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“Cycle of Ancestry”: Bikepacking the Yucatán Peninsula

Cycle of Ancestry is an inspirational short film that follows Mario Ordoñez Calderon’s 1,500-mile bikepacking trip across the Yucatán Peninsula to reconnect with his ancestors and his Mayan roots.

Directed by Ryder England and starring Calderon, the film captures the two best friends on an incredible 38-day bikepacking journey from Mexico City and across the jungles, mountains, and beaches of the Yucatán Peninsula, ending in the small town of Muna, where Calderon’s parents grew up and many of his family members still live today.

Cycle of Ancestry is a heartwarming story of connection—in many forms—and a testament to how bicycle travel can provide a uniquely immersive experience.

words by Gabriela Aoun (@wheresgabs), photos by Ryder England (@ryder.england)

Two hundred and twenty-five miles into a journey from Mexico City to the Yucatán Peninsula, Mario Ordoñez Calderon and Ryder England are dodging boulders at the bottom of a ravine in the Veracruz jungle.

Not natural boulders, but the manmade kind—giant cement blocks that construction workers are throwing from the highway above them. As the two best friends look up in terror, they realize that’s probably the road they’re supposed to be riding on.

They instead ended up on an overgrown, long-retired railroad track that eventually led to a bridge from which all but a few railroad ties had been removed. They tried to cross the metal beams that were still suspended over an 80-foot drop into the ravine but quickly abandoned the idea and opted to push their bikes through the jungle instead.

This is when Ryder and Mario realized they were caught in a concrete rainstorm. They were lost, fatigued from the 18,000-foot mountain they’d hiked only a few days prior, and acutely aware that the only thing they had at that moment was one another—and hopefully a bit of luck.

“If anything is going to test your brotherhood, bike across a country with no idea where you’re going,” says Ryder, 27. He and Mario, also 27, have been best friends since they met in 7th grade in Thousand Oaks, California, a suburb just north of Los Angeles. As kids, their first adventure together was a quaint attempt to backpack in the Santa Monica Mountains down the road from where they lived. “I think we packed some cheerios, an orange, and some water,” laughs Ryder. “But it sparked something in us.”

You can read the full story at Bikepacking

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