I ride my bike a lot in Mazatlan. It is a great town for bike riding, at least as far as I’m concerned. Some people are put off by the traffic (pedestrian and vehicular), but I think it adds to the excitement and challenge.
Most people do what I used to do and go up and down the malecon (or boardwalk) along the ocean. It is relatively flat, very scenic and overall very safe. However, it is not very challenging and if you are trying to get in some good cardio or burn a few extra calories, you either tow a bag of bricks behind you or seek a tougher ride.
I started seeking tougher rides nearly two years ago. I started going north to the far end of town, but that involved too much street time and too many crazy drivers. It was all flat other than the two bridges that are more of a workout due to the speeding traffic then the incline or distance. I also have experimented with riding downtown and do still enjoy it from time to time. It is best to go really early and realize that for a great workout, you will be going up and down the same small hills over and over.
Mazatlan has two big hills – both in the southern part of town, called Olas Altas. Mazatlan also has the second tallest natural lighthouse in the world. So, about six months ago, I decided to combine the challenge of an up and over a good sized hill with a climb to the top of the lighthouse for a good cardio workout.
If you do not know Mazatlan, you can’t imagine what a wonderful ride this is. So today I packed along my camera and took a few pictures in an attempt to show at least some of what I like about this ride. As for the hill, well, I admit it doesn’t look like much in these pictures, but it is a moderate challenge for me and of course is getting easier the more times I go. Try it and see.
Here is the malecon looking south from in front of our house:
Here you can see the curve of the bay and how flat most of the malecon is:
The curve and flatness continue as we go past the Fisherman’s Monument:
Once we get past the fishing boats, there is a small incline, but not much of a challenge:
Are you digging the view as much as I am? Can you see why so many people choose to just stay on the malecon? At this point we are directly across from where we live and have gone around the bay. Our building is circled:
Now, there is another incline in the road to make for a little challenge:
After we round the corner and go past some vendors and the huge flagpole, we begin to see the hill to the right of the statue in the picture below and the lighthouse on the far right:
As we get a little closer, we can zoom in on the first part of the hill that we will need to climb. Today, Sunday, is the easiest day. During the week the school (blue and white building) at the elbow in the road is very busy. The turn is extremely tight and there are cars and kids everywhere. The hill is essentially three little hills in one. We will go straight up towards the school, turn left away from the ocean and then turn right and rise up above and behind the school, before eventually turning right and enjoying the downhill ride to the road to the lighthouse.
Here we are ascending the hill towards the school and a shot looking back from the school:
Next we turn left and parallel the school (hill 2):
From the next corner we pause to look behind us:
And in front of us (hill 3):
It’s at this time that my heart is usually working the hardest. With an allowed maximum heart rate of 170, I am happy to see that I have not overdone myself today:
If you look closely, you can see that we have only been at this for 28 minutes. It’s taking longer to type this than to ride it!
Looking back down hill 3:
And ahead to the downhill ride the awaiting lighthouse:
The approaching lighthouse and a look back at the fun downhill ride we just had:
The road to the lighthouse – water on both sides. The lighthouse used to be an island, but a road was built over the rocks to accommodate traffic.
We have written about the lighthouse. You can read that entry here. Some people actually ride their bike up the switch back dirt path and then carry the bike up the stairs (or turn around). What I like to do is tie up my bike at the bottom. Fast walk up the path and 300+ steps, spend two minutes at the top, hurry down the stairs and then run down the path and jump back on my bike. It keeps my heart pounding and takes about 30 minutes depending on how many people I have to get around on the stairs. It is a great workout. My final picture is my bike tied up to a telephone pole waiting for me as I complete my trek down the hill. To get home, I go back the way I came. Total time is usually around 90 minutes, give or take as the wind and stopping to talk to friends often makes a difference.
A note about the picture. If you look to the right, you see three people sitting in the middle of the roundabout–one with a guitar. These three guys were sitting there when I got there and when I left just playing music and singing old Mexican ballads (quite well too). Just one of those little treats here in Mazatlan that helps me remember why we moved here.
If you ride a bike here, please be safe. It takes a little getting used to. Most of all be careful and have fun. Enjoy your ride!