Machetes, Chickens, and Bike Checks

May 22, 2014
by Danielle Baker  


It was hard to tell where the chicken coup ended and the bike shop started but you can t been 5 to fix a double flat
  It is hard to tell where the chicken coop ends and the bike shop starts.

Barra de Potosi is a small Mexican fishing village tucked into a nook where an expansive lagoon meets the Pacific Ocean. As with any area dependent on the commerce generated by fishing, there have been years of financial struggle for the people who live there. The Red Cross rebuilt the village after a Tsunami all but wiped it out in 1985. Since then, the community has proven resilient against international developers, global warming, pollution and many other threats to their way of life.

While cars and trucks are seen on the narrow dirt roads of the village, the majority of Barra de Potosi's residents prefer bikes as a vehicle. Surprisingly, in a place where there is so much need, and people have so little, there is no bike theft. Bikes are hardly ever locked up and, instead, are amicably shared – practices that have developed organically into a bike co-op of sorts. These rides are not chosen by discipline, size or fit, only for the purpose of getting where you need to go. It is common to see adults commuting on children's bikes and kids pedalling by on frames so big for them that they cannot sit on the seats. Most impressive are the customizations that are designed by purpose. Plastic milk crates are commonly attached for carrying supplies and wares, drop bars are turned upright for a more 'comfortable' ride and homemade holsters attach machetes to the frame (or donkey).

In this modern-day meets rural village where hydro is hijacked to power televisions inside homes constructed with palm fronds, bikes are used for their most simplified intention; transportation. More than anything else, riding builds their community. Greetings are regularly exchanged as people commute to work, drop their children off at school and run errands. It takes only a day or two of being a part of this kind of gridlock traffic before you feel like one of the locals and an extension of their society; it takes even less time to be humbled by this village's appreciation for the simplicity of bikes.

This is the bun guy he rides countless kilometres each day selling his fresh buns until he runs out.
  'The bun guy' rides countless kilometres each day selling his fresh buns until he runs out. The machete provides some safety when carrying cash on the backroads.

This fisherman was on his way to the lagoon to fish for the day.
  Some of the fisherman ride to their boats, usually heading out at the break of dawn and sometimes fishing overnight to provide the freshest catch to the restaurants each day.

This was my dad s bike and when he passed away we gave it to Jesus his friend. Jesus never wanted a car to get around just a bike.
  This bike was bequeathed to Jesus by his jefe (boss) and friend, he has ridden it every day since he got it.

Antonio was spending his morning hauling buckets of dirt from the Noni pantation on his BMX ride.
  Antonio hauls buckets of dirt to the Noni plantation on his BMX ride.

This is Mono or Monkey he got his nickname for scaling the palm tree barefoot to harvest the coconuts.
  'Mono' or 'Monkey', got his nickname for scaling the palm trees barefoot to harvest coconuts.

Ricardo and his pink bike.
  Ricardo is very proud of his near perfect condition pink bike.

The local arcade and tienda are home to this boy and his jacked up handlebars.
  The local arcade and tienda are home to this boy and his jacked up handlebars.

This little girl shares her bike with her siblings.
  When you are sharing one bike with all your siblings things like size and colour are not considered.

This women bikes to her job at a local hotel every day.
  This women bikes to her job at a local hotel every day, roughly 10km each way.

This adorable woman was convinced that she was going to break my camera and had to be assured in my broken Spanish that it would not be an action shot .
  This adorable woman shows property for sale at the edge of the village; business is slow, but she has one of the more prestigious jobs available.

This girl s bike seat fell off when she stopped for the photo. With her knees up to her chin she pedals about 10 km each way to work every day.
  Size does not matter when it comes to the necessity of transportation.

What is better than a bike A donkey. Obviously.
  What is better than a bike? A donkey. Obviously.

The only bike I saw locked up in my two weeks there - and it is obvious why.
  The only bike that was locked up, maybe the owners is not a local.

This guy - really what can you say about this guy.
  This guy was going somewhere, but luckily paused just long enough for a photo.

Recently transplanted from Los Angeles - this kid s Spanish and English and was better than mine.
  Recently transplanted from Los Angeles this kid is adjusting to a new world with less pavement, less emissions and less traffic.

