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pdedse 05-20-2008 09:23 AM

Zimapan and Xilitla Mexico
Friday, May 16...

I've been in San Miguel de Allende since April 5 as the program leader for a group of students. Alberto at Motos y Mas in SMA made arrangements for me to rent a KLR650 for a couple of 3 day trips and back in April I made a trip to Tzivanza and Bernal. Go to:

if you'd like to see that RR.

I had wanted to explore more of the Sierra Gorda range, but didn't make it that far. For my second trip Xilitla was my main destination and to see more of the Zimapan resevoir and dam area that I saw on my first trip. Started off around noon Friday and headed E out of Tequisquiapan (E of Queretaro) on some secondary roads.

It was warm and sunny and I was sweating a bit with the gear on, but not uncomfortably. Found a nice road side shrine which had some shade trees, making for nice sack lunch.

Soon I found Tecozautla from where I was hoping to make a go around the S side of the Zimapan resevoir and then head to Zimapan where I would spend the night. One map I had showed a through connection to Zimapan and another didn't. There wasn't. Had to take an alternate route. Nearly T'd a car at an intersection as I was looking for a turnoff. Fortunately, I was only doing 15 mph max. I looked down a street to my right to see if it was the one I wanted, turned my gaze back forward and there was an oncoming car about 6 or 7 meters in front of me, turning left (for her) right in my path. I hit the brakes hard and just missed the tail end of the car, I put my left foot down as I came to quick stop and it slipped on the dusty cobblestone and down I went! Arrgg! Fortunately, there was very little damage, about a two inch scar on the tank where it scraped one of the stones (will have to settle that one with the owner!). Otherwise, the bike was fine. Lady didn't even stop to see if I was ok. Started feeling my ankle a bit sore, but it was just a sprain when my foot caught one of the cobblestones. The bike started right up, no damage to radiator or anything else and I was on my way, shaken, but not stirred!

Headed back W on another road to HI 120 and found a little hot springs resort that was fed by a geyser, lots of swimming pools, family friendly place to camp the night, etc.

Once I hit HI 120 went N, then back E towards Zimapan, this time there were signs indicating how far, so I knew I was good to go.

Soon I arrived at the actual dam area and wasn't disappointed by the views. This was the same man made lake I had visited back in April (Laguna Tzibanza), but different area.

There were four separate tunnels each about a half mile in length.

As I made my way up the mountains on the other side of the dam, there were lots of spray painted, grafiti like signs that said 'no al basurero toxico' (no to the toxic dump) and later a guy in Zimapan explained that by law the government isn't supposed to OK a dump within 25 kilometers of a town with over 3000 habitants, and Zimapan has over 30,000 and the dump will only be 7 kilometers away, so the whole town is in an uproar about it, very NIMBY.

I made into Zimapan about 5pm and the grey clouds that had been threatening for the the last half hour lot loose. Fortunately, it wasn't difficult to find a decent hotel with a little gated area for bike security.

Kept replaying over and over in my mind my near miss, wondering if I could have done anything differently to stay upright. I suppose if I hadn't looked away for all of a second, I would have seen the car turning in front of me a little more quickly which would have given me a little more time to react, then not have to break so hard, but I guess it's pretty simple: people will pull out, or turn right in front of you. Not too bad...

But, it was still an amazing ride with lots of fun curves and interesting small towns. Day 2 coming soon with a switch from desert to jungle!...

pdedse 05-21-2008 04:28 PM

Saturday, May 17
Saturday, May 17

Awoke to a cloudy morning, which was a first for me since arriving in San Miguel de Allende. Spent the morning walking around the main plaza area.

Gachupines refers to Spaniards, so maybe they're the ones who are contracted to build the dump that the people are protesting against. ('damn spaniards [foreigners?] and traitorous dogs want to kill us little by little we prefer to die fighting').

Inside the cathedral:

The most appropriately named sandwich shop ever: 'CORNER SANDWICHES'

Was on the road by 10:00 and the skies were clearing. I headed E towards HI 85, which if taken S would run in to Pachuca. But I was heading N on 85 towards Tamazunchale, after which I would reconnect with HI 120 and take it E to Xilitla, where I wanted to stay the second night. Looks to be about 125 miles, maybe 150 tops, but my maps don't show the curves and the hills, and they don't point out that I was about to enter some serious drizzle and fog. Started out nice enough, rolling easily through gentle curves, perfect temp and weather.

