Jan. 5 – Jan. 20, 2016
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.
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.
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 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.