Por la Libre - New Year's in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Gustavo, Jan 5, 2008.

  1. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,466
    Location:
    Sometimes in Hillsburrito
    It is the night. My body's weak.
    I'm on the run. No time to sleep.
    I've got to ride.

    Ride like the wind to be free again.
    And I got such a long way to go.
    To make it to the border of Mexico.
    So I'll ride like the wind.

    I was born the son of a lawless man.
    Always spoke my mind with a gun in my hand.
    Lived nine lives
    gunned down ten.
    Gonna ride like the wind.

    And I got such a long way to go.
    To make it to the border of Mexico.
    So I'll ride like the wind.
    Ride like the wind.
    Ride like the wind.

    Accused and tried and told to hang
    I was no where in sight
    when the church bells rang.
    Never was the kind to do as I was told.
    Gonna ride like the wind before I get old.

    It is the night. My body's weak.
    I'm on the run. No time to sleep.
    I've got to ride.
    Ride like the wind to be free again.

    And I got such a long way to go.
    To make it to the border of Mexico.
    So I'll ride like the wind.
    Ride like the wind.

    And I got such a long way to go.
    To make it to the border of Mexico.
    So I'll ride like the wind.
    Gonna run like the wind.

    - Christopher Cross









    Gustavo
    #1
  2. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Sometimes in Hillsburrito
    Funny how different trips get different music going in your head.
    It was Saturday afternoon, traffic was getting heavy near the
    border and Christopher Cross popped into my head and wouldn't let
    go for the rest of the trip.

    Friday couldn't come soon enough. It was the weekend before X-Mas,
    and I really needed a vacation. US Airways got us to El Paso without
    any delays which was great considering storms were wrecking havoc on
    air travel further east. I went to pick up the V-Strom, it started
    on the first crank. After almost two months, it started as if I had
    just parked it there yesterday.

    [​IMG]


    Spent the day visiting family as well as most of the next morning.
    Around noon my wife left in the truck, I was still busy, I was going
    to catch up on the road to have a late lunch in Villa Ahumada. As
    I was heading for the border, the paisano traffic was heavy, every
    body headed to Mexico for the holidays.

    [​IMG]


    As I was getting near the Santa Teresa border crossing traffic suddenly
    came to a halt. We were still 3-4 miles away from the actual border. This
    isn't good. I meant not good for the wife, I had no problem splitting my
    way to the front of the line. On the way I ran into them, still waiting
    in line. It seems the Santa Teresa/San Jeronimo crossing has been
    "discovered". I have been using this border crossing since it opened
    and I can't remember this kind of traffic ever, even on the Saturday
    just before X-Mas. The two lane road narrows into a single lane just
    as you reach the border, and the lack of signs indicating where to
    park and go to get your various permits makes people stop in the
    middle of the road, wondering where they need to go, blocking traffic
    and causing even more delays.

    [​IMG]


    People were getting out of their cars and walking across the border
    to start the permit process. Of course, they then wanted to return
    back to their families in the waiting cars, only to run into some
    Migra agents that didn't like people walking back and forth across
    the border without going through the right side and having their
    documents checked before they came back to the US. They had a hard
    time stopping the sea of people walking back and forth.

    [​IMG]



    It took them an hour after I had crossed to finally make it across
    the border. Man, was I happy I got my permits on the trip in
    October... Unfortunately, I didn't have a way to bypass the
    traffic going south. All the roads go through Chihuahua and every
    body was headed that way. The lines at the Villa Ahumada toll booth
    were also 5 km long. Good thing I had the key to the house in
    Chihuahua with me. I don't think I'm going to see the truck for a
    few hours after I arrive there. It was getting late, and even
    after lane splitting my way to the front of all traffic lines, it
    was getting dark before I got to Chihuahua. I just couldn't help
    myself, it just kept coming back...

    It is the night. My body's weak.
    I'm on the run. No time to sleep.
    I've got to ride.
    Ride like the wind to be free again.
    And I got such a long way to go.
    To make it to the border of Mexico.
    So I'll ride like the wind.


    Gustavo
    #2
  3. GalacticGS

    GalacticGS 1200 GS Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,529
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    :lurk

    This sounds good so far...
    #3
  4. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,596
    Location:
    San Antonio
    :lurk :lurk :bow :lurk :lurk

    [​IMG]

    Bob :jose
    #4
  5. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,466
    Location:
    Sometimes in Hillsburrito
    Roberto, I almost fell out of the chair (again) when I saw that picture.

