Mexico: A Great Place to Cycletour
Things turned out quite funny. Normally a long tour starts in your home country and when you finish it, you come back to it. For me, this was another story.
We entered Mexico (by bicycle of course) in November 2015 through one of the most concurred borders in the world, the San Ysidro- Tijuana border. After more than 5 years away from home I was finally getting back to the city where I hit my first homerun, ate my first fish taco and got drunk with very bad and cheap tequila.
I entered as a Mexican citizen but with eyes of a foreigner. We had already cycled through 28 different countries and even if I did not want to do it, my mind was always making comparisons between the places that I had been.
It was nonetheless an exciting opportunity to rediscover my country like very few people have had the chance to do it, and I was all game for it.
The first thing that stroked me just as we crossed the border was the how scandalous we Mexicans are. The noise! The cars, the people making offers to buy magazines, plastic toys and tacos. It took me a couple of seconds to realize that I was finally home!
It took us around 4 months and a half to cycle from Tijuana to Cancún, a 4,700 km odyssey through deserts, beaches, volcanoes, forest, Maya ruins and Caribbean seas. Because of family related commitments in Germany we weren´t able to stay in Mexico for a longer period of time, but let me tell you something: if we could have stayed there longer we would have done it, easily!
Why Mexico is a a Great Place to Cycletour
So cycle tourist or bike packer if you are thinking of cycling though Mexico here are some personal observations to make the case that Mexico is a great place to cycle.
Yes, I have had the fortune to gorge in South East Asian food, as well as Chinese. Yes I think Turkish food is awesome and who doesn’t like a great hamburger from the US of A but hear me out, Mexican Food is truly special.
For starters Mexican Cuisine has been declared by UNESCO as an Intangible Heritage of Humanity. Among the reasons, it helps create community, has an outstanding variety of techniques and ingredients in its offer and it’s affordable to any budget.
I can only say that I thought I knew Mexican Food. I was wrong, I discovered so many dishes, tacos and drinks I had no idea that existed. Among the delicious things you will be able to taste are: squid quesadilla in Baja, lime soup in Yucatan, Barbacoa taco in the center and Fish Machaca Burritos.
Squid Quesadilla: A tortilla filled with cheese and squid marinated in a special sauce.
Lime Soup: A soup made from lime, the process is very complicated and the taste out of this world.
Barbacoa Taco: Pulled Sheep meat cooked in an underground oven.
Fish Machaca Burrito: Dried fish meat with onion, tomato and chili.
All of these new dishes are under a 1.5 USD each and the taste is like nothing I have eaten before. Most of these dishes you will be able to get along the road if you cross Mexico from North to South or vice versa. More dishes from Tijuana: Tijuana: A Paradise for the Hungry Cyclists )
You Can Cycle Through Two Volcanoes
Yes! You heard it well. One of the most beautiful National Parks Mexico has to offer is the PARQUE NACIONAL IZTACCÍHUATL–POPOCATÉPETL. I call it our little Canada. The National Park ohas a road that enables you to cross in between the two volcanoes at a hight of 3,650 mts. The view is astonishing with the two volcanoes covered in snow, for most of the year. (blog here: The highest point in five years – Cycling the Central Mexican mountains )
The best part is that with the 2 USD entry fee, there is a free campground where you can stay overnight. Apart from the view and the breathtaking landscape you will see at night, you can hear the bursts of the “Popo”, one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico. The sound is very similar to a jet engine bursting into action, like nothing I have ever heard of. It’s scary at times but exciting at the same time!
The park is safely guarded by Forrest Rangers and Police. There are two main roads you can climb, one is paved and the other one is not. We recommend to climb from the paved side and ride down on the other to have a better view of the forest and its wildlife.
Baja California Peninsula
For me the most beautiful parts to cycle in the world are normally the ones where human presence is absent from the picture. I would include Alaska, Yukon and Northwest Territory and Baja California on the same list. Baja has it all, nature, two wonderful oceans, great food, beautiful virgin beaches, dream like oasis and a nice paved road to cycle in it.
I was particularly blown away by San Ignacio, a small town with a Mission (a church) and an oasis you can swim in. This is also the place where there is a Cycling House (Casa Cyclisa), you can eat the squid quesadilla and buy 1.5 USD caguamas (1 lt beer).
The recent year has been great for cycling in Baja. There is even a new offroad bikepacking route courtesy of our friends Lael and Nicholas! So if you are feeling adventurous, check out the Baja Divide, a route like none other.
Diversity of its Ecosystem
Mexico has one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. This means that if you manage to cycle a couple of months in Mexico you might get to enjoy 11 different ecosystems that exist in the world in only one country!
This means seeing diverse wild life, eating different kinds of fruits that practically fall off from trees. In Mexico you can basically hike to to a 5,000 meters Volcano, swim in the blue waters of the Caribbean, wonder in its jungles and forests and watch the sun go down in its deserts.
Another thing I have to say about Mexico is that its roads and general infrastructure are more then decent, it’s actually good. There are top notch hospitals in every big city, the roads are fairly well paved, you can get a bus anywhere and they will take your bicycle with little opposition. There are also no restrictions in internet, that is easy and cheap to find and there are also airlines that do cheap domestic flights, there is even one that includes your bicycle as normal luggage.
This one is easy. Instead of writing about it I am just going to invite you to talk to as many Mexicans as you can within your stay. You will make a lot of friends, I am pretty sure about that. Also there is a growing network of warmshowers that will make your stay the best!
Mexico: A Great Place to Cycletour
These are only some of the reasons why Tasting Travels believes that Mexico is another great country to travel. Also if you are worried about security I can’t promise nothing will happen. I mean everywhere represents a risk, however what I can tell you is that the more cycle tourists I met that have traveled through Mexico, the more I am convinced that our people will make everything they can to protect you. I mean we are 120 million Mexicans, and most of us are peaceful, friendly and cheerful human beings that wish nothing but the best for tourists in our country.
Give yourself a chance to feel welcome here, because you always are!