Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ruta Rio Sonora

Waiting for the riders
After almost 6 years, Banámichi keeps coming up with surprises. This past weekend the 10th annual Ruta Rio Sonora Bicycle Race filled the town to capacity . With nearly 700 bicyclists participating, the hotels were bulging at the seams and people were camped out at Martin's taco place, and even in our friends Terri and Raphael's backyard.
The finish line

The event is organized yearly by the Coyotes Team, a bicycle club from Hermosillo. The riders come from all over Mexico, and some from the US as well. I saw teams from Hermosillo, Caborca, San Carlos and even the Pelicanos (Pelicans) Team from the ocean front resort town of Puerto Peñasco.

The ride started in Sinoquipe, about 10 miles as the crow flies north of Banámichi. From there, the route headed up into the hills, climbing for the first 20 kilometers on mostly dirt roads, and then up and down to Banámichi for a total of 33 kilometers( 20.6 miles). Rumor had it that the first riders would arrive in Banámichi between 9 and 9:30 Saturday morning.


We all headed over to the plaza with the big rock on Calle Independencia to watch them arrive. A crowd had gathered to watch. I settled down on the curb near the finish line. Next to me was a very pretty young woman eating a bag of fragrant, ripe strawberries. Turning to me, she smiled and offered me some. Her warmth and kindness to me, a total stranger and a Gringa at that, summed up the vibe of the whole event. Overall, there was a remarkable spirit of camaraderie and celebration from everyone who participated in the race. All who finished were celebrated with a blue ribbon with a medal. Truly, everyone who rode the race was a winner.

Happy Riders with completion medals
The first rider arrived after just 1 hour and 17 minutes, averaging 16 miles per hour on the mostly uphill dirt track. After a short time a few more riders arrived, followed by more and more spaced out over the next couple of hours. As the riders began to arrive, each one was cheered: "BRAVO!" Initially I found myself yelling "YEAH!" Ooops, cultural difference....yes, that's "BRAVO!"

Spectator in a hoodie*
Mishap! Washing away  blood and dust

The riders' reactions as they crossed the finish line were fun ...some pumped their fists, some crossed themselves, some stood up on the pedals and let out a whoop of joy. Each one was enthusiastically cheered. My favorite was the guy who sprinted his bike by foot across the finish line clutching a broken chain in his hand. The crowd went wild! What a great spirit!

At the finish line
The cheers were also louder than usual for the small number of women as they arrived. These women were especially moving because in spite of the strides women have made in the States since the 1960's, these bicyclists were still pioneers doing the unexpected in Mexico. If I were 30 years younger, I would have loved to be out there with them crossing that finish line!

Another striking thing about the riders were their beautifully fit, sleekly muscled bodies. Like the US, Mexico has a severe obesity problem, so it was refreshing to see so many fit, healthy people in spandex tights all congregated together. There were only one or two riders of all I saw who were even slightly chubby!

Girls Rule!*
In the afternoon we returned to the plaza to listen to music and watch the awards ceremony. The local people has set up a number of food booths. There were Sonoran hot dogs, carne asada tacos, sandwiches, fruit bowls and various snacks. For the awards, the first 7 winners for men and for women were announced, with the top 3 receiving beautiful plaques. Once again, there was that same spirit of camaraderie and celebration of everyone. Yes, people cheered loudly for their own teams, but they also cheered for all the winners. As each winner was called up to the front, he or she went down the line, hugging and high 5-ing all the other winners.

On Sunday morning, the race resumed from the main plaza in town. That course was another 35 kilometers from Banámichi to Baviácora, running through all the towns along the way. This was the easier, fun course in which families and children could participate. The weekend ended with a huge party in Baviácora.

First Place!*

I was surprised at the size of the event and the way the local townspeople came together to welcome and accommodate so many bicyclists and families. And, as so frequently happens, I was also touched by the warmth and generosity of spirit of the Mexican people.

* Photos courtesy of Tracy Williams

No comments:

Post a Comment