A dangerous road - The Not So Long Way Down - CycleBlaze

December 22, 2018

A dangerous road

I woke up with a really sore throat. Jon had been getting sick and it seemed like I was catching it too. But we had a long day of climbing ahead of us, and I had to just suck it up for a couple more days, then I would have ten days to rest in Ahuacatlan, the town where we planned to spend a Christmas and New Year break.

Once again it was me, Dea, and Jon who left early, hoping to get a head start on the three faster riders. They were enjoying breakfast and seemed in no hurry to get going, perhaps because to a man they all seemed to have fallen in love with Arlene.

We rode off on the 15, which was definitely not a fine road, definitely not a safe place to be on a bicycle. It was narrow, there was no shoulder, it was busy, with a lot of trucks, there were blind corners and shadows across the road that blocked the views, and thick foliage at the side of the road prevented any means of diving out of the way. It was a horrible road, a horrific place to cycle. I felt absolutely like I didn't want to do this anymore. I felt like I was putting myself in danger stupidly for no great benefit. There was no enjoyment in this, and if this was what the rest of Latin America was going to be like, then I didn't want to do it anymore.

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After about 20 kilometres we took a break at a gas station and Dea and I sat together in the shade behind it. Naturally she was similarly disturbed by the dangerous road and the associated risks, and the idea to go home was discussed with a degree of seriousness that it had never been given before.
"Actually we might have to, I might be pregnant," Dea said.
"Oh, that would be awesome!" I said instinctively.
We want to have a family when we get home anyway, and such a beautiful excuse to quit riding on these roads seemed like a blissful solution in that moment.

With thoughts of becoming a father still in my mind we resumed riding. Sadly there was absolutely no alternative for at least the next little while, and we had to continue doing battle with the trucks and buses. After a while the three amigos caught up to us and we paused to compare notes. I asked them what they thought of the road now.
Nathan shrugged and said, "It's alright."
"Do you not think it's dangerous?!" I asked.
"No," Tom smiled, "the guys are pointing out the holes in the road to me."
"I'm not talking about the holes in the road."
But they were all pretty oblivious to what was surely one of the most dangerous roads I'd ever cycled on. "You guys are nuts," I said, shaking my head.

Ciaran riding onwards on the alright road.
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The 15 and the 15D soon crossed one another and we took the opportunity to clamber over some bushes to get onto the relative safety of the highway. It actually wasn't long before the two roads merged together for a while, and here it was at least a dual carriageway with a shoulder. Traffic was increasing a lot, however, as we neared the city of Tepic. When the two roads split again we once again segregated into our two teams, although this time the tables were turned, with the boys taking the 15D and us the 15. This was because they wanted to go into Tepic, and we preferred to take a bypass around it to avoid the worst of the traffic, which required a few more kilometres on the 15.

Thankfully it was now a quieter road and we could even enjoy looking at the views occasionally. We had been climbing all day long, and were now over a thousand metres up and looking down over tropical green mountains, still sweating in the heat and with all three of us struggling to hold off sickness for one more day we had christened ourselves Team Sniffles.

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We reached the junction with the Tepic bypass, which looked like a great wide road without much traffic, and stopped for the night. This time we asked at a car junkyard, as it was the only thing around. There was a whole family living there, and for the first time we had to test out our Spanish without Tom there to help us. To our great relief the family welcomed us in and showed us a spot where we could camp. They then left us to ourselves, as they were going away and soon left in cars, demonstrating once again the tremendous kindness and trust of strangers, as they left the place all to us. My sickness was getting worse, and I only hoped I could hold it off one more day, for we now had only 90 kilometres to ride to Ahuacatlan.

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Today's ride: 72 km (45 miles)
Total: 1,794 km (1,114 miles)

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Jen GrumbyPerceived risk is so interesting .. when we were riding on west-bound Rogers Pass in Montana Ron and I had a very similar experience .. thinking we might be killed by a motorist passing at 90mph.

The guy we were riding with thought the narrow-shouldered windy road and high-speed traffic were just annoying.

If you and Dea do continue riding, may the remaining roads in Latin America feel safe and enjoyable.
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5 months ago
Catherine HastingsBABY!!! Cliff hanger.
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5 months ago