From Morelia I took the highway MEX 15 to ride to Mexico City. It took a while to actually get out of town, but after finally left the city behind it turned into a beautiful ride. There was not too much traffic and the landscape offered stunning scenes again. After the past rides since Queretaro were through pretty flat area it was nice to climb up mountains again and ride through forests.
The first day I stopped after a bit more than 80km since I had another flat (tire still not exchanged). I found a hidden camp spot close to the road and setup camp. Even though it was well hidden from the road I got woken up by two forest workers with their machetes in their hands the next morning. They looked a little surprised to see me there but then went on with their work while I packed my stuff and started fixing my tire.
I was back on the road by 9:30am and moved forward quickly since it was going downhill most of the day. Since I arrived Zitacuaro rather early I decided to go on and try to reach to the monarch butterfly sanctuary which was another 20km to go. But the road I took turned out to be very steep and in very bad condition at the same time. I had to get off the bike several times and push it through the difficult and steep sections. In the end I pitched my tent just outside of town in an abounded gravel pit. I was only told later that Zitacuaro is not the safest place but I slept well and didn’t get into any trouble.
By 9:00am I started cycling again and the road which felt difficult and hard yesterday was way easier to ride in the morning. The long rest had really helped. It was 10:15am when I reached the butterfly sanctuary. Since I already saw the monarch butterflies in Santa Cruz (California) I was not sure whether it would be worth to go. But as it was still early in the day I decided to do. I had to pay 270 Pesos for the entrance and the mandatory guide and up we went. It was a 1 1/2 hours hike with approximately 600m elevation gain. When we finally got to the place I was a bit disappointed actually. The trees were full with butterflies but only a few of them were flying as it was too cold apparently. I tried to take some photos anyway.
After this stop I continued towards Valle de Bravo. I was riding through remote areas and enjoyed the view on the tree covered mountains. The absolute highlight that day was the descent to Valle de Bravo. Seeing the lake and the beautiful valley from so high up was amazing. The ride went so quickly that missed to stop for a nice photo. I was chasing around the corners instead which was a lot of fun. Down in Valle de Bravo I experienced the most intense sunset I’ve seen so far. The sky was literally burning. Valle de Bravo itself is a very touristic place thus hotel prices almost reach European standards. I was lucky enough to find a camp spot at a boat launch which was guarded by three dogs. I didn’t dare to exit my tent during the night since they started barking aggressively every time I got closer but I felt pretty safe.
The ride from Valle de Bravo the next day was one of the toughest I did so far. It involved climbing over two peaks of which the highest one was more than 3200m high and in total I collected an altitude gain of more than 1800m. But again the scenery I was pedaling through was absolutely beautiful and I enjoyed every minute up to the second top. The downhill to Toluca was pretty fast but once I reached town it became very sketchy as I arrived in the evening rush hour and had to navigate through all the busses which were dominating the road. Shortly before I finally reached my warmshowers host I hit a big pothole which ruined the mount of one of my paniers again. I fixed it was a spare bungee cord and safely arrived at my planned destination. I was expected already by Guillermo and his nice family. I was treated with a delicious and healthy dinner and some beers and we chatted till late in the evening.
After a big breakfast I left towards Ciudad de Mexico. Getting out of Toluca was as difficult as getting into the other day. Luckily I was accompanied by another cyclist who followed me for a very long stretch and tried to secure me against the trucks and cars coming from behind by giving signals with his hands every time we had to move into the car’s lane as there was often no shoulder to ride on. He seemed to have already some experience in riding this road. After a while the road became less busy but more hilly instead. But luckily it was only one hill today and after I reached it, it went down to Ciudad de Mexico with high speed. Closer to the city it became sketchy again and I was happy when my gps device routed me off the highway onto a quieter road. However I quickly realized that I was now riding through some of the roughest neighborhoods. There were wrecked cars and trash everywhere. My friend Leo where I stayed for one night actually got worried a little bit when I shared my location with him on WhatsApp, but he only told me that once I safely met with him, Nuno and Hamilton in the Chapultepec park. Leo, whom Nuno and me both met on the Baja California guided us through the city back to his place where I was able to stay for the first night in this amazing city. I have two more days to explore.