How many punctures can you live with - the end of a bike journey

So yesterday was my most horrific day in many ways. I started from a place called Calpulaplan and the end destination was Puebla. To navigate I used Google Maps. Google Maps when you are cyling in Mexico choses the off-beaten tracks. I learned that by the hard way yesterday. Basically you are cycling through eroded bike paths. The picture below is a mild example of what I was riding yesterday. It was so unrediable that I had to push the bike for major parts. And my left leg got a bit scratched because of the pedals bumping into my lower leg.

Somewhere between Calpulalplan and Puebla

Somewhere between Calpulalplan and Puebla

The other thing is that you pass a lot of small poor vilages and the sewage is dumped into the river. So I was riding with the shit of many Mexicans in my nose. The first 20 km I was on paved road 40 km I was on such roads and the last 20 km I decided to go on the highway until Puebla. Now here started the real problem for me. I got about more than 20 punctures. I got a first one 15 km away from Puebla and just about 7 km before my destination the tyre got flat and it was pouring rain no place to go out to repair so I continued with a flat tyre. The continuing had the result that I had at the end more than 20 punctures on my inner tube and I only have 20 patches with me. Game over.

Left scratched leg

Left scratched leg

Now here are the options either I ride on unridable paths or I go on the highway and get punctures. The reason why for certain you get a puncture is that after a truck tyre is used up in Mexico they put another layer of rubber on it and this layer has little metal wires in it. After a while when driving with the truck on the highway parts of this layer loosens up and find their rest on the security line of the highway where you would ride with the bike. So the probability that I get punctures again is more than high apart that I used up all my patches and cannot repair my tube now. It is all about overcoming obstacles, now here comes my decision. This should be an enjoyable experience and not survival camp. So I decided to organise the shipping of the bike from Puebla to Switzerland and continue by bus. I am very disappointed as I envisioned something a bit more colorful. But that’s life shit happens and you move on.

When I called my wife yesterday she had a good laugh of my experience and that was very comforting to see someone you love and puts up your spirit. The basic failure that I did was to buy tyres which are very light each of them weighs about 400 g. The promise was that they are resistant against puncture apparently Mexico is a whole different game. There are more resitant tyres but they weight about 2 kg more than what I choose. So whomever is planning such a ride think a few minutes more about you tyre choice.

I will continue the blog but the bike part is definitely gone. The challenging part of this adventure had a great appeal for me but at this moment I want to move one and enjoy where I am. The whole organising of bike parts and have the same daily experience as Sisyphus rolling the rock on top of the mountains to see it than roll back again has no appeal at all for me. So I stop the annoying part and get to the holiday. See you soon on my blog with some nicer stories.

I also want to take here the opportunity to express my admiration to all the Cicloviajeros which currently are travelling Latin America. You all are obviously better prepared than me but with each failure you get wiser.

Andreas Schaffner