Nothing completes your day like a smoke and ride around the village.
  Nothing completes this man's day like a smoke and ride around the village.

This couple proved that you don t need a tandem to ride together.
  These two proved that you don't need a tandem to ride together.

A couple that rides together. . .
  A couple that rides together. . .

This fellow refused to give me his name but did tell me that he was going to get a hair cut.
  This fellow paused for a photo on his way to an early morning a hair cut.

Lizette took a loan of 300 from her employers to buy her bike. It is one of the most expensive and newest bikes in the village and she still has no concerns about theft.
  Lizette took a loan of $300 from her employers to buy her bike. It is one of the most expensive and newest bikes in the village and she still has no concerns about theft.

This boy was hauling bait from the lagoon for the fisherman to use. Fishing the main industry of the lagoon and a coop is in place to help support all the families involved.
  Hauling bait from the lagoon for the fisherman is this boy's way of supporting the main village industry. A coop is in place to help support all the families involved.

End of life.
  The humid and salty air ravage the bike frames and with little ability to battle the damage the bikes are simply ridden until they will no longer go.

Author Info:
daniellebaker avatar

Member since May 10, 2007
235 articles

  • 180 0
 Truly makes me feel humble, ashamed and blessed all at once. One of my bikes is probably worth a year's salary to these people. Yet you can see the pride on many of their faces for themselves and for their bikes. Hopefully we here on Pinkbike can realize that all our debates about wheel size, gear/chainring count, or damping qualities, while valid in our elite bike culture, are really just trivial in the grand scheme of things. Have a great riding season all and keep the rubber side down!
  • 16 0
 Proves that we all can ride, no matter what we have to ride, as long as we love it! This was a great and fun article to read and watch, thank you pinkbike!
  • 31 4
 "Shocks?... Pegs?....... Lucky! Do you ever take it off any sweet jumps?"
  • 9 0
 It's good to read about a good culture. Leave your bike here out front and it's gone. Whether a 6000EUR killer machine or a 50EUR third hand rusty piece of shit... It's so sad we have to protect our belongings from theft. Makes me wanna buy a machete and some enraged cocks.
  • 7 1
 @thrasher2---Ha! Awesome! "Can you bring me my chapstick?"
  • 1 0
 So true. The bike as a necessity of everyday life is so far removed from my multiple bike quiver as instruments of pure pleasure. Kind of sad. I need to ride to cheer up...............
  • 5 1
 @bman33--- "i caught you a delicious bass"
  • 6 0
 "You got like three feet of air that time."
  • 32 0
 Dear Pinkbike. You should start a "Not for Profit" company to help with situations like this. Pick one place, run it 100% legit. Volunteer from your end. No CEO collecting a pay check. Someone on here can help with shipping/distrubution etc. Donations of Bikes/Parts/Gear/Books. I will give the first $1000 donation if you make this a reality. I real multi-national "Not for profit" company helping those who need some help, not handouts just help. Thanks for your time.
  • 7 0
 check out there are chapters all over the world Smile
  • 5 0
 I second that, id even donate full bikes i dont use anymore.
  • 8 1
 looked into it before, not as transparent as I would like. Plus I like the PB community and what it stands for, which is fighting between 650b enduro tire patents Wink But really it stands for nothing, just bikes (not E bikes though ) , free site, free info, open to all.
Personally i would like something small, to a small community where I would be assured (as much as possible) that my (our) donations were going directly to the patrons.
  • 2 1
 Not sure if this one is any more transparent, but SRAM's World Bicycle Relief might be another option worth considering.
  • 3 0
 The beauty of pinkbike starting a foundation is that there aee so many people here with spare parts and old frames. Plus I for one would love to spend time traveling anf volunteering for a community in need and if its bike related I'd have so much more inspiration.
  • 4 0
 Im stuck here in Korea with three busted ribs(Oooooouch)but Im moving(just changing homes) soon and have decided to donate two of my bikes I don't really need anymore. Thanks for the push in the right direction with this inspirational article!
  • 4 1
 If Avril Lavigne ever saw this post.
  • 25 0
 best article of the year
  • 16 0
 "It is hard to tell where the chicken coup ends and the bike shop starts." You mean "coop"? Or is there a chicken uprising we should be worried about?
  • 1 0
 good eye. that kinda creeped me out to think about that many chickens
  • 17 1
  • 10 1
 I hope Pinkbike will write more articles like this. Interesting for sure, I like to see the bicycle culture from other places around the world. Every-day bicycle culture, not just the culture of "I have to upgrade this old $5000 bike from 2013, the 2015 model is wayyyyy better" that many of us are accustomed too. (Not saying there is anything wrong with that, our culture of nice bikes, and lives that revolve around riding though, I just like the contrast.)
  • 8 0
 Thank you pinkbike! The picture here really had my mind churning.
  • 3 0

