Mexico by Bicycle Introduction

In 1968 after teaching for two years in an isolated town in Africa, I returned to Oregon to a tumultuous year of violence, civil rights marches and the killing of national figures, protests against the escalating war in Vietnam and women demanding liberation. My home state of Oregon was relatively calm but it was hard to settle down. The chaos in my country made me long for the personal isolation of travel.

Ready for Our Trip

I met and married a man who shared the travel bug. Robert and I stored our possessions and pedaled out of Portland in January, which must say something about the state of our minds. Our goal was to bicycle to Colombia and South America, but naming the destination only help us know which way to turn. When we left

We wandered in and out of Mexico for 2 1/2 years by car, by bicycle, and by boat. While the life was simple, it was never boring. We never made it to Columbia, which was probably a good thing, but the trip was rich in adventures.

In 1969, if there were panniers for bicycles, we did not know about them. We had been doing a lot of hiking, so the natural thing was for Robert to make a frame for each bike to hold the rigid-framed backpacks over the rear wheel. Secured by strips of inner tube rubber, they were difficult to load and unload.

Bicycling the Mexican Desert

We wobbled at low speeds and because the weight was so high, we had to mount the bikes very carefully and occasionally one did crash onto the side. Parking them, however, was a breeze. We just let the weight pull them backward. They looked like praying mantis and provided entertainment for any kids who encountered them.

We didn’t carry a bike lock. The bikes were usually within sight, but not always. We carried two cameras and a light tight bag so we could develop the black and white photos. We had enough camping equipment so we could always overnight near the road. We usually stopped in the towns to recoup for a day or two. We sent clothing and equipment home as we moved south. Along the way, the adventures more than made up for the long days of drudgery.

After about three months, we were moving into more populated areas. In the desert, we could hear the approach of a bus or truck and had time to stop, get off and wheel the bikes off the crumbled edge of the road to safety. When the traffic increased on the highway south of Nogales, it became impossible to move. The thrill of adventure had worn off. We returned to Oregon and started again.

The pieces in this section are mere glimpses of the longer trip.

Tanker of Tequila

On our first day after crossing into Mexico, in a quick few hours, we were introduced to some issues of commerce and the transportation system. Or rather, leaks in it. A delicious meal and lots of free tequila introduced us to how things were done in Mexico.

On Hair

Travelling by bicycle does not demand feminine clothing. Growing my hair long did not clarify my gender identity for strangers.

The Cowboys, Frank and the Americans

In the three days with an isolated ranching family and their grizzled guest we watched a mini-rodeo, panned for gold far from water and enjoyed warm food and delightful company.

R & R with Damiana and Her Family

During a ten-day sojourn near Guaymas we slowed right down to a snail’s pace with an extended  family on holiday. We were included in everything by Damiana, the matriarch of the brood. Several chapters broaden our experience in that spectacular place, which is now a Club Med, alas.