Falling Racks and Broken Spokes: Hanging with the Pedal Sloths

We rise from our slumber and place our feet in dirt dozed loose in construction of a new gas station. The sun is already shining quickly drying our tents wet with the nights dew. Sitting in my nylon porch, I strike a spark to my stove boiling water that will soon energize my mind and body after dripping through course grounds fresh from the mountains of Chiapas.

The days ride proves easier than anticipated and we plummet down a mountain into the crater of long ago erupted volcano. We are on schedule to arrive well before dark when disaster strikes. Ricardo, riding in front of me, comes to a sudden skidding halt. “What the hell was that?” he says. “Dude, your rack just about fell off and jammed your fender into your wheel. It’s pretty crumpled.” Out comes the video camera filming the successful repair. Lesson: Check bolts frequently. We never did check the rest of our bolts.

It is now dark as we search for the not-too-steep hill on which a green-grey car is parked next to a path that leads down to the house of Ricardo’s girlfriends friend. Adresses are non-existent. We think we find the hill when I hear a ping and feel resistance against my wheel. The cobblestone roads just broke my spoke; the first I have ever broken. In a way I am proud but regret the loss of the next day. Continue reading

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Guatemala: Days 1-3

A quick update from the mountains of Guatemala from our first few days in country. The people here are warm and friendly; even more so than in Mexico which is almost hard to believe.

GuatemalanRoad

View from the window of “the office” as Ricardo of Pedal South calls anyplace we happen to be working. Our fist night in Guatemala was spent in a hotel next door.

FriesAndCondimentBags

Lunchtime! Notice the baggies of condiments! No fancy, expensive ketchup packets here!

BikeTourerAndChickenBus

This is Dyar and the infamous chicken bus. Chicken buses are old U.S. school buses painted up with a roof rack for luggage. They spew black smoke as they pass chocking our lungs. Continue reading

Rosa Marie: Robbed at Gunpoint

I stop along the road to snap a photo stating the name of the city we will spend the night in. I hold the camera to my eye and when I look through the viewfinder, a woman is posing beside the sign. I’ve been photo bombed by a Guatemalan Indigenous women! She asks me if shes beautiful and requests another photo. I’m happy to oblige.

Touring bike in front of Huehuetenango roadsign with indigenous women standing alongside

As I raise the camera to capture another moment, a machete falls from her blouse. She tells me a story waving the machete as she speaks. She was robbed at gunpoint by bad men. They killed her chickens and stole her cow along with most of her possessions. Her name is Rosa Marie. Continue reading

Guatemala And An Interesting New Friend

Five days ago I left Comitan headed for the Guatemalan border. I did not make my destination. A truck pull over in front of me. A man wearing purple dress-shirt exited the vehicle with a women and child. I was invited me to eat across the road in a pavilion on a farm. After eating, I spent three nights with the family. One night I slept in the house of one of his espousas. The next I slept in a very comfortable bed at his father’s ranch spanning hundreds of hectares. I spent the last night attempting to sleep with the family in one of his trucks in Comitan, an hour away. The experience was, for the most part, enjoyable. I was treated very well, met the entire family, and was fed me more than I could eat. I have a new and interesting friend outside the bounds of normal life. I can say no more.

man holding tortilla with holes in front of face

My new friend.

man with curly hair eating iguana

Here, I am eating a chunk of iguana; chewy and savory.

Signatures on car door

He signed my flag, I signed his truck.

lago de colon

I was taken to Lago de Colon, a crystal clear series of lakes where we bathed in the cool water.

Gautemalan mountains behind farm fields

The mountains in the background are in Guatemala.

Road leading through farm field of corn

The road to the pavillion where I first ate with him.

touring cyclist crossing guatemala border

After leaving him and his family, I met a group of cyclists. I’ve never been so happy in all my life. The relief I felt brought tears to my eyes.

welcome to guatemala

With the group I crossed the border entering Guatemala. The next chapter begins: Central America.

Bienvenidos Guatemala

San Cristobal to Comitan

Welcome to Guatemala! I crossed the border yesterday with one day left on my visa. I’m currently sitting in a coffee shop typing away along with three other touring cyclists. Company! Whoo!!! This post contains photos from San Cristobal to a city off the Gringo Trail, Comitan. I like this city much more than San Cristobal as it lacked herds of tourists hogging the streets. It’s also a little smaller. I like small cities.

Tomorrow, I’ll post photos of the border crossing and a few from a family that randomly invited me to stay. I can’t tell the entire story, but it was one hell of an adventure with a kind and caring family that made me feel at home. Ironic as well considering the topics of my last post: accepting invitations and the adventures that ensue, fear versus excitement. I have a much better understanding of fear. Continue reading

San Cristobal: Hometown Adventure

It has been decided. Sitting at my desk in the same hostel I’ve been in for a week-and-a-half, I selected a date. This journey ends the third week of April. My evac plan entails crossing six borders in six weeks. I will box my bike and fly out of Panama City, Panama in time for the annual Crush the Commonwealth bike race.

Kleen Kanteen on Table San Cristobal

Crush the Commonwealth, CTC for short, runs from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia alternating start/finish every year. This year it’s Pittsburgh to Philly. The length of the route is nearly 400 miles and is ridden nearly nonstop. Winners take between 30 and 40 hours, a very long time to sit on a bike.

Why do I want to end a ride across a continent to race across a state? Well, if I’m being honest, I’m tired and I’m ready to be home. Why the race though? Because it provides a firm deadline for one. The race will also keep me active when I return home. A concern is depression. If I do not stay active, very active, I will become depressed. It’s happened before. I’ll spend half the day in bed and the other half lost in ADD induced indulgences that waste my life. Becoming active in the local cycling scene will inspire me to stay active. Continue reading