Articles

Dane-Silhouette

Why Adventure Cycling?

This is a guest article by adventure cyclist, Dane Frost. You can follow Dane’s adventure through Latin America here.   I met Dane in La Paz, Mexico, riding his touring bike along La Paz’s famous malecón. He had a fishing rod attached to his bike frame and a violin case strapped to his rear rack. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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Cycling Latin America: Where To Begin?

Latin America represents the final frontier in adventure cycling. The planet’s longest mountain range, largest jungle, driest desert, biggest salt flat, widest street, highest waterfall, tallest volcano – they’re all here, daring you to explore them. But where do you begin? Well, it depends on how much time you have. Keep in mind, environmental factors […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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. […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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