Cozumel Biking s

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Cozumel Biking

Photo courtesy of Don Householder



With prices just raised 30% on taxi fares and gas now hovering between 5 and 6 pesos a liter, now couldn't be a better time to spend some of your next Cozumel vacation on a bike.

We lived in downtown Cozumel for several years without a car and got along just fine. Now we have a 'beater' we use for cross island beach hopping and major grocery store runs. But we still continue to use our bikes for the majority of our transportation needs.

San Miguel is a remarkably fun place for biking. Many locals ride bikes so cabs and private cars are very accustomed to yielding the right of way to you.

Particularly if you stay in town at a rental villa, you'll find that renting or bringing along a bike may turn out to be one of the most enjoyable experiences you have while on the island. It's a great way to check out the back streets of San Miguel and stay cool while you're doing it.

And now that they've completed the new "cyclopista" south of town, you can actually bike safely all the way from downtown San Miguel to beautiful Chankannab Park and one of the best snorkeling spots on the island, Dzul Ha.



Here's a short essay on Cozumel biking Carey wrote awhile back that might interest you if you've read this far.

Bike Ambassador

I live on an island in Mexico where the air is clean, the sky is bright - and the roads are filled with bicycles. Everyone rides bikes in Cozumel - and in every combination. In fact, it's not unusual to see as many as three people clinging precariously to a single two-wheeler as it cork-screws down a busy, pot-holed street.

Dignified professional men in tropical weight suits and spectacles swing down the busy avenues of San Miguel briefcases perched on the handlebars. Boys peddle along, steering with one hand and clutching puppies, packages, ten-foot lengths of PVC or galvanized pipe in the other. Young Mayan women balance regally behind their brothers or boyfriends their feet planted on steel rods called "diablos", hands resting lightly on the driver's shoulders.

And nobody - but nobody - wears a bike helmet -- Including me, a 53-year-old "gringa" who certainly ought to know better. But I've gone native and given myself over completely to the glorious pleasure of feeling the sea breeze zinging through my hair as I ride the waterfront malecon.

A shiny, high-tech helmet would look ridiculous beside the sea-air rusted little geezer I ride anyway. Like most bikes on this flat little island mine isn't fancy. It's just a plain old one-speeder with coaster brakes - a throw-back to the 50's like so many things in this part of Mexico.

But while my bike may not be much to look at, it usually runs great. Seems like there's bike repair shops on every fourth corner of San Miguel. And the mechanics are fast and know their stuff. The price won't set you back much either. You can have a tire changed for the equivalent of 50 cents and a complete take apart, cleaning and oiling for about $6.00.

I use my bike so much it sometimes feels almost like an extension of my body. I kick up in the saddle and whiz off at a moment's notice, Bod-on-Wheels and ready to roll. I pay bills, visit friends, buy paint, bolts, fresh-squeezed jus de naranja from a corner bodega. At the bigger groceries I can even leave by rusty steed with the bike check amigos. (They hand you a worn, splintered disk of wood with a faded number written on it in indelible marker for your parking chit.)

When I have a heavy or cumbersome load to haul (which is often because I'm building a house in Cozumel right now) I switch to the "big car", my triciclo. A triciclo is a two wheeled, pipe frame cart that has half a bike welded to the back of it. The driver sits on the high bike seat and peddles the cart along from behind.

Triciclos are the poor man's truck of Cozumel. Vendors peddle them through the streets piled high with rainbow-colored hammocks or baskets. Masons drive them to the construction site during the week and load them up with Mama and the two kids for weekend outings. I use mine to haul everything from laundry to toilet fixtures to 50 kilo bags of cement powder. Once I even lashed two twin mattresses atop the frame and drove them slowly back to my house.

People always smile at me when I'm maneuvering my tricolo through Cozumel's busy streets. Their improbably broad Mayan faces split into grins of delight at the very sight of me.

"Taxi! Taxi!" they'll sometimes call after me and slap their thighs merrily. They can't seem to believe what they're seeing: a rich person (for all Americans are rich to Mexicans) pushing a tricolo! Doesn't she know she belongs in an air conditioned car with the windows rolled up-not in a cart like grandpa takes everyday to his gardening job. What a gringa loca! (crazy anglo lady.)

I suspect they're also tickled because a woman is 'driving.' Although you sometimes will see a Mexican woman peddling one of these big three-wheelers, I've never encountered another gringa on one.

I don't mind it if they laugh at me, though. In fact, I'm happy to join in the joke myself. You see, my Spanish isn't good enough yet to talk much to these good friendly folks. But, thanks to my triciclo, I believe I've found a small, stellar way to make a connection.