Small Bikes Big Canyons

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by cwc, Dec 23, 2007.

  1. cwc

    cwc .

    Joined:
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    After I returned from Mexico this spring I decided a fall trip would be in order and announced it. The usual dance around times and methods ensued. When the dust settled three of us planned to go the first two weeks of December. This is our report, written with all the wit, humor and effusive prose of an engineering test report. Sorry, it's the best I can do. :cry I’m hoping the other guys will pitch in and help “flesh out’ this report.
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    Our plan was a route something like this.

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    This would go through Sinforosa and Otero canyons as well as some other interesting places.
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    After consulting with Tury in Chihuahua it seemed like a good plan. In addition, he asked if he could join us as he had just purchased a KLX300 and was itching to try it out. We jumped at the chance to have him go with us. It’s a no-brainer when someone with 35+ years of riding experience in the sierras asks to go along.
    <o:p></o:p>
    The northern part of the group was Dieter (DRZ250) from Ontario, Dean (XT350) from Minnesota and me (DR350). Dieter has been riding “in the bush” for more years than many readers of this forum have been alive. Dean was on his first dualsport trip. I re-entered DS riding about 12 years ago after 25+years without a DS bike.
    We agreed to meet at my place on Friday and leave early Saturday December 1st. We would drive Dieter’s Suburban which started the trip with 400K km. on the odo (correct me if that’s not quite accurate Dieter) and pull a borrowed trailer.
    <o:p></o:p>
    After completely replacing the wiring, replacing the bearings and buying new wheels and tires the borrowed trailer was ready to go. Next time I think I’ll just buy one.

    [​IMG]

    At length all the last minute tasks were done and we decided to check the weather. Hmmm…a major winter storm is coming. Did I mention that we are leaving from southern Minnesota?
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    Since we were all loaded and packed we decided to leave Friday night and miss the storm. That worked. We arrived at the Terlingua Guest Ranch early enough to take a shakedown cruise around the west end of the Big Bend NP.

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    [​IMG]

    Unpacking, that's me on the left and Dean on the right.

    <o:p></o:p>
    Note the “Dirt Bagz” type (not REAL Dirt Bagz) soft luggage on the DR350. Since all of my stuff fit in the homebrew black duffle the saddlebags spent most of the trip with other peoples stuff in them. I just didn’t ever warm up to them. I’ll try something else in the spring.


    [​IMG]

    Dieter and the DRZ

    On the shakedown trip Dieters bike turned into a bump start model. After re-learning that it’s tough to troubleshoot electrical problems on a bike with a bad battery we determined that a battery failure was the whole problem. We really lucked out by finding CYCLETEK of Terlingua. Monday morning Ralph found us the exact battery we needed and prepped it so we could be on the way even though he was closed on Mondays. Thanks Ralph.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Onward to Mexico
    <o:p></o:p>
    So now we’re rolling. We headed for Presidio at a blistering 55 mph thinking we’ll make Chihuahua tonight to meet Tury.
    <o:p></o:p>
    At length we were in line for vehicle permits only to discover the one of the bikes VIN didn’t match the number on the title. We went up the management ladder with long faces, but nothing could be done. There just wasn’t going to be a permit.
    <o:p></o:p>
    As we were standing around figuring what to do an anonymous person suggested that possibly arrangements could be made further down the road, but it would involve the risk of riding around without proper papers, possibly leading to further expense or confiscation of the bike.
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    The owner of the offending bike decided to assume the risk, so we took off for Chihuahua on the free road. At the appropriate place we engaged in delicate negotiations and after quite some time made arrangements and proceeded on.
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    It was getting late now and we just made it to Coyame at sunset. It was an opportunity to check out “The Cabañas at Coyame”. Think motel room with all the amenities of a Kamping Kabin, two beds for three people and no hot water. Since that was the only room in the only motel (AFAIK) and was 250 pesos for three people, we took it. We called Tury and told him we’d be there Tuesday, had supper and went to bed.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Tomorrow we drive through the middle of Chihuahua, meet up with Tury and lose the pavement.
    <o:p></o:p>

    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
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    66,767
    Thanks for the intro :thumb

    :lurk
    #2
  3. tn-steve

    tn-steve Addicted

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. Hayduke

    Hayduke ///SAFETY THIRD///

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    Salida, coloRADo
    :lurk Can't wait to see the canyons......
    #4
  5. El Guero

    El Guero V4 Whore

    Joined:
    May 8, 2007
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    9,727
    Location:
    Iowa City, IA
    That's the way to do this stuff, on small bikes... To bad all us crazy white folk have to bring tents and sleeping bags and sinks and ovens and on and on :lol3

    Looks like a load of fun, can't wait to see more! :clap
    #5
  6. cwc

    cwc .

