Well my account of this moto ride begins with a girl, (and a beautiful one at that). I got a call from Bekka as I sat on the rooftop terrace of my rental here in the colonial town of San Miguel de Allende sipping tequila, drinking beer, and smoking cigarillos with three friends. She proceeded to inform me that she was with a couple of motorcyclist friends at a bar across town, and they were going on a moto ride tomorrow, then passed the phone off to her friend Art.
Art proceeded to invite me to join him and a couple of other riders for what he promised would be a spectacular overnight ride with a short section of dirt on “maintained dirt roads”. While I’m not a big off road rider, I’ve done some dirt, even some single track, and within a few minutes a rendezvous time and place was agreed upon for the following morning.
When I awoke, and the after-effects of the beer and tequila were making themselves felt, I considered rolling over and going back to sleep, but mustered myself and rode out to the rendezvous where I met Art, George, and Charley for the first time. We traveled a long ways on pretty boring roads albeit with beautiful views before finally busting off onto a side road with beautiful sweeping turns and speco views in all directions. A lakeside section took us through a long rock hewn tunnel where upon exiting we stopped to look at a dam built into a narrow cleft in the rock before entering another tunnel. We heard shouting, and eventually snapped to the fact that it was the marines guarding the dam telling us to make like hockey players and “get the puck out of there”.
Eventually we gassed up in the town of Zimapan and took off on a dirt road toward what would turn out to be a road to an area full of mines. We descended through a series of switchbacks what must have been a drop of a few thousand feet, occasionally pulling over for the oncoming ore hauling trucks.
When we reached the riverbed so far below our point of entry, the heat was incredible and my helmet and non-mesh jacket I brought with me into Mexico in January were saturated.
After crossing the river, we began the slow ascent of even tighter, less well maintained roads. The riding, was slow but not too difficult, though the price of error could have been great as the outside edge of the road was a continuous drop-off that could send one tumbling for hundreds of feet before much would stop you. We stopped a couple of times on the ascent and eventually reached a pullout where we could see a little village way below us with a bridge crossing a large river. It was here we realized that that bridge was where we wanted to be, and a decision was made which direction to go to reach it as we had just passed a fork in the road we’d been traveling.
In the upper right of this pic you can see the bridge we want to get to.
George thought we needed to continue up, and took off on his KLR, but as the rest of us surveyed the roads below us, we thought the lower fork might be the way down to the bridge. Charley took off after George, and soon returned with Jorge and we soon found the lower fork dead-ending into the open maw of a mine. A mine worker explained that for us to reach the bridge, we needed to descend all the way back the way we came to the river and ride the river bed out to the little town we’d seen from above. Did somebody say “river bed”? What happened to the “maintained roads” Art had been peddling the previous night? It began to dawn on me that these guys were doppelgangers for my friends back in the US. Not much difference whatsoever really, as they all continually sucker me into going places I would never have chosen to go left to my own devices, and therein lies the adventure in this adventure ride.
So about face we go, and descend to the dry riverbed again and turn downstream through a vertical cleft and a shallow stream that is spectacularly beautiful. We continue on with occasional stops under shade trees. I’m seriously dehydrated at this point, and am kicking myself for liking the taste of tequila so much, as well as not having the foresight to bring a bottle of water. The ride through the shallow creek goes on and on and the place is magical, although some of the magic may have been due to my growing punchiness from my dehydration. ☺
Eventually we began to see signs of human habitation, and the riverbed track turned onto an ungraded dirt road paralleling a large river. We’re almost back to civilization, and all I can think of is reaching the first tienda, and snagging a liter of cold water to quench my parched throat.
We’re almost racing now on the hardpack, and I’m probably too close to Art’s tail, but I can taste that cool water in the back of my mind and can’t seem to dial it back. As we enter a dry dusty stretch where the dust from Art’s bike obscures my view of the road, I see his rear wheel bobble a bit, but it’s too late for Miguel to adjust velocity or direction and as I hit the same point, my bike decides it’s tired, and wants to lie down for a bit. Oops!
Well, the Versys’s left quarter faring isn’t as pretty as it used to be, (busted up real good actually), and my inattention to chain maintenance is showing, as the chain is off the rear sprocket, and the wheel is spinning freely. I heard/felt something crack when I fell on my left rear shoulder, but I don’t feel too bad, so with a big assist from Charley, we get the bike back up and the chain back on, and continue the remaining ½ mile of dirt to the bridge and pavement. Ain’t that the way it always goes?
At the first tienda, we all down a liter of agua and a few of us quaff a beer as well. It’s a sign of how dehydrated I must have been that I didn’t drink a beer. That almost never happens… ☺
Now we’re on an amazing paved road, with an excellent surface as we begin ascending thousands of feet, until eventually we’re in the trees, and the temperature is cool, especially with my jacket soaked in sweat.
After a brief tour of the mountain town of San Joaquin we settle into the first hotel we passed upon entering town, and after a cursory cleanup, begin drinking beer and tequila, (courtesy of Jorge!). As the sun sets we move across the street to another restaurant and are eventually politely asked by the staff to leave, so they can clean up and go home. Ha!
Day 2 is a gorgeous ride with nice sweeping turns punctuated by sharp twisties, out of San Joaquin and back to San Miguel on the slab. After a lunch stop with a view at a local hang gliding spot, we hit the trail and are back in SMA in time for the weekly meeting of the local motorcyclists club, Motoclassico de San Miguel de Allende and more drinking. Go figger…
In spite of my dump, it was a great trip with a great bunch of guys. Thanks to Bekka and the boys for inviting me.