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.
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.
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.
Two days of cycling in Michoacan have brought me to the capital, Morelia. Overall I’ve found Michoacan to be quieter than states before, both in the smaller villages and even in this capital city of 600,000+ people. However, some nice riding with colder mornings and beautiful sunshine.
A cold start today and a number of slow climbs, but otherwise a pretty ride.
Churintzio was quiet as I left.
My cycle computer told me 1.6C when I entered the cuota and then dropped to 1.2C (34F) a short while later.
However, what made it particularly cold was a sharp north cross wind that I had for first two hours. Just as it would warm a degree or two, I would go around a bend and then it would drop again. However, by 10am it finally started warming up and the wind even died down.
There were at least three long climbs today along with some reasonable descents. In one sense it was a mirror image of the day before with a lot of climbing early and then a flatter finish. I would pass some villages like one in photo above as well as agricultural fields.
This bus had broken down and while they were working to fix it, some of the passengers had already disembarked to sit on the median area.
Mexico seems to have these helpful service trucks that ride the major highways and then help in situations such as when the bus broke down. I’ve seen them on the cuota here, but in Baja I also saw them on libre roads.
At 41km, I came to this toll plaza. 181 pesos is reasonable cost ($9) and perhaps also why the cuota was not busy at all today. Other than missing towns, as a cyclist one does end up with good shoulders and smooth roads for the most part.
I had lunch at the Subway here as this was only place all day to get food.
After this one remaining longer hill but then surprisingly the road seemed to level off. At 70km, I could see Huanqueo in distance. A previous blog had mentioned a hotel Salony or similar name. I also asked once or twice to confirm there was a hotel and then cycled into town.
On entrance to town, there was a convenient sign (but it is a salon or hotel named “El Profe”). When I got to the first street, I didn’t immediately see it but asked someone who was able to lead me to the small hotel.
Unfortunately it was closed and nobody was around when I rang the bell. I waited for a bit and then decided to call a phone number I had seen posted. It was a good test of my (minimal) Spanish to understand that they were coming and would be there in 15 minutes.
The hotel itself has a big parking bay and then those stairs up to the right that lead to three rooms. I rented one of them. The proprietor is also an elementary school teacher in town and was friendly.
I walked around town but it was mostly closed. Here was shop that sold bicycles and electronics and other stuff.
Here was the main street as it headed west out of town. There was a liquor store a little ways down where those folks were, but decided not the best place to hang around.
The main church. As I asked around there really wasn’t any place to get something to eat but understood that restaurants and others would open sometime between seven and eight pm. In the evening some motorists came and rented one of the other rooms. I went into town and now the town square had five or six portable food carts out serving food. Nice chance for dinner. I think the locals were amused to have such an obvious outsider and sometimes even helped with basic language.
Today I tried a short cut through the back roads instead of taking the cuota.
The past several days I’ve taken photo of my cycle computer each day to show how cold it is, and somehow each day has been a bit colder (-1.5C = 29F). Fortunately, no strong biting wind and it warmed fairly quickly as the sun rose. I have noticed that each of the three days after Mazatlan the small hotels didn’t have blankets on the beds and each of the last three nights the hotels had blankets.
The hotel had several murals out including this one of the Morelia cathedral, my destination for the day.
First I passed under the cuota and then onto a smaller road. This went through a small village which was fun. Many of the locals were out, waiting for a bus and it was clear they didn’t have many touring cyclists come through. They looked at me and I looked at them. Occasionally there was a steep hill or two.
However, at the third village the road turned sharply uphill. My cycle computer had difficulty recording the incline since I was going too slow but I’m guessing short bits of ~11% or so. I walked a few of these. Photo above was looking down on the village after having done most of the climb.
After this it leveled off and came through a second village. I get the “only education can save the world” part of the quote above, but not quite sure what the reforms they are referring to.
After about 15km, the steepest of the hills were past. Photo above shows items I found common here: (a) stone fences (b) large cactus type trees and otherwise wide open views.
At 37km I found myself back to the main highway 15. It was two lanes with a reasonable shoulder. I also started to see some places to get food.
A few kilometers further entrance to Morelia. Here the shoulder of the main road was replaced with a frontage road on each side. These were occasionally bumpy and occasionally blocked with truck and bus traffic, but otherwise surprisingly nice to ride into the city.
Ah, lunch at last! This small shop had an excellent chicken type burger.
After this the last 8km cycling with some of that walking some sidewalks and I was at the main square. Found a place to stay not far away.
Met another touring cyclist on the main square. He had started in Georgia and was slowly winding his way down to Panama.
A photo of the main cathedral.
Simple but elegant interior. Nice to get to a somewhat larger city after these smaller towns.