Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Ecofriendly biking comes to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo

Over the last few years, Zihuatanejo has spent considerable time and effort creating a phenomenal bicycle and walking path that connects Zihuatanejo to Ixtapa, two tourist destinations. At nearly 65 kilometers of trails, fitness enthusiasts can enjoy the ease of use on its paved deep red asphalt.

Luis Pelayo (Poto) and his partner Julita Trzaska, the owners of Zihuatanejo Dive Center for the last 11 years, saw this as a business opportunity to expand into the rental of electric bikes, or e-bikes, and bring them to Ixtapa-Zihuatanejo.

Julita, originally from Poland, was very familiar with electric bikes as they are common in Europe. The couple made frequent use of them on vacation trips there and in United States cities like San Francisco.

Given the extensive trail system developed in Zihuatanejo, they felt the area was a natural fit for their venture, Zihualectric, which opened this year. Already there has already been great feedback and interest — so much so that they will soon add electric scooters (the kind you stand on, not ride) to their fleet.

Traveling to Europe in 2019, just before the COVID-19 pandemic, I had booked several e-bike tours in Spain and Portugal and had thoroughly enjoyed them, so I reached out to the young couple. Julita immediately invited me to take one of their tours.

Women washing their clothes at a stream find good-natured amusement in having their pictures taken by cyclists.

They have several tours to choose from, the longest being from Zihuatanejo to Playa Linda in Ixtapa — a round trip of 56 km.  Along the way, your guide will tell you about their snorkeling tours as well as their diving excursions and surfing lessons.  A little farther along the coast, you will be able to see surfers testing their skills. Another tour takes you from Central Zihuatanejo to Playa La Ropa and higher for fantastic views of the bay and surrounding mountains. On the way back down, this tour includes lunch and a swim at a popular local restaurant, La Escollera. Another tour is similar, but rather than lunch, cyclists can opt for a one-hour massage at the Daisy Spa, located on Playa La Ropa in Zihuatanejo.

I chose a shorter version of the first tour, one that goes from Zihuatanejo as far as the Ixtapa Marina and back, although by two separate routes. At a little over 26 km, it seemed a good place to start.  I found it comforting to know that the owners were willing to adjust their tours to suit the customer’s comfort and fitness level.

We started the tour at 9 a.m. after a safety and orientation session. Not all e-bikes are the same, so it might take a bit for some riders to catch on to using them, but it is a quick study for most. The bikes are adjusted to fit and can even accommodate children aged 2–6 with a special seat.

I have been researching e-bikes as a possible purchase for myself in Canada and was looking forward to trying out the Rad e-bike Zihualetric has. I had already decided it had the best reputation and ease of use; it turns out I was right on both counts.

We began from the dive center, where all their tours start, located across from the pier in the La Noria neighborhood of Zihuatanejo. From there, we headed down Cinco de Mayo and past the artisan markets, where you can buy handicrafts and souvenirs. Next, you head toward the basketball court, the site of all community special occasions and Sunday events in town.

At the next barrio, La Boquita, you hop onto the bike path toward Plaza Kioto and then down the trail parallel to the canal. The bike path will then take you through El Paraiso, a charming Mexican neighborhood.

E-bikes make a trip of more than 20 kilometers nearly effortless.

We stopped to watch women washing their clothes communally in the streams. They good-naturedly gave us permission to take their photo. Eventually, we crossed the main highway through a tunnel that will enable us to hook up to the trail system,  known as the ciclopista, to Ixtapa.

At the top, you are afforded a beautiful view of the area against a stunning azure sky.

I should mention that although we had already covered at least eight kilometers by this time, I found myself almost wishing I had chosen the longer route. The electric bike made some of the bigger hills nearly effortless.

The next leg of the trip took us on a back street called Los Viveros. A residential part of Ixtapa, the area boasts some very beautiful condominium complexes and well-maintained homes owned by many Mexicans who keep them for their use or rent them to tourists or people who work in the hotels and restaurants nearby.

When it was time to backtrack, we were able to get over to the road toward the marina, where we ogled the yachts docked there in their slips. Many famous people have their boats there, including, rumor has it, the billionaires Carlos Slim and Bill Gates.

A short trip from the marina led us to Ixtapa proper, where hotels line the beach and many unique shops, restaurants and bars sit across the street. Before we headed back, we made a stop at an ice cream stand, which Julita said was all part of the tour.

The way back was mostly downhill and led us over some of the same roads: the women were still in the river, washing their clothes an hour and a half later. But toward the end, we veered off slightly from the way we had come, arriving at the only traffic light of the whole journey. After that, it was only a few minutes, and then we were back where we had started.

I was a little tired but remarkably not sore in the least and felt quite proud of myself.

• To book a tour with Zihualectric, email them at [email protected]. You can also contact them via Facebook.

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