    Joined:
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    Tuesday we got an early start after breakfast and ripped off the 90 miles to Chihuahua in about 2 hours, arriving before noon. We called Tury from the Pemex on the east end of town and made arrangements to meet.
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    Dieter needed a Guia Roji atlas so we drove into the middle of town to the bookstore that has maps.
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    I kind of enjoy driving through Chihuahua. It’s pretty compact for a city of that size and the traffic usually isn’t all that bad. If you get lost you can ask one of the guys buzzing around on 150’s and they will lead you to your destination. You do need to be prepared for some aggressive driving if you want to keep them in sight.
    <o:p></o:p>
    While waiting for Tury at a Pemex one of the 150 riders came over to talk. He gave us his contact info and told us if we needed anything to give him a call. Like many Mexicans he had spent some time in the US and his English was better than my Spanish. A lot better.
    <o:p></o:p>
    After a bit of confusion on our part about which Pemex we were meeting at we got together with Tury, his son Hector and grandson Luca (sp?) and took off for San Francisco de Borja about 70 paved miles away. After you turn off Hwy. 16 the route is pretty and a little entertaining. We arrived in SF de Borja and got Tury unloaded and packed up and were on the dirt road by 3 p.m. local time.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We chose the old road to get to Nonoava. It starts out as rolling farm country and ends up pretty hilly with good vistas. Other riders report that the new road begins paved and changes to 2-track for much of the way. At this point either way is entertaining, but soon enough there will be a paved road from SF de Borja to Guachochi.
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    <o:p></o:p>
    The early part of the road to Nonoava. The KLX has less than 100 miles on it here.
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    [​IMG]
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    The sun was a little lower in the sky when the scenery got better.
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    The 50 miles to Nonoava took about 2½ hours.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We found the Los Portales motel and got rooms. If you are looking for it, it’s on the SE corner of town. There was no heat, but it’s pretty clean and there were plenty of blankets and hot water. They serve food at the motel so we had supper and breakfast there.
    <o:p></o:p>
    During supper we had lively conversations with the motel owners and Luis the Sabritas man. Luis told us there were 400 houses and over 20 small stores in town. It took him more than a day to visit and stock them all. He also told us of reports of bandidos. Guys like him are particularly interested in bandidos because after a few days work they have a fair amount of cash. We didn’t encounter bandidos.
    <o:p></o:p>
    To Norogachi and Guachochi

    <o:p></o:p>
    We retired early and got up early. We didn’t start riding early though. Temps were in the low 30’s but warmed considerably by the time we got on the road.
    <o:p></o:p>
    The road to Norogachi is the first stretch of bad road for Dean. He did very well. He told us that he saw us just gas it over the bad stuff so he decided he could too.
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    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    As usual, we didn’t get picture of the rock steps and other knarly stuff. A lot of the road was like this picture. Some smoother some more exciting. There wasn’t a lot of mud, but others have reported mud on this section.
    <o:p></o:p>
    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
    <o:p></o:p>
    It’s about 45 miles to Norogachi and it took us about 5 hours. It was a fun ride and got us warmed up for the rest of the trip. We arrived about 3 p.m. and had second lunch of fruit and snacks at a tienda. First lunch was cacahuates out on the road at some scenic spot.
    <o:p></o:p>
    From Norogachi to the paved Hwy 23 is about 17 miles and it’s under construction. It looks like it will be paved soon or at least be a gravel superhighway. We ended the day with the scenic 17 mile scoot down the pavement to Guachochi.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Guachochi had more motels as you enter from the north than I remembered from my last visit, but we went right down town to allow walking to needed stores and food. The hotel I’ve used in the past was full so we stayed around the corner at Hotel Chaparro. It’s in the process of renovation and is handy to restaurants and stores. The parking is reasonably secure.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Guachochi is a center of trout farming so that’s the thing to eat there and we did. We found a restaurant that served it about any way you could imagine and had a very good meal.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Tomorrow we enter Sinforosa Canyon, stop at Guerachi and stay at Baborigame.

    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    #6
  7. Jedi

    Jedi The bikeless wonder

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2006
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    Adelaide, Australia
    Nice report so far. Great shots, very scenic.
    #7
  8. Watercat

    Watercat . . . gravity sucks

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2006
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    Location:
    Beervanastan, Duwamps Pacific NorWet
    Yes, and?
    .
    .
    .
    .
    .

    :lurk
    #8
  9. SKINNY

    SKINNY Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
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    843
    Location:
    West Texas
    :ear :ear
    #9
  10. SteverinoB

    SteverinoB EstebanarinoB

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2002
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    628
    Location:
    Orangeville Ontario Canada
    We're waiting! :lurk :lurk :lurk Cheers....Steverinoh!
    #10
  11. cwc

    cwc .

