It’s been a very funny couple of weeks since leaving Guadalajara. We have barely had any internet access at all, and when we find it, it is very patchy and our time is very limited. I have thought about blogging every single day, and will do my best to fill in the gaps & get you all up to speed with our journey.
Before leaving Guadalajara, we had a Skype link-up with some of the year 5’s from The British School in Tokyo, where I used to teach. It was incredible to see all of those twinkling faces beaming at us from the classroom through our laptop. We loved fielding their unexpected questions from various animal sightings and the logistics of Santa locating us on our journey. It was a fantastic hour being back in the classroom with them all.
Thinking back to when we originally left Australia 10 years ago, the technology available to us now almost negates any physical distance we create. We are so grateful to be able to stay in touch with you all through the many mediums at our finger-tips. Can you believe it has been 6 months since we left Japan!?!
Leaving Guadalajara was actually really sad. We watched all of the other cyclists pack up and leave before us, waving them off with the hope that our paths will cross again as they ventured back out on their pedal powered journeys. We stayed on in a very quiet Casa until Wed 11th Dec , waiting for our last parcel to arrive. It certainly was a time of waiting for parcels and we became well acquainted with many delivery men.
We have learned that when on a cycle tour, stuff tends to break. A lot. Aside from the big stuff, like our bike for example, there are tones of little bits that need to get replaced along the way, eg broken tent poles & fly, tyres, head-lamps, our camera, kindle, jackets, shoes, handle bar mounts, bike seats ..…the list seriously goes on & on. So having an address to have replacement bits sent ahead to you, is like receiving an invitation to a fairy party. It doesn’t happen very often, but when you get it, you start thinking up plans straight away! We have a huge amount of gratitude for all of you that have gotten involved with receiving, forwarding and delivering parcels to us. We know it’s a pain and can be stressful. We can’t thank you all enough for helping us out while we are on the road. Muchas Gracias todo el mundo!
So the final parcel we waited for at the Casa was Bren’s new Brooks saddle. And for those of you familiar with these awesome bike seats, no, Bren had not worn it out already! The model that we bought was ideal for touring with the both of using the seat, however, as we have never swapped riding positions (as we initially thought we would), it turned out to be too short for Bren’s comfort and was creating some…..unappealing results. So we have now bought the perfect model – The Brooks B17 standard which Bren is now breaking-in, and reports it to have a better relationship with his riding style. Huge thanks toBrooks for supporting us with a pro-deal once again.
Saying goodbye to Jorge and Bernardo of the Casa was an equally emotional goodbye. It’s crazy how quickly you can develop friendships, which is one of the highlights of travelling. The flip-side is of course, always having to say goodbye too soon. Sigh.
But, finally getting back on the road and back to our TotallyTandem journey was a wonderful feeling. We rode away feeling confident and operational on Falkor #2, our shiny new stead, fully intact and without cracks. Some small modifications making us feel much better about the upcoming kilometers. Riding through Guadalajara city was intense even at 7am. The traffic was chaos and the smog unbelievable.
It was a good 20km to ride out of the city and onto the highway, and we were coughing and spluttering the whole way. Thank goodness for our HooRags providing us with some protection from all that muck. The view looking back over the city was a nasty gray haze of pollution. It’s interesting to think of the kind of impact that more bikes and less vehicles would have on a city like this. Despite the fact that all the cyclists would need a lot of HooRags!
With the city some 50km behind us, we cruised down the highway happily chatting about our time at the Casa and the impending days riding toward Christmas and meeting KiKi. We had some 630km to ride in 6 days and were planning 4days riding 115km and 2days around 80km.
Delighted at the potential to make it in time, we felt bright & breezy when – pop – “what was that?” Ah bugger, there goes a spoke on the front wheel. A less than ideal happening in the first part of the maiden voyage of Falkor#2. With all the ‘fixings’ going on at the Casa, Bren was encouraged to check the tension on the front wheel that he built and we had ridden seamlessly for 2000km. The moral of this story; if it aint broke, don’t fix it. Well, it is now officially broken, again, and since then, we have done another 2 spokes. Yay. Despite the new frame, we decided we would continue the spoke tally, bringing the score to spokes: 21, Bremma; devo’d.
