By John M. Grimsrud
From the Puuc hills to the extensive coast of Yucatán, there are thousands of kilometers of paved quiet outback roads through countless Maya villages interspersed with colonial haciendas and ancient Maya ruins, all there just waiting for your visit.
Bicycle excursions are by far the most inexpensive you will ever take and can be the most rewarding in not only health benefits, but also the most memorable experiences of your lives.
My wife Jane and I both agree that the slower we go, the more fun we have and bike touring at a measured pace is the perfect answer for fun-filled and rewarding getaways.
This is photo-op and bird watching country at the very finest that this planet has to offer.
Start your bicycle tours in early morning when tropical Yucatán is at its very best…cool, fresh, and quiet.
We like to be on the road at first light, stop for breakfast by 8, and have our coffee stop at 10 am.
Almost every little village has a market where you can sample the traditional Maya specialties and purchase fresh, locally grown tropical fruit, bottled water and soft drinks. Jane and I always carry a thermos of hot, dark roasted coffee so no matter where we are we can indulge ourselves. Being Norwegian and Swedish, we require our “Scandinavian gasoline.” On the subject of pit stops: always carry sufficient drinking water and consume adequate quantities to keep yourself well hydrated. You should drink at least one liter of water per hour when exerting yourself. Our bicycles are fitted with two drink holders each.
Mornings are made for biking, but afternoons, especially in Yucatán, are made for hammocks. Jane and I have a wide selection of different types of bikes that we use for different trips, depending upon the road, hills, and distances we plan to travel. Here are a few things that I consider essential on any bike you might choose: a comfortable seat with springs to separate you from the bumps, and good tires inflated to their rated pressure make good trips even better. If you are not a bicycle mechanic, get one to tune the brakes, shifter, wheels, bearings, and adjust your seat and handle bars for optimum comfort for you. Remember you are the motor that makes your bicycle go, so reward yourself and get the very most fun out of your cycling. (We refer to our bicycles as our “caballitos.”) A lock and chain will protect your investment, but do not lock your bicycle someplace that obstructs a sidewalk or entry way, or the police will confiscate and impound it until you show up with your factura proving ownership.
A bicycle helmet with a sun visor will protect your head and keep you cool and riding in the shade…we get all the sun we need by accident. Another important consideration is safety; be a defensive driver, follow all the traffic rules, and look and listen. Always use hand signals to let the traffic know your intentions. Use your right hand for right turns and your left hand for left turns. If you feel threatened by an approaching vehicle from your rear, use your left hand palm out to signify “do not pass.”
Do not ride at night! Many do, but if you must, make sure you have reflectors on everything, and use lots of caution. Biking Mérida: take the quiet little side streets and you will discover a fabulous city by bike. My wife Jane and I have been enjoying bicycling in Yucatán for 25 years.
Three years ago we owned three motor vehicles. We sold them all and now only use bicycles for pleasure and shopping and our standard of living has definitely improved.
When we started bicycling Yucatán, that was when we really started to love this place! A great plus about bicycling here is that you can load your bicycle onto some of the buses and vans, then go to other towns and villages. This makes exploring in the remote outreaches of the Yucatán fun, easy, enjoyable, and economical.
We visit our children in Tulum on the Caribbean coast often and it is so easy. We bicycle from our home at five thirty in the morning to the ADO bus terminal when there is no traffic on the streets. The bikes are loaded for a small fee. We lay back, take a nap and in four and an half hours we arrive in Tulum well rested and with our bicycles.
Treat yourself to the Yucatán that the tourists miss the most, bike it!
Visit our website and let us share some of our bicycling Yucatán adventures with you.