This little critter was actually in the middle of the hiway when I zoomed past him. By the time I had doubled back to get a better look he had already made it to the side of the road. He was about as big as your palm and fingers up to the first joint or knuckle.

Little by little I was leaving the dry desert behind and getting into more pine forest topography.

Jacala, not quite half way between Zimapan and Tamazunchale. Sadly, all too often when I would stop at a nice look out point I was reminded of the difficulties of trash disposal.

Started gaining elevation and more clouds. Soon the first wisps of fog appeared, then the drizzle and soon after I was engulfed in a very drippy, thick fog with visibility of about 10 meters. I slowed to about 15 mph and just took my time. On a clear day I'm sure the views would be spectacular as every now and then the fog would lift for a few seconds and you could see the side of the road drop sharply off into nothing. Kind of spooky with nothing really to keep you from going over the edge—did I say that I slowed WAY down? Had to wipe my visor about every 3 seconds to add to the fun, but fortunately it was a warmer drizzle than not, so I wasn't uncomfortable. Didn't meet a lot of cars, just pedestrian traffic.

About 15 miles before Tamazunchale I started to descend and soon was out of the fog to be greeted by the verdant jungle views. Other-worldly ride from then on into Tamazunchale.
Filled up for gas and, wow, it was alreay 3:00pm. 5 hours to do about 100 miles. I was told Xilitla was only about 50 more to go, so even though more rain was threatening I decided to keep going because I was already as wet as I was going to get and the traffic wasn't all that bad. Sure enough, soon after filling up, the rain started again, but this time not much fog. Still, I made it to Xilitla before 5 and had to ask a few times but found a decent hotel for $20. Roamed the streets until evening and then holed up in my room, hoping for a sunny Sunday. Day 3 coming shortly...

pdedse 05-21-2008 04:35 PM

hmm, photos still don't show, I'm doing the same thing as I've done for previous RR: I right click photo, select "properties" copy the URL address, then go to my RR, select to "insert image" icon, paste URL address and the photo shows. But when I submit the post, the photos don't show, only the links. This worked for me when I used smugmug, but doesn't now that I'm trying photobucket. Am I missing something? Do the photos show when anybody clicks on the links?

hgulledge 05-21-2008 05:13 PM

For the image to show, it must end in .jpg. The way I do it is to right click on the image from your hosting site and select "open image in a new window". Then, copy the address in the new window, making sure that it ends in .jpg, and use the "insert image" tag and paste in the window. It sounds harder than it is.

Nice reports, by the way. The Sierra Gorda is one of my favorite places in Mexico.

pdedse 05-23-2008 08:17 AM

Sunday, May 18
I woke up to another rainy day and folks told me that the drippy, foggy weather had been with them for a nearly a week. TV forecast said that it was to begin breaking today. I wasn't relishing the idea of another couple of hours in the saddle battling the elements, but I didn't really want to spend another night in Xilitla cause I was supposed to be back at work Monday morning.

View from hotel:

pdedse 05-23-2008 08:18 AM


Originally Posted by hgulledge
For the image to show, it must end in .jpg. The way I do it is to right click on the image from your hosting site and select "open image in a new window". Then, copy the address in the new window, making sure that it ends in .jpg, and use the "insert image" tag and paste in the window. It sounds harder than it is.

Nice reports, by the way. The Sierra Gorda is one of my favorite places in Mexico.

Thanks! I tried what you said (had to lop off some extra after .jpg and it worked with the photo above, so I'll continue...

pdedse 05-23-2008 09:15 AM

Sunday continued...
I spent the morning wondering through the tianguis (open markets), had a few rolls and coffee and kept hoping for the clouds to lift. The main church in Xilitla is from the 1600s!

Edward James, or is it James Edwards, an Englishman built a series of surrealist cement structures in the middle of the jungle outside of Xilitla during the 60s and 70s. Pablo Picasso called him one of the few true surrealistas. I thought they were interesting, but also think they take away from the natural setting. I don't know, I never been a fan of cement and jungle, although it does last.

