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By: Zdenko Kahlina
The Sportive Event ‘Ciclotour Mazatlán’, Mexico
Mazatlán, city better known as the ‘Pearl of the Pacific’, is a destination that always works hard to bring exciting events to the city. On November 21, the City of Mazatlán and other sponsors organized already fifth edition of CicloTour Mazatlán.
This sportive event has transpired over their previous releases and has positioned itself as one of the assembly points for pedal lovers in Mexico. Many passionate competitors from around the Mexico come to Mazatlán every year to participate in this popular event. This year the organizers invited Miguel Arroyo, former professional cyclist and national multichampion who also participated in several international tours, such as Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and La Vuelta of Spain. Several cyclists rode their bikes the day before from as far as the city of Tepic, the distance of 275 km, to participate in this event. In addition, also as a highlight of this event, a group of 200 cyclists registered from Baja California Sur state. Another of the highlights of the organization was a talk-conference Johana Solano, cycling commentator TDN, which currently resides in Mexico City. She is also an active participant of many cycling races and was Miss. Costa Rica in 2011.
City Mayor Carlos Felton GONZALEZ knows the popularity of Mazatlán. Visitors from around the world fall in love with its rich culture, delicious cuisine and beautiful views. One of the most surprising things about Mazatlán, Mayor Carlos Felton says, is the amount of festivals and cultural events held in the area. The Ciclotour Mazatlán is a perfect example of the diversity of this wonderful destination. Mayor expects that travelers have enjoyed this event as well as the beach party held afterwards. The Ciclotour Mazatlán route offers a beautiful landscape for cyclists and also an amazing place to relax after a long bike ride. If you are a cycling enthusiast or just looking for a fun event in Mazatlán, the 2016 edition of Mazatlán CicloTour Mazatlán should not be a miss.
Be aware that this Ciclotour is not a race. Anyone can register and participate in this event. This year registration fee was about $450 pesos and you could still register just few minutes before the official start.
2015 – The fifth edition
This year cyclist’s route was 140 km long and went counter clockwise around the city and souraunding villages. Start was at the recently built state-of-the-art Convention Center in north Mazatlán. The Mazatlán International Center was designed around an aquatic theme, and is the largest facility of its kind on the west coast of Mexico. It is located just north of town near the marina, and the facility’s largest hall accommodates up to 4500 people.
For this event, they setup tents and kiosks on the field around Convention Centre, where they had mechanics ready to provide bike services and they had all the cycling clothing and other merchandise for sale. Huge car park near the start line was hosting hundreds of cars packed with bikes and freshly-shaven legs, very early in the morning. The starting grids gradually filled up with many riders from all over the Mexico. There were riders of all shapes and sizes, and all levels of fitness. The starting grid appeared like a rainbow of colorful jerseys under a huge jellow ‘Electrolit’ (one of the sponzors) banner.
Departure was scheduled for 7:00 am and 940 starters who registered for this sportive event were real heroes in my eyes, because most of them were clearly there simply for a special day out on their bikes. This suggests that this year exceeded the figure of 714 participants from the previous event last year. Ciclotour Mazatlán has seen consistent growth, but it’s still not so big to have lost its intimate, down-home feel. Of those 940 riders at the start 30 percent of them were women, and that’s not just by chance. The organizers really made a strong push for female attendance this year for both veterans of the sport to those just getting into it.
Off they go…
They rolled up from start at 7:00 am and rode through the city streets to reach Oceanside and malecón. Mazatlán has one of the most beautiful piers in the world. The Malecón comprises more than 16 kilometers along the beautiful Pacific Ocean. This coastal road was full of cyclists and was a popular place for participants, who enjoyed the beauty of the destination and no car traffic during the event.
They continued on this attractive road all the way to Olas Altas area in the south part of the city and around ‘Centro Historico’ and Mazatlán harbor. There they turned into the city and made their way to the interstate highway towards airport. Up to this point there was very little traffic control. The huge pack was just all over the road. Going through the city they had to stop for a few moments at some busy intersections but quickly continued with the help of police.
Right from the start the pace quickly speeded up as in events like this there are always those who take this more seriously and want to race. Group of about hundred cyclists formed at the front and they speed away from the rest. Others were soon spread all over the road behind them and it appeared the line of cyclists was several kilometers long.
The route took them further through the city streets heading south-east and out of the city to the airport riding on the international highway (Mex-15). There were times when they were riding between dump trucks and buses on a four lane highway. Very crazy! But very fun! The drivers in Mazatlán were very respectful of the cyclists. Eventually they made it to country roads, where the hills become the challenge. Shortly after the airport they made a left turn on road Mex-510 by Escamillas to El Recodo and further to San Marcos and El Noria in the Sierra Madre foothills. In the front group people were determined to stay near the front to avoid crushes and many just wanted to rub shoulders with the best.
