As we’ve begun to learn, crossing into a new country usually means you will have a change in traffic types and road conditions. El Salvador was no different – after the border we were greeted by a wide road with a five-foot smoothly paved shoulder, and an astounding amount of bicycle traffic – with almost more bikes than cars! Bicycle repair shops seemed to dot the side of the road, and we saw one at least every 10km our first day in the country. It was amazing to see so many people using this mode of transportation to move between small towns, usually carrying wood or supplies, or even their children or their spouse and baby on one bicycle. Most of these cyclists would keep a pretty leisurely pace, so it would usually be a surprise when we overtook them with ease on our enormous rigs. Maybe it was the cycling culture in El Salvador, or maybe the people there just have a competitive attitude, but we began to notice that sometimes the folks we passed would start to put a little more effort into it and whiz by us a few minutes later. It was great fun having these spirited little races with school kids and teenagers who were always determined to out-cycle us – and even more fun playing silent games of ‘leap-frog’ with the adults who obviously felt the same way.
We met up with the Pacific again on our second day in this fine country, once more hugging the coastal cliffs with their challenging climbs. We had last seen the beach weeks ago in Mexico, so we were shooting for a rest day in El Zonte, a small town with a reportedly relaxed scene and great surf. We were pretty certain it was about 80km away, meaning a rather long day for us considering the hills we anticipated. Early in the day, a pick-up truck pulls up along side us and the woman offers us a ride to our destination. It was tempting, but we didn’t see a reason to cut out a day of riding with potentially beautiful views.