There's 30 something structures altogether and they have the feel of mayan ruins, only they were built 40-50 years ago instead of centuries. There was a beautiful river running through the area and it was diverted at various spots to create pools where you could swim.

At noon I headed back to the hotel in Xilitla and thought the clouds were starting to break so I decided to head on so that I could make it back to San Miguel de Allende before nightfall. The streets were dry and I never did have to ride through the heavy fog as I practically had to do the day prior. The line that bisects the forest in the pic below is the hiway that I've just passed along...

It continually looked as if I would head back into the fog / clouds, but I always stayed below it--one less thing.

Forest and cleared patches side by side:

I had been in the state of San Luis de Potosi, and as soon as I crossed into the state of Queretaro, the scenery began to take on a less jungle look:

Finally, I felt that I was drying out and curves were getting better and better.

The topography flattened out before the town of Jalpan (still on hi 120):

The other side of Jalpan as I begin to climb the moutains of the Sierra Gorda:

It was 3:00pm and I was beginning to wonder if I could make it back to SMA before dark. Guidebook said there were 860 turns between Jalpan and where the Sierra Gorda begins. I didn't count them.

One of hundreds of roadside memorials, lots of opportunities to run out of road around here.

I just passed that section below.

I kept going up and up, once again into the clouds. Stopped at Pinal de Amoles for lunch. All the help was in the kitchen with the lady who prepares the food. They stopped what they were doing, asked if I wanted to eat ('sure'), asked if I like cheese enchiladas which they were making right then (por que no?) and so she rips one in half with her hand, says 'try it' so I got a free taste and it was good!

More climbing after lunch and a bit more rain would get me before the day was done. But within a half hour the climb ended and the descent began. Absolutely LOVED this section coming up:

Wonderful curvy desert roads. I picked up the speed to make sure I wouldn't have to ride in the dark of the evening. Too many burros and cows along the side of the roads.

The sun was beginning to go down and I had 2 hours to go.

15 minutes before San Miguel and I had to stop for another one.

Well, that's it. I made it back to SMA with the last of the light. I had left Xilitla a little after noon and made it to SMA just before 9:00, travelling less than 180 miles for the day. Did I mention there were 860 curves just in one 50 mile section?

I still had a week in SMA, taking care of the students:

Walking about town:

Watching the celebrations.

I've got an extended time off from work until next April, and will be traveling again in Mexico. Will be back in SMA in 2011 for another two months. Naturally, I'll have to do some more three day trips.

Thanks again Alberto at Motos y Mas and to Mariano who rented me his KLR650 for my two 3 day weekend trips to the Sierra Gorda area. I leave next week for Oregon, but it's been a great two months highlighted by the MC travel!!

pdedse 05-23-2008 10:11 AM

Since hgulledge gave me the fix so that all the photos show, Day 1 above is done and Day 2 is coming...

GB 05-23-2008 10:33 AM

Simply stunning!! :thumb


cavebiker 07-07-2008 07:19 PM

Sweet ride and report man. Now I got to get out a map and see if I can hit some the same roads you did. Thanks a ton for the post:thumb

ChangoGS 07-08-2008 02:48 PM

Good Report & Pics !!!!:clap

bingo43 10-12-2009 09:53 AM

Great ride. Lets do that next summer. I can hardly wait.

Trailblazer 03-25-2010 01:01 PM


Originally Posted by pdedse

Gachupines refers to Spaniards, so maybe they're the ones who are contracted to build the dump that the people are protesting against. ('damn spaniards [foreigners?] and traitorous dogs want to kill us little by little we prefer to die fighting').

What a hoot. I remember that sign. I didn't quite get as far as you did in the translation, however.
Great part of Mexico.
I'll dissect this rr later (I'm at work).

BusyWeb 03-25-2010 10:09 PM


Animo 03-26-2010 01:52 PM

We are heading to San Miguel for the summer and are trailering our bikes (Yam 250, 125 & 110cc). We rented a house outside of town with miles of dirt roads nearby, definitely sounded great for the kids to ride around. My F650gs will not fit in the trailer and was considering riding it over from Playa del Carmen. Your pictures definitely show me that I should ride it over for exploration purposes. Many thanks!

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