makes you wonder, with changing global economy and natural disasters / global warming perhaps it won't be too many years before many of us in the Western World find ourselves in a similar situation and would be happy to own any bicycle for transportation

an article like this, certainly puts things in perspective, compared to my customers bleating about "issues" with their £10,000 carbon fibre Di2 road bike with ZIPP wheels Wink
  • 15 1
 and to think it can ruin your day if your $6k + bike develops an untraceable noise here.
  • 7 0
 I live in a city called Joinville, Brazil, known as the city of bicycles. Much of the city's population uses bikes as transportation primarily because of the low purchaising power (industry workers). You can buy a new bike for transportation for about $ 150 (steel frames, single speed, heavy as shit!). Most people rides several miles on these bikes everyday.
Another small portion of the population (which I include myself) uses XC bikes or hybrids to go to work, college, etc.. These people choose to use a bike as transportation leaving the car at home. Our only problem is the theft of bikes, which is very common here.
It is nice to live in a city where the majority of the population ride bikes, either through necessity or simply by choice.

Sorry for my poor english! =)
  • 3 0
 É uma pena que, no Brasil, usar a bike como transporte é considerado "coisa de pobre". Eu moro numa cidade com 60.000 habitantes, o centro é minúsculo, e mesmo assim a maioria usa carro mesmo que seja pra andar 1km. Não sabia que joinville era exceção.
  • 1 0
 Apesar do povo de Joinville ter um conceito diferente sobre locomoção usando bikes, tem gente que ainda ve como coisa de pobre.
Mas a maioria das pessoas já ve a bike como estilo de vida, aqui onde eu trabalho, conheço várias pessoas que possuem carros do ano, mas utilizam apenas para passeios em familia aos finais de semana ou para viajar, e a bike é a parceira do dia a dia. O resultado disso vc sente no ar, muito mais puro para respirar, apesar da grande quantidade de carros que ainda circulam pela cidade. Joinville também é a cidade brasileira que mais possui ciclofaixas/ciclovias, e se tudo continuar melhorando por aqui, logo será um paraizo para ciclistas, pois aqui na região tem várias trilhas de XC e DH.
  • 4 0
 I actually grew up in a place much like that, in regards of bike. It was a big town or small city and theft was an issue, but in the same way bikes were primarily transportation/work. I had a second hand Benotto 24" road bike in which I used to run errands for my parents, sometimes carrying up to 20 pounds of maize or food for our pigs, give a lift to my sister and just ride around. I learnt how to ride those big 28" bikes with rod brakes on dirt roads, etc. Good times. Awesome article!
  • 1 0
 Viva Mexico chingao!
  • 3 0
 Very good article. I went to this place 3 years ago and had a great time. This town consists mostly of fishermen and they are some of the nicest people I have ever seen. They would even let us go fishing right next to them and gave us advice even if they are doing this for a living and we were doing it for fun. They also cook the best fish you can ever try, there is just no contest in how amazing the food there is.
  • 2 0
 The love of bikes is a true passion. People all around the globe are proud of what they ride. Bikes continue to be the most efficient means of transportation as well as works of art. Two wheels, why don't we use them for everything??
  • 2 0
 This article had me remember my very first bike 15 yrs ago, it was an old generic no breaks beat up bmx, back then we don't care about wheel sizes, brands etc.. For me it was the sweetest prized possession I had, what has mattered most is to be the fastest one to arrive at the riverbank where we used to enjoy swimming and would just go home before dark,man I miss my good old bike.
  • 1 0
 Nice job, beautiful pictures, like the one with the bare feet girl... I had two daughters one have a cannondale full XTR and the other a Titus Super motto.
And I have to beg them to go ride !

