Monday, 31 May 2010

along the coast to Zihuatanejo

Monday 31st of May 2010

The ferry docked in the port of Mazatlan at around 8am. A slow cycle ride took me into the centre of the “old town” and a cheap hotel. Not getting much sleep on the ferry I hit the bed but not before I had turned on the fan.

Come the afternoon, come the shopping trip. I needed a few more T shirts as two of mine are of no use to me on the bike (they take far to long to dry out and they have given me a major case of jogger's enough was enough). After a walk around I was able to buy only one T shirt in my size but it is better than nothing. Even more importantly I was able to buy a couple of pairs of cycle gloves as the ones I brought from Halfords before I left England had completely worn out. The gloves stop your hands from sliding of the handle bars...which is really handy!

In the early evening I went for a walk around the area. The town has much more of a big city hustle and bustle feel to it than La Paz and the grid layout made for easy walking. I checked out the sunset sitting on the sea wall with the waves of the pacific gently crashing on the rocks several metres away. Later on I ended up in a small square in the middle of the Art and cultural district were there are several bars and restaurants.

I pigged out....big time!

The next day it was up early, I have no idea why? There were clothes to wash, food to buy and a route to plan. Two hours later all of that was complete, so cue rocking chair in the hotel courtyard!

As the afternoon turned towards the evening I decided to head back to one of the restaurants in the square but I thought I would take the long way there along the seafront. The views were great and by the time I was sitting down at the restaurant table the sun had almost set. The food was delicious and the beer cold!

Upon leaving the restaurant I found that I was completely unable to walk properly. The tendons in my ankle were taut and non flexible and the 10 minute walk of yesterday took me nearly 50 minutes today! I finally managed to hobble back to my room and as I went to sleep trying to find a comfortable position for my foot took a while.

The next morning I came to the quick conclusion that there was no way I would be getting on the bike. During the course of the day I massaged, stretched and slow walked my ankle back into something that was almost useful.

Finally on Thursday 3rd of June I got back on the bike. As it had been a week since I had turned the pedals (I'm not counting the two hours it took me to cycle the 11 miles from la paz to the ferry terminal) and I was definitely uncertain about my ankle I planned an easy 45 mile ride to the small town of El Rosario.

The 1st 24km were along a busy dual carriageway with a large hard shoulder and the going was flat and easy. After that I had a choice, go along the “free road” or the “toll road”. I chose the toll road because it had the hard shoulder and the free road didn't. Being on a bike meant I didn't have to pay at the toll booth and the road was by far the best road I have yet to cycle down. By 11:30 I had made it to the centre of El Rosario which itself was a few miles from the highway. After rehydrating, even though it was only midday and the next town was only 25km away I decided to find a hotel room.

The hotel was easy enough to find and at 120 pesos a night it was damn cheap.

The afternoon was spent in a rocking chair in the courtyard with occasional playtimes with the hotel dog...which was nice. In the evening I needed food and I ended up in a street restaurant in the centre of town. The host couldn't speak English and I really can't speak Spanish so I ended up just saying Si to whatever he said.

Throughout my 40 years on planet earth I had yet to eat prawns...that soon changed! It looked like I ordered a large glass bowl of fish broth packed with prawn tails with the odd bit of onion and celery chucked in for good measure. After 8 or 9 of those little buggers I decided that although the taste wasn't making me gag, I was concerned about possible food poisoning issues! Mind you at under £4 a bowl it was good value.

In the evening I was in was in bed by 9pm, listening to the fan whirr the warm air around.

The next morning I awoke before the alarm and looked at the time. Looks like I forgot to set the alarm because it was 07:30! I was on the road 30 minutes later and soon I was back on the toll road heading south. Several easy but slightly boring hours later I exited the highway and was making my way along the secondary road the 5kms to the town of Acaponeta and a hotel. 500 metres along the road I saw a was 2pm and as I wasn't planning on doing any sight seeing this afternoon I thought “sod it, this will do”. For the 1st time in 12 days I had a room with A/C (and a two channel TV) it was costing me 250 pesos but I needed it!!

