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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by ScotsFire, Mar 12, 2021.
Great update and fantastic photos!
March 17, 2021: Over the top
Woke up in Creel, as in all Mexican towns, to the sound of roosters. When I have had chickens, we didn't have roosters for just this reason. So I slowly got up and ready for a relatively short day since it WAS supposed to be a rest day. The plan had been to get to Batopilas on the 16th and not ride this day to speak of. A sound distinctly NOT roosters caught my attention, and a bunch of other adventure riders rode past. I later counted 12 of them, but it was still 8 am so they either camped in the hills or got a REAL early start out of Batopilas.
I was going to go to a different restaurant, but Mama Tita's was the only one that had other people in it. SO I had to endure the only disappointing thing about Mama's.
Lots of family pictures on the walls in the small front dining room (the courtyard was a tad chilly for desayuno). And this plaque.
There is an ultramarathon run out of Urique, run by this Michah True. Very interesting story and there's a documentary and book out about it.
Breakfast was good, though I couldn't figure out what the cubed things were.
They were plant, and possibly pickled before being sautéd in the sauce. Pretty mild but different in flavor and texture. The syrup was made locally, but my Spanish failed me in understanding from what. REALLY sweet. Mama Tita brought another pancake before I'd taken three bites. Mama doesn't like skinny gringos.
Not a bad view from your main street.
I did about shit myself when a guy with an M-16 walked out the door of the mini super. I'm glad I had put the phone/camera down before he came out. I'm not really worried about these folks too much, but understand they like there privacy. There were a handful of likely cartel persons walking around on this morning which was all the stranger as there were a dozen soldiers in town the day before. Strange dynamics in beautiful places.
It was definitely rush hour as I left Urique.
The road starts along the Rio Urique.
The road I came down the day before.
And where I was going.
The initial climb up was pretty loose, but it settled back in pretty quickly.
There was a view.
And some flowers.
Last year, I only saw a couple of these blooms, most having already died. This year they were just coming in.
Since the road isn't quite straight and steep enough, there are lots of these foot paths the Raramuri use.
Straight freakin' down the hill.
I am still amazed at how much was going on in what I think of as a unpopulated wilderness.
I spooked the further pair of burros and they wouldn't leave the roadway. Till...
This couple that just happened to be walking by shoo'd them past me. I must have seen a dozen Raramuri walking around, usually when I least expected it.
Populated yes, but still isolated.
They probably don't get many door to door salesmen.
Though after going around the next bend, I found it wasn't quite as isolated as I thought.
They kind of have neighbors.
Higher and higher.
Still on the climb up from Urique.
I stopped a little further up and walked out to that outcropping.
I sat there for nearly a half hour, just soaking it in, sitting on a cliff edge, feet dangling.
And speculating about fuel continuity, fire breaks, and slope driven fire behavior.
Probably set to clear weeds as I saw repeatedly.
The pass the road goes through is actually a little down from this point.
The bells on the livestock sounded like wind chimes in the gentle breeze.
It had taken over an hour to climb this hill.
But I wasn't pushing it.
Last looks at the road up.
Once on top, it's much more of a plateau than a ridge. Pine forests are the norm at the mid-6000 feet elevations.
Again, this looked more like what I think of as North Idaho or Washington than Mexico.
The views would occasionally open up.
The roads were good for the most part.
Though there were some gates and cattle guards to get through.
One really should pay attention after closing a gate behind you.
(Video 11 seconds)
After quite a while, one starts back down.
That squiggly road is the one I had been wanting to take to Batopilas the long way from Urique.
Still lots of down to do yet.
The white lines I found out later were because of an upcoming mountain bike race.
The Organ Pipe were blooming.
Seemed early to me as it wasn't THAT hot yet, but what do I know.
Last drop down to the Rio Batopilas.
This river crossing about undid me last year.
Unseasonable rain storms had the river flowing high and I was nearly swept off the roadway.
I had envisioned a nice relaxing afternoon to brace myself for the push to Cancun. Unfortunately, Jimmy was there.