In not knowing what our next step should be, with only 5 spare spokes left and clearly dwindling, Bren has loosened and re-tensioned all of the spokes again, and now we simply have our fingers crossed. Ah, the on-going saga of the spokes. Hope you all find it amusing!
Since leaving Guadalajara, we have had some very interesting camping experiences. We camped with the Bomberos ‘Fire Fighters’ in La Barca, and even got to wear the costume and a ride in their fire truck! They were an awesome bunch of characters and kept us up all night as they pumped up the stereo in the ambulance and danced the night away. Thankfully, the ambo battery remained charged and they were able to get the old beast turned over when the call came through on the radio!
We have asked men with machine guns if we can camp at their toll booths, and have never been turned away. My new favourite way to pass the time is to flash a peace sign at all men carrying fire-arms. It’s quite the thrill to see a huge gun quickly slung behind the carriers back so they have a free hand to return the gesture. A peace sign from a man with a weapon. Wonderfully absurd.
Spoke smashing aside, the race was on to make it to Barra de Potosi to meet KiKi for Christmas. And we were determined, despite the hills. And the head winds. Sometimes, the wind was so strong that our knees screamed in pain as we pushed like hell to travel at 5km per hour. It was pretty depressing. There were days of bleak riding as we travelled over 300km along the boring old freeway. The up-side was the nice wide shoulders to ride on. But that was about it.
There were 3 days of constant up hill riding. Not even a tiny bit of down hill was to be had. It was a little depressing to say the least. From a distance, every crest offered a wonderful imaginary down hill, only to find that there was no crest and the climb kept going up and up. Waaah! But on the 5th day, the signs started to change. And down we went. Down, down, down our longest down-hill of 50km! Unreal! The tension from our knees forgotten as the wind whipped at our helmets and made our eyes water. Then a brief flat spot where we discovered broken spoke#20, and then a further 20km of down hill. Just goes to show that no matter what hard work you do, it will eventually pay off. And an unexpected pay-off is sick!
We did our longest, and toughest day of 150km riding from a little before sunrise to just after sunset, the day before we arrived in Bara de Potosi. Over 35degrees and more than 8hours just on the bike, not including breaks. That was a hellish day. And of course, we ran out of water. But what are you supposed to do when there is simply nowhere to procure more? No houses, no shops, no one even stopping for my begging dance! We both thought we were in pretty serious trouble. Mick Jagger randomly came on the i-pod and started to sing about the lack of satisfaction. We took it as a bad sign.
What happened next seriously shook us and I am quite certain provided extra sunlight for the day. A lycra-clad cyclist appeared around a steep mountain corner. What a sight. He instantly stopped and, recognizing our plight, began an animated conversation in Spanish. He ad no luggage and 2 empty water bottles on his bike. Being completely exhausted and overwhelmed by heat and dehydration, we didn’t have much faith in his chatter. We thanked him for whatever help he was trying to offer us, and decided to pedal on to try and reach the next toll booth for our camp site that night. The hills were endless and our new lycra-fitted friend followed us closely. We had to stop every 5km as we were totally pooped. He placed a hand on my shoulder and begged me with his eyes to stop & wait with him. We realized we couldn’t actually go on, and conceded. We didn’t know what we were waiting for until 15minutes later, a group of 30 cyclists similarly costumed, rode around the corner followed by a sag wagon. They were all wide smiles and full of questions as they pulled up and started shaking our hands. It was like a very strange dream as a jolly man leapt from the van and took our empty bottles, returning seconds later with them filled with ice cold Gatorade. Travelling by bike is seriously unbelievable sometimes.
We have also had our first coca-cola drive-by, where a car full of young guys drove up alongside Falkor while travelling at 60km down hill and handed over an icy cold coke through their open window.
