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Mexico, here we come. Is there a shoulder on HWY 19, Nogales to Guaymas?

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Mexico, here we come. Is there a shoulder on HWY 19, Nogales to Guaymas?

Old 04-08-08, 03:48 PM
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Mexico, here we come. Is there a shoulder on HWY 19, Nogales to Guaymas?

If anyone can give me any good clues on biking from Nogales (and/or Tucson) to Guaymas, Mexico (Sonora), I would appreciate it. Heat, shoulders on roads, alternate roads etc. All are welcome.
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Old 04-09-08, 08:21 AM
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I held off a day in posting on this as my information is about three years old.

I have never ridden this route but have driven it many times, sometimes towing a 26 foot sailboat behind a truck.

Highway 15 is four-lane all the way to Guaymas, (and beyond). It is very narrow, with no paved shoulders except where it passes through Hermosillo and the small towns. It would be better to ride south to north as the south-bound lanes are the original two-lane highway which is even narrower than the north-bound. It has some stretches with a curb on both sides and some short twisty stretches. Where there is no curb there is often a vertical drop-off to the shoulder. The traffic is not heavy but constant with a high percentage of semis and big inter-city buses. The buses move at a very high rate of speed - 75+ mph. The competence of the driving is very good.

It is 335 miles from Nogales to Guaymas and there can be long stretches with few services, especially the 158 miles south from Hermosillo as well as a long stretch north of Hermosillo. A cyclist would not starve or die of thirst out there as there are some Pemex gas stations, a growing number of Oxxo convenience stores, and tiendas, which are little local grocery stores. Some of the towns have small, cheap motels. I have no experience with them.

It is a toll highway and the government appears to understand than some people may not be able to afford the tolls so there are viaja libre signs that direct traffic around the toll booths which go through some of the small towns north of Hermosillo. Hermosillo is the capitol of the state of Sonora. It is large and dusty with an old central square with a cathedral. Worth a visit. Many of the small towns north of Hermosillo have a certain rustic charm. Guaymas is a fishing port grown large and is mostly charmless. The route would be too hot for touring except in winter. April or December would be ideal. The Sea of Cortez is visible only when you reach Guaymas. There will be wind.

I have made it sound bad, and it would be a long and intimidating tour, but it would be worth doing, because of the rugged beauty of the Sonoran desert and because the people you would meet along the way are exceptionally friendly, generous, and open with strangers.

If I were planning a northern Mexico trip, I would ride the Baja peninsula. It has the benefit of following areas of coastline of both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez and the desert countryside is very similar to Sonora. I have never even driven that route but have seen some stretches of it while sailing down the coast in the Sea of Cortez and have traveled some of it near some of the towns along the way. The Baja coast of the Sea of Cortez side is stunningly beautiful. I expect that the bike riding would be similar to Sonora, with more mountains to climb. There are many diaries available on-line by people who have done the ride. I would avoid Cabo San Lucas and aim for San Jose del Cabo instead. La Paz is my favorite city in Mexico.
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Old 04-09-08, 09:39 AM
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I'm not familiar with the Nogales-Guaymas road at all, but marco polo mentions it's a toll road and I had an interesting experience with a 2-lane Mexican toll road between Patzcuaro and Uruapan in Michoacan state. While in Patzcuaro, we asked someone in the tourist office which would be a better road for 2 cyclists to take to Uruapan, the old winding road, or the newer road. She told us that the newer road was better for cyclists because it had less traffic, a wide shoulder, and a smoother surface. Indeed, traffic was light (probably because drivers didn't want to pay the toll), the shoulder was wide, and the road surface was excellent. When we approached a toll booth, the toll taker motioned for us to walk our bikes on the sidewalk so we wouldn't trip the road sensors. That way, he wouldn't have to charge us.
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Old 04-09-08, 05:31 PM
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I've driven that route plenty of times from Tucson to San Carlos/Guayamas. I think biking that would be suicide. I-19 of course has shoulder, but isn't it illegal to ride a bike on interstate/intrastate highways? I still wouldn't do it. Besides, there are very few things worth seeing below the border on that route other than some small towns like Santa Ana and Magdalena. Guayamas isn't exactly a place to call a destination either. It's a pretty dirty place. I wouldn't go there unless you had to. San Carlos is awesome, Hermosillo is . . . interesting, but not Guayamas, it's horrible.
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Old 04-10-08, 02:12 AM
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Axolotl, from some trip logs on CGOB, I had the impression that bikes were not permitted on the toll roads. I take it my impression was wrong? Then again, it`s been my experience that the rules for most everything in Mexico change depending on who`s on duty and what he had for lunch.
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Old 04-10-08, 06:11 AM
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That was the only toll road I ever attempted to ride on in Mexico. Also, it was a 2-lane, not a 4-lane road. There were several police cars which passed us and they didn't seem to care that we were on the road. I don't think we were even aware that it was a toll road until we came upon some toll booths, and they weren't where the road began, as I recall.
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Old 04-10-08, 06:22 AM
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Thank you- worth keeping in mind should I ever be tempted to pedal one.
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