Pedro Norte Day 3:
Same route as posted above, simultaneously, LOL. Two perspectives, same ride. Love it.
Day 3 started about 4 AM when I awoke to the sound of snoring. Unintentional revenge for my snoring the night before. 6:30 the alarm goes off and Tom is mustering around. I'm in my favorite Mexican sleeping position; freezing cold, window open, fan on, hands cramping from holding the covers, roosters risin, and adventure riders already making a ruckus in the hall. Richard, in his too cool last minute style, has arranged breakfast at 6:30 at the reception hall next to the hotel and a riders meeting at ocho on the square. I make it out for the rider's meeting, barely. I am not a morning person. Here's a secret for ya guys going next year: Room 10 at the Magdelena has unlimited, reasonably pressured hot water. This is the Mexican equivalent of an in room masseuse in the states. It's usually reserved for the privileged and upper class. Consider I spent a grand total of $126 in Pesos for room, board, first class food, 5 tanks of gas, beer and tequila, I would say the Magdelena is a diamond in the rough. $440 pesos for 3 nights, clean sheets, furniture delivery into the square for late night conversation, and unlimited luchador wrestling on the wide screen in the lobby. Not too shabby! Here's the typical morning scene. Dolores' voice, the only female vocal chords on the trip, carry a certain swagger in the square. Ya, I found out Friday, she's backs it up. She's baaaad to the bone.
We split into groups and following Primate's choice of ride group I hooked up with my new friends from (late) last night following TerraExpeditions on what looked to be a varied and exiting ride. We were a lean and mean crew. XR400 in race trim, XR650 ridden by an ex-mountain bike racer, DRZ400, (both those guys just back from 900 miles offroad to Real de 14 and back), KLR 650, Husky 610 (sweet ride), XR650, and my DRZ SM. Everyone on this ride, I would discover thru the day, would pull a rabbit out of the proverbial hat and prove to me I have a brethren I never knew. Brothers from other mothers, TWTEX style. Confident, in control (mostly), technically savvy, eager, curious, and just cautious enough. Any of these guys could take the long way round, solo, and make Ewan and Charlie look like chumps in half the time.
We headed southwest, continuing the direction I came in the night before. Away from Cerro Potosi and the DS Dungeons and Dragons. This was the road the road riders took in the day before. About 40 kms of pure roadrace heaven. All downhill, half blind turns, smooth to medium smooth asphalt, breathtaking vistas, very little traffic, and the often encountered but little understood laughing Mexican in an inappropriate vehicle going double the limit over the solid yellow line (think double white lines in de Estado Unitas (SP?)). It's probably an old 60 chevy or an overloaded Sanchez on the front window gravel truck. Here is a taste of the canyon, this taken a few KM's down the road.
We took a right in Itubide, headed south, up a freshly paved one and a half lane racetrack headed towards the dead end in Santa Rosa. At the sign indicating a Y we went right. Enter 10 kms of tree covered canopied dual sport heaven. Alternating between canopy and climbs and descent and launch and dip and clench your butt downhill loose gravely u-turns this road was fast, fun, and a challenge. Our group was flying. If I went ahead for 5 minutes, charging as hard as I could, then slamming on the brakes I might just be able to pull my camera out and take a pic of the last 2-3 guys flying by in the dust cloud.
When the road opened up a bit was came across a river. TerraX's GPS showed a track. We headed up river, half in and out, playing around trying out our submarine abilities. Came to a gate, then another.
The locals had rickety outhouses, one for boys, one for girls, and natural stone houses. In addition to power wires as an indication of being on the right track to a larger town (aka Gasolina), cinder block homes are an indication that bigger trucks can make the drive. Natural stone is so much prettier, I can only imagine the beauty of the area prior to CEMEX becoming the largest company in Mexico. This particular A frame had ranchero music and men's voices. The woman and child exiting the outhouse gave a clear view of life in the mountains. Sorry, I didn't take that photo.
Through a couple more gates and down into the river. Yee ha!
3 or 4 gates later we stop for a break. This place is amazing. Clay and stone cliffs. All of the water comes from a spring in a narrow valley too small for a bike, but perfect for a camping trip. Volumes of spring water. So we go up the dry river and take a little break.
I had to rethink my camping idea when I saw that the Chupacabra is still on the loose and doing unmentionable things to local goats and sheep
The beauty of this part of the ride was that, for the TWTEX group, we were the first recon group to try this route. At one intersection we went left. Right was the clear easy route, but left looked more fun. 30 foot drop with a cow path hugging a cliff. Not knowing my compadres that well I flipped a U and looked back to see TerraX bomb on down the cow path. We followed suit. 3 ugly loose rocks and a slow speed stall almost put my back end off the path. 3 ugly loose rocks and a washed out put one of our crew on his head. Amazing he and the bike were mainly unscathed.
5 or 10 kms up river and we came to a large modern bridge and small community. The dead end road looped east up towards Santa Rosa where we first went off pavement. Why not! In 30 years of riding I've never seen a steeper curvier road. Almost 90% concrete, 12 feet wide, back and forth, with a 7%+ grade. Wheelies out of corners? Check. Breathtaking views of the river we just ran? Check. Complete absence of police presence in what Milton calls the, "Land of personal responsibility". Check. Ride like madmen boys, you deserved it.
