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Old 11-30-07, 11:27 AM   #1
Oroluk Lagoon
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Riding in Mexico, Using Google Earth & GPS

We live in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico seven months of the year. I had just started cycling this past summer while still in our other home in Gig Harbor, Washington. When we arrived back in Mexico, the first thing we did was go to a local bike shop and buy two Trek mountain bikes. Iím a road cyclist in the States, but around here a road bike is rather impractical as so few of the rural roads are paved, the paved highways have heavy traffic, and many of the residential streets are rough cobblestone.

One of the issues I soon ran into is the road maps that are available show mostly the city streets and almost none of the rural and farm roads. This led me to using Google Earth and my GPS. I found that I could find even remote mountain roads or cat-tracks with Google Earth and using the cursor to obtain coordinates of waypoints, I was able to input them to the GPS to create a route. This has enabled us to take nice rides into the mountains and through farmlands without getting lost. Google Earth also lets me preview the elevation profile by running the cursor along the route and reading the elevations below. Both the waypoints and the elevations derived from Google Earth are amazingly accurate.

Despite what you might think about riding the roads of Mexico, SO FAR it has been surprisingly pleasant with regards to motor vehicle drivers. I have had taxiís stop for me and wave me across their path. A tour bus slowed down and followed my wife until the oncoming traffic passed by allowing the bus to pull far over into the other lane, giving her a wide berth. The local commuter buses are what you have to be more wary of. They are always in a hurry and less likely to slow down and wait for an opportunity to pass, and so sometimes they will come a little close if the shoulder is narrow.

If your curious, you can check out some of our rides by searching MapMyRide for rides in Puerto Vallarta. As of this date, all the PV rides are mine. Unfortunately I canít map the Google Earth rides because I neglected to bring the GPS to PC interface cable with me, so all of my public rides are based on mapped roads.

This is me on the first ride with the new bike:


This is my wife standing beside the largest Parota tree we've seen:


Some of my fellow riders on a 31-mile ride through the Sierra Madre mountains:
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Old 11-30-07, 11:49 AM   #2
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Great pics and application of GPS and Google Earth to solve a problem. I use my Garmin 305 data and Motionbased link to Google earth to document and review routes.

Many years ago when we lived in San Diego, my wife and I rode in Mexico. We found the people were great and cars and trucks were very friendly to cyclists. I believe Mexico like Europe considers cycling a sport and means of transportation versus the US which IMHO does not.
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Old 11-30-07, 12:20 PM   #3
terry b
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I spend a month or two annually in San Carlos, Sonora and bring a bike on every trip. I love riding down there, although outside of the winter months, the temperature and humidity can be brutal.

Drivers seem kind and considerate enough. Only one bad experience - a beer can thrown "in my general direction" by some workers in the back of a pickup. The rest have been cool.
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Old 11-30-07, 07:13 PM   #4
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My wife and I visited Puerto Vallarta for a week in mid-October. We actually stayed in a resort area at Nuevo Vallarta, and had several wonderful outdoor adventures including some rappelling beside a waterfall and riding zip lines thru the semi-tropical rain forest. Great place to have your mountain bike!
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Old 11-30-07, 08:53 PM   #5
Bob S
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Mexico

Glad to hear of your good experiences on the road. I am building a house near San Miguel in the next couple of years and plan to spend the majority of the year there. I was happpy to hear of your road experiences as I was uncertain about the safety of biking there.
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Old 12-01-07, 11:28 AM   #6
Oroluk Lagoon
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I agree with Hermes, I think cycling is respected both as a sport and a mode of transportation down here. You see people of all ages that cannot afford a car or motorcycle riding a bike to work, school etc. And if you are dressed like a serious rider I think the motor vehicle drivers respect the fact that you are engaged in a sport. That said, there are "cowboys" everywhere.

I have asked the BF moderators to create a Mexico Regional thread. If you would like to see this, too, you might want to send them a short note. Thanks.
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