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  1. #1
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    Bike touring and safety

    I'm an 18 year old male and my parents are really worried about me going touring.

    Here's the deal, I want to go on a trip to visit my friend who lives in mexico, it would involve about 30 days in the US and 30 days in mexico. They're worried that mexico is too dangerous of a country and I will surely get killed by robbers on the side of the road. I have been to mexico before (with my parents) and I've gone there with my church, totally about 40 days total spent in the country. But they're set on the idea that mexico is a dangerous country.

    Now, I just started learning about bicycle touring last fall. I've been in school since then and haven't gotten to go on my own tour yet. My plan was to do a short tour during spring break before I go on a long one, but my parents decided to take us on vacation instead. So before this trip, I will only have the chance to go on 2-3 day tours to get experience. I'm not stupid, when I make it to the border, I'll judge if I'm prepared enough to travel in another country, I will consider the possibility of turning around and staying in the US.

    But my parents are just so stubborn and will refuse to believe that it can be safe to ride a bike in mexico. I've spent a great deal of time on CGoaB and blogs learning about what to do, what to avoid. My parents always want me to try new things, they even told me they would buy me a ticket to europe to go touring there instead of mexico. I've read all these journals about people's first tours being in china, vietnam, south america, mexico, and they all had a great time.

    I think they're just scared because its not something that everybody does. My mom loves travelling, we've been to europe and around the US. But her idea of travelling is staying in hotels and being a tourist. I want to get there on my own power and experience the wild. I believe I can do this, I want to accomplish something. I think it would be wonderful experience and I'll have an amazing time. Millions of people travel in Mexico every year, but suddenly introduce the idea of being on a bike, and they're all against it.

    What do you think? Do you think touring in Mexico is dangerous?

  2. #2
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    just to let u know...i watch an nbc dateline about a week ago and a little town outside of mexico city kidnap ppl with money. there are some kidnapping problem in mexico. it is not a major problem, but it is still a problem. also since u would be touring near the border, did u know there is a major drug wars going on around that area? just do a google search on drug wars and kidnapping in mexico. so dont let any bandits see u when u do ur touring. so if u r an american, just dont show ur bling. even then, i will still be cautious. if u do get kidnap...prepare for a long negotiation...at least 1 year. u should take up on ur parents offer for the plane tix to europe. i dont wanna scare u kid...but it is an ugly world out there. u should take advice from ur parents. i dont wanna see u on the news.

    Have u seen the movie "taken." U sound like the na´ve 18 yrs girl who thinks know more than the parents and doesn't listen to his dad warning about the ugly world out there and then got kidnap and taken into a sex slave shop. It is a kick ass movie. I recommend u watch it before u visit a country like mexico. There is some true to this movie.
    Last edited by vincentnyc; 03-13-10 at 10:11 PM.

  3. #3
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    I would never tour in Mexico, especially along the border. I live in San Diego and nobody I know goes for fun to TJ. I'm speaking for me, however. I'm sure that others who post here would go.

    China and Vietnam are not Mexico. I've been to both; they are comparatively much safer countriies. So are Argentina and Chile. If you have a chance to go to Europe, why not tour there?

  4. #4
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Doesn't matter what folks on here think. All that matter is what your parents think. They know and care about you.

    Anyway, perhaps you could cool your heels on this for a couple of years, become a bit independent financially, and then just announce you're heading south and will be in touch. Plenty of time for touring adventures. In the meantime, make it your goal to become fluent in Spanish. The trip will be lot more fun and meaningful.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

  5. #5
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    There are a lot of innocent people being killed in the drug wars going on there at the moment. Why not try a transamerica or european tour?

  6. #6
    Senior Member JeanM's Avatar
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    I understand your need for self reliance. You feel that you won't know that you have it until you proved yourself. One day or the other you'll have to do the test. It must be when you feel ready and it will be better if you don't postpone then. You seem to have a head on your shoulders but sometimes it isn't enough. 18 y/o here is adulthood. However, if 21 y/o is legally needed in your parts, then tough luck for you: you may have no choice but to wait.

    In the meanwhile go to Europe: it is beautiful and way less civilized than your mom seems to believe. Remember that the proof is for yourself, nobody else.

