The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
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I write, self publish and sell
books about touring
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India and Neighbors
May 2010 to present
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SE Asia / China
Nov 2004 to Sept 2006
June 2003 to June 2004
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March 2002 to April 2003
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The 5 years before I left
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Equipment Pages Index
How Much to Bring and Weight
Advice About Advice
A Note to Perspective Sponsors and Gear Suppliers
more about Sponsorship)
HERE for Touring Bikes and Commuting Bicycles
Custom Touring Bicycles and Bike Upgrade Buyers Guide
Bicycle Touring Frames
Steel Repair Myth.
and Aluminum Derailleur Hanger Repair.
Bicycle Touring Wheels
Phil Wood: The Best Bicycle Hubs
Panniers / Bike Bags
Cargo Trailers Vs Panniers
Tires for Bike Tours..
Bicycle Touring Saddles.
Women's Specific Bike Touring Saddles
Brooks Leather Touring Bicycle Saddle Care and Conditioning
Touring Handlebars, Bar Ends, Adjustable Stems, and Padded Grips.
Sealed Cartridge Headsets
How to prevent flat tires
Bike Route Trails and Maps
Buying Camping Equipment
Tent and Ground
Pots and Pans
Solar Power for Camp
Bike Touring Shorts
Bicycle touring lights
Pictures of Equipment Failures
all 3 book)
Fine Day Down The Road: A day in the life of an around the world bicycle
State of Zacatecas, Mexico
(June 7, 2002)
Come ride with us as I devote an entire page to just one day Down The
|This day was not so special because the events were unique. Even
though we had only been on the road two months these similar circumstances had arisen
before. This day was special because everything happened in one day instead of
being spread out over several days. It is a shinning example of the variety of
things that will come your way when you chose to see the world under your own power.
When we woke up, in the morning, we found that the hotel, 40 km from the city of
Zacatecas, Mexico was full of cyclists. We saw road bikes leaning everywhere and
men walking around in spandex bike shorts. After a short conversation, in our
limited Spanish we learned that they were a group of ten riders from Guanajuato who stayed
the night. They had their families with them. Mexicans rarely do anything
unless they can bring their families along and a week long supported bike tour is no
exception. Unfortunately, they were on there way to Zacatecas, where we had just
come from. We would have surely rode with them if they were going our way. The
cyclists ranged in age from teenage to retirement. It was nice to see a group of
recreational cyclists It reminded me of the Chain Gang, a local recreational cycling
club in Prescott, Arizona.
We chose a route on the least used paved roads that we could find on our map. It
was truly a zig zag path through the rural farm country of the Mexican state of Zacatecas.
Except for generally heading south this road went no particular place. It was
far from anyplace listed in our guide books. Based on the long stares and utter
confusion or surprise on the faces of the local farmers there were not many tourist about
much less people of a different race. We love this "real" Mexico and
instead of riding in traffic just to get to the next place we were already in the place we
wanted to be. We were now riding for pure enjoyment.
We were not the only people on bikes on this lonely road. Automobiles and
gasoline are both more expensive in this country compared to the USA. Most farm
hands ride their old, one speed, fixed gear bicycle around to work in the different
fields. These bikes are not found in the USA They are very heavy but very
reliable. We came upon several men riding between fields in cowboy hats and
jeans. They looked like they worked very hard and despite the lack of high tech
equipment they rode very well. We usually had short conversations involving how
many kilometers it was before the next village and whether it was up or down. They
spoke with pride about everything and earned our deepest respect. We are after all
both cyclists, a common bond that transcends both cultures.
We headed down the road towards Pinos, which was a dot on our map hopefully several
days away. We thought it might be big enough to have a hotel. We rode past a
school where astonished children flocked to the fence and watched us as eagerly as we
watched them. Once out among the fields we waved at men plowing ancient fields with
burros. It was as if time was standing still and men toiled in the same soil with
the same farming techniques as their great grandfathers had done before. These same
simple men would hear Dolores Hidalgo's call to arms or "Cry of Independence"
and drop their plows to defeat the Spanish rulers and change the course of Mexican
history. Unfortunately not all brave farmers would return to their fields.
The nameless small villages along the way always had a small plaza for resting and
beautiful huge churches for exploring. At one such plaza we met some boys.
They were teasing another boy calling him "gordo" which means fat in Spanish
slang. In my best Spanish I gave them my teacher speech about respect. They
could care less about my speech and asked us how to call the boy gordo in English.
We told them "smart" in hopes that they would use this new word around some one
who speaks English. What comes around goes around kid.
We sat in the plaza, with no particular place to go and all day to get there, and just
gazed at the beautiful church. It had so much detail in its facade we could have
looked for hours noticing new things. It was obviously build on the great wealth of
the local silver mine and on the countless broken backs of the enslaved miners.
Suddenly, I noticed bullet marks blasted in the area around the bell tower. I told
Cindie about this and we walked around to examine it more closely. There were
similar bullet marks around every window but the bell tower had the most. After
looking up a couple words in our Spanish / English dictionary we asked some locals about
it. I could not understand everything that was said back but I did catch one
repeated word. Revolution. It seemed clear to me now. I envisioned a
great battle. It was around 1810 or so and the revolution was sweeping through
Mexico. Now, if I were a Spaniard and an angry army of revolutionaries was coming my
way I would head to the sturdiest structure around, the church. I would command my
men to barricade the doors and take up firing positions in all the windows. I would
send my best shots to the bell tower. The shot up condition of that bell tower today
is testament of the fire fight that ensued to take this church. Wow!