The following day, after experiencing the effects of a time experiment I was on the road just after 6am. By midday I was in the town of Santiago Ixcuintla, hot and sweaty. After a quick cycle tour around the centre of town I found only one hotel. At 320 pesos a night it was expensive but it had A/C, cable TV and not too bad a deal after all! In the evening following a pizza and chips meal I had a quiet night in.

looking at the map and the road ahead I came to the conclusion that as I wasn't in a rush (this isn't a race and there is no finish line) I would take it easy for 3 or 4 days on the road to Puerto Vallarta. Therefore the next day I rode the 30 miles to San about taking it easy!!!!

On the approach to the town I bumped into a fellow biker. Alain from Switzerland has been on the road for a few years and has so far covered 20000kms around north America. He is heading in a similar direction to me so I expect to see him somewhere on the road further south. We chatted for a while, comparing bikes, equipment and stories. If the truth be told I don't think he has heard of the word “ultralight”. He is basically carrying the same gear as me but he needs a trailer to get it all on. We came to the conclusion that his bike is around 30kg more than mine!

Leaving Alain to his lunch I headed into the centre of town, found a good value hotel (200 pesos per night with cable TV!) a few blocks from the main square and decided to have a siesta.

In the evening I was sitting outside a bar in the main square. My fingers were drumming a “what to do what to do what to do” beat on the table. By the end of the second beer I had my answer....lets have a lie in tomorrow!

I left San Blas and spent two days cycling the 100 odd miles to Puerto Vallarta, spending the night in the unremarkable out of season seaside town of Rincon de Guayabitos. The days were overcast and very muggy and there were lots of hours spent going uphill...slowly! However every time I went up hill my legs got just that little bit stronger, the rest of me got just that little bit fitter and the climbs got ever so slightly easier...but not by much :)

I arrived in Puerto Vallarta on the afternoon of Wednesday 9th of June, found a cheap but slightly run-down hotel in the central tourist area and relaxed! In the evening I realised that the world cup started in two days time...looks like I'm here for the weekend :)

I ended up watching the England V USA match in Harry's bar, the only English pub in Puerto Vallarta. It was packed out with a friendly rivalry between the opposing supporters. I won the “guess the time of the 1st goal” competition and the winnings paid for the my beers.

The bars here don't shut till 4am so I had late nights and lazy days.

I did look at going diving and I found a dive shop nearby that would do a days diving for 1000 pesos. I was warming to the idea till the guy mentioned that I would have to make my own way to the marina several kilometres away via a bus! So instead I spent 450 pesos on a 90 minute massage, the lass did a really good job on my I guess I had a happy ending after all :)

I was all set to leave early Monday morning but my clothes were stuck in a launderette on Sunday afternoon and I wasn't able to get them till the following day...maybe mañana.

The next morning I was up early and ready to leave. Whilst carrying my bike down from my 3rd floor room I managed to slip on the stairs and jar my ankle in the process....of course it had to be my left ankle!!

On the road all was mostly okay, the road followed the coast up, down and around the headlands till after about 10 miles it headed inland and uphill. After 90 minutes I had travelled several miles and came to stop in a small village for a break. My ankle was stiff and sore and I was facing more uphill action for many miles to come. It was then I saw I hotel sign.........

In the morning after a long day of rest I was once again going uphill. After several hours the road started to go downhill and after a while it became flat! I spent the night in the small town of Tomatlan in a cheap hotel near the town square. The following day I was back on the road, sweating! The day was pretty much like the one that came before it, long uphill climbs followed by even more long uphill climbs. After 60 miles of this I was, to say the least, knackered. By now it was just after 3pm and I had had enough for the day. Stopping for a cold drink in a small village I realised after 10 minutes that I was standing in front of a hotel...doh!!! The next day it was about 60 miles to the seaside town of Manzanillo where I was planning to have a day of rest. The 1st 35 miles were uphill, then after the goddess of topography had answered my prayer I had 5 miles of downhill free-wheeling....yippee! After that it was an easy 20 mile ride along the flat coastal plain, if the strong headwind hadn't of been blowing!

Manzanillo is situated on a wide curving bay several miles long that is bisected by a small headland. I was making my way along the road when I saw a cheap hotel and decided that enough was enough. For 150 pesos I got a bed, a noisy fan, a toilet and a pipe in the wall that water comes out of. In the evening I was eating in a small restaurant a few 100 metres from my hotel. Halfway into the meal I looked around and saw a sign for the 2 star hotel next door. For only 50 pesos more I could of got A/C, cable TV and free wifi.....BUGGER!!!! Later on in the evening I found myself in a rock music bar, sitting on a stool overlooking the surf-able waves of the pacific ocean crashing on to the golden sands whilst a scarlet sunset slowly set. Sometimes life is good!