...with four friends from Two-Wheeled-Texans. And they all knew a bunch of the guys in the eleven person Mex Trek group. There was a herd of us.
We did some quiet, respectable things, such as walk around the town taking in the sights.
(How do it not destroy that wall??)
But we eventually settled in at the Centro.
Surprisingly, a city administrator said it would be fine if we drank beer there.
Right in front of the Municipal Building (the orange structure). Jack with Jimmy.
Unsurprisingly, shenanigans ensued.
Thanks Daoh (sp?). I got it on the third take.
A fun evening included a fine dinner at Restaurant Carolina, but for me did NOT include the local mezcal-ish moonshine being passed around. The gringos weren't the only ones imbibing. I saw several Raramuri men stagger out of town after more than a couple of Tecates. The square got busier again around nine, with lots of people coming out to enjoy the pleasant night air.
Nice job on this report! Have you ridden many areas where Cyndi and I on the NC would not have had a chance "tractoring" up or down 2-up? Also, Jay Masterson who helped Dan Byers through his surgery was in Batopilas about the same time as you I think.
Pictures are amazing, I can't wait to explore that area. I watched a documentary on the foot race they have in that town, it was very interesting and wort while, the locals run the 100 or so miles in sandals!
Jay @SupRBeeADV was in the Two-Wheel-Texans group. So I got to meet him and personally thank him for helping out @Ohio_Danimal. As Jay and I both said, we are just hopeful there will be someone there when we need help someday.
All these guys were great fun.
Really the only place you and Cyndi wouldn’t have done is Urique. There’s a paved road (mostly anyway) to Batopilas. Just bear left out of Creel instead of right.
March 18, 2021: Geography lesson
Despite threatening to leave town early, I met a bunch of the boys for coffee at the restaurant attached to the Hotel Mary where most of them were staying. Got to sit and chat a bit with Jay @SupRBeeADV and laugh a little at the Mex Trek folks (at least the ones that were vertical) as they looked quite a bit worse for the wear. I'd have eaten, but after 45 minutes the staff was still doing prep work and hadn't taken any orders. I wanted to get going sooner than later so went and finished loading up and split.
This video of pulling out of the Hotel Juanitas courtyard is remarkably similar to last years. Even the gentleman is in it.
(Video 31 seconds)
As I was discussing with @NotaYinzer recently, the descent and climb into and out from Urique is probably one of my favorite rides ever. The drop into Batopilas is very impressive, and if not immediately following the ascent from Urique would probably be more impactful. However the paved road into and out of Batopilas actually has better views than the dirt routes.
I was thinking this would be my last view of this section, as there was a dirt road that cut the loop towards Guachochi. As I stopped to snap this, I didn't even realize at first I had an audience.
These boys, and (I assume) their father were there with the family donkey and going to cut wood apparently. I asked el padre if I could take a picture of his kids, though my Spanish once again failed me and I called them "his girls." Gringo estupido.
This was right at the turn southward. The steep road was in reasonably good shape till entering a village up on the first shelf.
Inside the town the "correct route" per google maps was loose fist sized rocks. My favorite.
It looked like it would be a little rough, but extremely scenic.
And now, a lesson on why I don't trust Google Maps in the back country.
That is the road on the map. I stood there a bit longer than a sane person would running the math in my head. 500 lb bike. Rocky single track. 2000 miles to Cancun in a week. Odds I would break me or the bike and take two weeks to hand carry the pieces (of either) back to this point... Normally in my stories, this is where we would go full speed ahead, but I relented and started back down the hill.
The instant coffee from the restaurant had gone straight through me, and since I'm in the wilderness right?
The whole famn damily came around the corner as soon as I zipped up. Where do these folks come from?
Looking back towards Batopilas.
It must be a safe neighborhood.
You can leave your ass parked anywhere.
The iconic (definition: done by everybody) bridge picture at the start of the climb up the face.
One always has to watch for rocks in the road.
The old road into Batopilas.
And the old bridge.
