Cycling days 43-45: San Miguel to Toluca
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
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We wake up early to the sounds of fireworks outside Andrei and Allie's home in San Miguel de Allende. We spend a slow morning catching up on internet duties, watching a hot air balloon fly overhead, and have brunch with the family. As usual, it's hard to leave a place after making new friends -- being with Allie, Andrei and the kids makes us really miss our family and friends back in Southern California. We must continue on though, so as we pack our bags, the family steps out the door and we are left with a big, quiet house to ourselves. Yannick patches Shirley's leaky innertube, then we do one last check for loose screws on the bike racks (from all that jiggling on cobblestoned roads) and for pressure in the tires. What...Yannick has a flat too!? Ugh, we detach his bags, his wheel, and change the tube, then patch the second innertube of the morning. Alright, now we're ready. Out the door, back up the cobblestone hill, and to the grocery store for another late lunch.
As we ride out of San Miguel, we have a tailwind...a tailwind at last! We coast down the highway and enjoy the easy riding. It was a nice town stop, but it feels good to be back on the road again...so nice we decide to skip the city of Queretaro. We feel like we've visited so many cities in the past week that we just want to be on our bicycles for a few days. We continue down the main highway towards Toluca, which is the same direction as Mexico City and shares the same highway. Not such a good thing...big cities means a lot of debris on the shoulder of the road. As we speed down a hill dodging blown out tires, shattered glass, overgrown bushes, a broken down bus with passengers waiting alongside the highway, Yannick stops and says his wheel is making a clicking noise.
Day 44 (1/30/11): 130km
As we ride the highway towards Mexico City, we feel safe enough...the traffic is just LOUD. The sun is blazing and we sweat like crazy as we gain elevation. So much traffic even for a Sunday morning! I guess that's what happens when you approach the most populated city in the world...which also means the most polluted city. We wonder how our lungs look from inhaling all this vehicle exhaust...so gross! We continue to dodge debris in the shoulder of the road and have to pull over several times to remove shards of glass from our tires. The turnoff towards Toluca finally comes and we are finally relieved of all the speeding semi-trucks. Shirley's head is hurting from all that noise and the strong sun...at least now part of the headache is being alleviated.
Parts of this road have been newly paved, so the riding starts out smoothly. Other sections are still under construction, so the road's two narrow lanes that are open are a little sketchy to ride on. They are working on widening the highway, so we jump from pieces of newly paved road that alternate from the left and the right of the two open lanes. We must have crossed the highway at least a dozen times...and boy are we glad it's Sunday so construction isn't going on today!
By late afternoon, we have seen several large groups of bicycles going int he opposite direction with escort vehicles. We soon realize they are also doing a pilgrimage except they are riding 200km in 5 days instead of taking 9 days to walk. We are a little jealous because they have a tailwind and we are peddling against it! On top of that, we are going through rolling hills with an overall elevation gain -- headwind and hills make for a challenging afternoon.
At 6pm, we choose to pass up a possible camp and decide to climb over the next pass in hopes we get a long descent on the other side. We are right...long downhill! The problem is that there is a fairly large city waiting at the bottom of the hill. It's 6:30pm and there are so many people everywhere! Now it is 6:45pm and we are pedaling like mad to try to exit town before it gets dark. Yannick spots a panaderia and we can't pass it up...we run inside and grab a few pastries for later, then rush back onto the road. (Come on, we have priorities! :) Almost 7pm and we're getting desperate because we see a sign for the next city...and it isn't very far.
As soon as we get back on the road, we start ascending. Good morning workout! It would be a hot day except the wind keeps us well ventilated. By afternoon, the winds become even stronger, which seems to be the weather pattern for around here. We occassionally get sand blasted and Shirley is definitely not steering in a straight line. Wobbling in the wind, we make decent progress and arrive in Calixthuacan at 4:30pm. We are about 10km from Toluca, but had CouchSurfing arrangements to arrive the next day. We get on the internet and find that Miguel has emailed us his contact info, so we let him know we are arriving a day early.
Now it's 5pm and we want to make sure we find Miguel's place fairly quickly because we don't want to try navigating in the dark in a city of nearly one million people. With Yannick's handwritten map, some landmarks, and the help of a couple locals for directions, we make it to Miguel's around 6:15pm and Miguel arrives home 5 minutes after us...perfect timing! For dinner, we drive to Metepec and eat tacos, flautas, and a Pambazo (a local fried bread torta)...so good! We walk around the downtown for a little while and are surprised by how quiet the streets are. I guess people don't like to hang out on cold Monday nights! We go back to Miguel's place and have the quietest night's sleep in 45 days.