The silly things we do


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From La Paz I had two choices of ferry to the mainland. One ferry went overnight to the large coastal city of Matzalan, the other to the closer (and further north) destination of Topolobompo. I had a desire to see Copper Canyon so Topolobompo was my only choice as it was several hundred kilometers closer to the canyon country.

It was just after midday when I boarded the California Star Ferry from La Paz to Topolobombo, I was the only non Mexican on board. Farewell Baja, I enjoyed your desert delights and lonely solitude. My bicycle was stored in an office used by the engineers on the same deck as the large semi trailer trucks. It departed near enough on time, just after 2.30pm.

I settled into the bar area intent on reading and learning some Spanish during the 6-7 hour crossing from Baja Peninsula to the Mexican mainland. I had all the best intention of taking a couple of photos of the sunset but the Mexican Soccer League final between Guadalajara and Leon was on TV and I was sucked into watching it in the company of most of the ships passengers.

It was several hours after sunset when I realised I missed my photo opportunity. I arrived at the port city of Topolobombo around 9.30pm. It was dark and there were few people on the streets. I cycled to the overpriced hotel and settled in for a night of luxury.

It was not an early start for me as I cycled along a rather boring and uninspiring road to the nearby main city of Los Mochis less than 20km away. I considered staying here the night. I considered taking the train to Copper Canyon like everybody else but adventure was calling me.

It was early so I continued riding and made a rather silly decision to see if I could ride to the town of El Fuerte without stopping or eating any food, a distance of over 100km. I thought it would be an interesting physical challenge. What an idiot I am. Loneliness and solitude can do strange things at times.

Again the scenery was lacking. Things went well until around the 90km mark where I started to get that feeling that my energy reserves were being depleted. Weakness and fatigue increased at an exponential rate over the following kilometers. I reached the 100km mark of cycling and was somewhat proud of that fact that I completed my mission, but my body started to suffer.

From hero to zero my body started to shut down within a short matter of 15 minutes. With 2km to go till the town of El Fuerte I started to suffer real problems. Stomach cramps indicated a sudden need for a bowel movement. Unfortunately, at this point I had no energy to cycle a mere 200 meters to a gas station with Gatorade and rest rooms.

My body was uncontrollably shaking as I stopped on the side of the road and crawled under the road where a drainage channel existed. I was directly across the road from the Police Station. With empty bowels I crawled back up to the bike and lay there unable to move. With the last of my energy I cycled 200m to the gas station and purchased some Gatorade. Time seemed to slow down as the store attendant took what seemed like 5 minutes to give me my change. My bowels protested at the first sips of fluids and I walked to the rest rooms to the stares of the onlookers.

I’m not sure how long I lingered at the gas station sipping Gatorade, maybe 30 minutes or so. The nausea had gone and so had the stomach cramps when I got back on the bike and rode into town. I checked into a cheap hotel and forced myself to eat a greasy, salty Chinese meal with lots of sugary drinks. Ah calories, how I’ve missed you. Relatively quickly I started to return back to normal. Bonking, as the term is known is no fun.

It is easily prevented by consuming a regular supply of energy food. I have found that around 200 calories per hour is sufficient to keep me cycling all day. Suffice to say, I will not be attempting any silly challenges like this anytime soon.

From here on I will be heading into the remote and notoriously dangerous areas of the Sierra Madres mountains. Home to the drug cartels and drug plantations. Violence against travelers is rare. I’ve asked as many questions as possible of local people who assure me that, yes things have been bad, but at the moment there is no problems. So into the mountains I roam! Oh and sorry for the lack of photos, my mind has not been focused lately.

Next : Cycling to Copper Canyon – The Hard Way

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Where to buy all the best gear for Bicycle Touring and Bikepacking:
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|  | | | MEC Canada -Bicycle Touring Gear |

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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16 thoughts on “The silly things we do”

  1. One of my favorite books is “Born to Run” focuses somewhat on that area and some of the people that live there. Can’t wait to see some pics!

  2. Be careful, Brad. Enjoy the mountains, as you’ve been doing all year. As someone else said, Vaya con dios, muchacho. Have fun, mate.
    Mike M, Riverside, CA

  3. Sounds trite to comment “be safe!” again, so I will just say “Vaya con Dios”. and keep up good hydration and nutrition, will ya? (this old nurse got scared for you when reading this post. :( Sure am glad you shaped up ok)

  4. Hi Brad, aren’t adventures suppose to be fun? I guess it can’t be all easy going. Heres to hoping this challenging time, for you, passes quickly and your back living the dream soon. Keep safe and keep smiling my friend.


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