Finally back in the hot seat after a mechanical MacGyver session in Guatemala and notching up a successful crossing into Mexico, the 14th and penultimate nation of phase two of the Global Wheeling initiative. Sporting a dodgy rear derailleur and a huge amount of faith in duct tape and bubblegum the current status quo.
Central America, short lived as it was, turned out to be a whirlwind of border crossings and mechanical nightmares. Not yet out of the clear until I reach Mexico City and track down some much needed spares. The rigours of fully loaded touring making quick work of tyres, chains and cassettes as I haul my 50 kg rig containing all my worldly possessions through the mountains, coastal plains and desserts of the Americas.
With this intensely demanding schedule of 400 km a week constantly knocking on the door there seems to be no time to stop and smell the roses. Having “flown” across the southern section of Guatemala a country I knew was full of gems both naturally and architecturally was a tough pill to swallow. One side of me wanted to put the brakes on and explore the country in great detail, but the project and its requirements rarely allow for leisurely detours.
Now pounding the pavements here in Mexico, I stop to check my map for directions and without fail get flawed every time at the enormity of this nation. It has a huge amount to offer from coastal mountain ranges to metropolises and desserts; it too though will fall by the wayside after a few thousand km’s of tarmac, blood sweat and tears. However, until that time comes I spend my days on Mexican soil sweating, dodging overloaded trucks and keeping a sharp eye out for the next wild mango tree I can ravage for free fruit.
Making quick work of the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca I have recently crossed into Veracruz. I have set out a handful of natural landmarks as to make the expedition more manageable. The thought of having to tackle 20 000 carbon free km’s in 50 weeks solo on a bicycle is a daunting prospect, so I’ve compartmentalized the trip into digestible sections, the 4th section finishing on the Gulf of Mexico. Adding a few hundred extra km’s here and there in order to incorporate these natural landmarks has been a challenge on its own to digest, but imperative to keep my head in the game as I tackle 3, 4 or 5 thousand kilometer sections at a time.
Having just reached the port town in Veracruz after 37 weeks in the Americas I’ve just finished phase four of the trip, a huge 5000 km trek coming up from the equator in Ecuador. I’ve got my sights set on Mexico City now having just reached the Gulf and celebrated with a large cold beer. However, the road beckons and from sea level I’ll be climbing up to over 2500m above sea level in the coming days as I head into the Mexican capital in search of spares a route I was hoping to avoid but the bike is due some attention. Having battled to navigate my way in and out of Lima with 10 million I am not looking forward to taking on Mexico City by bicycle with over 20 million people vying for space.
Phase five will take me roughly 3000 km’s through the entirety of Mexico across the US border to the Grand Canyon, my next major natural landmark. After 37 long weeks the expedition is starting to take its toll now with hot humid lonely nights in the tent becoming harder as time away from friends and family is becoming increasingly difficult. Battling the humidity for a few hours in the tent at night before fatigue finally takes me is now the toughest time of the day. No long trip comes without a price and I am starting to pay the piper.
After 37 carbon free weeks in the saddle the odometer reads a fairly impressive 14 718 km’s with a carbon emissions saving of 2207 kg’s! If you still have doubts about the magic this two wheeled human powered machine possesses, I hope they’re starting to dissolve.