My Cycling Tour in Oaxaca, Day 9

August 7 Monday, Putla to Tlaxiaco

Day 9 map

Day 9 elevation profile
56 miles, 7402 feet of climb, 8255 ft max. elev. (200 ft/div)

Bike with waterfall in background and mountains I was on the road before 6 am, again an hour before sunrise. The Bicycling Mexico book talks about an endless, hot climb that starts soon after leaving Putla and continues for 40 km (25 miles) without a break. I wanted to do as much climbing as possible early so that by the time the hot part of the day hit I'd be up high where it's cool. It worked. I remember being at 2000m (6560 ft) at 10:30.

Once past a couple villages near Putla, there are no services for nearly the whole climb. I carried nearly 4.5 liters of water and drank almost all of it. I also ate 4 large sweet rolls and 5 apples. I had one of each left at the end.

As is often the case with tough climbs there was a big payback in scenery. Picture-taking also makes a nice ego-salving excuse to stop and rest for a few minutes. I took lots of photos.

In one tiny village a couple young boys on bikes paced me up a hill for a minute or two. As we rode we had a short conversation about where I'm from, my bike and my journey.

Dead goat and kids This was a sad thing to see. The mother and one of the babies died but the other two are still alive, cuddled up to Mama's dead body. Perhaps the farmer or some kind-hearted motorist will stop to help. Perhaps those infernal speed bumps aren't such a bad idea after all.

Until today I haven't seen many of those roadside shrines to commemorate traffic fatalities that I saw all over Chile and back home in California. But today I saw as many as on the whole rest of the trip so far. Apparently quite a few cars have gone over the edge on this curvy mountain road. It's one of those roads that's more dangerous for cars than bicycles.

Farm and town in valley Not long after the big climb I found a roadside comedor (dining room) for lunch. It only cost 26 pesos this time. I had a nice conversation with the proprietess.

A few miles before Tlaxiaco I could see storm clouds ahead. I stopped and put my wallet and camera in their plastic bags. Sure enough, 4-5 km before the end the thunderstorm crashed through and I got completely drenched. I rolled up onto the front porch of El Portal hotel and restaurant in the driving rain. I took off my shirt and wrung it out before going in to the reception. A half hour earlier and I would have arrived dry. For the last three days these thunderstorms have been blowing in every day in the late afternoon or early evening. I'll have to be sure not to get into Teposcolula too late in the afternoon tomorrow.

The bike is locked outside my room to the iron grate on the window. It's only 210 pesos for a matrimonial (king-size) bed in a nicely-appointed room with bath. Hot water is supposed to be available only from 6 to 11 am and 7:30 to 11 pm, but I was extremely glad it was hot when I showered at 5:00 because I was cold to the bone.

After the hard ride and especially the deluge at the end, I decided to treat myself to dinner in the hotel dining room, a real dining room with a fountain in the center, table cloths on the tables, real waitresses, and an actual printed menu. No 30-peso comedor for me tonight: Heck the salad cost 30 pesos. The ensalada El Portal was large and excellent, although you do need to like cilantro. My chicken in almondine sauce with salad, soup and two Cokes came to 134 pesos plus tip. Well worth it.

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