After a couple of nights I was once again up early and on the road, this time to the small town of Tecoman about 45 miles away. Once over the hill I was on the toll road going along by the ocean. Several Sunday morning cyclists passed by heading the other way, on their light weight racing machines....tossers :)
Arriving in the town of Tecoman I made my way to the town centre and after a quick cycle around found a cheap hotel near the main square and the church. The afternoon siesta was relaxing and the evening meal was devoured with relish. Following a few cold beers in a local bar I headed back to the hotel and was looking forward to a good nights sleep.

I was drifting off to the land of nod when a cockroach ran across my face! Once my impression of a very scared eight year girl in a pink frilly dress was over I turned on the light to see about 12 of the bastards running around on the floor...I didn't get much sleep that night! Come the morning I was up early and very eager to get the hell out of there. Unfortunately the lazy sloth like bastard that had the key to unlock the hotel entrance (and only fire escape too I might add) could not be found. 45 minutes later someone turned up to get into the hotel and get to work and after a phone call the sloth then took him a further 10 minutes to remember where he had left the padlock key!

Finally I was on the is 270 kilometres (or 160 miles) to Playa Azul so I had more than a few days of biking ahead of me, most of which would be along the coast on a winding road that rose and fell dramatically. After about 25 miles the road stopped being flat but I knew that it would be the case (sometimes google earth is a blessing, sometimes it's not) and started going uphill. Passing a small village right on the beach with several hotels (it was just a little bit too early to stop) I slowly made my way up the inclines. Coming around a corner I saw Alain resting by the side of the road! Neither of us were expecting to see one another this soon! We carried on to the next town and stopped for lunch and the last 20 minutes of Switzerland's loss to Chile in the world cup.

At this point I had cycled 40 miles and the next town with a hotel was 15 miles away mostly uphill. Luckily the small town where I was had a hotel, so that was good enough for me. Alain, had only covered about 10 miles so he decided to carry on...

The next day I was back on the road and once again going uphill, again and again and again! The downhill bits were long enough to dry the sweat from my face but that was it. Coming down one of the short descents I passed a small house where the world's fastest accelerating dog happened to live. Within a blink of an eye it had appeared from nowhere and was within feet of my back wheel. Bear in mind that I was doing 25mph at this point and I had to start pedalling to break his chase. The adrenalin made the next ascent easier than the last. By 14:30 the hot sun and the terrain had taken its toll, turning a corner I came across a small town and ended up spending the night on the beach under a ancient hut for free...but only because there wasn't a hotel!

Waking up with the dawn I was, after breakfast, on the road by 8am. Having covered 80 miles in the last two days I wasn't too sure what my energy levels would be. By 11am I had covered nearly 20 miles, I think I pushed hard too early! Sitting outside a shop I spent 30 minutes drinking 3 bottles of gatorade and a can of coke...yes I was that thirsty! One mile later I passed a small establishment right on the beach. It had a restaurant, RV parking and a few rooms. I paused for a few minutes then decided it was too early to stop and carried on up the road. 100 metres later I came to the conclusion that I was being a “fucking twat”. I turned the bike around and got myself a 200 peso room for the night. The rest of the day was spent in the hammock.....

In the morning I only had 100kms to Playa Azul to took me two days, I mean what was the rush! The final day (Friday 25th of June) was mostly along flat roads...fantastic!!!! With less than 10 miles to go I watched 2000 miles appear on my odometer!

Arriving at Playa Azul I was disappointed to say the least....still, two days off the saddle is two days off the saddle!

After two days it was back on the bike and I had 80 odd miles to go to get to the seaside town of Zihuatanejo (and no I have no idea how to pronounce it!). So I decided to pedal 40 miles each day, turns out it was more like 60 miles the 1st day as that was where the hotels were! On the Monday (28th of June) I only had 20 miles to travel and I was glad of the ankle was feeling weak, once again!

I finally made it to Zihuatanejo and after a little tour around the main tourist area found a nice courtyard hotel. A long relax followed a hot shower and when I went to get off the bed a few hours later I found my ability to walk was greatly reduced!!!!


Looks like all the tendons in my ankle have gone on strike....I may be in this town for a while

(and the rainy season has just started!)

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