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Old 02-16-12, 05:05 PM   #1
bearskin
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Help planning a Mainland Mexico Route?

Hi everyone,
I'm looking for advice on how to plan a tour route through Mexico starting in Mazatlan and ending in Mexico City. I'm planning on biking it with a buddy starting at the end of March. How do I figure out what the roads or terrain are like? Does anyone who has ridden that way have any suggestions?
Thanks!

Loretta
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Old 02-16-12, 05:16 PM   #2
bradtx
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Loretta, Many areas of Mexico are under a travel alert.

Brad
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Old 02-16-12, 08:17 PM   #3
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Follow the tracks somebody else has already ridden?
Lots of Crazyguy journals cover pretty much the same route down Baja, ferry to Mazatlan, overland to DF. You can do site searches on individual cities to help dial it in and read what troubles and triumphs previous bikers have experienced on each section of the way. You don`t need to register in order to get access to all the great info....
...but if you DO register, you can post your own tour journal and help out the next guy

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/l...octype=journal
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Old 02-16-12, 09:48 PM   #4
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How many days are you looking to do it in? What kind of daily avg are you looking for? I've done a bit of cycling in Mexico and I just finished putting together a decent little itinerary for Mazatlan to Guantajuato, and then there to Toluca (or could easily end in Mexico City). If you're looking to spend a little bit of time and not push too hard, I've got it as a route with a 73 km/day avg, 18 cycling days, and 4 rest days. I rode from Mazatlan down the coast to Puerto Vallarta, and continuing downwards on the 200 which was ok, but I don't think the best route. I think from Mazatlan over the Espinazo del Diabolo to Durango looks fantastic. Great scenery and an amazing road. Then from Durango you can head down to Zacatecas, Aguascalientes, and Guantajuanto which all have great colonial historic centres.

Crazy guy does have some good resources in other journals, and one other thing you can do is use google street view for many highways in Mexico. Just drag over the little man and it shows which roads are available, that way you can get an idea how wide the highway is, what the traffic levels are like, and even how scenic it is. Feel free to msg me if you want some more details on my little itinerary too - it's terrible weather here right now, so I just keep creating cycling routes that I want to do to distract me! Good luck with the planning, and enjoy the journey!!
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Old 02-16-12, 10:37 PM   #5
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This page has 11 links to information about bike touring in Mexico.

Not all of them will be of interest to you but there are links to maps, rides around Puerto Vallerta and Mexico City, and other ones that may be useful.
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Old 02-18-12, 01:14 PM   #6
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I think from Mazatlan over the Espinazo del Diabolo to Durango looks fantastic. Great scenery and an amazing road.
Unless this road has changed (It's been close to ten years since I was last on it) I would not recommend riding this route. It is incredibly beautiful with a handful of friendly small villages along the way. I spent several months in El Salto which is roughly half way between Mazatlan and Durango. But, it is twisty, narrow, and at times can be a dangerous drive. There are countless memorials along the side of the road in honor of all the people who have lost their lives driving that route. The logging trucks are what you really need to watch out for as they have limited space to make the dozens, and dozens of sharp turns as you follow the mountain side.

Extremely beautiful drive. The number one thought that always occurred to me on this route is how easily you could drive off the road into thin air and have a few seconds to consider what was happening.
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Old 02-18-12, 06:03 PM   #7
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I know that there's a new highway that's supposed to be opening this year, the 40D I think. It's supposed to be a crazy highway, using 60 tunnels and 115 bridges, including one that's the longest cable stayed bridge in the world - I saw some pictures of it being constructed and it looks unreal. But hopefully the new highway will be taking pressure off of the older one, leaving less truck traffic. Is the road quality itself bad on that old highway? I guess ten years ago things may have been different as well - I just know that taking the 200 south from Mazatlan was not fun at all on a bike - that was some of the worst riding that I experienced in Mexico. The traffic was awful. I think I'd take great scenery with dangerous corners and ledges over that heavy volume of truck traffic and no scenery... but then again that's easy to say from the comfort of my chair now. Flying over a ledge into an eternal abyss, and I'd be second-guessing that...
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Old 02-18-12, 08:29 PM   #8
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If you are a U.S. citizen and planning on riding through northern Mexico, I strongly advise against it, as does the U.S. government. I live on the border near Reynosa/Matamoros and can say that you will not find it safe. Please, go read the news, do some research and then reconsider. Northern Mexico is absolutely not safe with the current drug war between the Cartels clashing for power in the region.
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Old 09-12-12, 05:04 AM   #9
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Crazy guy does have some good resources in other journals, and one other thing you can do is use google street view for many highways in Mexico. Just drag over the little man and it shows which roads are available, that way you can get an idea how wide the highway is, what the traffic levels are like, and even how scenic it is. Feel free to msg me if you want some more details on my little itinerary too - it's terrible weather here right now, so I just keep creating cycling routes that I want to do to distract me! Good luck with the planning, and enjoy the journey!!
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Old 09-12-12, 08:45 AM   #10
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OK, I live in Mexico and I haven´t been able to find much info about riding here...even after talking with the folks at a large bike shop in Guadalajara. The best I´ve found so far has been to use the Google maps and bounce them against the Guia Roji. If you can, order a GR in advance. If not, get it at the airport when you arrive. Use the advice of CGOAB posters as much as you can because they´re going to be the best source.

