Zacatecas to Pachuca

Jan. 5 – Jan. 20, 2016

Download route as GPX


Immediately out of the city, the dirt roads start.

Zacatecas to the Rioverde area was another major highlight of Mexican dirt roads.

Sure, works for me.






It was on this road that I started to seriously consider switching to a fat bike.


The route I had planned ended abruptly at an unpassable chicken farm, necessitating some improvisation. After a number of barbed wire fences too robust to dismantle by hand impeded my progress, I stumbled upon a Mennonite community. 

It was amusing to find German speaking men in overalls and women in black dresses and bonnets while wandering around these dusty dirt roads.


At about 30km and completely flat, I was expecting 2 hours maximum from San Francisco to Cardenas. It took over 5 hours, pushing through bushes and trying to ride through dust a couple inches over my rims. Finally I could have breakfast.

I had planned to take a 22km “shortcut” on train tracks from Las Canoas to Puente de Dios in Tamasopo. I had no idea if it would be ridable or not, but I was really excited to take it, even if it meant walking the whole way. For a couple days I had developed a foolish and presumptuous notion of trying to obtain a fat bike sponsor, so I was pretty set on riding the roughest stuff I could find.

I camped beside a church in Las Canoas, excited for the route out in the morning. At about 12:30am I was awoken by some creep trying to shine a light from his watch into my tent. Then he was trying to open my tent. I made it very clear that he had to leave but he wouldn’t listen and kept saying things I couldn’t understand.
I packed up and spent two hours hiding in different corners of the town from where I could see him hoping he would leave. He disappeared briefly after I emerged from the shadows, quickly walking towards him with my hand in my jacket like I had a gun. I finally gave up at around 2:30 when he came lurking about again. The only other road out of the town went to the highway so I really had no other options. Oh well. I rode a few kms out of town, pulled off into the bushes, and laid down and slept in the dirt for the few remaining hours of night. For reasons I can’t understand, the idea of going back in the morning to take the route I had wanted didn’t occur to me and so I ended up taking the autopista to Tamasopo.

Bah. I don’t want to be here either. Let’s just get this over with.

A completely different world than the one I had been riding through just the day before.

The train tracks I could have rode in on. If anyone ever rides this way, please let me know.

Waterfall at Puente de Dios.

Cascadas de Tamul.


Sótano de las Golondrinas, or Cave of the Swallows. 

I had spent nearly a full day climbing the day before to get to Sótano de las Golondrinas and wasn’t expecting much more as I thought I was already pretty high. But no, these hills were relentless. I didn’t have any topographic maps so I had no idea what to expect, which only makes it that much harder.


It would be ridiculous to complain about pushing a bike up a hill when you pass people like this who have to haul bundles of wood on their backs just so they can cook their food to eat.


Xilitla, San Luis Potosi.

Las Pozas, a garden of surrealistic concrete sculptures and architecture created in between 1962 and 1984 by the British Edward James.



20km downhill to Pisaflores. 32km up to Zacate Grande. 20km downhill to Rio Amajac… Up, down, up, down.

Rio Amajac

It was a full day of climbing from Boca de Leon at 500m to Tlahuiltepa at 2200m. That’s more elevation gain than the climb out of Urique, which has pretty much been the standard by which all other climbs are judged. But it was at least all ridable.


Little empty houses for dead people.


2 thoughts on “Zacatecas to Pachuca

  1. Awesome photos as usual Justin. For this summer’s travels, I picked my Pugsley over my 26+ Troll. The extra inch + of tire width is a huge benefit in the soft and bumpy stuff, but a detriment on the hard and smooth.


    1. Thanks John.
      If I had started thinking about a fat bike just a bit sooner I would’ve got a Pugsley when Surly had their sale. After much debate between the Pugsley and the ECR, I ended up buying a used ECR which I’ll switch to when my parents visit me at some point, not sure where yet.

      Now I’m intrigued about your summer travel plans…


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