When I read last week that two European cyclists were found dead in a ravine in southern Mexico, I can’t say it came with any bit of shock. Mexico has been inherently dangerous for years, but even more so in the last decade. This is due, in part, to the rise in violence by the drug cartels in that country.
What came as a shock to me was that anyone believed that these people died from a bike accident, which was what had been initially reported. If you’ve ever been in an accident on your bike, you know that there’s a very low possibility that your head, hands, and feet are chopped off in the process. And of all the times I’ve had an accident on my bike, it’s usually my bike laying next to me – not the bike of someone else.
These two cyclists were robbed, tortured, then murdered. Why? Wrong place, wrong time? No. Wrong place, period.
Bike tours are fun to fantasize about, but they come with their own set of dangers. You’re not only dealing with automobiles, but criminals looking to take advantage of helpless people looking to have a good time. And while they say you should never make trips like this alone, and travel in groups, two people does not a group ride make. In fact, I’m not sure anything less than 15 cyclists would be safe in this day and age. And even then, in a country as dangerous as the one these cyclists died in, it’s debatable.
When I read Mark Beaumont’s books two years ago, where he wrote about cycling through the Americas and around the world, I thought he was bat shit crazy. Even with a guide to aid him through the dangerous parts of Mexico, he still felt in danger. And he was, admittedly so. And while he came out of his travels relatively unscathed (albeit being hit by a car, then robbed in Louisiana of all places), I’m not 100% sure he’d try that shit again.
Should you be planning a bike tour, be cognizant of the dangers. Always have a backup plan, and never travel into areas or countries you don’t have a full understanding of. Falling off of your bike is the least of your worries.
That is, unless your head falls off in the process.