Crossing THAT would have heightened the sense of adventure.
The road climbs quickly.
The road surface is actually in very good shape.
Other than all the gravel, rocks and washouts anyway.
It was a nice spot to stop for breakfast.
Once up that climb, the scenery becomes less dramatic. But still a lot of fun to ride.
It's not like it was ugly. This might be a highlight shot on many of my rides.
Lunch, a phone call, and fuel in Guachochi before turning further east. Sitting outside eating my burritos allowed me to witness examples of the... flexibility... of Mexican driving practices. Four lanes of travel going the same way on a three lane, both direction road.
It started to dry out further as I got into the Chihuahuan Desert.
Still a lot of really fun roads.
Views started getting like eastern Oregon and Washington again.
Hard to find this kind of spaghetti pile of road there.
Once past Parral though, the terrain features softened.
Not quite pancake like, but close.
I did make some good time on this though.
After what felt like hours (because it WAS hours) of the straight line, some terrain returned towards the end of the day.
The town of Rodeo, Durango was at the perfect place timewise, so I gladly stopped for the night. Rodeo is not what you'd call a "destination" town. In fact @Sjoerd Bakker didn't even have an entry for Rodeo in his book. I think I channeled him a little though and found the Hotel Pedroza. Very small room, doorway only five and a half feet tall (thunk), but it was very clean with secure parking in an old adobe building with lots of character for only 300 pesos.
COVID seems to have made more of an impact here than many towns I've seen so far. Mask use is very high and none of the dine in restaurants were open. I struggled through some asada street tacos for supper, with a stop at the Oxxo for a post supper apertif. Another pleasant evening.
Damn @ScotsFire, talk about a full day of views and experiences in under 50 miles. Nice job looking at your camera after the lay-down on that switch back...had me laughing.
I cannot get over the beauty of the area, what a pleasure to ride through. Freaky to encounter the guy walking out with the M16, not sure how I would've reacted other than needing a change of shorts. Your comment on the crazy dichotomy of a military presence one day and cartel folks the next is spot on; I wonder what the folks living there feel. Laughed at comment about Mama not wanting any skinny gringos, aside from not having real coffee (bummer!), the breakfast looked fantastic and what a great spot to have chow a couple times.
Congrats on making it to Batopilas without any issues, loved the shots of the burros on the track and all of the places you stopped to give us a sample of the scenery you rode though. Effin' awesome man.
And super cool you hooked up with a fellow inmate and other riders in town! I totally enjoy going solo, but the feeling of connecting with other riders after being on the trail for awhile is thoroughly enjoyable.
Look forward to what comes next, and knobby side down man!
March 19, 2021: Slabbity slab slab
Short report for a long day. More beautiful weather, and it's been warm enough without getting too hot.
Rodeo in the morning.
Hit the Oxxo for a fix.
The road through Nazas was pretty.
The river seemed to be running pretty high, actually flooding some low lying areas.
This valley was neat, though since there's water there's agriculture and hence more people and towns. Getting through the communities slows things down a lot.
But once through there, it was mostly flat and boring. Went against my norms and took some toll roads. I spent around eight bucks to take an hour off the day, which seemed worth it for one day anyway. Mostly this just took me around the large cities. I did drive through Fresnillo, and that likely cost me a half hour in the one town.
The last toll booth was a little frustrating. The attendant took my money, which I gave her more than the posted toll of 81 pesos, and kept asking me for something else. I told her where I was heading, which was complicated by not knowing where I would be stopping, but that wasn't what she was looking for. She too was frustrated, and kept me there while trying to find someone that spoke english to come over. There is of course only the one line open and I really didn't want to look back at the growing queue of vehicles. After several minutes, she finally gave me my change and sent me on my way.
Getting on towards dusk, I pulled into Rio Verde. Sjoerd did have entries for here and I partook of the Hotel Morelos.
I had to come down this hallway.
I wandered around for a while. Here too mask use is widespread, and again I couldn't find a full restaurant. Flautas from a hole in the wall place it was.
