Mainland Mexico via Baja

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by miguelito, Jan 19, 2010.

  1. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    505
    Location:
    San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
    Well, that was a long hiatus. I blame the girl.

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    I just had no time to write. Ain't love grand? During my extended stay in San Miguel de Allende, I had two girlfriends, the first of whom was kind enough to introduce me to the second, and the rest is history.

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    San Miguel de Allende at daybreak the day of my departure.

    Dianna has a charity she runs that takes disadvantaged kids up in balloons, hoping to inspire them to dream bigger dreams, called www.theozproject.org

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    She took me out to a friends rancho for a Mexican rodeo, ( charriada). Chuck is an awesome guy and one of the few registered gringo Charros in the Mexican "rodeo" scene.

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    Alfonso is a gentleman and another team member of our home team.

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    Parade of the Locos in San Miguel. These guys and gals danced for hours on a hot day in costume.

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    I rode back to the US through Zacatecas, (one of my favorite towns in Mexico), and Hidalgo del Parral.

    Then along the Rio Grande from Presidio to Alpine texas.

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    Where I spent the night with a friend. thanks Jesse.

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    I ended up returning to the US just as my visa was about to expire, and met Dianna in New Mexico for a 10 day ride through the Rocky Mountains, which then morphed into 35 days of riding 2-up on a Versys for about 5300 miles. I figure that's got to be at or near some kind of record for this bike.

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    We met advrider mundobravo and his lovely mujer in Santa Fe, and rode to Pagosa Springs, CO, and then on to Durango through some pretty big thunderstorms.

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    Mundo & Dianna`on Brazos Pass , NM
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    After Mundo & Gemma returned to Santa Fe, Dianna realized she had left her debit card at the C & W bar we'd been at the previous night. No problem. We called, but they had no answering machine. After riding by the bar, we saw that they don't open to 4 PM. When we returned, we saw that they are actually closed Sunday thru Wed. Sh#t! The 10 day trip was all ready being altered severely. We ended up abandoning the debit card, and striking out on our own.

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    We saw a balloon rally in Steamboat Springs.

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    Met up with another Versys rider, Hipshot, at our motel in Hot Sulphur Springs, and shared an evening drinking cerveza, swapping tales, and travel tips.

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    It's not easy riding two up for so long, but after a stressful moment or two, we worked out the glitches, and had a great ride. Unfortunately, I hadn't charged the camera before leaving, figuring I'd be Ok for 10 days or so. True to my estimate, the battery died after about 8 days, so no pics from the following ride that took us through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, Utah, and back thru Colorado to New Mexico.

    I'm now back in Mexico with the cute girl, and settling into my other life where I write for a living. Anyone coming through San Miguel de Allende is welcome to PM me for info on the town, where to eat, stay, share a cerveza, etc. For those of you who followed along on this rambling report, thanks for hanging in there, and buen viaje. Cheers! - Miguelito
  2. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Oddometer:
    505
    Location:
    San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
    This report has little about the riding, (which was not all that interesting), but has more to do with the destinations. Dianna and I took an overnight trip from San Miguel De Allende to the neighboring towns of Queretero and Bernal last week. Here are some pics of the towns and areas we visited.


    Queretero is a big town of about a half million people, but has a lovely old town, with lots of shops and restaurants.
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    Getting lost and checking the map.
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    We walked around quite a bit and found a shortage of hotels, (especially less expensive ones). There were several in the 1500 peso range. We finally settled on the Hotel Seraphin, a so-called "boutique hotel" located on Calle Independencia. near el centro which cost 1000 pesos for the night, (about $80US). They have a liquor cart available to the guests which we availed ourselves of, thus increasing the value of the hotel. :) I'd recommend the hotel Seraphin to anyone wanting to stay in the historic area of town. We afterwards saw a hotel on 16 de Septiembre just off the Corregedora for 720 pesos, which would have been fine, but was not nearly as nice. Most of the other hotels we checked out started at about 1400 pesos.

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    They had a nice sitting area outside our room. I think we might have been the only guests that night.
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    The room was comfortable and well kept.
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    They also had free parking in a lot about a block and a half away, but let me bring the bike inside their front gate for the night.
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    We found an open air restaurant about 2 blocks away with a four course meal, (salad/soup/spaghetti/stuffed chicken breast), for 50 pesos, (or about $4US). Deal!

    The next day we rode out by the aqueduct toward Bernal, a small colonial town. We had forgotten to bring a detailed map, and we ended up stopping for directions about 9 times before arriving there by a circuitous route that probably doubled the mileage and time it should have taken us to get there.

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    We had a walk around, ate lunch, and returned to San Miguel by about 5PM.

