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Touring Have a dream to ride a bike across your state, across the country, or around the world? Self-contained or fully supported? Trade ideas, adventures, and more in our bicycle touring forum.

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Old 01-07-09, 09:44 PM   #1
Belgian Cobbles
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What would you do?

This is a true story.

Two friends and I want to go touring for an unspecified length of time (probably in the 2 to 3 week range). One of my friends wants the trip to be reasonably priced, meaning probably not a real long oversees flight and cheap food and lodging (on other trips we have tended to camp most, but not all, of the time). The other friend does not want sketchiness. When asked to define "sketchiness", he referenced drug wars, political unrest etc. For my part, I would really like to go to a Spanish speaking country. I speak Spanish and really like it when I get to practice.

So with those adjectives - cheap, safe and spanish-speaking - where would you go?

We are all experienced cyclists and have toured before. I really want this trip to happen so the more ideas the better.

Thanks for any thoughts you might have!!

Last edited by Belgian Cobbles; 01-08-09 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 01-07-09, 10:52 PM   #2
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Frederick County, VA. It's close enough for you to tour to, and now that we're ranked #1 in the country for growth of the Hispanic population, you can practice your spanish too!!
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Old 01-07-09, 11:12 PM   #3
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What about New Mexico and southern Colorado?

June is the best month as the summer monsoon rains start in July.
Depending on how much elevation you want - plan for later rather than earlier.
Many of the smaller towns are predominantly Spanish-speaking still.
Mora and Tierra Amarilla are majority Hispanic areas - as is the San Luis Valley.

There's Abiquiu, Taos Pueblo, the High Road between Taos and Chimayo.
The San Luis Valley in southern Colorado has lots of farm roads -
Plus Great Sand Dunes National Park - and the Sangre de Cristo Mtns.
In both states there lots of National Forest land for camping.

You can fly into Albuquerque and take the shuttle to Taos.
Or you can take Amtrak to Santa Fe if budget is more important than time.
Santa Fe does not lend itself to easy biking north from there.
The only road is a dangerous, high-speed 4-lane highway.

Northern New Mexico rivals Mississippi and West Virginia for poverty.
In all such places one should use caution and be sensitive.
The number of crosses on the highways is telling about speed and alcohol use.
But if you haven't toured this region, it is well worth it.
And it meets all your criteria.

Pic - Sanctuario de Chimayo


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Old 01-08-09, 01:45 AM   #4
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Hi,

Cuba - but you live in country of freedom - so you have to find something different. I would recommend Costa Rica or Mexico.

Thomas
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Old 01-08-09, 01:51 AM   #5
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I would say Guatemala or Ecuador. I love those countries!
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Old 01-08-09, 08:20 AM   #6
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You didn't say what month you would like to travel. If it's now, the Yucatan of Mexico would meet your criteria. While I've never had any problems anywhere in Mexico, the Yucatan, which is mostly Mayan, has a very different feel than the rest of the country. I felt totally safe there, and others have said the same thing. I would avoid the Yucatan from April to October because of heat, humidity, & bugs. Prices are pretty reasonable away from the Caribbean coast. The Pu'uc hills area (around Uxmal, for example) was especially nice. We flew into Merida, not Cancun.

Another place which felt totally safe was Chile, but that would presumably be out because of the expense of getting there. La Region de los Lagos of Chile and adjacent Argentina is magnificent. Cyclists rave about the Carretera Austral, though I wasn't there myself.

Costa Rica is pretty safe, but I honestly didn't think it was the best place for touring. Many of the roads are surprisingly bad, and even though I like climbing passes, I also like some easy stretches now and then, too. Nearly all of CR has difficult riding.

nancy_sv, I gather you felt safe in Guatemala? Were you touring in the highlands? I haven't been there yet myself, but it doesn't have a particularly good reputation for safety.

I bike a little bit in Ecuador (but didn't really tour). I liked what I saw, however.
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Old 01-08-09, 10:37 AM   #7
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Hi,

I was in Yucatan by car. The sites pyramids and beaches were very nice. But the distance between these is flat flanked with 3m high bushes. This might get boring after a while.

Guatemala I also wouldn't rate as a save country.

Thomas
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Old 01-08-09, 10:42 AM   #8
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I was in Yucatan by car. The sites pyramids and beaches were very nice. But the distance between these is flat flanked with 3m high bushes. This might get boring after a while.
I agree. Much of the Yucatan landscape was boring, though the Pu'uc hills was an exception.

Personally, I preferred biking in Michoacan & Jalisco. My friend & I only encountered friendly folks everywhere we went, but I can't claim it felt as safe overall as the Yucatan.
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Old 01-08-09, 02:48 PM   #9
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These are all great recommendations! Frederick County gave me a chuckle . Axolotl is correct, I forgot to mention that we would be traveling in the month of July. Just from the face of it I would guess that this poses problems for Chile (too cold?) and Taos (too hot?).

Axolotl, you also mentioned that you liked Michoacan but thought it was not really safe feeling. I was there a long time ago - so long that I wasn't at an age where I was coding safe and unsafe - and part of me would like to go back there. But if it does not give off a safe vibe my one friend will be bummed. I like Central America but what country fits all three adjectives? I was also really into the Southwest idea that was brought up but I once spent a summer in Moab and I almost melted!!

Edit: I actually just now went and checked into the Taos average summer temperatures and it looks like during July the average daily high is around 85 which is tolerable for sure! I also glanced at average rainfall data and even in its wettest month (July) it still averages less than an inch and a half of rain which is less than every single month in a DC year. So I am putting the Taos/Santa Fe area back on the table.

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Old 01-08-09, 03:07 PM   #10
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Axolotl, you also mentioned that you liked Michoacan but thought it was not really safe feeling.
Not exactly. I felt safe in Michoacan, too, but I didn't get the same vibe that I got in the Yucatan. Away from the coast, the Yucatan is mostly Mayan, and something about the Mayan culture simply put us totally at ease. Even the police I saw in the big city of Merida were smiling and laughing. Anyway, my trip was in February, and it was warm but not too hot. There were virtually no bugs. A friend biked there in July, and he said it was hot, sticky, and had the worst bugs he's encountered anywhere in the world.

Morelia to Guadalajara is a great ride. (stops in Patzcuaro, Uruapan, Paricutin) Since most of the route has some altitude, temperatures should be more comfortable than in the Yucatan. The humidity is far lower. It sounds like there are often rain showers in the afternoon in the summer, but they don't last long. All of my visits to Mexico have been in the winter, so I've never encountered any rain at all. Therefore I don't have first-hand knowledge about the summer rain patterns. Prices are reasonable by US standards, so you can get rooms every night and eat wonderful food (both on the streets and in restaurants). We flew to GDL, took a bus to Morelia, and then biked back. The bus route is different from the bike route we took, so the scenery was quite different. It's completely painless to take bikes on Mexican buses. You could also fly to one city and return from the other.
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