100 Km by Bike: Toluca Ultramarathon 2012, Mexico
Note: I found this story forgotten and unpublished in the bowels of this blog, dusted it off, but only put up the first half because I’m looking to get it published. If you want to keep reading, please leave a comment and I will email you the full story. Thanks for visiting!
About halfway through this 100 km bike ride, while rolling down the crowded streets of a small Mexican town on Sunday, market day, we are overtaken by a big group of bikers – as in motorcycle riders, Harley folks. They roar past in tricked out, black hogs, some with shining skull-and-bones chrome, some with high Easy Rider handlebars, and some three-wheel masterpieces of creative welding. Mixed in are even some beat-up little white Hondas spewing black smoke.
They look at us, cyclists in neon jerseys and tight black shorts (not on me!) and must feel a primal two-wheel comradery, as nearly all the long-bearded leather-jacketed drivers and tough-looking bleached-blonde girlfriends give a wave or nod. Or, skipping the wave, they hit the gas, blasting us with noise and hot smoke.
On August 5th, 2012, we rode in our yearly Toluca Ultramarthon. I rode in the one last year too, along with the Mexico City Double Martathon.
I’m not altogether sure, but I think we call it an Ultramarathon because it’s 100 km. The route takes us through the small towns that surround Toluca to the edges of the Toluca valley and the slopes of pine-forested mountains that lead to Mexico City.
We meet by the eagle statue in downtown Toluca, about a five-minute ride from my house. For this occasion a vest is included in the 100 peso (8 dollar) inscription fee.
Right after the start we cruise down wide, tree-lined Colon Avenue to the highway. I take this route to work, and it’s so nice to have it all to ourselves. SOMEDAY IT WILL ALL BE OURS! (maniacal laugh and fist in the air).
Here’s Columbus, known as Colon in Spanish. I think he would approve.
Here we pass through Tenango del Valle. My friend Armando, merciless destroyer of bicycles, has lost his crank arm by now.
A short break under a bridge in Tenango.
Javier with his snack.
Back at la aguila (the eagle) for the finish! But no, this isn’t a race in case you were wondering.
Cycling in Mexico is growing fast. Even in Toluca, where cars rule the road (especially buses and taxis), the first modest bike lane is being constructed.
I’m not one of those cyclists who is against cars, and I don’t believe that cycling saves the planet. I mean, it doesn’t damage it, but it doesn’t necessarily help. The buses still run whether I’m on them or not.
To me, cycling means freedom. Other than the threat of bad drivers, I’m not slowed by traffic. I don’t have to find or pay for parking. I can go wherever I want, at my own pace. And, most importantly, it’s FUN.
Getting caught in the rain sucks, though. After five years of cycling though Vancouver (where I lived before Mexico), I’m still not used to it, just thoroughly sick of it.
If you live in Toluca or Mexico and have any interest in cycling, DO IT. Every city has a group. I’ve seen them in D.F. and Puebla, and of course here in Toluca. Leave a comment and I’ll try to steer you in the right direction.