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Cycling and Hiking in the Lake Chapala area

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Post by cacique on Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:04 pm

Hello and Happy New Year to Everyone,
I have been curious about the cycling and hiking in the Chapala area, and since I've not been able to make a visit to the area yet, I thought I would ask the group about these activities. I have been reading about a gal who is visiting the area and cycling around the area, and she seems to be having a good time, and perhaps some of you have seen her out and about or know the people she is visiting. Her trip journal is here: http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/Mexico2012-13

I gather there is a bike path (ciclopista) along the road from Chapala to Joco. How is that for riding? I imagine riding within the village centers is not so good with the cobbles and congestion, but from what I've seen in some "Chapala Club" videos, the cycle path looks good. How about riding along the various Malecons? Also, are there good dirt roads to ride on in the hills? I saw some posts by C-Bob about riding ATV's in the hills, and I was curious if those trails would be good on a mountain bike.

How about the hiking in the area? I enjoyed reading about JuanRey's recent hike (and that is a fantastic Blog, it has been a great way for me to get a feel for the area - and it seems written from the heart), and I get the feeling there is some hiking in the area, and I was curious about the trails, safety, etc. Are there a number of trails in the hills, or just one area? How about short drives to other hiking areas?

Any comments are welcome, and thank you. Temps in the single digits here in Colorado USA, so enjoy that sunset and great weather for us!
Looking forward to a visit in 2013!

Cheers,
Bill
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Post by gringomojado on Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:56 pm

Most of the cycling (road) clubs are based in Guadalajara, though mostly composed of "locals", they welcome "non-native riders. There are races and tours. Primavera Forest (Zap/GDL) has excellent mountain bike paths and the hills around Chapala have paths for hiking and access to things like the cross. Most of those paths were intended for other things be careful on any path or road that is remote, there can be nasty as well as friendly people. Riding/walking along the lake is pleasant and safe from Chapala to " Joco". For road cycling go in a large group along the highways (not the Autopista Toll Roads) or join up with a local GDL club as many speak good English.
There are BMX and mountain bike races also.
Keep on Riding!

gm
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Post by gringomojado on Sun Dec 30, 2012 6:00 pm

Oh, speaking of cobblestones,, I used to ride my Nishiki MB in town and only took one nasty spill, but it was raining and I had too many beers!
gm
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Post by Carry Bean on Sun Dec 30, 2012 8:16 pm

I met the gal who bicycled all over Europe & elsewhere & is visiting here Saturday night. Very interesting to hear of all her experiences.

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Post by gringomojado on Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:34 pm

Wow long-distance touring! That is great and on my "wish list". She must carry her gear, though in Europe there are hostels and it is very bike friendly. I want to hike or bike the Santiago de Compostela Route in Northern Spain when I retire.

BTW check out the hotel of that name in Guadalajara (MX not Spain), it is near El Centro Historico, across from Aranzazu on Colon
gm
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Post by cacique on Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:48 pm

Gringomojado,
I really enjoy bike touring, and it is something you can do most of your life. I've been escaping the northern winters with a trip South America each year for the last few years, and it has always been a great experience. And the trips to South America (and Mexico) have motivated me to study spanish again since taking a few classes in High School. I enjoyed a couple of trips to Patagonia, and a trip to Peru, and Mexico seems to have some good areas for touring, but I think you would have to pick your areas more carefully with respect to traffic. I've planned some routes in Baja that look spectacular with not too many traffic issues. Riding on dirt is a good way to avoid traffic, and with bigger tires it is not a problem on the dirt.
It sounds like there is some good riding around the Chapala/Ajijic area. And a nice that Carry Bean met the gal that is riding in your area. Truly like a small town!
Bill

PS, totally unrelated, but the Mexican singer Joan Sebastian performed a concert here in Colorado in Mid December, and my wife and I were able to go, and he was just fantastic. Is his music popular around the lake area? Are there restaurants or other places where you can go and hear that type of music?

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Post by Carry Bean on Mon Dec 31, 2012 8:14 am

gringomojado wrote:Wow long-distance touring! That is great and on my "wish list". She must carry her gear, though in Europe there are hostels and it is very bike friendly. I want to hike or bike the Santiago de Compostela Route in Northern Spain when I retire.