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    They were both beautiful towns and it was a nice trip, although the riding wasn't very exciting, as it was mostly straight, flat roads. :(
  3. Velocipede

    Velocipede Been here awhile

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    Trolling through the RR's,winter is a coming and I'm thinking of Mexico,when I saw yours I realised that I never did finish it.Well now I have and it was excellent,full of great info.Thanks for taking us along.

    John

    PS You done good with the new girl friend,in fact very good.
  4. Jick Magger

    Jick Magger Exile on Main Street

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    Nice ride report. I enjoyed following you along on your journey. Interesting that you chose San Miguel after all the travelling you did. Was there any particular reason you chose this town or did it just happen that way? Having read a little bit about SMA I am interested in your perspective on the city. Great Job on the report!!:clap
  5. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

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    It's funny to recognize an alley in such a small and remote place as Bernal. My cousin's house is a block from the top of the alley.

    Better roads uphill through the mountains.
  6. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
    Thanks JM. I arrived in SMdA prepared not to like it because I thought it would be pretty touristy and packed with gringos. In the end, it turns out that the people living here area big part of what makes San Miguel work for me. One thing I realized on this trip is that I actually like having some gringos around to talk to. By the time I arrived in San Miguel on this trip, it had been about a month since I had had a conversation in English, and I had had my first dream in Espanol. As cool as that was, I realized that while I pride myself in my ability to converse in Spanish, I need to have the odd conversation with, (hopefully), interesting people in my native tongue. I've seen a lot of towns and rubbed shoulders with a bunch of the ex-pat communities around Mexico in my 20+k miles of riding here. San Miguel has a large enough community of expats to make it a bit more interesting for me. There are plenty of English speaking people here that I've yet to meet. I think a lot of the smaller towns with smaller communities of extranjeros would begin seem like a pretty small pond to me after a relatively short time. On top of that, I made a few Mexican friends here right off the bat, as well as nortenos, and then on top of that, I met the girl. ;)

    Having lived here now for about a year and a half, I can add that the climate here is one which I would consider to be one of the best year round climates in the world, (at 6k feet elevation in the tropics), so that adds the the allure for me. Most of the lower elevations seem awfully hot and humid to me when I visit them even in the winter, so maybe I'm just a high desert kinda guy in the end.

    Now, on top of all that, some of the drug violence that plagues some of the other Mexican states, seems relatively absent in our area. I've heard various theories on why that is, including claims that many of the drug lords wives and children live in the area, and that it's a kinda hands-off area for them. There's also the reality that the tourist trade is a big part of this area's economy, and so there is a lot of economic pressure for the area to remain a kind of safe zone. I'm not sure of any of this, and while there have been incidents of violence, I think the area remains relatively safe, (at least for a low profile gringo without enough money in his bank account to make him a target). And now that I've said that, I know plenty of gringos living here worth quite a bit of $ who live quite openly without fear of becoming a target of violence or kidnapping. I may be proved wrong about this eventually, but my characterization seems accurate to me.

    Another factor is the terrain around here for motorcyclng. We've got lots of rolling hills punctuated by mountainous twisties. The stunning Sierra Gordas are a short trip to our east. I can descend off the Mexican altiplano in either direction, and be on either east or west coast within a day's ride. It's a great centrally located region to call home.

    Last but not least, the town, a well as the surrounding Mexican communities are beautiful, as are their inhabitants. There is a lot of exploring I can do within an hour or two's ride from here.

    If you or any other ADV rider gets into the neighborhood, PM me, and I'll be glad to show you around the town and general area. Cheers! :freaky
  7. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

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    Not only funny Schizzman, but cool. I like the world being a small place even if as Stephen Wright said: "I wouldn't want to paint it". :D
  8. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

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    Heh heh, love that guy.

    Planning on riding the GS to SMdA sometime after Christmas to see my cousins. Will PM you to see if you want to do a little riding.

    JD
  9. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Location:
    San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
    Lo siento amigo. :( Unfortunately, I'm heading back to the US in about 3 weeks for an extended stay with my ailing Dad. Not sure when I'll be returning, but definitely PM me when you return next time.
  10. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

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    No problem. I pass your way several times a year.

    Enjoy the time with your dad.
  11. Rockin Rollin

    Rockin Rollin Rockin Adventurer

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    Great report Mike!:clap Well now I see how you came to live in San Miguel:D
    :freaky
  12. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

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    Yep, you could pick a lot worse places to alight Roland. :freaky
  13. Jick Magger

    Jick Magger Exile on Main Street

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    Miguelito

    sent you a PM
  14. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
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    505
    Location:
    San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
    I'm gonna tack this on here. This was a nice alternative ride north to Parral. With getting lost in San Bernardo and breaks the ride took about 8 hours. Sorry, no pics, as my camera lens is broken, but I will ride this route again someday, and bring a functioning camera with me.

