Puerto Penasco - Sonoyta, Sonora: Bicycling the Gran Desierto de Altar. - The Squealing with Glee Tour - CycleBlaze

December 26, 2017

Puerto Penasco - Sonoyta, Sonora: Bicycling the Gran Desierto de Altar.

We are in Mexico. Hours of operation are optimistic. The restaurant we ate at last night had a posted opening hour this morning of 7 AM. But when Jacinto asked the waitress, opening time was 8 AM. There is a restaurant right across from the motel that should be open today. The motel clerk recommended it. Their posted opening time is also 7 AM. We decided to try 7:30. Let’s see if they are open.

There was some sort of thumping going on most of the night. Like a very slow beat on a kettle drum. It wasn’t constant. But it woke me up. Jacinto stayed asleep. Ugh.

I forgot to give you my bra update. I’m sure you were curious if it dried or not. Not really. It’s been 12 hours. I had it close to the electric heater ever since I washed it. It’s sligjtly damp and NOW smells a little funky. I think from being wet so long. Maybe I would have been better off letting all of that sweat dry in the fabric? Certainly you couldn’t take a wool bra to a humid climate. I wonder about my wool shirt? The tights? Ha.

I had a guestbook post asking how Jacinto’s belt drive is doing. He doesn’t need a rag to clean his chain. Or lube. He was gleeful about not needing the lube when I gave it to him to carry, as typical. The hub has been working well. We’ve been riding fast, so we are both at the upper end of gearing and wishing for more gears. Those low mountain gears are for home!

When we went to breakfast there was a man outside sweeping and the sign said open. That was promising. The street was empty as was the restaurant. Yep, this is a tourist town. Maybe we will get out of town before traffic picks up. It is very chilly out, despite being 48 degrees. Humidity?

Jacinto pronounced the restaurant coffee dishwater and vowed to take his percolator on part two of the trip. The food was good and a fraction of the cost of the restaurant last night nearer the beach. Last night was $40 USD. Today we both had breakfast plus we ordered two burritos to go for snacks on the road. They are nice fat burritos. Total cost for breakfast and lunch is $24. For being in a tourist area, that’s pretty good.

We have a planned departure of 9 AM again. Today is uphill. I’ve warned Jacinto my pace will be more typical of me. The big chainring has gotten a workout so far this trip!

Jacinto is gone now to the Oxxo to try the VeraCruz coffee that is Kevin’s favorite.


I am quite sure Jacinto was frustrated with my pace today. With 62 miles of uphill, I went at a tried and true pace. This is much slower than the past two days. I ended up with an 11.4 average. Totally embarrassing, says Jacinto.

We had a room inspection again. I wonder what they do if you've trashed the room. It's not like the 100 peso deposit is going to cover much damage. If you really did damage something, you'd probably just slink off into the night.

We were up before the tourists and out of town. I kept looking at that six lane wide street, thankful it wasn't full of cars. There was a designated bike lane in the downtown area. I was impressed. It would have been more useful if it wasn't periodically full of sand.

We were quickly out of town. The first 17 miles was excellent smooth pavement with a giant shoulder. We rode side by side and talked. The view going north was much better than going south. We could see the mountains the entire day.

We had a gradual uphill all day. The sort of climbing that makes you wonder if you have a flat tire or if your legs just don't have any zip left in them.

At mile 17 our smooth pavement disappeared. The shoulder was rough, but not as bad as the other side of the road. We kept telling ourselves this side is slightly less rough. I still got in the traffic lane when no cars were coming. That's easy to verify with rear view mirrors. The traffic today was much heavier than the first two days. It seems people are headed somewhere now the holiday is over. We had several friendly honks. Virtually everyone moved over for us. Traffic still seemed to be traveling very fast. I was thankful for the wide shoulder, rough or not.

At mile 30 there was a volcano tourist attraction. We pulled in to check it out. It's a 46 mile drive (dirt/sand) with (12?) stations to stop at. There are two volcanos on the route. That was as far as we went. There was no discussing adding 46 sandy miles to our day.