In the Sierra Madre foothills
In the hills three riders managed to get away from the rest and behind them the chase split the bunch, leaving the various different groups strung out in long lines. This was the part of the course that was the most difficult and many that were not in good shape gave up and loaded their bikes onto the following vehicles and abended.
In the meantime, the leading three riders were riding strongly and nobody was making any moves or attacks. Somewhere around La Noria in one sharp corner two of them touched wheels and crashed. Now the one solo rider left at the front was former pro roadie of a dozen years, Canadian Paul Wolfe. He was still pedaling in a big chain ring, showing his strength and now fighting only against gusts of wind and increasing heat. The road was mostly going downhill from there and he kept his high pace all the way to the finish.
Back in the city
From the hills surrounding El Noria, the course took them back towards Mazatlán on Mex-503 road. They rode past small pueblas El Espinal and El Habal before they were back at the Avenue Sabalo Cerritos, and the official finish at Convention Center, where they started this exiting journey in the morning. Paul’s advantage at the finish was more than 20 minutes (!) in front of the next rider behind him (Rolando Flores). He was just way too strong for the rest of them, but this was not a race and there was no price for the winner. By the finish at Convention Center around noon, temperatures had warmed up considerably, which made the post-event beers all the more enjoyable for everyone. All the category winners got time on the podium to claim symbolic prices and kisses from beautiful podium girls.
Everyone who rode the whole course got to cross the finish line at the Convention Centre and they should all receive medals for their bravery and heroic efforts to complete this challenging 140 km long course. At the end there were 647 finishers and they all had their own stories to tell. After tucking into the food at the nearby stands loaded with tacos, tortillas, Guacamole and Burritos, everyone promised they would be back to ride this event again next year. So, expect a slightly larger crowd next year, but the same down-home feel like this year. One of the organizers, Mr. Carlos Steck told me the only thing he would like to remark is that they are going to try to convince more Americans and Canadians to participate! Ciclotour Mazatlán is an event that in the near future will bring lots of tourism to Mazatlán and that is their big goal. They do it because they love the biking and the city of Mazatlán. The bicycle and the beach while on vacation is a good combination.
They all had a great time at the 2015 Mazatlán Ciclotour! I hope you liked the pictures posted in this blog.
About Paul Wolfe, the winner of 2015 edition:
Paul Wolfe (1953) is a cyclist from Mazatlán, but he was born in northern Alberta, Canada, in a French speaking village. Paul has had many professions during his working life. Now retired, until recently he owned an ambulance company and a real estate business. In 1977, he started racing road bicycles and did not stop ever since. His cycling curriculum includes dozens of professional races, and on the master category he has won many Canadian National Championships. He also has one gold (2011) and one silver (2010) medal from the Masters World Championship on the road.
Paul usually trains 5 days a week, most of the time century rides (in Mexico during the winter and in Italy during the summer). A very strong cyclist for sure, Paul’s fitness is not his only weapon, especially against his younger opponents. With 35 years of racing experience, he is a man of strategies. According to him, the art of racing is very similar to the art of war. “I try to always do the unexpected and to read everyone’s strengths and weaknesses”.
The organizers and sponsors:
The State Secretary of Tourism, Francisco Cordova Celaya, Ms. Monica Coppel Tirado, representing the Mayor Carlos Felton, Loar Lopez Councilman hosted the organizers. Román Aguayo and Carlos Steck and other sponsors, organized the fifth edition of CicloTour Mazatlán.
CicloTour history begins in 2011 and over four years has grown in the number of registered and especially in the call to the other states of the Republic. Mr. Carlos Steck is the driving force behind Mazatlán’s popular Ciclotour, now in its fifth year. The Ciclotour idea was born when Carlos ‘Chulos’ teammate Roman Aguayo helped him make that dream reality. Carlos always liked the idea of creating an event to showcase Mazatlán and challenge riders with a lot of kilometers. They were lucky to get help from sponsors like Telcel, La Puntilla, Pacifico, Powerade and the sporting community in general. The toughest part was organizing this event year after year. It’s Mexico, and here they don’t plan very well. A week beforehand things are totally crazy, but somehow it all gets worked out by the day of the Ciclotour.
So prepare your team for next year and take part! There is still plenty of time…
Saludos y MUCHAS GRACIAS!!!
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