The most of square in the centro was taped off, I assume to reduce gathering. There were couples and small groups around, but no large ones. The town sign had been turned into a demonstration.
There were names and pictures of women that have been killed. Once again this ran deeper than my current level of spanish comprehension, but there must have been a dozen or more murdered women in the last year or so. Impactful the way they put it together, even with my lack of understanding.
Another pleasant cooling evening walk to end the day, even when faced with the complexities of Mexico.
PS: Sorry for the last couple of pics being fuzzy. Somethings up with my phone camera, possibly the vibration from being in the handlebar cradle. Phone is only a few weeks old, so hopefully can be fixed.
Loving the reports. very helpful to me. What are you paying for hotel rooms?
Exactly. Been following Jay’s RR on another site and was thinking he was one of those loud ADV riders who the OP heard ride by.
March 20, 2021: ADD for the win!
Easy morning made a little later by getting an update out to you reprobates. Loaded and out the door.
(Video 57 seconds)
Literally out the door. The panniers rubbed on the door frame, but didn't catch like when I came in.
Fueled up I decided to avoid the toll roads today. Should be an easy three or so hours to Xilitla. (HAA!)
It was heavily overcast, and looked like rain. Getting back into hills and mountains was appealing.
Sure enough, it rained off and on for the next hour or so. Never real hard, and at times it was more a mist hanging in the air.
The UV filter on the GoPro case didn't like the mist at all.
I found it beautiful.
Before too long, the moisture lightened up. The wet road surfaces kept my speeds down.
Having to take my time felt pretty good.
I guess my one complaint was the forest was so thick up against the road, there weren't very many spots to get pictures out into the valleys. This didn't lessen my enjoyment, but made photos tough to get.
While rolling along, there began to be a bunch of green and white streamers hung over and along the road. These were intended to prepare you to stop here at this big double shrine.
The "small" one, still quite large for a road side shrine, was shorter, but still plenty of room to pray out of the rain.
Some offerings for remembrance.
The larger structure was big enough to have a bench inside. There was actually room for a few benches.
Amongst the lit candles.
Across the road, this dirt track beckoned.
But I managed to keep my lack of impulse control in check.
The road dropped off the side of the mountains. Relatively flat areas were cultivated in sugar cane.
There were lots of young men walking and being trucked around for harvesting. Because of this, it seemed every male was carrying a machete. The large loaded trucks carrying the cane for processing were as a rule, extremely slow. Literally slower than a walking pace up many of the hills. Another road hazard to watch for.
As I was following the route google maps had outlined, I saw a sign for Xilitla. Totally in a different direction than what the alphabet wants me to do. Only thing to do is turn the phone off and hang the right.
Entering the hamlet of El Naranjito, a group of younger men and women wearing floatation devices caught my attention. As did a sign that said "Cascada de Tamul." I'm all over waterfalls. Right turn Clyde.
After several kilometers of rough dirt road (and paying 20 pesos to be let through a gate), there was a camping/picnic complex at a trail head. No one there to collect the posted 50 pesos entry fee, so I set off. I passed a family going the other direction, and got lapped by this young man.
The trail kind of disappeared for a while, but after wandering around, I think I found it.
Headed down to the river.
Watch your step.
Note that the tree shows true vertical better than the "steps".
It had a little slant. But was surprisingly stable. I had occurred to me that perhaps I'd have been well off to change out of my riding pants and boots.
Eventually the trail came down to this.
Safety rope? The low 60 degrees seemed a little cool to be jumping in. Which just after this I dropped my lens cover into the river. Thankful that the Gore-Tex in my riding boots is still intact.
A little further downstream.
As for a cascada, I was envisioning something a little more...
Still, it was great to be off the bike a little and stretching my legs. Climbing up a little further, I finally figured out what the draw was.
Rafting. That made perfect sense. This gringo may be a little slow, but when you slap him in the face with the solution, he occasionally gets it.
Ah. Back up.
This was more like climbing the aerial ladder on the fire department than stairs.
Once up the climb, the walk back up the trail was pretty easy.