At mile 25 I told Jacinto I was hungry. At mile 30 I said I was hungry. Mile 35, you know what I said? Finally at mile 40, that was it. I'm eating. I wolfed down most of a large burrito. I knew exactly what Jacinto was doing. He wanted to save the burritos as long as possible, for lunch. Then we would be full in town and would only go out for dinner. I told him I knew what he was doing. Yes, that is correct. It's not a good idea to let a cyclist get hungry. Luckily I knew my limit and spoke up when I reached it. But I ate way too much because I was hungry and then I pedaled even more slowly. Jacinto didn't like that at all. He didn't say, but I could tell. He rode way, way behind me.

We passed a man laying in the shade under a tree. Later when we talked about it, we both had the same thought - that he was a coyote waiting for people to guide illegally across the border. That could be supposition on our part. But it's entirely possible, being this close to the border.

I pointed out to Jacinto that if he took photos, I wouldn't slow us down so much by stopping. Plus, that would give him an activity so he wouldn't be so impatient with me being slow. That worked for a bit. Then he caught up with me and said his phone memory was full. Jacinto grouched about that for awhile.

Finally we hit the top of the climb, which happened to be at a big cell tower and right where the pavement turned good again. The last ten miles I picked up the pace (~16 mph) and we rolled into town. Riding downhill to town always puts a happy ending to the day.

Coming in to town we passed a sign saying that this was the Gran Desierto de Altar

I instructed Jacinto that I absolutely have to have a half gallon of ice cream RIGHT NOW. To my amazement, he did pull in to the grocery store. Immediately I had a fan club gathered around my odd bike. I told Jacinto to go on in and pick the flavor. Any ice cream is good, IMO.

I made small talk with a woman and her two boys while I waited. Several people hung around and listened. I don't know if I could take being this famous all of the time. Recumbents are obviously not at all common around here. I draw some attention in the USA and Canada, but not like here. I have people yell (nice things) out the window at me, thumbs up, (polite) honking, etc. We've only been in Mexico two days.

We've talked a couple of times this trip about bicycling to Jacinto's hometown in Tamaulipas. It's 303 kilometers from the Texas border. Jacinto is very familiar with the road and it has all been improved with a large shoulder. That would be doable. He is quite taken with the idea of bicycling home. We would probably start at a friend's house on the border.

One thing I've noticed riding on the extra rough shoulder is that it's bouncy and tiring. This is a new style of recumbent for me, it's shorter and said to have less of the limousine feel of my former long recumbent. The seat style is overall more comfortable to me. But this seat has a bar across the back which hits my spine just wrong. I seem to have fixed that by sliding a thin piece of packing foam between the seat bag and the seat back. My spine is fine. It's just overall jouncy and tiring to ride on a rough road. My speed goes way down. I suppose that can be said about any style of bike, but at least on a diamond frame bike you can stand up and take some weight off. When I can see something really not good coming up, I lean forward in the seat to escape some of the vibration. Luckily this new bike and I seem to be getting along well. I've felt in control the entire trip. Being on tour is different from riding around home. I'm doing well so far. I am very happy we haven't ridden any sand roads. I'd rather try a nice dirt road first.

Back to the ice cream - I had already told my fan club that I was so tired on the way to town, the only way I made it in was the promise of ice cream. When Jacinto came out carrying a quart (where's my half gallon?), I had the perfect excuse to take right off before my ice cream melted.

Jacinto wanted to go by the barber shop and see about getting a haircut. We had noticed one around the corner from the motel the first time we came through town. They were open until 8 PM and haircuts are $50 pesos (3. USD). Across the street I could get a pedicure for $350. pesos, but they close at 5 PM and it was already 4 PM. No pedicure for me.

We moved on the motels. There were two side by side. Last time we stayed at the cheap place. It was fine. But now we had pesos to spend before crossing the border. Jacinto splurged and went for the $625. peso place. He paid an extra $50 pesos for a second bed to spread our stuff out on. I remember laughing when Jim Fitch said they always get two beds so their gear could have a bed. Then I saw the wisdom in his statement. We were living high today - bigger room, two beds. The heater works - it's going already. We have FOUR towels in the bathroom. We even have two bottles of water with the hotel name on them.

Jacinto is gone now for his haircut. When he gets back we are going to a little taco stand. A different one from last time. I hope it's better.

