From San Benito, we were full throttle towards Semuc Champey. Three days of riding through increasingly difficult terrain. Our first day was an easy 65k ride to Sayaxche where we found accommodation and enjoyed (hated) the hour walk in blistering heat to the large Dispensia Familiar for our restock.
Having looked at our topo map, we were clearly moving into more mountainous terrain, and on the second day this became apparent. With no towns visible on our map we weren’t sure as to where we would end up, but as we undulated up and down in the heat, we began to tire. Asking some locals in the small Mayan villages we passed confirmed that the next town with accommodation was Raxhuja. Our ride was beautiful, through many small villages. Children peered from small windows and yelled “Gringo” and “Hola” which started out as rather endearing despite seeming quite racist (in a cute way?).
Some local kids racing with Gina (they won)
People dry chillies (amongst others) on the road
That’s how many hills/mountains here look like
We were exhausted by the day’s end, but were encouraged by the seemingly short distance left the next day for our ride to Lanquin (accommodation near Semuc Champey). As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. We awoke at 4:30 AM hoping to catch an early start and avoid the sun. The first 20km were very beautiful with views of the approaching mountains.
Five kilometres further, the asphalt stopped and the climbing began. It was a gruelling “ride” (Gina ended up walking most of the uphills), with a steep grade and loose rocks. We had to let a lot of air out of our tires to maintain traction and even then it was dodgy. The first few kilometres I stayed on my bike, sure that the top was near, but when the sun came out I lost all energy. Gina and I both waffled between riding and pushing our bikes up the relentless stretch of up. We continued like this for close to 40km with a few small downhills forcing us to climb up further yet again. The towns no longer seemed beautiful, the cries of “Gringo” no longer endearing but maddening.
By 5 PM we finally reached the summit after climbing a total of 2000m. The following 11km were all downhill but still over loose terrain which prevented us from maintaining a rapid descent. Finally, by 5.40 PM we had found accomodation and said goodbye to our first huge climb. Why are we doing this again?