BTW check out the hotel of that name in Guadalajara (MX not Spain), it is near El Centro Historico, across from Aranzazu on Colon
gm

She carries everything including a stove.

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Post by gringomojado on Mon Dec 31, 2012 9:41 am

cacique wrote:Gringomojado,
I really enjoy bike touring, and it is something you can do most of your life. I've been escaping the northern winters with a trip South America each year for the last few years, and it has always been a great experience. And the trips to South America (and Mexico) have motivated me to study spanish again since taking a few classes in High School. I enjoyed a couple of trips to Patagonia, and a trip to Peru, and Mexico seems to have some good areas for touring, but I think you would have to pick your areas more carefully with respect to traffic. I've planned some routes in Baja that look spectacular with not too many traffic issues. Riding on dirt is a good way to avoid traffic, and with bigger tires it is not a problem on the dirt.
It sounds like there is some good riding around the Chapala/Ajijic area. And a nice that Carry Bean met the gal that is riding in your area. Truly like a small town!
Bill

PS, totally unrelated, but the Mexican singer Joan Sebastian performed a concert here in Colorado in Mid December, and my wife and I were able to go, and he was just fantastic. Is his music popular around the lake area? Are there restaurants or other places where you can go and hear that type of music?

Joan Sebastian is very popular in Jalisco. A genius composer who has had his share of tragedy. He is, I believe a cancer survivor, and also had a son killed not long ago. The son was nearly grown, and shot, I believe. Can't remember if it was a bar type fight or narco related. Joan used to wash dishes in Chicago as an illegal. BTW Vicente Fernandez did the same in Mexico (DF) He has a big ranch on the highway to Chapala, but doesn't spend much time here since the kidnapping of a son back in the '90s, He just had a robotic liver operation in Chicago (my other hometown) and plans to retire at his place in Miami. " Chente" used to come to the bars in Chapala "de repente" unexpectedly and buy drinks, but that was years ago when I was young and he was middle aged
Patagonia double-wow! This is also on my list to see after I retire. Peru? Mach Pichu?
Many Mexican cities are becoming more bike friendly as is my Chicago. I only use my VW to get to work up here. Work half the year in Guadalajara and don't really have a car. Use a company car only when mandatory.

Take care!
gm
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Post by coffeeguy on Mon Dec 31, 2012 10:54 am

I'm from Colorado and was an avid cyclist and hiker there. What we have here at Lake Chapala is nothing like what you are used to! The cyclopista that runs from Chapala to Jocotepec is not continuous - it's interrupted as you go through the villages - and is used by walkers, the odd motorcyclist and plenty of other users. The carretera it is on is very heavily trafficked and drivers here are pretty crazy. If you were to ride early in the mornings it could be an okay workout, but that's about it. If you're a skilled mountain biker and don't mind bushwacking and orienteering (no maps here) there are places to ride and people to ride with but the trails are seriosly technical.

There are plenty of hikes in the mountains here and a local guy has written a good guidebook which you can buy at local bookstores when you are here ("Walks & Trails Around Ajijic," by Gerry Green) and there are groups who head out (8:30 a.m. on Tues. and Fri. from Dona's Donuts) that are great to go with. Be aware though that local trails are steep and loose (lots of pea-sized gravel). You'll need grippy shoes (e.g. trail runners) and two trekking poles to stay upright, and it's inadvisable to hike alone. Plenty of twisted ankles and broken bones from falls. As others have said if you're willing to drive (to Primavera forest or other locales) there are more options, but otherwise you'll most likely need to find other ways to be in nature here to replace much of your hiking and biking. These might include swimming, yoga, kayaking or tennis. We don't have the trails or solitude in nature you're used to in Colorado, but then again not having it snowy and/or muddy for 7 months of the year might be worth it!

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Post by gringomojado on Mon Dec 31, 2012 12:04 pm

Never saw many obese people in Colorado! Another option to consider is Michoacan! Get a bike carrier i9f you like riding.
gm
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