Rodando con la luna a Tepoztlan – Rolling with the moon…
Immediately on arrival in Mexico City I was invited to a big group ride that happens only twice a year, and on hearing the description of the ride, I was thrilled to have had such good timing. A week later, we departed on a Saturday evening at 8pm after strong coffee’s and conversation at a small downtown cafe. The ride would be an all night ride taking us along an old rail right-of-way, about 90km of of the city to the nearby town of Tepoztlan where we would watch the sun rise before getting on buses and heading back.
The ride started out slow as we made our way out of the core, slowly collecting more and more riders as we passed through suburbs and gathering points. Ultimately, the group would have about 100 riders across three rough groups. The most exhilarating aspect of the first section was for the finally getting a sense of the size of Mexico’s endless boundaries. From the modern view of our downtown apartment rooftop, I had been thinking… “ya it’s a pretty huge city, goes as far as I can see with some big sky scrappers and beautiful old churches and cathedrals here and there”. But, on the ride to Tepoztlan, we rode through what seemed like endless slums and favelas of Mexico City’s outskirts and into the surrounding mountains. We passed through intimate and lively communities with everything from cool mountainside playgrounds, vibrant stree tart the occasional house party with great Mexican music and lots of little street vendors selling tomales. While the scenery slowly changed and the stars and full moon overhead became clearer, we didn’t actual exit the city limits for over 50km at about 3am. I’ve been told that if you enter from the north by airplane… you start passing the city and then keep flying for about 45 minutes until you land at the airport which is downtown. So expanding my experience of the city as we rode through the night and taking in the view from the bike path overlooking the endless city lights was incrediblyexhilarating – enough to keep me awake late into the night!
There were multiple stops along the way where the everyone caught up, bon fires were had, and hot coffee was served. We climbed as high as 3500m into some cold temperatures and fog, then some really quick down sections. Between midnight to two in the morning I was fighting to keep my eyes open, but eventually I hit a second (or third) wind and rode through until 6am with lots of energy. The last section of the ride was the hardest because the semi-nice pavement gave way to pure horrible dirt rode. Nearly everyone was on mountain bikes, but for me on my heavy steel frame with no suspension, I was happy my brake’s didn’t rattle apart. Fortunately my friend and host Daniel had brought us some weed cookies his friend had baked, which we ate at about 4am and helping to ease into a relaxed and adventitious feeling. Finally in the last two hour section I took off alone, the group having mostly dispersed at this point. It slowly started to get lighter and lighter and I was worried I would miss the sun rise so I rode faster and faster on the crazy little dirt path. Then suddenly I turned a corner and BAM – huge sky illuminating the vast expanse of mountains and plains as far as the eye could see… totally beautiful.
I was in such an insomniac but awesome mindset having not slept in about 24 hours, ingested some good old mary-jane for the first time in I don’t know how long, and riding 90km through the night under the stars. So we all cracked beers and stood around embracing the sun and taking in the sight. A little further down the road we found the first civilization we’d seen since in a while when a local shop owner realized he had a bunch of thirsty cyclists sitting out side. The beers kept flowingwhich made be exceptionally tired, but we headed into town for some breakfast where I skipped the third round most of my comrades were partaking in and settled for some delicious quesadillas in the town market. I’ve never ridden all night, and I’m not even sure the last time I stayed up past four, but I’ve always wondered what it would be like to ride – motorcycle or bicycle – through the night, absorbing a whole different riding atmosphere under the stars. What a great experience!
Mom, don’t read this part!
Found out this morning that a group of twenty cyclists were robbed on the same ride, just later on that morning. Shitt! The article reads (roughly) that they smaller cyclist group continued on another path after the rest of the ride had finished, and at 8:30 am were confronted and robbed by a group of 10 armed men who took cellphones and wallets, but not bikes.
Wow that sucks, were just riding bicycles! Makes me feel somehow fortunate I wasn’t one of them but also uneasy… Kind of shatters lots of the general safety precautions I’ve been practicing… like thinking the morning is the safest time to ride because “they” are sleeping. It really surprises me actually because it was such a large group, I wonder if there’s more to the story… I’ll have to translate more in depth and talk to some friends. One friend suggested it might be something to do with some illegal logging activity in that area and the people that are involved in that.
Anyway, at least everyone is safe and my heart goes out to them…. Already reading the travel warnings for El Salvador and Honduras had me a little on edge yesterday and thinking there won’t be so much stealth camping or adventuring down rural roads. But this is one of the most unlikely robberies… a big group, first thing in the morning, local spanish speaking riders in a relatively safe area (as far as I understood). How crappy.