Its time to share!
  • 1 0
 no litoral é comum as pessoas usarem bike, independente da classe social.. onde eu moro(interior de SP), ninguem olha pra mim qdo venho trampar de bike, tenho uma cb 1000 e venho com ela as vezes, só falta aspessoas me pararem na rua !!! Alguns lugares as pessoas tem mais mente aberta, agora aqui no interior de SP só tem índio com cérebro de ervilha !!!..
  • 1 0
 hey all , do you realize that thsimillions of people fuel the indutrie taht give us our 29er bikes, this million of bikes give the industri the monet to make a a $10000 dolar bike for you, so be gratefull with your commenst, as i see a couple of not funy , quind of elitist ones here.
  • 8 4
 That guys called Jesus....
  • 5 1
 I'm sure you know it's pronounced " hey-suz ".
  • 2 0
 It's a popular Hispanic name
  • 3 1
 also the hebrew eqivalent of joshua. it was a very common name before the birth of jesus christ
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the article. It does bring another perspective on cycling as a way of life, not just a leisure for those who can afford it.
  • 1 0
 Nice article, I hope not everyone thinks that's the whole country. Mexico is an amazing country for ride a bike all day and is very cheap for the tourism and no all the places have problems with the Cartels.
  • 6 0
 I love Mexico, the beer (bohemia) is excellente!
  • 5 0
 Hehe I am going to sound like waki but who cares, these type of comments put my piss into a boil ''not all of Mexico is like that'' ''mexico is also developed...'' ''we dont wear sombreros in mexico'' come on guys the article and pictures above show what Mexico really is, we must accept it and if we dont like it work in order to change it. Not trying to be a d!#k it is just my opinion
  • 2 0
 Si señor!
  • 2 0
 Good read, complete opposite of our way of life over here. Seems like an honest way of living too, we could learn from them
  • 4 0
 beautiful pics
  • 3 0
 Too bad the cartels know where to find a bunch of unlocked bikes now...
  • 1 0
 Really interesting!! when I was in Vietnam I saw kids riding huge adult bikes, missing one pedal with just a rod sticking out, commonly!
  • 1 0
 Nice article PB! I'll mention it on my blog:
Thanks to help sharing different bike cultures!
  • 1 0
 fantastic article. Really puts in perspective how entitled we become about our components etc, or having the latest and greatest.
  • 1 0
 The Brodie isn't a bad bike, sr suntor forks and cable discs. Not a bad looking ride, (in comparison to a lot of the other bikes on show anyway). Sometimes simple is better.
  • 3 2
 its amazing that $300 for a bike such as Lizette's, we can buy an apollo for £100 simillair spec to here's.
  • 1 0
 I wonder if that was actually referencing US/CAN currency or actually meant 300 pesos or something. Seems awfully expensive, but that could be the case.
  • 1 0
 I've found bikes quite a bit cheaper in Canada than in Mexico City. I can't imagine paying $800+ for a "Benotto", especially on most locals' salaries.
  • 1 0
 Maybe it's a question of supply/demand, as no one can afford a new bike there, the few you can find are more expensive ? I'm not good at economics, but that could be the (sad) answer...
  • 1 0
 Bikes are more expensive in Mexico when compared to the US and Can market. Import dutties for bikes are expensive which does not encourage invertors to put bike shops or things of that sort...this creates the supply to be low and the demand high. So basically reasons, import dutties and supply-demand
  • 3 1
 Do those donkeys come in 29"
  • 1 0
 This is an outstanding article with a great perspective, thanks so much for sharing.
  • 1 0
 I will never look at mexicans and their donkeys the same after watching Razz
  • 2 0
 Thats Colombia bro not Mexico, thats pretty messed up to make fun of other peoples traditions as weird and fucked up as they might seem
  • 1 0
 This article remember me some towns from my country where the ppl ride in a old bikes.
  • 1 0
 International development/global warming
  • 1 0
 Good article, nice change of pace to the usual
  • 1 0
 Great Article Smile Loved it!
  • 1 0
 Just for the love of riding..or for the need of it.
  • 1 0
 so cool!
  • 1 0
 What a great article
  • 1 2
  • 2 0

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