    Yesterday: Durango to Parral

    Leaving the colonial city of Durango, I took MX 23 north through Santiago Papasquiaro, where I had a late breakfast. After Santiago the riding improves as the road ascends into the high mountains of the Sierra Madre and its cool pines. There were views that reminded me of the Sierra Nevadas as well as the coastal range in California. Still other views reminded me of how the foothills of the Colorado Rockies meet the Great Plains.

    I found this road a bit dangerous, as I was torn between gawking at the views and focusing on riding the more or less continuous curves for about 100 miles. When you take the turn off to Santa Maria del Oro, you're in a special place. The road is concrete, and virtually brand new. There is some uneven-ness to the surface, but it is minor. The road is in excellent condition, and the views are sublime. As I crest the first range, the future is mapped out for me by the bright white line snaking it's way through the pines, and over the next ridge. That scenario would repeat itself many times, before the road begins to wend its way down out of the high mountains, along mountainous spurs, before corkscrewing down to the plane below.

    I reach Santa Maria del Oro, and gas up, then follow the road I was riding through town and beyond as my map tells me to do. I reach a small town, which must be the one just before I exit this little detour and head north on MX 45 to Parral. But the road turns to dirt. I ask directions from three different people and they all tell me that I must return to Santa Maria del Oro, then take the carretera east. I'm looking at the map, and none of what they tell me makes sense. Could these people be messing with me? I've never had anyone ever give me intentionally bad directions, but I'm beginning to feel like there must be a town-wide conspiracy to f@#k with any Gringo's who become lost around here.

    So I begin riding around looking for other outlets, because I'm convinced there must be one as the map says there is. I ride down one paved road for about 5 miles, then it turns to dirt, but I check the map, and there should be a road further on that connects to the highway. I should note that what we call a highway here in Mexico is often just a 2 lane road, just as I have been riding all day. Eventually the dirt road gets to a homemade cattle grate made out of wood, logs, and likely a member of the cedar branch of the family. The logs are pretty widely spaced, and two on each side are broken. I decide that this is as far as I'm going to ride down this road.

    As I head back to the turnoff near the small town, I see a road sign indicating that the town is called San Bernardo. It is the first and only sign I've seen indicating the town's name. I check the map, and find San Bernardo, and I can see now, that I'm not where I thought I was. There is no town-wide conspiracy to play with the gringo's head. My assumption to ride straight through Santa Maria was apparently as flawed as these overpriced maps of Mexico are. I should have known that the map was unreliable. I've been here before. That's the true conspiracy, and it's a confederation of dunces at the mapmaking department. I should add that the other major mapmaker, (Guia Roji), is no better. I guess they figure most Mexicans don't drive, so the need for an accurate map is diminished by the lack of demand. Oh dear, there's that invisible hand of the free market at work, providing a useful, well designed product at a competitive price. Or not.

    I ride back to Santa Maria, and stop at a cervezeria for a pop. I'm joined by a guy about my age, and we discuss our day so far. It's hot out now, and I have seconds before sayin' hasta lluego, and I'm off on another curvy stretch, but this one has potholes scattered fairly frequently. So I begin a game of hopscotch with the potholes which I'm convinced I'll lose badly if this keeps up. They never quit, but I squeak through without any damage to my tires or wheels, so I'm happy. I head north toward Parral through some straights that turn to sweeping turns punctuated by a few tighter ones.

    I get to town, check into a hotel, and find they don't have the correct password for their own internet modem. Welcome to Mexico...

    It was a great day's ride, slightly seasoned with my frustration with the state of the Mexican map industry.

    Today: Parral to Guacochi to Creel to Madera

    I had a great long ride from Parral to Madera, via Guacochi and Creel. I had thought that at least part of this ride was on dirt, and traveling 2-up most of my visits to the area had elected not to do it. After talking with inmate SR about the ride while visiting Durango, I got better beta. I highly recommend this ride to anyone coming through the area.

    It was only 2 o'clock when I got to Creel, so I decided to ride on to Madera. This is a little town, with just about no restaurants that I could find, other than the one at my hotel, Hotel del Bosque. So that's where I'm sitting drinking beer and checking Emails. The ride was spectacular. Like riding in the high Sierra Nevadas with all that granite, then after the turnoff to Batopilas, dropping into and out of Copper Canyon, or possibly one of its side canyons. Spectacular. The turns were a little too tight and continuous going down into and up out of the canyon, and I was actually glad when the road straightened out a bit. Some of these turns put me down into first gear on my Tenere. Then after Creel you drop out onto a high plain, reminiscent of Wyoming, and wend your way north over a couple of ridge lines. Most of the riding between Ciudad Guerrero and Madera was scenic, agricultural, and pretty straight.