  7. #7
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    I haven't heard any reports of kidnapping or robbery from bike tourists who've been there recently. Some blogs to check out:

    http://whileoutriding.wordpress.com/
    http://www.wishfish.org/
    http://www.tour.tk/country-information/mexico.htm
    http://familyonbikes.org/
    http://nowheresoon.com
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  8. #8
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    The state of texas officials are asking people not go to Mexico or even South Padre Island for spring break. South Padre is a spring break destination spot and when the tourist boards are saying don't come here, it is bad.
    It is not about the destination. It is about the journey getting there.
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  9. #9
    Senior Member blaise_f's Avatar
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    I have multiple friends who just cycled SD to La Paz with absolutely nothing but positive things to say. Fly under the radar as much as you can. Hide your wealth.
    http://bygonebicyclist.com
    Penny-farthing adventures, touring & collecting

  10. #10
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    I am one of the guys that think people worry too much. And you would likely be OK once you get well away from the border cities. But right now, I would not ride Mexico or even the worst of the border cities on the US side.

  11. #11
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    an FYI FWIW but I think that the U.S. and Mexico released an advisory for foreigners traveling in any of the border towns, as kidnapping/ransom is on the rise. I hold no opinion on this, as you need to make the decision, but you might want to check it out.

  12. #12
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    Don't tour in Mexico right now. This iJET assessment came out Friday:

    SR Mexico (Security Rating: 4) - At least Eight Command-Level Police Killed in 72 Hours: At least eight command-level police officers have been killed in the southern state of Guerrero since March 8, according to local reports early March 11. The murders occurred in the municipalities of Chilpancingo, Petatlan and Ciudad Altamirano.

    iJET Analysis: The state of Guerrero has traditionally been controlled by the Beltran-Leyva organization. Since its former leader Arturo Beltran Leyva was killed in a shootout with Mexican marines in late December, a fierce battle has been waging for the control of smuggling routes and selling points in many areas of the state of Guerrero. While no shootouts have been reported in Guerrero's tourist destinations, foreigners visiting Acapulco and Ixtapa should stay in the hotel strip.
    SR Mexico (Security Rating: 4) - Drug Cartel Violence Rising in Mexico City: According to Mexico's Reforma daily March 11, drug-related murders are rising in Mexico City's metropolitan area. A recent study indicates that between January and March, at least 137 people have been murdered in different neighborhoods in Mexico City, compared to 100 homocides registered during the same period in 2009.

    iJET Analysis: Unlike many states along the US-Mexico border, Mexico City has not been at the center of the drug war. This report confirms that the current dispute between different factions of the Beltran Levya organization and Los Zetas has intensified in recent weeks. Just hours after the report was issued, Mexico City's public security minister acknowledged that the police force has been outpaced by criminal organizations. The European Union issued a statement late March 10 saying that the escalating violence in Mexico has prompt many European governments to warn its citizens against nonessential travel to northern states in Mexico.
    SR - Situation Report: Evolving situation or event
    Security Rating 4: High Threat
    "iJET helps multinational organizations monitor, protect against and respond to global threats." They basically monitor news and state department data and issue assessments to client companies.
    Last edited by Doohickie; 03-15-10 at 07:38 AM.
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  13. #13
    Senior Member capejohn's Avatar
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    Your parents would be worried sick, but as parents we all do that. I wouldn't have a problem with touring mexico but you may want to postpone that to appease them.

    Have you read this 18 year olds journal. It's one of the better ones at crazyguy.

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    Last edited by capejohn; 03-15-10 at 09:16 AM.
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  14. #14
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    Big drug war right now. Not the best time to travel in that direction.

    Your parents will always worry about you. Cut them some slack. Few others in the world give a damn about you. And none of them care as much about you as your parents do. A parent's job is to first care for you because you are incapable of caring for yourself. As you get older, into the teenaged years, your parent's job is to substitute good judgement until yours developes. This isn't said to insult you, just the way it is.

    In this case, your parents warning a young, relatively wealthy, woman not to travel to an impovished nation in the midst of a drug war where the government has lost control of vast portions of the country seems to be good advice.

    Go to europe, ride the Alps. It will be the experience of a lifetime!
    I'm just trying to be the person my dog thinks I am.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by awesomejack View Post
    I'm an 18 year old male and my parents are really worried about me going touring.


    I think they're just scared because its not something that everybody does. My mom loves travelling, we've been to europe and around the US. But her idea of travelling is staying in hotels and being a tourist. I want to get there on my own power and experience the wild. I believe I can do this, I want to accomplish something. I think it would be wonderful experience and I'll have an amazing time. Millions of people travel in Mexico every year, but suddenly introduce the idea of being on a bike, and they're all against it.

    What do you think? Do you think touring in Mexico is dangerous?

