Our route was intentionally planned out very crudely. We took out a paper map of Mexico and literally drew a line across it along some roads that looked interesting, making sure to pass through the cities we wanted to visit. Of these there were only a couple at the start: San Miguel de Allende where Diana’s family lives and Mexico City, where I visited last Summer, but due to a surprise visit from the ghost of Montezuma, was unable to explore the pre-Aztec Teotihuacan city ruins just outside the city. Soon, by research in Lonely Planet (still a useful guide in spite of the internet) and word of mouth we added to our short list Guadalajara, Oaxaca City, the ruins of Campeche, Morelia and a handful of others. We estimated that we could ride 200-250 miles a day and planned our stops accordingly. We have since decided that we prefer to plan fewer miles and give ourselves more time to stop to eat, take selfies, and explore while still allowing enough time to arrive at our destination before dark. Sometimes it doesn’t quite work out as planned. Between Nayarit and San Miguel de Allende, we ate only gas station peanuts and Snickers bars for lunch, so pressed were we for time. The weather has been amazing in these winter months, dry air and moderate temperatures, but the short days have limited our riding considerably. We decided from the beginning not to ride at night. Everyone we have spoken to has agreed with that decision. The bandits come out at night, as do the cows, goats and sheep, and the potholes don’t go anywhere. Though there are highways that are safe and secure, even on those my enjoyment decreases rapidly with the setting sun.
We have more or less followed our route, making deviations where we felt compelled and adding stops where necessary.
We had intended to take only the libre (free) roads through Mexico. They tend to be more winding and scenic and pass through small towns. Along the way there are food stalls selling everything from tamales to coffee beans. However there are a multitude of small towns in Mexico. Some are attractive, but many are not and they all have an outrageous number of topes to remind you how much clearance you have between the ground and your oilpan and they slow traffic down to a crawling 4-5 mph. The pavement quality tends to be ok, but can degrade rapidly and without warning.
After Morelia, we decided we had had enough. We’ve been paying tolls ever since. The tolls range from about 10 pesos to 70 pesos per section. We haven’t been able to predict where the tollbooths will appear or how much it will cost to travel between cities. The costs add up, but the distance we’ve been able to travel has increased. It is a tradeoff that we decided was worth it. Unless there is a particular route we want to ride, we will probably stick to the toll roads. It’s less adventurous, but bouncing over tope after tope is no fun at all.
Across central Mexico from Guadalajara to Puebla, the landscape was basically flat and the roads were pretty straight. That seems to be changing now that we are in the South. We entered Oaxaca from Veracruz on some spectacularly winding roads crossing the Sierra de Juarez mountains. It looks like that trend will continue in the days ahead.