    :poser :poser :poser


    I doubt this report will be anywhere near as good as the one you just posted.
    My reports - :bueller Yours - :turkish

    Are you interested in moonlighting writing my trip reports? :type


    El Rey Gustavo
    #5
  6. larryboy

    larryboy Chopper Rider

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Oddometer:
    17,203
    Location:
    Über Alles,California
    :lurk
    #6
  7. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    2,466
    Location:
    Sometimes in Hillsburrito
    After X-Mas I took the wife and kids to the train station, where
    they were going to ride the CHEPE to the coast (it's considered one
    of the most scenic train rides on the continent. I have taken it
    before, it is indeed a beautiful ride, but I am not patient enough
    for the ~16 hour ride to Los Mochis)

    http://www.chepe.com.mx/ing_html/presentacion/presentacion.html



    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    It was rather cold, so I wasn't in much of a hurry to leave. My
    destination for the day was Durango, about 660 kms away the short
    way. But I wasn't planning on taking the short route...

    V-Strom ready to roll:
    [​IMG]


    By 9 AM the sun was making it's presence felt, I geared up and
    got on the road. The plan was to go explore a road that goes
    through Santa Maria del Oro in Durango, there is a paved road that
    continues to a couple of other small towns and then it's not clear
    whether it's paved going on toward Guanacevi. There is only one
    way to find out...

    The sky was clear, the sun was shining and there was little
    traffic at this time.

    These guys never fail me, always parked in the same spot:
    [​IMG]


    This is where it starts getting interesting:
    [​IMG]




    Dangerous Curve (or pay attention, it's about to get really interesting):
    [​IMG]


    Even when the road is straight, the rugged scenery keeps things interesting:
    [​IMG]



    I'm not sure Mexican's invented the speed bump, but they have
    certainly adopted the tope to become the most common speed control
    device in existence. Every dinky little town has at least 5 topes
    on the main road. If you are lucky, they give you some advance
    warning. If not, it's marked as you get to it. If you are SOL,
    it's not painted or posted, you usually figure out it's there just
    as you are about to hit it...

    Tope. HERE!:
    [​IMG]



    Fast but interesting:
    [​IMG]



    Someone forgot to shut the paint valve:
    [​IMG]




    I got to the Villa Hidalgo intersection. There is an Army check
    point there. I always get stopped but rarely searched. They
    usually more interested in the bike than anything I may be trying
    to smuggle, if I chat with them about the bike and traveling, they
    don't make me open my bags. I asked them about the road to and
    past Santa Maria del Oro. They said it wasn't good. I told them
    I'd check it out anyway. They couldn't understand why would I
    want to go there instead of staying on the main road to Durango.
    It's hard to explain to someone who doesn't ride.

    The road to Santa Maria del Oro - New road, no markings:
    [​IMG]



    Cows crossing:
    [​IMG]




    I got to SM del Oro and the road continued past the town as I
    expected. I followed it past a couple of small towns to what I
    think was San Bernardo (no signs anywhere).
    [​IMG]



    A couple of blocks past the plaza the road ended. Where does
    it continue? An older señor told me to make a right after the
    plaza and go up hill. The road turns to dirt for about 5 km to
    the main road, stay to the right at intersections. Seemed to
    make sense, so up the hill I go.

    It started in fairly good condition, nice ride through the
    country:
    [​IMG]


    Ten miles (!) later I got to this section, I thought this would
    be close to the main road:
    [​IMG]



    Five miles after the small town I got to this ranch:
    [​IMG]



    I asked about the way to the main road. Go right at the intersection,
    across a couple of arroyos, it's about 5 kms (can you see the pattern?)
    to the main road. Five miles later I was here:
    [​IMG]



    And no sign of the main road in sight. After about 20 miles, finally,
    I see a road:
    [​IMG]



    At least it looked paved from a distance:
    [​IMG]



    Suddenly I get to a Y in the road. No signs. There is a Vulka,
    the owner isn't there, but the kid says the road to Santiago
    Papasquiaro is the one on the right. He says it's 2 hours from
    here. I'm looking at my map, and I can't figure out where I'm at.
    Obviously, not where I thought I was going... I should have pulled
    the Guia Roji atlas, but I didn't. After 45 minutes I get to a marked
    intersection. Now I know where I am at. And I really had no clue
    before, because I was not on the road I thought I was. It turns
    out the dirt road I took looped me back almost all the way to Santa
    Maria del Oro. No wonder I had been on the road for much longer
    than I expected. Maybe I need to break down and buy a GPS. No,
    that would make these trips way too easy... I was starting to run
    low on gas. My estimate from the map was that Santiago was 60 kms
    away. But 60 kms came and went and I didn't get there. The road
    was twisty and pavement wasn't that great, so I wasn't making
    good progress either. As I was coming into Tepehuanes I was very
    happy to see the green Pemex sign.

