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Wow, We finally made it to Toluca, Mexico. This is a very high and chilly city. The elevation is 8,737 feet (2,660 meters) and the near by volcano, Nevado De Toluca, soars to a height of 15,387 feet (4,690 meters). There is a road to the top and I hope to ride it. This is without my panniers of course. This volcano dominates the landscape and can be seen from everywhere in Toluca.
Our main reason for visiting Toluca is to ride on the famous velodrome. We have heard conflicting reports on whether this velodrome still exists. We will be spending the next few days looking for it. If we find it, I will take lots of pictures and write up a description for the next email newsletter.
The ride here since I sent the last newsletter out in Morelia had its ups and downs. Literally and figuratively speaking that is. The road to Toluca went over two big mountain passes in the remote Mexican wilderness. The first of these passes was a frightening and beautifully memorable experience. I have include the full article that describes this experience below called "Into the Mist".
We spent almost a week in Cuidad Hidalgo. This medium size town will not be found in any tourist guide book or literature. That's just the way I like it. It is not some movie set of the stereotypical Mexican town that many tourists prefer to see and the guide books only list. It is the kind of place where people do a double take when they hear you speaking English in public. It is a regular place where everyday Mexican families live out their lives. We have been to scores of similar un-touristy towns but something extra special occurred here. We met Marta, a very good guide and friend. She was our gateway to being invited to numerous authentic Mexican social events and family gatherings. This is the side of Mexico that we often miss because we are just passing through.
The second pass went from Zitacuaro, in the state of Michoacan, over another mountain pass to Toluca, Mexico. The elevation change was approximately 3,000 feet in about fifteen miles. Short but steep. It was a scenic and uneventful climb except for the pack of dogs that attacked us. This particular attack was more vicious than most, probably because we were riding up hill and going very slow. There were five dogs and they had a violent distaste for foreign cyclists. A great battle was waged. One of the dogs bit my rear pannier and I had to drag him along a bit before he finally let go. It seemed to go on forever. We barely got away. I had to ram the leader with my bike before the pack gave up. There have been many other dog incidents before this. However, it seems that the further into Mexico we go the worse the dogs get. I am starting to look for ambushes around every corner. I wonder what is next.
My favorite city in this stretch of our trip was Cuidad Hidalgo. When we checked into our hotel, we left a flyer that Tim made up in Spanish and English, about out trip at the front desk. Soon we had a knock at our door, I opened it and a women standing there said, "My name is Marta and I am a cyclist too". I said "Oh! Hi! come on in". That is how we met Marta, an English teacher from Philadelphia, and we ended up staying almost a week in Hidalgo because there was so much to do. During our stay Marta showed us caves, hot springs, and the market. Through Marta and her friends, we were invited to a birthday party, a graduation party and a family picnic. The hospitality mat was laid out by both the local Mexican families and Marta. Marta has an account of her own solo bicycle trip within Mexico that we plan to include on our web site soon.
Into the Mist
I have used several brands of bicycle panniers and
highly recommend Ortlieb.
See Why I switched to Ortlieb waterproof Panniers?
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