One does often have those unbidden thoughts. "I sure hope that's not my motorcycle."
It would be pretty cool to see a good flow through this little ravine.
As it turned out, it was not my motorcycle on fire. Some caretakers were sweeping (not raking, sweeping) up leaves and burning them. It was a family affair as three little girls played and rode bicycles while the women worked and men stood around and talked.
After riding back to the main road, I crossed the river that the rafters should come down.
There was also another trailhead here, with thirty or forty vehicles parked on the roadside. Whatever this is, it's a pretty big deal.
I kept meandering. The air dried out some, though the clouds never went away.
The increase in moisture and therefore grazing meant there were actually some fat cows. The egrets seemed to hang around for the bugs.
Even in Mexico, braking for a duck in the road is unusual.
The living fence posts grow out to make these.
There were a lot of these trees planted along the roads. In a decade or so, spring time is gonna be really blooming.
The last push up to Xilitla had quite a bit of traffic on the narrow roadway climbing the side of the mountain. It was stunning, but I didn't get any pics. Will remedy that in the near future.
Stayed at the Hotel Dolores. Amazingly modern in its finish, obviously having been remodeled pretty recently. Yet still quite reasonable at $390mx per night (around $19 USD). A down side to traveling in MX this time of year is that it's harder to watch March Madness. No matter what I tried, I couldn't get access to the live stream of the Gonzaga game. I might try to get to a larger, tourist city to try to catch the Monday game.
The real reason I came to Xilitla was to see Las Pozas. Unfortunately they require a reservation and the only times available on Sunday are in the afternoon. Therefore I've decided that I'll stay here another night to not try to rush out of town after the tour. I really didn't want to spend the extra day for it, but seeing this complex is one of my big goals for the whole trip. We'll see what Sunday brings!
Los Arcos in Banamichi was the most expensive, but it's a really nice place, especially so if Tom is around. Worth a stop.
(ALL PRICES ARE IN MX PESOS)
King Hotel, Yecora: $500 Not worth it at all. Room was cold, as was the shower. Sheets were probably not changed out. Wifi had very poor speed. No one around to help after they took my money. Yuck.
Hotel Los Valles, Creel: $550 Very small, but spotless room. Hot water. Heat (gas fired wall heater) wasn't working, but I didn't really need it. Exact same room I stayed in last year. My computer remembered the wifi password, which had decent speed.
Hotel Paraiso Escondido Urique, in Urique: $300 Clean, the owner is very friendly, bench outside the room to enjoy the evening. No wifi. Shower not the hottest, but not freezing.
Hotel Juanita, Batopilas CHI: $500 which included my laundry. Very clean, hot water. Across the street from the Centro. Courtyard parking for motos. No wifi.
Hotel Pedroza, Rodeo Durango: $300 Clean, slightly warmer than lukewarm shower. Wifi was ok, but not consistent so it was hard to upload pictures.
Hotel Morelos, Rio Verde SLP: $300 Clean, hot shower, courtyard parking for a couple of narrow bikes; a block from the Centro; CRAZY traffic on a Friday evening. Wifi was not blazing fast, but reliable and good for uploading if you can be patient.
I met Jay in Batopilas, so he was not in the group that rode by in Urique (coming from the direction of Batopilas). Same sort of riff raff I'm sure.
Just gonna throw this out there:
I love Mexico dearly. But they can't make a chocolate chip cookie worth a shit.
"...really nice place, especially so if Tom is around. Worth a stop."
Thanks for the kind words. A few might argue the Tom part though.
"I love Mexico dearly. But they can't make a chocolate chip cookie worth a shit."
I had to look it up.
Waiting for your pictures........
March 21, 2021: A surreal box checked
No miles to speak of today as I decided to stay another night in Xilitla. Looking at the maps and route estimators, I'm well on track to get to Cancun by Thursday, even without killing myself. Was working on getting a posting out this morning, but got hungry so I went up the hill to the plaza.
It was market day!
The view coming out of the coffee stand.
