Discussion in 'Touring and Adventure Cycling' started by rich p, 9 Mar 2008.

  1. rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Mrs richp has been offered some work (4 days) in Mexico next October all expenses paid and I aim to tag along (no expenses paid!). We'll hopefully add a couple of weeks on after her stuff to travel and maybe cycle.
    At the moment I'm not sure what the plan will be but I'd be interested to hear any advice and recommendations from anyone who has been there, either on a bike or not.
  2. Foghat

    Foghat Veteran

    Hmmm. Interesting country. I've 'done' Baja California - not cycling but climbing mountains and exploring deserts. :angry:

    Some general observations that may be helpful:

    Potholes can be BIG, even in the middle of major towns. The most interesting roads are dirt/gravel, but can be severely washboarded, so check your fillings before you go. If you hire a car, go for 4WD, as you will definitely want to travel down these roads if you wish to explore properly, and the 2WD won't be insured for it. You'll need ingenuity and good driving skills, too, for all the washed-out sections you have to negotiate. If the car needs a good going over before you hand it back, take it to a manned car wash, where approximately 10 staff will be on hand to really give it the works.

    If it rains, you are quite likely to find arroyos that are normally bone dry 350 days a year running with water, and many dirt roads will cross these, so watch out. You will also encounter numerous unsigned and unpainted road humps. These will launch you quite high if driving and you don't spot in time, so enjoy the ride and wince for the suspension!

    Locals tend to favour enormous American pick-ups and 'SUVs'. Even the poorest-looking back-of-beyond shack is likely to have one or more of these outside. Driving standards weren't too bad in my experience.

    You'll encounter numerous carcasses by the roadside - dogs, horses, cattle, coyotes - all probably bloated and honking to buggery and most unpleasant to cycle/walk past. No fluffy-animal syndrome in Mexico!

    Try to wild camp if possible, should that be your thing. This is safer than you'd imagine, and you can find some marvellously deserted, moderately remote spots with unspoilt vistas without much difficulty. Plenty of stunning-view-through-tent-flap-at-dawn opportunities for added value (although the sun's heat on the flysheet will propel you out of your sleeping bag with guaranteed alacrity each morning). No British mudbath camping problems - the ground will be rock hard. Make sure you avoid camping on tracks - can be tempting when searching for a site late in the day, but getting mown down in the night by a pissed-up local is a real possibility.

    Remember that the average height is quite short - many situations that might provide plenty of headroom for Mexicans will have northern Europeans cracking their nuts. They think nothing of stringing barbed wire across gateways/passageways at European head-height, so watch out at night when it might not be obvious.

    Don't trust the maps. You will find roads on the wrong side of valleys, and other serious errors. Lonely Planet will have the usual complement of inaccuracies and out-of-date entries, so keep a notebook to report these back.

    Do not wander around scantily clad at night or when intoxicated. Falling on a cactus patch will likely render you seriously injured. :biggrin:

    Be amazed at the number of staff in public service institutions doing absolutely nothing. Manana, as ever, applies. Be prepared for astonishment on the part of vendors at a simple request for a stamp.....:sad: Phrasebook essential.

    Mexican food gets rather tiresome after a while. There's only so much tortilla-type wrap variation before the novelty wears off, so best to do two-days-on/one-day-off.

    If keen to cycle, mountain bikes and a 4WD will be essential to get you to the good bits.

    Definitely worth the effort of getting off the beaten track. Good luck...and report back in due course.....!?
  3. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    Cool! What does she do work wise if you don't mind me asking?
  4. OP
    rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    Great stuff Foghat but I don't know if that advice excites me or puts me off!!!

    I'm really looking forward to a new, non-European cullture shock for a change.
    I did wonder whether to try and join an organised cycle tour to take out the effort. My road bike or even Galaxy doesn't sound as if it would be suitable.

    Domt, she's a paediatric research physiotherapist and is off to share some of the best practice info with her Mexican peers. It is quite common for the treatment of the disabled (mainly cerebral palsy) kids to be treated in a way we would find slightly Dickensian, shall we say. It's not only poorer countries either, the USA is one she mentions as being resistant to change for instance.
  5. Foghat

    Foghat Veteran

    No reason to be put off, rich p!

    It'll be as adventurous as you want to make it. Beaching it at Cancun is some people's idea of adventure; I prefer to get stuck in a bit, but the reality is probably somewhat less heroic than my earlier post may have indicated.....just a few precautionary notes really. You will enjoy it, I'm sure.

    Do you know where you'll be going?
  6. OP
    rich p

    rich p ridiculous old lush

    No, not yet apart from Mrs richp being in Monterey for the first 4 days, then the world as they say , is my lobster!
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