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We arrived in San Salvador on a Thursday with one thing in mind: exploring the city by night, on a bike!
I didn’t know a lot about San Salvador before arriving, apart from the fact that many people seem to arrive and leave on the same day. El Salvador‘s reputation still isn’t the best following years of civil war ending in 1992, but every experience I had there had made me desperate to stay longer in this amazing country. Following our amazing welcome to the country, we wanted to make sure we gave the capital a fair chance.
Every Thursday night in San Salvador, there is a huge bike ride along a different route around the city, organised by Ciclistas Urbanos. Over 300 people regularly gather to share their love of cycling and benefit from the police escort guiding the way. This is what we were here for.
We met a few other travellers at the hostel and teamed up to form Team Gringo: the only five travellers joining the locals this Thursday night. We turned up way before the 8 o’clock start time to guarantee our $4 bike and were ready for the 18km ride that lay ahead of us.
We were ushered to the front of the pack, to minimise our chances of getting lost and started pedalling. Within 30 seconds, we were a man down as one member of Team Gringo disappeared. Unsure of whether we’d ever be reunited, we had little choice but to ride on. Within minutes we were back to our full quota; her chain had come off without us noticing and one of the friendly locals had popped it back on without a second thought.
Along motorways, over flyovers, down through underpasses and up over gruelling hills we rode… Every now and again we would stop for a well earned, and very much needed break from the heat, regroup and press on. The good thing about climbing the hills was that we knew we had to come back down and some of the descents were amazing! Long, smooth, winding roads begged you to let go of your breaks and hurtle down at speed. It was exhilarating!
As with every part of El Salvador that I visited, the people here were so friendly. People asked us how we’d found out about their big bike ride, asked where we were from and one guy even gave us a lift to the other side of town at the end of the ride!
If you find yourself in El Salvador, try to make it to San Salvador on a Thursday night for this unique tour of one of the less explored capitals in the Americas.
Where is your favourite spot for a bike ride?