A music note. I listen to music on a little Bluetooth speaker. I've been listening to Pandora offline (no internet needed). Today I made the mistake of closing the offline in the motel room because I was going to listen to streaming music with the internet connection (which is excellent here). Pandora is not available in Mexico. I can't even hook up to offline again. How do you like that? It's a good thing the border is two miles away. I guess I left the app open the whole time we were in Mexico . . . all two days!

We talked about what to do with our two extra days before the gang get's here for the rest of the ride. Whetstone, north of Sierra Vista did not have any motels, but we could sleep in an RV at the RV Park for $49. a night. We figured out two day rides we could ride. Then we went back and looked at the calendar. We looked again. We looked at each other. How did we make that mistake. We have only one extra day before everyone gets here. I lobbied hard for the Saguaro Park ride. I'm quite taken with riding through the cactus. I enjoy looking at all of the different shapes and how the arms go this way and that way. Some don't have arms at all and others have little round arms at the top. I find it very entertaining. I'm from Colorado, we don't have cactus.

But Jacinto is adamant that the Saguaro Park loop is far too short, even if we turned around and rode it again, it wouldn't satisfy him. Instead it looks like we are doing a loop he came up with. We are going to stay at the airport hotel where we are meeting everyone and then make a skinny loop down to Green Valley and back. I suspect that part of Arizona isn't the most scenic, but it hits Jacinto's personal minimum of 50 miles. He's happy. He did the route. We are riding it.

So, the plan is to bicycle to Ajo tomorrow, retrieve the van. Drive to Tucson and then do Jacinto's southern loop before everyone gets here. That will be five riding days for us. We will take a day off and then start the real ride with everyone else.

Spoon has been monitoring the weather. Monday we will be in Bisbee. That's the high point of the trip. The current forecast for Bisbee is high of 61, low of 29. Spoon is lobbying for a change of direction. After we have all made all of our reservations. Sorry, Spoon. You will have to wear one more layer. 61 is good riding weather.

We ate dinner at two little taco carts. The first one had only a man for a customer. He kept sucking air and saying how hot the salsa was. Of course Jacinto had to eat there, because he loves hot salsa. I ate four tacos there. They were good. Jacinto had three. Then we moved down the street to a stand that had a huge line. They sold hotdogs and tacos. Mexicans love hotdogs for some reason. Their tacos came with mayonnaise and had one piece of carne asada rather than chopped meat. Jacinto didn't like the one big piece. He had two tacos and a quesadilla. I ate two hotdogs. I can't tell you the last time I ate a hotdog. They were good. Total cost of all that food was under $20. less than half of last night.

It is worth noting that we had only a handful of RVs pass us since the trip started. At home, we see all sorts of RVs. Big, small, old, and new. Here the few we have see are of the super large and expensive variety. But only a few. Five? Perhaps all of the snowbirds are already in place and not moving. It did lessen congestion on the roads the past few days.

Wall hanging in the Restaurant across the street. Look closely.
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I’m pretty sure an American inspector wouldn’t go for this hazard. Mexico? No problemo.
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Jacinto told me to go chase the rabbit. That’s his term for an cyclist in front of him. He loves to chase rabbits
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These are brittle bush that Jacinto didn’t notice yesterday. There were more on this side of the road.
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A roadside shrine for a Cowboys fan.
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Another roadside shrine. I liked the colors. There were a number of shrines. Most were small and modest.
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We take turns holding bikes. There aren’t many spots to lean them on this stretch. We don’t want to get off the road because of lethal stickers. I got a branch of stickers in my shoe bottom and it took some tugging to get out.
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This cactus was new in Mexico. Bill tags it as Mexican fencepost. We didn’t see any on the other side of the border. Edit: on the return trip I did see a few. But not near as many as on the Mexican side.
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Close up.
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Another new type of cactus. Is that fruit or seeds dangling from the branches?
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On the road in Sonora, Mexico.
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The last half of the ride, we were back in cactus country.
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I insisted we stop and the store RIGHT NOW for ice cream. It didn’t matter that Jacinto thought we didn’t work hard enough for a treat. I did. I immediately drew a fan club. People think my recumbent is odd.
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Eating my ice cream before a shower. I just barely managed to share.
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Today's ride: 62 miles (100 km)
Total: 168 miles (270 km)

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