Over a big hill today with a lot of descent, some of it steep. Otherwise, riding today had a bit of everything: busy highways, small villages, a climb through pine trees and descent. A lot of descent.
The first 8km were leaving Toluca following highway 55. It was busy, but usually had a shoulder and I was already part of the way out of the city. At the 8km mark, an exit took me under the highway in a small one-car width tunnel. The roads now took me through several villages. The small roads and village roads have frequent “tope” or speed bumps, so I would also slow to carefully go over. It was relatively flat and road conditions varied.
At 23km, I turned south and came through a bit more hilly region.
Still a few agricultural fields though.
This photo was looking back at a village I had crossed. I was surprised at how many businesses were advertising as roadside restaurants and the like. Not sure if this is otherwise a vacation region for those from Mexico City urban areas or otherwise.
These folks were having a meal in one of the villages.
The other thing I noticed were a surprising number of “WC” signs. Not sure if this is the English “water closet” aka toilet or something else, but at least in sign above they seem related.
At 40km, I came to junction in village of Santa Martha. I was at 2800m (~9400ft) elevation and a small road led further uphill. I filled up on water and got a snack before setting off for a slow climb.
At 47km, was close to my top elevation. From here a reasonable descent, though the road was sometimes rough.
It was a nice and winding road and came along a park. Not far from here I also crossed into Morelos state, though I didn’t actually see signs.
By 65km, I had pretty much crossed over and could see Cuernavaca nearly 1000m further below. The next parts of road were very steep. I’m not that good at steep downhill so kept it cautious and rode down using my brakes a fair amount as well as stopping a few times. Fortunately, 10km further brought me to northern outskirts of Cuernavaca and reasonable place to stay.
I am now closer to 1800m again and days will again be a bit warmer. I’m also still several kilometers from city center (and several hundred meters higher), though don’t plan to ride through middle of this city.
Once again cold starting out, locals here are wearing hats and scarfs. Today was also considerably flatter with only 350m of climb total. After 3km, I saw a Subway and stopped for breakfast. After this the road became a cuota shown above mostly with reasonable shoulder. It was nice riding flatter terrain for a change.
Around 25km, I was coming through a wooded area and saw a large group in brief pause from walking along the highway. Apparently on a pilgrimage walk to some place beyond Guadalajara.
Amadeo Hernandez came over and we briefly discussed our respective trips. He was also a cyclist. It was fun making that connection. Selfie photo from Amadeo, thanks!
Areas that weren’t wooded, looked more like photo above.
These guys worked at plant behind in the photograph but were having their lunch break.
After 50km, I came to toll booth and then more urban riding going past the center of Toluca. Toluca has a population of 800,000 in a metro area of 1.9 million, making it fifth largest metro area in Mexico.
The road started fairly easy with three lanes each way in the middle and a similar three lanes on the outside. Occasionally trucks would park in the right lane but typically traffic was light enough to pass on the left. The last five kilometers became much more crowded and I was part of stop and go traffic.
Unlike other cities where I’ve often gone to a cathedral at center, I decided to pass along the center and instead get to one of the roads “outbound” so I’ll have shorter distance to depart tomorrow. This was where the big stores like Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Sams Club, etc also seem to be found.
Toluca has been my second way point since Mazatlan. From here, plan is to cycle towards Oaxaca. I’ve been working through a little more precise routes to ride.
Two days riding, each with over 1000m of climbing have brought me to Atlacomulco. This is end of the main cuota stretching from Tepic towards Mexico City. My plan is to skirt Mexico City around to the south.
Before describing last two days riding, a note about food. Photo above was one of the most elaborate presentations of dinner. This one from restaurant in Morelia. Often, I’ll find a restaurant on my end city, but a lot of the time, I’ll also grab street food such as tacos from vendors on the street. During the day, I’ll stop at local shops or OXXO and get yogurt or cookies or other items as a snack.
By the way, meal above was 150 pesos (~$7.50) so more than average but not overwhelmingly expensive.
I had fun taking pictures of the cathedral after dark.
This was trying the HDR mode on the camera. Day One
Today had a little of everything in it: city riding, rural roads and cuota. It was mostly flat for the first 55km and then a large hill to climb over in the last 40km. Leaving Morelia was a little more hectic than arriving. The larger city streets turned into an expressway leaving town with three lanes of high speed traffic. Initially this still worked well since the rightmost lane also had a lot of buses stopping and starting so was all slow. However, once I left the “bus zone” it was a bit faster. Fortunately less traffic leaving the city than arriving and by 9km, I turned onto the smaller road to the airport.
Photo above shows the nice calm road on way to the airport. Unfortunately, just before this was surprisingly busy because inbound traffic had all backed up, I think partially due to a school and partially general congestion. This meant outbound traffic including myself didn’t have a very wide lane and occasionally traffic would back up behind myself as well. Fortunately, this all only lasted a few kilometers before we got to quieter road above.
Around Morelia I’ve seen more of what look like subdivisions to me. A nice fancy entry and streets with cookie cutter houses. You can see some of them on the left.
A few blog entries ago, I mentioned I had most often seen “car wash” in English. Around Morelia I did actually see Spanish at least twice as well.
At 25km, I passed the airport. Not sure why this old graffiti marked plane was parked.
A few kilometers later, back to the main roads. Nice to see I’m closer to Mexico City than Guadalajara.
Next 25km were nice and flat, including passing by a large lake. At 55km were toll booths and a service area where I had lunch.
This was start of a big hill including this sign I think telling you being intoxicated invalidates insurance.
Climbed ~600m and around the top was this vendor on side of the road selling baskets of strawberries.
Top of the hill! My cycle computer is set up in a hybrid mode with distances in kilometers but elevations in feet.
A nice descent again and I found myself at the road exit to Maravatio. Coincidentally whatever extra insurance you had (unless drunk) also stopped here.
As I cycled into town, I felt the rear tire being flat. I cycled a bit and then walked the last little bit to a hotel in center of town. First thing was to get the flat fixed and then shower and walk around town for dinner. Overall a longer 96km ride with a substantial climb at the end, but also pretty riding with a lot of variety. Day Two
Climbing throughout the day today, though not as far in distance.
I tried waiting a little in the morning to make sure it was getting warmer. Photo above is looking back at Maravatio after getting on the highway.
Today there were a number of sections that also had a frontage road running alongside. You can see the main highway, a small rumble strip, the shoulder and then the frontage road. The frontage road was sometimes unpredictable and looked occasionally rough.
In a few spots there were explicit gaps placed so someone could park a vehicle on side of the cuota and visit a business.
However, in general the cuota usually has a barb-wire fence with white posts on it. From others journals I’ve found a few who try riding these roads and camping and often end up camping at the service stations behind a Pemex gas station or other place with access to bathrooms. Typically they do not go across the fence, since that is most often private property.
There weren’t too many stopping points today. At one point, I did cross the highway to visit small store only for the other direction. Photo above from one of the climbs with painting of virgin Mary along the way.
Close to top of one of the hills I exited Michoacan and entered Estado de Mexico or the special state that contains Mexico City.
At one of the service areas a local was selling garments. I noticed many of them as well as what I see in Atlacomulco are thicker heavy garments like sweaters.
I reached end of the cuota as well as elevation 2570 meters (8400 feet). A few kilometers of busy highway and I was in downtown.
I wandered around town. There is a nice plaza with church.
They are busy rebuilding a lot of the plaza.
And of course lots of shoe shine vendors here as well.