Many nights I’ve seen people go flying off the handlebars, but I’m the only one of our crew to have been bitten by a dog. They bark from rooftops or behind fences. The thinner strays fearfully watch you fly by. When the barkers do chase you, they are usually easy enough to get away from. But one night, furiously pedaling away from four snarling dogs, I felt the sharpness clamp down on my ankle.
It wasn’t much of a bite but bled into my socks and was enough for my girlfriend to insist that I get a rabies booster (I got bit earlier that year and got the rabies vaccination).
Besides crashes and dogs on our night rides in and around Toluca, Mexico, you also have to contend with bad drivers, potholes and speed bumps. But everything else about these Thursday nights is great. At 8 p.m., just as the sun starts setting in central Mexico, between 5 and 15 of us meet in the zocalo, or center square, where the cathedral and government buildings are. Toluca is a mid-sized Mexican city, the highest in Mexico and the capital of the State of Mexico. Our night rides take us through the surrounding towns and into the mountains.
Right now is the rainy season here, which reminds me a bit of Vancouver, where I commuted every day in the winter rain for five years. But here the rain comes down in sheets, soaking us to the bone and making the cars even more dangerous.
These rides also remind me of Critical Mass, except on a much smaller scale and of course we follow the traffic signals, at least when cars are around.
But more than anything, these bold rides through the Mexican night are a great way to explore the city in a way that wouldn’t be safe alone. We have a great crew of people from many ages and walks of life, but we all have one thing in common – we love cycling enough to meet every Thursday, rain or shine, and ride for two hours into unknown territory.