    Vaqueros in Tepehuanes:
    [​IMG]



    It was getting dark, I got on it to make Durango before I ran out
    of daylight. I didn't make it. This is starting to become a habit,
    riding into Durango at night. If you asked Tony or Brian, they'll
    tell you that is not a good habit to have. It's usually not
    recommended to ride in Mexico at night. The roads are not always
    properly marked (forget reflectors, simple painted center and shoulder
    markings would be nice), the burros, cows and horses you see during
    daylight are still there, only impossible to see until it's way too
    late if they decide to cross the road. Do as I say, not as I do...

    It is the night. My body's weak.
    I'm on the run. No time to sleep.
    I've got to ride.
    Ride like the wind to be free again.
    And I got such a long way to go.
    To make it to the border of Mexico.
    So I'll ride like the wind.

    Gustavo

    #7
  8. Remarksman

    Remarksman Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2006
    Oddometer:
    472
    Location:
    Oregon coast
    What's this? You're riding into Durango in the dark again?

    And now you're a king, as well? What have I been missing? :D
    #8
  9. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,466
    Location:
    Sometimes in Hillsburrito
    It all happened while you were sitting there in the dark during that pre-Xmas storm... :freaky


    BTW, I'm 2 out of 2 for riding into Durango in the dark this trip... :augie


    Gustavo
    #9
  10. ppuga

    ppuga Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    19
    Location:
    Mexico City
    Hey Gustavo! Nice to read you again! It was a shame I couldn't make to Puerto Vallarta, but I'm having fun with your post, so please keep going! :clap


    :lurk:lurk:lurk


    Saludos, nos vemos en MotoAventuras!
    Feliz Año!
    #10
  11. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    61,031
    Thanks Gustavo for a fantastic report!! :thumb

    any more??

    :lurk
    #11
  12. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Thanks GB.

    Yes, there is more, coming up shortly. :type


    Gustavo
    #12
  13. judjonzz

    judjonzz Beastly

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2002
    Oddometer:
    2,033
    Location:
    Not Fargo, not Butte, not Cheyenne
    :lurk
    #13
  14. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,466
    Location:
    Sometimes in Hillsburrito

    Pablo! Me fallaste, pense que te animarias a llegar a lo del Doc para año nuevo... :augie (si, es para que te de remordimiento y sentimientos de culpabilidad... :lol3 )

    Ni modo, queda pendiente para la proxima reunion.


    Saludos,

    Gustavo
    #14
  15. ppuga

    ppuga Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2007
    Oddometer:
    19
    Location:
    Mexico City
    Si ni me digas... :cry Me quede con muchas ganas de lanzarme.

    Un abrazo!
    #15
  16. BCRides

    BCRides Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    388
    Location:
    Monument, CO
    :lurk

    Oh, and give me a call next time your passing through. El Paso Westside 915-526-2404. Maybe we can set up some rides in the future.
    #16
  17. DireWolf

    DireWolf Knees in the Breeze

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2006
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    13,483
    Location:
    In the Mustard Booyah. Whooop!!
    You keep forgetting the "Do Do Do Do - Do - Do - Do - Do....." part of the chorus. :lol3

    :lurk
    #17
  18. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

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    Location:
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    By the time I checked in to the hotel and changed to go out to dinner
    it was after 8 PM. Most restaurants were closed due to it being
    December 25th, but my favorite taqueria was open and didn't disappoint.

    Two deshebrada burritos, two soft drinks - $3:
    [​IMG]


    Since we are on the topic of eating, I had breakfast at El Zacabon,
    which is a great breakfast spot:
    [​IMG]



    As I was walking back to the hotel I saw these guys ride by on their
    blacked out GS500s, wearing exactly what you see in the picture.
    Nothing like the local police leading by example of using a helmet
    as required by law:
    [​IMG]



    This guy gave me a run for my money out of the traffic lights:
    [​IMG]



    It was actually a pretty nice morning, I seemed to squeeze in between
    two different cold fronts, so at around 9 AM I was comfortably making
    my way to the Durango sierras, on the way to one of the world's best
    roads. Forget the Alps, the Rockies, whatever. It's a little over
    300 kms from Durango to Mazatlan. About 200 of those kms are insane
    curves flowing into more insane curves and it includes a stretch
    called el Espinazo del Diablo (the devils spine) for a good reason.
    It's also one of the main east-west roads that link a major port
    (Mazatlan) with the central highlands and the northeastern Mexico-US
    border, so it has significant truck and other traffic. Back in the
    old days, when cars had mediocre brakes (and poor driving skills -
    that hasn't changed that much), people would regularly overheat their
    brakes and run either into oncoming traffic or off one of the 500
    meter drops into a canyon. There is a significant Mexican folklore
    surrounding traveling El Espinazo. Even today people will look at
    you funny when you say you are going to drive that road.

