México: Zacatecas to San Luis de la Paz – striking out on our own with great rewards
Until Zacatecas we had to a lesser or greater degree been following someone else’s route. In Canada and the USA the Great Divide mountain bike route spoon-fed us with kilometre by kilometre directions. In the northern half of Mexico, Cass Gilbert and the Dirt Bags gave us a trail to follow through the Sierra Madre Occidental. Now we’re really on our own. We’ve got some broad themes – avoid Mexico City and stay high until a trip to the Oaxacan coast before heading back inland to San Cristobal and some much needed remedial Spanish tuition. That only left us with deciding which way to skirt round Cuidad Mexico. In the end my fingers were itchy for some rock climbing, and the Parque National de Mineral el Chico was north and east of the megapolis; making the decision.
The Guia Roji we bought in Durango provided the vast majority of our plan with some connections from googleearth. So far it’s been a success, especially the connections.
After a surprisingly fast day out of Zacatecas, the country flattened out, giving us easy cycling and the company of other bicycles for the first time since we got into Mexico.
Things got more undulating after San Francisco (not the famous one) with even more spiky aggressive vegetation. Zen navigation and the art of asking questions of the right sympathetic native Spanish speaker got us onto some very fine rocky dual-track through the hills to yet another Ojo Caliente.
Then after Tierra Nueva we found ourselves steadily climbing (and climbing) into some of the best riding we’ve done thus far – all the way to Jofre.
We’ve also got less stressed about running into people. Previously we’d smile in a moronic fashion and utter the dreaded “no entiendo espanol” as they enthusiastically released a torrent of spanish at us. That is, unless we were buying food or saying where we were coming from or going to (yes, really all on bicycles). Part of the change has been some improvement in our spanish, but we’re still pretty focused in what we know how to say. This was illustrated when we attempted to play I-Spy in spanish along one particularly flat bit of road…
Me – “I spy something beginning with C”
Sarah – “Camino” (way/smaller road)
Sarah – “Carretera” (highway/bigger road)
Me – “No”
Sarah – “I don’t know any more words beginning with C in spanish except Peanuts!”