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After Mérida, we were on the home stretch, passing ruins such as Chichén Itzá, Cobá and Tulum, the colonial city of Valladolid and then to the Caribbean and the beaches at Playa del Carmen and Cancún, as well as the usual number of smaller, less well-known, towns. Cancún is the end for us as that’s where Peter’s flight back to NYC on the 28th of February is waiting. As far as my route is concerned, I’m going to Cuba for a month or so, although the ticket isn’t booked yet.

The wind that had been blowing from the north on our way to Mérida had switched direction and was now coming out of the east, meaning it would continue to be a headwind. It was pretty obvious as we left Loretta’s, after a scrumptious breakfast of bacon and deliciously buttery eggs, as even in the narrow streets in the city centre it was blustery. When we got out of the city and onto the small, very straight road heading east, most traffic is on the toll road. A fair number of the vehicles we did see were the standard yellow cargo bicycles, which make me just feel bad about complaining about the wind. Those bikes without cargo probably weigh mostly the same as mine fully loaded, and then you’ll see them carrying a passenger or a huge pile of logs, and they seem to usually look happy. As well as the cargo bicycles, it seemed to be an area where hunting was popular as we saw a few old guys on bicycles with old-fashioned rifles strapped onto their top tubes. The things we see strapped on people’s bikes never ceases to amaze me, although obviously the craziest looking ones go past when you don’t have your camera ready.

We stopped for lunch in the first town we got to, and got probably the worst food we’ve had in our whole time in Mexico. This plate of pork, beans and rice, which had a distinctly purple hue, beat a couple of bowls of birria that Peter ordered back in December. The restaurant itself looked fairly nice, with luxuries like table cloths. When the food arrived, even though we were both hungry neither of us started eating quickly.

At first we thought that maybe we were just being picky, and then we saw another couple of guys come in, sit across from us, order, get their food and take similar approaches to us of looking at their food while glancing at each other. I ate my rice, but left the meat. Peter is less of a picky eater than me, and ate the whole thing, mainly because he absolutely hates to leave anything. The table behind us asked for their bill, and the waitress asked them if they hadn’t liked their food as they had left lots of it.

We kept riding and made it to Izamal, a pretty colonial town. It was already dark when we arrived, and we found a pizza place to eat at. He had said we could camp there, so we ate dinner and were about to put up our tents when he changed his mind. Apparently he is only renting the building and the owner had come over and said we couldn’t camp. We left, slightly frustrated as it was about 10pm, and rode to the centre. We saw the police and they immediately pointed us towards the church and said we could camp there. I really wish they hadn’t.

The next day was one of my worst of the trip. To quote an email I sent to a friend…

Started by losing my key for my wheel lock in a field next to where we camped, spent an hour searching for it, took the bike to a locksmith who couldnt pick the lock so chopped it open. Went for breakfast. Then removing the remains of the lock Peter accidentally scraped a bit of the leftover metal against my sidewall cutting it a little. Then rode and got a puncture when a 3cm long nail got stuck in my front tire. Tried to ignore it until I got to the next town, caused a huge number of punctures, fixed it in a town with a really loud poor quality radio playing which was obnoxious. Made it 4k before being certain one of the patches had failed so pumped it up enough to get to the next town. It was dark and we were still 20km to our destination, tried to fix he patch but failed, replaced the tube, got to destination, confirmed with the police where we could camp, went for dinner, camped. BLAH

It was written on my Kindle, so that’s my excuse for any typos. I now no longer have my Abus wheel-lock, just when I’m going to be going back to riding by myself and it’d be even more useful. The mark on my tyre sidewall isn’t big, but it’s the start of a point of weakness and probably will be the point where my sidewalls fail, probably not for a few thousand kilometres but still…

Izamal

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