecina and other delicacies) for a reasonable price ! :-) After that wonderful dinning we returned to the hotel in order to let rest our humble humanities.

At the following day, the cycling ride started again really late, as we abandoned the hotel just before 15:00. After loading liquids in our bicycles, we headed south from Cuernavaca, this time to Alpuyeca, using the free Acapulco highway. The descent to Alpuyeca was carried with no problems at all, crossing in our path the towns of Temixco, Acatlipa and Xochitepec. As the plan was to arrive at Tlatizapán (where the Carnival party was being carried out), after Alpuyeca we cycled towards Xoxocotla, Galeana and finally Zacatepec.

Once in Zacatepec we went to visit the Emiliano Zapata Ingenio (major sugar factory in the region) and the center of the city, where a beautiful church stands. We decided to purchase our return bus tickets in Zacatepec in advance, before we went to Tlatizapán, since on that day the journey back home was going to be a fully booked return trip. After purchasing the tickets for the last bus (21:20), we headed towards our final destination: Tlatizapán.

After leaving Zacatepec at 17:30, we started the last 10 km trip to Tlaltizapán, where we arrived before 18:00. We headed towards the Zapata General Headquarters Museum, which unfortunately was already closed. After taking the compulsory pictures, we went on to follow the Carnival dancing that was crossing our path. After climbing to the church, we had a better view of this picturesque spectacle. The pictures of this event are certainly remarkable.

After paying a short visit to the Tlatizapan church, we started the return trip to Zacatepec at 19:00, under complete darkness. I would like to thank the driver of a pick-up that escorted us from in the ride between Taltizapán and Zacatepec, without by-passing us and sending its high lights whenever possible in order we could see the road :-)

After dinning in the center of Zacatepec, at 21:00 we went to the Pullman bus terminal where we loaded our bicycles in the bus and started resting in the long way back home, arriving in Mexico City at 01:00 (owed to the big traffic mess along the Cuernavaca highway) at the Taxqueña bus terminal. From Taxqueña all that was required was a short 10-minutes ride to our houses and voilá, we were again back at the safety of home :-)

As usual, all the pictures of this travel are available at the following photoset. And the GPS track is also available, in both formats: GPX or KMZ .

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel !

January 15, 2008

Xochicalco Archaeological Site (Morelos), 13.01.08

This ride started at the late hour of 08:30 having as target the visit to the Xochicalco Archaeological site, in the southern state of Morelos. Departing from the center of Mexico City, we (Gabriela and me) took Tlalpan to the south all the way up to the Caminero Monument, and then we took the free Cuernavaca highway. At 2700 m altitude we made a little stop at the El Mirador restaurant, but ir was still closed (since it was early), so we had to take a view of the city from a near location.

Once resuming our trip, we made another little stop in Parres to buy some water, and, in the up-downs that exist between Parres and La Cima summit my frontal derailleur felt down and I had to repair it. Thank God I was carrying some Gabriela's Allen keys, since I do not use to carry any tools :-) Being myself not the best mechanic in town, I lost precious time in that reparation, but anyways, we could continue our trip.

Another little stop at La Cima summit to take the compulsory photograhs and we were ready to descend to Tres Marias. Since neither of us had ever visited the center of Tres Marias, we decided to have a look at that picturesque town. So we deviated to the left in Tres Marías and got to its little center. A small yet precious church is all that stands up in the center. We also decided to make good use of the stop and got a delicious hot meal (in front of the church) of fish broth, with sea food quesadillas. Could you believe that: Sea food in Tres Marías ? :-)

Once armored with that hot meal, we started the descent all the way up to Cuernavaca first, and then to Alpuyeca, via the free Acapulco highway. As for Gabriela these are her firsts cycling rides along inter-state highways, she uses to descend very carefully, so I use to pass her on the descent, but in order not to abandon her, I make svereal stops in between, so she can pass me again. Meanwhile I am waiting for her, what better thing to do than to take pictures of her descent ? :-)

We reached and crossed Cuernavaca, passing also in our way to Alpuyeca the towns of Temixco, Acatlipa and Xochitepec. Once arriving in Alpuyeca, we bought some water, as the ongoing way to Xochicalco was one of pure ascent, and the worst of all: we had to make it against the clock ! We had less than forty minutes to make a 300 m ascent along 12 kilometers (grade: 2.5 %), since the site closes its doors at 17:00. Making an exceptional effort we were able to reach the site in only 35 minutes, arriving just five minutes before closing (with an average speed of 20.6 km/hr, in that steep hills). Nothing bad for Gabriela. My most sincere congratulations to her for that final fast ascent to the site :-)

Once inside the Xochicalco (nahuatl for House of Flowers) Archaeological Site, we proceeded to have a quick look of all the buildings that comprehend that precious site. I hope the presented photograps could communicate a better meaning than my humble words when I try to describe that fabulous site. So I would recommend to have a look at the pictures so you could have a better view of all the pyramids and buildings that are located in the site.

Once concluded our visit to the site, we proceeded to start the descent back to Alpuyeca, almost in the middle of the dark, as it was already 18:40. At the beginning of the descent there was some twilight light, but as we were descending, the dark became more and more present, so we had to carry out that final descent with no light at all. Fortunately, we were finally able to arrive again in Alpuyeca in one piece :-)

Once in Alpuyeca, we proceeded to visit its simple yet beautiful white church (located at the top of a staired hill) and the main Plaza, where a picturesque green clock tower stands. Once finishing that small stop we cycled to the junction where the bus stop is located. To our disheart, we discovered that the buses that passed there had only small boxes to carry the luggage. We were not going to be able to load our bikes in those buses. So we had to rely in a big taxi to get back to Cuernavaca (taxi fare from Alpuyeca to Cuernavaca, with two bicycles and two cyclists: 130 pesos, driving along the toll highway).