We started to see the signs to Ziuatanejo about 3 days before we arrived. It was pretty exciting to be on the road to Christmas on our new bike and making it within the original timeline. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have pushed ourselves so hard to make the date. I mean, what does it really matter if we are a few days late? But the temptation to meet this self-imposed deadline was overwhelming and we rode harder than ever before. The day we arrived in Bara de Potosi to meet everyone, we were shattered, but elated to have achieved the feat and to be in the company of friendly smiling faces. 25km before arriving at the Hacienda, a truck passed us with a crazy white girl waving madly from the window. It’s a sight we are fairly used to, so we waved back and gave the Hornit a good hoot. Looking in the revision mirrors we saw the truck hang a u-ie, and my heart leapt as I realized the mad white girl was KiKi! We pulled over and she leapt from the truck to receive our sweaty hugs. With my overwhelming excitement, I jumped on her toes, but she didn’t seem to mind as we kept hugging and giggling and pinching each others faces. It was fantastic to see her! And what a crazy thing! To have cycled all the way from Canada, finding ourselves 7 days before Christmas in Mexico, now on the side of a dusty pot holed road in the company of our South African friend. Total awesomeness.
So we made it. From Guadalajara to Barra de Potosi in 6 riding days, 630 km.
We pedaled on from our road-side meeting and made it the final 20km to Hacienda La Rusa by the beach.
Meeting Stasya (originally from the Ukraine) and her partner Mike (from the USA) was like catching up with old friends and we enjoyed their hilarious company while lapping up the luxury of showering and comfort of their magnificent pool. They have recently bought the property and are planning some fantastic developments so we felt very lucky to be there relaxing before all the work starts. We got involved with some gardening and painting and it felt great to be a part of their project.
The property is pretty huge with an ideal location right across from the beach. It was a treat to not have to pull our tent down for the 10days we stayed there, while having access to a fridge and running water. Bliss!We also enjoyed being in another stable location for a good length of time to await a much anticipated delivery from yet another courier. This time, with our new camera and cycling shoes. Little did we know about the ways of the Mexican post. Our optimism, it turns out, has no effect on their delivery times.
Our Aussie mates that we met on the Baja, Ken & Wendy, arrived the next day with their Mexican friend, as did Brenna & Joe, our Aussie cycling buddies. Everything was set for an awesome Christmas. There was much catching up to be done, in between all the relaxing, and in-between all of that, a plan was set for a Christmas feast! Everyone got involved in what they do best, and the Christmas table was a glorious assortment of vegan and carnivorous treats. So Yum! 6 Aussies, 1 Saffa, 1 Russian, 1 Yank and a Mexican grandma, who was shocked to find no tortillas on the table. Next time we celebrate Aussie-style in Mexico, we will be sure to put ‘BYO tortillas’ on the invite. With some classic Christmas jokes at the ready and some awesome secret gifts stashed under the tree, it surely was a Christmas to remember.
But alas, our time at the Hacienda came to an end and we spent our final night camping on the beach to the sound of the waves crashing on the sand and rain falling on our tents. It was sad to say goodbye, and hard to cycle away from our friends, and our un-delivered package. But indeed, the journey must go on. We plan to encounter our parcel further down the road somewhere, and are certain that it is having an adventure grander than ours.
So we spent 3 days cycling from Barra de Potosi to Acapulco, with Brenna & Joe, camping in some gorgeous ,and some slightly dodgey campsites. We have found there is balance in everything. We have been lucky to finish our days riding by swimming in the sea, a secret river and another lovely pool. Staying cleaner than ever before! And sharing incredible slap-up meals of the vegan variety. Its astonishing what 4 cyclists can come up with for sustenance!
So here we are, in gorgeous crazy Acapulco, where we finally have good wifi again and the chance to update the blog.
Can you believe it has been 6 months since we left Japan!
We hope you all had a very merry one, and were able to connect with those that you love. Stay well and we send you all of our pedal powered loving for TotallyAwesome new year. What’s on your resolution list?
Fundraising update; we are stoked to announce that we have raised a huge $8,760 for World Bicycle Relief. That is just over 65% of our total target! Wow! Being offline for so long we have not been able to share the amazing work that the team at WBR have been doing, which is a bloody shame, as they have generously offered to match every contribution dollar for dollar, and double the amount of difference you can make! The offer lasts until the last minute of Dec 31st, so if you have been planning to make your own little difference, now is the time!
Click here to get involved with transforming lives with the power of bicycles.
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Enjoy these pics of some of the sights from the road!