    Joined:
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    1,185
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    Before leaving Guachochi we wanted to find a fix for Deans oil leak. He had had a bolt heli-coiled in the oil filter area and it was leaking profusely. While riding it coated anything that was behind it, including Dean&#8217;s leg, with oil. We dropped by an auto parts store and bought some o-rings and a copper washer. The first o-ring he tried did the job. No more leaks.
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    We then headed west toward Agua Blanca where we turned south toward the canyon. You can also go to Batopilas via Yoquivo from Agua Blanca. We went south 5-6 miles and then started down the side of the canyon. At one place we traveled about 6-7 miles to cover less than two miles as the crow flies. It looked like this.

    [​IMG]

    It was just switchback after switchback with stunning views at every turn.

    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

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    We stopped several times on the way down including at a small stream with this unusual tree growing up the rock face.

    [​IMG]
    Up close it looked like this.

    We eventually made it down to the river and the small settlement of Guerachi. There is a tiendita there where you can get cold drinks, food etc. You can also camp by the river if you are so inclined, but there are no facilities.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We had burritos and drinks while we sat in the shade and talked to the locals. The family that runs the tiendita has been there for generations. Before the road was made it took them weeks to get their cattle to market in Guachochi.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Too soon we had to leave for Baborigame. The road up is a little rougher than the road down with areas of rocks and a little more erosion. It is just as twisty as the road down.


    [​IMG]
    Looking back toward Guerachi

    [​IMG]

    The way we came. The road down is in the center of the picture.


    <o:p></o:p>
    We arrived at the Pemex in Baborigame well before sunset. It took us about 6½ hours to cover the 60+ miles from Guachochi to Baborigame. As usual we stopped a lot.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We found a nice hotel, maybe the only one, I didn&#8217;t check. By nice, I don&#8217;t mean deluxe, just reasonably clean with hot water etc. There was no heat, but good wool blankets so we slept warm. There was an exception to the &#8220;nice&#8221;. Tury and I didn&#8217;t have a toilet seat and it didn&#8217;t seem to be a problem that could be solved. Dean and Dieter had one.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We found a good spot for supper and ate well then went to bed. Somehow riding makes us tired.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Tomorrow we go to Tablon, hoping to stay at the ranch of a friend of Tury&#8217;s.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Actually this will likely be continued on Wednesday as I have to pick up my &#8220;new to me&#8221; &#8216;97 DR350 tomorrow and do some visiting on Christmas.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Maybe the other participants will fill in what I&#8217;ve missed.
    #11
  12. Hayduke

    Hayduke ///SAFETY THIRD///

    Joined:
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    Salida, coloRADo
    :lurk Great so far, Charlie! The pics are awesome... keep 'em coming!
    #12
  13. Aussie Jase

    Aussie Jase Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    722
    Location:
    living back in the SA Outback, Northern Flinders
    Thanks for showing us your part of the world.:super

    Jase
    #13
  14. doc_ricketts

    doc_ricketts Thumper jockey

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    FlaWaCo?
    Great report. And by the way I like engineering test reports with lots of pictures. No frills, just the facts, man. You are doing outstanding.
    #14
  15. cwc

    cwc .

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Oddometer:
    1,185
    Location:
    Minnesota
    It has taken me 40+ years of riding to pare my kit to what I now carry and when I take a big bike I still carry more stuff because there is more space.:D

    To see small bikes with camping gear check here http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=268992
    #15
  16. olekaw

    olekaw Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2007
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    18
    Location:
    Along highway 61
    I've been waiting for this one Charlie. Great report so far, keep it coming..:clap
    #16
  17. Angel-V

    Angel-V Pisahuevos

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    East to Moncayo, Spain
    Bonito paseo

    Is a great report, is not necessary make big trip for take an adventure:clap :clap
    #17
  18. Powershouse

    Powershouse Flower Sniffer

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2006
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    Minn-knee-sooo-taaa
    Who are you and what have you done with the real Charlie?!
    :huh









    Great report so far, I've been looking forward to hearing about this adventure.
    #18
  19. Tury

    Tury Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2007
    Oddometer:
    202
    Location:
    Chihuahua Ciudad
    :norton Guero;

    Absolutely right ! big bikes on those roads can be a night mare if the bike is dropped, not to mention if the rider is injured. In all my 35+ riding up there when a rider has falled going over higher than 2 gear nothing serious has happened to him or neither to the bike, except saying %&$#?&%# when riding a small bike, but the contrary on bigger bikes such as 650 cc, things change, even dropping the bike going 0 kms/hour, things bend, brake, twist and the rider trying by instinct to not let the bike hit the ground, ends with a sprained back, wrist. and being heavier needs aid to lift it!