We stopped in Noria de las Angeles to take a look at my crank because it had been
making a clicking noise all day. This village had huge tailing piles surrounding it
which spoke clearly of it's history as a important mining center. Presently it is a
sleepy little place where old ladies grow roses and men use pack animals to do their
shopping. We even saw an old man come out of a cantina with a real sombrero, not the
tourist kind, it was well worn from many years of use. It was so big it easily could
provide as much shade as an umbrella. As we were sitting there we saw 15 packed
buses turn towards the town plaza. The people on these buses had to quadruple the
population of this small village. We just had to investigate and although we had
only ridden 40 Km (24 miles) and it was early in the day we stopped. We came to
Mexico to learn the language and culture not just pedal and this looked like an
educational opportunity. It turns out that it was a political rally. They had
bused in people from distant urban areas to pump up the locals about their
candidate. Something like this doesn't happen everyday in rural Mexico and farmers
and their families came in from all over. There were hundreds of people milling
around the square. We were easily noticed because, as usual, we were the only
non-Mexicans around and many had seen us earlier in the day riding down the road as they
worked the fields. They always wave and give us great big smiles.
The big political rally was in progress as even more busses were parking in an unused
field. There was a flashy band playing popular music and many people knew every word
of each song and sang along. In between songs a loud man was spewing out campaign
promises. The locals looked as if they knew these promises were the same old thing
and they just wanted the music. Eventually he introduced the candidate and his
family. The crowd went wild as he shook hands and kissed babies. Just to see
somebody so important was a big thing for these simple people.
Cindie set off to look at the local church while I watched the bikes. She
reported that it was the most breath taking church she had ever seen with beautiful
paintings everywhere and numerous statues. She spoke with the usual crowd of elegant
older ladies who always seem to be milling around these churches. They always seem
to appreciate the fact that we have chosen their village to come visit and think so highly
of their church and history.
When we first got to town no one approached us but as soon as we began talking to
people in Spanish the kids just mobbed us, there must have been thirty kids around
us. They wanted to know all about us and our equipment. A few kids doing this
was OK but I was completely surrounded and starting to wonder what was next. The flames of
their curiosity were blazing and emotion was taking over. In the middle of it all a
women asked us if we needed any thing and we said yes, anything to disperse the mob.
It is amazing how your Spanish improves at times like this. Off to her house we went
with at least twenty kids in tow, she was kind enough to let us use her bathroom.
When we were done we sat down next to the police officer and talked with the kids for a
while. The kids were much better behaved in front of their small town police man.
I am sure he knew all their parents. I asked the police officer if there was
a hotel in town even though I was pretty sure there wasn't. He said no but we could
camp next to the police station. This has worked for me in the past. Once you
have a Mexican police officers permission to camp his reputation rides on your safety.
We rode around town looking for a restaurant and could not find one, so we were once
again back at the police station asking if there was a restaurant in town. We got
directions but had difficulty finding a restaurant. We rode past a dog barking at us
from behind a fence, he was wagging his tail so he didn't look particularly mean.
When we rode by again suddenly a goat jump up to take a look too. Just to
We spoke with a group of women outside their house and asked about a restaurant.
They said that they serve food but did not have any chicken today. They eat a lot of
chicken in this part of Mexico and almost everyone has a few running around their yard.
We said we would be happy with eggs. She invited us into her house and we ate
at their kitchen table. Three young boys lived in the house and they had lots of
questions for us. We talked through dinner and beyond. We used this
opportunity to learn more Spanish. We finally set up our tent just before
sunset. Then the boys came over and asked us if we wanted to take a shower at their
house. Of course we did. Mean while we met Victor a local grade school
teacher. After he heard us mispronounce many words he decided that we needed to run
through the Spanish alphabet. It was easy to tell that he spends a good part of his
day doing the same thing with five year olds in class. It was great. Each
letter came with an elaborate theatrics to help us remember the sounds it makes.
eeeh is the sound that e makes and I will never forget him hobbling around acting like
grandfather who could not understand you. eeeh I can not hear you. The
women who made us dinner happen to be his grandmother. We could of stayed up all
night talking but I was exhausted so off to sleep we went.
Plowing a field the hard way with two burros.
At least we are faster than this burro pulling the cart.
Tim riding in the backcountry in the state of Zacatecas.
The band at the political rally in Noria de Angeles.
North and Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03
(July 18 - Aug 22, 2002)
The State of
Guanajuato to Toluca, Mexico
Other essays by Tim
Into the Mist State
of Michoacan, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Michoacan,
Full size Picture
- Guanajuato to
Penjamillo to Patzcuaro, Mexico
Patzcuaro to Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan,
Into the Mist Mexican highway 15
Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan, to Toluca, Mexico
The Velodrome in Toluca, Mexico
(Oct. 12 - Nov. 8, 2002)
The States of Tabasco and Chiapas,
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Tabasco and
Chiapas, Mexico Pictures
Full size Picture
- Museum La Venta and the
Olmec Heads Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Ocosingo,
Palenque #1 Photo Picture Page
Palenque #2 Photo Picture Page
Misol-Ha Waterfall Chiapas, Mexico
Agua Azul Chiapas, Mexico
Tonina Mayan Ruins Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico
Mexico's Day of the Dead Ocosingo, Chiapas,
Ocosingo to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico
(March 15 - April 10, 2003)
Costa Rica #2
Manual Antonio to Monteverde
Cloud Forest, Costa Rica
Tim's Emailed Newsletters
Costa Rica #2 (incomplete)
Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Costa Rica #2 Pictures
Full size Picture
Parque National Manuel Antonio, #2
City of Santa Elena
Santa Elena, Monteverde
Frog Pond (Ranario), Santa
Santa Elena, Cloud
Forest, National Park
Sky Walk, Suspension
Bridge, Canopy Tour
Sky Trek Zip Line,
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground