• fitness-feature-image

    Isn’t The Cycling Enough? Why I Work Out While I Tour

    Several people have asked me to write a fitness-related article. Apparently, I appear “athletic” in some of my photos and some of you have wondered if it’s from all the bike touring. It’s not. No, the reason I’ve resisted writing about fitness is because I don’t want to send the message that you need to […]

  • Hitch-Riding-Feature1

    Hitch-Riding – Part One: Thumbing Out Of Trouble

    Travelling by bicycle is the most enjoyable way to see a country. Except when it’s not. If you tour long enough, eventually, you’ll have a bad day. Whether it’s torrential rain, intense heat, bad drivers, swarming insects, broken gear, illness, injury, fatigue, or just plain boredom, the time will come when you’ll want to stop […]

  • Termite-Mounds-Near-Yby-Yau

    How The Heck Do You Pronounce Yby Ya’u?

    Places with strange, hard-to-pronounce names are intriguing. Kaa-lya. Xcalak. Torixoréu. Parangaricutirimicuaro. A location seems more exotic when you go to say its name and your tongue doesn’t know what to do. You feel more curious about going there; and more adventurous for having gone. What sort of adventure awaits in Joyabaj, for example? Or in […]

  • FlowerLady,-Tarija,-Bolivia

    Is Latin America Really A Dangerous Place To Bike Tour?

    “So, did anything happen?” It’s the first question most people ask about my tours in Latin America. Of course, what they mean is, did anything bad happen? They want to hear stories of being robbed, assaulted, arrested; anything that confirms their suspicions of all those dangerous countries down there. And, although I know exactly what […]

  • Dirtbag-Feature

    Are You A Dirtbag Biker?

    Have you ever met a touring cyclist who has completely given up on personal hygiene? You know the type. Yellow teeth, bad breath, blotchy skin, matted hair, clumpy beard. Enough fingernail dirt to start a community garden. The dirtbag biker. Truth is, it’s easy to descend into dirtbagdom, especially if you’re touring solo. If nobody […]

  • Giba-Sign

    Dead Cops And Donkey Backs (A Guide To Speed Bumps)

    I’ve put this one off long enough. Of all the concerns we’ve addressed in El Pedalero there is one critical issue that remains unexplored. That’s right. We need to talk about speed bumps. What do they look like? What hazards might they pose for cyclists? But first, what are they called?   BY ANY OTHER […]

  • Beer-Break-In-Chivirico-Cuba

    Boozecycle Touring…Does Alcohol Have Any Place In Adventure Cycling?

    We all know that alcohol negatively affects cycling performance. It increases the risk of accident by slowing reaction time and impeding agility. It has a dehydrating effect that can cause muscles to cramp. And it leaves the cyclist feeling sluggish and impervious to pain. So, we shouldn’t drink and tour, right? Not necessarily. Let’s not […]

  • horse-roadkill

    The Road Kill Zoo

    To stare into the eyes of a wild animal in its natural environment is a thrilling experience. I’ve had close encounters with flamingos, sloths, howler monkeys, quetzals, guanacos, giant toads, giant stick insects, and once even a jaguar. Sadly, however, a lot of the “wildlife” I meet in Latin America is not alive at all. […]

  • Ruins-Post-Feature-Ciudad-Perdida

    The Road To Ruin: Biking The Ancient World In Latin America

    While organizing this article, I made a list of every pre-Columbian ruin I’ve visited on my bike tours, thinking it’d be about six or seven. Nope, thirty five. Thirty five! I had no idea I was such an archaeology nerd. It’s not like I make a pilgrimage to see these sites, but if there’s one […]

  • bicicleteria-post-feature-2

    Bike Shops: What’s Not At The Bicicletería

    I’ve visited some great bike shops in Latin America. In Buenos Aires, in Santiago, in Bogotá. Once, I had an entire drivetrain replaced at a huge bike shop in Panama City. At these kinds of bike shops (that is, big shops in big cities in countries with a culture of cycling) you can often find […]

  • Uruguay-Peaje-post-webdevices

    For Whom, The Road Tolls?

    Do Cyclists Have To Pay Peajes? Many roads in Latin America are paid for with peajes (tolls). No matter which route you ride, eventually you’ll encounter one. Most toll-controlled roads are run by the state. Some are privately owned. Some are unofficial or even illegal (but I’ll get to these later). At official peajes, the […]

  • Getting-Into-A-Coconut-With-A-Machete-In-The-DR

    Blades Of Glory: Machetes Demystified

    My Latin American tours usually start in this order: (1) Ride out of the airport. (2) Find food and water. (3) Buy a machete. (4) Find somewhere to spend the night. If they sold machetes at airports, it would probably be number one. In fact, if it didn’t raise so many eyebrows at airports, I’d […]

  • Steep-Hill-in-the-Dominican-Republic

    Sometimes, You Gotta Push!

    While riding my 10-speed up a hill one day when I was eleven, I made a vow: Once I started a hill, I had to finish it. The rule was, no matter how steep or long the hill, my feet weren’t allowed to touch the ground; I couldn’t stop pedalling. I never told anyone about […]

WELCOME! ¡BIENVENIDOS! BEM-VINDOS!

EL PEDALERO is dedicated to exploring the wonder and mystery of travelling by bicycle in Latin America – the world’s greatest adventure travel destination!

Expect to find frank discussions on all kinds of topics: favourite roads, favourite ruins, places to camp, dealing with dogs, hassle-free border crossings, buying machetes, epic climbs, epic descents, and anything else I can think of, as I reflect on two decades of touring through every country in Latin America. Also, expect to find plenty of touring advice, including relevant Spanish vocabulary lists sorted by theme.

LATEST ARTICLES

fitness-feature-image

Isn’t The Cycling Enough? Why I Work Out While I Tour

Several people have asked me to write a fitness-related article. Apparently, I appear “athletic” in some of my photos and some of you have wondered if it’s from all the bike touring. It’s not. No, the reason I’ve resisted writing about fitness is because I don’t want to send the message that you need to […]

Hitch-Riding-Feature1

Hitch-Riding – Part One: Thumbing Out Of Trouble

Travelling by bicycle is the most enjoyable way to see a country. Except when it’s not. If you tour long enough, eventually, you’ll have a bad day. Whether it’s torrential rain, intense heat, bad drivers, swarming insects, broken gear, illness, injury, fatigue, or just plain boredom, the time will come when you’ll want to stop […]

Hitch-Riding-feature2

Hitch-Riding – Part Two: Etiquette

In Part One we discussed the whens and wheres of hitch-riding. Now, let’s look at the whos and hows.   Choosing And Approaching Drivers When you’re thumbing out on the road it’s hard to see drivers’ faces. Better to go somewhere you can walk up to a driver, such as a gas station or restaurant, […]

Termite-Mounds-Near-Yby-Yau

How The Heck Do You Pronounce Yby Ya’u?

Places with strange, hard-to-pronounce names are intriguing. Kaa-lya. Xcalak. Torixoréu. Parangaricutirimicuaro. A location seems more exotic when you go to say its name and your tongue doesn’t know what to do. You feel more curious about going there; and more adventurous for having gone. What sort of adventure awaits in Joyabaj, for example? Or in […]

FlowerLady,-Tarija,-Bolivia

Is Latin America Really A Dangerous Place To Bike Tour?

“So, did anything happen?” It’s the first question most people ask about my tours in Latin America. Of course, what they mean is, did anything bad happen? They want to hear stories of being robbed, assaulted, arrested; anything that confirms their suspicions of all those dangerous countries down there. And, although I know exactly what […]

Velez-Colombia

Interview: Big Sur

Big Sur is the clever name Sarah and James – a couple of relaxed adventure cyclists from the UK – have given their ongoing tour of Latin America. With so many bike touring blogs out there nowadays it takes a lot to even catch my eye, let alone hold my attention. But Big Sur hooked […]

Dirtbag-Feature

Are You A Dirtbag Biker?

Have you ever met a touring cyclist who has completely given up on personal hygiene? You know the type. Yellow teeth, bad breath, blotchy skin, matted hair, clumpy beard. Enough fingernail dirt to start a community garden. The dirtbag biker. Truth is, it’s easy to descend into dirtbagdom, especially if you’re touring solo. If nobody […]

Giba-Sign

Dead Cops And Donkey Backs (A Guide To Speed Bumps)

I’ve put this one off long enough. Of all the concerns we’ve addressed in El Pedalero there is one critical issue that remains unexplored. That’s right. We need to talk about speed bumps. What do they look like? What hazards might they pose for cyclists? But first, what are they called?   BY ANY OTHER […]

Beer-Break-In-Chivirico-Cuba

Boozecycle Touring…Does Alcohol Have Any Place In Adventure Cycling?

We all know that alcohol negatively affects cycling performance. It increases the risk of accident by slowing reaction time and impeding agility. It has a dehydrating effect that can cause muscles to cramp. And it leaves the cyclist feeling sluggish and impervious to pain. So, we shouldn’t drink and tour, right? Not necessarily. Let’s not […]

horse-roadkill

The Road Kill Zoo

To stare into the eyes of a wild animal in its natural environment is a thrilling experience. I’ve had close encounters with flamingos, sloths, howler monkeys, quetzals, guanacos, giant toads, giant stick insects, and once even a jaguar. Sadly, however, a lot of the “wildlife” I meet in Latin America is not alive at all. […]

Altiplano Gas Staton, Bolivia

Fill’er Up And Go! Why I Love Gas Stations

What is it about gas stations? Even though they represent everything I despise, I love them! When I’m riding Latin America’s lonely rural roads for days at a stretch and I come across one, concerns about pollution, greed, and globalization become overshadowed by concerns about food, water, and toilet paper. The first thing I do […]

Campsite-in-Uruguay-post-feature-image

Pitch Perfect: The Myth of the Perfect Campsite

Searching for a place to camp with two other cyclists in Cuba one afternoon, I discovered a near-perfect site. It was an area of dry, sheltered, level ground next to a small, clean, tree-enclosed river with a waterfall the perfect height for showers. It was out of sight and earshot of the road, yet it […]

Dogs-In-Garbage-Bolivia

Dog Days on the Road

Riding south on Peru’s coastal highway. Miles of hot, flat, yellow desert to my right. Good road surface, good speed, I’m feeling good. But wait, what’s that in the distance? A small dust cloud, jet-streaming across the desert floor toward me. And what’s that noise? Sounds like barking. Dammit! Here we go again – I’ve […]

Descent-Bolivian-Andes

Latin America’s Epic Descents

I’ve always preferred the long-lasting endorphin high of a hard climb to the short adrenaline buzz of a steep descent. But every so often I find myself on a downhill drop so spectacular it reminds me how much of a rush cycling can be – the epic descent. What does it take for a descent […]

Mexico-Yucatan-Lee-and-Jakob-2

The Best Gear is Crappy Gear

In the Yucatán I met a couple of young American bicycle travellers, Lee and Jakob, who were on their way to Cuba. I’d just come from Cuba so they asked me for route suggestions and advice. What impressed me most about these guys was their gear, and not because it was good; it wasn’t. It […]

Bungee-Cords-Image

Bungee Cords & Bike Touring

Bungee cords, (or shock cords, or whatever else you might call elasticized, shock-absorbing cables with a hook at either end), are on the “essential” list for most travelling cyclists. Personally, I cannot imagine touring without them. The most obvious use for bungee cords is to attach items to the rear rack (or, in the case […]

Ruins-Post-Feature-Ciudad-Perdida

The Road To Ruin: Biking The Ancient World In Latin America

While organizing this article, I made a list of every pre-Columbian ruin I’ve visited on my bike tours, thinking it’d be about six or seven. Nope, thirty five. Thirty five! I had no idea I was such an archaeology nerd. It’s not like I make a pilgrimage to see these sites, but if there’s one […]

bicicleteria-post-feature-2

Bike Shops: What’s Not At The Bicicletería

I’ve visited some great bike shops in Latin America. In Buenos Aires, in Santiago, in Bogotá. Once, I had an entire drivetrain replaced at a huge bike shop in Panama City. At these kinds of bike shops (that is, big shops in big cities in countries with a culture of cycling) you can often find […]

Uruguay-Peaje-post-webdevices

For Whom, The Road Tolls?

Do Cyclists Have To Pay Peajes? Many roads in Latin America are paid for with peajes (tolls). No matter which route you ride, eventually you’ll encounter one. Most toll-controlled roads are run by the state. Some are privately owned. Some are unofficial or even illegal (but I’ll get to these later). At official peajes, the […]

cuba_cigar_straw_hat_finished_post_webdevices

Evasive Cycling Maneuvers In Cuba

This happened while touring with two other cyclists in western Cuba. While travelling through Pinar del Río province, we came upon a small peaje (toll-gate). We’d been warned about this gate, that it was expensive, and that they also targeted cyclists. So we devised a plan to ride by without paying. Before judging, you must […]

Getting-Into-A-Coconut-With-A-Machete-In-The-DR

Blades Of Glory: Machetes Demystified

My Latin American tours usually start in this order: (1) Ride out of the airport. (2) Find food and water. (3) Buy a machete. (4) Find somewhere to spend the night. If they sold machetes at airports, it would probably be number one. In fact, if it didn’t raise so many eyebrows at airports, I’d […]

Steep-Hill-in-the-Dominican-Republic

Sometimes, You Gotta Push!

While riding my 10-speed up a hill one day when I was eleven, I made a vow: Once I started a hill, I had to finish it. The rule was, no matter how steep or long the hill, my feet weren’t allowed to touch the ground; I couldn’t stop pedalling. I never told anyone about […]

hassle-free-border-checklist

Border Crossing Hassle-Minimization Checklist

Here are some lessons I’ve learned after crossing every border (and almost every border crossing) in Latin America over the last two decades. I’m not going to discuss specific crossings because there are too many to mention and crossings are constantly being added, expanded, or even removed. (But please add any specific information you feel […]

too-cross-to-cross-colombia-to-ecuador

Too Cross to Cross! Keeping it Calm at Border Crossings.

Sorry, but I have to start by saying this: International borders are bullshit! At best pointless, at worst evil, the entire border industry (yes, it’s an industry) is based on xenophobia, oppression, corruption, and extortion. These invisible lines do nothing to protect us and everything to inconvenience us. I’m sorry, border employees, it’s nothing personal. […]