After the early morning the day before, I went for the option of having a lovely lie-in and didn’t get up until past 11am. Pedro and I had a lazy day at his new place trying to work some things out. He wasn’t sure about the details of his living situation, and was trying to get in touch with the owner of the place. I was caught between having a rest day in San Miguel, and getting on my bike. If I had decided to stay another day, I would have struggled to bike the whole way to DF, so by 4pm I was heading out. It was going to be bizarre riding just by myself again having been riding with Pedro since the middle of May. We said our farewells, but figured our paths would cross again in DF after he was done in San Miguel. As a parting gift, Pedro was trying to get in touch with a contact of his in Querétaro to get me a place to stay for the night. He would let me know by email when they got back to him.
I set off knowing it was about 80km to Querétaro. I knew that without mechanical issues, I should be able to get there before dark. That of course is why they happened. I’d been having an intermittent click on and off for a good long time. I’m sure it happened before, but I remember speaking with Scott back in northern California about a click and it had never really been resolved, the joys if it being intermittent. Having a deadline however meant that it struck and the clicking got worse until my left crank (the thing the pedal is attached to) started getting loose and wiggling while I pedaled, obviously not an ideal situation!
One advantage of having footwear that attaches to the pedals is that it lets you ride one-legged, it’s a great way to work on your pedal stroke as it really emphasises where you aren’t making perfect circles. It also means that when you figure your crank is in danger of falling off, you can also ride one-legged. The thing is, it’s really not that easy to sustain for much longer than a few minutes, especially not when you’re going up hill. I’d tried to tighten it, but it uses an 8mm Allen key and I didn’t have one of those, so, when my right leg felt like it wanted to fall off, I pulled up next to a pick-up truck and asked the guys who were loading it if they had one I could borrow. While they had nipped inside the building to look for a tool, I realised I had another half to my multi-tool and was amazed to find I actually had an 8mm key on there! By the time they came out to apologise that they couldn’t find one, I had already tightened the crank up, and figuring everything was good, put that half of my multi-tool back away in my front pannier.
15 minutes later, I felt the left pedal start to wobble again and so had to stop and tighten it up again. This cycle repeated itself enough times that 30km later my laziness was kicking in enough that I was considering trying to tighten the crank while I rode so as not to have to keep stopping. Thankfully, some common sense kicked in cos that would have lead to nothing but me falling off my bike. When I got to the turn off for Querétaro, I got an e-mail from Pedro saying that unfortunately things wouldn’t work out with his contact. Having nowhere to stay in the city and with a goal of nothing more than finding a place to sleep before getting up early the next day to ride to Tula de Allende I opted to avoid the city as finding a place to throw up a tent is a lot easier when you’re not in a built up area.
The road was not bad, other than two problems. The light was going to be fading soon, and the right hand lane was under construction. Toll roads are usually actually fine for cycling, cos there’s generally a shoulder which acts as a cycling lane. I’m not sure why, but the shoulders here in Mexico also seem to be much cleaner than those on the interstates in the US. Maybe being toll roads they get someone to clean them, but I’ve never seen that happening so.. who knows. Anyway, having road works in the right hand lane meant that the equivalent of a motorway with plenty of cars travelling in excess of 100+km/h (70+mph) was being squashed into one lane and I was getting to ride in it. The road wasn’t that busy, but it did make me very glad to have my mirror so I could see cars coming and swerve into the closed lane to avoid them. After a while of this swerving, I realised that the amount of construction had reduced and that I’d basically have the lane to myself other than a few construction workers. Perfect, especially as I was starting to descend. I got down into a tuck and flew down the hill, I got up around 60 km/h (40mph) before suddenly having to slam my brakes on when I noticed a rectangle of road, as wide as the lane by about 2m was missing. My brakes did a great job and I stopped 4-5m short of it. If I’d not noticed it, I’d have gone flying a long way down that road when my front wheel crashed into the other side of the hole. I stopped and collected myself for a couple of minutes, and grabbed the picture below, before heading on.
I continued along the road and stopped at a Pemex by the toll booth that marked the start of the toll road. Having planned to make it to a city, I wasn’t carrying any food and so I got myself a cup noodle. To add some calories and flavour, I made the wonderful concoction you can see in the pictures, which involved a copious amount of chopped up onions, tomatoes and other condiments that they had for the hotdogs. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t what they were meaning and I’m not sure I’d do it again, but I was hungry.
Being a toll road, there was basically nothing between the Pemex and the next exit 20km down the road, and the next town wasn’t for another 15km after that. I figured something would turn up, and as it was starting to get dark started paying careful attention to the fields next to the toll road, the problem was that it all seemed to be full of fields of crops that didn’t have much space for a tent. Just before I got to the exit, I saw a collapsed building in a farmer’s field (there’ll be a video of it in the next blog post) and as the sun had gone down decided to explore. I lay my bike down and crawled under the barbed wire fence, doing the obvious and catching my top on it. While there was litter, including broken beer bottles on the floor, it didn’t seem that recent and I figured a Monday night wasn’t the most likely day for people to be out getting drunk in a collapsed building. It took me 5-10 minutes to convince myself that it was a good option, and by the time I’d got round to it, I didn’t have of a choice as it was getting very dark. I set up tent and quickly drifted off to sleep.
Where Pedro would be staying
Where I camped