    My $.02 is that you'd be a fool to push for a trip to Mexico when you're probably financially dependent on your parents and they're encouraging you to have an adventure in Europe. Seriously what do you have to lose here? Put together a two week trip in the US for a shake down cruise to see what works then head over there.

    My gut sense is that some research will steer you away from areas of higher risk in Mexico but Mexico isn't the issue, it's primarily keeping peace with folks who are supporting you.

    Your mothers fears aren't based on the discomfort level in touring or that it's not something "everyone" does. It's because she's lived longer than you and has some knowledge about what deep loss is. You really don't or you wouldn't characterize her fear so simply.

    You will have great adventures right in your own state and in Europe. Fly into Spain and tour it. Your mind will be blown.

  16. #16
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    Man, if they are willing to pop for a ticket to Europe, take it! You will find lots of students on the road. I have toured in Mexico, and most people are very nice, if they aren't driving, but the drivers are really really terrible. Poor road conditions and aggressive driving make it not so pleasurable to cycle. I work in Germany in the summer, and take a several week tour in Europe whilst I am there. Germany, Denmark, Austria, and Switzerland have fabulous touring routes with lots to pick from. Spain, France and Italy are really something if your tour coincides with one of the major stage races. Czech Republic and Poland are cheaper, less traveled, and beautiful. Sweden and northern Denmark are wild and free. I always ride self-contained and camp, so it's not like you need hotels. Food and drink are excellent pretty much everywhere.

  17. #17
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    seen as im from ireland and know zip about mexico i would advise you to get in touch with your buddy in mexico tell him/her you can't make it this time around .but if he fancied a tour in wonderful europe .seen as your parents are providing finance for there piece of mind ,and yes your parents are much wiser than you honest.go to europe.

  18. #18
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    It's just not worth putting your parents through that worry. There are plenty of wonderful places to tour in the world, including right here in the U.S.

    The big problem in Mexico isn't so much the violence. You probably stand a pretty good chance that nothing will happen. The problem is that if bad things do happen, there is no place to run. Bad stuff can pretty much happen all over the world. But in most countries, at least you have the police (in Italy you have the Carabinieri, those guys are awesome) .

    In Mexico the police are most likely your worst enemy or they can be your best friend. The problem is there is no way to know for sure. Pretty much the only people that you can really trust are yourself and perhaps your friend.

    Nope I would figure somewhere else to tour to keep your parents happy. But you know they will worry no matter where you pick. That is their job.

    Oh and you should be really grateful they are so concerned.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  19. #19
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    Listen to your parents. You can always go at a later date when things hopefully calm down with Mexico. Your much closer to there for travel later, fairly cheaply. Man id go for the trip to Europe which you might not get another chance for. Or you could probably travel North America minus Mexico and never see everything,in a lifetime. Learn about your own country personally. If you are still being supported and living with your parents i believe they get final say. Your turn when your on your own.

  20. #20
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ddez View Post
    Man id go for the trip to Europe which you might not get another chance for.
    It's why I am going back to Italy this year. No telling what next year is going to bring. My guess is that long distance travel will pretty much be reserved for the wealthy, in the not too distant future.
    "The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

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  21. #21
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Gunmen killed a U.S. consulate employee and her husband as they drove in this violent border city with their baby in the back seat, minutes after the husband of another consular employee was shot to death and his two children wounded, officials said Sunday. Security forces suspected a drug gang hit, but offered no motive.
    Definitely not the time to go to Mexico.

  22. #22
    rwp
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    Take the bus to visit your friend. Rent or even buy a bike down there and travel around locally together. Your parents will most likely not a much problem with that scenario.

  23. #23
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    I'd try to do a one-two week trip to Mexico, without a bike; and a six week bike tour in the US.

  24. #24
    mosquito rancher adamrice's Avatar
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    I'd have to agree: cut your parents a little slack, and be wary about Mexico.

    Millions of people travel in Mexico every year, but suddenly introduce the idea of being on a bike, and they're all against it.
    There's a world of difference between flying to an established tourist area or a small interior town and riding through the border region. I can't over-emphasize this. If you wanted to fly your bike down to Playa del Carmen or Real de Catorce, that would be very different from riding across the border into Juarez (where some US consular workers were just murdered) or Tijuana.

  25. #25
    Large and in charge emperorcezar's Avatar
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    I've read many a tour report of people going into Mexico without issue. The robberies happen around tourist areas. If you travel small towns, you will be fine. People love to fear. I'm quite surprised the fear mongering going on.

    I would personally make good time through the border areas, but otherwise it would be perfectly fine.

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