With said un-masculine European coffee.
Mmmm. Hit the spot.
A lot of people watching amongst all the goods. You'd think with all these vegetables available, there would be more served.
Some were looking for charity.
The church in the centro wasn't as "clean" or shiny as some of those I've seen. But this weather is pretty hard on things.
Services were going on inside. It is Sunday.
Most of the center of the centro was taped off (which I saw in Rio Verde too).
Not sure it's really helping maintain social distancing. Everyone was wearing masks around other people in any case.
The centro seems to be on the one piece of flat land in town.
The steps back down to my hotel. I had been a little disappointed I couldn't find a place to stay on the centro. But Hotel Dolores is only a couple blocks away, and there'd have been no way to leave a hotel on the centro with a vehicle during the market, even a moto.
After finishing a post and taking a power nap (I am on vacation) I rode down to Las Pozas. It's only a mile or two away. The entryway.
I really like architectural art work, so this place has been on my list to visit for quite a while.
See the link in the above post by @simbaboy for details, but this was all built (or at least designed and planned) by Edward James, an English artist.
He did some pretty cool things with reinforced concrete.
I think I found a souvenir for @NotaYinzer.
The structures in the rain forest vegetation are a magical combination.
COVID has changed how it is visited. One must be in a group tour. With up to twenty visitors and a guide, I'm not sure how this would help. They did take everyone's temperature and insist on hand cleansing upon entry.
I could have gotten a private tour with an English speaking guide, but chose to tag along with a Spanish speaking group. I kind of wish I'd have waited for the English tour, as I did have a couple of questions. But it worked out pretty good and was likely good immersion for me. I could actually follow quite a bit of what the guide said most of the time.
The detail in some of these pieces is impressive.
The forest was trying to reclaim the site.
A picture of Edward James.
As I said before, this climate is hard on man made structures.
Even the reinforced concrete was having some issues in places.
Some pieces had been chipped into after being cast to provide more texture.
It would be very cool to explore this place on my own.
The forest was attacking itself too.
Lots of symbiotic plants.
And lots of just neat ones.
This bridge to nowhere was very popular for portraits.
I was impressed with the detail out of sight. How a massive chunk of concrete is held up off the ground.
The few masonry structures held up even less well than the concrete.
Very detailed columns holding up the rest of the structure.
We were delayed a few times by people taking selfie and groups photos, both from our group and the one in front of us.
I just wanted shots of the scenery.
To each their own.
A different view of underneath the one structure.
I wonder at what point there will need to be a major repair drive.
It was fun taking the pictures and trying to utilize the different lighting, shades, and shapes.
The details kept impressing me.
The stones in the walk are placed deliberately to make patterns.
After the tour ended, I rode away from Xilitla to get some shots I'd promised.
Perched on the hillside.
Though actually a pretty high level of traffic.
Down the valley.
That'd be a neat one to explore.
A shrine on the roadside.
It was a pretty easy, relaxing day that was very stimulating at the same time. I'd like to go back to Las Pozas, but not until I can wander around on my own. As far as Xilitla goes, it's a place I could stay at for a while if the opportunity arose. But not now. Tomorrow is back on the pony.
T-minus 5 days! Some of those pictures would have looked better if I was in them.
F*CKIN' hell @ScotsFire - can you be speechless when typing? Glad you were able to find a good coffee before heading out for the tour. But man - that tour and the grounds at Las Pozas...unbelievable and something I must go see in person. To say it's incredible and astounding is not doing it justice. And it's just there, out in the middle of the jungle (granted, I haven't checked the link yet).
So thoroughly enjoyed this update man. What a phenomenal place to visit, experience, and capture. What were you taking the pics with - did your phone come back to it senses, or are you shooting with something else too? Great pics regardless.
Look forward to what your next day back on the pony looks like.
Knobby side down man, and safe travels as you make your way to Cancun.
What an awesome ride report. If you're ever looking for a riding buddy hit me up.. I love your pace, suits my own perfectly
We’ll get you into some shots of Mayan ruins.