The taxi drove us to the Cuernavaca Cathedral, in the center of the city, where we had a glimpse of the last part of the last mass (merely five minutes). But we were able to have a look at the interior of that precious Cathedral. Once the lights were turned off, we exited the Cathedral and started a small turn around the exterior of that gigantic church. After having taken the compulsory photographs, we rode towards the Pullman bus terminal, just a block away, where we bought our return tickets back to Mexico City (ticket fare: 65 pesos).

As we had still half an hour free, we decided to pay a quick visit to the center of Cuernavaca, to have a look at the Cuauhnahuac (Cortes Palace), Government Palace, Main Square, Clock Tower and the Morelos statue. Once our free time expired we cycled back to the Pullman terminal, where we boarded our bus back home at 22:15. For some reason (mostly traffic) the bus arrived at 00:00 in México City, so we had to cycle back our ways to our final destinations: home :-)

As usual, all the pictures of this travel are available at the following photoset. And the GPS track is also available, in both formats: GPX or KMZ .

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel !

January 07, 2008

Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Site (Mexico). 06.01.08

The ride started at 07:30, counting as a guest to our new friend: Gabriela Escudero, a determined and beautiful young cyclist that had never before attempted the one thousand meter high climbing to the Las Cruces summit (along the free Toluca highway), located in the middle of the path to the Calixtlahuaca Archaeological Site. I must aknowledge that she was able to finish that ascent with no problems at all, and also: making no stops whatsoever :-) My most sincere congratulations to her !

We started cycling along interior city streets (where we could see several fellow cyclists riding to reach their starting points, as it is customary that on Sundays several cycling rides are published) from the center of the city in order to gain access to Constituyentes Avenue, which would later took us to the free Toluca Highway. As it was early, there was no traffic at all, so we could reach really soon the junction between Constituyentes and Reforma (i.e. Palo Alto), beginning of the federal highway.

After only two hours of cycling, we were able to reach the top of Las Cruces summit (elev: 3200 m), so practically, the ride was already done :-) After a small stop at the top to take the required photos, the descent to La Marquesa and Lerma was initiated. Gabriela, being it her first time, carried out that descent in the most secure way: very carefully :-) Once in Lerma we made a stop to pay tribute to the gigantic equestrian statue of Gral. Emiliano Zapata, the Mexican southern Revolution hero.

After arriving at Toluca, it was really easy to get into Calixtlahuaca, less than ten kilometers away from the state capital, cycling along Isidro Fabela (Toluca-Atlacomulco highway). The only problem was that I had somehow forgotten the junction where I had to deviate to Calixtlahuaca (being a year and a half that I had visited that archaeological site). So, asking the locals for help (and with the aid of Gabriela) we could find another road to the town. This second road (different to the one that I had previoulsy taken) is in a better condition and measures only three kilometer.

The road I had previously taken was Río Papaloapan. But this time we took Libertad street. Libertad is far shorter (only three km) than Rio Papaloapan, and it is in better road conditions. The only problem is gaining acces to it from Isidro Fabela. Libertad is located where there are two gas stations along the Atlacomulco highway, aproximately 6 km after the center of Toluca (and cycling along I. Fabela).

Once arriving at the Calixtlahuaca (nahuatl for Houses in the Plain) Archaeological Site, we secured the bicycles at the site Museum (which unfortunately is closed as the exhibitions are being shown in another museum). Proceeding to see the several pre-hispanic buildings that were built in that ceremonial site, we took our way to the first pyramid: the Ehécatl (Wind God) Pyramid, a spyral piramid whose interior can be visited.

Calixtlahuaca was the capital city of the Matlatzinca culture. The Matlatzinca were an independent Nahuatl nation. They resisted several times the mexica conquest, rebelling at least in three ocasions against the aztec conquerors. At the last rebellion (in 1510), the Mexica emperor Moctezuma ordered the destruction of the whole region, forcing its inhabitants to migrate towards what is now the neighbouring state of Michoacan.

The sites features several impossing buildings, aside of the Ehécatl Pyramid. Walking above the Tenismo hill, the Tlaloc compound can be found. This compound houses the Tlaloc pyramid, a Royal Palace basement (believed to be a Calmecac: the náhuatl elite school) and a Tzompantli (nahuatl for Wall of Skulls).

Once concluded the visit to the archaeological site, we proceeded to visit the center of Calixtlahuaca, where a beautiful church can be appreciated). That church was closed on that Sunday because ... the religious paintings had been stolen ! Could you believe that ? No wonder why the saying goes: Little town, big inferno

We rode the last ten kilometers of the ride in order to reach Toluca, where we could appreciate its main buildings in the downtown: the Cathedral (whose interior is exceptionally beatifully decorated), the Palace of Government, Main Square, etc. Once concluded the visit to the Cathedral, we were lucky enough to find a good restaurant in the Portales, where our human appetites could be saciated. Once finishing the meal, we proceeded to cycle to the Toluca bus station, where we could finally took our bus back home (fare: 38 pesos).

All the pictures of this travel are available at the following photoset. And the GPS track is also available, in both formats: GPX or KMZ .

Thank you for reading. Till the next travel !