    Tomorrow, I'll try and head north from here, and find the road that connects me back to head north thru Buenaventura, and Casas Grandes. We'll see how it goes. The maps are screwing me up. I even bought a 2013 Guia Roji atlas for about 180 pesos, and it still left me hanging getting through Ciudad Guererro. :(
  15. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

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  16. jimmex

    jimmex Guero con moto

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    :jose
  17. Rockin Rollin

    Rockin Rollin Rockin Adventurer

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  18. miguelito

    miguelito Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
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    505
    Location:
    San Miguel de Allende, GTO, Mexico
    I went for an impromptu 3 day ride last week. Left San Miguel de Allende, intending to ride the cuotas all the way to Zihuatanejo, but rain around Patzcuaro convinced me to overnight there on night one. The next day I decided to replicate some of the ride that Jimmex, Tricepilot, Schizzman and I made last January, from Apatzingan but going straight down towards the coast, rather than the detour we took toward Colima/Comala. Only problem was that the maps I had hurriedly stuffed into my topbox ended right around Uruapan, so I was using my memory to put me on the right road out of Apatzingan.

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    Patzcuaro




    All I can say is that the road I exited Apatzingan looked kinda like the road we'd ridden in January, but after 25 miles or so I began to realize that I had probably made a mistake. I decided to just keep riding and see where it took me. After a lot of topes, the road eventually began winding its way up into the coastal range of Michoacan. Very beautiful. Eventually I got to the town of Aguililla. This town was occupied by more Federal police and federal troops than any place I've been in Mexico. There had to be 50 Federale cars, and armored trucks parked around the plaza. There were additional federal troops in camo patrolling the area.

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    Volcanic peak near Colima, (I didn't ride here onthis trip, but it is in the general area).

    I stopped for lunch just at the edge of town, and asked some of the locals if there are this many policia around the town all the time, to which I was told yes, they are here every day. I got a nice grin from one of the soldiers as a troop transport drove by my lunch stop. Just after that I saw a local walk by with a "Libre Aguililla" T-shirt on. This town is obviously occupied territory.

    I hadn't read much news lately, but after my return I saw this article aboutabout what had occurred just before my arrival in Michoacan. That violence was centered around the town of Los Reyes, which we had ridden right through last January. Once again, I had skated thru Mexico with only good experiences, but as with much of life, I think that timing is everything. Would I ride to Aguililla again? Probably not. That is not so much because I feel the area to be inherently unsafe, but rather because of the long ride thru tope central before you get to the fun part of the ride, and because there is no egress other than the road you came in on.

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    Mountains of Michoacan

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    the route on day2

    My total detour off the cuota at Nueva Italia had amounted to about 260 km, and when I got back to Nueva Italia, it was only about 3 PM, so I decided to make a [long] day of it and ride the libre to the coast at Playa Azul. This is an extremely twisty section of road, and while I enjoyed it, I was thoroughly exhausted by the time I reached playa Azul 3 hours later. I would recommend leaving a little more time if you ride this stretch.

    As I neared Playa Azul, the thunderstorm that had been in the far distance most of the way down the libre began to break. As I made it through the last twists and turns of the libre, the storm gusts started and began to spritz water on my face. As I rode into Playa Azul it was still just threatening to rain, when the heavens were split asunder. I quickly found a beach restaurant that happened to have a covered parking space for about 4 cars, and pulled in. I sat there with the owner drinking a beer, and smoking cigarettes as we watched the street flood to about 6 inches of water. The restaurant closed, but left me to enjoy the view of the flooded street until the rain stopped and the water began to recede a bit. I rode a few blocks and found what is probably the nicest hotel in town. Can't remember the name of it but it was located a few blocks to the south off the main drag coming into town on Av. Independencia, and it has AC and a bar/restaurant on the premises. My room was very nice for 450 pesos. This was the first time I stayed in Playa Azul, and I didn't particularly care for it. I think the next time, I would time my ride to overnight somewhere else.

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    Melaque
    Day 3 was a hammer up the cuota which included too many stops to plug a nail hole in my rear tire and air up. For the record, it took about 6-1/2 to 7 hours riding at fairly high speed.
  19. SkizzMan

    SkizzMan There, that's it

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    That looks familiar.
  20. Ratman

    Ratman Lucky Rider

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    A very insightful report, Miguelito, thanks for sharing.