The desire to escape to the mountains of Guanajuato after our fantastic trip to Sierra Gorda was all too alluring. We packed our panniers and took off for a six day trip with a strategy to return to San Miguel de Allende. Here’s a photo map of our route.View map on EveryTrail.com (direct link)
Juicy Tomatoes On Route 67
We hit the road. Just as we left San Miguel, we were confronted by a steady headwind which persisted for the duration of our 55km ride. We stopped outside a tienda along the highway to refuel our weary muscles. I can’t seem to cover many miles on a bike without a lot of sugar in my system; gel shots and electrolytes have been hauling me up the hills thus far (I am sure my dentist will have words with me when I return). Whilst sitting on the curb outside the tienda, the owner approached us and asked,[gn_quote style=”1″]Do you want to try some of my juicy tomatoes?[/gn_quote]
The question amused and intrigued us, so we followed him behind his shop and down into a bizarre subterranean green house, not yet sure if we would be fed or slaughtered. His face flooded with pride as we sampled his ripe, red glories. To his credit, they were the sweetest, yummiest tomatoes we have ever tasted. After a munch on some other greens and sugar leaf, he led us back into the tienda where he demonstrated a very effective homemade bokashi compost bin, reveling in his fascination with the composting powers of the Californian red worm.
Time was of the essence. We got off to a slow start and needed to make up some miles. We thanked the worm master and got back on the road as the afternoon light was slipping away.
Jenny’s Inner Monster
Riding our bikes into dusk… hmm, not exactly following our touring rule of thumb. A ferocious dog ran out into the road and chased my bike with a rabid looking snarl on its face. Time was going to tell whether I would fight or flight (luckily on my bike I could do both). Lars was quite impressed to hear my inner monster. I roared like a bear and subsequently scared the living shit out of that mangey dog![gn_box title=”Jenbell Touring Tip” color=”#333333″]If you are accosted by a pack of dogs (or one really crazy dog), just get off your bike and place it between you and the dog, then walk past. Most of the time they get bored. For particularly persistent dogs, a clenched fist usually does the trick (the locals tend to throw stones at them). For downright crazy rabid werewolves, it may be necessary to release your inner monster.[/gn_box]
Hungry Cyclists Devouring Guanajuato!
We finally hit a road side town called La Sauceda (Santa Fe de Guadalupe). We were starving, but unfortunately the last 35km were barren of food stops to fill our hungry cyclist bellies. In La Sauceda we found tortas, gorditas, more gorditas and tacos! Mexican food has the perfect balance of naughty yet satisfying calories teamed with awesome fresh ingredients to keep any cyclist’s insatiable hunger at bay. Below is an array of food we ate on our trip through Guanajuato. It varied from campfire cooking with the finest ingredients to the street food of the Mexican Mammas and their special recipes!
Camping in Guanajuato
Finding a place to camp in Guanajuato is simple, but much easier before dark. On our first night, we found ourselves in La Sauceda without a campsite. After some shrugs and shakes of the head by a few locals we went up a quiet street and were lucky to meet Angelica and her husband who kindly offered us their garden. Their three children were incredibly sweet offering us blankets and pillows. The family was so humble, offering to share with us what little they had. If we are lucky enough to meet more families like this on our bike tour it’s going to be a truly amazing experience. Lars bought the family a massive bag of pastries to say thank you. Those kids would have been high as kites by 11am!
The following five nights were a mix of simple campgrounds and stealth camping in the wilderness. Los Palomas cost a mere 40 Pesos (£2.13) per person per night so we stayed for two. We had the place to ourselves, we were so tempted to run around naked in the wilderness… Ok, so we did 😉
The second day of riding was really tough (for me anyway, Lars is a mountain goat). We rode 35km, all of which was uphill. By lunchtime we hit the crazy underground tunnels of traffic under Guanajuato City.
We finally manoeuvred ourselves above ground to be welcomed unexpectedly by ‘El Día de la Flores‘ (Day of Flowers), an annual festivity in Guanajuato that takes place on the 6th Friday of Lent. Everyone makes a big effort on their appearance. ‘chicas guapas’ were everywhere, all carrying flowers given to them by the men. The children were given very creative papier mache toys, balloons and wind-up caballeros. I definitely saw a papier mache Sponge Bob Square Pants bobbing through the crowd.
Reaching The Summit Above Guanajuato City
On our third day riding we hit the highest point of the mountain pass above Guanajuato City. At a whopping 2640m (8660 feet), this was the highest either of us have ever been on a bicycle. A small playground nestled on the summit with a restaurant a stones throw away. We enjoyed a cup of Cafe de Olla, a sweet coffee flavoured with cinnamon. It was… delicious.
We met some bad ass dirt bikers outside the restaurant. They were so excited to hear that we want to cycle to Argentina they had their photo taken with us and added it to our Facebook Page!
From the summit, we descended a few km down to Santa Rosa de Lima and then up to Presa de Peralillo (Peralillo Dam), a beautiful nature area of Guanajuato. It’s certainly worth a visit if you can handle the the gnarly off road hill climb to get up there. I was pushing my bike up a lot of it but on the way back to the road I was a springy young gazelle! We wild camped there for one night in a small field of cow pats.
What Goes Up Must Come Down
Now this is my kind of riding! We enjoyed a 20km decent of 600m (2000ft) with a bonus tail wind. We flew all the way down to Dolores Hidalgo just in time for two helpings of their famous ice cream and set up camp alongside the lake.
With about 50km to get back from our Guanajuato adventure, Lars suggested that we take the scenic route from Dolores Hidalgo to San Miguel de Allende. The 17km of undulating off road terrain was actually a short cut (in distance). Lars said I ate it for breakfast with no problem. I was quite pleased with myself! By the time we reached the highway, we only had 15km of easy paved road before I crashed out on the sofa.