    I call these the "warm-up" curves:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]



    Tope by any other name:
    [​IMG]



    As you climb into the mountains, you run into small towns that center
    around the main highway. Typical small convenience store:
    [​IMG]



    Two years ago, a very ambitious road construction project was launched
    to create a highway that links Durango to Mazatlan. It currently takes
    most car drivers almost 7 hours to cover these 310 kms. Trucks often
    take all day. A highway that cuts through the mountains and would
    shorten the travel time significantly would be well worth the toll
    money to both private and commercial drivers. And hopefully would
    leave the good parts of El Espinazo del Diablo clear of traffic for
    us to enjoy.

    The it's-going-to-be-finished-any-day-now toll road to Mazatlan:
    [​IMG]



    The signs are already there, but I prefer the "libre" road anyway:
    [​IMG]



    Just before El Salto, there is this large army training base:
    [​IMG]



    El Salto is probably the largest town up in the Durango Sierras. It's
    like a case study in everything that is wrong with uncontrolled
    sprawl. People just seem to have built houses anywhere they could -
    no planning, no streets and sometimes no services. The main
    industries around here are cattle ranching and timber. Almost all
    towns in this area have sawmills.

    El Salto:
    [​IMG]



    Timber is a major industry in the sierra:
    [​IMG]



    I decided to take a side trip to Mexiquillo. It's sort of a nature
    reserve that offers interesting hiking and biking activities, they
    rent (nice looking) cabins for reasonable prices. This could be a
    great spot for summer, when it gets really hot in the valleys.

    Mexiquillo has interesting rock formations that reminded me of those
    around Creel:
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]




    Typical wooden houses in the sierras:
    [​IMG]




    Puerto Buenos Aires:
    [​IMG]



    These mountains go on for ever:
    [​IMG]



    This is what I came here for - 200 kms of motorcycle nirvana:
    [​IMG]



    I rode 50 kms after that other mountain range pic and there is
    still no end in sight:
    [​IMG]



    Legend has it that when Hernan Cortes went back to Spain he was
    asked to describe what the country was like. He took a piece of
    paper, crumpled it in his hand and put it on the table, pointing
    to it and saying - it's like this. Granted, not very likely -
    paper in the 16th century didn't crumple like its modern relative
    we use today, but a nice story to explain what this country looks
    like anyway.

    El Espinazo del Diablo:
    [​IMG]



    Blind, cresting, right hander. I love this road:
    [​IMG]



    One of the biggest problems with truck traffic is that the road
    is so tight, it's almost impossible for an 18 wheeler to keep a
    decent line through these turns at anything faster than walking
    speeds. As a result, you often run into trucks (and some lazy
    car drivers) that use the whole road to negotiate turns. Job
    No. 1 here is avoiding becoming a hood ornament on the grill of
    an oncoming truck.

    Excuse me, I think you are in the wrong lane:
    [​IMG]



    This is what it looks like from the other side (archive photo,
    the camera wasn't ready when I ran into oncoming trucks on this
    trip):
    [​IMG]


    Talk about potential for becoming a hood ornament:
    [​IMG]




    Tropic of Cancer:
    [​IMG]




    Did I mention I love this road?
    [​IMG]



    I stopped for lunch in Copala. Walked into Daniel's just before
    two tour busses arrived. The poor guys working there could barely
    find enough place for people to sit (and it's a big place). I
    was sitting at a large table by myself, so I invited a family of
    4 to joining me. Nice people from Vancouver Island. We had a nice
    lunch together.

    [​IMG]


    Got to Mazatlan earlier than expected, and I found the apartments
    we were going to stay at easily. We stayed at Fiesta Apartments
    and I am here to tell you they are highly NOT recommended. The
    website is a lot nicer than the actual thing. At half the price
    it would have been a so-so choice. There are much better options
    in Mazatlan for less money. I need to send the Lonely Planet a
    note about that recommendation. I would have walked out, but I
    had reserved that place with a significant (non-refundable)
    payment. I usually don't make reservations, just for that reason,
    but when you are traveling with your family in the peak holiday
    season, I thought it would be better to make a reservation...
    Maybe next time we'll do without reservatiuons on family vacations
    too.

    Gustavo

    #18
  19. tricepilot

    tricepilot El Gran Payaso

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    9,596
    Location:
    San Antonio
    I had a photo of those apartments from my trip through there but I didn't include it in my last ride report:

    [​IMG]

    Bob :jose
    #19
  20. Gustavo

    Gustavo Motociclista Errante

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,466
    Location:
    Sometimes in Hillsburrito
    I think they showed you only the good side of the property...


    Very well done. :oscar:oscar:oscar


    Gustavo
    #20