Tropical Thunder

I'm back! Two weeks into marriage, I can finally say I've bested Britney Spears at something (that was MY Mouseketeers slot!). The wedding was great, as was the honeymoon in Puerto Rico. But enough about me – let's get to the topic you all want to read about: What's the cycling like in Puerto Rico?

Puerto Rico is hot, humid, and crowded in the city. We stayed in San Juan, which has traffic to rival Los Angeles. Our Lonely Planet guide summed up the cycling experience well:

The hazards of cycling in Puerto Rico include nightmare traffic, dangerous drivers and a general lack of awareness about cyclist’s needs. Puerto Rico is a country where the car is king and most natives simply aren’t used to seeing touring bikes on the road. Bear this in mind before venturing out on two wheels and stick to quiet back roads and the smaller towns. Never cycle after dark.

Still, I've seen far worse conditions in countries where far more people ride a bicycle. And it wasn't all bad. Our hotel sat right next to a lagoon that had a mixed-use path all along its circumference. There were lots of similar biking and walking paths in pretty spots throughout the island. This setup may not be ideal for cycling commuters, but occasionally the scenic paths overlap real traffic corridors, as is the case on the bridge traversing the lagoon and connecting the neighborhood of Condado with Old San Juan.

Condado Lagoon bridge
I realize the westbound lane is on the wrong side of the street, but the crazy traffic could make a path user out of the most hardened vehicular cyclist.

I think the most notable thing about cycling in San Juan is how similar it is to San José. There has been lots of infrastructure built around the outskirts of town and in the parks with less to speak of in the city center; people are wary of using a bike due to the narrow roads and high traffic volume; and, notably, the fixed gear scene is thriving.

Fliers for fixed gear events like bike polo, alleycat races, and fashion shows were all over. Puerto Rico Fixed seemed to have a strong relationship with the art gallery network in San Juan. I didn't see a velodrome, so we've still got one up on them. Maybe we could start a fixie exchange program!

It's good to be back, though I thoroughly enjoyed myself in the Caribbean. Thanks to everyone who directed their email elsewhere in my absence – it was good to get back and see my unreads were only in the triple digits.

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