The day started off fine on my way to Oaxaca. However, as it wore on I encountered road blockades, rivers, GPS problems and finally my first real crash 🙁
Changing Roads on the Way to Oaxaca
I started my journey to Oaxaca from Puebla along the free road. Eventually though I was getting tired of village after village and speed bump after speed bump. The scenery wasn’t even nice. Just dusty villages. When I checked my time of arrival in Oaxaca it said 3:30 pm. I wanted to be there by 2. So I made the decision to switch to the toll road which would get me into Oaxaca at 1:30!
The toll road was amazing, a great road with beautiful scenery and no traffic. I just cruised along enjoying the ride.
At the last toll booth the attendant said something to me in Spanish. I only understood something about taking the free road up ahead. I carried on blissfully ignorant.
As I carried on I came across a long line of trucks. After a few minutes I rode along miles of trucks to where I encountered a mass of people across the highway. I was told to turn around. So that is what the toll booth guy was talking about.
I hit “detour” on my GPS. It took me into a nearby town and down a road to where there were burned out semi trucks and buses across the road. Again I was told to turn around. I should have taken pictures. I get so engrossed in the predicament that I forget.
I don’t know much about it, but apparently teachers from a dissident union in the state of Oaxaca have been on strike since May over government reforms and have blockaded the roads.
The police have been clamping down on these. A few days after I came across the roadblocks, the police went in on the roadblocks I faced and people were killed. You can read about it here.
Finding an Alternate Route
I then began the search for an alternate route around these roadblocks. My GPS took me down dirt roads until I met a couple of rivers. I really didn’t feel like crossing the rivers for an unknown result at the end.
I tried my own intuition and I didn’t fair much better.
For 2 hours I tried to find a way around the roadblocks. Finally I gave up.
Waved Through the Roadblock
I went back into the town where I saw the burnt out buses and semis. Rode my way up to the front of the line and sat there for a few minutes looking at the situation. I saw that they were letting cars from the opposite direction through for a few moments. I thought just maybe they would do the same with us. Nope. Didn’t happen.
Then all of a sudden a guy waved at me to come up to the roadblock. He let me through! And only me! The only problem was that 50 yards up the road was another road block. I rode up and asked the people there if anyone spoke English. They just ignored me. I sat there and then this time asked in English if anyone spoke English. Finally a man came up to me and asked where I was going. I said Oaxaca. He escorted me to the chain across the road and instructed the men to let me through.
I was through but on a road I didn’t know and wasn’t on my map. I was trusting my GPS.
My GPS started taking me down dirt roads that eventually led to rivers! I wasn’t going to cross them as it just didn’t seem right. I was getting pretty frustrated with it. I doubled back and saw a sign that said Oaxaca straight ahead. I should have followed it. But I stupidly decided to follow my GPS again as it led me down another road. This time at least it wasn’t dirt.
As I road along a curvy mountain road I started to question my GPS. I remember looking down at it. When I looked up I was heading towards an embankment with a small cement drainage ditch at it’s base. It was too late to avoid it. Down I went. I remember sliding across the road with my bike. The next thing I remember is coming to a stop with my horn blaring. My tank bag had lodged itself again my horn button.
I was saw I was in the oncoming lane not far from a curve. I wanted to get out of there quick before some car came around and it me.
So I took off my tank bag and dry bag, and lifted my bike upright. While doing that I was looking to see if there was any damage to my bike. Alaska came to mind where my windshield had broke when I dropped the bike. I consider that just a drop. This was a real crash and I was afraid of the damage it may have caused. And would the bike even start again.
The bike did start. Phew! I put on my bags and moved my bike out of the way. Slowly I rode down the rode thinking about what had just happened. As the adrenaline subsided I noticed the palm of my left hand was hurting. It didn’t feel like anything was broken though.
I also noticed rips and holes in my riding suit.
That was discouraging. However, knowing that my riding suit had done its job of protecting me was consoling. The holes looked repairable. Thanks Klim for protecting me!
Sorry for the lack of photos 🙁 It is like someone else takes over my body to resolve the situation. He doesn’t think about taking pictures ha ha.
The Road to Oaxaca
After the crash I decided to turn back and go to where I saw the Oaxaca sign. My GPS showed it as a major road. When I got to the road I saw 2 buses with “Oaxaca” on the front of them. I made the decision to follow this road no matter what my GPS said. Of course my GPS was still directing me to turn off along dirt roads. I ignored it.
Eventually my GPS kicked in and pointed the way to my Airbnb. The street anyways.
I found my Airbnb. Almost finished this day. I parked my bike on an undulating cobble stone roadway outside and rang to buzzer to the compound.
The housekeeper came out, warmly greeted me, and directed me to ride my bike up the ramp into a beautiful garden.
As I got on my bike I couldn’t get it upright enough to kick out the kickstand! It was leaning over too far and I just didn’t have the strength to get the heavy bike upright. Fortunately, a lady from the restaurant next door came out and gave me a nudge. Quite the day.
I rode up the ramp and unpacked. As I unpacked I noticed a metal shank in my tire. Crap.
Eventually I was just able to relax in what is the nicest Airbnb I’ve had to date. And by a long way the cheapest place I’ve stayed at. Time to recoup all the money I expended traveling the US and Canada that put me way over budget.