Update on Bicycling in Mazatlán

In June I wrote a post updating everyone in English about the planning for ciclovías/bike paths in town and the CicloNoches/night bike tours in this gorgeous port of ours.

I’m very happy to report that since that post, the city has joined so many other cities in Mexico and abroad, and has begun closing the southbound lanes of Avenida del Mar on Sunday mornings. Today was the second such Sunday.

Last week, opening week, we were joined by Governor Malova and Mayor Higuera, as can be seen in the video above.

The road is closed from Insurgentes to Monos Bichis, the Fishermen’s Monument. It gets closed about 8 am (though they’ve announced it’s from 6 am), and stays closed until about 10:30 or 11 am (though, again, it’s announced to stay closed till noon). Southbound traffic is routed to one lane, as is northbound traffic, both using the inland side of the Avenue. Thus, drivers are able to continue using the Avenida, and the bikers, skaters and skateboarders are safe in the oceanside lanes.

This is a wonderful chance to get out with the whole family, or with your friends and neighbors. Please take advantage of it! We definitely want to show the city how important this privilege is to us by having a good turnout. Hopefully this practice will continue long enough for citizens to learn about it and develop the habit of Sunday morning cycling, though we weren’t that lucky last time.

Something wonderful this morning was that police were loaning out, free of charge, 80 beautiful bicycles for people to use! Those wanting to borrow a bicycle were asked to leave their credenciál or identification card, in order to ensure they’d return the bike.

Regarding CicloNoches, they are now scheduled for the first Thursday of every month. September 6 will be the third such event. Meet in front of the Aquarium at 7:30 pm, for an 8:00 pm start. The plan this time is to ride down to the Escudo/the shield down in Olas Altas and back. It is a wonderful feeling pedaling the Avenida del Mar in the dark, looking out at the lights around the bay.

As in prior events, the road will not be closed for this event, but we should have a police escort and a wonderful turnout. We will be guided by a leader, and will be asked to stay only in the rightmost lane of the Avenida. You can see the rules here in the photo at the left. This is a group event, so participants are asked not to pass each other and not to go out into the left-hand lane, in order to protect everyone’s safety and enjoyment, and ensure that drivers can get by smoothly.

 

Primera CicloNoche Mazatlán/First Mazatlán Bicycle Night

180 bicyclists showed up this evening at 8:00 pm for the very first CicloNoche Mazatlán!

We pedaled only about seven kilometers, but oh was it gorgeous!

The event was organized by SEMARNAT—Secretaria de Medio Ambiente y Recursos Naturales (Brenda Garcia) and CiclosUrbanos, who have been coordinating Cycle Nights in Culiacán since 2009.

Starting at the Aquarium, we pedaled south on Avenida del Mar to Belisario Dominguez, then turned up the road, around the block, and back down to Avenida del Mar. We were escorted by Mazatlán’s finest tránsitos, and we were instructed to stay in the right lane so that traffic could pass us easily.

Our route started with the sunset, and ended with the starlight. Along the way we were cheered on and joined by ever-more cyclists.

You’ll remember that a couple of years ago a group of active citizens organized a couple of months’ worth of Sunday morning closures of Avenida del Mar for bicycle riding.

The “United for Health” group was led by the very kind and energetic Dr. Angel Eduardo Olivera Sandoval, a local homeopath. Sunday morning street closures to traffic, so that families can walk and ride bikes, are common throughout Mexico and most of Latin America.

Here in Mazatlán we had good crowds turn out, but unfortunately the municipal government didn’t seem to support continuation of the activity.

Nor have we thus far seen positive outcomes from citizen-led efforts to build bike lanes here in our port, despite having extensive ciclovías planning for some time now.

The event this evening was held in conjunction with the International and National Congresses of Environmental Science, which has had events at the Mazatlán International Center and the Aquarium.

We were told that the first CicloNoche Culiacán only had 90 bicyclists show up (compared to the 180 who showed up here tonight), so there is obviously a passion for it here in Mazatlán. These days in Culiacán about 1600 people show up for the once-a-month CicloNoches.

It is our sincere hope that this terrific activity can take hold and gain a place in the hearts of Mazatlecos.

Bicycling promotes a cleaner environment, healthier bodies, enjoyment of the outdoors, time together with friends and family. It’s good for locals and out-of-town visitors.

Thank you to CiclosUrbanos, SEMARNAT, and all the organizers of bicycling events and programs in Mazatlán past, present and future!

Lets all turn out and show our support for bicycling! For our health and the health of our city!

 

Another Beautiful Mazatlan Sunday Bike Ride

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!