This afternoon I finally did something that I've been meaning to do ever since I got to Mexico: I hired a bicycle, and went and explored the town on it. For just 25 pesos an hour, it's the best and most fun way to see San Cristóbal.
San Cristóbal is also perfectly suited for cycling, as:
- It's big but not huge.
- It has flat as well as fairly hilly bits.
- It has varying grades of road so you don't get bored (sealed, cobblestone, and unsealed).
- It has a nice variety of scenery (mountains, "colonial bits", slum bits, church bits).
The place where I hired the bike is a restaurant that rents bikes on the side. It's about 2 blocks north and 2 blocks west of Posada Mexico Hostel, on Calle Real De Guadalupe, and between Avenidas Insurgentes (the main drag) and Benito Juarez. The bikes are a bit crappy, with heavy steel frames, clunky gears, and overused brakes (hey, that's almost as bad as my Nishiti back home!); but they're up to the task, and anyway, it wouldn't be an authentic experience if you were riding a bike superior to those of the locals. And for 25 pesos an hour, I guess you get what you pay for.
My only real complaint with the place was that they didn't have any helmets. But despite it being dangerous, wearing a helmet also would have detracted from the authentic experience. I would have been the only cyclist in town wearing one.
San Cristóbal is a fairly safe place to cycle. There are heaps of cyclists on the roads, and the cars are generally pretty cautious, and they give way when it comes to the crunch. As with riding back home in Sydney, running reds is OK most of the time, as long as you look first. Adjusting to riding on the right-hand side of the road turned out to be no problem either, especially since so many of the streets are one-way.
I had a great time cycling around town. I went right to the eastern fringe of the town, where they have some really steep, semi-sealed roads that go up the hillsides, into the slums. Some of these roads were just too hard, while I was able to get up (with effort) and race down others. The cobbled streets in the centre of town were great fun too.
Despite that fact that I had no map, and no definite idea where I was most of the time, I kept riding with no fear of getting lost; and somehow, I eventually ended up finding my way back.
I wanted to get in a good 3 hours of riding: unfortunately, it started pouring with rain at about the 1hr 30min mark, so I had to call it quits at 2hrs. I was quite wet, so I hurried back to the hotel to have a nice, warm shower.