(January 30 – written by Dave)
Today was a hard but interesting day. Between the weather challenges and the dog challenges it felt like a much longer day than just 80 kilometers. Our hotel was cold overnight, we really should have asked for an extra blanket. We only used two body widths of our fancy king sized bed, smashed up against each other for warmth all night. This morning we tried to get the hot water going only to discover that there was actually no water, cold or hot. Not sure what happened, maybe the pipes froze – they seem to run plumbing on outside walls here. The locals seem to be saying that is colder than normal as well.
We started riding rugged up against the cold in the morning. The ride out of town was ok traffic wise but we had our first dog chase only 5k into the day. For some reasons the dogs were out in force today. We had a couple of stealth attacks and others that were more direct. With a combination of riding fast, yelling and stopping to throw rocks, we managed to evade all the pesky buggers but there were a lot of them. Unfortunately there was also lots of evidence on the roadway of some of the more unlucky dogs that didn’t survive clashes with cars. We also see lots of dogs that have clearly bit hit at some point and are now sporting bad appendages, hopping around as best they can. It’s sad to see, even if they do chase us sometimes.
Not all the dogs were chasers, the cute fellow below came up to us when we stopped for a nature break – he was skinny and looking for a good home. We chatted with him and gave him a rub, but we had to turn him down on the offer to join us. Later at our lunch stop, we met an extremely pregnant female dog. She could hardly move and looked like the pups would be popping out any minute. She was keen to share our lunch in spite of the Oxxo employees having a big plate of dog food out for her. We left before puppies arrived.
At one dog attack spot today, a car pulled up so that it was between us and the car. That seemed pretty nice but it got better. The driver rolled down the window and handed over a couple oranges for us to eat and asked about our trip. Later in the day on a busy section of road where the shoulder was also bad, we had another car drive behind us for more than a kilometer. We stopped to thank him and he wanted to know all about our trip as well. He stayed behind until the shoulder improved, then filmed us leaning his arm out the passenger window holding his smart phone. Lots of nice folks out there today.
The scenery today was more interesting than it’s been over the past week. There must be some sort underground aquifers in Ixmiquilpan. All the streams and creeks were dry but they have lots of green fields and irrigation cannels full of water. We passed a handful of water parks in the first 10k as well. They must be getting water from somewhere – too bad they didn’t have any at our hotel this morning!
Today was uphill most of the way. We ended up with about 3,500 feet of climbing in total. None of it was overly taxing in steepness but the hills and the cold made us ride pretty slow and not get to our hotel in Pachuca until after 3PM. We made a couple of stops at Oxxo stores to warm up along the way and then stopped at a grocery store for supplies when we hit the city. We had morning sun but by about mid-day, high clouds came in and the wind picked up. The weather improved enough for us to take off our jackets this morning with the sunny skies but it turned very cold in the afternoon. The lack of sun, combined with a nipping cool wind from the east made the temperature drop quite dramatically from noon onwards. It was only 8 (46F) when we arrived at our hotel. We had to put on more layers for the last hour of the day. So much for today being warmer.
We are staying again at a hotel that our fellow touring cyclists Mike and Linda stayed at back in 2015. They moved here after one bad night in another hotel just across the town square. They mentioned that our hotel was more expensive. But we didn’t really care as we were cold and tired (sort of like grocery shopping when you are hungry). It was my day to go to reception. We’d kind of already decided to “call an audible” and take a rest day here – it wasn’t part of the plan but we felt cold and we need to look around these towns a bit, rather than just rushing through. I was delighted to find out that the hotel had a special (50%) on and that we could get a room that was in our budget – perfect, a day off and a great hotel to boot. Not only that but they decided that we should have a bigger room so that we could get the bikes inside. Bigger does not do this room justice – it is massive. We have a sitting area, two regular beds, two day beds and a bar area. We may have a hard time leaving come Thursday AM.
We managed to force ourselves to go outside to drop some clothes off at the laundry around the corner and find a nice place for dinner – El Manzanillo. Great enchiladas and pizza and some nice wine to wash it down. Nancy looked a bit like a snowman walking around with her down jacket and her Showers Pass rain jacket on (with both hoods up)!
Oh yeah, the whole “call an audible” thing. Nancy had never heard of this saying before today. For those not familiar with American gridiron, it basically means that the quarterback changes the play just before the snap of the ball. I know, gridiron, what’s that. And for our international friends, what’s a quarterback. Never mind, just know that we are taking tomorrow off to look around Pachuca. Hopefully the weather really will warm up – we are both getting a bit weary of the cold.