Up and out of the canyon, over the mountain, and across a field of sunflowers back exactly to the Y where we exited the pavement, just 100 feet shy thru a metal gate. Nice loop!
Off for some refreshments. No restaurant in Santa Rosa. Tienda doors open but the store is completely empty. No problem, back down the road, past the river turn off, thru the town of Cuevas, and down to "lunch in Camarones. It's early afternoon and we've covered about 1/3 of the planned dirt distance. I'm starving. But no worries, the riding is so intense I could have had a fork in my leg and not noticed.
TerraX posing on the kick start only XR4.
Random turn, maybe 1000 feet back and 200 feet down.
And on and on and on and on
And on and on and on. Thru forests, down steep descents, up rocky hills, over creeks.
We use the dual sports to cross water, the locals use this log
And Joseph uses his backside to negotiate a slippery crossing. Too bad we were splayed out on the cool grass talking about campsites and I missed the drama. It sounded cool.
In Camerones there is a tienda. Drinks cold, pork rinds packages, mixed nuts in lime juice and a coca perfect for a combined breakfast / lunch. Proprietor is kind, his helper nice and simple. For the photo he agrees, with hesitation, and then proceeds to button up his shirt, tuck it in, and fix his hair. No smile needed, he is a proper man with proper attire in his store. Or maybe he realized just how bad we smelled. I am gonna pull a Tricepilot and give him this one next year. I probably won't get a smile, but it may be his first photo of himself too.
A few more rugged small towns, hot and dusty. Time for a change of pace. Mexico delivers. How about a cool, quiet, tree covered valley?
Lush ferns to soften the falls. Hmmm, while we're at it, dear Mexico, can you throw in a babbling brook with miniature waterfalls and a soft dirt road? Really, that'd be great. Thanks Mexico, I love you too!
So here is where I go all fuzzy. I rode the whole trip without a map, and my GPS was off for 100% of the trip...safely tucked in my top case just in case. 5 towns, each equally remote and secluded, each with a charming pastoral home, each with a dirty nasty neighbor. I didn't take dirty neighbor pics.
New meets old. A closed down tienda near a falling down farmhouse. Having remodeled a handful of houses and saved a few from the dozer it pains me to see solid craftsmanship, hard work, and sound building technique eroding in the sun. If I were a thousand men in one, I'd save each and every one.
Down and up. Up and down
And following a Milton route we come into a field of sunflowers. 20 billion strong, whipping our hands as we rise and fall. Motors blatting out that steady rythm. 2nd gear....blattt.....3rd gear.....blatt......4th...blatt.....downshift, downshift, downshift, slip and slide, repeat process. 7 bikes strong like a thunderstorm rolling into town. No kidding, women take their children inside, just in case.
Local livestock is awestruck too. One little guy comes along for the ride, almost a KM of running ahead to scout out the path. Burrito knows the way.
Milton will tell you where this is. After 1 km of fence made from the outer 1" of pine trees I see where they come from. Sawmill, loads of lumber, no one home.
1 click later we pass the logger and their logging truck. A mid 70's Chevy, 5 huge trees in back. 5 little mexicans on the trees. We start to debate issues like daylight, fuel, GPS versus dead reckoning. 2/3 of the dirt under our tires, 1/3 to go 1/10th of the daylight left. Keep on moving. Pics are not a priority until Mexico delivers the best Halloween decorations in North America. Thanks again my friend, Mexico
Now it's point and shoot time. Night is upon us, and I hit reserve. We miss the turn to Aqua Blanca and go another 5 kms. A friendly local tells us no problem. Aqua Blanca has no fuel, and it's 25km to the south. He recommends the smaller less travelled road to San Felipe. 25 kms he says. 1.5 hours in a car, 1 hour on a moto. I press him knowing we are 45 minutes from sunset, "Can a really fast moto do it in 30 minutes?". "No senor, it's 2 hours by horse". "How about a really really rapido moto?" "No senor, it's no possible.
The man knows his business. 36 minutes later we clear the woods. We see the dozer that maintains these roads just as we exit the trail. probably 1950's, 10 tons, and creeping aling at, no kidding, 1.2 KPH. There are two chase vehicles. We stop to ask where the fuel in town is. Conversation is like, "Senor, donde es is gasolina?" (my spanglish is terrible). He says, "There's no gas in town." Darn. "Are you sure? The guy at the last house told us there is". Reply, "Oh yes there is. 3 kms down on the right". First guy I encountered in 3 days who spoke more than 5 words of english. We talk. He spent 8 years in Spring Branch, back home and employed by the state.
A few wrong turns and confusion and we find the gas. Long shadows are fine...we are on the highway, only 20 kms to town and another fab meal.
But first, gas. Mexican style. 8.6 Pesos pora litro.
And the sun sets over Cerro Potosi. We are all tired, and happy, and ready to do it again. What a memorable day.
Friday is a whole nother chapter. Teaser pics.