(January 21 – written by Dave)
Today we had a long day in the saddle, riding from the state of Aguascalientes, across the state of Jalisco, and finally into the state of Guanajuato. We had a couple route choices and decided to ride the toll-way because we thought it might have fewer hills. I’m not sure that this really worked out so well as we climbed 3,500 feet over the 80 miles. It never really seemed to be flat as we crossed a never ending stream of small hills up and down – the downs were fun, the ups not quite so much. We were pretty happy to see a nice last downhill into Leon to end the day – thankfully Leon is not at the top of a hill.
The first 20k, before the toll-way started, was full of the ubiquitous Oxxo/Pemex shops. I counted 11 of them which seemed like just way too many for such a short distance. This kind of lulled us into thinking we’d see them all day. As we rode the toll-way, the next 85k, there was only one small store at the toll booth but no other gas or food stops. Not a big deal if you’re in a car but it is a long ways on a bike. We kept hoping at the crest of every hill that we’d see an Oxxo, or really any brand, mini-mart. No such luck. We had plenty of food and water but longed for a rest, a cool drink and our normal mini-mart fare. We ended up not stopping quite enough as a result of not finding shops – we had a couple sandwich breaks but as Nancy says, that’s just not the same as a cup of instant noodles. I was particularly hungry when we reached the end of the toll-way where we finally found a shop – I just about inhaled the ham and cheese sandwich and fruit juice.
Back when we crossed in to Jalisco, we came upon a BBQ/drinking establishment. It was too early for fried pork skins and a beer so we pushed on. I would have killed for some tasty fried flesh a couple hours later. The boys were frying up a storm and I can only imagine how many folks stopped for a plate and cold one later in the day. I was glad to be an hour ahead of them as afternoon rolled around.
The toll-way proved to be OK for bicycles once again. At both the entry and exit booths, we were motioned onto a side path, around the booths by helpful fare collectors. There were no signs saying that bikes were not allowed but I think it was more than collectors being nice to a couple gringos.
Our mini-mart stop was quite interesting. There were heaps of locals selling fruit, chips, and other odds and ends to the motorists. And lots of kids ready to wash your windows or hold the door for you – for a small coin donation of course. This, coupled with all the Mexicans stopping for snacks, including the busses, meant we had Grand Central location out in the middle of the desert.
From our stop, it was virtually all downhill to Leon. We made good time to the list of highway hotels that I’d picked out (including their Google ratings). Even though one of then got a 4.2, we couldn’t bring ourselves to stop. There was no obvious food stops near the hotels – I guess that people don’t go to them for food. So we pushed on an extra 10k into the centre of Leon. We didn’t really know where we going but a couple checks of the phone and we found a reasonable hotel just on the edge of the old-town. It is not fancy but we won’t be here long and we were both too tired to look any further. Later a large group of Mexican cyclist came in, all in matching gear. We only got to talk to them for a minute but we gathered that they’d ridden up from Mexico City.
We found a place to eat over in the main town square where we had some tasty tacos. We’re both stuff but managed to force down an ice-cream as well – it only seemed fair after such a long day in the saddle.
Tomorrow we head to the famous old town called Guanajuato. We are having 3 days off there. The real reason that we rode so far today was that Nancy wanted the 3 days and the AirBnB we found was only available for the 3 days (4 nights) starting tomorrow. As they say, “happy wife, happy life”, even if that means riding yourself into the ground to make her happy. To be fair, she rode just as far as I did today and if anything, I was complaining more than she was. She’s a tough gal, that wife of mine (Senior editor’s note – don’t believe him, I am even more tired than he is. Hopefully my legs will move tomorrow).