    The magnificent pictures shot by Charlie, don´t show by a mili thousand the true condition of most of the roads we rode, ROCKS, mud, RUTS up & down.

    THe other factor is coming up here ( I mention up here ) is that most of the riding is over 2200 meters OSLevel, so even small bikes have to carry the least of stuff. I have seen guys with big bikes carry up to 30 kgs of stuff, just for nothing.

    Can´t add something to Charlie´s update, except can´t wait for the next ride !!:freaky
    #19
  20. cwc

    cwc .

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
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    1,185
    Location:
    Minnesota
    To Tablon

    <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:eek:ffice:eek:ffice" /><o:p></o:p>
    El AguaChile the place we ate supper in Baborigame agreed to open and make breakfast for us. It was good, but it was well after nine when we finished. Our hostess gave each of us a key ring with the restaurant name on it.
    <o:p></o:p>
    <?xml:namespace prefix = v ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:vml" /><v:shapetype id=_x0000_t75 coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" filled="f" stroked="f"><v:stroke joinstyle="miter"></v:stroke><v:formulas><v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"></v:f><v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"></v:f><v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"></v:f></v:formulas><v:path o:extrusionok="f" gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"></v:path><o:lock v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t">[​IMG]</o:lock></v:shapetype>
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    Our hostess surrounded by young handsome bikers. Errrr..strike the young part.
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    [​IMG]
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    This bird had the run of the place and was a real beggar. Dean fed it a lot.
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    A little after 10 we finally got going. There weren’t pictures today for whatever reason. There were a few good views and the road was mostly rough enough so you had to pay attention. We went through places like San Juan Nepomuceno, El Trigo, Pandura, Mesa Larga, Tablon and Zarupa. There were turn-offs for Morelos and Tubares. It was a long way to Tubares.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We had a plan to stay with the uncle of a friend of Tury’s at Zarupa. When we arrived there the uncle was not there and the caretaker hadn’t gotten the message. It’s not like there was a phone and somebody forgot to call. It was a rather convoluted communications path ending in a two-way radio link, so it’s not all that surprising that we were not expected.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We decided to beat a hasty retreat to Tablon. This was complicated by the fact that it was well after sunset, Dieter didn’t have a headlight and the road was not exactly a gravel superhighway.
    <o:p></o:p>
    At length we arrived in Tablon and started the process of getting rooms at the “Hotel Jenny”. This place appeared to be the only choice. It turned out o be on a par with the crummier of the two hotels in Chinipas. There were only bottom sheets on the beds (after we asked for them), no heat, the promised hot water wasn’t and the only light was a license plate light bulb from a car run from a 12 battery and a solar panel. After we had unpacked and moved in the price went from 200 to 275 pesos per room.
    <o:p></o:p>
    I was about to go raise a little ruckus to get hot water but Tury advised against it. I deferred to his wisdom and we went for supper at the nearby restaurant that was populated by a few soldiers and a few drunks. One of the drunks took an interest in us and bought a six-pack to share with us before he hit the road.
    <o:p></o:p>
    The whole place had a definite frontier feel. A nice place to drive past, but I would plan to stay somewhere else next time.
    <o:p></o:p>
    <o:p></o:p>
    Onward to El Fuerte

    <o:p></o:p>
    We got up and beat it out of town pretty early by our standards. About 4 miles down the road we came to Las Lajitas. There was a nice tienda, a nicer looking motel and quite friendly and helpful people. We had breakfast in a local home and bought some gas.
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    [​IMG]
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    The gas pump at Las Lajitas
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    [​IMG]
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    Dieter decides too try a little Sprite in the tank. Someone said it works like Sea Foam.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Fed and gassed, we headed for El Fuerte. As we got closer there were more towns and more traffic. Eventually the road turned into a good gravel road. It was somewhat less than interesting.
    <o:p></o:p>
    In El Fuerte we filled the tanks and tried to get a room at the Guerrero, but they were full so we went to the Posada Don Porfirio. It’s a bit more than I like to spend, but quite nice. We took no pictures in El Fuerte, but if you really need to see some go to www.ccoons.com and look at the 2003 report and the “We walk into Mexico” report.
    <o:p></o:p>
    We decided to take an extra day in the Posada to wash, use the internet and generally take it easy. On Sunday afternoon it started to rain. It rained all night.
    <o:p></o:p>
    Up next, we ride all day in the rain and start looking at abandoned sheds beside the road for a place to spend the night.

    I'm hoping Tury will tell us about his (quite literally) bone shattering crash. I don't remember what day it was on. He may want to do it in self defense as I have been known to embellish such stories.
    #20