One really cool thing about Google maps is you can go to satellite and travel every foot of the route you want to take and see it at bike level. I´m a techdinosaur, but when I was checking out a route, I was astonished to realize that I was seeing the road from the view of a car/bike. I went through several miles of an interchange that had me worried and now know exactly how to navigate it without becoming roadkill. Wow! Sure, it´s a slow way to check the route, but if you´re not sure about a particular leg of your trip, it´s a great way to see the road conditions.

VERY IMPORTANT: you cannot ride on the cuotas (toll roads). In the Guia Roji maps, they´re usually marked with a "D." So if you take the advice of another poster, please double check 40D before planning on riding it. There´s a blog where a couple of women just rode around the casetas (toll shacks) and pretended they didn´t know any better, but I wouldn´t do it. You don´t want to be partially down the road and forced to turn back. When you see signs at splits in the road and one says "cuota" and the other says "libre" (free), you have to take the libre if on bike.
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Old 09-12-12, 09:03 AM   #11
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VERY IMPORTANT: you cannot ride on the cuotas (toll roads). In the Guia Roji maps, they´re usually marked with a "D." So if you take the advice of another poster, please double check 40D before planning on riding it. There´s a blog where a couple of women just rode around the casetas (toll shacks) and pretended they didn´t know any better, but I wouldn´t do it. You don´t want to be partially down the road and forced to turn back. When you see signs at splits in the road and one says "cuota" and the other says "libre" (free), you have to take the libre if on bike.
This is a 7 month old thread.

My only cuota experience was about 8 years ago in the state of Michoacan. A knowledgeable woman in the tourist office in Patzcuaro urged us to ride our bikes on the toll road to Uruapan instead of the old, free road. (BTW, that particular toll road is only a 2-lane road.) She said the old road had more traffic, especially more trucks, more curves, was narrower, and overall was less safe for cyclists, she felt. We took her advice and had no problems at all riding our bikes on it. At the toll plaza, we were told to walk our bikes on the sidewalk so we wouldn't trip the sensors, but otherwise nobody seemed the slightest bit surprised that we were on bikes. We were not asked to pay a toll. A police car passed us while we were riding and ignored us.
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Old 09-14-12, 02:05 PM   #12
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This is a 7 month old thread.

My only cuota experience was about 8 years ago in the state of Michoacan. A knowledgeable woman in the tourist office in Patzcuaro urged us to ride our bikes on the toll road to Uruapan instead of the old, free road. (BTW, that particular toll road is only a 2-lane road.) She said the old road had more traffic, especially more trucks, more curves, was narrower, and overall was less safe for cyclists, she felt. We took her advice and had no problems at all riding our bikes on it. At the toll plaza, we were told to walk our bikes on the sidewalk so we wouldn't trip the sensors, but otherwise nobody seemed the slightest bit surprised that we were on bikes. We were not asked to pay a toll. A police car passed us while we were riding and ignored us.
You´re right about the date...I sure missed when I responded to ivan, but your info is from over 8 years ago. Many things have changed here. You may or may not get away with it, but if you have an option, don´t take the cuota and don´t plan any in your itinerary. The roads are almost worth the risk because they´re well maintained (hence the tolls), but they´re also very well patroled. I wouldn´t want to get stopped and told to get off the cuota immediately.

Having said that, ask. Hey, it can´t hurt and as unfair as it is, we women still get treated much differently (better) by the authorities.

Last edited by dengidog; 09-14-12 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 09-14-12, 08:00 PM   #13
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Hope this helps someone looking for newer info...

Although it isn't allowed to ride on cuota (toll) roads, tons of bike tourists do. They find them safer. I concur that in most cases, they are! This is because of the wide shoulder. Some cuota roads are one way on each direction with a wide shoulder. On those routes, everyone uses that shoulder as a second lane, so be a little extra careful on those roads. The only area where cops might pull you over is on the toll road is from Rosarito to Ensenada, just south of TJ. Most people get back on the toll a few Km later without any more issues. Always walk your bike by the toll booths in the walk area on the right side (do not line up behind cars.) Most Mexicans are very nice to cyclists giving you a wide berth and even turning on the flashing lights to oncoming traffic to indicate to be watchful for you.

We are currently spending a couple of months in Patzcuaro, Michoacan. This area is to me bicycling paradise... Well kept roads, nice drivers (even though everyone reminds you that people here don't know how to drive!), cool temps, neat colonial towns, nice people, good food and the scenery is just GORGEOUS!! I have biked in many parts of the world including Italy. This area is really up there, IMHO.

In regard to Mazatlan-Durango, the new toll road is supposed to be fully operational in December. A big section opened this summer. Due to the crazy number of tunnels, bikes are definitely not allowed there. The old road will finally accomplish its original goal - a nice scenic road! It will be nice for bicyclists.

Whatever you do, avoid the coastal route 200 that starts in San Blas, Nayarit and goes way south. Horrible road for cyclists!

Last edited by Chris Pringle; 09-14-12 at 08:04 PM.
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